Savage Love Sep 28, 2016 at 4:00 am


Joe Newton


Undead @78: "He was a serial cheat...?"

Does the question mark mean you are asking? The answer is no, he wasn't a serial cheat, he was a one-time cheat, at least that's the way I read the question. He told his therapist it was a "one-time thing," yes? And after he went through with it, the guilt crippled him. He had to get to the fifth or sixth shag and then the guilt kicked in? That makes no sense.

"Seeking out" doesn't mean "hooking up." It means he put "interested in NSA sex" as one of the search restrictions on the profiles he surfed. You really think that messaging 10 women means getting sex with 10 women? I don't think so!
If I've misread it (or he's downplayed it... that's never been known to happen, hmm) and it was a "one-time" spate of cheating rather than a spate of browsing which culminated in a single fuck, then I retract my opinion of this guy as a decent human being who made a mistake he's obviously learned from. And yes, she does need to know so she can kick his ass to the curb.
@99: Gotcha.

In an academic sense, I find it really hard to set firm black and white grounds for what is an immediate tell in the interest of a relationship and what is "best" for the other or both parties to let drift into the æther. I tend to not find those rules useful to me in my own life and would rather make distinctions on a case by case basis, I do feel that context is such an important factor that I don't see these musings as being useful to any situation I'd encounter in my own life, nor am I high enough in paygrade or detached enough to feel qualified to meddle in friends' affairs.

I feel odd enough when I post my opinions and notice the LW reads the comments here!
Jina @ 98
I think Dan and the experts are once again failing to grasp the seriousness of the possible patterns, and their solution is a short-term remedy that is not likely to last.
Wedding date is not mentioned in the letter and I say no marriage until he works on his issues. I also think he should disclose at some point, yet the tone of the letter made me think that an immediate disclosure is certain to be disastrous to both.
No guarantee that a delayed one will be any better, but I hope there will be a sincere effort to look into all this. Such attempts often lead to better communication skills and healthier ways to deal with the possible consequences.
This is not for his benefit only; his approach is likely to make it easier on the gf as well regardless of the outcome.
@102/103: I suppose, he had a dating app looking for NSA women during their entire relationship and continued actively using it (not "play" looking as I guess some do) to hook up after he was found out. It's certainly not impossible that he would not have people willing to meet up with him, but if he successfully met up once, I would be suprised over the years (he didn't mention that the profile was new or newly activated) that he actively cultivated the profile that he did not have another serious offer.

I'm reading beyond this "one time, I swear!" into his behavior, which indicates that he doesn't see this as a one-time act. Maybe if he'd framed things differently about the app, but he wanted to keep fucking as many persons as would let him any way you read it.

And I don't really see any insight he has come to through therapy or a renewed interest in monogamy that would suggest that he's reformed, just guilt to assuage and compartmentalize.
I would definitely guess that (assuming the therapist is one of "the good ones") he told his therapist a nice version of the tale, and that the reality is somewhat grittier than he's even posted here.

The more dramatic the narrative, the sketchier I perceive the LWs. Possibly unfair to them, but I tend to empathize more with the plain speaking ones that at least bother to think about their partner over themselves.
The gist from the letter is that it was a one time thing.

We don't know anything other than what's printed, we shouldn't go thinking it's just like someone else I know/ it's like some other relationship I've had/it's like some other thing that's also irrelevant.

The fact is that the letter says that he looked up multiple women on a dating app, got caught, then he cheated ONCE despite being caught, and now he feels awful about it.

Maybe he cheated multiple times, or had a single "spate of cheating", then yes! He's a CPOS!.

But that's not what the letter said. Respond to the facts, not your expanded interpretation. If the scenario is accurate, Dan's advice is spot on and he should not tell. He messed up really, really bad, he feels awful because he loves this woman, and he will never do it again. If he tells her, he runs the risk of losing this woman. As long as he never cheats again, the best solution is to not confess.

@69 & @70 BiDanFan: Congrats--as usual, you're on a roll!
@63 & @64: I wasn't being snarky to CPOS or PAIN. Marriage really isn't a good fit for me, either, and, upon a week of soul searching, I have been getting rid of a lot of shit. Our road trip to the beach was a success--lots of sun, fun, release of tensions----and letting go of the bad stuff.
Now, to clean out what I have in storage in exchange for a garage rental during the cold, stormy fall & winter months, and my beloved and I are set.
@110: Still dealing with PTSD, one day at a time, but things are getting better and more manageable.
Steamed @101: In all of your hypothetical situations, the main thing to ask is does it affect the partner. Pawning the jewelry, the additional mortgage, heck pretty much anything that affects shared finances is a must-disclose. I would say the same if the (for argument's sake) one-time and instantly regretted cheating was done without a condom; potential exposure to a third party's STDs does affect the partner and therefore must be disclosed.

What he's fantasising about when he masturbates or when they are fucking? Doesn't affect the partner. Unless what he's fantasising about is always the same thing, and that thing is other men, or a kink he'll eventually realise he can't live without...

Loopholes and caveats, that's what life is about.
BiDanFan @112, I agree with this: "the main thing to ask is does it affect the partner."

Condoms don't magically prevent exposure to STDs. They reduce the risk of transmission -- but not to zero, especially for HSV. He may not be getting routine HSV testing (or any STI testing, for that matter). And he won't be tested for HPV, so he should be conscious of the real risk of passing along that potentially cancer-causing STI to his fiancee, whether or not he used a condom when he cheated.

One doesn't have to confess a short online-only affair, or an emotional affair if it's really over. Or a physical affair if one is no longer having sex with one's established partner. But otherwise, yes, it's better to tell and face the consequences than risk your partner's health in order to protect your secret.

He says WOMEN in the letter. It's ambiguous if he sought out multiple women but only screwed one of them or if he cheated many times. Later he says (referring to the therapist) that if this is a one-time thing, but again no clarification if he means using the app to cheat was thing of the past or if he means the actual cheating was one-time. IMO it doesn't matter if it was once or multiple times since it was planned, but it is unclear so it makes sense that people could interpret it both ways.

"But she doesn't know that shortly after her discovery, I went ahead and cheated. To my meager, meager credit, I did seek out only women who were looking for NSA hookups."

Surely in each relationship, people get to make up their own rules about what they want disclosed? I'm sure there is as much variation as there are people in relationships. In this one, they have the expectation of monogamy. If he sleeps around, he should disclose that. Generally, I think the big deal breakers are about sex expectations, sexual orientation, the desire for children, financial assets and debts (as you point out), legal issues, health complications and issues with family. Basically, any of the things that are a part of your personal life that then become a part of the other partner's personal life as well. If it's a part of your personal life and affects no one else in any way, I think you have a right to keep that private.

Not sure what the point of posting a 115th comment about the cheater is, but it's really bugging me how much this wasn't a hookup with an old fling or a drunken mistake that could be forgotten, this was more premeditated and with more steps than a goddamn jewel heist. Please, CPOS, for the sake of everyone involved give this engagement enough time so you can figure out if you're feeling like marriage material right now.
@65 LavaGirl: Hey there, and Happy Spring---beach season!
My beloved VW and I got lots of sun, saw orcas, foxes, and
eagles, and it was the battery recharge we both desperately
needed this past week.
Big hugs, positrons, and VW beeps
@88, my opinion only:

"She has a right to know about actual cheating [?]" For me, this is true under all circumstances...I certainly would like to know. It helps me to know where I stand in the relationship. And what kind of person I'm dealing with.

"--does she also have that right about flirting? Fantasies?"

Absolutely not...although it's always nice if one has the kind of relationship where he COULD tell you about those things.

@29, lol. Fantasies have very little to do what kind of person you are. I have intense fantasies involving rape and pain inflicted upon me, and occasionally race-based rape and pain, sometimes with an audience. I don't consider myself particularly sick or racist, or an exhibitionist, since I know that many people have similar fantasies. On that note, LW2 should not police her boyfriend's fantasies.
@BiDanFan: Forgive my late post, but you were right about my comment (@125) from last week . Yes, I meant about SNIP's getting a tubal ligation (not a hysterectomy), if she wanted to, and felt the need. My brain was already on vacation.
My brain could very well still be on vacation.
Dan I think you blew it with the answer to LW1. She deserves to know that he went ahead with his plan to cheat on her even after he told he that he would abandon that plan. She is about to marry him, to join their finances. She is about to make a huge change to her life and she deserves to have the information that he cheated.

@88 As to what should and should not be disclosed, once your partner finds you planning to do something that is important and tells you that they don't want you to do it, then if you do it anyway, you have to disclose. This isn't a case where he "didn't know" if it would upset her, he knew damned well it would. She had been clear about that. This goes to the heart of their potential marriage and she deserves to decide if this is a deal breaker or not.
percysowner @120 - Speaking generally, one doesn't have to disclose private activities which upset one's partner (but aren't otherwise their business).

If one's partner throws a fit if one watches porn, or visits unapproved friends, or snacks between meals, then one has no moral obligation to tell that partner about those activities. One might be well advised to end the relationship, of course.
Something else for CPOS to consider ... Marriage is the commitment. Engagement is for figuring out if marriage is a good idea. You have not made the lifetime commitment yet. Now is the time for making mistakes, figuring out your feelings, and seeing how you handle them ... which you're doing. It doesn't mean you can keep on cheating until you're married. It does mean you should not be so hard on yourself. If you feel you've figured this one out and you're ready for marriage, go for it. If you haven't figured it out and you want to cheat again, you're not ready for marriage.
"She discovered the dating app I used, and we worked through that. But she doesn't know that shortly after her discovery, I went ahead and cheated."
How do you even fuck up that hard?
Mr Lash - It depends on perspective. If he wants out and to burn the bridges (which, on some level he likely does), he's not going about it in a way likely to be unsuccessful.


Ms Erica - Marry for money; earn every penny? (indirectly at least)
@112 and @113 Sooo, STDs then? STDs are the only problem with cheating? If it wasn’t for STDs fucking around behind your partner’s back regardless of the relationship rules you have agreed to would be totally acceptable? Because without the risk of STDs it doesn’t affect your partner? Right.

So there you have it LW#1. As long as you didn’t bring home any STDs you did nothing wrong. Clearly your fiancée was being silly when she put up rules about something that doesn’t affect her. So just be safe and happy cheating!
@114 Yes, people get to draw their own lines. She drew a line, he agreed to it and then jumped right over it. Which to me says something about the level of respect he has for her (not much) and how he handles their relationship (not well). And not enough time has passed to be sure that he has worked through his issues. So imo he should not marry her just yet. If he can somehow postpone the wedding without telling her why, fair enough. But he’s not ready for marriage (which does affect the woman he’s going to marry).
Whether he tells her about he cheating or not, he has no business marrying her.
@125 and @126
There are lots of reasons why you should be honest with people, but the issue with STDs makes it more serious because the other person is literally trusting their live and health to you. So, yeah, lying is wrong, but if we are talking about NSA encounters (and not affairs) then really the STD risk is what takes it from the "oops" camp to the "immoral" camp. I think there are many people who wouldn't care so much about NSA experiences outside of a relationship if STDs weren't an issue. Yes to postponing and yes to the blatant disrespect and withholding of information.
Condoms do not protect from HPV or Hep B, and usually not against Herpes either. A person has the right to know what risks they are exposed to.
Steamed Ham
All others

It may be easier to follow your posts and interact with you if you also indicate the person’s screen name. Thanks!

You too.
@123: Dehumanizing your partner is step one.

@121: It's her business if he plunges ahead with the marriage, but it'd also do her well if he acts like a grownup for once and bows out, because she needs to be tested.

I'm sure he'll rethink telling her after kids and several further undisclosed partners.

CMD @131, gotcha.
Steamed Hams @125, I feel confident saying one isn't morally required to disclose fantasies to one's partner. From that basic stance, I categorize an online-only affair as closer to fantasy than to a physical affair with, yes, its STD risks.

If one neglects one's partner for the online affair, then that's a relationship problem, but I'm not sure how it's different from neglecting them while playing video games.
Re disclosure: Deceit is no good. It either means you're afraid that the people around you can't handle honesty, or might hurt you with it.. (maybe you should surround yourself with different people) or you want to save yourself from uncomfortable consequences by propagating false information to others.. or you are simply being cautious with strangers I guess. Deceit can really hurt others, depending on the decisions they make with this false information. I think this letter is more about deceit than disclosure, as it seems they agreed to monogamy. There is a different type of disclosure, not disclosing a deception, but opening up vulnerable parts of yourself... the things you really care about and that really cause you pain... like in disclose, downplay, drop... I don't think you're morally obligated to disclose parts of yourself. But it's nice to be known. I don't think you can really trust someone unless you know them. I'm not sure love can exist without some mutual understanding, so in that sense, it's important to convey an accurate overall impression of yourself.

Some people can't handle reality. They need fantasy to get by. Maybe everyone needs some fantasy to cope with reality. Reality can be painful.

I can understand negotiating "don't ask don't tell" rules. If you don't really like your partner's outside sex but it's not a deal breaker. Sort of like "Ok I know you're not going to stop playing Pokemon Go. But I don't want to hear about it anymore." What I can't understand is asking another to participate in your delusions... this "if you cheat, don't tell me, I'd rather pretend we've always been perfectly monogamous if possible". This person sounds like they have given up on being able to handle reality. And that sounds very sad to me. But maybe I'm weird. Like, a lot of people like to believe in god(s). Death is especially sad.
Philo @135, I really like your phrasing here:
"I don't think you're morally obligated to disclose parts of yourself. But it's nice to be known."
Agreed 100%.
Steamed Hams @125: I refer you to my posts @2, @7, @32, @69, and particularly @102/@103 to let you decide whether I meant "cheating in general must not be disclosed unless there is STD risk" or "cheating in this single, narrow instance need not be disclosed unless there was STD risk."

Hint: It's the latter.
Ciods [136] - Thank you. It's nice to be known by someone who can accept you. Then again you can be open and honest and respectful and get harshly rejected and that sucks. I suppose that's why opening up is usually done slowly over time. Although it's also a reason to disclose the most unusual parts of yourself at the very beginning, so you don't waste too much time getting to know someone who is going to reject those parts.
There is also the idea hunter, that fantasies really are private. I wasn't fussed with his
wife/ partner sharing them.
@77 Emma My contribution was to add my experience in life with therapists to the discussion. I was not saying that all therapists are good or all are bad I only have two therapists to compare to your statement. I was hoping you and some more of our merry band might share some of those experiences, that is all. Thank you for writing that you should have said "some therapists" ;...I missed that or it crossed in the ether.
Okay--this is, again, so last week, so forgive me (my beloved and I were on vacation then, and I'm playing catch up now), but, from last week's SL:
@231 CMDwannabe: That sounds wickedly good--with a little John Cleese merrily thrown in! and @253 Donny Klicious: And what about the Spam skit?

@142 sb53: I, too, can relate to having therapy. Fortunately, the majority of such experiences throughout my life have been good, positive ones. My next PTSD session comes up again next week.
The moral of Griz's story: Vacations are good!! Everybody--when you need a vacation, take one.
Breaks now and then really do help in coping with everyday life's ups and downs.

I'm a few weeks ahead, but Griz is ready to don her Android Dancer costume and do The Time Warp Again for Halloween.
If I remember hunter, I'm not reading the letter again; only his partner knew of these fantasies, till she spilled them all over SL.
A person is free to share their own fantasy, and unless there is real concern re pedophilia, incest, rape, murder, other people's fantasies are theirs to share.
Grizelda, I'm surprised you haven't mentioned Brad Pitt. Like wtf is going on.
Angelina threw out Brad Pitt.
Her loopy father is backing trump. I wonder if that is part of the story. Cmon. Every father loses it with their kids.
@146 LavaGirl: While Brad Pitt indeed, remains a favorite fantasy boyfriend, I actually feel sorry for him, Angie, and especially their 6 kids caught in the middle of an ugly divorce. And I don't think Brad's planning to look me up anytime, soon.
I bite my tongue in regards to John Voight--and rank him right down there with Clint Eastwood and his ultra-wrong-wing-bizarre 2012 RNC chair fixation. I have actually been trying to avoid political discussions altogether, and have recently adopted Wiley Miller's satirical cartoon heroine, East Coast cafe owner, and waitress, Flo's outlook at the "Offshore Diner".
Deliver us, Flo!
@146 LavaGirl, again:'s an idea for a Rocky Horror-ish fantasy:
Pitt's already a Brad--so what about me in Susan Sarandon's role as Janet?
Toucha toucha toucha touch me!
I'm not afraid of Halloween this year---what happens a week afterward and beyond is what's really scaring the shit out of me.

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