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Weird thoughts in head about sex and men. Is it my age? Is it hormones? Is it menopause? advice needed please(34 Posts)
Reposting - was on train and post did not seem to appear apols if this is duplicated.
I posted a few weeks ago about a fling I had while overseas. The problem is that unlike other women who have affairs where there always seems to be a reason there isn't in my case. My husband is kind, a good father, we have a good sex life, etc (don't want to sound smug but just trying to understand) That affair won't continue - but I am really struggling with getting thoughts of him out of my head, and worse, craving more of that sort of excitement.
Since sleeping with that OM I have really been struggling with unwanted thoughts about sex with other men. Trying to recapture some of that thrill that I felt when another man looked at me with desire. I am looking at men on trains, men I meet professionally, etc and fantasising about what it would be like to sleep with them. Wondering how I would go about chatting them up etc. This makes me sound really weird. I never felt like this before its like a genie has come out of a bottle and its exhausting and depressing trying to put it back in. For 20 years I never felt like this (had some very brief crushes but they went away quickly, never acted on, and prior to getting married I was pretty much serially monogamous) and I accepted the inevitable loss of that overwhelming loin melting desire as part of growing up becoming an adult and making a life with someone - my husband who I love. So why has it come back now and so strongly? What practical advice do women of my age (late 40s) who are in long term relationships they have no wish to leave to help them deal with this?
I have tried so far going to a counsellor (not that helpful. Basically "get a hobby".) I already have an extremely challenging and satisfying job, lots of other activities and challenges that I am involved with both with and without my h,) other advice such as retail therapy and pampering don't help at all, if for eg I am having a massage all that happens is my mind isn't distracted and I start replaying all the scenarios with the OM. Also can't really see how to spice up my sex life more, we already have pushed boundaries and experimented, the sex we have is satisfying and enjoyable - but even so....it is still not and can never be the same as that novelty of someone else wanting you and finding you attractive. After all that mad knee trembling excitement with a new person never lasts longer a few months - it can't once you see the day to day reality of living with someone.
I do spend time with my h without the kids, thats lovely and its not that we don't have enough time for each other. I genuinely can't find anything that can distract me enough to prevent these thoughts popping up into my head. What I don't understand is how this is an issue now, and I also desperately want to know will it go away? Will I get over it? Do other women experience this and if so what strategies do you have for distracting yourself other than those I have mentioned already? Is this normal in any long term relationship, even happy ones with good sex lives? People don't really talk about this. Usually the advice is, leave, find someone else, I don't want to leave, I just don't want to be tortured and feel like I am constantly fighting off the urgings of some weird sex demon in my head telling me to do totally inappropriate stuff.
I suspect the advice I will get will be grow up and get over yourself. Well obviously.
Can't advise you from experience about this but at a guess, I would say it's not abnormal what you're feeling. Surely it must be something to do with approaching menopause and your body realising it's having its last chance to go through the biological process it was designed to, i.e., being attracted to a mate, shagging madly etc?
The counsellor was shit and you definitely should try and find a better one. I don't know whether psycho-sexual counselling is what might be useful in this case, it's worth a go anyway.
Otherwise, I'd say don't beat yourself up. We're not all designed to go through life focussed 100% on one person. The fact that your relationship is good and your DH by all accounts a good man should not be grounds for anyone coming on here to diss you for having an affair, that's my view of it anyway. Human beings are complex. Equally though, having random affairs is probably not the answer, as you've discovered.
Sorry not to be able to offer you better suggestions....
Maybe it's time for you to be open with your husband about your fantasies. Perhaps he'd like to explore sexual relations with others, too. Maybe it's something you can do together.
I would second trying to find another form of counselling - psychosexual is a good idea. Your counsellor should be struck off; how ridiculous to suggest a hobby!
And I agree, it is not abnormal, and I really do think it has a lot to do with hormones, but it is also about finding meaning in your existence at a time of life that is marked by change.
Can you define what it is you're craving?
Is it sex with someone different?
Is it the feelings that someone else finds you sexually desirable?
Is it for someone else to value you?
Is it illicitness and the thrill that goes with that?
Is it for someone else to fall in love with you?
Is it the feeling of being 'naughty' in juxtaposition to your everyday, conventional 'respectable' self?
I was on your original thread so I'm aware of the issues. As you might remember, I thought you'd end up feeling like this so I'd be interested in your answers.
Scorpio, You could consider this from another angle and embrace these thoughts. My DH revealed (or developed) an alternative notion after we'd been married for a few years. Essentially, he fantasises about me with other men; sometimes lots of them! He tells me that Siegmund Freud's theory was that everyone has fantasies, it's normal. If we act on them we risk being labelled perverts but if we suppress them we risk becoming neurotic. I've no idea if this is true but it sounds plausible.
I have no actual desire to have group sex or sex with another man but occasionally I have dipped my toe in DH's pond and I must confess it was quite exciting. I suppose what I am saying is that it's okay to have fantasies. Indeed, it can be fun.
DH got me to read a book recently which I just reviewed in the book review section. It's called The Trouble With Girls and it's about an army officers love affairs and the fact that he can't resist temptation. In one scene the fellah and his girlfriend go to a sex club in Paris and in another they have a threesome with a friend of his. I was a bit perturbed at first as to what DH was trying to tell me but, so far, it's just pillow talk.
Anyway, this is about you so what I am saying is don't try to push these thoughts away, indulge in them. Even when you're with you're husband, a little fantasizing is okay, isn't it? You seem to have a strong relationship with your husband so you could perhaps talk to him. I don't suppose you should tell him you're thinking about Brad Pitt whilst you're having sex but, maybe when watching a film, you could gently mention that sometimes you find other men attractive. See how he responds. But take it slowly.
Let us know how you get on. ;)
A lot of married people settle for a kind of reluctant monogamy 'because it's the right thing to do', hanging up their shagging boots for the duration. Many indulge in few fantasies perhaps but always draw the line at anything more. You were probably in the same camp until having a fling has created an itch that needs scratching. Like a parrot happy in its cage until someone showed it a jungle... as you say, the genie is out of the bottle. What happens next is going to be a conscious decision. You could take lovers, be discreet about it, and stay married. You could consciously decide to reject affairs, be content with fantasies and take it no further. You could even decide to end your marriage so you can explore your sexuality. None of them will be entirely satisfactory... you're going to have to select the least worst option.
Expat and PD
this is an interesting angle. I have I admit been thinking about trying to talk to my husband and see whether we can incorporate it into our lives as consenting adults. Rather apprehensive about it but he is fairly open minded ( I think...) Scared I might open a can of worms so will need to think very carefully.
ON counsellors - that is reassuring that he wasn't any good I left thinking it was my fault! (It was Relate)
Charbon, yes you gave me some very useful things to think about in my original post. Of the list you mention it is primarily having sex with someone new and having someone find me sexually attractive. Those are the strongest drivers. Definitely not falling in love. The illicit thing is simply scary but goes with the territory. Its an indicator that the illicit thing isn't the driver because to continue the original affair I would have to act in a much more deliberately illicit way than when the opportunity was right in front of me. There is an element of doing something just for me that isn't part of my sensible respectable every day life.
Thank you everyone. I feel a little better already....genuis of MN.
I suspect it may be a coming to terms with ageing thing - feeling you need a last fling or two before you become too old and no longer have the choice.
I don't think that excuses an affair. Either look for new excitements in non-sexual life areas, (the trite new hobby perhaps), keeping your fantasies as just that, or tell him the truth and take what comes.
Just be careful of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and losing what sounds like a good relationship for the sake of a sexual thrill. The appeal will most probably wear off quickly. Just read some of the dating threads for a dose of reality.
So given that the sex was actually pretty grim with the OM, are you prepared to keep going until you find sex that is better?
What is it about your personality that is so defined by others finding you sexually attractive?
It's interesting that you are considering opening up choices for both of you in your marriage. I was wondering whether having this secret has affected your feelings and respect for your husband?
I also think that inevitably when couples have conversations about opening up their relationship, there are questions about whether it has already been unilaterally opened by one or both of them. If he asks you this, will you tell him the truth?
First up, I've been lurking here for months - love the boards and have now decided to join in.
I always love the debate over whether the advice given to a woman is the same as if a man came here and said the same thing and I think this one might end up going that way.
I belong to the 'cheating is never right' brigade, I'm afraid, OP. I hold my marriage vows as being vitally important. If my partner cheated on me, that's a dealbreaker. In this instance, you tell us that your husband is kind, a good father and you have a good sex life. You even say you love him.
Regardless of this, you CHOSE to have an affair. It is always a choice. Whether it is menopausal or hormones or whatever, the fact is you CHOSE to cheat on your husband. A brief sexual fling, this itch to scratch, was more important than your husband or your marital commitment to him. Even, at the basic level, your commitment to your family as there is always the potential to break up the family. How would you explain to your children if the family split up solely because you couldn't control your urges?
I may not have read your previous thread, but does your husband know about your fling? He has a right to know, quite honestly. You made a choice. He now needs to have a choice, which is whether he wishes to continue to stay in your marriage. Your post is all about YOU, really, and what YOU want. What about your husband?
Sorry, but if a woman came on here and said her husband had done this to her, and she was kind, a good mother, they had a good sex life, the chorus of "he doesn't deserve you, leave the bastard" would have cropped up by now. I think this is the alternative - a "leave the bitch", if you like.
"He has a right to know, quite honestly"
The hell he does!!! There is such a thing as discretion. If the OP wants the marriage to end then telling the DH about the affair is a fairly reasonable thing to do. If they want to stay married, at least for the time being, and work through the way they are feeling then the last thing they should do is bare their soul. What possible good would it do?
Cogito, I appreciate we all have different thoughts on this. But, for me and many others, the fundamental solid bedrock of a relationship is trust and honesty. There's little white lies and then great big ones.
You said "if they want to stay married, at least for the time being, and work through the way they are feeling, then the last thing they should do is bare their soul".
But that's the point. It's not the way THEY are feeling, it's the way SHE is feeling. How can you work through something if you don't know the something in the first place? He doesn't know. How can he help her work through this (if he chooses to) if he is kept in the dark?
How can she work through something with a husband once she's spilled the beans? Admitting to feeling attracted to others is not the same thing as admitting an affair. The former is something you can work with as a couple, the latter... if he's like you and regards it as a 'dealbreaker' ... has him reaching for his hat and coat, game over.
The type of person that says 'darling I've been shagging around but I think we can work on it' is not being honest, they are being self-indulgent.
I entirely agree with Cogito. If Scorpio wants to keep her marriage, she should not tell DH of the affair.
If the affair was a mistake that she regrets, she should not tell him.
If the affair was a conscious act that was fun and exciting, she should not tell him.
If he knows, he has to do something; either accept an infidelitious wife or leave. It can only hurt him. Even if he is broad minded and even if he fancies a bit of swinging, the fact that this was a clandestine affair makes it infidelity.
Absolutely she should tell him about the sexual agitation, the desire for something different, even that she has an eye for other men (in a fantasy way) but take it slow and see how he responds to each revelation before developing the idea.
It is indulgent to tell him and then expect him to deal with it. Have enough respect for him to deal with your angst yourself.
So if this conversation does result in the husband asking the OP if she has ever acted on her feelings, do you recommend that she lies to him?
I think it's important for the OP to decide whether she's prepared to do that and to consider the consequences of both truth and further lies. There are consequences of both of course.
I am not going to discuss the issue of the original affair (not really an affair only slept with him twice 2 nights at the end of the week and then never seen him again) and whether or not I should tell my husband because this was thoroughly discussed in the original thread and many views were aired, all of which I read and took on board. I appreciate that this brings up strong feelings in people but I am not asking for advice on this topic, and so I won't discuss it any more on this thread.
What I am asking for is advice on the specific issue, of given that having sexual feelings for other people in a long term, committed and loving relationship that I do not want to leave, is normal, what is the best way of dealing with these feelings? If you are someone who does not think that it is or can ever be normal to have such feelings, then I respectfully ask you not to post on this thread because you can't understand the feelings which I do have, which are very real, and causing me a lot of distress, precisely because of the cognitive dissonance I constantly experience because of my public and espoused value system around family, monogamy and commitment.
It seems to me that having decided that I do not want to break up my marriage or have any more random affairs because of the very good reasons for not doing so, this does not mean that the feelings go away. On the contrary, it is like telling a child they can't have sweets or a favourite toy, you just want it more. It is then a question of how do I deal with the feelings. Do I try to ignore them, distract myself or therapize them away. Or do I somehow acknowledge them and bring the "positive" aspects of them into my marriage in a way that is not damaging or hurtful to either of us?
If the answer is the first course of action, I need something more than "a hobby". I am looking for people that have experienced similar things to me, are around my age and are in long term relationships, for the length of time I have been, and have found ways to deal with or make peace with these feelings. It is not the same as thinking you would never think that way. I thought that for 20 years of marriage.
If the answer is the second, I don't know how to go down that road without opening up a can of worms - lying to my husband about what I've already done or would be prepared to do.
" what is the best way of dealing with these feelings?"
I'd suggest you regard them as a crush, acknowledge the feelings and use it positively. You cannot ignore feelings, distraction rarely works and therapy sort of suggests there is a problem, which isn't necessarily the case. Crushes can be fun, entirely normal, frissons of excitement to liven up a dull day. Unrequited crushes can be particularly delicious and you can even use them to provide fuel for fantasies and ginger up your long-term monogamous relationship. Takes a certain amount of restraint and self-knowledge to go this path - and you shouldn't beat yourself up if you fail occasionally - but my own experience is that it's entirely possible.
I think there are more options than that.
One of them is to understand yourself a bit better and instead of suppressing your feelings, analyse why you're having them right now. That might involve a better therapist or a combination of things; therapy, reading, forum conversations. Good therapy is often painful though because it means acknowledging a side of yourself that you've never permitted as a self-image. Acknowledging character traits such as vanity, selfishness or egotism doesn't have to result in self-judgement in a pejorative way; it often means accepting yourself warts and all and knowing your vulnerabilities and triggers, so that you can avoid situations that might cause harm to yourself and others.
I think you're right btw to control discussion about disclosure, but I think this is one of many factors you need to bear in mind before starting a conversation with your husband.
My advice to you though is to get to know yourself a bit better before taking any actions that involve others. You might find that a better understanding of yourself and why you're having those feelings results in their dissipation or better knowledge about how to channel them safely in the future.
Again, I agree with Cogito but I would take it a step further and tell DH that you are STARTING to have feelings of wider sexual interest. Keep it in context and don't tell him that you fancy his golf buddy but imply that Daniel Craig parachuting into the back garden and then leaving you shaken and stirred might be quite exciting. Chances are, he'll fancy the Bond girl as well. You need to guage his reaction carefully before going any further. If he dismisses it as fantasy then you need to keep your thoughts to yourself; but don't deny them, that will just frustrate you. If, however, he goes and puts his dinner jacket on, you might have more scope for mutual indulence.
The risk is that he buys it big style. As I said in my original post in this chain, I could tell my DH had someting in mind and when I explored it, I realised he fantasized about me with other men and got me to read books about group sex! I'm still not sure what to do about this.
Have just seen your post on the other thread incidentally and it seems fairer to respond on this one. On that you said that your infidelity hasn't made you feel worse, but you accept that this might be because you haven't been discovered and kicked out of your marriage.
That's one of the things I'd look at if I were you, but again not in a self-blaming or self-judgemental way but more as an exploration of your character and an acknowledgement of what you find. From there you can accept yourself or decide you need to change.
Because what you're saying is that the positive feelings you experienced when you were unfaithful are more powerful and valuable to you than your self-image of being truthful and honest in your dealings with others. And that the consequences to you if you were discovered would be more important to you than your husband's hurt and loss. This isn't saying that you wouldn't feel guilt or sorrow if your husband is hurt though; it's just acknowledging that other things are more important and valuable to you right now. If you don't feel worse at all about yourself and what you've done, it might be worth examining why that is and whether you can accept that side of your personality.
I wonder if the age theory is a correct one as I (also late forties) feel the same as you. For me it was also a rediscovered sex drive as I am newly single and have recently come out of a very sexual short relationship having been with the same partner for 15 years. The sexual feelings are overwhelming and I don't remember feeling like this even when I was young. I also find I want to push the boundaries in a way I never have before. As you have a good relationship and you enjoy sex with your husband you are in the ideal situation to explore new territory together. I am on my own and I find the average man is pretty staid!
Being older than you, I don't think it's simply an age thing. Certainly not just hormonal.
I think it's linked to the affair you had and a need for attention and sheer lust which you don't get when you have been married for ages.
There is nothing so powerful as the pull of a new man who you just want to f...k you now!
Your affair has simply made you more aware of your sexuality and your ^ ability^ to attract men.
There is also the shock that you will never- unless you stray again- feel those powerful sexual emotions.
Welcome to the world of the long-term married. There is no answer if you want to stay faithful other than fantasising.
I think it's not uncommon to become hyper-sexual in the run up to the menopause.
It passes. Enough said.
Don't make irrevocable decisions based on a temporary hormonal state.
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