Columns Jun 3, 2015 at 4:00 am

The Affairs


Come on FACTS, market yourself better! Oh, and on a side note: most of those women wanted you because you had a ring on your finger!
I'm under the impression LW1 still feels a bit guilty about the events that led to his divorce, and he's unconsciously showing that by sabotaging his chances with this too-honest-for-his-own-good answer.
Interesting column.
FACTS - Does not say why his marital sex died. Maybe he doesn't know. That's the part that looks the worst. And talking about crying himself to sleep.
SPLIT - It sounds like Dan is right. That 'we' is telling. But in case he was serious about staying with Fiance. He could give Third a chance to make good with Fiance before getting the boot. Encourage a relationship between them so that Fiance would feel more included and perhaps less threatened.
SANE: "I couldn't get out for various financial, personal, and practical reasons, so I began an emotionally fulfilling, sanity-saving affair."

I don't buy it. If she said she didn't want to ask for an open marriage because she still loved him and thought the request would worsen his depression, I'd have more empathy for her.

But it sounds like she doesn't love him any more ("I couldn't get out"), and she just doesn't want to be honest in case he decides to push for divorce and leave her looking bad in front of their family & friends as well as worse off financially. Well, if divorce will look like a reasonable option to him, then it should look like a reasonable option to her.
LW1; hello. Why you dishing out personal facts like this on a first date? They ask you what your father did for a living as well? Or your Mother's star sign. Tell em it's personal.
Once some depth of intimacy is achieved, these situations from the past would be relevant. A first date though, you are self sabotaging.
Excellent point, LavaGirl. FACTS, while it's okay to admit you're divorced, when asked why, don't mention your cheating. Say something like, "There were a lot of things wrong with the marriage that I'd rather not talk about on a first date." Maybe also consider some counseling to see what drove you to "self-medicate" with casual sex..

As for you, SANE, is your husband getting counseling for his "hellish depression"? If he wasn't showing signs before you married or before ten or so years, something has gone wrong, and he needs help. Do what you can to get him to a therapist. And as Dan points out, chucking your spouses for each other isn't going to solve any problems; you'll just have new ones.
I have nothing against the general practice of cross-examining LWs, but, really:

[You were helping with the kids, right?]

needs a bit of revision. Babysitters help with the kids. Au pairs help with the kids. N(/m)annies help with the kids. Perhaps even houseboys help with the kids. Fathers are actually supposed to parent and/or co-parent and not just help with the kids. The question is practically implying that Fathers Aren't Real Parents. Now, if we want to adopt Ms Sissou's idea of eliminating the concept of paternity, that has some benefits to it, but trying to sneak that in through the back door is unworthy of someone in Mr Savage's situation.
As for L3, it's a bit early in the calendar, but I can genuinely advise LW to get the third pregnant before the wedding rather than after, and let the fiance have an honest out if he wants it.
"So why did you get divorced?" was pointed at me once in a first date. "I'll tell you everything as we go along" was sufficient enough for a second.
I thought the question was a bit intrusive for a first date, but never brought it up. Third was our last.
@2: "I'm under the impression LW1 still feels a bit guilty about the events that led to his divorce, and he's unconsciously showing that by sabotaging his chances with this too-honest-for-his-own-good answer."

Not exactly arguing with you there, but the same self-destructive tendencies that existed beforehand and led him to cheat on his wife with "20 beautiful women" are probably pushing him to wreck things with his later dates as well through "honesty" he knows is pretty revolting to any potential partner.

He needs to look towards why he keeps doing this, cheating, oversharing, and be happier with himself without all this exciting drama.
Rarely does Dan come up with a column where I have virtually no sympathy for any of the 3 LW's, but he's done it here. The degree of self-justification for bad behavior is off the charts. Maybe FACTS and SANE should get together, though.
Sb53- leftovers from last week… @220
“BTW when I did my CD experiment with the pro-domme there was no sex;-... she was pretty firm on that point.”
A pro domme is indeed a pro that does not engage in sex very often, if any at all, with paying clients.
And now what? Did you manage to get that “CD experiment “ thing out of your brain once and for all? My experience, as well as others who have gone a similar journey to mine, is definitely a “no” (and I know it because we girls share intimate stuff regularly.)

This is not to discount your unique situation and the degree of exploration you need or simply just needed. Just be aware that if further solo explorations are your path then you may be on a slippery slope unless the wife gets to at least be aware of it. She may choose to close an eye if you do stuff on your own. Who knows, maybe she’ll be curious to see you one day…
And it may not be a happy ending, but if you can’t shake the habit and she can’t accept it your marriage may be doomed anyway.
You’ve managed to stash away some $400 or so (my own estimation of an average hourly pro-domme fee in the USA.)
Is living this double life worthwhile and sustainable?

Don’t bring up the mistress thing, at least not now. But tell your wife what is it that you want/need, if further “compact disk experiments” are indeed the only way. Try to negotiate a workable solution for both of you and prove her time and again you’ll do anything in return.
SANE maybe what you should be doing is focusing on getting out of your marriage. I mean it's not your husband's fault he's depressed, but if he's refusing to treat or deal with the depression I think that's a deal breaker.

But then I've never agreed with Dan's belief that one should cheat to keep a toxic relationship alive for a few more years. I think you'll be able to see more clearly once you get out of your quagmire of a relationship.
@9 perfect.
@8 How about that? A comment by vennominon which I can understand immediately without having to reread it slowly several times.

Also, completely agreed.
FACTS: No kidding. On date number two, no one wants the entire run-down. "Our sex life died, and I cheated, and I'm not proud of that." The end. Also wanted to note that the twice-used "beautiful" is Dan's word, not FACTS's.
I think FACTS is an example of poor judgment. Who says that stuff on the first date? Just develop better boundaries and say something general. "We weren't right for each other."
LW1 needs to listen to LavaGirl. Who are these women asking "So why did you get divorced?" on the first date!? Too much pressure, too much information, just TOO MUCH. Your dates need to chill with the probing and you need to chill with the, uhhh, "radical honesty" or whatever. Memorize the following:
- We just weren't right for each other.
- We weren't compatible.
- Things didn't work out between us.
- But enough about me, let's talk about you.

And if the vagueness isn't enough of a hint, feel free to deploy:
- That's really personal, I think we should talk about it it we decide to get to know each other better.
- That's really all I want to tell right now.
- Check please!
@9 I thought all three people involved in LW3's missive were men. If LW3 can get his male third pregnant, the fiancé should marry him immediately to cash in on the massive fame that's coming LW3's way.

Putting that aside... not being poly, I'm never quite sure how poly relationships work emotionally, but if Fiancé (the Primary partner) is emotionally threatened by Third, LW3 needs to address that before the wedding. In fact, I might even suggest putting the wedding on hold until this is sorted out one way or the other. This kind of "I don't know if I can fully trust you not to leave me" tension is no way to start a marriage.
Ms Action - Oh, they very well could be all male. But LW3 has finally given me a "male" counterpart to the Queen of Denial soubriquet; unless we have some excellent editing responsible for the way this letter reads (always possible), LW3 is the King of Dodgeball. His relationship is gay, but there's no word about himself (unless one is strongly inclined to think "predominantly tops" a marker of being gay rather than bi, but still that's hardly definitive). The only pronouns for the extra party are "someone", "us" and "we"; the other times in the letter that person is mentioned, it's always "our third" even when there are two mentions where a pronoun would fit as well or better. LW even dodges whether the "third" refers just to a one-time encounter, multiple casual encounters on a level with other threesomes, or if the extra party has relationship status.

The curious point is that, while, as Mr Savage points out, the "we" in the final sentence seems rather telling, that sentence contains the one thing in LW's favour, "could help him get more comfortable" in contrast to the recent SLLotD LW who wanted to "make" her BF comfortable with opening up to her.
Venn. I have never heard a woman say she is predominately a top. I'm with Kate, LW3 is a man.
FACTS: You can share every lurid detail of misbehavior which you think sounds impressive and which you're obviously very proud of and like bragging about, or you can present a reasonably-attractive face on things as someone who doesn't grotesquely overshare on a first date. Can't do both.

Another tip you seem like you might need? When an almost-stranger asks "how're you doing," the appropriate answer is "fine, how are you?" not a two-hour treatise on your morning bowel movement, and that nasty toe fungus you once had.
I really do have to wonder what financial, personal, and practical reasons are so great that make SANE prefer to stay in a loveless, sexless, and miserable marriage. The last time depression as chronic disability came up, I suggested getting out for the sake of the children, and I'll suggest that this time even if there are no children involved. It sounds like Mr. SANE is no better off with SANE sticking around. If she feels guilty, she could divorce him, seek a better relationship, and continue to look after her disabled husband as one would if he were hospitalized, in a coma, needed round the clock care for alzheimers, etc.

The old fashioned advice in this situation used to be to do everything you can to work on your marriage or get out of it, but don't cheat. I think it applies in this case. (I've long felt like the conservative voice in this comments sections, and this is another example. It gives me a giggle. Everywhere else I go I stand out because my opinions are so far to the left. Here, I'm the far right.)

This brings up the man SANE is keeping company with. He's in the same situation? Really? Exactly the same? I suppose so, but then my questions come up again. What financial, personal, and practical reasons are so great that he has to stay in his marriage despite its making him so miserable? I have to wonder if this isn't plain old fashioned cheating where due diligence hasn't been done.
@25 "I really do have to wonder what financial, personal, and practical reasons are so great that make SANE prefer to stay in a loveless, sexless, and miserable marriage."

In my experience, that's usually code for "we have a pre-nup." Especially when "financial" is first on the list.
I agree with all the folks who are basically saying the answer to "why did you get divorced?" is something along the lines of "it was a complex situation, a lot of contributing factors, I'll tell you more as we get to know each other."

Besides, I'm not sure I would want a second date with anyone who asks me why I got divorced on the first date. Totally inappropriate! You're there to slowly get to know this guy, not interrogate him.
@ 11 - I'm under the impression that he insists on them being beautiful as a way to justify what he did and alleviate his guilt - they were so hot he couldn't help himself.

In other words, he's got lots of things going on subconsciously, IMO. I think that his radical honesty is a way for him to punish himself for what he feels guilty about, while on the surface he pretends he's ok because he's admitted his sins. I wonder if he's a catholic.
@28: The word "beautiful" does not appear in the letter.
@ 26 - Exactly. Something along the lines of "I can't afford the lifestyle I'm used to with only my salary, so I'd rather stay in this relationship than lose my financial status. As a bonus, I have someone to blame for my misery!"
@ 29 - So true. He does say "attractive", though - and it wasn't actually relevant or necessary for him to mention it.

Undead misquoted him as saying "20 beautiful women", and I didn't reread the letter before answering Undead, because I knew the LW had effectively said something to that effect. So yeah, a misquote, but I think my comment is still valid.
SANE, your husband is married to someone who is using him for his money. Why wouldn't he be depressed?

FACTS: you don't need to be dating. You're not ready. Get therapy and determine why your wife stopped fucking you, why you were so gross in your cheating (20?) and why you can't deflect a simple, inappropriate question.
What the hell is up with LW2 there? Her husband spirals into crippling depression, so her reaction is "time for an affair because Dan Savage told me it's okay!"? Does that sound monstrously selfish to anyone else? How about trying to push for treatment and help your husband rather than worrying about whether you're getting laid enough?
@vennominon: I can genuinely advise LW to get the third pregnant before the wedding rather than after

Risky move. They could end up being the scandal of the summer and find themselves unflatteringly profiled in all the gay society pages.
@23 - I am predominately a top. There. Now you've heard it from a woman, and yes, it's the truth.
I've heard few women describe themselves as "in a gay relationship" and describe their partner as "him" and themselves as "lad."
SPLIT says "I reassure him as best I can" and "If we could help him get more comfortable" and starts the letter with "gay relationship".

I think we are safe to assume all 3 are men. If the third is a woman... well... i give up on trying to understand sexual identity nomenclature
MrE - seems if i had just refreshed my screen... my comment would have been unnecessary... mea culpa
On a totally different subject, but here are some thoughts re Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out:
- Why only transwomen get the attention? Can a transman also become a celebrity?
- This Vanity Fair cover and other pictures of Ms. Jenner in some fancy dresses that start surfacing only enhance the “drag queen” media attitude. Not to mention some more pseudo-reality crap coming our way (and just so you know, I looked better in my boudoir shoot few years ago.)
- Jon Stewart on the subject:…
@ 36 - Indeed, but the gender of the third is never mentioned.
I took Mr. Venn's comment "it's a bit early in the calendar," to be a reference to his practice of celebrating Bicentric July and Homocentric August each year. In July, he upends society's usual heterocentric norms by deliberately assuming people to be bi where not otherwise stated.

So in that situation (as Ricardo says @40), the third may be a woman, in which case if she turned up pregnant before the LW and his fiance got married, that would be a tried-and-true way to explode a relationship which wasn't working out that well anyway.
@39 - Transmen can become celebrities, I believe, just maybe not of the same calibre. Right now, there is a contest to determine who is going to be the 'Ultimate Guy' for Men's Health magazine, and a transman is leading the way by a considerable number of votes.…
@ CMDwannabe: What about Chaz Bono?
If LW3's third was a woman, ie, not the same sex as LW and fiancé , I feel
He would have said so. Not just described the third person as a third person.
Pregnancy is a terrible way to resolve such a dilemma, anyway.

LW2. If you staying in a marriage because of money, continuing an affair while your husband- presumable the breadwinner/ some rich person's son- is crippled by depression, continuing this affair with a man who
Is also cheating on his wife - Then you got some untangling to do.
First, locate where your heart is and activate it.
I enjoyed all three of the LWs and I thought Dan's answers were good, but I think the answer to @FACTS could be better, and channeling Dan:

FACTS is giving TMI too early and is getting dumped for showing poor judgement, a weak filter and/or poor boundaries. Maybe he's still walking around feeling a little shamed and guilty by the depth and breadth of his 'self-medicating' (not quite right here, but nevermind), and trying to prophylactically self-flagellate so that prospective partners don't think he's blithely oblivious of his karmic transgression.

Like rollling out the serious kink, this kind of reveal needs to wait for the point where a real emotional bond/compatibility begins to develop. You just aren't obligated to show so much of yourself so early - 2nd dates really aren't entitled to the pleadings from the court and a copy of the property settlement. They're basically entitled to "we had real compatibiltiy issues" and not much more.

Later, like three to four months in, you can elaborate on what those were (complete sexual breakdown, folllowed by in inappropriate response).

For anyone who has been following along at home, the little finch has hatched!
@25 - I stayed in a marriage for a good 3-4 years after I knew it was toast and that I was ultimatley leaving, because of a combination of partner depression, dysfunctional step-child and economics (for all involved). It's entirely possible that SANE genuinely believes (and is correct) that her presence in the marriage is better for all involved. Sometimes things are complicated, and not a black-hat/white-hat dichotomy, which brings me to...

@32 - you sound like one of the scorned - that's not advice, that's just anger lashing out.
@46: Re: SANE, there seems to be a significant difference between "I stayed in a marriage for a good 3-4 years after I knew it was toast and that I was ultimatley leaving, because of a combination of partner depression, dysfunctional step-child and economics (for all involved)"

"I couldn't get out for various financial, personal, and practical reasons..."

The LW doesn't mention kids, mentions money, mentions money first, and won't mention any other specific reasons. Huge difference, though it might just be one of tone.

Completely agreed on FACTS, though.
This is FACTS. I haven't yet read every comment, but I'd like to clarify a point Dan made this is being largely misconstrued. My use of the term "beautiful" was a comment to Dan, not something I say to my dates. And "beautiful" is being equivocated with prototypical vixens, a woman's appearance. My fault for not elaborating, but these women came in all shapes and sizes. Their beauty is about their kindness and compassion towards me. They all knew I was cheating and they knew why. These weren't malicious, spiteful bouts of sex. They were far more "Bridges of Madison County" than "50 Shades of Gray."

Also, not every woman responds poorly. Many are compassionate, empathetic, and non-judgmental. They know people make mistakes and appreciate my honesty.

I really like Dan's advice. To answer his concerns: I never went to counseling until afterwards; I wasn't abusive in any way; I was a co-equal parent (still am); I did talk to friends about my frustrations, but I was so naive and afraid when all this happened that I didn't know how to address it. My wife and I were virgins when we got married. Each other's first. Mid 20s at marriage.

Context matters, and I never seek to justify my actions. I know they were wrong. Just trying to be honest without sabotaging my future relationships.
@48 -Nice of you to chime in! Often in the commentariat there is too much tea-leaf reading, some of which is motivated by fault-finding (blame the LW). Don't pay too much attention.

" I was so naive and afraid when all this happened that I didn't know how to address it. My wife and I were virgins when we got married. Each other's first. Mid 20s at marriage."

...and now you know you have a karmic/cosmic obligation to admonish people against whatever kind of (religious?) batshittery brought you to think it was a good idea to marry someone without sleeping with them first.

For the first ten dates: no hairshirt and no self-flagellation. Once you know if you're actually into her, and she is into you, then you can start to reveal that stuff. As a divorced person, I highly recommend talking less about physical/graphical details and more about the emotional aspects of the complete lack of intimacy - you'll get even more empathy than you are now, and less condemnation.
@47 - yes, but SANE doesn't say whose financial needs dictate this: hers or her dysfunctional - jobless? - husband's. She may be sticking by him "in sickness and in health" rather than abandoning him, which was the reason I stayed married to a depressed person for a while (until we were navigated into a stable enough position I could leave and not bankrupt both of us).
I'm reading some interesting comments above. Some helpful, some mean-spirited. As a first time writer to Dan, and a first time poster on these boards, I'd have thought that Dan's audience might be less prone to rash judgment of strangers.

I don't brag about my past. I don't flaunt the number 20 like a badge. 20 people was over the course of several years. And I rarely met the same person twice.

Regarding my choice to reveal so early, it's because I don't want to make it to a point of serious depth only to reveal the truth later and have them feel like I lied. That would only bolster their fears that I'm still a cheat. If someone asks, I've always answered. Humbly. No bravado. No swagger. No bragging. Because it's not about that. It's about ensuring that, moving forward with anyone new, they know I have nothing to hide, that I can communicate, and that I accept responsibility for my actions.

I've been single well over a year now, and the idea that I'm not ready to date is an odd conclusion to reach. I'm not the one with the fear of my past. Some women are. Not all. Some. This is real life. People make mistakes. I don't judge others' pasts. I just want to know whether they've learned and grown.
AFinch @45, congrats!!

If SPLIT is in a "gay relationship", then at least one of them is gay, so the third would not be female. QED.
Hi Factsguy. Welcome. I am also divorced. When i am asked why it didn't work... if i told the truth.(my side of the truth anyway..) .. it would be something along these lines "my wife was so detached it was like she wasnt there at all. Her parents suck. They showed her how to be a shitty partner. Our sex life was so hot and cold i never knew if she was going to jump me or make feel like an over-needy asshole... and anytime i attempted to express my needs or discuss our partnership... she would break down in tears and keep repeating the phrase "i am a horrible person"...thereby making it impossible for me to finish my thoughts. Instead, i would comfort her...when i needed comfort too". However, i have chosen to answer the question with "we were raised very differently...with completely different expectations when it came to intimacy. Her normal was my lonely. We both tried really hard to understand each other and a part of me still loves her... but we just didnt see the world the same way". Personally, i do not think this is a lie at all. And i dont think you need to be so honest as to scare off potential partners. I dont judge you at all for what happened between you and your ex... Life sometimes plays out in unexpected ways. I know my divorce made me question myself in ways that i never had before. Its a horrible feeling to go back on a promise you make to yourself (obviously to your partner too..but that part didnt make me wonder who i was.) I didnt cheat... but cheating isnt the cause of a divorce. What led to the cheating is the cause. Whether that is an inherently unfaithful person... or a marriage that just isnt working... its never so simple as "everything was perfect until he cheated".

Good luck to you! and.... give yourself a break. Its not a lie if its a precursor to the truth. Its just a delay.
@ 51 - Well if you absolutely feel that you most come clean right from the start, why not try something like "My marriage was falling apart, and I started seeing other people. I wasn't pleased with myself about that, so I decided that a divorce was the best course of action, because I realized that I don't want to be a cheating piece of shit." ?
@ 53 - Two bi guys can form a gay relationship, so the third might still be a woman.
Ricardo 56... i see its your turn to be the stubborn schrodinger. hahaha. Glad its not always me! (all in good fun)
@56: I disagree. I would never say I was in a lesbian relationship if I was with another bi woman.
And all the talk of "tops" and "bottoms"... if one of the people involved was a different gender, surely *that* would be a pertinent fact to include? Anyway, not that it changes the answer any!
@53 "If SPLIT is in a "gay relationship", then at least one of them is gay"

I don't think that follows in ordinary English, even leaving aside vennominon's stated effort to fight bi-erasure in our culture.

Jack and Jill can say they're in a straight marriage, even if both Jack and Jill are bisexual. Similarly, SPLIT and his fiance can say they're in a gay relationship, even if both SPLIT and his fiance are bisexual. SPLIT's relationship is a gay (monogamish) relationship because 95% of the intimacy is between two men.

I've never heard anyone say they were in a bisexual marriage, and I don't think it's a term that anyone would understand, except maybe in reference to a mixed-gender triad.
>> Currently there is debate about two kinds of marriage: same-sex and opposite-sex. Same-sex marriage is referred to as “gay marriage,” and relationships are referred to as either same or opposite sex, heterosexual or homosexual, rendering bisexuality invisible...Indeed, to say one is in a “bisexual relationship” or pushing for bisexual marriage is rather confusing.>>

From Julie Ellen Hartman, Bi Outside the Bedroom: The Performance of Bisexual Identity Among Women in "Heterosexual" Relationships (2008), p. 121
@ 57 - What do you mean, it's my turn? Aren't I always extremely stubborn?
@ 58 - What can I say, except that Erica @ 60 explains my point of view very well.
@62 - i mean... it seems to me to be an extreme longshot that the third in this relationship is a woman...that we can argue the philosophical reasons why the possibility remains...but that doesn't improve the odds. Now... if the LW writes in and says "i want to have sons with her..." then we'll know. lol
@ 64 - Indeed it is, but I was just following on Mr. Venn's comment that the LW should get their third pregnant. And since it ends up being a question of grammar, which is my specialty... I can become very pedantic.
Finch, if only humans did hatch. All that pain so easily avoided..
Nice. Always such a great feeling of relief when they finally come out. Hope all are well.
See this is what happens when LWs don't specify the sex of the people in their story, everyone spends an inordinate amount of time trying to analyse the letter to just find out what sexes everyone is.
I agree with Dan. I think LW needs to own their feelings for person no 3, and let person no 2 go. Cause as written, person no 2 is not really getting what they want out of this.
@FACTSguy: A first date isn't the time for penance. Or the time to tell someone about the worst thing you've ever done, or reasons not to date you. When you do tell them--not before the third, and only if they keep after you about why you divorced--leave out the phrase "a lot." It's never not going to sound like bragging, and people who've cheated and brag about it are going to cheat again.

Never, ever say the number "twenty" except to close friends you trust, or maybe a therapist. TMI. There's also no need to tell anyone the details of that time back when you where 22 when you got drunk and slipped a little at the urinal, and got some piss on your pantleg. Definitely not on the first date.

It's not necessarily that they think you'll cheat again, it's that holy shit, you're incredibly bad at first-date etiquette.

"Regarding my choice to reveal so early, it's because I don't want to make it to a point of serious depth only to reveal the truth later and have them feel like I lied."

Do you see a distinction between "a point of serious depth" and "not the first goddam date, jesus christ?" Like, maybe the third date? I mean, I farted loudly earlier today, but I wasn't lying to you by not admitting that until now. But if I had told you that in my first post, you'd think I was pretty weird, wouldn't you? And probably suspect that farting was somehow essential to my character, in a way that it isn't for people who don't mention farting in the first exchange of words?
@51. FACTSguy, you not read these threads before, then? Can get brutal.

You married for 7 yrs and you a dad. The sexless part happen when she was pregnant/ breastfeeding/ looking after small children, perhaps?
You didn't mention your children. Are you sharing custody?
re sharing your past with a new date. I still don't feel
It's necessary for a first date. I don't understand if you were just evasive at first, then this could lead to you being called out on not telling the truth.
If you have resolved to Not follow this path in future commitments, then that should be good enough. You know you're ready to play it straight.
Thanks Mr E. Love to hear about your private self expressions. Weird, You?

I feel misunderstood. I don't want to eliminate the concept of fathers being parents because they raise the child (and not just 'help with', as you rightfully mention), I want to eliminate the concept of fathers being parents because it's their jizz that impregnated the lady who gave birth to the child. And it's the same for mothers, in my eye. I want to eliminate parenthood based on who fucked whom in favor of parenthood based on who did the actual child care and raising.

I don't think that someone who just provided some semen should have any say over another human being. Obviously someone who provided her body as incubator for 9 months should have initially much more of a voice over the child's raising, but if she doesn't want to care for the child herself past the pregnancy, she's just a genitrix, not a mother, and she should not be trusted to decide for the child.

Thus kids raised by nannies should be perceived as the nannies' children, not their biological parents' children. And rich people who can't be bothered to parent should be considered as childless even if they do reproduce.

Human babies are not cattle, fit to be raised by whomever, while remaining the property of their fathers. Women are not babymaking cattle either, whose worth is decided by their vaginal statute and foreseeable fecundity. The worst offense against humankind begin with treating humans as things.
@69 Four of the first 5 years of my marriage were sexless. 2 years procreate. 2 more years procreate. 5 of the 8 we were married were sexless.

But it was more than just not sex. It was a lack of overall intimacy. My wife wouldn't hardly cuddle at night because "it's too hot." The hugs I'd get after coming home from work amounted to barely more than a pat on the back and pushing me away.

To give my all in a marriage only to be seen as a sperm donor crushed me.

That's all I'll say about my kiddos. This thread isn't about them.
@68 I don't seek penance. I do give honest answers. Some good advice from here? Honest, without details. "I cheated." Although it's a significant difference between 1 fling and many. Invariably, people keep asking. And they're as equally struck by my honesty as my actions. The honesty is viewed favorably. The actions aren't.

One of my fondest first date was with a guy who told me he was an habitual cheater because he could not get his mind around the concept of sexual faithfulness, but he would show the utmost respect to any of his partners, and never embarass them. He was so naturally forthcoming with the info that I had no doubt whatsoever that any lady previously or currently in his life had been identically warned that unfaithfulness was the price of admission for a relationship with him. And they had still chosen to give him a try... I ended up following their lead, and my only regret is that it didn't last a bit longer. We're still friends. And he's totally discreet over his current relationship(s), I can't know anything, he's a tomb.

But that's not FACTSguy's story, so better not overshare about the cheating if you don't think it still defines you currently. Another guy I know told me way into the relationship that his marriage had ended after he had had the weakness of cheating instead of divorcing as soon as he had understood the marriage to be doomed. He was not an habitual cheater and had never cheated again. On another side, I didn't ask him until way into the relationship what had led to the divorce. We're also still friends.
Fair enough FACTSguy. This isn't about your children. Hearing your story about them though, helps me deal with a prejudice.
Your ex wife does sound very difficult.
@73. If you tell them
You cheated, it's much better to put it in context. Just saying- I cheated- is like a little bit of the story and I still don't think you should share that first date.
If a man told me that- I cheated- no context, I'd give him a wide birth.
So either tell them
The Whole story, if they so rude to ask first date- or say it was an unhappy marriage, yet we have beautiful children together. And wait.
Fourth, or later date- some intimacy established, some affection there- you have a little more emotional room to open up.
If they are sizing you up as marriage material first date by asking these sorts of intrusive questions, maybe You should check if you want a second date.
@73 I always give context. I'm clear not to justify my actions. They're unjustifiable. But I always put in context.

My ex was a beautiful gal. Great mom. Just...not affectionate. It hurt me deeply and I wasn't prepared to respond in a more constructive, healthy way.
FACTSguy, the correct answer to "why did you divorce" is "intimacy issues." If pressed for more detail, you say "My ex was a beautiful gal. Great mom. Just...not affectionate. It hurt me deeply and I wasn't prepared to respond in a more constructive, healthy way."

This is true. Everything else was a symptom, and trust me, no one else ever wants to know all of the symptoms--of anything. You divorced because your wife completely froze you out; this had consequences, including severe unhappiness, cheating, and divorce. Stop telling people about cheating, and if that requires that you stop blaming yourself, then stop blaming yourself.

If pressed for more detail, on the first date, say "I don't like to talk about it" and then don't schedule a second date, because she's probably an asshole. (Don't demand obsessive disclosure of all of her sins on the first date, either.)

Out of curiosity, have you ever had a job interview? Guess what's not the right time to talk about how much booze you had when you were under age? The honesty is not actually viewed favorably, even if they won't admit that.

Wouldn't even cuddle you or hug you? Holy shit. You were married to someone awful, who treated you terribly. You don't need to tell other people that, but you do need to recognize it yourself.
@77. Still. A date is not a therapy session. Maybe you are still too torn about your life to be ready for a new relationship?
Have you looked at this with a therapist? Might help.
Ms Fan - Although I was once fairly well acquainted with a pair of "natural" fathers who described theirs as the first "gay relationship" of each, I'm willing to accept your statement as potentially true for All Bi Women Everywhere. (While I cannot give firsthand testimony regarding A>B>C threesomes, the nature of which needs no explanation, I have heard of them from various sources of high reliability.) Indeed, it was that phrasing which made me form a working hypothesis of LW3's likely being bi and looking for confirming or contradictory evidence. I have no cosmic vibrations about Fiance's orientation, and I suppose if pressed to be serious I can accept the logistical probability that Third is male (but I'll come back to this), but, if I were forced to bet on any of the unprovided facts in the case, I'd sooner bet on LW's being bi.

LW is, I suggest again, the King of Dodgeball. (When I originally referred to a "male" soubriquet, I simply meant that, just as I do not restrict the Q-title to females, I don't reserve the K-title for males.) This may not require an excuse, but I am looking for an explanation. There is, one can suppose, a chance that LW could be indicating that this is a GG relationship. But he refers to or mentions Third seven times:

"a good friend"
"our third"
part of "the two of us"
"our third"
"our third"
half of "we"

even without counting the "everyone" and "all our needs" in the second half of the last sentence, as I don't think LW has established sufficiently that Third has the right to have "needs" that should be the concern of Fiance. Even if we accept that Fiance's being given gendered words happens in part because this is a written letter and not a podcast call, I think it is safe to say that mentioning a person seven times in one paragraph without indicating a gender doesn't often happen by accident.

The first possible scenario that came to mind which explained LW's dodging, all of them having needs, and (which puzzled Mr Savage as well) LW's firm unexplained intention not to leave Fiance was that Third is a woman, Fiance is well off, and LW was angling for advice in favour of a triad. The pregnancy bit was just BJ flavouring (Bicentric July was originally a spinoff from Homocentric August that got reduced after the first season to the odd post on occasion when a letter seemed well-suited to it; HA is a monthlong endeavour in which others, Ms Erica among them, have occasionally joined in) because LW's refusal to specify fit so well.
FACTSguy - I'm struggling with your timeline(s). Maybe you can clarify for me.

In @72 you said "Four of the first 5 years of my marriage were sexless. 2 years procreate. 2 more years procreate." The way I interpret that is that you didn't have any sex the first 2 years you were married, but you then had sex in order to have a child? And then you endured another 2 sexless years before you had procreative sex again?

Again in @72 you said "5 of the 8 we were married were sexless". By my calculation, if 4 of those sexless years were in the first 5 years of your marriage, then that would mean that over the last 3 years of your marriage you had 1 additional sexless year, and 2 years with sex (apparently not for procreation)

Here's where I get more confused - in your original letter you said "I was a good husband and father for seven years. But after four sexless years of marriage, I strayed...Two years and 20 women later, I got caught."

In the letter you seem to say that your were married for 9 years, but in @72 you say 8. I'm just trying to figure out if you were sleeping with your wife and these 20 other women at the same time. It seems so. Also, it sounds like you started cheating when your children were 4 years old and 2 years old or thereabouts. I'm wondering how you could be good at anything (husbanding, fathering) when so much of your energies were being spent pursuing sex.

I was also struck by a couple other things you said in your letter: "I strayed" seems like a ginormous understatement, and "I don't hide the facts; I own my mistakes." sounds like you're in denial. You hid 20 women from your wife for 2 years. Confessing to complete strangers on a first or second date is easy. Are you able to be honest when it's hard? When you're emotionally invested in someone, or they're emotionally invested in you?

I think the commentariat are letting you off too easy. Any women who might be interested in dating you deserve to have this information. It absolutely speaks to your character - especially with such young children at home and such a high number of partners.

Maybe you can change, I do wish you luck.
Ms Sissou - I think we're close enough. Someone who "helps with" the kids isn't parenting/raising them, and I remembered that it was parenting/raising them that was tied to your designation. Mr Savage himself appears to have done a good deal more than "help with" Le Fils.

It's finally starting to hit me, by the way, that there will be no Numero Dix this year for poor Sr Nadal. This outweighs all the interesting speculation about whether one reason Mr Murray is playing better is that he doesn't want to yell at Ms Mauresmo while she's so pregnant.
LW #3 reminds me of a couple I was a sporadic third to the entire time I was in college. I had a closer connection to one than the other which I, as the third, didn't think was a big deal, since they had another sporadic third that the other was closer to (and the one time we had a fourgy it was all kinds of amazeballs).

Then the year after I graduated, they broke up. I was informed that inviting others into their bed started as a safe way to explore their sexuality, but eventually became a way of seeking intimacy they didn't have with each other--and that I was the source of said intimacy for one of them and not the other. This wasn't am attempt to blame me (or their other third) for their breakup, but it did open my eyes to a lot of stuff that I had willfully ignored, and maybe they had too.

I would advise LW to make sure that he isn't hunting intimacy he can't live without that his fiance can't provide.
Yes Venn. NAdal seems to be loosing his tennis prowess, big time. He's no Serena Williams. She is just amazing, so hard to feel good for her, though. Such an unpleasant person.
@81 Part of the confusion is the published letter is a synthesis of what I actually wrote, and isn't 100% accurate. For example, the letter I wrote said: "I was a great husband. Better father. But after 4 sexless years (except for conceiving) in the first 5 years of my marriage, I strayed. Crying myself to sleep every night took its toll and I finally self-medicated with casual sex with attractive women. Two years and 20 women later, I got caught."

I was married 8+ years before separation. The first year of my marriage we had sex, though with decreasing frequency over that time. Over the next 4 years we had two bouts of 2 years without sex, broken up only to conceive. We then went about 3 years with a healthier sex life. During that time I didn't cheat. To end my marriage, after 7 months again of no sex and less intimacy, I was about to cheat again. Got caught texting about it. That triggered the divorce, though I never actually slept with the person. That's the timeline.

I only slept with these women when my wife was out of town. She'd be gone a week or two, a few times a year and I'd find a few people to sleep with. She'd come home and I'd stop meeting people. That happened for 2 years. I didn't cheat until after my marriage was sexless through years 2-3. Two years of faithfulness and low intimacy and a sexless marriage crushed me. I was still in my 20s at this point. I'm in my mid-30s now.

When I first started cheating my first child was less than one.

I'm not sure what you think I'm in denial about.

@78 I don't view my ex as an awful person. She made choices that hurt me. I subsequently made choices that hurt her. And over the course of our marriage she was a great mom. We got along, but I was hurting inside. She probably was too for different reasons. I do feel mistreated. But I never had the courage to say so. I didn't want to hurt her feelings/make her feel like a bad wife. I made many mistakes regarding communication in my marriage. This go around, would rather be overly honest than afraid to say anything at all.
@51: There is absolutely no reason to quote numbers. I don't know whether you deserve sympathy, pity, or disdain, but you have to get through whatever impulses are continuing to cause you to sabotage your relationships before you find something worth sticking with.
"I was hurting inside. She probably was too for different reasons. I do feel mistreated. But I never had the courage to say so. I didn't want to hurt her feelings/make her feel like a bad wife. I made many mistakes regarding communication in my marriage. This go around, would rather be overly honest than afraid to say anything at all."

Well, there's being passive-aggressive and being "over honest" to an obvious fault. Neither are doing you good. Be honest about what actually matters, if you feel worthy, stop beating yourself up and one day you'll be able to get past however you've trapped yourself.
I mean, "there was infidelity" vs "I cheated on my wife with quite a very long stream of affairs, let me tell you how many"? Find a trusted friend and run these narratives past them first before necessarily inflicting them on future dates.
@87 What did you read that I wrote that leads you to conclude I was passive aggressive? Holding everything in and still treating my wife like nothing's wrong isn't passive aggressive.
@81 - factsguy - having been through a similar experience... i can tell you that it took me years to understood that my ex wasn't in fact making choices that hurt me...but rather, she was being herself...the consequence of which was a version of me that was in pain, lonely, and desperate for attention. That version of me is one i never knew even existed. When two people are simply not cut from the same cloth with regard to intimacy... it is nearly impossible to truly understand each other. You needed things she couldn't give you. She is wired differently. She likely won't ever have a relationship that you envy...because she is looking for something different than what you want. I wanted my ex to touch me more often.... hold my hand...brush my shoulder when she walked by...anything.... but... it was literally never on her mind.

I give you more of a pass than JibeHo because i feel i have been where you were... but of course... i reserve the right to be dead wrong... since i HAVE had friends who cheated without ever giving their partners a chance to work on their relationships.... and that i cannot abide (they aren't my friends anymore) I never cheated on my ex... but when i realized that seeing other couples touch made me sad... i knew i had to leave. Back to your letter... hold your tongue until the woman has SOME idea what kind of person you are...
@86 Who said I quote numbers? I told Dan the number. I don't shout out 20 every time I answer "Why are you divorced."

C'mon folks. Let's read the text more closely than this.
@90 Sage words. I understand that experience you describe well.
FACTSguy, It's not for me to judge you for how your marriage played out, or timelines, or blame. But I have been on lots of first dates and the ones that could just as well be interviews weren't good. Like you, I had to decide how to deal with the question, "why did you get divorced?"
I left my 22-year marriage because I was sexually unsatisfied in it. Before leaving, and after trying for 4 years to get my husband to agree to some changes in our sex life, I cheated with several men. Eventually, I had a 3+ year-long affair. I never got caught; my ex still doesn't know. I just got tired of being a cheater and realized I'd never get satisfaction in my marriage.

So. The better first dates I've been on in my 8 years post marriage are the ones that don't feel like interviews. They are the ones in which we seek to make more spontaneous connections, to tell stories and jokes and discuss current events or movies or stories we heard on NPR. If I feel like I'm being grilled, that's a bad sign.
Inevitably, if the new acquaintanceship is going well, at some point (maybe even on that first date; maybe on a subsequent one or the third), I'll bring up the fact that my marriage ended due to a serious sexual incompatibility. That's the main point--not that I was a cheater. I know myself and know that I don't need to confess my sins, but I do need to explain how highly I prioritize sexual compatibility and satisfaction and since I am also best friends with my ex (though we're never going to reconcile), it would be puzzling and perhaps troublesome for someone to witness that relationship without some context and assurance that we're not going to reconcile.

Anyway, my advice is to not even talk about why marriages ended on a first date and to keep the reasons to the truthful ones/phrasing that both Eudaemonic and ChairmanOfTheBored suggest when the discussion does come up. You and your ex-wife had some incompatibilities around intimacy. Most women would be relieved to hear that you want intimacy and affection. If a woman presses and won't back down from that answer as not being good enough on a first date I think that's a bad sign and you're better off without wanting a second one. Obviously, once you realize that you are really starting to care for someone, you want to be more honest. I don't know that you ever need to give the number, but you clearly need to give the context. This isn't a question of being deceptive, and I'm not counseling non-honesty--I'm just saying wait a bit until the woman has reason to know who you are inside a little bit so she can put this in perspective and then be forthcoming and non-evasive. Good luck with your post-marriage dating and I hope you find the connection you want.

AFinch: Mazel Tov! I hope all in your family are doing well and getting some sleep.
Well, this grouping of letters was certainly interesting.

I'm going through the beginning stages of a divorce now, and have a dash of each letter in my own life at the moment.

I'm glad FACTSguy chimed in, though I find it staggering how much SPLIT apparently needed to make an appearance to clarify genitals involved.

@42 sanguisuga @43 Ginnie

Suga- Glad to see this guy from Oregon is getting attention and is also photographed showing his upper body muscles (with American Eagle underwear visible under the sagging pants.) The kind of picture you may expect on the cover of a magazine that boasts workout and bodybuilding, yet a very pleasant surprise he is so well accepted by a crowd that I strongly suspect is slightly more on the macho side then I am.

Gin- Chaz Bono was indeed a celebrity when coming out as a man, thanks for reminding me. But did anyone expect him to appear on a major mainstream magazine cover wearing some sort of underwear or a speedo? Did anyone talk about his make up or hair or musing about the surgeries he had to go through to achieve his “manly look?” And what also seems to be a carefully planned media campaign only adds to my feeling that this is not a very a healthy acceptance after all.

Wonder what normies may have to say.
oh who really cares what gender identities are involved in LW3's question? the interpersonal dynamics are still the same.
Oh wow, it’s getting somewhat melancholic in here with all those divorced guys chiming in. Unfortunately we men never discuss our partners’ kinks, so here goes:
You came across as somewhat over analyzing and slightly too self-forgiving in the original letter as printed. I think you only enhance this impression with your insistence of explaining yourself time after time. Sit down and absorb what total strangers may have to say. Suggestions and attitudes may vary. That’s life. Take what you find useful and leave the rest.

Your use of 'soubriquet' has me wondering. If it's an English word, then it would mean it's a quite early French borrowing, as the current French equivalent is 'sobriquet'.
@89: "What did you read that I wrote that leads you to conclude I was passive aggressive? Holding everything in and still treating my wife like nothing's wrong isn't passive aggressive. "

The "holding things in" while fucking 20 women until you got caught part, there's no need to be dense.
@60: No, sorry. I am bisexual. Therefore none of my relationships, even my opposite-sex ones, are "straight."
@80: Maybe LW uses so many different words for "their third" because using "he" to refer to potentially two different people in the same letter would be confusing?
Anyway, on the scale of things to argue about, it's moot, unless there's a possibility of bets being taken and SPLIT verifying the gender of the third.
I'm willing to accept that SPLIT himself may be bi. But, as I said, if he's described it as "a gay relationship" that means at least one of them is gay, so if it's the Future Mr SPLIT, then their third would still not be female.
Or perhaps the third is genderqueer and does not use male pronouns. Whatever.

@83: Love the word "fourgy" :)

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