Savage Love

Cheaters Club





Spot on advice as usual, Dan the Man, for CPOS, PAIN, and SAD.
Wow. And people trying to hook me up wonder why I'm so happily asexual, and the love of my life is a classic Volkswagen Super Beetle convertible that lives for the beaches.
Dan and everybody re @1: Did I cheat, technically after scoring first post last week?


@2 you only cheated if you hacked into the Stranger's computer systems and deleted someone else's 1st post! So, congrats!


@3 delta35: Fair enough. But once again, since I rightfully scored first post, I declare you and all other commenters as having dibs on this week's Lucky @69 Award and Big Hunsky (and Donny scored both recently, in one week!). :)


CPOS~ What Dan said. It’s not cheating if you both agree to it.
PAIN~ You stayed with Wife1 “for my child's sake“ but now neither one of you seems to give two fucks about the girl toy’s “relatively happy marriage“ or HER TWO KIDS. You’re both assholes and two assholes don’t make a right. Hopefully her ex gets full custody.
SAD~ This is the truth that you’ve always known but conveniently ignored to get married. Your relationships ALWAYS END once you commit. I guess you can blame “wishful thinking” but in my book you’re riding the same asshole bus as LW2. You’ve fucked over your “loving, handsome man” for your own selfish reasons. Give him Dan’s option of “let me fuck free or let’s end it”. Better for him to rip the band-aid off fast and move on if that won’t work for him. And don’t pull this shit on the next guy who you think you can “make celibacy work“ with ‘cause you “love” him.

Don’t know why I’m in such a bitchy mood tonight...maybe it’s because Old Man Winter seems to be just around the corner these last few days.


Good, reasonable solution for CPOS, but probably won’t happen because they love the DRAMA and emotional extreme sports of it all more than the outside sex.


CPOS you an Ms. CPOS enjoy fucking new, random people, and one suspects that you both love the thrill of "cheating." At a minimum, it seems that the only way this relationship can be stable is if you both can you stay in a relationship in which your partner will "cheat" on you, and you don't turn "cheating" into a sexual competition in which you are both keeping score. It would probably be even more stable if you can both channel your emotions of being "cheated on," back into your sexual connection. In the event you cannot make this work, you should be dating cuckolds and cuckqueans, or exits the dating pool altogether.

PAIN, are you really sure your lover wants to leave her husband and family? This may be so agonizing for her because she really doesn't want to leave however much she enjoys fucking you on the side and may even love you. That would hardly be unusual in the annals of cheating spouses. If you want to be married to this woman, have a frank conversation with her and set a time limit on your relationship, and be prepared to move on after that deadline.

SAD, you need to unpack your various issues. First, if you always lose sexual attraction to long-term partners - even with hot, kinky sexual connection - then you cannot make a long-term sexual commitment, including to your husband. Second, being a good dominant partner is a skill, and your husband, or any future partner, needs to know, or be willing to learn, how to dominate you. Co-topping you alongside another dominant partner is a great way for him to learn the skills he needs and understand what you want to experience and explore. Letting you bottom for others solo without sex is another reasonable compromise. Moreover, both offers are reasonable conditions for staying in the marriage, but only if you find that exploring your kinks with your husband or others actually revives your sexual desire for him; otherwise, divorce. You will be unhappy faking your enjoyment of sex for the next few decades, and he deserves a partner who enjoy sex with him.


Re: Pain I am thoroughly confused by:

And she fears that nothing short of admitting she's in love with someone else could end her otherwise happy marriage, but admitting that she's been unfaithful will make co-parenting impossibly hard going forward. The who she is in love with and cheated on him with periodically over 20 years. There is no way this ends well. Only now is she concerned about the about the shock and destabilizing effect on her children, who are still young. It would have been "nice" if she had worried about that before she got pregnant. As is the husband is likely to have the children tested to make sure that they are in fact his biological children. She had better prepared for her husband to seek sole custody with no visitation rights. I'm projecting, but the thought of his children with that man will be repugnant. She is delusional if she thinks this will be anything but a bitter divorce. It shouldn't be difficult to imagine the probable thoughts going the husband's mind. Once again it is the who that will be wellspring of the all the misery to follow.

I would think that telling her husband she is in love with someone else will end the marriage quicker than admitting that she cheated on him. The drip, drip of admissions over days, weeks, months. The who is


This is going to be a tragedy. From the husband's perspective this going to come out of the blue. She's in a otherwise happy marriage, and divorce will be a bombshell. The husband is going to be devastated and the children will be traumatized. Their loving family is going to be ripped apart.

My advice is to expect the worst possible outcome..


BTW She shouldn't be surprised if her family and friends turn against her when the sordid become known.


I'm just getting out of a situation like PAIN's, and Dan is 100% right.

I was in a superficially happy but low on intimacy marriage, and busy with young kids. I fell for a coworker who was in an even unhappier marriage. We mutually acknowledged feelings for each other, and opened pandora's box. We spent months secretly analyzing the situation – wondering if our feelings were real, could this ever be legitimate, what could the paths and trade-offs be, trying to find the right thing to do while being secretly in love – and ignoring our actual spouses in the meantime. My colleague's marriage turned to separation quickly, but my situation was more complicated. And my colleague was adamant that, however I handled my marriage, she didn't want to be known as the reason for my split.

I ended up doing exactly what Dan says NOT to do. I tried to end my marriage without saying why, and it was drawn out, confusing, and cruel. It was exhausting and impossible to be selectively honest with my wife. It warped her perception of our marriage and of me. And it never made my coworker happy either (it's impossible to respectfully end one relationship according to the timing and taste of the next in line).

PAIN, there's no simple neat tidy way to handle this. Instead of getting stuck over-analyzing a problem to find the best solution, I wish I would have been honest with my wife sooner, taken responsibility for my choices, and put my energy into making the new reality as stable and healthy as possible for everyone involved.

Instead, I wasted a lot of time in my own head plotting hypotheticals, and now have nothing to show for it.


Well done, Griz!
CPOS, you and your girlfriend need to read The Ethical Slut because that's the most it sounds like you both can ever aspire to. Why are you even trying to be monogamous? Neither of you wants that. Either what you really get off on is the cheating, the lying, the drama -- which sounds eminently possible -- or you just haven't considered that maybe there are partners out there for people who can't keep it in their pants. I have more sympathy than perhaps I should: it's one of the less pleasant parts of human nature that one can both be naturally uninclined toward monogamy and simultaneously feel jealous/possessive over one's partner. Is she worth making a concerted effort to get over that? To move toward a loving poly relationship where the only rules are be safe, be honest and be considerate? Or do you need to admit that being dishonest and inconsiderate are the thrills for you? If it's the former, it sounds like you two have a shot at happiness. If the latter, you'll never find anyone you can be with long term. Accept that she's going to fuck other people too as the price of admission for this great relationship with someone so like-minded. It's hard, but it's worth it. Good luck.

Sounds like polyamory is the answer for PAIN, too -- if the husband could get on board, which is a huge if. Does he know anything of their history? If there's a chance of an outcome other than messy divorce -- such as her kids getting two dads and her husband getting sexual freedom he's always secretly wanted -- it might be worth suggesting. (I suggest they watch the wonderful series Sense8 which has a "woman falls for two men" plotline that is, sorry for the spoiler, resolved by her being openly with them both.)

SAD, this also seems solvable with polyamory, but not with your current partner. Your husband is monogamous, and you don't desire him. You know you need to leave, so do it before you make the kids mistake. And you know yourself -- if shacking up kills your boner, don't shack up! I'm happily living alone and have two long-term partners, and it's great. Your relationships do not need to fit the template which is obviously not working for you. You might be happier as a secondary to a Dominant man (who, perhaps, himself has fallen into a sexual rut with a long-term primary who's happy to let him outsource). Leave, move to a bigger city, find your scene and be who you are.


Did Dan decide to do a Wanker Week or something? I hate all these loathesome people, which has never happened in all my years of being a Savagista.


LW1: I agree with SublimeAfterglow @7: you both like cheating on each other. You enjoy the power rush you feel when you "get one over" on your partner by successfully deceiving them. You want a full monogamous commitment from your partner and then to mess around behind their backs because that makes you feel that you're getting more out of the relationship. It's doomed to failure. Either figure out how to be ethically non-monogamous, or accept that you can't have long-term romantic relationships.

LW2: I think you need to need to accept the fact that you've never been as important to her as she is to you. If she wanted to be with you, she'd have made it happen. She never did - you were always the side-dish, never the main. Assuming that your wife understood that you were only with her until she could get her green card, you weren't cheating - but that wasn't what your honey was doing was doing at all. She likes being with her husband and the life he provides for her (I assume he provides good emotional support, money, childcare, social status, etc.). She likes having you around as her devoted sidepiece. She'll tell you whatever you want to hear, and whatever keeps you around, but she's not going to give up her cushy life to be with you unless her hubby finds out about this and kicks her out - leaving her no choice. Should that happen, you might find that the day-to-day reality of living with her is far less fun than the stolen moments and fantasy you had before. Remember: if she loves her husband, why is she lying to him and betraying him with you? If she doesn't love her husband and loves you, why didn't she marry you?

LW 3: Dan has the right of it. You know you can't do monogamy, so stop getting into relationships with monogamous people under false pretenses. It's a shitty thing to do to them. Find a poly person or stay single.


I was reading SAD's letter thinking this person clearly needs a platonic/non-sexual life partnership and sexual partners elsewhere. Dan's point about her desire tanking because the live-in partner/husband signifies the end of other sexy adventures, though... interesting. Might be worth exploring with a good sex therapist.

Also worth exploring in therapy: what CPOS gets out of cheating. If it's being able to have sex with other people, then an open relationship makes sense. If it's the power/drama/thrill... that's another kettle of fish.


Traffic @14 re LW2: Where's your "if she loves both you and her husband"? That's what the scenario sounds like to me.


Check out LW1, handsome, makes more money than most and is a sexual scoundrel: read CPOS. Wanker plus. Now he’s met a woman who is as suspect as he is and neither trusts the other. Karma.


BDF @16: Nope. If she loved her husband she wouldn't be cheating on him. If she loved LW she wouldn't be stringing him along as an affair partner while knowing that she isn't going to be with him openly - not way back then, and not now.


My tack with CPOS would be entirely different. Let's leave his girlfriend out of it for now. Why is he able to be so cavalier about hurting people? Hurting people is what he's done, in cheating on them; yet he minimises it with an archaic vocabulary of 'scoundrel', or a deflecting one of 'accomplished'. Does he have an antisocial or narcissistic personality? Is he traumatised by some deep hurt and fearful of commitment and loss? What does his introspection tell him? Has he been in therapy?

@5. Donny. And what if CPOS's compulsion is to hurt--or somehow to have the upper hand through dishonesty--not just to seek sexual variety or to cheat? After a year, and knowing what they do about each other, why have this pair not settled on an open relationship?


I am much more sympathetic to SAD than others. There was only one point on her letter where I was tsk, tsk-ing at her, when she implied that Domming was a 'skill' her husband was unable to master. I would be maybe closer to Sublime's comment in thinking that she should try to show him, and push herself into the mindset where it was possible he might satisfy her. Otherwise I think she would be legitimate to present her kinks, and sexual needs, to her husband as non-negotiable. What does his 'monogamous without compromise' mean? Is he unwilling to co-top once every two months? How much of an infringement on monogamy is this? There is an impasse--but if this is his red line, I have a hard time saying that, of the two of them, she's the one who's unloving.


@18: it's quite possible to cheat on someone you love.


Do we care Harriet &19, what his problem is? Just another douche bag who thinks his looks and money cover his impoverished behaviour.


LW2 is worse because kids are involved. Why do people think it’s ok to rip others hearts out, including children, just because they fancy someone, and believe saying the word Love will excuse their treachery.


Traffic @18, how black and white your thinking is. This woman has been involved with both men for two decades. It's clear to me that she loves them both. People who behave dishonestly are capable of love. Her actions, while unethical, do not mean she does not love either or both of these men. They mean, to me, that she should be poly, so that she can love and be loved by both openly. If, of course, the men are willing -- I acknowledge a happily-ever-after ending is unlikely here.


"How do two sluts find peace?"

Acceptance. (As Dan elaborated upon very well.) Accept each other as you each accept yourselves.

It's good you found each other.


Fan, she hasn’t been involved with both men for two decades. One, yes, her husband. The LW, no, she hasn’t been involved with him for the whole two decades.
I sense the same thing that Spiral does. The woman doesn’t want her marriage to end, and she doesn’t want to lose her lover. A woman who has behaved so dishonestly, isn’t going to look to ethical poly.
My suggestion to the LW is to pause things between you two. Let her go do her marriage ending, family smashing work, with you far far away. Give the process at least six months, while she starts her tale spinning to her husband about how unhappy she is. Step back and let that process have some time.
She didn’t marry you then, step back and see if she will now. See if she ends her marriage where her husband is left with some dignity and her children not too traumatised.


SAD writes:
'My husband is aware of my kinks and is GGG in theory, but he lacks the skill to deliver what I'm interested in.'
I doubt it. Where does she think he's supposed to have gained this abstract 'skill?' Either he isn't all that 'game,' or she can't/won't communicate, or she isn't really into him.


Lava @26, that's simply not true. Quite often people who cheated in the past found ethical non-monogamy solved their problems. They cheated when young, when they weren't confident or self-aware enough to ask for non-monogamy. They then discovered they could be non-monogamous without being unethical -- that others shared their desire for a relationship that did not exclude all others. Here is an example:

It's my impression that Wife gave up on PAIN because PAIN married this other woman for visa reasons. You're correct that the affair has not lasted 20 years, but if she came back to him after all this time, there must be deep attachment there.

Of course, we do only have PAIN's side of the story. It is entirely possible that Wife is telling him what he wants to hear, stringing him along, with no intention of leaving her husband. After all, there are many valid reasons for her to stay, and few to leave, particularly as the current arrangement lets her have both men. PAIN's question was whether there is a way to be with Wife without anyone getting hurt, and the only possible "yes" answer involves their being openly poly. As unlikely an outcome as this is. It is indeed far more likely that PAIN himself will be the one to get hurt when he finally realises Wife has no intention of leaving, or that everyone will get hurt when the affair becomes known.


Maybe I am jumping to conclusions but I wonder if PAINs lover actually wants to leave her husband. It sounds like he is pushing her to, but it could be she likes things as they are now: loving stable family and spicy forbidden dick on the side. Is her hand wringing about feat to take the leap or is it about sticking with a thing that works? If the letter writer capable of the emotional distance from what he wants to see what she wants?


Dan is right about SAD of course, but also that dude needs to know in advance that this will end his marriage. She needs to know that he can either compromise (really, no-sex domming is a problem? WTF dude? Is she not allowed to take part in community theater either?), or be left alone.


My advice for PAIN's affair partner is to open a conversation about non-monogamy with her husband. As BiDanFan said @12, maybe he's secretly been wanting some sexual freedom himself after many years of marriage.

She apparently says "admitting that she's been unfaithful will make co-parenting impossibly hard." Since she says that, and since she has a primary duty to her children, I would support her lying to her husband and saying that although she has reconnected with an ex and finds herself fantasizing about more, she hasn't acted on it. (Though get checked/treated for STIs first, so STI transmission doesn't reveal her lies.)

If her mentioning the topic leads to a few weeks of hard conversations and then an open marriage, then maybe they all get a happy poly ending.

If he shuts down all talk of non-monogamy, then I would follow LavaGirl's advice @26 and end the affair unless and until she gets out of the marriage.

Also -- I would put some thought into whatever broke you guys up 20 years ago. Are you sure those same issues wouldn't still make you incompatible?


BDF@24: some things actually are black and white. Saying you can cheat on someone and still love them is like saying you can beat someone and love them. You might believe that you love them, and that your abuse/cheating is really not your fault since you Just Can't Help what you're doing because... yanno... urges, or whatever. But it's a definition of "love" that includes being willing to terribly hurt your partner for your own enjoyment/gain, so it's a pretty shitty definition.


Traffic Spiral@32 Nope - just nope. Beating someone is a false equivalency with having sex with some other person.


@22. Lava. So let's say that CPOS has a genuine problem he's asking for help with. He wants to be with his gf long-term, but the relationship repeatedly goes off the rails through their possessiveness and jealousy.

I think I ask him whether ENM could ever work. Is the thrill for him fucking round or is it cheating? If he's just dogging it, then he should open his mind to a declared open relationship. I note he says nothing about whether, in the year, he's been faithful to her or not.


I'm not sure PAIN's lover will leave her husband. By explaining how he stayed in an unsatisfactory marriage for the sake of his child, he seems to be setting it up for her, in his expectations, to do the same. It is her decision whether to leave her marriage or not. Carrying on with the adultery (a word I'm not sure I've written in SL comments before) if she doesn't make the break is likely to cause a deal of--indeed--pain.


LW1's situation sounds like 90% of the gay couples I know. Consequently they have drama-free Open Relationships... but I'm guessing the Drama is half or more of the thrill for these two.


@14. Traffic. I'd imagine that PAIN's lover cannot psychologically carry on a sustained affair without believing that she loves 'the other man'. Having an affair on any other basis would contravene her morals and her sense of herself. And sure--in different ways, quite probably, she does love both; she associates each with a different kind of pleasure or fulfilment, and they bring her different things. PAIN maybe needs to understand more reflectively that she isn't necessarily going to be with him. He left his wife relatively easily, with no damaging psychic fallout, and could become impatient at his lover for her inability to do the same. This has the potential to sour his view of her--even of the whole story of his life.


Re CPOS: my guess is that he isn't capable, or at least inclined to, honor any agreements that he may attempt to make with his girlfriend. (Possibly vice versa.)

So, I see a few options for him:

Just don't have any rules, agree to this together, and accept each other for who they are;
-Get into therapy, to address why he behaves the way he does, and see if there is a way for him to change his behavior;
-Just concede that the relationship is doomed, break up, and don't waste any time on attempting to have long-term relationships with anyone in the future.


@14. victorian_platypus. I'm with you in everything. When I said I'd try 'another tack' with you CPOS, I meant to Dan's. He thinks too easily that openness and honesty present a solution to inveterate cheaters (imv).

@32. Traffic. PAIN could well represent this woman's youth for her. She could be reverting to or rediscovering an earlier personality in reconnecting with him. She could have sustained close feelings for him all her married life. The part of her in a loving, though illicit, relationship with PAIN could be functionally separate from her life as a conscientious wife and mother. Nothing in her behavior excludes her from loving and relying on her husband--in a way more substantial, maybe, than PAIN recognises.


BDF @ 12 As I read it, nothing in the letter suggests that either of the protagonists is interested in polyamory. He ended his marriage and she wants to end hers, period.

TS @ 14 Reread the letter 2. According to the LW, she is looking for the least painful way of exiting her current marriage so that she can marry him, which may or may not be true. We only have his POV (Rashsomon).

BDF @ 16 We only have his POV. We don't know if the wife loves her husband. If accurately stated, a case can be made that she doesn't love her husband. She is concerned about the effect on her children, but not her husband.

BDF @ 28 The flaw in your reasoning is that you are assuming that he got married before she did. There is nothing in the letter that indicates he even knew his future wife at the time. We don't know why he married his wife, The green card only became an issue after he decided to end his marriage.

I do agree that he may be deluding himself. It is quite possible that the wife is not only lying to and deceiving her husband, she may also be lying to and deceiving him as well. She has been an accomplished liar practicing the art of deception for over 20 years. I doubt her husband would have married her if he had known that she was cheating on him.

If she was madly in love with him 20 years ago, why was she living with her future husband and why didn't she marry him instead.

EP @ 31 We have absolutely no idea what the husband wants. We don't know if they have discussed (unlikely) an open marriage. We don't know if she desperately wants to marry him. He knows that she has been lying to, deceiving and betraying her husband for over 20 years.
She is a CPOS, why would any reasonable man trust that isn't lying and deceiving him? The once a liar always a liar, once a cheater always a cheater

HbtB @ 36 The only we know is that the wife is a lying, deceiving, betraying CPOS. That, and what happened (the cheating) during the intervening years, what the LW believes happened 20 years ago (the madly in love thing, if true why didn't they get married back then) and what is happening now.

OK, waiting to be torn to shreds.


As I occasionally comment, I think to some degree the great majority of people don't "love" in a fully healthy way. So I still think it's impractical to define "love" as only being healthy.


Good points skeptic @38, except she hasn’t been deceiving her husband for twenty years. The LW is cagey about any time lines re them having sex and now becoming lovers.
She is a CPOS as was the LW. They should have paired up the first time, save the hurt and devastation that’s about to descend on her family. Sustained lying is the worst.


I think we need Ms Cute channeling Mary Crawford and her assumption that almost everyone is taken in when (s)he marries ("Look where I will, I see that it is so; and I feel that it must be so, when I consider that it is, of all transactions, the one in which people expect most from others, and are least honest themselves.") to cope best with this set.

Maybe LW1 or GF1 would be capable of enjoying a non-jealous partner after a decade or two of therapy. On the bight side, if they enter a CMY, they can grow neatly into the roles of Henry I and Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter.

I don't care for the line of thought to jockey H2 into non-monogamy with a string of agency-negating lies. Even if it were a winning brief that it's for the greatest overall good, that should only be adopted as a last resort. W2 would be gambling heavily. It's rather a shame she didn't write the letter; her perspective here would be quite valuable.

Mr Savage needs to watch Rumpole and the Confession of Guilt, in which Marigold Featherstone, on learning that Guthrie had bragged at the Sheridan Club about how his going for a bit of a bop with the Chambers typist Dot Clapton had shown how many girls preferred an older man as a partner " every possible way," after consideration told Guthrie she wasn't going to live him (and make it easy for him). Guthrie jumped to Mr Savage's conclusion of forgiveness, only for that to be scotched as well. "I'm going to stay here and NOT forgive you." I have no vibrations about whether H3 could cope with LW3's venturing outside and has just been a royal pill about it, or whether such accommodation would cost him too dearly for it to be kind to make the point non-negotiable, but either suggests a clean breakup.


You definitely can love someone and beat them. Speaking for myself, everyone who has ever beaten me has loved me. Love does not, unfortunately, automatically convey the ability to manage anger in a healthy way.


a skeptic and a cynic @38
"She is a CPOS, why would any reasonable man trust that isn't lying and deceiving him?"

True. But her husband doesn't know about the affair, so she may be able to keep her marriage going if she decides she wants to.

As for PAIN himself, many affair-partners just think their CPOS is stuck in a bad marriage. PAIN may think she won't cheat once she's with her soulmate. The problem with that reasoning is that PAIN can see that she's in a "otherwise happy marriage." So I don't know why PAIN thinks she wouldn't eventually cheat on him, if they did get married and have a reasonably happy marriage of their own.


There’s a difference between love and attachment. Love is about wanting what’s best for the other, even if it causes one pain. Attachment is mingled up with bits of love/care, projection and grasping.


Christ on a raft, LW2, back off of this family!!!!!!

Discontinue contact beyond holiday cards. She’ll call if and when she divorces. (She won’t.)


LG @ 41 I rounded up the almost 20 years. At that time she was living with the man who became her husband and cheating on him with the LW. I suspect that if her future husband had found out about the cheating he never would have her married her or began living together.. Kicking her to the curb is a common outcome. Unless it was a nonexclusive (unlikely) relationship her future husband would have had the right to expect fidelity, not cheating. Moving in together is usually a significant step in a relationship (marriage being the next step).

I am in love with a happily married woman. I was the "other man" almost 20 years ago, before she was married but when she was living with the man she's with now. We fell madly in love, but we didn't end up together.

So, yes she was lying, deceiving, and betraying her significant other (someone who was more than a boy friend) with the LW for almost 20 years. We don't know if she was cheating on him with someone prior to the LW.

Erica @ 46 I was talking about the LW. He knows her to be a lying, deceiving, betraying CPOS. A reasonable man would not assume that she would be faithful to him. We don't really know if she was cheating on her husband with other people during the almost 20 years, she most likely was.


Yes skeptic. She cheated with this man, the LW, twenty yrs ago, then married the man she was living with, even though LW thinks he and she were madly in love. Then what.. over the twenty yrs. that’s the confusing part. Not that it matters, really. They have both deceived others, and both are CPOS.


Traffic @32, I disagree with your definition of love. You seem to think either that falling in love turns a flawed human into a perfect angel, or that only humans without flaws are capable of falling in love. Wrong. Rapists fall in love, abusers fall in love, murderers fall in love, bad people fall in love. Because no one is 100% bad and no one is immune to emotion when it comes to other people. So, yes, a person can cheat on someone and still love them. A person can hit their partner and still love them. These acts are not proof of absence of love. They are proof that love is not enough reason to stay with someone who is treating you badly. Big difference.

Also, I agree with L Hand that hitting someone and having sex with a third party are not equivalent... and I also disagree that either hitting someone or cheating on someone is an act consciously calculated to hurt someone for one's own enjoyment or gain. Clearly, PAIN's lover is doing all she can to NOT hurt her husband, right? And people don't lash out violently because they enjoy it, they do so because they lose their temper, which is never fun. Not arguing that hitting someone is ever OK, just arguing that no one thinks "I think I'm going to beat up my wife today, then I'll play some video games and have a few beers, whee!"

Tim @35: Wow, thank you. Here I was thinking that gay men on the whole do non-monogamy more easily and comfortably than when women are involved. I feel a bit better now! (Though I haven't read the answer to today's SLLOTD yet.)

Skeptic @38: "If she was madly in love with him 20 years ago, why was she living with her future husband and why didn't she marry him instead." Inertia, and conflict avoidance. It was easier not to unheave that relationship then, just as it's easier not to upheave it now. I still think she loves them both, not to say that this excuses the way she's handling things.

I do agree that the best course of action for PAIN seems to be to walk away. Put her so-called love to the test. If she wants to be with him, she can ask for an open marriage or leave the marriage. I, too, doubt she will do either.


BDF: If it's not consciously intended to hurt the partner, it's still not caring that the partner is hurt, so long as the batterer/cheater gets what they want. Also, I'm gonna agree with Lavagirl @47: love isn't the same thing as attachment or considering someone very valuable to you. Also, you don't have to be "perfect" not to cheat or hit - you just have to have basic decency, respect for your partner, and a little self control - jesus fucking christ!


BDF @ 51 As usual we only have what the LW has written. We have nothing from the wife to validate what he wrote about the situation. My point is that he was madly in love with her. That they didn't get married back then suggests she may not have felt the same way towards him. After all he was just the side action to her primary relationship.


Traffic @52, this seems very personal for you. Many people do NOT have self control, but they can still feel love, is the point I'm trying to make. These two things are not mutually exclusive.


Skeptic @53, yup, I got your point. You asked the question, why didn't she leave her future husband. You offered one plausible theory; I offered another plausible theory. Without her side of the story we don't know which is the correct guess.


Agree with BDF, it does appear very personal to Traffic Spiral. And without even getting into the love/beating debate, in most cases partners don't cheat "at" their primary partner (although there are exceptions). I agree it is usually about choosing something that helps your own well being vs. something that could detrimentally affect their partner's well being - i.e. acting self interested. And I hate to tell you, we make these choices with respect to people we love EVERY DAY. The fact that the act is sex (vs. playing golf, stopping at the store, attending a family event) seems to dramatically change the calculus in your mind. I am not saying that those activities are the same, I am just saying it is a difference in degree, not in kind.

Conversely, choosing to physically harm your partner? That's a difference in kind (at least to me).


@38. A skeptic and a cynic. I agree with you that it is unlikely that, in five years' time, PAIN, his lover and her wife will be in a thriving poly relationship.

Where I disagree with your comeback to me is that I'm not sure that PAIN's lover's cheating has been detrimental to her marriage. It's been romantic--at least in PAIN's mind. He describes her marriage as 'happy'--functional in some way. It would seem to me that both PAIN and his ex think--to some degree--that the adultery has kept the marriage on the road (eg has allowed her to be something other than a wife and mother; has kept alive the flame of her past, esp. if they are all immigrants (only a possibility); has given her a reason to put up with some of the crude or mundane or workaday features of her husband's life and character, etc). He, at least, has lived with the hope that he and his lover might some day be together. He's divorced partly in this hope. Your view would seem to be that his lover is a CPOS just for cheating. Now, it very well could be that PAIN's lover is using him, stringing him along in some way. But your characterisation seems unconditional and not closely informed by the facts of the case eg they were lovers before PAIN's gf married.


BDF @12 I think you’re being a bit Pollyanna-ish about polyamory. It is not always the solution for people struggling in monogamous relationships, and most of the people in these letters sound like they lack the basic communication skills necessary to make it work.

I also forget in which of your comments you referred to one of the LWs marrying his ex wife “for visa reasons,” but that’s not what he said. He stayed in the marriage longer than he would have because of her immigration status, but that’s not the same as marrying someone just to get them a green card.


@59. Beedeetee. I know what you mean--but think poly is rather Bi's ideal.


Beedeetee @59: "I think you’re being a bit Pollyanna-ish about polyamory."

Of course I am, I admit that several times. I also state several times that, while this suggestion is the ONLY way it would seem Wife can be with PAIN without hurting her husband, which was PAIN's question, it is unlikely to be accepted by all involved. The only other answer, which is the one PAIN doesn't want to hear, is that someone's gonna get hurt here. Probably several someones. So it would seem there is little to lose by proposing it.


Square pegs in round holes here Fan.
This woman is showing zero love to any of the men or her children. She’s a big fat liar, not poly material at all.
A person hitting/ beating on another isn’t showing love. He’s found someone to act out on, project onto, and that person stays to accept it.
Desire and attachment, these are not love.
If the LW has any dignity left, he should walk. This woman used him twenty yrs ago, and she’s using him now.


Not hurting her husband, Fan? It’s a bit darn late for that.


Okay--so who's up for this week's highly coveted Lucky @69 Award? Tick...tick...tick...


@12 BiDanFan: Thanks, Bi!


“ Oh husband dear. I’ve been seeing a man for, let me think, it’s been on and off now for twenty years. Now, I’d like to officially open our marriage.
Cart before the horse, yes dear, I see that. Slipped up a little there, didn’t I. No worries, dear, what say you?”


I think Fan the presence of children seems to have escaped your view. The husband has spent twenty years working and building a family with this woman. Why would he entertain staying with her when he knows his whole marriage was built on sand. He’ll be devestated.. and angry. She’s got a whole new headache coming up working thru custody, and guess who she will blame for her life shattering. Not herself surely. After all it’s Love which has guided her.. Self Love that is.


And the winner IS!!!....................... (see what I did here?)


Me Me Me LOL


heh heh heh


It’s a funny game. Congratulations skeptic.


Congrats Skeptic. And eye rolling at all of y'all who just want to scold and not find a solution to this conundrum, but y'all do y'all.


@72. Bi. If we're talking about a solution, I think the people I most want to protect are the cheating wife's young children. The reason given for not admitting the affair, but staying in the marriage, or for the wife starting only gradually to suggest problems in the marriage to her husband, is that it would compromise her ability to co-parent. This could only mean it would give her husband the upper hand, morally, in determining the couple's choices (if they stay together) or in custody or financial disputes. This same reason is surely a ground for her not to leave the marriage.

In his eyes (probably her eyes too), the drastic step of her making a clean break reflects the upwrenching strength of her love. For her, too, the simplicity of the explanation for her leaving ('she fell in love with a guy from 18 years ago') gives her more of a chance of keeping her kids.

Incidentally, PAIN has not been keeping up a continuous affair with this woman throughout her marriage. Before their current affair started, they cheated twice. He doesn't say how--who sought whom out, but just that they 'reconnected'. (This could signal to me that his dissatisfactions with this then-marriage were that he reached out to her). I think he has to suppose that she might not leave--for instance, by strongly agreeing with her that her kids' welfare must be the first priority, and seeing what her follow-up is. Could he live with being her pleasant romantic fantasy--a once-every-two-years wistful reconnection and squeeze? Probably not--and so he should disengage, leaving her to whatever she's going to do or leaving her to her happy marriage.


I think that many cheatees have a hard time accepting that how they appeared, who they were and how they behaved to their spouses disposed them to cheat. This doesn't mean that they were 'to blame for' the cheating and that their husbands (let's put it that way round) were blameless. It does mean things were more complicated than eg 'he cheated and that changed everything' or 'while he was in love with me, he didn't cheat. Then he fell out of love and cheated'.

Formulae of this kind are evasive and just the kind of thing therapists work on.


I Suggested two resolutions Fan.
He step back and let’s her do the dirty work
That he break up with her.
Scold, no it’s not scolding. It’s stating the truth. This woman deceived her husband, while having children with him. That’s not nothing, not when one knows what effort that takes. And for twenty years, on and off. Why would anyone think that this is ok, after promising monogamy. Only thing ahead now is pain, we just don’t know who will be feeling it.
The time to suggest an open arrangement, was twenty years ago.


I’ve given this guy a good serve, yes Fan. That’s not the same as scolding.
A lie of this magnitude, how would you feel hearing it. Or worse, finding out about it. And you want to find some way for the LW and this woman to sail off into the sunset? Or that husband goes, ‘sure honey I understand. All those nights I was home with the kids, you weren’t out with the girls, you were off with your bf. Yes sweetie. I get it. ‘
What universe are you in.


Thank you Lava Girl and Big Dan Fan. I worry that the LW becomes desperate, frustrated or impatient enough to contact the husband (anonymously of course or in the guise of LW ex-wife) ) and informs him of his wife's extramarital fun and games. People madly in love do really stupid things.


Lava @76, I have repeatedly and repeatedly and repeatedly repeated that the poly solution is unlikely, but is the only way PAIN could possibly be with this woman without destroying the marriage. Do you see another way? Aside from, I dunno, murdering the husband? Sure, realistically, the answer is that there is no way, and the best solution of a bunch of bad ones is for PAIN to give up on this love. But he obviously already knows that and doesn't like that answer. He is looking for a magic solution and the only magic solution would be if the husband were magically OK with opening their marriage. And I'm not going to repeat myself any more.


Of course he doesn’t like the solution of him walking away. It’s the only one which seems to look after the most innocent people in this story.
If you were in business with a best mate, you built it up over twenty yrs, families had barbies togethers, that’s bar-b-ques. And then you find out this best mate, the one you’d been building
a solid business with over two decades, had been
embezzling money, intermittently, from the word go. You be looking to find a way forward, or would you blow. In this situation, the business one, the offending person would be off to jail.
I just suddenly remembered a school class pupil’s father was caught doing this, and her shame was so obvious.
I don’t know Fan. Trust is what we give to each other. You betray that, you take the consequences.


"Darwinian" unfortunately has had limited application to humans for a long time. Modernity has cut us loose from selective pressures, and humanity is devolving, getting smaller stupider brains.

You could google "humans devolving"; I don't have time to update myself on the latest research.


@69: WA-HOOOOOO!!!! Congratulations, a skeptic and a cynic, for scoring this week's Lucky @69 Award!! Savor the decadence and bask in the glory. :)


Any takers for the Big Hunsky? Tick...tick...tick...
And so the game continues. I quote Gentleman Gene Wilder:
"The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last."
@80 Dadddy: Psssh. I forgot about Darwin years ago and don't miss him. I'll gladly let my "biological clock" run out, thank you.
@81 curious2: Thank you for pointing out one of many reasons why I am happily childless by choice.


Dadddy @ 80 What studies are you referring to?

According to:

People who were unfaithful in one relationship had three times the odds of being unfaithful in the next, when compared to those who had not been unfaithful in the first relationship.

which referenced a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, a peer-reviewed academic journal in sexology.

I would be interested in reading the academic support for your statement on sequential repeat cheating in LTR


BDF My question is this.

Even if LW was agreeable to a poly solution, would it be acceptable to the wife (and the husband)?

I have no clue since we only have his take on the situation. I'm not saying poly isn't the solution, it may well be a viable solution then again it may not. So much depends on what the wife really wants


@81 curious2: I haven't read the latest updates on "humans devolving", but it sounds like one more validation for my stubborn insistence on remaining childless. My abusive train wreck of an ex-husband, his family, and equally clueless friends were proud carriers of genus ignoramus.


Lava @79, if it were the husband who wrote in, I would tell him to DTMFA. But it was not the husband who wrote in.

Curious @81, humans do seem to be devolving, they've elected a simian president of the US. Everything on the news points to us getting stupider as a species. I too am glad that I've only got to put up with this for 40ish more years and then my legacy on this planet is done.

Skeptic @85: To the wife, I figure it would be ideal, because it's what she currently has, only she has to hide it. Unless she's like our CPOSes in L1 whose main thrill is lying and sneaking around, which I suppose is possible.
To the husband, the odds are low. But if she is decided that she wants to be with PAIN, either she continues cheating or she comes clean. And if coming clean is going to end her marriage anyway, she has nothing to lose by telling her husband she loves him too and asking if an open relationship would be something he could benefit from as well. Indeed, it depends on what the wife wants, which we don't know for sure.


@86 auntie grizelda
I never wanted kids, but human devolution needn't've been an additional incentive for smart griz to find a guy with good genes (and get in his jeans and) reverse the trend!

@87 BiDanFan
Yes, the news does frighteningly confirm the studies! (My commiseration on your less loutish PM, BTW. Though some of the news I think is just political pendulum that will swing the other way.)

With all this, even as a realist, I'm also (I think I need to be) an optimist. Perhaps humans will find a way to reproduce more of the best genes. Though without selective pressures it feels wrong to do it socially, to say legally make it happen to suppress reproduction of the worst genes. Perhaps biotech will ride in like the cavalry and save the day! (Not ideal but maybe preferable to Idiocracy!)


p.s. On political pendulums, hopefully more than just election cycle-sized ones, because the USA has been in a downward trajectory for a half century.


@88 curious2: Plus, I've never been a fan of pregnancy and all it entails for the woman.
Sadly, even into the 21st century, too many men---even with good genes (jeans) still don't get that. It's as former First Lady Betty Ford once said, "Having babies is a blessing, not a duty."


@90 auntie grizelda
"I've never been a fan of pregnancy and all it entails for the woman."

I hear ya, griz, I can't begin to imagine how difficult carrying a baby is. And the difficulties sure don't end after delivery. (And all the damage to one's career because of it all, a significant factor in the lack of gender income equity.)


@91 curious2: If you'd like to see and hear a good sum up of how marriage really sucks for women, check out the 1987 Jack Nicholson / Cher / Susan Sarandon / Michelle Pfieffer et al. dark comedy, The Witches of Eastwick (also very fitting for this time of year). Particularly the scene in which Jack, as Daryl van Horn, invites the local sculptress, Alexandra Medford (Cher) to his seaside mansion for lunch ('D'ya like fish? We're having fish for lunch!').
My favorite part is the after-lunch scene. The dialogue between Jack and Cher is spot on about how short-changed women are in society.


@curious2 you're definitely dumbing down the subject of humans getting dumber. ;)

The only completely clear fact is that our brains have been getting smaller—for the last 10,000-20,000 years. Brain size correlates to body size, but also doesn't indicate intelligence must be declining. It does also appear to correlate with aggression declining. So we're likely becoming more domesticated.

As far as trends in actual measures of intelligence, it varies widely by region. Shockingly, the US has been trending upward in spite of some colossally stupid collective choices recently.


Curious2 @88: Thanks. I think the UK and the US have just spent the past four years looking at each other and going "Hold my beer" in turns.


@93 haxalm
"you're definitely dumbing down the subject of humans getting dumber. ;)"

It is true that by writing "smaller stupider brains" I failed to mention theories postulating that for example, the brains might be smaller but more efficient. It's been about 5 years since I read articles on this; at the time it looked like they /were/ stupider not smarter.

I think the word "domesticated" is perfect, not just for reduced aggression but also for our lack of selective pressure.

From what I've read selective pressures, while reduced all those millenia ago by the advent of agriculture/civilization, have dropped very significantly further in recent centuries because of things I otherwise embrace. But you're right, it's not "completely clear" that humans now make reproductive decisions as very poorly as I think they do, based upon what I see when I look at society and the world.

I'm both very interested in the intelligence studies you mention (which I have seen nothing of), and very skeptical of them. I think that there are suspect parts of IQ tests which might do a good job of measuring the relative intelligence of people with identical backgrounds at a single point in time, but I don't trust their ability to track people's IQ with different experience during life, or to adjust as the experiences of populations varies over time. Last I heard this is a larger factor in the IQ tests administered to adults, so I'd have more faith in IQ testing when quite young.


re LW1 - I'm willing to bet Dan's suggestion is going to prove impossible for them:

"So instead of making promises you can't keep and then having meltdowns and stealing each other's phones and breaking up and getting back together, CPOS, make a promise you can keep. Not to be faithful but to be considerate. And discreet. Promise not to do anything that makes her feel like she isn't your top priority even if you do fuck around occasionally, and ask her to make the same promise to you."

They're not considerate or discreet or willing to make their partner always feel like top priority. They're both self-absorbed CPOS and they deserve each other.


re LW2: I'm not sure why we're bothering to find a "solution" to the problem of two more CPOS's. Yes, sometimes perennial cheaters discover polyamory and are relieved to learn they can be ethically nonmonogamous, but that's assuming the ethical part appeals to them (see LW#1). And the times when "honey, let's be poly so I can continue an existing, unethical relationship out in the open" has actually worked may not be absolute zero, but it is pretty close to liquid nitrogen. Opening an existing relationship is hard and it almost always requires starting with a clean slate. LW2's lover would have better luck ditching him, asking her husband for an open relationship, and then starting with someone new.

OTOH, I'm willing to bet that if PAIN's lover does leave her husband (who most likely ends up with sole custody or close to it) they find out pretty quickly why they've never been in a longterm committed relationship with each other before. The 20 year fantasy and the today reality are likely to be very different.

And no, it's not possible to love someone if you have no self control, or to love someone and beat them. That's different from believing you love someone or feeling that you love someone or saying that you love someone, but those things are easy. What most people call love is not love at all, it's attachment. Love is (as LG already said @47) acting in someone else's best interest even if it causes you pain. Most people aren't capable of it - Kohlberg says that only 13% of adults are capable of non-transactional relationships, and that's what love is, a non-transactional relationship. That's not to say that people capable of love never make mistakes or hurt their partners, but the act of hurting your partner out of selfishness is the precise opposite of love. Love isn't easy, it's a choice you make over and over again, and if you fuck up and cheat on someone or hit someone or otherwise hurt someone you love, choosing to love means finding a way to repair that pain and avoid repeating it. It does not mean finding a way to justify what you did so you can get what you want.


LW3 and her partner are most likely incompatible and I agree with Donny back @5 that she probably knew this going in. Lying to yourself is still dishonesty. And if her husband really isn't down with co-topping or a "no sex bottoming" hall pass, no, that doesn't necessarily make him "unloving", it could just mean that he knows what his boundaries are. Her changing the rules part-way in doesn't obligate him to sign that new contract.

I also balked at her remark that her husband "lacks the skill" - no one is born with the skill, everyone has to learn it somehow, and if she's capable of finding partners to get her kinky needs met, then she's capable of finding ways for him to learn the skill. How did her other partners learn? Did they all move from somewhere else too? Co-topping isn't the only way to do it, either, but husband might be more willing to try that if it was clearly for his (educational) benefit and not just hers. That's assuming that he's genuinely GGG and also that she wants to help him learn. I don't get the sense she's willing to bother. And if she's not, she needs to stop wasting his time.

Dan could be right, it's possible that being allowed the freedom of a hall pass might renew her attraction to her partner - but there's also a very good chance that "no sex bottoming" turns into "yes sex bottoming".

The key point in all three letters is not the cheating or the self-absorbed assholery, but that just because someone is a kind and caring partner to you that doesn't mean you're entitled to a relationship with them. If you're not willing to be a kind and considerate partner in return, you don't deserve them. And that's true regardless of how monogamous or not your relationship is.


Dadddy @ 90 What really concerns me is that cheaters become accomplished liar well practiced in the art of deception and betrayal. Having destroyed trust and her veracity. If and when the husband becomes aware of extent of her lies, deceit and betrayal, he will never trust her again. She supposedly wants out of the marriage and won't or can't put in the effort to rebuild some degree of trust. In if she did, there will always be some level of doubt in the husband's mind. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. This is applicable in cases of cheating.


even if she did ...


@100: WA-HOOOO!!! Congratulations to a skeptic and a cynic for scoring this week's Big Hunsky! Bask in the glory and savor the riches. :)


I can't believe "they should just become polyamorous!" is actually being suggested as a solution for LW2. The issue with these people isn't that 2/3 of the people involved like having multiple partners. It's that they have been deceiving the people closest to them for decades, and in LW's case now only care about how they can dispose of those people with limited cost for themselves. The betrayal is not just touching genitals with another person, or having sexual fantasies about another person. It's lying about those activities for years, getting their partners to devote their lives to building families with them, and then plotting out all the fine workings of the divorce without even bothering to let the faithful partner know that they're going to be going through a divorce. You can't build a healthy relationship—polyamorous or monogamous—on that kind of betrayal and utter disrespect and disregard for the other person's health and well-being.