Four years ago I found out my husband was interacting with women online from a sex website. He was active on the website for 3 years before I found out. He swore to me none of the women meant anything to him and it was all merely sexual.
We went to couples counseling and began to rebuild my trust in him and our marriage, or so I thought. Recently I was given copies of messages between a woman from that site and the pseudonym my husband used at the site. The messages were sexual and personal, not to mention emotionally intimate. It was not simply sexual gratification.
From what I can tell the online affair lasted for 2-3 years (possibly longer). That means my husband lied to me for all those years I thought we were rebuilding, (he also lied during counseling and to the counselor), and to this day he will not admit he knows her and he sent the messages. He claims he has no idea how his name got on the messages, but he did not send them. My trust in him is gone. I feel as though I am losing my mind. Who do I believe? The biggest pain for me is the fact he will not be honest with me. Don’t get me wrong, I despise him being on sex sites, and knowing he formed a bond with another woman is gut-wrenching, but seeing the truth on paper and him continuing to lie is the worst.
We have a young child. If not for my child I would be gone already. My questions for you are — do I believe the papers in front of me or his adamant denials of not knowing this woman? Do I stay in the marriage for my child, so she will not come from a broken home, or do I give her the best life I can as a single mom? Is an online affair enough of a reason to bag a marriage and start anew with myself and my child?
Where to begin? Let’s start with the “broken home” nonsense. Your child already lives in a broken home. You’re married to a man you cannot trust, who lies to your face, and continues to cheat on you after discovery. What do you call that? Wholesome? Happy? Healthy? You think Norman Rockwell is painting that shit?
Quit with the single mother shame. Single mothers rock. Of course it’s hard work, but it’s a hell of a lot easier than staying married to a gaslighting, cheating fuckwit who doesn’t respect you.
Next question — do you believe the proof in front of you, or his “adamant denials”? That’s the Richard Pryor joke on being walked in on while he was cheating with another woman. To his wife: “Who are you going to believe? Me, or your lying eyes?”
Trust your eyes. If you believe him, it’s going to take a ton of spackle to convince yourself that some guy using his identical handle just happened to communicate with a woman on a sex site he admits to being on for three years. Hell of a coincidence! Whoever this strange woman is, she’s determined to invent entire YEARS of communication. The nerve of her! What a hobby she has, incriminating total strangers.
Betrayed, you believe the proof. Even if you don’t want to believe it. I’m sorry the fictitious alternate reality was nicer — he was busted, got clean, and kept his promise to never do that again. That’s not the truth — he DID do it again. (And again and again…) Despite knowing how much it hurt you and how much it destroyed your trust in him. He put his desire for sexual gratification with strangers over your marriage.
His actions are sending you a clear message — learn to tolerate his online affairs, or divorce him.
You want to be a unicorn and reconcile? He’s given you nothing to work with. You went to counseling. That was his price of admission for cake. He continued to lie to you and hook up online and he continues to lie to your face about it.
Oh, but it’s “just” an online affair.
Is an online affair enough of a reason to bag a marriage…?
Let’s unpack that.
First off, it’s a sex site. Call me crazy, but people who meet on sex sites probably want to have actual in real life SEX. Sure, they can jerk off on camera, or send each other racy notes and sexts. But chances are after years of this, your husband has met some of these strangers. Get an STD test today, okay?
Sex sites are run for profit. They are not benevolent societies for the hard up and horny. They make money. “Monica is nearby and ready for adventure!” Enter your zipcode here! People pay the membership dues not to have pen-pal chats with new friends, but to have sex. To meet hookers or affair partners or both.
Even if it’s just, shall we say, interactive pornography that ends with a sticky keyboard, he’s lying to you about it. He’s having fantasy relationships with these women, emotional relationships — that’s time and attention (and money) that he’s taking from your marriage. You are either okay with that, or you’re not.
I’m going to assume you are NOT okay with it, because he’s hiding it from you. He knows that if he gave you the actual truth about what he does, you wouldn’t stick around. Now people like Dan Savage might argue that a few lies won’t hurt you, be monogam-ish, and look the other way. Let me ask you — do you trust him to protect your health? Your finances? Are you okay with a wink, wink, nudge, nudge I’m not going to guess what you’re doing right now, carry on! kind of marriage?
Some people are. I’m not one of them, FWIW, and you asked my advice. I think you deserve a full partner who respects you and your health. I think people who live double lives are creepy and disordered, and feel shivers of delight getting over on chumps. The most generous interpretation I can give for your husband’s behavior is “addiction” (if you believe in sex addicts…) — that’s he’s helpless and broken and needs 12-step to not whore around. Addicts lie. Addicts like substances and objects over real people because they don’t have needs or make real demands on them. Addicts are escapists.
I don’t recommend a marriage with either the disordered or the addicted. You’re already alone. Start living in the truth.
This column ran previously.