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Why do people have affairs?

(244 Posts)
navada Sat 02-Feb-13 10:43:59

Is it always due to a bad marriage/partnership? - or is it pure selfishness?

I haven't had one btw, neither has my dh, I'm just wondering as it seems so common.

AbsintheMinded Sat 02-Feb-13 10:49:25

I imagine that for some people it is down to lack of imagination. They can't fast forward 5 years and see that the new man/woman farts, moans, stresses just like their OP currently does.

And definitely a good dose of selfishness helps.

Thrill of the chase.

The list is long...

AuntieStella Sat 02-Feb-13 10:52:42

I think the state of the marriage is pretty irrelevant.

It's down to one person being flawed and deciding that s/he will deal with those flaws by turning to a third party rather than the primary partner, probably without even considering the damage of betrayal.

navada Sat 02-Feb-13 10:52:56

Ha - yes, it's a fantasy world isn't it.

Sioda Sat 02-Feb-13 10:58:21

Being a baboon -impulsivity, selfishness, lust, cowardice, boredom, attraction, lack of conscience, rationality, self control, self awareness, willpower, courage, imagination. The bad marriage thing is a myth started by the first baboon who had to rationalise away what they were doing so that their beleaguered rational brain could handle it.

countingto10 Sat 02-Feb-13 11:00:06

This is a very good article that explains the types of affair, the people who conduct them etc. Affairs are all about the people having them, not the betrayed spouse although it feels extremely personal at the time sad

nefertarii Sat 02-Feb-13 11:02:38

There are loads of 'reasons'.

It all boils down to the cheater justifying their needs and wants above the feelings of their partner.

navada Sat 02-Feb-13 11:07:25

Fascinating article countingto10 - thank you.
& agree sioda & Stella.

ProphetOfDoom Sat 02-Feb-13 11:10:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

navada Sat 02-Feb-13 11:17:49

SM - I'm so sorry. I hope you're okay.

fluffiphlox Sat 02-Feb-13 11:24:22

I don't know WHY, but I do wonder where they find the time.

ProphetOfDoom Sat 02-Feb-13 11:24:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ProphetOfDoom Sat 02-Feb-13 11:34:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bongobaby Sat 02-Feb-13 11:39:12

I recently posted a thread in which a friend of mine husband came to me and said that he wanted to sleep with me with his wifes knowledge and consent and would I be up for it just me and him. It was a mixed reaction on mn. My reaction was no I don,t want to sleep with you as you are a married man.
Affairs, cheating it all comes under the same umbrella and should be avoided.

navada Sat 02-Feb-13 11:43:49

I'll never understand it tbh, why people get involved with married men/women. The fact that they're cheating on their partner would be enough to put me off - they'd be cheating on me next, I'd have no respect for them as people.

Seenenoughtoknow Sat 02-Feb-13 12:06:11

From working in pubs in one area over many years I see the same men marry, cheat, divorce, marry, cheat, divorce...

When you chat they'll tell you this one is their soulmate, but within a year or two they revert to type. Just very selfish, insecure men - I genuinely feel very sorry for the (usually very nice, normal) women they marry.

Seenenoughtoknow Sat 02-Feb-13 12:09:58

I would say women too but I've genuinely only ever seen one try to cheat openly...which from my experience is nothing like statistics suggest. (60% men - 40% women).

Charbon Sat 02-Feb-13 13:10:21

No it isn't always because of a bad marriage/partnership and yes it is nearly always about selfishness.

But a lot of people having affairs fall between the extreme caricatures of the repeat philanderer and the miserably married/ attached. These are people who no-one would say are the 'type', live conventionally 'good' lives and even if you asked them, would say that they were in strong marriages.

But this is a threat in itself. Because they think they are good, upstanding citizens who would never cheat, their boundaries are often poor around other people and they under-estimate the effect of someone else boosting their egoes and making them feel better about themselves. Especially so if their ego has taken a knock in other areas e.g. at work, weight gain/appearance change, older children being less adoring and compliant, the feeling of being less needed.

In summary, there are an awful lot of very ordinary people who have affairs.

Looksgoodingravy Sat 02-Feb-13 15:07:01

Charbon, dp fits into the 'ordinary' catagory you describe and he too would never have seen himself as somebody who would cheat, me neither tbh, which is why even though I started to have my suspicions it came as a complete shock when I found out what he'd been up too.

We'd been together for 17 years. One ds, life was ticking along ok (ish).

Circumstances, a dip in his own self worth, which in turn affected our relationship, selfishness. OW came along at a time when a mixture of all those things mentioned where probably at a peak.

We are still together nine months on. Dp will talk about it whenever. He says he was a different person and can't quite believe he cheated.

I have to say that dp was the person I thought the least likely to stray, I was totally blindsided. I'm still very much hurt by what he's done but we are working together to build bridges.

Abitwobblynow Sat 02-Feb-13 15:11:20

Why do people have affairs?

Because it feels absolutely great when someone admires you and lets you know you are hot, and you want a bit more.

That this slope (of wanting a bit more) is soooo slight you don't notice how much you are sliding. And it feels SO GOOD to be this admired, and this alive, and this sexual!

That it feels better and better and better, and you can't do without it.

Then you cross the line. And life changes for ever.

Abitwobblynow Sat 02-Feb-13 15:12:21

Gravy, does he answer any question you ask? Does he not try to run away from it?

Looksgoodingravy Sat 02-Feb-13 15:24:56

He does answer my questions Abitwobbly even though at times I can see that he feels awkward (and rightly so) answering them as it's bringing it all up again but he's never lost patience.

I think about it less and less, I have fewer questions. It's just building the trust again.

Looksgoodingravy Sat 02-Feb-13 15:26:07

I should say that I don't make him feel awkward when he talks to me about it I just feel his awkwardness.

Looksgoodingravy Sat 02-Feb-13 15:34:25

It's left our relationship 'bruised' if you like. I think about the ow less and less but I'm still left with the hurt of the betrayal by him iykwim.

Sorry I'm waffling, entertaining a 6 year old while responding grin

People have affairs because they are selfish wankers.

Otherwise they would finish their current relationship before embarking on another.

hippyJules Sat 02-Feb-13 15:38:03

I think there are many, many reasons why people do it but I do think it's not always about sex, sometimes its an emotional bond.
I haven't been an angel in the past, and neither has my husband...yet we are still together. For us, we are very mis- matched, have different interests and goals..but we have children together so we stay to bring them up. We are parents first and for most. But we do not get from eachother what the other needs.
I think if we had no children, we would 100% not still be together and I do wonder what will happen once they are grown up and move out.
It may be classed as selfish, but you have to take into consideration individual circumstances.

purplewithred Sat 02-Feb-13 15:40:59

People have affairs to get something they are not getting in their marriage. The missing something may be something they should have given up when they married, like the thrill of the chase or the gloriousness of the early stages of Lurve. Or it may be the missing something is something they should be getting in their marriage, like respect or consideration or love.

Either way an affair is still a bad thing.

Uppatreecuppatea Sat 02-Feb-13 21:07:34

Sometimes people have affairs because they genuinely fall in love with someone else.

I did. It was wrong, I know, but it felt so right. We both left our marriages and now live together and have been for 3 years. I know we will grow old together and he is the love of my life. We are engaged to be married and I know that for us, it was the best decision.

I regret the hurt and pain we caused to our ex-spouses and I regret that our relationship started in such a terrible way. I don't regret the outcome though.

I should have left my ex husband before the affair started but I just didn't have the guts to do it.

I regret that I didn't have it in me to have left first.

Darkesteyes Sat 02-Feb-13 21:15:28

I had an affair for 4 and a half years. Before that my h had not touched me for seven years. Not even held my hand. And refused to go to counselling.
We marry expecting to be loved and cherished. When a spouse decides that they dont want to make love with you anymore or show you any affection but then expects you to stay completely faiithful then that is about power and control. They are in effect trying to strap a virtual or metaphorical chastity belt on you.
Also the impression i get is that women are expected to put up with this more than men are!

chocoreturns Sat 02-Feb-13 21:17:16

I think they happen because the person who has the affair feels entitled to.

Entitled to have their cake and eat it, or entitled to 'a little happiness at last' or entitled to follow their one true love etc...

Whichever way you dress it up, an affair only happens because the person having it believes that ultimately, they have the right to put their own desires before the wellbeing of others.

Beliefs are powerful engines of behaviour. Henry Ford summed it up by saying if you believe you can't, or you believe you can, you're probably right.

Some people just believe that they can, and it'll be ok. What 'ok' means differs though - maybe 'ok' means the spouse won't find out, or 'ok' means the spouse won't really be hurt. Or 'ok' means the hurt spouse will be hurt less than we will gain, so on balance it's ok.

Sioda Sat 02-Feb-13 21:18:35

Uppatree, no you didn't have an affair because you fell in love. You had an affair because you didn't have the courage to end your marriage before starting the relationship with the person you fell in love with. No one is saying that people don't fall genuinely in love with the affair partner. But people fall in love with other people while married often enough. Some people leave the marriage at that point and then start the new relationship. Some cheat first.

Uppatreecuppatea Sat 02-Feb-13 22:29:02

Yes, Sioda - I agree with you. It would not have been an affair I I had left my marriage first. However, it would not have changed the fact that I left my marriage for another man.

It would have been preferable for it to have been the latter, but as I said in my post, I did not have the courage to do so. I am eternally ashamed of that but it does not alter the facts.

Sioda Sat 02-Feb-13 22:50:40

Yes but the OP didn't ask why people leave their marriages. She asked why people have affairs. They're two totally different questions.

Hatpin Sat 02-Feb-13 22:59:35

If I had to sum it up in one sentance, I'd say it was because I didn't want to be married anymore, so I pretended to myself that I wasn't.

FlorriesDragons Sat 02-Feb-13 23:03:10

I'd say sex mainly.

Fancying sex with someone else and thinking you'll probably get away with it.

SnowBusiness Sun 03-Feb-13 07:41:39

Opportunity is another one. Exit affairs are one thing but having an affair while wanting to stay married is because it feels great to be fancied by someone else and, if you believe you won't be caught, you think you can get away with it.

Work offsites, or spouses that work in town (London) while the other is down in the commuter belt leaves an awful lot of time for unchaperoned drinks after work. The compartmentalising of life can make it easy for some.

Kione Sun 03-Feb-13 08:04:36

Dangerous, naughty excitement. A bit like taking ilegal drugs.
The adrenalin rush its quite addictive, add to this feeling wanted and lusted after... and in a long stable marriage there is not much adrenaline about. Most people are content with this, others find it too attractive an option to say no.

HollyBerryBush Sun 03-Feb-13 08:13:28

Because their needs, either emotional or physical aren't being met at home.

If a woman says "thankyou Mr baby making machine, off to the spare room with you for 2 years whilst I co-sleep" - then the male in the relationship is ripe to look for affection eslsewhere.

Ditto the woman who never sees her husband because hes a workoholic/sportsoholic/out drinking all the spare time.

That is generally when affairs happen. When one party in a relationship neglects the other or takes them foregranted

having an affair while wanting to stay married is because it feels great to be fancied by someone else and, if you believe you won't be caught, you think you can get away with it.

No, it's because the cheater is a selfish wanker who doesn't actually give a shit about their spouse. That is what is right at the core of it, no matter how it is dressed up.

sausagesandwich34 Sun 03-Feb-13 08:26:54

I hate affairs and people that carry them out with a passion can you tell I've been cheated on

With one exception. My BFF had a one night stand with a male friend. This followed years of her being in a nasty abusive relationship. We offered support, help to leave, a place to go but she was so beaten down, made to feel so worthless that she didn't believe us.

Her ex had told her time and time again that she was disgusting and lucky to have him because no one else would want her

The fact that the other man showed interest in her and made her feel special made her question everything her then partner said to her

It took her another year but she eventually found the strength to leave the bastard

They didn't continue the affair, he was single, she felt incredibly guilty -but I honestly believe it was the best decision she made in the last 20 years and I've got my friend back

SnowBusiness Sun 03-Feb-13 08:37:51

NotADragon I disagree. Only because the people I've known to have affairs did care about their spouses, it just wasn't deterrent enough. Their selfishness and lack of imagination (detailed upthread) to see the consequences was part of it.

Sioda Sun 03-Feb-13 08:49:39

More cliches Holly? Then what explains the people who will tell you that they were happy and their needs were being met in their marriage? Other than their need to be with the OW/OM of course (which is a kind of hard need to meet in a marriage). And how do you explain the people whose spouses neglect them and who still don't have affairs? Who instead either divorce or sort it out?

SnowBusiness Sun 03-Feb-13 08:55:32

Very few people with children 'divorce and sort it out' prior to affairs, especially with tiny children. It may be optimum to do so, but human behaviour is muchos flawed.

maleview70 Sun 03-Feb-13 08:59:47

I think people who have long term affairs do so to get something they are not getting in their marriage.

I think men in particular will have flings and one night stands just because the opportunity presented itself.

Sorry Snow but no. If you care about another person you don't cheat on them. In order to cheat on someone you have to care more about yourself and cheap thrills than your partner.

Anything else is just trying to dress it up with excuses to make yourself feel better.

MadAboutHotChoc Sun 03-Feb-13 09:10:47

Holly - I had regular sex with my DH and yet he still had an affair hmm

Its nothing to do with sex - its all about their ego, coping mechanisms and weaknesses.

My DH says he had an affair simply because he was selfish and entitled. He became addicted to the ego strokes of OW during a low point of his life...

SnowBusiness Sun 03-Feb-13 09:18:11

NotaDragon I don't agree with you in your first statement and but do agree a little with your second post. The cheater can care about their partner but not enough to stop them taking the opportunity. That does not mean that 'they don't give a shit' about their partner, they just put their own wants over their marriage and their spouse. People do it to a lesser degree all the time in all aspects of life, it's in human nature to have self interest, some just take it much, much further.

Sioda Sun 03-Feb-13 09:55:13

No Snow, I said divorce or sort it out. People can and do sort out problems in their marriage all the time whatever age their kids are. Not very few people. Lots of people. And regardless of how few people do it, it proves that people who have affairs are not helpless victims of their environment. The difference is in their characters. Not all humans behave the same. Not everyone is equally and similarly flawed.

Maleview - Sure - and what if that's something that can't be got in a marriage? Like the excitement of starting a relationship with someone new? The chance to sleep with someone else? Almost nobody gets those needs met in a marriage. Yet not everyone cheats. What explains the difference?

meditrina Sun 03-Feb-13 10:03:21

If there's something you want in the marriage that you feel you're not getting, then the true solution is to work on the marriage, and if the problems are intractable, end it.

It is a manifestation of a flaw (selfish entitlement) to choose to betray, as that definitely won't mend anything. And is desperately unfair on the betrayed partner, who has not been given a choice about whether the right 'solution' is an open marriage with intimacies given to third parties.

frustratedworkingmum Sun 03-Feb-13 10:07:51

My dad had an affair, more than one - the only thing i wish is that he stayed with the OW and was happy, rather than returning home "for me" (the child) and having a miserable life with my mother who treated him like dirt. He should have been stronger and left for good but my mum wouldn't let him see me (or me him) so he came back

E320 Sun 03-Feb-13 11:25:00

Because they can. Because there is little or no stigma attached. Because infidelity is tolerated. Because social engineering has devalued marriage & made it "just another lifestyle model". Because modern technology & communications present a sweet-shop full of tantalising choices. Because the benefits' system means that nobody is ever really destitute & has removed the responsibility for providing for and nurturing a family, which can include sacrificing one's own desires for the common good. Because the person you might marry at 20 is not the person you would marry at 30, 40 or 50?

SnowBusiness Sun 03-Feb-13 11:38:10

Sorry, Sioda I had misread your post. Yes, people do sort it out and I have known of many marriages that have survived infidelity.

E320, you make some interesting points. I have one friend whose husband is going through a MLC and it has been interesting to see the men's response in our social circle. There are some very damning statements about how he is being weak, not facing his responsibilities and that he needs to man up. It's this judgement that is prolonging him leaving, I think. I'm 70/30 that he'll leave my lovely friend but he has definitely been surprised by his previous friend's reaction.

navada Sun 03-Feb-13 12:01:51

*abitwobblynow - your post sent shivers down my spine.

A perfect assessment.

navada Sun 03-Feb-13 12:04:58

E320 - yes, I agree with you.

DadOnIce Sun 03-Feb-13 12:12:48

I often wonder more about the HOW than the Why. If DW started "staying late at work" a lot, or going out for drinks with a mysterious new friend allegedly called "Sarah" who I'd not met, or hiding her phone all the time, I think I'd probably notice. We are both knackered from work, kids and house stuff anyway. I think if one of us were to start knocking someone else off on the side, it would probably finish us off (with physical exhaustion, I mean).

navada Sun 03-Feb-13 12:44:39

Haha dadonIce.

A lot of affairs these days are emotional on-line affairs. Just as destructive but very easy to conduct.

Bobbybird40 Sun 03-Feb-13 13:04:10

I would say that for men opportunity is the key factor by a long chalk. How many married men, if offered some absolute first rate totty on a plate - with no chance of being found out - would say no? Surely less than 10 per cent.
Back in the day I used to travel abroad with work a lot and I was gobsmacked at the amount of shenanigans that various colleagues - of all ages, backgrounds etc - got up to.

Sioda Sun 03-Feb-13 13:47:33

E320, very good points. Human nature never operates in a vacuum. Ideas about restraint, limits and self discipline are completely devalued in our society.

MadAboutHotChoc Sun 03-Feb-13 15:03:42

DadOnIce - many affairs are conducted during work hours - lunchtimes, fake conferences/seminars, on business trips etc. My DH used to take half days to meet OW and then come home at the usual time...

debtherat Tue 05-Feb-13 04:35:17

Because they can, because of the thrill of the chase, because your OH is dull, overweight, more interested in the kids, complains about having to do all the housework as well as working full time, tired of a husband who puts his needs first, is above doing basic DIY or organising it, does nothing with children, wants sex when he's at a loose end (after you've spent your weekend on boring housework, ironing, declutter)... so easy to appreciate the damsel in distress who is so grateful for your support at work, gives you that emotional and spiritual engagement, is inspirational. Pathetic - and then after OW is revealed but backs away, moons around, plays happy families, pursues OW on internet.

Abitwobblynow Tue 05-Feb-13 06:42:18

I think people who have long term affairs do so to get something they are not getting in their marriage. - Maleview, and that is the fault of the spouse?

How do you fit that in to the research that usually it is the person GIVING LESS to the relationship, that has the affair? I know you were married to a disturbed person, but I am also married to a disturbed person, and I did not have an affair, he did! (funny, I am so awful he won't f-ing go. If she can get him out of my house she can have him. But he doesn't seem to want her...).

MV YOU chose to resolve your awful dilemma in this fashion. Even though it has worked out for you, and even though your wife sounded awful, it was YOUR CHOICE. She didn't make you.

These myths, that blame the person being hurt and absolves the person making the choice to step outside, are getting tiresome.

NO MARRIAGE IS PERFECT. If imperfect marriages 'caused' affairs, then 100% of marriages would have betrayal wound in! What happened to logic?

SnowBusiness Tue 05-Feb-13 08:48:01

From :
It is estimated that roughly 30 to 60% of all married individuals (in the United States) will engage in infidelity at some point during their marriage (see, Buss and Shackelford for review of this research). And these numbers are probably on the conservative side, when you consider that close to half of all marriages end in divorce (people are more likely to stray as relationships fall apart; also see, who is likely to cheat).

Seenenoughtoknow Tue 05-Feb-13 11:55:13

Abitwobblynow - need a 'like' button. VERY well said - I agree totally.

Cazzymaddy Tue 05-Feb-13 21:39:35

My counsellor would say (and I'm seeing her currently about this issue) is that the partners needs were not being met, so he went elsewhere. She feels that in order to make the marriage work, I need to meet him halfway and he has to be honest and open about it all. My angry side says stuff that- I am in no way to blame, other than being knackered with a newborn but my more sensible side wants to know if this is a sensible view or is this some kind of Relate-speak? What have other Mumsnetters encountered through counselling?

MadAboutHotChoc Tue 05-Feb-13 22:09:19

She has got it wrong - but then many counsellors at Relate are out of date with their training or have not been trained or read books by the main experts in infidelity.

We had a private counsellor and did lots of reading - Shirley Glass's Not Just Friends comes highly recommended.

MadAboutHotChoc Tue 05-Feb-13 22:10:02

Abit - great post grin

Charbon Tue 05-Feb-13 23:26:38

Cazzymaddy that sort of counsellor thinking is very old hat now, but as Mad has said, Relate really isn't the best at infidelity. Not all of their counsellors are qualified therapists and the training in issues such as infidelity is patchy to say the least. Unfortunately the old Marriage Guidance Council legacy sometimes still exists which is that any threat to a relationship must be the fault of the relationship. Other practitioners look at the behaviours of individuals within the relationship, but also the threats outwith it.

Infidelity is a good example of a behaviour that often has no root in the relationship and so taking your counsellor's rather simplistic pronouncement about 'needs not being met' a good counsellor will look to see whether a person's 'needs in life' were being met before they were unfaithful. It is extremely common to find nowadays that the ego boost of an affair was used as a replacement for a damaged professional ego or because of a vanity crisis. These are needs that are impossible to meet by a partner; they can't make a job more successful and they can't reverse the ageing process!

A good therapist will of course be curious about the relationship and especially the 'dance' a couple has created. With infidelity however, it is often noticeable that the faithful partner was giving far more to the relationship and their own needs were not being met. However because they often have better coping mechanisms and as adults realise that there are times when their needs are lower down the pecking order (e.g caring for young children) they do not seek attention and strokes from elsewhere.

A much more pragmatic and helpful way of looking at relationships is to acknowledge that there will often be times when one is not meeting the other's needs, but the mature way of dealing with that lack is to discuss - or especially in the case of competing but temporary pressures - to rationalise that 'this too will pass'.

pennymixup Tue 05-Feb-13 23:30:56

This is a question you shouldn't really ask on MN because there tends to be one viewpoint posted in answer to it, that is... it is nothing to do with the marriage itself or problems in it but it is always because the person having the affair has some problem/weakness etc.
This isn't always to case as there are so many different reasons for affairs.
I see Shirley Glass endlessly recommended on here but I thought her book is pretty out of date now too.

Charbon Tue 05-Feb-13 23:36:50

It's certainly out of date about women's infidelity I agree - but I think it's a very helpful book, as long as it's read by the person who was unfaithful as well as their partner. I agree there are many reasons for affairs. I just take issue with the thinking that it is always the fault of the relationship, or even that this can ever be the only reason why someone strays. People are individuals first and foremost, with all their complexities!

whenIwasRosie Tue 05-Feb-13 23:41:10

Agreed Charbon, it isn't always the fault of the relationship... but it is sometimes

cronullansw Wed 06-Feb-13 00:02:48

In answer to the op question - why? Fun. No one goes into an affair believing that they will get caught.

So who are men having affairs with? There's no gender divide here, women have as many affairs as men do. Either that or there's a few women who are awfully, awfully busy.

ProphetOfDoom Wed 06-Feb-13 00:07:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Seenenoughtoknow Wed 06-Feb-13 00:21:55

Cronullansw - a lot of infidelities come under the affair bracket, such as prostitute use etc, which is a predominately male activity...that alone causes a great many divorces. Statistics say at least 60% of men are unfaithful, whilst at the most it's 40% of women, which I assume means the use of prostitutes etc must account for the 20% in between.

Fairypants Wed 06-Feb-13 07:05:11

Or single women, that would explain the gap.

Seenenoughtoknow Wed 06-Feb-13 07:28:10

Yes fairypants you're right - I was so busy trying to point out the large difference in the amount of unfaithful men compared to unfaithful women that I didn't reason enough!

I think sadly, apart from a totally self centred, selfish and entitled behaviour, opportunity is also a reason that infidelity happens. Where I live (a close-knit small community) it is rarely heard of (through the jungle drums) of women having affairs, but it is very well known that the twenty-something year old married men who all go off on overnight stays to football/rugby matches are ALL at it behind their unsuspecting wives/partner's backs...whilst the wives/partners are generally at home caring for their kids. They brag about it in the pubs as if they'll never get caught out...and it seems to be so commonplace locally it's almost unbelievable.

Slippersox Wed 06-Feb-13 08:06:35

An earlier post by MadaboutChoc sums up why my DH was unfaithful.The ego strokes of OW during a low point in his life.And he would concur with that.That doesn't make him less blameless than her.That made him weak and vulnerable and supremely selfish at the time.We had a good marriage with plenty of sex and affection and he agrees at any point he could have talked about how frustrated - with business and finances and thwarted ambitions- he was instead of encouraging an insidious 'friendship' that crossed boundaries and almost wrecked our marriage.
Oh and modern technology.A blessing in many ways.Great to have a mobile phone for so many reasons but using it to flirt excessively and sext behind your OHs back one of its more evil manifestations.All too easy and addictive in certain circumstances.

MadAboutHotChoc Wed 06-Feb-13 08:37:21

Oh yes, my DH's iphone was the main instrument in his affair - but still it was his choice and I do not blame technology (esp since I found out about the affair by using it!).

Bobbybird40 Wed 06-Feb-13 09:00:50

A major factor must surely be the potential repercussions. If men knew, for instance, that it was a case of one strike and your out, I'm sure less would take the risk. But I think many are aware, sub consciously at least, that even if they get found out the wife will probably take them back - as long as they agree to go to counselling blah blah. So it's a risk worth taking. In some ways, soft touch other halves are to blame.

MadAboutHotChoc Wed 06-Feb-13 09:12:53

Not necessarily - I have always told my DH that if he ever had an affair that would be it. I am sure many other betrayed parties have said similar things and like many cheaters, DH was arrogant enough to think he wouldn't be discovered hmm

fluffyraggies Wed 06-Feb-13 09:32:14

"Because the benefits' system means that nobody is ever really destitute & has removed the responsibility for providing for and nurturing a family, which can include sacrificing one's own desires for the common good. Because the person you might marry at 20 is not the person you would marry at 30, 40 or 50?"

1st sentence - i would agree with as far as being correct in that people are no longer stuck in relationships due to poverty if they leave. Absolutely do not agree that this is a bad thing. Common good? Where's the common good in being miserable till you peg out?

2nd sentence - this was my reason for leaving my marriage. I left as soon as i met someone else. Should i have stayed in an unhappy marriage in case it meant claiming benefits?

Teahouse Wed 06-Feb-13 09:41:01

I had an affair.
My marriage wasn't great (emotional and some physical abuse) and one day my then husband announced he had been having an affair with a friend of ours. It had started when I was 3 months pregnant with DC1, and at this stage we had been married for nearly 10 years and the affair had been gong on for a least 6 of them!

I probably should have just cried but didn't. I sought solise with a single male who I knew liked me; we had a brief affair. I was far too ashamed to tell my family or close friends what had happened - i genuinely thought I must be the most unattractive and horrid person in the world to have this happen to me. But having discovered I was worthy of respect (through the affair) I left my husband and have remained happily single (well, am finally happily single anyway -been a long hard road). He married his OW and appears very happy.

My affair made me realise how destructive and soul destroying my marriage was, and how manipulative my husband was. I could not bring up my children with such a man.

Sometimes affairs are not the worst thing in the world, nor are they all carried out by total bastards; I am a nice person and although regret I had one, I know it was an intensive reaction to my domestic situation and finding that someone could love me and respect me, gave me the confidence to move on and leave the bastard.

SnowBusiness Wed 06-Feb-13 10:54:28

Bobby Many people don't believe that infidelity is an immediate divorce issue (sorry if that doesn't suit you). And the person whom I know to have to longest standing affair is a woman.

Infidelity figures are huge. If you know 10 couples up to 10 of the individuals could be having an affair. (60%men, 40%) women. Fidelity over a lifetime is hard and some marriages weigh up what could be lost by ending the marriage and decide it's not worth losing.

Sioda Wed 06-Feb-13 12:36:07

Teahouse I don't think you have anything to regret. If your spouse is abusive and having an affair themselves then morally I really don't see a problem with it. It's not even a case of two wrongs making a right - it's that the abuser has already lost the right to your fidelity, respect or honesty. And secondly they're usually the ones responsible for destroying your self-esteem and courage in the first place through abuse which is what caused you to seek the affair. Abuse just negates any moral blame to having an affair. I hope you don't feel judged when people talk about what causes affairs and the responsibility of the cheater. Although most people might not think to add a caveat every time, I'd imagine there are few people who would lump you in with every other cheater. Well done on getting out!!

Bobbybird40 Wed 06-Feb-13 15:06:25

That's fair enough snow business. So if many people don't believe infidelity is a divorce issue, then people will keep having affairs yeh? As they know that they can, indeed, have their cake and eat it. Would be interested to know the stats for those who have been forgiven an affair and then gone on to have another - 80-90 per cent would be my guess. And who could blame them?

Charbon Wed 06-Feb-13 15:13:02

There has been some predictive validity research about that Bobby and for those who went to counselling, either as a couple or as an individual, the percentage was under 5% in what I recall was a very big anonymised sample. I don't think that's too surprising. Good therapy is challenging and requires quite an investment of time, money and emotional labour.

SnowBusiness Wed 06-Feb-13 18:04:42

Bobby, I didn't say it's not a divorce issue but that it isn't always and I don't think it should be. Charbon, that's really interesting re the predictive validity research.

Bobbybird40 Wed 06-Feb-13 21:04:59

Charbon I was thinking more about those who have affairs and get forgiven - it just seems to me to be a complete green light to do it again. In terms of those having therapy, well, they have made a commitment to make it work so would expect figure to be high especially as if men agree to go they know it probably gets them off the hook for shagging somebody else

Charbon Wed 06-Feb-13 21:36:47

Yes but the research specifically related to people who'd remained in the original relationship Bobby.

I understand your cynicism, but recovering from infidelity only ever works if the individuals and couple concerned are committed to sustainable change. That means addressing all the flaws that led to the affair, whether that's in the relationship or in the person who's been involved elsewhere; sometimes both. That's not an easy task admittedly, but if the commitment is there to examine what factors allowed the infidelity (and it's often a lifetime of character and personality traits that need challenging) then it's actually much harder to go down that path again because the new ways of thinking and behaving simply wouldn't allow it.

If on the other hand it gets swept under the carpet, there is either no counselling or the therapist is useless and unchallenging, if there is no reading and especially no analysis of why it happened, then I agree there's more risk of a re-occurrence - and not necessarily just on the part of the original 'offender'. The spectre of infidelity is an ever-present threat to a couple who have learnt nothing from the experience, about themselves, or their relationship.

This is why it's so much more complex than 'if people aren't getting their needs met by a partner, they'll go elsewhere' because individuals have far more motivations in life than just their couple-relationships.

Charbon Wed 06-Feb-13 21:45:09

Also Bobby this doesn't just relate to men who are unfaithful and who are forgiven. There is a considerable upturn in women having affairs and men forgiving, but the same advice applies. It is as important to challenge women's perceived reasons for having affairs as it is men's, but with both sexes you have to unravel a whole generation's worth of socialisation about sexuality and this is recognisably different depending on whether you've grown up in society as a man or a woman.

Writehand Wed 06-Feb-13 21:53:28

My DH (who worked in rock n roll for 20 years and saw a lot of wild sex & cheating) said that it's very little to do with the original marriage. Some people cheat and some don't. The sort who cheat will cheat on anyone, the sort who don't need a hell of a lot of provocation to even think about it.

He said some men were just wankers and got off on cheating. Some women too. Blaming yourself when a cheat screws you over is a waste of tears. They'll do it to the next woman too.

Me, I've got a feeling of sisterhood + a strong streak of self-interest, so I've never had the remotest interest in the sort of man who wants a bit on the side. It ain't gonna be my bit.

Bobbybird40 Wed 06-Feb-13 22:09:50

Well charbon i like your posts but i dont agree with (some) of them. My cynicism generally re cheating is that people are v v good liars and could say all the right things in counselling, therapy etc and still cheat. Personally, im not sure therapy is appropriate in circumstances where people have cheated. It seems ludicrous to me that there are so many threads on MN along the lines of 'DH cheated, we going to counselling' etc. Seriously, what is the point? It's a kop-out.

Charbon Wed 06-Feb-13 22:25:41

Thanks but I think you're assuming that their loved ones and a challenging therapist who's seen it all before can't tell when a person is just talking a good job or telling lies. Whereas the unfaithful person might have been able to get away with lying while an affair was ongoing because there was trust, post-affair most partners have a disbelief default if anything - and take a great deal of convincing that words will translate into actions. Hence the focus is very much on actions being more important than pretty words or promises.

FWIW, I think that individual therapy is more relevant in the early months post discovery, especially if the relationship wasn't the core problem. Couples therapy after infidelity is not always the wisest choice.

cronullansw Wed 06-Feb-13 23:42:04

Quote from seenenough...... ''a lot of infidelities come under the affair bracket, such as prostitute use etc, which is a predominately male activity...that alone causes a great many divorces. Statistics say at least 60% of men are unfaithful, whilst at the most it's 40% of women, which I assume means the use of prostitutes etc must account for the 20% in between.''

So visiting prostitutes is having an affair? Seriously? smile

Quote from fairypants.....''Or single women, that would explain the gap.''

And single women make up the rest eh? Of course, your average single girl is just dying to have an affair with a married bloke, who can't be there for weekends, birthdays, christmas etc.

Charbon Thu 07-Feb-13 02:13:42

Cronullansw I think the point was that the infidelity statistics don't just encompass affairs, but also serial isolated encounters and paying for sex (which is of course a gendered activity as described.)

Yes there are single women who have affairs with attached men, as well as attached women having affairs with attached and single men.

But not all women having these relationships want to spend weekends, birthdays and holidays with their lovers. They just want uncomplicated sex or time with someone with no demands on either side. It is rather old-fashioned and sexist to assume that all women seek commitment, loyalty and attachment from these relationships. They do not.

SnowBusiness Thu 07-Feb-13 04:23:15

There's a load of sexist nonsense on this thread.

Men and women have affairs. Sometimes the marriage isn't worth losing over it, sometimes it is.

Seenenoughtoknow Thu 07-Feb-13 09:39:54

Cornullansw - what Charbon said is exactly what I meant. You were pointing out that only married men and married women have affairs with each other. You also pointed out that the statistic couldn't possibly be 60/40 as there must be a lot of busy married women having affairs.

What fairypants and I pointed out is that the statistic is about infidelity generally, so yes, that does include one night stands, and affairs with single people (I can't believe you didn't know this happens!) and visits to prostitutes. We were simply working out where the other 20% difference might come from.

And with regard to the partners who stay with their unfaithful partners - they are not to be scorned. Are you forgetting that we are not robots...that people fall in love and stay in love, and that with children in the picture sometimes to stay and try therapy might be the best thing? I applaud the women here who have been dragged through affair hell, but who chose to try to work it out and see if they could move on from the infidelity as much as I applaud the ones for whom it was the last straw and whom have ended their marriages.

We are all different and our relationships are all different. If your life is that black and white, then you are in a very small minority.

confusionoftheillusion Thu 07-Feb-13 13:14:30

From my own experience...
I was lonely in my marriage and too gutless to leave

cronullansw Thu 07-Feb-13 22:36:53

Actually seenenough, I'm one who has had several affairs and have been married for over 20 years. I believe (but don't know for sure) my DP has had affairs during our marriage too. All of my partners were married, and have stayed that way as far as I know.

DP and I have happy and settled kids and we live in a happy household. I have no proof that DP has or hasn't strayed, and it's the same the other way round. there's no proof, and has always been total discretion - this is not to say we have an open marriage and in recent years I happen to have been totally monogamous, but who knows what might happen in the future?

I recognise that people make mistakes, and that stuff happens, either accidentally or deliberately, but I don't think that you need to destroy a family unit, a household, innocent kids, stable, loving, well cared for, with happy lives, just because of a bit of sex.

SnowBusiness Fri 08-Feb-13 05:14:06

Cronullansw, that's an incredible brave admission on here but so very honest. Until people are honest a lot of nonsense and infidelity myths continue to be pedalled as fact.

confusionoftheillusion Fri 08-Feb-13 08:56:30

I guess in your case crownullansw you and your DP seem to be on an equal footing with infidelity so I imagine that removes some of the guilt. I do understand what you mean about sex. Sometimes it can be about so much more than that though. IMO the emotional affairs are just as, if not more, damaging to a marriage. And I believe people get into them cause something is missing from their home life. Maybe in some cases people feel 'entitled to both people' but I think this is rare

Charbon Fri 08-Feb-13 13:25:19

It's not rare at all confusion. In fact, it's extremely common. One of the big self-protections people have when involved in an affair (especially if the partner is married himself) is to assume that one's own reasons for doing so must also apply to him - and everyone else in this situation. It helps with the guilt and it helps with the idealisation of your own and the other person's character. If you're telling yourself that you're having an affair for the sole reason that 'there's something missing in my home life' it's a defence mechanism to project that on to the other person - and everyone else. If you had to confront the idea that there is never one reason for why people have affairs (emotional or otherwise) it might require a bit more self-introspection and sometimes, some realisation about the other person's potential alternative motives too.

It's really hard for people in the midst of something like this to be honest with themselves though and so honesty with the other person is even more difficult. So one of the ways of coping is to erect a defence for one's own behaviour and if the other person is mirroring that, it leads to a belief that there is only ever one reason for why good people get involved elsewhere.

Bobbybird40 Fri 08-Feb-13 18:16:25

So cronull do you and dp have a kind of unwritten rule that you can sneak about behind each other's backs? If you want a bit of sex with somebody else?

cronullansw Sun 10-Feb-13 08:19:21

Not at all Bobby, it is never discussed, as to all intents and purposes, it isn't happening and certainly I, and I have to assume my DP, don't want to thrust the stigma of extramarital sex into each others faces. smile

Charbon - ah, the 'whos' getting in over their head' point. And here the wonderful internet comes into play, one can very carefully outline ones likes, preferences and intentions before one embarks upon an adventure, so there is no ambiguity, no ''but I thought you loved me.......'' conversations.

It's not a meeting of minds, with like-minded, tortured souls, star crossed lovers, who meet IRL and fall for each other, it's two people with the same intentions, to have some fun, to put a spark into one anothers lives maybe one afternoon a fortnight, to be cared for, to make someone else smile.

This isn't because you aren't being cared for at home, this is purely the jam on the cake. This isn't a relationship substitute, this is added spice.

Hatpin Sun 10-Feb-13 09:29:00

Cronulla, the only reason I can imagine someone not being open with their spouse about seeking extramarital sex is because they know it would not be approved.

What other reason would there be?

backonline Sun 10-Feb-13 14:41:03

I think that people have affairs for lots of different reasons. However I think that it is an over simplification to say that it is always because the guilty party does not care about their partner and/or wants excitement.

There are a lot of people who feel trapped in a marriage which does not give them what they need. When a spouse does not meet someone's emotional needs, but does not do anything terrible, and where finances, personal circumstances etc make leaving difficult, then I can understand why someone may have an affair. I have a friend who is in this position. Her husband does not see emotional support, companionship etc as important. He has his job, computer, hobbies etc. He will not agree to discuss anything, will not agree to a divorce as he says that he is perfectly happy and that any problems are "her fault". Divorce isn't that easy, especially as he is the main breadwinner, she has small children, etc.

I'm not saying that she is "right", just that she was desperately lonely.

My brother also had an affair. His wife was obsessed by the kids (7 and 9 at the time) and had no time or energy left for him. He helped a lot with the children but any attempt to get her to spend time with him alone, without the kids, failed. We'd offer to baby sit so they could have an evening out, weekend away etc but she just said that she didn't want to, that they (she and my db) were "past all of that" etc. She wouldn't even spend evenings in with him, "as a couple" (ie just chatting, or watching TV together) it was like a switch had gone off when she had the kids. She had her children, and her girl friends, so didn't want to talk to him. He tried talking to her about it (so did I actually) but she just said that she was happy, that marriage is "about the children" etc etc. Again he was desperately lonely but didn't want to lose contact with his kids and ended up having an affair with someone from work. He has now ended that and is trying to get her to go to Relate but she still insists that there isn't a problem and that he needs to find friends outside the marriage etc etc. (Not that easy for a man as most men do not want to provide emotional support for their male friends).

So in some cases I do think that people have affairs because they are very lonely within their outwardly happy marriages, and that they do not leave because their partners appear very happy/it is hard to leave/they have kids, and they cannot fix their marriages because their partners are uninterested in fixing it as their partners are getting what they want.

I know that the obviously response here is that the partners are not getting what they want as what they want is a faithful partner and this is very true. But in some cases it is the partner who is also trying to "have their cake and eat it" in some ways as the partner wants the practical side of marriage but is not prepared to provide companionable or emotional support.

BeforeAndAfter Sun 10-Feb-13 15:08:00

My ex had an affair because he had opportunity, OW was relentless in her pursuit and he felt flattered and wanted. He told me that at his age (then 58) he was contemplating his mortality and felt he only had 10 or so years left of good health (based on parents) and wanted to live life to the full while he could. We had a good relationship, friendship, no money worries and a comfortable retirement was within reach but he thought he was no longer the centre of my world and didn't have the courage to talk to me. In summary he shagged OW due to ego and cowardice.

Darkesteyes Sun 10-Feb-13 18:08:51

backonline that is a brilliant post. I am in a similar situation to yr friend. Which ive mentioned upthread on page 1.
You end up being in a situation where you lose all hope and all faith in human nature.
My h is quite happy with the way things are. Hasnt touched me for 17 yrs. My affair made me feel like a woman again and my ex OM was the first time a man had ever given me an orgasm at the age of 31.
I turn 40 this year and have been spending a lot of the last couple of months in tears.
Because i feel that a lot of people just wouldnt understand.
But posts like yours show me that not everyone sees things as just black and white so thankyou. thanks

confusionoftheillusion Sun 10-Feb-13 21:58:54

backonline - thanks for showing the other side to people who end up being the OW or end up having an OM. Or both.

TheOwlService Sun 10-Feb-13 23:29:30

Darkesteyes, why did your affair end and why are you still with your H? (If it is not too intrusive a question).

Darkesteyes Sun 10-Feb-13 23:36:29

Because my ex OM was showing a few EA red flags. Im beginning to wonder now though if that could have been ironed out.
i also have EA parents. No support in RL at all. Well not unless you are being who they want you to be.

TheOwlService Sun 10-Feb-13 23:48:31

Things are never straightforward are they and its hard if you dont have support. Life is never as black and white as some people would like it to be and Its so easy to stereotype people, dictate what is right and wrong and put them into boxes.
How long ago did it end?

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 00:07:50

Just over 5 years just after NY 2008. I feel lonely. Im almost 40 and seem to want affection and sex even more now. I looked at the IE website. But i dont want to do anything that could hurt someone else or their children.
And all the male profiles on there seem to say the same thing. That they all go to the gym and are looking for a slim woman.
Im a size 20 and now slipping into 18s. My self esteem cant really take any more knocks.

Charbon Mon 11-Feb-13 02:39:00

I think dating sites are a terrible idea for someone with low self esteem, especially the one you've mentioned Darkesteyes. I'd also caution against thinking that emotional abuse can be 'ironed out'.

I too wonder why you don't end your marriage instead of these options?

I've just read backonline's post with interest and although I agree and have already said on this thread that there are many reasons for affairs, what struck me again was how sexual stereotypes might get in the way of people's understanding about affairs. I'm sure for example that there is more to the friend than the depiction of a lonely housewife and that there's more to the SIL than a woman who is 'obsessed with kids'. Another one was the observation that 'most men don't want to provide emotional support for their friends'. These felt like very one-dimensional, clichéd stereotypes of men and women, rather than more rounded assessments of those people's individual characters.

It's really fascinating to look at gender scripts and how these impact on the roles people play when having an affair and on the roles they assign to their spouse, the lover and the lover's spouse. I've even known it to impact on people's hearing when they learn something about a marital situation that doesn't fit the sexual stereotype. For example, OM 'not hearing' that a husband doesn't want sex but does his fair share of housework - only absorbing the bits about him being uncomfortable talking about emotions and feelings. Or the OW who screens out the bits about the wife enjoying sex and making her husband laugh, absorbing only that she 'nags' about the housework and her workload.

If what people are hearing doesn't fit the sexual stereotype of men and women that are in their heads - and it wouldn't suit them to challenge it - it's amazing what gets screened out.

Abitwobblynow Mon 11-Feb-13 06:33:05

All I know is that although it is being the making of me 'is' because it is ongoing], it [my husband's affair] has been the most devastating thing of my entire life. I had invested a lot in trusting and believing in my husband as the one person in life who loved me and was there for me.

So whilst I can rationally look at [both of] our immaturity now, and take steps to personally grow up, the emotionally violent loss of that hope was... obliterating. It was like a nuclear holocaust at the time. I honestly don't think I will ever feel such emotional pain again.

Abitwobblynow Mon 11-Feb-13 06:34:02

All I know is that although it is being the making of me [I use 'is' because it is ongoing], it [my husband's affair] has been the most devastating thing of my entire life. I had invested a lot in trusting and believing in my husband as the one person in life who loved me and was there for me.

So whilst I can rationally look at [both of] our immaturity now, and take steps to personally grow up, the emotionally violent loss of that hope was... obliterating. It was like a nuclear holocaust at the time. I honestly don't think I will ever feel such emotional pain again.

SnowBusiness Mon 11-Feb-13 07:04:40

But abitwobbly, i still don't know why you haven't left if it caused you so much pain (wasn't it a few years ago) and you are still no further with finding a resolution for your pain. How do you live day to day?

Abitwobblynow Mon 11-Feb-13 07:51:47

Hi Snow, this is the 'does LTB solve the problem' debate. I will give you the answer I gave to Cleopatra and Charlotte:

Thanks Cleopatra I agree, but I am not going to kid myself that I don't have work to do as well. And the whole finding myself in a bedsit thing doesn't appeal to me at all.
One of the hooks that ties a person to a narcissist is waiting/hoping/expecting them to change. This is a VERY hard think to unhook - they SHOULD be human and normal!! If we just explained/injected enough urgency/used the right words ... But as Les Carter says 'expecting a narcissist to be non-narcissistic is an exercise in futility'.
So it really is one of my lessons (and it has taken THREE YEARS to start getting it) to truly accept 'he really is like this, he is this empty' in order to start to let go. I wouldn't get it in a bedsit would I? I would just be setting myself up for the next one...
So I live as though I am alone. When I am impervious to his sulks and covert digs, ie they do not affect my sense of self and my equilibrium or my purpose in life, then I will know that finally, after 50 years of narcissism, I am healed.

Remember, in the last years (which you dismiss as just time marking) I have completely changed the dynamic. I no longer get emotional, shout, try to reach him, be sarcastic, be (frankly) emotionally abusive... he is left in his own space and he doesn't have to use any defenses to try to ward me off. AND HE DOESN'T LIKE IT AT ALL. But - not my problem. Only one person I can change and that is myself. And my job is to unhook myself from narcissistic dynamics and learn to recognise them and not buy into them. THAT more than any divorce or separation, will free me. I know I havent' got there, because last week I fell for a position in a case work exercise, and it was pointed out that the man in the couple was narcissistic and 'victim'... this issue is beyond marriage or LTB. I have a lot of faults too!

Charlotte [asked how he was in IC], remember the psychologists said he wasn't a malignant narcissist? He checked himself into IC because he wanted to be a better person.
that lasted as long as he discovered that it would involved hard emotional work and self reflection He hardly goes now. I go faithfully every week. I really do want to live the second half of my life with more fulfilment and inner peace than the first half. He said it, but I'm working on it.

SnowBusiness Mon 11-Feb-13 11:42:45

You sound very vulnerable abitwobbly and I'm not sure that LTB wouldn't help ad you describe an utterly broken relationship anyway. Emotionally you have definitely separated. I'm not sure I understand your case study - areuyou always the victim?

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 12:01:38

It always seems so black and white on these threads. Bad people have affairs and good people would never stray.

Three of my very close friends have had affairs. They are all good people. Only one of them left her husband. And she wasn't the one with higher morals, or who had found the love of her life. She left because she could afford to and only had one small child.

The bottom line is some women are very unhappily married, they stay for financial reasons and for their children. It's all very well being told to leave a DH who doesn't care/is emotionally abusive/is too busy with hobbies etc. But it's a tough world out there for women who have been a SAHM for years and have no money of their own. Especially if they are married to somebody who isn't going to go quietly. Far easier to carry on living their life and find some way to ease the loneliness.

And yes that's why I do it too.

As for why do men do it? Who knows. Attention I'm guessing. From the men I know and the occasional one on here, most men will manage without sex if they truly love their partner and are content with life in general. So it isn't just for sex.

Abitwobblynow Mon 11-Feb-13 13:50:26

I am not fucking vulnerable! I am following a careful plan to move from a position of ECONOMIC vulnerability and dependency [long term SAHM], to a position of professional working! [bangs head on table].

And to develop my own circle of friends and interests (ie emotional support), and this all takes time.

Thank you Snowyskies. From the 'It's all very well...' - please read carefully. THIS is the reality. I have fully accepted I have a functioning marriage (united on parents, no overt abuse), but no relationship. Instead of flouncing off in a huff for poverty filled pride I am accepting those parameters and working within them.

backonline Mon 11-Feb-13 13:54:42

Charbon I think that you are imposing the stereotypes onto my post. Obviously people have more to them than can ever be posted in a forum. However I was not simply saying that my friend was a bored HW and so had an affair etc.

My point was that in both cases one party was not getting companionship and emotional support from their marriage, one because their partner simply seemed incapable of giving it and the other because their partner saw marriage as "all about the children". The sex of each does not matter.

Some people go into marriage looking for a companion for life, someone to "share life with". Others go into it for far more practical reasons, wanting someone to co-parent with, spend bank holidays with etc. but not wanting to forge an intimate emotional bond. Most people are somewhere between the two extremes.

However one reason for some affairs is that someone needing to form an intimate emotional bond with their partner ends up married to someone who is simply uninterested in doing, or unable to do, this.

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 13:54:49

Abitwobbly - I am sorry for what happened to you. My DH has never cheated on me (that I know of) but there are more ways than that to kill somebody's love. I found a job, got a social life, became happy but there was still something missing. I accept what I (and women like me) am doing is wrong, one day I will face judgement for that. Until then I can function, as a wife, as a mother, as a person. A life without ever feeling affection is a poor shadow of a life.

Sioda Mon 11-Feb-13 15:01:35

Oh would people stop with the silly black/white, good/bad person nonsense! What does that even mean? Or does it just help people to justify affairs because you can paint the rest of us as simplistic, lacking in understanding and judgmental? It certainly has nothing to do with what most people have actually posted in this thread. I suppose it allows you to continue to feel better about something that you feel guilty about by insisting that no one understands you, everyone else is mean and you're a good boy/girl really... Are we 5?

Charbon I'm so glad there are people like you with patience out there to help people. I assume you're a counsellor or something in real life, paid or unpaid. I don't know how you do it. I'd give myself a concussion from facepalming.

blurr Mon 11-Feb-13 15:10:04

My DH cheated on me with a very close friend for 3 years. I found out, I was devastated, he was my best friend (although during this time he had withdrawn affection).He promised no contact but he kept going back to her. I asked him to leave but he wouldn't, saying he loved me...

But although we are still together, for the sake of the children and for financial issues, he still hardly touches me or makes love to me (maybe two/three times a year, after I initiate). Perhaps he doesn't really love me anymore. I was lonely, unhappy and lacked any self esteem.

Someone started showing me some attention, complimenting me, took me out, touched me affectionately and the next thing I knew I was having an affair. He made me happy after ages of sadness.

I would never have considered having an affair; I know it is wrong and have broken it off many times. But I like him and we are more affectionate towards each other than our own partners. We would never leave our families for each other but it makes living a little easier.

This is why I had an affair, it made life a little happier.

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 15:10:52

People need to understand that having an affair does not make a person bad. That behaviour is bad but it doesn't mean they are. Weak maybe, or selfish or all the other words that get used but not bad. Good people sometimes do bad things.

I think it's easy to be judgemental, I know I used to be. It's easy to say you would never be tempted because you aren't that type of person, but sometimes circumstances change, life changes, and what seemed wrong now doesn't seem as wrong.

It's also easier to do it if it's normal behaviour in your circle of friends. That's not an excuse, it's the same for any type of behaviour, it becomes more the norm.

I feel guilt. Of course I do. But I rationalise it and deal with it. I made my choices, I didn't fall into them, I don't blame others for them.

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 15:46:23

It is also an incredibly selfish act to withdraw affection from a partner and then blame them when after years of this they seek affection elsewhere. It is not always just the sex act that a partner withdraws from. It is the intimacy and affection too.
It is incredibly controlling to withdraw from yr partner for years and say "Tough i dont want it any more so you cant either."
In this case the vows have ALREADY been broken. While NO ONE has the right to force or bully ANYONE into having sex or a sexual act they dont want to do, "with my body i thee worship" is just as much a marriage vow as "forsaking all others keep you only unto them"
Its not fair for people to cherry pick the vows they want to keep and ignore the rest..

Sioda Mon 11-Feb-13 15:54:23

Darkest So the best response to one person breaking their vows is to break yours too is that it? If they're selfish you're allowed to be too right? Rather than, say, doing the blindingly obvious and ending a marriage that can't be fixed...

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 15:57:09

Yes but you do have a choice! If your husband doesn't want sex then at least he's being honest with you so you can leave if you want to. Why the hell don't you do that instead of having affairs? You write about this as though there's no other option than to wallow in misery or screw around. You could leave, couldn't you?

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 16:00:36

Ask yourself this Sioda. Why doesnt the person who doesnt want affection anymore end the marriage hmm?? And take some damn responsibility for the way they feel.
I will tell you why. Because they want the STATUS of being married. Or a housekeeper to fulfil domestic duties. Or a partner to help contribute towards bills and the daily cost of living.
Trying to get support from my own family is a non starter because they are of the opinion that men come first.
My DN is almost 18 and is already getting these messages from them. I HAVE to be around for her.

backonline Mon 11-Feb-13 16:03:05

Its not fair for people to cherry pick the vows they want to keep and ignore the rest..
I agree and this is what I am trying to say. The marriage vows say that both parties should love and comfort one another, as well as to keep faithful. Why is it seen as so much worse to be unfaithful than to not provide love or comfort?

I do agree that there is an argument that the right thing to do if someone does not provide comfort is to leave them, but as many have pointed out this isn't as easy as it can seem.

I am not saying that all affairs arise like this. I accept that some people are after the "being in-love" feeling, and that this does not last etc etc. However in both cases that I described, once the "being in-love" feeling in the marriage wore off, the more lasting love, the emotional bond, that remained was very one sided, with one party wanting to have a long term loving relationship and the other simply not that interested. So the affairs happened, but those affairs were motivated by a search for the long term companionship type love, not the short term "in-love" type love, and I think that it is unfair to assume that "being in-love" as opposed to "loving long term" is all that affairs are always about. I also suspect that it is not that uncommon to be seeking a more long term emotional attachment in an affair. Otherwise why would so many people have emotional affairs?

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 16:04:02

Yes that's right. I (and women like me) could leave. Of course it would mean pretty much a breadline existence. Children caught up in divorce warfare. Resentment, arguements, hostility. So much better for everyone that way. If I have to choose between honesty and happy children, I choose my children.

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 16:04:06

Abitwobbly and blurr I know what you both mean and i understand completely.

Oh and cin i dont screw around. I had ONE affair after SEVEN years of rejection so thanks for the thinly veiled mysogyny but no thanks!

backonline Mon 11-Feb-13 16:06:08

the blindingly obvious and ending a marriage that can't be fixed...
why is it blindingly obvious? Their are countless reasons why ending a marriage can be anything but the obvious thing to do.

Sioda Mon 11-Feb-13 16:08:29

blurr But the reason you needed to make your life happier was that you chose to stay in a marriage with a man who cheated on you, lied to you, ignores you and treats you with disdain. Because you believe that that was a better option financially and for the children and because your self-esteem is presumably still very low (how would it be otherwise given the relationship you're subjecting yourself to everyday?). I think you'll have difficulty finding many adult children who are grateful to their mothers for making herself miserable through their childhood and modelling that kind of relationship for them, unless the alternative is truly living on the breadline. There are other ways to make your life happier. Your 'd'h deserves no sympathy but you are free at any time to instead choose to work on whatever it is that's stopping you from giving yourself a better life.

Owllady Mon 11-Feb-13 16:09:45

domestic abuse
I suppose the list is exhaustive really

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 16:11:02

backonline YES YES YES. My affair was an emotional loving one which lasted for 4 and a half years. It wasnt just sex or screwing around at all. My h hadnt touched me for years i had just turned 30 and had also just lost ten stone at that time. It all just came together at once. I met my OM at work. It wasnt planned.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 16:11:58

and it's really not so hard as is being made out for a woman to leave her marriage. It might mean less money, it might mean getting a job, it might mean a smaller house. But at least it's an honest life instead of sneaking around having affairs on the side and shifting your moral compass to the point where something that is undeniably wrong isn't wrong any longer. Staying in a marriage and cheating on the side because you don't want to give up the good life is sickening. You're not staying for the children, you're staying for yourself. No child wants to live with parents who are screwing around, however carefully you think you hide it from them some kids just know - and the young ones know that mum or dad's attention is fixed on their phones and not on them.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 16:13:31

Why don't you leave darkest eyes?

It's the question that you're continually evading!

backonline Mon 11-Feb-13 16:13:49

cincodemayo what is your evidence for suggesting that Darkest "screws around"?

When someone says "my partner no longer provides any emotional support" then the replies do not translate that into "your partner hates you" etc. But when someone admits to one case of infidelity your reply talks of "screwing around".

It is almost as if you are saying that physical betrayal is infinitely worse than emotional rejection and betrayal which just isn't true. So whilst I could understand your asking Darkest why she does not leave (and I can think of many reasons why someone would not leave), I think that suggesting that she "screws around" is completely uncalled for.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 16:16:56

I don't care if you had one affair or 20 either and screwing around is a gender neutral term. If you've already had one affair and are trawling websites full of married men then that's screwing around or looking to in my book.

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 16:17:35

Cin i suggest you actually watch the news and take notice of what is going on around you. Womens services are being cut to the bone. Jobs are scarce. Especially for people who have been SAHPs OR carers for a long while. And you keep using the plural terms of affairs (multiple) Or the term "screwing around" Is there a little bit of projection here!

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 16:18:55

Actually for some people it IS that hard to leave a marriage. If somebody is in an emotionally abusive marriage the last thing they want to do is rock the boat. Those kind of men don't become nice when divorce is mentioned. Far better to carry on and find something to make life worth living.

And really? If most children were asked if they would rather live a happy comfortable life with two parents. Or live between two houses with mum trying to make ends meet and dad hating mum. They would choose the first.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 16:19:30

I think an open betrayal such as 'i don't want sex with you' is horrible but at least you have a choice about what to do. A secret betrayal is different because then you aren't given a choice.

Sioda Mon 11-Feb-13 16:20:43

back Because in that case the poster seems to be saying that her partner has withdrawn affection and intimacy for years and is controlling and does not want to fix the problem because it's not a problem for them. So if fixing the marriage is not an option, leaving it is the blindingly obvious thing to do. Of course it's not in every case. But having an affair is never the blindingly obvious thing to do is it?

Darkest Yes yes your partner sounds like a pig. But why they do what they do is neither here nor there. You have no control over it. As for your DN the message she (presumably) is getting from your actions are that staying in an unhappy marriage and having an affair is a model for relationships.

back It might or might not be worse to have an affair vs. not provide love or comfort. I'd imagine that depends on the people involved and their circumstances. But this isn't a competition as to who's behaving worst is it?

snowy Because growing up with unhappily married parents who are cheating on each other is so much better is it? Have you asked many adults who grew up in that kind of family what they would have preferred? Most will tell you they'd have chosen divorced and poorer but happier parents. "Honesty or happy children" is a false dichotomy that you've set up.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 16:21:45

Don't kid yourself snowy about the children. In every thread here about whether it's best to stay for the children, posters always say that their parents did and it damaged them and left a legacy long into adulthood.

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 16:21:47

Cinco - I think you are obviously very lucky to have a partner who loves and respects you. I can assure you if I had that I would never look elsewhere. But until you have been in a dark place where you are starved of affection, you cannot make judgement on those that have been. Nobody knows how they would behave.

Owllady Mon 11-Feb-13 16:22:04

snowyskies, were you that child? because I really don't agree. My Dad had loads of affairs and it unsettled us terribly and I really wish my Mother had of kicked him out years before for her own sake as well as ours

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 16:24:48

I was just looking thats all. And one of the reasons i decided not to go ahead is because i dont want to cause hurt to anyone else especially any children. Is that the act of a selfish person? I think not.

Oh and cin BEFORE my retail job where i met my ex OM i worked in a sex chatline office for two and a half years so if i wanted to "screw around" as you so eloquently put it i had plenty of oppurtunity back then. And i took the chatline job because it was the only job that paid enough money for me and DH to live on. He didnt give a shit that i was doing that job. There was no sex and therefore NO sexual jealousy.

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 16:25:01

I can't speak for anyone's children but my own. And I make my own decisions about how best to parent them. Maybe that isn't the way their childhood should be but that's up to me. I'm pretty certain that they would prefer this to the alternative but everybody's circumstances are different.

Some children are horribly damaged by divorce, death of a parent, abuse, lots of different things. I choose to protect my children as I see fit.

Sioda Mon 11-Feb-13 16:25:48

Snowy yes but most children would choose chocolate over vegetables all day long too. Ask children who've grown up and have experienced the consequences. And again you've set up a false dichotomy. It's not a happy comfortable life with unhappy parents who don't love each other. They will know, don't delude yourself. Emotional abuse or any abuse is a different kettle of fish. It should go without saying that people who are being abused aren't included in the 'just leave' advice.

backonline Mon 11-Feb-13 16:26:50

it's really not so hard as is being made out for a woman to leave her marriage. It might mean less money, it might mean getting a job, it might mean a smaller house.

okay, here is the situation with my friend. She has a job which she loves but it involves unsocial hours (occasional night work) and is badly paid so she can only do it if her husband has the children. She has talked about splitting up with him. He has stated that he will provide no financial or childcare support and would go abroad if she left him (he has plenty of opportunities to do this with work). She has no family willing to help. They have a big mortgage and not enough equity for her to begin to buy a house or anything. So if they split up she would have to move to a council house. She has gone as far as looking into this but the only possibility would be one in a very rough catchment area and so she is afraid that her children (one of whom has ASD) would not cope at the very rough secondary school. It isn't the money. It is the co-parenting, the over night child care and the access to non-special measures type schools for her children.

I am not saying that she is right to stay, just that I fail to see why leaving is "obviously the best thing to do".

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 16:27:01

No I wasn't that child. I lived with just my mum, watching her work four jobs to pay the rent. Never having enough to eat or nice clothes. Damned if I'm doing that to my children.

Multiple affairs is a bit different from one long term relationship I think.

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 16:28:08

Backon - I'm pretty sure I'm not your friend but that is very similar to my situation. It's a tough decision to make

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 16:28:19

Sioda my DN does NOT know anything about it. FFS FFS Neither does my DB. You may think its ok to offload your problems onto a teenager but i dont . She was 8 when my affair started and DB split up with DNs mum in 96 Not even DB knows about my private life. BLOODY FUCKING HELL <head desk>

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 16:31:59

SiodaMon 11-Feb-13 16:25:48

Snowy yes but most children would choose chocolate over vegetables all day long too. Ask children who've grown up and have experienced the consequences. And again you've set up a false dichotomy. It's not a happy comfortable life with unhappy parents who don't love each other. They will know, don't delude yourself. Emotional abuse or any abuse is a different kettle of fish. It should go without saying that people who are being abused aren't included in the 'just leave' advice

Really? Interestingly when i contacted WA and told them about my situation with DH and my parents attitudes towards it they told me that what both my DH AND my parents are doing IS emotional abuse.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 16:35:38

No it's not because of my marriage that I don't cheat. It's because of my moral compass. As if marriages run smoothly all the time anyway! If I'd cheated when things were bumpy, it wouldn't have been my marriage at fault it would have been my way of dealing with it that would have been faulty. Do you assume other people don't get offers and are tempted? I have and have walked away, several times, even when my marriage was in a low point, as ALL marriages will have at least once. So stop hiding behind all these excuses and saying that other people don't understand. They've just got different life coping mechanisms to you.

backonline Mon 11-Feb-13 16:35:48

If someone has an affair then there is the possibility that the children, and the partner, will not find out. If they get divorced then, as someone said, the children are definitely going to end up split between (possibly confrontational) parents. Divorce messes children up too. There is no "obvious" solution when a marriage breaks down and there are children involved. People make do as best that they can. Claiming that there is some perfect answer, and that anyone who tries a different way is somehow evil, does not help anyone.

It is also interesting how women who confess to affairs are treated...

Sioda Mon 11-Feb-13 16:36:57

back I didn't say that splitting up immediately is always possible. Just that it's the blindingly obvious solution to an unhappy marriage. And a better solution than having an affair. Not that it's easy or the only solution or leads to utopia. It clearly is the most obvious solution to your friend too since she's gone to such lengths to try to do it. You say that your friend has spoken to her DH about splitting up and his response was to threaten to leave the country providing no support to his children and leaving her with their joint debts including a hefty mortgage. That sounds like financial and emotional abuse to me and I'd say that's a reflection of a lot more going on in the background. Where there's abuse like that I have no problem saying that an affair sounds like a perfectly reasonable response to her immediate situation and I hope someday she can escape properly.

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 16:40:07

It is also interesting how women who confess to affairs are treated

Agreed backonline. Its mysogyny. Because when a man is deprived of sex and/or affection at home and goes elsewhere its "oh well hes a man he needs his oats"
Reverse the genders in the same situation though and societys attitude completely changes. Because "women dont really like sex anyway right" and only do it to have kids. Mysogyny.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 16:44:10

backonline that friend's got loads of other options if she wanted to get out enough. She could look for a different job that didn't involve overnight childcare, that paid more than the low-paying one and enough to get a private rent. If her husband leaves the country and won't pay his CSA (idle threat probably), there are benefits. She could get legal advice about what to do about a father who's avoiding paying. There's always a way if you want to do something enough and with integrity.

What people don't want to do though is give up the things they 'love' like the night job, or the house, or not working at all and they dress all this up as being for the children's sake. It's not. It's for their own sake.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 16:46:26

It's not misogyny at all. I'm just as scathing about men who have affairs and who hide behind excuses for it. You're simply projecting Darkesteyes and you're still not saying why you don't leave your husband.

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 16:47:14

I had that moral compass too. After 10 years of emotional abuse I had a different moral compass. I refused offers in my early years of marriage too and refused to understand any other way of behaving.

When you've had a man ridicule your body, tell you how crap you are in bed, refuse to hug you or kiss you for YEARS, tell you how nobody else will ever want you because you are too dumb or ugly. Then add that to the certain knowledge (because he's told you so) that he will make your life a living hell if you leave. That's when the compass starts to shift.

I'm a better parent now than I have been for years, I'm happier and that has rubbed off on my children.

Sioda Mon 11-Feb-13 16:48:34

back"Claiming that there is some perfect answer, and that anyone who tries a different way is somehow evil, does not help anyone."

Who claimed that? Evil, really? Now you're just making stuff up. Stop trying to make those who disagree with you into some kind of bogeyman.

Snowy and Darkest If you're both in abusive relationships then nothing I've said on this thread has any relevance to you. I have some idea of how difficult that is and I wouldn't dream of patronising you by offering solutions. I'm sorry you're in that situation and I hope you both find support.

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 16:48:41

And like i asked upthread Why do the people who dont want sex or affection anymore leave their spouses?
You see Cin. Im not getting my questions answered either. Welcome to my world!

Feckthehalls Mon 11-Feb-13 16:51:32

darkesteyes I am not surprised you had an affair and I don't blame you at all.
I also completely understand why you choose not to end the marriage in order to keep things as stable as possible for your children.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 16:52:36

If you're raising children with a father like that then you are doing them no favours. No child wants to be brought up by an emotional abuser and a cheat.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 16:53:32

I don't think darkest has got children have you?

Sioda Mon 11-Feb-13 16:54:27

Cinco, I think that woman is in a seriously abusive relationship. Read her 'D'H's response to her discussion of splitting up. Those aren't easy at all to extract yourself from. Apart from which if he's abusive then he has lost any moral claim to her fidelity,honesty or respect, so let her do what she needs to do to get through the day.

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 16:54:37

I dont have children but my DH is now partially disabled.

Abitwobblynow Mon 11-Feb-13 16:56:13

cinc you are being a bit simplistic. Men can be really good fathers and providers, but crap husbands. They can use what energy/emotions they have to focus on their children and be workaholics, but be unable to relate to women because of shitty pasts.

When I hear snowy and Darkest, that is what I hear. Maybe because I am in the same boat. Just as people can be mothers, aunts and sisters but still be the same person, so marriages have different facets.

The abuse I feel is subtle, and covert and only relevant to me. He feels equally abused: my traumatic reaction to being betrayed was abuse, for him. So who is right? My children get listened to, hugged and their hands held - is it their problem that I don't? Should I wreck their lives because I don't? Should I have a giant hissy fit and flounce off causing their family home - the one they were born into - to be sold, because I don't have my hand held? Do their lives really need to be impacted because I am not held at night?

Believe me, these calculations whirl around my head every single day. My needs, vs their needs. And guess whose needs ALWAYS win. I am a mother.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 16:57:02

Darkest you asked 'Why do the people who dont want sex or affection anymore leave their spouses?' I don't know. Beats me. But it doesn't matter what they want does it? You can't have any control over that. You can only decide to do the leaving yourself, not wonder why you haven't been left confused

Feckthehalls Mon 11-Feb-13 16:58:01

yes I'd like to know why all the affection witholders don't end their marriages.

It might just be that despite being crap partners they don't want to disrupt their children's lives. Just like people the people they are married to who have affairs to cope with living with a crap partner confused

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 16:58:43

Abitwobbly i think you are a wonderful selfless mother who is sacrificing her own needs for her children. Unmumsnetty (((((hugs))))

Feckthehalls Mon 11-Feb-13 16:59:56

darkest I nominate you for a sainthood if you are staying partly because you are taking care of your disabled husband

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 17:01:05

Look let's not pretend it's impossible to leave an abuser. It is. There is considerable support out there too for women in those situations. It might take a while, but doing NOTHING to extricate yourself from the situation and in fact having an affair to medicate yourself in order to STAY is a really bad idea. What about the kids then? What medicates them while they are living in that family??

Feckthehalls Mon 11-Feb-13 17:04:05

why is it so hard for those of you who say "don't have an affair - end the marriage if it is so crap " to understand it is possible to have a crap marriage but a happy family life?

Where did this idea that the children can always tell come about?

It's perfectly possible for a couple who don't love each other to still treat each other with kindness and respect and present a united parenting front.

Not all unhappily married couples scream and shout at each other, or interact with simmering hostility

Abitwobblynow Mon 11-Feb-13 17:04:49

That is right, Feck. We respond to their vulnerablity AS we feel our own loneliness etc.

'Of all endings, death can be the kindest' - Emerson. If my H was dead, I could have mourned him. But unbeknownst to me, my marriage ended when he leaned forward and told a complete stranger who he wanted to fuck, that he did not love his wife any more. So with my betrayal I received lies (which undermine the fundamental trust of any relationship) and also, the witnessing of him preferring emotionally and physically another person. What I thought I had died, but he is right here.

It f-ing hurts and nothing can be done about it.

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 17:04:54

Who says I'm doing nothing? Doing this has given me the incentive to pick myself up, to get a job, to be putting money away every month. It gives me the confidence to stand up to my DH's bullying, to know my worth. It's not a quick process but I will get there in the end.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 17:05:18

I think soothing yourself by saying that you're putting your children's needs above your own is delusional. You're not. You're putting your needs before your children's. But to support that delusion, you have to have a further delusion that your kids are unaffected by living with an abuser. They are not unaffected, believe me. and if you don't, read the threads from adults who tell the truth about what it was like to live in a home like that.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 17:07:02

snowy is your OM married too?

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 17:07:31

But like someone else here said, crap husbands can be good fathers. It's possible to smooth everything over at home and for children to be happy.
I will not choose my happiness over theirs.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 17:08:57

good fathers don't emotionally abuse their kids mother. They are not good dads at all.

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 17:09:16

Do I get double the abuse if I say he is? Of course he is, it couldn't work otherwise. We have an agreement that if either of us wants more then it's over. It fills a gap for both of us for the time being.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 17:12:18

that's crap for his wife then isn't it? Or is she an emotional abuser too and so it's alright then?

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 17:13:31

When i moved out of home at 19 and moved in with dh 21 yrs ago my DM moved into my bedroom.
Two years ago my mum found a recipt from a jewellers in a wardrobe in my dads room.
The bracelet was not for her. My DM isnt into showing affection as far as i can tell.
I was well aware of this growiing up. I think my dad had an affair when i was 8. On the way back from seeing my grandparents my mum opened the door while the car was on the fucking moterway and threatened to jump. Frightened the life out of me and my then 6 yr old bro.
My dm can be cold emotionally She shows her love towards me in material ways but id rather have the emotional support frankly.
Two yrs ago this bracelet incident was a real catalyst for me. I dont want to get to my 70s and be in that situation.
Growing up and into adulthood i swore i would not be like my mum. But ironically ive tried so hard not to be like her ive ended up like my dad and in a similar situation as him. sad

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 17:14:16

Yes it is crap for his wife. I do feel guilt for that. I have no idea what she is like. We have never discussed our marriages. For all I know she could be the most perfect wife in the world. I don't even know how long he has been married for, could be 2 years could be 20.

Abitwobblynow Mon 11-Feb-13 17:15:13

You go, Snowy! ONly on MN is it a quick process, bam bam change! - and leave the bastard.

Cinc - the kids don't SEE it! They don't hear 'you f-ing bitch [slap].' They hear 'hello how was your day?' and 'I am getting the electrician in' and 'can you pay' and 'I booked .... for July'. All the ordinary mundane shit of MARRIAGE. Our RELATIONSHIP is not their problem!!!!! FFS...

H is a good father. He models awful intimacy, but they dont' SEE that! You have to be in your 20s. I thought I had all the answers then, too.

Abitwobblynow Mon 11-Feb-13 17:17:17

I am not, and could not, have an affair. That makes me as bad as him.

But Snowy you carry on with that job kiddo. You carry on setting boundaries, and you carry on not bowing down.

You haven't got my support over OM. Do it without him.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 17:18:34

darkest are you staying solely because you're a carer, or are there other reasons? What would happen for example if you weren't there? I'm just trying to see whether you've got other fears about leaving your husband and it's not pure altruism on your part. Could you support yourself if you left?

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 17:18:51

Abitwobbly - that is it exactly. My children aren't in my bedroom to hear him demand sex whilst withholding any other affection. They think our life here is lovely. Even better now mummy isnt "sad all the time" like she used to be.

Bonsoir Mon 11-Feb-13 17:19:38

Exit affairs are pretty common, IME.

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 17:22:14

Understand totally Feck DH and i get on as flatmates and friends. He can be emotionally abusive but its not often. Most of it comes from my DM When she found out about my affair she said i was acting like a whore. She started crying waving her hands about and thrashing the floor begging me not to leave DH. She was broght up in a different culture. I have since learnt that this comes under cultural/religious abuse.

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 17:25:03

Yeah cin. They are just queueing up to rehouse women WITHOUT children.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 17:25:52

'Cinc - the kids don't SEE it! '

Oh yes they do. They see your pain. They see his. They know this isn't like their friends families. They are watching and learning from you. They can see you're not happy people. If you think a man who's an abuser is a good dad, ask your kids in years to come if you gave them a good example of happy marriage.

I'm late forties in a marriage of 26 years.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 17:28:39

Re-house? Why would 'they' rehouse a single woman with no kids who could work?

Wouldn't you work and get a private rental, if you've got no children or caring responsibilities?

backonline Mon 11-Feb-13 17:29:16

a different job that didn't involve overnight childcare, that paid more than the low-paying one and enough to get a private rent. sorry but do you realise how hard that is to do? She has taken legal advice and there is very little that you can do if someone leaves the country. Yes she could go on benefits but her children would still end up at a very rough and failing school.

I'm not saying that she does not have other options...just that none of her choices are "obviously right". And as Abit says, people can be good parents but rubbish partners.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 17:34:22

It's not work OR benefits though is it? If her husband skipped the country and the CSA could do nothing, then she could claim benefits to top up her earnings. I accept it's not easy finding jobs, but if she's on low pay now it makes the transition a bit easier and it would be a question of renting in a reasonable catchment area. Being on benefits doesn't equate to living near a sink school.

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 17:37:10

Really depends where you live though for that one. I couldn't live in the area I do now on any work and benefits I could get. So I would have to change the children's schools and move to a rough area. No other choices, I've checked it all out.

It really isn't as simple and clear cut as people assume.

Abitwobblynow Mon 11-Feb-13 17:37:37

Cinc, no they don't. And nor does anybody else. When I tried to broach the subject of H not being so kind to me, DS20 expressed astonishment and said that 3 - count that, 3 - of DS mates have told him he is so lucky to live in a loving family! confused. That is because we are attentive parents who in this area work as a team.

Cinc, please try to receive information. If more than four people are telling you the same thing, either 4 people are deluded, or you are not understanding nuances.

On top of it all, if I left now my IC would be, WTF? IC gets what I (and snowy) are trying to consolidate. He is as impressed by pride-in-poverty as I am [arf]

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 17:38:20

Cin have you got any idea how much a private rental costs. The main job in my area is retail which pays minimum wage or a few pence above. Thats when they are not using workfare.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 17:39:39

Yes but your husband would have to pay for his children, assuming he's not skipping the country too? Do you own your own house? If so what about the equity?

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 17:41:47

cin is your post at 17.39 addressing me

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 17:42:09

Barely any equity (yes I've checked) and actually he has thrown the leave the country card at me. It's a universal one used by EA's I believe. That or he will give up his job so I can't "screw any money out of him".

snowyskies Mon 11-Feb-13 17:42:37

Darkest- think it's aimed at me.

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 17:44:09

snowy a friend of mine went through the same thing many years ago. Its not an easy situation to be in or to extricate yourself from.
Makes my blood boil. angry

backonline Mon 11-Feb-13 17:48:25

cinco the sums very often simply do not add up, especially if you factor in abusive partners who may not want to pay up.

Many people today are simply not that well off, they can only afford to exist because they live as a couple. Not everyone couple can afford to live as two individuals. Not everyone has lots of equity. Even with some equity house prices are so high that you need to be earning way over the minimum wage to buy one. Renting is not easy without a job as many private landlords will not rent to anyone on benefits.

backonline Mon 11-Feb-13 17:50:43

cinco can I ask you why you think that there are people living on the streets, in hostels, b&bs etc. Do you think that they all chose this life? (I accept that some do, but all of them?)

Hatpin Mon 11-Feb-13 19:07:08

I'm desperately sad to see the posts on here about children not knowing that their parents have a crappy relationship.

Some children do notice and that's just as much risk to take as the effects of separation of the parents imo, especially because the pretence of staying together for the children discourages discussion, whereas separation requires an explanation to the children, and gives them the opportunity to ask questions and make sense of what's going on.

I don't even know if my mother knows about my father's infidelity. I noticed something was badly wrong when I was 15 but was too afraid to ask what it all meant. Five years later I accidentally had my fears confirmed.

I've never spoken to my parents about it and they have no idea that I know

They thought they were being good parents but it looked like papering over the cracks to me.

My father's selfishness and disrespectful behaviour and my mother's martyrdom are the elephant in my family's room.

Feckthehalls Mon 11-Feb-13 19:54:24

TOTALLY agree with abitwobblynow ( does that make 5? )

yes of course some children do notice.
Yes of course if one partner is an abuser the other should not put up with it.
Yes of course in lots of cases , separating is the right thing to do, and I commend those who have the courage to take that path.

But it is just nonsense that ALL children of unhappily married parents can tell, and are suffering, and the parents should separate.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 20:01:56

Agree hatpin.

I think there's another elephant in the room too. While I totally accept that jobs are hard to come by, private rents are expensive, fathers who evade paying are feckless, I also think there are people who make every excuse in the book for having affairs rather than look a bit closer to home at their own selfishness and yes, victimhood. I don't think for a second believe that they are staying in their marriages because of the children, because all the evidence is that unhappy relationships damage children. It's delusional to think that children don't know their parents relationship is miserable either.

Sioda Mon 11-Feb-13 20:26:00

Cinco This thread was about affairs. It's moved on. Most of the recent posters are in abusive relationships and your attitude to them is really inappropriate. These fathers aren't feckless, they're abusive. Their partner's affairs are really neither here nor there and aren't about selfishness. More likely to be low self esteem caused by years of abuse. Abusive partners don't have any right to fidelity. Yes they may be deluding themselves that the kids will be ok but it's mentally, emotionally and practically difficult to leave abusive relationships. Not impossible no. No one claimed it is. But it is hard. If you don't understand that then you should consider yourself lucky. Try reading up on it and how it happens. The EA support thread has lots of links.

So people tell themselves that the kids will be ok while they're trying to deal with the situation and hopefully work on an exit plan. And maybe the kids will be ok. But if you actually cared about those kids you'd realise that calling their mothers selfish for having affairs and talking about their 'victimhood' and how they're making excuses for their affairs doesn't help anyone. I don't have any patience for people who make excuses or blame their marriages for their affairs either. But abusive relationships are different. Stop dodging that.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 20:57:53

The feckless comment was about fathers not paying, but those same posters cannot claim that a man is a 'great dad' while simultanously claiming that they take seriously his threats to skip the country and not pay for his children and that this prevents them getting out of the relationship.

Neither do I think that being in an abusive marriage explains away getting involved in some other woman's abuse, by having an affair with her husband.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 20:59:30

It goes back to what I was sayign earlier. Great dads don't abuse the kids mother or threaten to deprive the kids of money or the right to have him in the same country.

Sioda Mon 11-Feb-13 21:15:12

Having an affair isn't abuse cinco. It might be a horrible thing to do to your partner but that doesn't make it abuse. Don't muddy the waters. I agree with you about abusers being by definition not good fathers for lots of reasons. But, again, how is calling abuse victims selfish for doing something as relatively irrelevant and petty as an affair going to help them to escape their relationship and thereby hopefully help their kids?

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 21:24:23

Showing someone NO affection over a long period of time and then crucifying yyour partner for going elsewhere is about power and control.
I didnt realise for a long time that this was emotional abuse.
My ex OM was single with no children.
Cin there is a discussion coming through my Twitter feed at the mo saying that Rihanna is a bad role model for going back to her abusive ex.
All of the people tweeting on my feed are saying that they are sick of the victim blaming that is going on. Like it or not the tide is turning.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 21:44:55

Someone lying to you, deceiving you and in some cases gaslighting you and making you think you are losing your mind most definitely is abuse Sioda and I'm shocked you'd say different. If someone feels abused by that, they are abused. All affairs involve lies and getting someone to believe their life is different to what they think it is so that is emotional abuse across the piece. But in some affairs, there is plotting, financial infidelity, accusations of paranoia and madness and a determination to ruin the other person's life. If you've ever read Lundy Bancroft, you would know that affairs are always an emotionally abusive action towards a partner.

backonline Mon 11-Feb-13 21:46:09

I still do not understand why people who have affairs are being vilified here, and told that they should leave; whilst their emotionally unresponsive partners are seen as the victims. I know that two wrongs do not make a right, but we are talking about cases where people have seen affairs as the only way that they can survive, maybe the only way that they can get the confidence to leave.

As people have said, it is hard to leave an abusive relationship and the attitude of some here is, I think, part of what makes it hard.

If a spouse appears to dote on the kids, bring in the money, whatever society expects, but shows no affection to their partner, then that can be soul destroying to live with. It is easy to underestimate the effect on someone's self esteem. If you add in emotional abuse then it is even worse. So the abused partner ends up having an affair, from desperate loneliness. Maybe this makes them realise that they need to leave. But they then have to face society which condemns them (as screwing around) whilst the original vow-breaker (who ceased to love and comfort years ago) becomes the victim.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 21:56:53

I don't think men who emotionally abuse their wives are victims and no-one's said that have they? In fact I've said it doesn't matter if these men dote on kids, bring money in - they are NOT good fathers and should be left. But I think having an affair to cope with staying in a marriage like that is the wrong approach, because it makes women stay LONGER in homes that are damaging their children. No-one can ever persuade me that a home where dad is abusing mum and mum is having an affair can ever be good for kids. I've met far too many adults in my long career who are in bits because of that set-up, including the other way round too - an an abusive woman and an unfaithful dad.

No-one has to stay in a bad marriage or relationship. It might be hard to do it and very tough for a while, but it's worth it for the children.

Darkesteyes Mon 11-Feb-13 21:57:37

backonline if there was a like button for your post at 21.46 i would be pressing it.

Sioda Mon 11-Feb-13 22:56:23

I've read it cinco but I don't remember that. That would make something like 60% of men and 40% of women abusers though which would surely make the term almost meaningless? Yes affairs often, or maybe usually, are accompanied by a dose of abuse - lies, gaslighting etc. but they don't have to include all of that -for example what about the one-off fling which is admitted to the partner immediately, where there's genuine remorse and work to rebuild trust? It happens. Hence my reluctance to say that affairs per se are abusive. Maybe that's academic because it doesn't apply here.

But if you're right and that poster is in turn helping the OM to emotionally abuse his partner, where does that get us anyway? Does accusing her of that help her in any way to escape her own abuse? I don't think anyone is saying that having an affair is the 'right' approach to an abusive relationship but it's an understandable one. And some women have said that it did help them to regain enough self esteem to leave. Their experiences should be respected. So you can't say that in every case it makes the woman stay longer.

back you're repeatedly setting up strawmen to make your point. It's not helpful.

cincodemayo Mon 11-Feb-13 23:59:06

There is a lot in Lundy Bancroft's writing about affairs being emotional abuse. But I don't count a confessed, one-off fling an affair if it wasn't pre-meditated. Infidelity yes but not an affair. All affairs contain emotionally abusive acts and so yes it does apply here because there are contributors having affairs who aren't in emotionally abusive relationships (just allegedly unhappy ones) and there's a poster who's having an affair with a married man who's emotionally abusing his wife by at the very least lying and altering her life without her knowledge.

I think there are people who commit emotionally abusive acts but that doesn't make them an emotional abuser. Just like there are people who have affairs who aren't 'unfaithful' for the rest of their lives. I've worked with people who were admittedly emotionally abusive in one relationship, but not in their next one. In my personal life I've also known people to have an affair and never go there again, either staying in their marriages or getting out of them. Not one of those people thinks that having affairs or emotional abuse is a good environment in which to raise children.

As for the people who only have the courage to leave their abuser when they've got someone else to go to - you wouldn't believe how many people end up right back where they started with a different flavour of abuser, because generally speaking, nice people with good intentions don't start a sexual relationship with a woman who's being abused. While she's still living with her abuser, a discovery or suspicion could cause an escalation. The best advice for a person exiting abuse is to spend time on her own helping her and her children recover, not jumping into another relationship. It didn't surprise me one bit that darkest's OM was emotionally abusive too.

For people who are in genuinely abusive relationships, there is help there for them to get out especially if children are involved. Because charities especially know how abuse damages children, even if the parents are saying the children are unaware. Just as there really are alternatives for women who've got no children and are fit and able to work. The elephant in the room is that the 'victim' often displays unhelpful and abusive behaviours of her own; retaliatory affairs, getting children involved in parental disputes, self-obsession, an all encompassing sense of victimhood and these damage children very badly too! They can get out of their relationships, just as their partners could but they don't want to lose material things and some don't want to support themselves and work, or claim benefits and feel they've 'come down in the world'. So their kids suffer. yes, their partners are just as much to blame for not ending the relationship either, but why put the responsibility on to someone else for your kids happiness? Or your own.


Darkesteyes Tue 12-Feb-13 00:07:45
Darkesteyes Tue 12-Feb-13 00:08:51
Darkesteyes Tue 12-Feb-13 00:09:55
Darkesteyes Tue 12-Feb-13 00:12:57

Refuge say the upcoming rules on the new Universal Credit will end up with them having to close 297 refuges.
But hey cin dont let that get in the way of the fact that you enjoy having people you can feel superior to.

cincodemayo Tue 12-Feb-13 00:14:54

yes darkest it's a much more difficult climate now but it hasn't always been like that and it's still not impossible to leave a relationship if you want to enough. Do you want to be this unhappy and bitter forever? Do you want to spend the next 20 years like this? I'm genuinely not unsympathetic but do something! You've only got one life and it sounds like so far it's been screwed up by your parents who've made eachother and you miserable (which is what i've been saying here all day!) and then your husband. You really do have choices.

cincodemayo Tue 12-Feb-13 00:15:42

Stay a victim then. Stay unhappy. It's your life.

whenIwasRosie Tue 12-Feb-13 00:17:49

brilliant post backonline
I 'like' it too

cincodemayo Tue 12-Feb-13 00:34:19

and while i'm at it, I wanted to come back to something someone said when I said that children feel abuse:

"Cinc, no they don't. And nor does anybody else. When I tried to broach the subject of H not being so kind to me, DS20 expressed astonishment and said that 3 - count that, 3 - of DS mates have told him he is so lucky to live in a loving family! confused. That is because we are attentive parents who in this area work as a team.

Cinc, please try to receive information. If more than four people are telling you the same thing, either 4 people are deluded, or you are not understanding nuances."

It's totally wrong to get children to comment on unkind treatment by their mum or dad.

if the 4 or 5 people who are saying that children aren't damaged are adults who are still living in unhappy relationships, no way does that persuade me. What does persuade me is what kids tell me themselves, or adults who grew up in homes like that. It's also persuasive when someone who actually leaves tells their story. They never say the kids were better off beforehand. Never. Neither do their kids.

SnowBusiness Tue 12-Feb-13 09:03:30

cinco for someone with such a smug moral compass you are severely lacking in compassion.

Sioda Tue 12-Feb-13 10:53:15

Cinco Well we have a different definition of affair then. And I was only talking about the posters in abusive relationships. I don't agree with distinctions between a person's actions (which are inextricably linked to their beliefs) and them as a person but that's veering into philosophy. And I wasn't talking about cases where people leave to be with the OM -yes the OM is often also abusive. But I do know of cases where the affair ended for whatever reason and the woman then left the relationship on her own. The affair had given her the ego boost to do that. Victims flaws aren't an elephant in the room - we all have flaws and of course they contribute to the circumstances we find ourselves in. But all of this is beside the point completely.

The bottom line is that whatever the truth of what you're saying, you're not helping. At all. Do you really think any of the abused women on this thread are more likely to manage to leave their relationship now thanks to your comments? How is pointing out their flaws and insulting them going to help with that? You know perfectly well that it doesn't and it won't. But you're not really trying to help. You just want to be right. All you've managed to achieve is to confirm in several poster's minds that the rest of the world doesn't understand their problems, has no compassion for them, blames them for their situation and will offer no support to them. That makes them more not less likely to remain stuck where they are. For someone with so much concern for the kids involved in this you're not showing much sense of responsibility.

Abitwobblynow Tue 12-Feb-13 13:56:49

'Neither do I think that being in an abusive marriage explains away getting involved in some other woman's abuse, by having an affair with her husband.'

I am with Cinc on this. WHY go and turn another woman demeaned and faceless? Why? Why do it to someone else?

And an affair is DEFINITELY emotional abuse. To have an affair and lie and gaslight and treat your partner with complete contempt because 1. you have to justify what you are doing and 2. comparing her to spangletwat, is complete abuse.

In these two things I think Cinc is right.

Abitwobblynow Tue 12-Feb-13 13:59:55

But Cinco there is a flaw in your argument that assumes breaking up the family is a GOOD thing and the children automatically sigh with relief.

I think you might be wrong there. Are all studies on the impact of divorce on children, dismissable?

When the conflict was out in the open (I found out about the affair, and of course children know), my children begged me not to get divorced.

Believe me, that juggle (whose needs are more important?) go round in my head the whole time.

Charbon Tue 12-Feb-13 14:27:28


While catching up with this thread, I was reminded of Transactional Analysis and the Games People Play, in particular the "Why Don't You?, Yes But" game that if you scroll down, is explained here

It vividly comes to life on screen in support forums, where a poster appears to be looking for help, but counters every suggestion with "yes, but....." and then drip feeds more information which is either relevant or not, but which will evoke a reaction in posters.

The point being that the objective of the poster is not to get help or practical suggestions which might change her life, it's to get strokes and attention of some sort. It is firmly based in the child ego state.

The relevance of this is that there are always options in these situations, but psychologically if someone doesn't want to change their position or circumstances, they will either insist that there aren't or that their chosen option has more benefits than disadvantages and that the options rejected are worse than they are in actuality.

It's also a very normal defence mechanism to minimise the negative ramifications of the chosen option e.g. the children aren't unhappy, they don't know how bad things are, an abusive spouse is a good parent, what people don't know can't harm them. But often those insistences get contradicted if another option is suggested. So for example, a woman who is insistent that her emotional abuser is a good parent might contradict this when it no longer supports her choice to stay. So when someone takes the 'good parent' proposition on good faith and suggests that if that's true, her husband can parent effectively after separation, at that point she says "Yes, but I can't trust him not to damage the children when he has them. He's an emotional abuser don't forget!!"

Rarely do choices lack self-interest and it's more honest to acknowledge what those interests are, if only to oneself. But then it becomes much more difficult to defend them if the chosen option potentially causes harm to others e.g. the children, a partner, the OM's wife and family.

So the safest position is to negate the self-interest and present the choice as one that benefits those 'others' - or at least, won't cause them harm. This positions the person as being entirely selfless and suffering for the cause and this earns 'strokes' from incurious others.

I will add that in my personal and professional opinion, unhappy or abusive relationships damage children and it's just the degree of damage caused that differs.

backonline Tue 12-Feb-13 14:50:55

"Why Don't You?, Yes But" game I think that you are missing the point of this discussion. This isn't a thread where someone has said "I am unable to do...because... " and a "why don't you...yes but..." discussion develops. It is a thread where someone has asked about the motives behind having affairs and where some of us have been trying to explain some of these motives. It could be an interesting and frank discussion about how affairs sometimes arise, but it is turning into a series of value judgements about whether or not people "ought" to do this, that or the other. Yes you are right, people do always have choices, but this thread appeared to ask why people make certain choices and it will always be about people trying to balance certain competing feelings, motives, moralities etc inside their own heads. Discussing what these competing things are may help some of us to understand human nature in general better, may help us to see things from someone else's point of view maybe, but I do no think that this will happen if we focus on the value judgements.

No body (from what I have seen) has posted here to ask for any help to do anything. They have just been trying to describe how they feel, what went through their heads when they made a certain decision etc. Giving information as requested by the original post. Saying "I had an affair because...". I do not think that telling them that their original behaviour was wrong helpful. (I'm not replying specifically to Charbon here, except where I have used specific quotes, just generally commenting about some of the posts on the thread.)

Charbon Tue 12-Feb-13 15:44:15

On the face of it, no-one has asked for help on this thread but seeking strokes doesn't always manifest itself in an overt request for help. Often it's presented as a need to get validation for certain choices, or understanding and approval for the reasons put forward for those choices. In other words 'strokes'.

The game I referenced is IMO definitely being played out on this thread, as it is on others where OPs overtly ask for help and suggestions, but the true objective is to get strokes and not to effect change.

Indeed, what sometimes happens is that the positive strokes received don't hit the spot either and so it's necessary to invent strawmen as Sioda has observed very accurately. For example, the allegations of people having affairs being described as evil, or emotional abusers being positioned as victims, or women's sexual needs being seen as inferior to men's - when no-one made any suggestions of that sort on the thread itself.

I think it's helpful to consider the many different viewpoints about a subject like this, but that doesn't mean there shouldn't be challenge or exploration of why people hold the views that they do and why they are making certain choices.

Darkesteyes Tue 12-Feb-13 15:51:01

Charbon it wasnt suggested on this thread. You are correct about that.
Womens needs ARE seen as inferior to mens in society.

If that isnt true then please answer me this.
Whenever the debate about whether Catholic priests should remain celibate or not rears its head (as it does every now and again) why does NO ONE ever ask the same question or have the same debate about the nuns????!!!!!

Charbon Tue 12-Feb-13 16:07:01

Darkest politically, I completely agree that men and women are socialised to think that the libidinous impulse is stronger in men than it is in women and I regularly post (and campaign) about how this socialisation disadvantages men and women. I think it disadvantages your husband, I think it disadvantages you and it leads to enormous unhappiness in human relationships. I think this socialisation has a significant impact on infidelity and why people make the choices that they do. It leads to the sexual stereotyping and selective listening that I referenced before.

I think it is more complex than women's sexual needs being regarded by society as inferior to men's, although that is undoubtedly true. Men often feel as ashamed for not having a libido as women feel shame for having one.

Sioda Tue 12-Feb-13 17:00:16

That's really interestnig Charbon. I've seen that dynamic a lot online and I know I do the 'yes but' a lot myself whenever I'm getting depressed or overwhelmed. Thankfully I recognise it these days and have ways of getting out of it. But what should other people do when they come across that? What's the most helpful way to respond to someone who's doing it?

Charbon Tue 12-Feb-13 17:27:12

In RL, if I suspect I'm being asked to play a role in this game, I'll ask the person to look at the game and see whether it resonates. If it does, then it's worth exploring why a person is game-playing and not dealing with the situation. Often there are links in childhood which is significant because this game comes from the child ego state.

It's much more difficult online. I feel a degree of frustration when I see innocent posters spending hours offering suggestions or support, getting embroiled in the game. They think their role is to offer help, suggestions, advice and sympathy, when actually it is to feed the OP's need for attention and strokes. Nothing changes and a while later, the OP will start another thread and a whole generation of different posters gets reeled in, especially on sites where name-changing is allowed or it's a breach of netiquette to search previous threads and comment about them.

Logically, if someone is happy about their choices and feels no need of strokes or attention, they don't post about it.

So online, I tend to post the link to the game and add a bit of narrative to what I think might be happening. On some forums, the poster responds positively and agrees it resonates. On others, not so much. But at least it sews the seed and alerts other posters to protect themselves in terms of what they share and the time they are investing.

SnowBusiness Tue 12-Feb-13 20:02:50

Charbon, do you have a particular poster in mind? Because I do.

snowyskies Tue 12-Feb-13 20:10:14

Actually I didn't come on here for validation or strokes. I was answering the OP's question.

I have had counselling for many months and most of my close friends know and accept what I'm doing. I've made my peace with my decisions. Yes maybe I only believe what I want to believe but that's true of many people.

I have no doubt that one day I will have to face up to what I have done. I know it's wrong, but I will do so in full acceptance of the role I played in it. I wasn't coerced into it, seduced, lured, tricked. I chose to do this. I hate it when women say they couldn't help themselves or it just happened. There is always a time to stop it, the first coffee, first dinner date, first kiss. Every step along the way is a decision to make and weigh up. That might sound calculated but it isn't, it's merely accepting responsibility for the decisions I made on my own.

Abitwobblynow Wed 13-Feb-13 02:51:58

I will add that in my personal and professional opinion, unhappy or abusive relationships damage children and it's just the degree of damage caused that differs.

Thank you for that Charbon - stuff to think about.

What I have discovered in a situation like this, ALL the options are shit. Because the one thing I would like (to be met half way) is not an option. I never did think that life would be quite this difficult!

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