My life is a dumpster fire.
I have three children, ages 10, 3, and 1. I’ve been married to to my idiot husband for 10.5 years.
Three months ago, I discovered he had a Tinder account, in which he was communicating with many women. With further investigation, I discovered he also communicated with women on Facebook, another “hook up” app, and another messaging app.
This is just what I discovered. There were probably more. He had about 10 women’s phone numbers saved in his phone. All of the communication was totally sexual. Sexting, I suppose. He swears he never met anyone, and did not physically cheat on me. He didn’t stop when I first discovered his actions. He didn’t even stop when I busted him the second time. The third time, I’m not even sure he stopped then. Has he stopped now? I have no idea. I know his accounts are deleted, but I know these habits are hard to break.
I’ve really struggled with this. One hook up at a bar is a mistake. This was a choice he made daily. Even if he didn’t physically cheat on me, upon reading the messages he exchanged with these women, I could almost handle one fuck with a rando better than this.
Is this cheating? To me, it is. But is it actually cheating?
He’s currently on an apology tour. Being nice. Being involved with our children. He’s honestly being wonderful, but the trust in our relationship is gone.
(While all of this was happening, he was a real ass. Spent zero time with our kids, instead ran off to the garage to hide after dinner each night.)
Maybe I’m just dramatic, but I feel so betrayed. I am contemplating leaving. I am doing that thing, where I tell myself if I still feel this way in x amount of time, I will leave.
I need to know how other people feel about this sexting bullshit. Is it cheating? How am I supposed to feel about it? I don’t know for certain if he physically cheated on me or not. I only know what he told me, and I have already established that he is a liar. So can one only assume???
I desperately need some guidance. I’m really coming undone.
Let’s imagine you run a business. You work really hard at your business, and you go the extra mile. You sweep the front sidewalk. You sponsor the local softball league. You show up for the Chamber of Commerce events. And you invest your profits back into the business to improve it.
Meanwhile, you have a business partner, Fred. And he doesn’t sweep, or sponsor, or show. In fact, he’s shopping around for other business opportunities on the sly. And what profits he makes, he’s spending on new golf buddies, buying rounds, hoping to impress them to go into business with him. Now, he doesn’t want to quit your business, (hey, you’re working hard there, turning a profit), he just wants more opportunities to find business partners to exploit.
Should you continue to invest in this shared business with Fred?
Think about your marriage as a business. Take the sex, emotion, and shame out of the texting situation. Would you continue to invest in someone who doesn’t invest in you?
Oh, he does now? Now he’s nice?
Do you want to keep investing when you have to hold a gun to someone’s head to be engaged? (I’ll sue you, Fred, if you don’t stop blowing our money on your golf buddies. Oh, right Molly. You’re the one I really love.)
You’re really invested. Him, not so much. And he’s weaponized your investment in him, three children deep. He can fuck around sexting (or whatever he’s up to) because he’s confident you won’t leave.
He didn’t stop when I first discovered his actions. He didn’t even stop when I busted him the second time. The third time, I’m not even sure he stopped then. Has he stopped now? I have no idea.
Is this relationship acceptable to you? How does his constant shopping around for new partners make you feel? Safe or unsafe? His actions make a pretty clear statement: He’s going to keep doing it regardless of your feelings.
Is this cheating? To me, it is. But is it actually cheating?
Does it actually matter? What he’s doing is disrespectful, devaluing and destabilizing.
If I try to rob a bank, but the alarm goes off, and I didn’t actually succeed in robbing the bank, did I commit a crime? The law thinks so.
This “is it cheating” comes up with emotional affairs too. Forgive my frankness, but adults fuck. People who date want to hook up. Physical cheating is a different level of harm inflicted on a chump, because of the health and pregnancy risk. But the devaluing is all the same.
It’s not the fucking around that hurts so much — it’s the conspiring.
Being played. Lied to. Used. Left to all the work of what was supposed to be a shared life.
Your husband is on a power trip. And it’s not just you — he’s also fucking with the heads of people he’s attempting to hook up with, who think they’re talking to a single person. He’s conspiring against everyone. He gets to be the puppet master. No wonder you don’t trust him.
Maybe I’m just dramatic,
Maybe you’re just being lucid.
but I feel so betrayed.
You were betrayed. While you were raising three kids, he’s been checked out on Tinder, lying to your face every day.
I am contemplating leaving. I am doing that thing, where I tell myself if I still feel this way in x amount of time, I will leave.
You can never un-know that he’s capable of conspiring against you when you thought he was invested.
You can never un-know that when you asked him to stop, he persisted.
You can never know if he actually stops. There are a thousand work-arounds.
In short, he destroyed your trust in him. Can you endure this relationship? Sure. I don’t recommend the experience, however. You can also continue a business with someone who embezzled your pension fund. Why would you want to?
I need to know how other people feel about this sexting bullshit. Is it cheating? How am I supposed to feel about it?
THE WAY YOU FEEL ABOUT IT.
This is YOUR decision. YOU MATTER.
You’re asking for a chaser for that shit sandwich. I’m not the place that’s going to minimize his abuse. Tell you It’s Just What Men Do. There are narratives that will implore you to work with him. For The Children. Tell you the problem is you, that you’re too judgy or toxic shaming and he’s on a quest for aliveness.
Do you really want to abuse yourself with that nonsense? Trust your senses. Do you feel violated? He is weaponizing your investment in him. Conspiring against you. To do what? Fuck around on you? Replace you? Expose you to disease? And you ask him NOT TO, and he does it anyway.
It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks — this is YOUR life.
I’m really coming undone.
It should hurt him to hurt you.
You deserve peace. To have a partner that doesn’t drive you to despair. Who respects you.