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I can see that the spouses who find their SO's emails/names on AM could feel so betrayed that their marriages might end; but that is always the risk when you cheat and lie while in a monogamous relationship. I really don't understand why anyone else except maybe the in laws would care. As for looking up friends, neighbors and coworkers, do people really have that much free time to waste?
Keep in mind, I am three drinks in, so maybe my filter is off.
I know to you LWs, you think this is the end of the world and everyone, including your neighbor Sally down the street is pointing fingers at you and waiting to ambush your kids. Uh, no. It sucks, I know. My marriage fell apart publicly with a CPOS (me!) and a heavy old helping of swinger drama (you should have seen my mother clutch her pearls over that). Yes, yes, it was embarrassing, but I didn't lose my job, most people really don't have the guts to confront you over it, and really, everyone knows someone who screwed around in a marriage. There is a girl on my rec team who is the OW to a married man. No one ostracized her or confronted her kids.
The people this is really going to affect are those with nifty morality codes and public figures. What can I say, that was always the risk you dudes ran. If you've got an open relationship, and your spouse is cool with it, you won't face any approbation from that corner.
Is it going to cost you your marriage? Claro Que Si! But, if you cheated, that is one of the consequences.
Now, let me back off, since I am not being very kind. I don't agree with the doxxing. None of this was anyone's business. The blackmail, that is ugly and wrong.
I intend to offer a certain amount of comfort. The truth is, you will live this down, even if it sucks. And most of the world really doesn't care, unless your name is Duggar.
It is easy to be nasty to nameless faceless people on the web. But different for someone you know.
Btw, your want to see doxxing? Google she's a homewrecker. I feel like some of yoh guys never realized the power ox the internet to shame.
Eh I think I am over this. Goodnight ♡☆♡☆
Not sure that Duggar admitted anything, at least not any more than he had to. I think his original statement somewhere along the way, whether it was with AM or with his child molestation, was that Satan was the culprit, but an edited version was subsequently released that kind of accepted responsibility in an evasive way. Many seem to understand that the second version is what the Duggar PR machine put out after seeing Duggar's comments.
Mob mentality is an ugly sight.
As for public figures who are into 'family values' or highly phobic or fundies, their hypocrisy should be exposed, without a doubt, because they want people who do what themselves do, to be hunted down and banished or worse, so they are out to hurt others. Funny how this kind of religious people, who claim to have more morals than atheists, don't practice the Golden Rule.
As I've stated before, I don't give a shit what other people do to their relationships - otherwise I would be curled up in a foetal ball all of the time - yet I'm confused how so many people support the moralistic status quo yet now complain about being held to it.
If you are a cheater and were not ashamed of it then, then don't be shamed now. If you don't want to be judged by your own standards then either change your standards or change your behaviour. Dan's suggestion is spot on straight cheaters: start telling your moralistic (hypocritical for a large part) employers, co-workers, friends, neighbours and family members to mind their own fucking business.
I first heard about Ashley Madison on an episode of CBS Sunday Morning in about 2005. At the time I had spent years in depression, feeling guilty and like a horrible person because I loved my wife but was not prepared for a lifetime of monogamy. I had tried a clumsy attempt at an affair with a co-worker but it blew up in our faces before anything even happened between us. My wife & I had 3 small children at the time whom we both loved, not to mention numerous family connections in the local area, work connections, etc., etc. I thought, am I really going to divorce my beloved wife just because I want to have sex with other people sometimes?
I saw the article and immediately approached my wife about it. At the time the only other dating sites I knew about were things like eHarmony & Match, who don’t accept married people. If OKC existed yet, I didn’t know about it. So I thought AM might be an option for me. I told her I loved her & the kids but I was going to die of frustration and insanity if I had to be monogamous forever. She considered it, and grudgingly accepted my suggestion that I create a profile to see if there were any like-minded people out there. I was so thankful to her for this leap of faith, my love for her was deepened immeasurably. And I immediately met 5 women who were in the same boat.
I did not end up meeting or having sex with any of these initial 5 friends, but I had months-long email conversations with them, about love, marriage, relationships, sexual fantasies... I truly do not believe they were AM shills or 'chatbots,' as they discussed real issues, real life, real problems, interactively with me, for months. True, it costs a little money for men to establish these chat connections, but we quickly switched to regular email and there would be no reason for them to keep up the charade if they were working for AM. They sent me pictures, we discussed sexual fantasies, our spouses, children... and they received no money or other compensation from me. It made me feel attractive and wanted, and like a man again, to have women flirting with me.
All those initial friendships faded away; we all decided we were not ready to meet yet (some of them were but I was not), and I became inactive for a while. But later, about 2009, I went back and met some others. And I had some new friendships which led to actual meetings. And my wife, who had allowed me to join for my own needs, decided to create her own profile just for fun. And lo and behold... she met a really nice man! And meeting him helped her understand my own situation in a way I could never have explained. He was hurting, too. But he, like us, loved his spouse and kids and did not want to divorce just because his wife did not want to have sex anymore.
Later, she met another, and I met others too... yes, there are women on the site, real actual female human beings, who are also frustrated and conflicted and depressed and feeling trapped. And I met and slept with some of them. She met a man who fulfills her needs in a way I never could, and whose wife was not interested. And it has enriched our lives and our marriage. We still love each other deeply and enjoy our partnership. But we mainly have sex with others.
My wife & I both had pangs of guilt, many times, over the fact that we were enabling our partners to cheat on their spouses. In fact, that's kinda why we have stopped using the site. I’ve discovered OKC is a much better fit for poly, non-monogamous people like me. But I guess we rationalized it in our own minds that these people were in a situation where they were forced to make a choice... they were grownups, and they made that choice. Just as we did.
I'm not in love with AM right now, and I've not been active on the site for a couple of years. I think their mishandling of my and everyone's information, when their entire premise was secrecy and discretion, is shameful and negligent to the point of being actionable. But I have to say AM kinda saved me. And it saved our marriage, coupled with my wife’s heroic leap of faith and my increasingly open ideas about relationships from reading Dan Savage’s column for years.
One thing I did learn with my experience on AM is that there are a LOT of real, beautiful people out there, men and women, married people who do not want to destroy their marriages and their homes and their children's lives, because they were sexually frustrated and in a sexless/loveless marriage. And it taught me not ever to judge people for being 'unfaithful' in marriage, because sexual monogamy is not what it's cracked up to be. If some people are happily monogamous, that is wonderful for them--so lucky!
But we are not all so lucky. Monogamy is hard, and it's fraught with unexpected issues no one tells you when you get married at 22. And maybe we should reserve the judgment of our fellow humans before we have come to understand fully their reasons for doing what they do.
But this stuff travels as it has always traveled, because while technology has improved, People remain the same: gossip wh0res. Technology is a double edged sword: ir facilitates anonymous cheating (see interesting studies of what happens when Craig's list comes to town) but it spreads it around just as efficiently.
Again, I am shocked people are unaware of revenge pornography and doxxing sites such as she is a home wrecker.
But you know what, speak up people. Because we all are at risk. Our kids who swap d'k pics, our girls who send their boy friend pictures. The adultery is beside the point. The point is that wr need to up date the laws to protect our privacy on the web., something the EU gets very right.
That said, the second-to-last letter was some of the worst rationalization of shitty behavior I've seen in a while. She is knowingly aiding and abetting someone in violating a commitment they made. She realizes that that is shitty, but wants to do it anyway, so she justifies it by saying, basically, "does anyone really know anyone?" I guess it's okay to hurt people as long as you close your eyes and pretend that their feelings don't matter.
I have found the dynamic in open relationships to be so very, very different from that in a secret affair, that it keep the "romeo-and-julietish-us-against-the-world-wrapped-in-our-secret" dynamic at bay. In my opinion, it's that "romeo-and-julietish-us-against-the-world-wrapped-in-our-secret" that one can get with the Other that leads to the atrophy of connection with one's Original.
I hope you copy and past this comment into the other thread, which is still actively going.
Look...I understand I've been lumped in with the so-called smug moralists...though I wouldn't accept that characterization. And nowhere have I celebrated the hack. I believe in privacy rights.
But going completely in the other direction to now praise those who are on the list? Again, Dan is hanging his hat on the idea that there are a few who have valid reasons to be dishonest, but I think his repeating of this mantra is way out of proportion to those who actually fit his narrow criteria.
I'd like a world where we are much more open about sexuality. A world in which monogamy is properly understood...a world in which we don't expect people to fit the mold of puritanical or biblical sexuality. But to me, the path to that is through increased honesty with the people who we value, not less. No matter the difficulties that honesty entails.
But if the takeaway here is that we all have license to be dishonest to the people we claim to care most about? That's an ugly world indeed. And resembles nothing of the gay rights fight that I was and am still proud to be a part of.
They deserve their privacy.
Dan sees the treatment of those on AM as being similar to the treatment of gays during AIDS.. Like they are non people.
You up for sending out devil stares to 30 odd million people? Cause you know the pain of the betrayal done to you.. Yes, you can empathize with those lied to. You can never know why, in each of these marriages, why the users went on AM, so how can you judge any of them.
But if cases are going to be presented to absolve AM users of any responsibility, I'm going to participate in that discussion.
In searching for the right balance to be as fair as possible all round, I'm curious as to how your system avoids stripping the partners of genuine cads of the sympathy and support they need. It's not always just that monogamy is difficult; sometimes there genuinely is a callous party and a party close enough to blameless to be considered victimized.
I don't think we should elevate these Ashley Madison users to heroic status. I think Dan is choosing inflated cases to emphasize his point that not all cheaters are scum or that marriages and infidelities are complex, complicated, messy things, but I also agree that he might be going too far and that he makes it seem as though these cases are the majority when in fact they're not.
But I think that in order to get to the point as a society where we can begin to consider more openness and honesty, we have to confront reality. We have to move beyond the happily-ever-after-never-want-anyone-else-ever-again-as-long-as-you-both-shall-live narrative that so many of us swallow wholesale. One way to do this is to look at these "maybe justified cheaters" and see situations that don't jibe with the fairytale, see situations we can maybe imagine ourselves to be in, someday, if things shift just a tiny bit.
Maybe this is just one way to try to help the vast majority of society see that life is more complicated than a simple narrative allows for and that people don't fall quite so neatly into the roles of villain and victim that many of us want to put them in. I teach critical thinking at the college level, and I know how hard it is for most people to resist that black-and-white/ good-or-evil thinking. People are uncomfortable with ambiguity. And our popular culture supports that discomfort, serving up books, songs, movies that support the "one-true-love" narrative. But if we are exposed to enough of it, of enough of the messiness of real live long-term human relationships, perhaps we can begin to consider that there may be alternative ways of being, ways that allow for more openness and ways that reward honesty, rather than punish for it.
I wasn't on AM and I can't speak for anyone who was, but I can say that I would much, much prefer to live my life with complete transparency than otherwise, and that I try to only do that these days. Actually, I did try to be honest and open when I was married, and my then-husband shut me down, unilaterally cutting off any and all suggestions or attempts for me to achieve sexual satisfaction. Yet I still loved him, loved our life, wanted my children to have an intact home, and wasn't ready to cavalierly divorce (though ultimately I did divorce, and am not entirely sure, 7 years later, that I made the right decision) and chose to live dishonestly. I can not tell you strongly enough how much I wish my husband had been open to opening our marriage. Maybe if people read enough of these "exemplary" cases of cheating, more will understand the complexities and more will be open to opening up.
I see what Dan is doing as firing off opening salvos in a battle, not as elevating all cheaters to hero status.
This unknown sickness, everyone who had been sexually active in the 70s, a lot of people I would guess, were scared.
It was like watching dominos fall, hearing of all the sickness and death.
And these people were treated with disdane, hatefulness, rejection. Ugly, ugly time in western history, how a culture treats its own.
And this shit with AM is looking like the same sort of ugliness.
I was a million miles removed from being on the ground re AIDS, the cultural inhumanity still, was very clear.
Millions stood against the tide of hatred and evil intent, millions didn't.
I had to navigate a very difficult but loving marriage to above-mentioned wife; and to our credit, we chose complete honesty and integrity in a situation where it could have been much to easy to choose dishonesty.
All of the stories presented by Dan this week feel to me like they are mid-way through difficult stories yet to come.
At one point, I considered identifying as Poly (after my divorce) and became very good friends with some of the leading voices in that world. I was having coffee with one of them once and mentioned having a crush on a married person. That friend gently scolded me and right there gifted me a copy of the book "The Ethical Slut." The title alone was a lesson; that people who enjoyed sex could choose to do so with integrity.
Long answer to a basic question. :-)
You got children? I'm guessing not. A family is a construct, takes years to get it together.
If, in this shared construct, the erotic component is missing, what do you do?
That's where I get a disconnect with all this moralising and the untold letters Dan gets.
My wife won't fuck me any more .. And on and on..
Yeah well, there is a contract.
So, this component is really dead in the water, just can't..
These men, they are adults. They not children, looking for a lollipop to steal. Good jobs, run, with their wife.. A functioning family. Does his yards.
Goes on AM, cause at least he owns to himself that he quite likes the erotic component, and doesn't want it to leave his life.
And on AM he hopes to find other people, to share erotic moments with, who have the same story.. In reverse.
That was the fantasy sold by AM.
As we know now, that just wasn't going to happen. Lots and lots and lots of men, not so many women.
I just find the intensity of the moralising, baffling.
Yes, one has to carry the responsibility of one's children, no one else has the right to steal away one's erotic life. It is valid to want that in your life, as an adult.
It is between a husband and wife, their sex is their story with each other.
I guess I would like to see, not just from you, mind you, but from a lot more people, is more compassion or more tolerance for those who, for whatever reason, whether though personal weakness or other, external circumstances, can't behave as you did. I understand that people who did the difficult work often have contempt for those who haven't done it or can't (or believe they can't do it)--I have encountered a version of this in a very different arena a long time ago--but I wish that those very people would instead adopt a more generous and compassionate attitude that sees that not everyone can do what they did, or that some people aren't there yet.
The thing is that total honesty means your world might come crashing down around you (yes, I know, so does getting caught in your dishonesty. But some people would rather gamble on that maybe happening if they get caught than on what they are sure is going to be a definite outcome). Some people have more to lose in that crash than others. It's always difficult to be honest about this kind of thing, but some situations, like being younger, in good health, with no financial interdependency, no children, etc., are easier equipped to bounce back after the shit hits the fan than others.
I guess I'd sum my feelings about AM this way:
If Dan's point is that none of us are in a position to condemn anybody on AM, then neither are we in a position to absolve their responsibility.
Inherent in the AM experience is the idea of breaking your contract with another human. They are the only ones in a position to either refute or verify the details in these many letters. Absent that, propping them up feels dangerous & disingenuous.
I don't feel as though Dan is holding up AM users as heroes or commending them for the act itself; I feel like he is just trying to show that there are *some* decent people who were involved and now repentant, whereas most everywhere else in the media, they are being ridiculed, shamed, and treated as 'non-people,' as was suggested. This site is really a kind of 'safe harbor,' an island of understanding in an ocean of sanctimonious derision.
And you are absolutely right that we need to move toward more honesty in our relationships, more 'transparency' regarding our sexual makeup and what we need and want out of life, and away from the stereotypical romance movie versions of what marriage and relationships are supposed to be. That's why I finally broke down with my wife and said, Something's got to give. At the time I thought AM was my only/perfect option, but there was always the cognitive dissonance of meeting with people who were in fact cheating on their spouses. And of course we only got their side of the story regarding their marriages, but decided that their choices were there own. When I discovered OKC, it was an even more perfect fit for me, because I can go on there and say, 'this is what I am; this is what I want,' and find like-minded people without forcing any dishonesty.
I should point out that our marriage is not flawless, nor is our experience with AM. We have both encountered weirdos, creeps, fake profiles, and unfortunate situations among our contacts... emotional and physical abuse among them. One of my contacts found the courage to divorce her abusive husband of 14 years after meeting me, saying (not trying to sound like a saint here) that I made her feel love the way she felt it should be, and had never had in her marriage. Of course then, she was single and desirous of a 'real' lover, not a married man 15 years her senior, so she left me and found him. We are still FaceBook friends and she texts me pictures of her absolutely adorable baby daughter, which I share with my wife. But we don't see each other anymore.
But that (and one other case like it) was the exception in the dozen or so women I met and had email exchanges with--the actual sexual liaisons were more like 3 or 4--most of the women I talked to loved their husbands dearly, but were just lonely & frustrated, wanting more attention than they were getting, emotionally and physically. In a case where the husband is a good partner but rarely interested in touching of any kind, I felt like I was doing a good thing, allowing the wife to experience those feelings of tenderness (and yes, orgasm) while allowing her to stay in her marriage. While doing the same for myself.
Most of the profiles on AM state "I am not interested in ending my marriage, or yours." These people, in my experience, were not evil, selfish players exalting at the idea of betraying their husbands' trust; on the contrary, they were very devoted to their spouses and to the idea of his not finding out so that he wouldn't be heartbroken. But I understand the point mentioned yesterday that in those cases she was not giving him the opportunity to consent and therefore running the risk of breaking his heart, and their marriage, down the line if it is ever found out. Finding out you've been kept in the dark can be more heartbreaking then catching your spouse in the act. So yeah... it's a sticky wicket, for sure.
Ven, I appreciate your exhortation to make my voice heard, but I'm not sure how to do it other than here (or writing a letter to Dan myself, which I had intended to do last week, as well as one to Prudie). My wife and I live in a very conservative area and are in a somewhat prominent family in the community, so we have to be 'discreet' (ugh, I hate that word as much as NoCute hates 'lover') just as much as anyone else. Our college-aged kids are very hip and liberal minded; they've begun to catch on, seeing books like 'The Ethical Slut' and 'Opening Up' on my nightstand, so we're not really worried about them finding out, but the wife's family and the community at large... well, there would be a lot of pearl-clutching indeed.
Finally, NoCute, I meant to tell you yesterday how sorry I am for your recent loss of your ex-Other, and of your fading dream of reconciliation. I appreciate your suggestion that I copy/paste yet another screed to the other thread, but... haha, it seems a little self-important to keep doing that... maybe we just make *this* thread the dominant one going forward. ;)
I have an enormous amount of compassion for everybody involved in relationships in our modern culture. That's what's disconcerting about feeling like the town scold on here this week. I'm really not a scold, and I really do understand nuance.
But as I keep saying...I can't really have true compassion without a complete picture; the only people who can see these many letters in their true light are the partners of the LW's and the partners of their AM partners. Those voices seem completely absent from these discussions. I actually feel like I'm largely neutral in the discussion except where LW's have presented themselves for scrutiny. There are other parties here whose voices would need to be heard to understand these stories.
I imagine a world in which we completely transform our understanding family and sexuality. A world in which we understand the biology and social pressures we all encounter. And still, after all of that transformation, what will remain is our desire to treat those in our lives with respect and integrity. That's the standard I hope we find. That we make choices, and when those choices don't work, that we handle them with integrity even when difficult.
I'm open to your suggestions on how to speak from my experience while still demonstrating compassion for those who can't find a way to get to that place of honesty and mutual acceptance. Is the key to keep remembering how much luck Mr. P. and I had along the way?
Timothy @39 "balancing multiple intimate relationships brings its own difficulties and tradeoffs"
Here's where we're different: I don't have to know the "complete picture" to know that people probably felt conflicted and made a decision that I doubt they made lightly. Even if they did make that decision lightly, I can feel tolerance and compassion for people backed into the whole cultural corner that I see here. And since none of these people are me or my partner, it costs me literally nothing to be fully compassionate.
EricaP: I find it funny that you are asking how best to "speak from my experience while still demonstrating compassion for those who can't find a way to get to that place of honesty and mutual acceptance," because I see you doing that ALL THE TIME. You are always advising people be more open to alternate ways of conducting their romantic and sexual lives, and you generally use your own life as an example. Luck has little to do with it--I've never seen you be harshly judgmental.
That's what I meant about that whole "romeo-and-julietish-us-against-the-world-wrapped-in-our-secret" aspect of a clandestine affair that is so different from what I have experienced in ethical non-monogamy.
People having affairs often are longing for the return of passion in their lives, and "passion" is often wrapped up with "love" which is wrapped up with "only you for me and only me for you."
I am amazed at how happy I am with my fwbs and boyfriend, not feeling that sense of intensity-by-necessity with them, but enjoying them, their personalities, their minds, their senses of humor, and their bodies and different kind of sex we have. And none of it is any threat to the intimacy I feel with my boyfriend at all.
I just watched Bill Maher this morning, and he joked about how many men vs. women were on AM... and that is part of this story that is especially galling to me. I don't know where he or others are getting their numbers, but I know from personal experience it's just not true that there were no real women, or that men outnumbered women by so much as to make it a negligible ratio. I'm sure there are more men than women, but... I live in a small town, and I just can't believe that the scores of women's profiles I saw were all fake. Frankly, they would be more attractive if that were the case. An average woman, aged 62, in a badly lit, blurry picture, smoking, with her dog on the bed, with bad grammar and asking to be 'spoiled' (code for 'spend money on me')... I just can't believe these were profiles created by the AM webmasters, trying to get money.
If I expanded my search radius to include the nearest large city, the matches increased exponentially... maybe some of them were fake, but... again, I would think they would be better crafted, more attractive matches, if they were being designed simply to make some chump put up his credit card number.
But the way the site worked, only men had to spend money to communicate... you would buy 'points' with which you would 'initiate contact'... spend 5 points to say hello to someone; if she didn't answer, you were out 5 points. If she did, and you liked each other, you would exchange emails and leave AM to pursue your private conversation. I talked with at least a dozen women, on their personal email addresses, for months. I get so tired of this "there were no real women on the site" talk by the people laughing hilariously at the pathetic deluded men who were separated from their cash.
Anyway... I would encourage you, NoCute, to press past the first few chapters of TES... I feel like your situation is exactly the type discussed in the book.
Which chapter of The Ethical Slut endorsed such behavior? ;-)
I don't know, you don't know. Some blanket condemnation of the cheaters, is too easy,
Pigs might fly.
I know I keep harping on this, but I meant to mention in my speech above about the perceived disparity between men & women on the site, I think that partly comes from the fact that women do not have to pay to be on it. All they have to do is create a dedicated email address, a fake name, and maybe post a picture or two. Men are the ones whose credit card info is on there (not sure how it works with gay/lesbian couples), so I think that leads to the false notion that men outnumber women 100 to 1.
Okay. End of rant.
You want to believe otherwise, but it's just not true.
The men’s accounts tell a story of lively engagement with the site, with over 20 million men hopefully looking at their inboxes, and over 10 million of them initiating chats. The women’s accounts show so little activity that they might as well not be there.
Sure, some of these inactive accounts were probably created by real, live women (or men pretending to be women) who were curious to see what the site was about. Some probably wanted to find their cheating husbands. Others were no doubt curious journalists like me. But they were still overwhelmingly inactive. They were not created by women wanting to hook up with married men. They were static profiles full of dead data, whose sole purpose was to make men think that millions of women were active on Ashley Madison.
Ashley Madison employees did a pretty decent job making their millions of women’s accounts look alive. They left the data in these inactive accounts visible to men, showing nicknames, pictures, sexy comments. But when it came to data that was only visible on to company admins, they got sloppy. The women’s personal email addresses and IP addresses showed marked signs of fakery. And as for the women’s user activity, the fundamental sign of life online? Ashley Madison employees didn’t even bother faking that at all."
Your personal anecdotes don't change the bigger picture, which is that you and many other men on AM were defrauded,
Unfortunately, I have brooding on how there are only three zip codes in the US without an AM account, and on various things that happened in the name of the false heteromongamous purity that was sanctified by people (not least among them Mr Rove and Ms Gallagher) for their own purposes. While I don't want bad things to happen to individual couples, I'm afraid I have no cookies to give to the We're Not All Like That crowd, especially the ones who can't do more than whisper. I'm really getting to a point where it seems as if the best if not only solution may be to burn down the institution completely and start over. This is just so depressing I'm getting thoughts again it would be unfair to inflict upon the assembled company; I'll stop here.
As per the ongoing discussion, that may have to do more with AM-employee generated seed accounts (femals AND male) than our predilection for infidelity.
"This isn’t a debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives. It isn’t even a sadscape of 31 million men competing to attract those 5.5 million women in the database. Instead, it’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots."
So... I guess I *was* taken for a ride. How embarrassing. But I have to say, the robots I met, talked to for months, and had sex with certainly were well-designed. They even went so far as to create FaceBook profiles for them! :)
I wonder if they are available on amazon...
Watching Donald Trump spout off on Anthony Weiner's character illustrates some of my critique of the so-called "honest" man who breaks up his marriage who gets to declare himself as virtuous whereas the cheater who stays with his family is forever evil. Amazing that The Donald sees no moral failing on his part, despite having 3 successively younger wives and children with each of them. But of course, he is the "moral" one so long as he dumped his aging wife before he cheated.
And while the Church of Honesty declares it more admirable for men like me to break up the family rather than have a discreet outlet, somehow I doubt we will be seen as virtuous if the next Mrs. Horton turned out to be a younger and prettier version of the original model. The Church of Honesty seems to like Martyrs.
I'm really glad to realize they weren't robots... that is a relief, because one of them had a baby, and I sang that adorable little android to sleep! :)
22 years ago almost exactly, I entered a PhD program in English literature. It was a very rigorous program and the normative time it took to complete was 7 years, though 9 years was not at all uncommon. Grad students were typically funded working as T.A.s teaching freshman composition for 7 years. If you got really terrible student evaluations, you would lose that job/funding, and if you lingered longer than 7 years, you might have to scrounge for other funding sources: research assistant to a professor, a literature T.A.ship, maybe a reader/grader for a huge lecture course (which woudn't pay much, maybe tuition remission).
Serendipitously, I got pregnant with my first child sometime within the first two weeks of beginning the doctoral program.
The first year I was in the program, I was pregnant. There was a mother with a toddler in some of my classes and she never seemed to be able to keep up. She couldn't drive to the university to do research as frequently as she may have liked (she lived, as I did, about 60 miles away from the university; however, we lived in opposite directions and I lived in a town with another university--a bigger one with a better library, while she didn't have access to a first-rate university library in her town), and her research was always a bit out of date, and not the shiny, sexy new theories that were coming hot off the presses. Her presentations were never the kind that blew you away. All us students said things like "oh, of course you can't do ------; but it's okay," but inwardly I believe we were all rolling our eyes and shaking our heads. I took note. I didn't want to be condescended to or considered not up to snuff.
When my baby was born, I did double the amount of work I had done previously. I was determined not to be thought of as "that second-rate student, that mother. I remember putting in about 30 hours one week on one presentation alone--in addition to teaching my class and doing the work for a second grad seminar. And of course, taking care of and breastfeeding an infant. (My strategy paid off as I apparently gave a presentation so impressive that I thoroughly intimidated two potential grad students who were visiting that day to see if they wanted to attend.)
But finally, I was too exhausted and I was never seeing my baby. I put her in daycare the minute it opened, picked her up at the last possible moment, did my grocery shopping at midnight or 1:00 a.m. at the Safeway that was open 24 hours. I was a wreck: feeling guilty, like a shitty mom, crying because I missed my baby, and envious of the students who lived on or near campus and were childless and going out drinking nights. But there was no way to slow down or do the program half-time.
Most of the professors in the department were men. They were of a generation in which the men had the careers and their wives stayed home and took care of the children and the house. They were mildly sympathetic to my situation, or they paid lip-service to it, but it wasn't their fault that doctoral programs were as taxing as they are. Their attitude was that that was just how things were--nothing could be done about it. Tradition, you understand.
There were two female professors "of a certain age" in the department. They had made a decision, a trade: a long time ago, they had sacrificed motherhood for scholarship. They were unsympathetic to any difficulties I had. And then there was the one woman who had had a child: she was bitter, mean, hard as stone. Her whole attitude seemed to be, I had to suffer, so you damn well had better suffer.
One day, my toddler was too sick (fever, cold, you know) to go to daycare. There was a rule against bringing kids with fevers to daycare, and anyway, I wouldn't have wanted to be away from her knowing she was sick. My husband was out of town on business. My school was 60 miles away from my home, and I didn't have a cell phone (almost no one did, yet). The only thing I had scheduled for that day was the freshman English class I was team teaching with another instructor. She was already scheduled to teach the class that day; I was just supposed to be there, watching. I called her and told her I wouldn't be able to make it, and she said fine. The next day, I was told that I needed to inform the Director of Composition that I had been absent. The Director of Composition happened to be professor who was also a mother. I told her about my absence, and she lit into me. Why hadn't I found someone--a total stranger--to watch my sick kid so I could come in and watch someone else teach an hour-long class? After all, she had done things like that when her children were young. She was a bitter martyr to the Church of Suffering Mothers Who Are Academics. When I defended myself, she was angry. The next week I learned that my T.A.ship for the following academic year wouldn't be forthcoming. I had lost my funding, despite having only been in the program one quarter less than 2 years and having gotten excellent student evaluations.
At the same time, I realized I needed to slow down a tiny bit and asked for a one quarter extension on getting a milestone met (reading proficiency in a second foreign language). The committee that met included one of the two childless female professors. My request was denied, and she gave me a lecture about the sacrifices she had had to make and the fact that she didn't think I was really dedicated enough to the program.
It was clear that I was going to have to be a martyr to the Church of Suffering Women Academics if I wanted to get that PhD at that program, and I wasn't willing to be one.
I left the program.
Years later, I met a woman who came through a couple of years after I had started. She told me that a sea change had occurred: some of the older men, one of the childless women, and the Bitter Martyr-Mother had all retired. The department was full of younger professors who had young children. There were men who were sharing the responsibility of child rearing; there were women professors who were getting pregnant, starting their families; the entire department seemed to understand the concepts of leeway and flexibility. It just came too late for me.
There is no one who will be more critical of your decision to do something than someone who has been in your situation and made a different, more painful decision that made them unhappy. It makes them crazy to see someone refuse to be made as miserable as they let themselves be made.
Just look at the closet cases who either preach homophobia from the pulpit or write shitty anti-gay legislation: they're burning with outrage that some gay people have the gall to live openly and proudly and to refuse to be ashamed of who they are.
The same applies to those who are viciously attacking anyone who considers alleviating marital unhappiness through an act of infidelity: They suffered in their unhappy marriage and was a martyr to the alter of monogamy, so you need to, too. If you refuse to be as unhappy, if you have the nerve to try to wring a little more happiness out of life, they attack like pitbulls.
I am monogamous now. I suppose I am a martyr because last night i was totally eyeing a dude that would have given me a fun roll and I trucked right home instead.
@63 NoCute...I appreciate the analogy, I suppose, but I don't consider that I or many others here are "attacking like pitbulls." I'm curious...do you take any moral stands on anything? Racism? The Environment? Justice? War? Politics? You keep saying that none of us can judge. But that's part of what it means to be human in community. And while I completely agree that the judgement comes between a person and their significant other, I can and do have general feelings about the norms of society. And I'm certainly not anyone would call a "smug moralist" in any other context.
@61 Tim Horton. Trump? Really? That's your only option for a standard to measure against? I can't even motivate a response to that bc it's so ridiculous.
I'm not talking about YOU. I'm talking about the thousands of people saying things like, "good! Those cheaters got what they deserve. Boo Fucking Hoo." Stuff like that. The only way that what I wrote about pit bulls and martyrs applies to you is if you're saying stuff like that.
And DarkHorseRising, if you've read any of the other comments I've posted, either here or on the regular Savage Love page, you'll see that I don't think cheating is the panacea some people are pretending it is, either.
For the zillionth time, I'm saying things are more complicated that black-and-white.
Again, these are complicated issues, and rarely are any two enough alike to treat them all as if they were the same. See Tolstoy's opening to Anna Karennina ("Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way").
The other thing that convinced me, right about when I was reading that book, was my most recent AM friend telling me she was actually beginning to reconcile with her husband. I thought, 'if you two are reconciling, then I don't really fit into this picture anymore.' We are still friends, but I'm not sure what state her marriage/reconciliation is in at this point.
So yes, you're right, my behavior before reading TES and discovering OKC was less than admirable regarding the cheating aspect. But as I have rationalized before, both my wife and I felt like we were helping unhappy people be happier without destroying their home lives. And since we were not 'cheating' on each other, we decided that their decisions were their own on how to handle their own marriages.
When it comes to sex, I believe in the right to informed consent. I have a right to know if my partner is fucking someone else. You (my cheating partner) don’t get to decide what I know and don’t know about the risks I face in bed. It is a fundamental human right. And all of those supposedly considerate AM members who are so thoughtfully trying to spare the delicate feelings of their duped partners – FUCK YOU. Your concern is keeping your marital cake and eating the strange cake too. All while turning your partner into a chump (for extra thrills!).
I am monogamous now. I suppose I am a martyr because last night i was totally eyeing a dude that would have given me a fun roll and I trucked right home instead.
During the period when my trust in Mr. P. was at its lowest, I got around that problem by just assuming that there was much more infidelity than he had admitted to. If more came out, I felt it was going to be intolerable to feel played as a chump, over and over. So instead I just began evaluating our marriage by what I could see with my own eyes.
It took a long time to rebuild trust on that footing, but we got there, with the help of lots of hot sex, and an amused camaraderie about our adventures and misadventures in dating other people after so many years off the market.
Yes, there are stories like yours.and there are other stories.
We live in a culture where advantage is the game, why do we expect the bedroom to be any different? Or the kitchen or garage.
I am so sorry this happened to you. Your situation is the exact reason I switched from AM to OkCupid to try to find like-minded people without anyone actually having to cheat. If it's any consolation, your husband's comments about your sex being 'better than any strange' were probably truthful. But you're right; he should have been honest with you and/or asked for an open marriage if he was not able to honor his monogamous commitment.
Marriage doesn't have to be about monogamy, but it should always be about trust & honesty.
The vast majority of people find monogamy to be very difficult to adhere to. Whether they are able to do it or not, most at least admit to times when it's a struggle. Oftentimes it's a white-knuckling year or two or decade or two. People cheat; their partners are devastated. Divorce happens: people who love each other divorce each other, either after one has cheated and deeply wounded the other, or because one wants to have sex with someone else and decides that the honorable thing to do is to divorce rather than cheat. People ask their partners to do things that the partners don't want to do: to open a relationship; to have less sex than one of them wants to; to stay monogamous. People routinely deny their partner sex they know their (supposedly) beloved partner wants, and they tell their partner that if s/he goes elsewhere for satisfaction, the marriage is over. And yet they ostensibly love this person whom they're holding hostage. People take it upon themselves to know better than their partner--their supposed equal--to make decisions on their behalf. They withhold truth in the service of "sparing them pain." They take away their partner's legitimate right to be informed.
And for what? I'm not going to quote Sex At Dawn here, but surely everyone can agree that monogamy in marriage is a human-designed rule in a human-designed institution. It doesn't have to happen. There's no reason at all for it to be the default position. It originated because men didn't want to think that their property would be handed down to children who weren't carrying their DNA. It probably also has not a little to do with men's desire to control women's sexuality due to insecurity that if women have someone else to compare them with, they will come up short. But of course, men aren't the only sexually insecure folks out there, and the insistence of monogamy has fallen to women to oversee over time.
When you think that most people will marry in their 20s or even 30s and can expect to live into their 80s or beyond, why do we keep setting people up for, if not outright failure, at least such a fucking difficult time for 30, 40, 50, 60 years?!
It's like the threat that same-sex marriage represents to opposite-sex marriage: if you both want to have a monogamous marriage, go for it and yay for the both of you! But if it proves too difficult, I wish it were more socially acceptable to step outside of monogamy for more people.
The fact that something's fucking hard doesn't in and of itself, make it a virtue. It might mean it's something that needs to be reevaluated on a grand societal scale.
Thanks for bringing up Sex at Dawn; I count Chris and Caci, who wrote it, among my friends. Their relationship is one I'd emulate (I'm sure they'd shudder to hear that) ;-) . They've chosen a partnership that works for them, even in the context of the overarching narrative about monogamy that we've all grown up with.
You know how we "[reevaluate] on a grand societal scale?" One relationship at a time. We choose honesty, integrity. We discuss the difficulties with our partners and with our friends. We take responsibility for our place in the world, and we honor the people in our lives. This won't happen from the top down; nobody is going to change society on a grand scale. We change society one person at a time.
Societal norms aside, to be an adult means to take responsibility for one's actions. Gay individuals have had to weather this storm, and have had to come out of the closet in harrowing circumstances. It's time for the straight world to step up and do the same.
But treating others poorly is not mandated; it's a choice.
The reason I couldn't keep cheating and couldn't stay married monogamously was that I felt I was living without integrity and that was eating me up. I could think of all the good things I do in my life (because guess what, Timothy? I volunteer in the community, at my children's schools, to work on political campaigns! Believe it or not, I try to be a good person, a person with, you know, morals), and I knew that if anyone knew about my affair, about the only place I found any kind of sexual fulfillment, that fact would cancel out all the good work I do otherwise and I'd be a horrible, selfish, asshole-villain.
Not that you'd know or care, Timothy, but in the 7 years since my marriage ended, I've been completely alone in the world, caring for my children as several grade-A traumas have hit us, as I've lost all my financial security, as I've found myself teetering on the verge of homelessness. I've forfeited companionship and warmth and a feeling of safety, but as I look at myself in the mirror, I've told myself that those things are worth it to be living with integrity. But gosh, it sure would have been nice if my entire sense of integrity didn't have to rest on whether or not I could adhere to absolute fidelity in the face of total sexual rejection from the husband who loved me and whom I loved. Or if my sense of integrity didn't have to rest on my desire not to divorce and disrupt my children's lives. Or if my sense of integrity didn't have to force me to rub my husband's nose in the whole mess. When I started living with integrity, the lives of 4 people imploded.
I just think there's a lot of unhappiness because of this expectation of total monogamy as the norm and I have compassion and empathy for people on both sides of it. And I get tired of people whose attitude is "I suffered through my decision to remain monogamous, and you should, too."
I disagree that we change society one relationship at a time. I think that way leaves too many out.
This is what I don't get about Dan. DMFAP before marriage. But after marriage / kids... stay together after cheating because.... the kids? I know his parents divorce hurt him. But would he really have wanted his father to stay with his mother when he clearly was no longer in love with her and wanted to be somewhere else? Wouldn't that have that been hell for her? Instead he set her free and she ultimately found someone who - according to Dan did love her.
I am pro amicable divorce.
And folks how many times do we have to say it. It isn't about sex. It isn't about monogamy. Its about whether you have the chops to be a kind and considerate and honest partner - no matter how you arrange your sex life. Unfortunately, we as a species seem to suck at it. (Or at least some do. I maintained a passion for my husband that lasted decades. Until he wrecked it. His loss).
"I have a right to know if my partner is fucking someone else."
Even if you stop having sex with your partner altogether? You can't fuck me, but you can't fuck anyone else either. Is that fidelity to the deal you made?
Both people free to pursue other romantic interests, yet continue to love their children together.
That would be a great outcome.
I'm not trying to hammer you; I just don't accept that cheating is really a viable solution. And I don't really buy Dan's seemingly evolving stance that fidelity is just too hard.
I've never heard him say "fidelity is just too hard." He does say that it isn't black and white.
I can see a man, his wife physically ill.. Not up to sex in any shape.. He tends his wife, well. Loves her in her decline.
This man has needs though, and so he quietly goes and satisfies them. His wife, none the wiser. I'd say that man has self integrity.