Every PoSA's story is noteworthy. We've selected a few that represent different trajectories of sexual deceptions, how they played out and how the partner responded in order to rescue her own sense of self, her own life, really. These stories demonstrate how having mate who engages in chronic infidelity behaviors alters a partners entire way of
We seek to shine a light for you to navigate your own life as a partner, as well as possible. So although the details in these stories may be somewhat different, the essence of the resultant trauma upon you will have recognizable similarities.
Rather than focusing on the particular details of the "outer" story, since no two outer stories will be alike, we invite you to find resonance with the partner's feelings, her "inner" story. Recovery means recovering your inner life so that your outer life can be animated by joy, hopefulness and beauty.
These women bravely share their stories, so that their individual experiences become a shared knowing from which all may derive wisdom. We are deeply grateful for what they give us by doing so.
I was involved with a porn addict for around 7 months. It was an experience I could never have imagined having.
I met him on New Year's eve. I can't say it was love at first sight. I enjoyed chatting to him but after he revealed his age I suddenly felt there must be a problem with him. I was 33 at the time and he was 47. So I obviously had my reservations about our age gap anyway, but particularly I couldn't understand why a guy like him would still be single, and had never been married. Something just didn't feel right about him and I withdrew.
He really pursued me, though. I had been very dismissive, but it hadn't really deterred him. I was reserved. He continually messaged me and there were moments when he felt a bit intense. I couldn't put my finger on it. It might sound silly but he called me 'sweetie' a couple of times. I just remember thinking, it's way too soon for that! Then he disappeared for a month. After the daily messages, suddenly, he went quiet.
When he finally contacted me an argument followed (our first of many!!). So we eventually met - our second date at this point. He told me that he had a cancer scare, and that was why he had disappeared. I still wasn't even sure if I was interested in him. I just thought he was too old for me. He wanted to see me again.
So I thought I'd meet him and politely tell him that I didn't see it going anywhere. But things really changed from this point on. The next time we met I realised how much I liked him - the moment I saw him. He'd won me over and I didn't feel I needed to be reserved any more. I thought maybe he would try and kiss me now. But he told me how he liked to take things very slowly and that he'd come from a religious Catholic background that had had an influence on him. He'd never had a one night stand for example. So I didn't think anything of the fact that nothing physical had happened yet.
It was now May. We had met on New Year's eve. So I expected that things would move very fast. We went on a few beautiful dates. The time I spent with him was always lovely. There was never any denying we had chemistry and that this was not platonic! But strangely, oddly, bizarrely, 5 months in, and 6 dates in, still...no kiss.
So on date 7, after we had just gone to a concert, I asked him what was going on.. 3 days of crying followed, confusion, heart-ache and emotional messaging. He struggled greatly to tell me. Because he had hoped he would never have to tell me.. but after 3 days he told me.. that he was a porn addict.
He said he had been in the SA 12-step program for a few months, as well as seeing a therapist 3 times a week, and had hoped his recovery would have been a quicker process, that he would never have needed to tell me. He told me that he still believed he would recover soon and that when he did, he could offer me what we both really wanted. We finally kissed after he told me.
I had never heard of sexual addiction before and started reading a lot online and even watched a film about it. Things between us were suddenly incredibly shaky. When I started to express my emotions and thoughts he simply couldn't cope with it. I quickly found, oddly, that I in fact had to be the one to constantly reassure him. Even though when he told me I had assumed it would be the opposite. That I'd be the one wanting answers, getting reassurance. It was almost as if he suddenly became a very frightened child. He was always unreasonable and hard on me and we argued a lot. He also started to reveal how incredibly hard he was on himself in a way that I found quite dark.
It had been 2 months since that first kiss. We did more than just kiss this time. We slept together for the first and last time. It was a strange experience. I felt I was taking him by the hand. He was incredibly vulnerable. There were moments where he even felt a bit spooky - his expressions, even things he said to me...But at the same time, it felt incredibly rewarding. Because we had finally managed to get there and it was more lovely than I could have imagined.
He was still withdrawn and detached. He just stayed in my life by skimming the surface, making minimal effort. Those phone calls and messages became even fewer. He had relapsed again. It left me feeling heartbroken and disappointed. I got extremely jealous. Which he, of course, couldn't cope with. We had one final, huge argument and then broke up.
There has been some contact since, but he just seems to have lost all his strength and will to want the relationship. I would have kept trying, if he'd given me more, I don't think I would have ever given up. I'm too much of a pure romantic to ever give up. But I couldn't force him to try harder. And at the end of the day every girl deserves to feel appreciated, and in those final months that had stopped happening. It's extremely tough. The closer we became, the harder work he became, and by the end I was doing all the work, all by myself.
Death Claims a Partner & Her Dear Friend Memorializes Her
“Dear Lili- I want to tell you about a dear friend who lost her fight to cancer this year. I want to honor all women who live with abusive SA’s, and to grieve for those that die in the midst of that suffering. Thank you for letting me share my heart for this friend who I believe is now happy on the other side…
My friend was a beautiful mother of three, all under 3 years of age. She was in her 30’s and had lived a very hard and tragic life for being such a beautiful soul. She was also a business owner who loved to help others.
Her SA husband is a powerful attorney who (as is common in that profession) seemed to believe that he was above the law and somehow had immunity to any consequences from his selfish actions. From appearances, he seems to be a great guy who loves his family, a true upstanding citizen. But in private he'd threaten and yell at his wife, even on her worst days with chemotherapy. He even stole money from her public donation account that was set up to pay for her hospital bills to buy gifts to himself because he felt he ‘deserved’ it, because HE was going through so much with her stage-4 cancer and the emotional burden with their children.
My friend had to call the police one night because his abuse and outbursts had her terrified. The police did not come because they were friends with him! I cried with her when she shared with me. She moved out for a month to get away from him and the husband had her labeled as psychotic, saying that the cancer made her turn on her loving husband!
Through the immense pain of the cancer and chemo treatment, my friend departed this world, leaving behind her three sweet children, her business and her abused life. I am grateful that I was able to validate her and to hold a space for her to share the horrible stories that other friends and family did not want to believe about her ‘upstanding’ husband. There are some things I will never understand, how such a beautiful woman inside and out can undergo such a tortuous death, unloved and unwanted by someone claiming to be her husband. I do worry about the fate of her babies but I believe she has a special reward on the other side of being infused with the deepest love possible!”
Lili's note: It is all too common for us to read partners letters portraying deep betrayal of love and intimacy but this letter was saddening on other levels, as well. We don't know the details of this SA's behaviors or character dysfunctions but we don't need to. His inability to love and nurture his dying wife likely contributed to the tragic loss of her life.. and we can see the potential for the continuation of many difficulties his young children will be facing.
I hope and pray that our society becomes more able to awaken to a life without such greed, selfishness and coercion of others.
First thank you Lili Bee for your extensive research and helpful information and resources. I am glad I happened upon your website. It was as if you understood and validated the craziness I had been suffering from with my fiance.
I reunited with this man who I had known in high school and had gone to the prom with.
He had been married for a decade to a woman 15 years older than him and he told me he wasn't attracted to her sexually but that she was a companion to him. I had been in an abusive marriage and was able to get free from it along with my three children.
My new man showered me with gifts of lingerie and I accepted all he gave me. He said he viewed porn because his wife was menopausal and she didn't enjoy sex anymore. We were both divorced and decided to date each other. He would show me porn videos he had on his cellphone but I didn't think it was something he viewed very often. He had a difficult time ejaculating when I was with him and we'd only have sex when we saw each other which was once a month before I decided to move to his state. He just said he was out of practice but he seemed to enjoy being with me physically.
I guess now these were warning signs. We ended up living together. We both worked from home. I found out later he had been streaming porn. He spent a lot of time on the internet and didn't spend much time with me or my kids. He'd text me whenever we were gone to ask what time we'd be back. I found membership receipts to porn site subscriptions, and he called me a “hacker”. He would say he wasn't on the site and deny it!
He would watch porn and tell me he used it to get aroused to have sex with me. This went on for almost a year and I could not believe since he moved in, he had been watching porn on his personal computer while he worked on his work computer and that he was downloading porn movies and locking them in a cabinet. He always stated he was looking at websites to buy me something but he never would. He admitted finally that he had a porn addiction.
I asked him to leave, then he sent me a note after a month. I went to see him to give him his mail and see if he was ok since his note sounded strange. He said he was fine, just promised me the world and said he'd do anything to keep me.
I believed him and he made love to me for a month as much as I wanted. But as the months went by, visiting him on the weekends at his apartment I started to notice things. Luckily he was stuck in his lease and couldn't come back to live with me for a year because it gave me the time I needed to open my eyes to his reality.
The last straw for me was finding a very nasty interactive porn site of just women that I discovered he had a membership with. I confronted him with it and he swore he was never on it and that the site must have gotten his email somehow. He began to limit sex with me more and more after that first month when I came back to him stating that he didn't want sex at night since he was too tired. I later found out he would go online before I came over. He even said I could walk out in lingerie and it would do nothing for him.
It was the lying that made me break off the relationship and the inability for me to trust him after I had tried to rebuild that trust. The therapist had told me not to check on him but that was the only way I finally found out that all along he had been viewing porn when he said he wasn't. I am an attractive woman and he said I was gorgeous but he didn't say it to me often.
He stopped being able to open up and talk to me or relate to me intimately. He said I was a nympho which wasn't true, he was blaming me for wanting intimacy with him. He put limits on us as a couple. I knew I couldn't have sex with him at night since he claimed he was tired from his desk job and that I didn't arouse him visually.
I wished I had your resources when I was going through and experiencing all this. I was so focused on trying to find out what a porn addiction is as well as an intimacy disorder and ultimately sex addiction that I had little understanding he was constantly lying to me and eroding my trust and any happiness with him.
So I chose to leave the relationship and allow him to watch his porn in his apartment and have his fantasies with other women. Because I said to myself ....I deserve more in life and he does not care about my needs, just his own. I'm finally free after being with him for 4 years, watching him get worse as his porn gets more hardcore.
Thanks again for all you do to help others everyday. Reading this I see all the hurt and frustration to exhaustion that I've suffered. He still doesn't understand what he's put me through but at least I did not make the mistake of marrying him.
I am hurt, angry, enraged and go from homicidal to so depressed I cannot put it into words.
I am currently attending Celebrate Recovery, the closest thing to help I can find. I am suffering from PTSD after discovering my husband was living a double life. I am now on long term disability from work and they have given my job away. I was not supposed to be working any longer anyway at this point in my life, as I am turning 62, and we were financially secure. I was three months from retirement when my world came tumbling down in one brief moment, after discovering one morning my husband was texting on a phone he did not own. I found out he was having an affair with someone I had known for 15 years. I threw him out and I never let him back in this house, nor have seen him face to face since that morning a little over a year ago.
It was not until my husband met with our sons to confess what he had done, that he told my one son he was a “sex addict”. I had to look up the definition to even grasp what he was saying. I then went on a mission to find out who this man really was. I spoke to about 50 people going back to three different places we had lived in in Texas - San Marcos, Austin and in Flower Mound, forcing people to tell me the truth. It seemed that everyday for 5 months, God would hit me with another brick. I would then confront my husband by phone or email with a new discovery, and he would admit to it, but would never provide disclosure of anything new, just letting me go through the misery of finding out horrifying details. He begged me to please stop, because if I knew everything he had said about me and all the things he had done, I would never take him back, and kept saying that all we have is tomorrow. He just wanted to come home, start from day one, and everything would be fine.
Everything was not fine, and nothing would ever be fine ever again.
I discovered he had slept with not just many women I knew personally, but with anyone who would say yes. He was not just involved with this one woman for the past 3 ½ years, but had involved her in a 3 way affair with yet another woman I knew, the ex-wife of his former best friend. To add to the mix, he had another girlfriend in our neighborhood, a phone sex partner, was throwing sex parties in our home when I traveled on business, and had a complete set of other friends who were part of a “swinger community”. I now discover quiet little Flower Mound is one of the biggest swinger communities in the DFW area - "a den of iniquity with a church on every corner". I am almost in agreement with my family and friends who say, "you had to have known". I DID NOT KNOW.
This is a man who retired four years ago, but forced me to keep working, telling me I had to work to help secure our retirement, we needed the health insurance, and that he could never find another job that was not below him.
I did not stop on my mission to find out the truth, and kept forcing information out of people. The most hurtful truth was he had a 5 year affair with someone I thought had been my best friend. He convinced her after about a year into the affair to become my good friend, so he could see more of her and it would seem normal she was around all the time. She suddenly broke off our friendship after about 3 years, and it was only after I forced her to speak to me, said she ended our friendship because she told me she felt guilty – not guilty enough, though, for she continued the affair for yet another year. She kept telling me, when I forced her to meet with me or I was going to meet with her husband, that I had become her very best friend, and I said no, you cannot be someone’s friend and sleep with their husband.
My husband had done the same thing with this last woman. She had been only a casual, social friend, but all of a sudden wanted to become my very good friend. My husband used me as if I was simply a puzzle piece in a disgusting game that was his “double life”.
It did not stop there. I then found out the horrible things he would tell people about me. He would tell friends and family how terrible I was to him and to our children, and that I had been diagnosed as bi-polar, but he was a good guy and would stand by me. Bi-polar? I had never been diagnosed with anything in my life. When I confronted him with what I found out, all he could say was he had to protect himself. Protect himself from what, from being discovered, from being found out? He would destroy me as a human being to protect himself?
All I kept telling myself for months was why did no one ever tell me what was going on. I asked everyone if they ever heard me say anything ugly about my husband and if they thought I did not love him. I could not find one person who said I ever said anything negative or did anything ugly to him. Why then did no one sit me down and tell me what a horrible person he was? Just about every man I knew admitted my husband would brag about his girlfriends. I was also amazed at how many women I thought were friends had slept with him.
I did know he would always try to push my buttons in public, which was very noticed by others, and everyone said they just felt sorry for me. He was the biggest flirt in the room, and we would have arguments before people would come over or we would go to parties to please not flirt, please keep your hands to yourself, because it was very embarrassing to me. He never stopped, and would make sure he did it in front of me to get me upset. He said he was just a flirt and was just trying to make the women feel good about themselves, and to just get over it, and stop over dramatizing.
At the same time, he could be the most charming man in the room. He was very talented, and played piano, violin, guitar and sang. He was a master gardener, and could fix anything. He was someone that I could sit with and talk to for hours and never get bored. I loved him. He was not what you would call a handsome man, but I knew from the beginning he was so different from other men. He charmed me as he charmed every other woman he slept with.
There was, though, a dark side. I should have divorced him before I even found out about the sex addiction and the lying about me. Behind closed doors, it was if a light switch would go on, and he would become verbally, emotionally and at times physically abusive. Why would I stay with someone 38 years that was abusive? The therapist says I was caught in a cycle of domestic abuse and could not have left if I had wanted to. This makes no sense. I was bright and educated. I have my master’s degree and was very successful in sales. I had made more money than him for the past 15 years, and he had a very good job. What would have kept me in this relationship? I loved him and my two sons are the center of my universe, so that must be why I stayed and that must be why I cannot find my horse blinders.
He was a master at what he did to me. He was a narcissist, sociopath and a habitual liar. Every argument was my fault, every time he hit me, it was something I had done or said that made him do it. He took blame for nothing. He was controlling not a weak woman, but a strong independent woman, without my even knowing it. I ask the therapist over and over, and she says that I was the perfect victim for the game he played with our lives.
After 5 months of discovering what a sick person he was, all the affairs at work and on the road, pornography, involvement in a swinger lifestyle, and after reading all his emails to me about how he felt inferior, his childhood, how he was bullied, and after reading many books on sex addiction I thanked God I found the one book that helped me determine I was victimized, traumatized, and that I was not a co-dependent. I have felt suicidal, homicidal, depressed beyond one’s comprehension, and I had no idea who this man was. Angry is not the word. There has to be a word that is worse than rage.
I did know he had one two-week affair about 15 years ago. I threw him out even then for several months. He finally convinced me it was such a mistake and that we owed it to our sons not to destroy our marriage over one mistake. I am sure he was simply relieved I forgave him and was going to be much more careful from now on. I was married to a total stranger. He could have had a second wife and family, and it would have been better than this. He could have been a drug addict and it would have been better than this. My marriage of 38 years was simply a lie and I was the only one in the marriage.
In the midst of all of this, after all my research, reading books and blogs, speaking with a psychiatrist and a therapist, I tried desperately to tell my husband that he was very sick and if there was any hope for us, this is what he needed to do – he needed to get a psychiatric evaluation and spend one month at Sante, close to our home, as they have one of the best sex addiction programs, to simply determine the core of why he became this person. He would then have to go to intense therapy. If it then became appropriate, and he was on a path of healing, I would then attend sessions with him. He would then have to submit to a lie detector test and then periodic tests, before I would even consider letting him come home. Any man who really loved me and did not want to lose his family would of course do this.
Throughout those many months of last year, he continued living at our vacation home in San Marcos, and said he was going to AA meetings for sex addicts, joined a church, and that he loved me, and only me, and wanted to save our marriage. He would not, though, do what I had asked. He said to me, he was not going to let “other humans get inside his head”. He said he would simply come home and live upstairs, and that he would be a completely different person. That being said, I then filed for divorce the next week after many months of the worst hell on earth. When I told him I filed, he then called my older son to tell me to pull this back, and that I was making the biggest mistake of my life. Ten days before the divorce was final, he still begged me to just let him come home.
The divorce was final in January, and then I discovered he immediately rented our summer home, and moved in with yet another woman, had never changed his life while he was gone, and all he could say was, “You just don’t get it, Vera, you were never supposed to find out. My libido would slow down at some point, and we would be happy together, be grandparents and life would be great in our retirement”.
I could not believe the things he was saying to me. I was just an object, just a puzzle piece. He would even ask me to explain to him what love was. He always thought love was just physical. I was married to a man for 38 years that says to me he does not know what the word love meant, and he only married me because I loved him so very much.
I have been to two other support groups for women married to sex addicts, and most were still living with their spouses, so very co-dependent and so very miserable. They would come to the meetings saying, “he acted out last week but we are dealing with it.” Acting out?
One woman said, “If I could just get back to Minnesota, and away from him, I would be ok. I offered her and her children a plane ticket, but she did not want that. She did not want out of her life with her abusive sex addict husband. None of them did.
I then attended a Celebrate Recovery at a local church, and I then realized that yes, there were recovering sex addicts attending , but at least they were trying to work on recovery, and to become a functional human being in society. My now ex-husband just wanted to come home, and he would change overnight.
I have read enough to know if he has been a sex addict and cheated on me our whole marriage, there is little hope a 62 year old man is going to change.
I need to recover, if not for me, for my sons. I do not want to die over this. Believe it or not, this is just the tip of the iceberg of my story. It is so much worse, and to say I have developed anger issues from the pain this has caused in my life, is an understatement. I am still on long-term disability and have serious concentration issues, short-term memory loss and cannot effectively process information as I did previously. I cry every single day. I was someone who was #1 in sales in 2014 out of 800 people and effectively managed the state of Texas as my territory. I now have to write down simple tasks to get done during the day.
I have had to eliminate basically everyone from my life that I am not positive he did not sleep with, which leaves only a handful of people. My three core support people that have been there for me day and night, do not live here, so I am not just divorced and alone, but isolated other than my sons. Those so-called friends that I have not eliminated from my life want to keep a safe distance from me, as this story is so horrifying I must have known somehow about him, and this is a taboo subject. It is best to just say to me, “I am so sorry, Vera- you are in our prayers” (but eliminated from their lives) as they all live in their bubble, just as I had lived in my bubble.
It is my desperate hope someday I can live again. I go to therapy weekly, the chiropractor, have deep tissue massages, acupuncture, work with a personal trainer and at the end of everyday, I am so lost it is hard to see a reason for living. I was in love with a man that did not exist and in a marriage that was a lie.
I met Bryce, a photographer, when I was modeling swimwear some eight years ago. There was instant chemistry between us and I accepted his offer for a date gladly. He took me to a swanky rooftop restaurant in the trendiest spot in Miami and afterwards, cuddling in a hip lounge over brandies, I felt he was possibly the handsomest and wittiest, warmest and most worldly man I'd ever been with. I did, however, notice a feeling not unfamiliar to me when I went out with "industry" types: other male models, agency people; many had irresistible appeal to other women and I worried about that with Bryce…it seemed the waitresses and hostesses all knew him in a way that might be a little too friendly for my taste. I shrugged it off as being one part my own insecurity and another part, as being because of Bryce's naturally magnetic personality. And besides, he was so attentive to me and didn't really flirt back with them, so why worry, right? On our second date, after dinner he suggested we stop for nightcaps at a nightclub he said was, "fun and hip."
He drove us in his Porsche to a strip club and wanting so badly to be the "cool" girl that he'd find irresistible, I suppressed my big anxiety about going into such a place with a man I liked. We sat there ordering cosmo's and when the strippers came by our table to offer him a lapdance, he asked me if I'd mind letting him watch me get one. I admit I was aroused at the idea of arousing him, so I accepted. The stripper did her lapdance on me and I could tell Bryce was on fire.
Between the pulsing music, candlelight and alcohol, and this beautiful young woman locking eyes with me for the four minute dance, I really "got" how men can get hooked on this experience since the girl makes you feel like you're the only one in the place who exists for her; you are the recipient of all her attention and seduction, albeit purchased attention. I had never thought of myself as bisexual at all, so I was pretty surprised that I found the whole scene a bit dangerous but a turn-on, too, and I'm still not 100% clear how much of the "buzz" was coming from knowing Bryce was excited, and how much it was the mix of those heady ingredients I mentioned.
Next date with Bryce pretty much followed that same pattern: beach day, dinner out and then nightcaps at another strip club where the girls all seemed to know Bryce. Should I be concerned, I wondered? Nah...he's just a "cool" guy with his finger on the pulse. Right? That's what I told myself to push away any doubts that started nagging at me.
Long story short, we dated for three months and then Bryce proposed, making me feel like the luckiest girl alive since I'd apparently won the lottery in some unspoken 'competition' for such a prized man who had looks, was crazy about me, had money, position, and a hip, if different, lifestyle. I accepted his proposal since he always made me feel like I was the only one who really mattered to him. We were married in a sensational beach wedding and within a year, we were pregnant with our first child followed by a second one the following year.
Motherhood and the changes in my body took me out of modeling but Bryce always made me feel beautiful. I loved being a mother and watching what an incredible father Bryce was. Since I was home a lot with the kids and Bryce got a few shoots to do in New York and Vegas, he went without me. I remember feeling a vague nervousness about his being around all these perfect-looking models in New York (my body not being model-perfect anymore was definitely bringing up my insecurities) and I wondered about him going to strip clubs alone in Vegas. No way, I thought...he'll behave...he's such a good father and we're his whole world. And he hadn't gone to any of the Miami clubs since becoming a father, had he?
At some level I think the thought of anything ruining my picture of us as the Perfect, Beautiful Family kept me from asking any questions that might've had potentially unsettling answers, so I didn't ask. But then I found a wad of receipts he'd forgotten to remove from his jeans before I put them in the washer, and they were for a restaurant, a strip club and...a hotel. All from the same night.
My world fell apart as I tried in a rage, to piece this horrible story together. When he came home, he denied having done anything wrong, insisting he took a male client out to help secure an important contract, and the strip club was right next to the hotel so he just went ahead and "treated" the client to a big night on the town, picking up his hotel check for extra " brownie points" with the client. I had no choice but to accept his story but something stayed stuck in my craw, so I had a male buddy of mine go to that strip club next week on the same night the receipt said Bryce was there with a "client" and sure enough, my buddy reported Bryce was there again, alone, getting lapdances with no fewer than four of the strippers. I was beside myself with heartbreak and confronted him while fabricating how I knew he was there.
He did not try to deny it and didn't seem to feel bad about it, either. Instead, he turned it around on me and said he'd so much rather go with me than go by himself but that I was too busy with motherhood for him to trouble me. I felt so relieved! See? He did want me! We went out the following night after leaving the kids with a babysitter and that night, with too many cocktails in us, I'm ashamed to say he sweet-talked me into having a threesome with one particular stripper who really seemed to catch his fancy.
The next morning, hung-over and with a stranger in our hotel bed, I felt awful that I'd allowed our marriage vows to be broken. Still, I pushed these frightening thoughts out of my mind by reminding myself this was the 'cost' of being with a worldly guy, a man who has 'spicy tastes' and maybe if I didn't fight him, this "accepting wife" act of mine would secure his devotion to me forever. We went to the strip clubs every few weeks after that and the threesomes became more regular, always fueled with way too much liquor, since there was no way I could do that "straight."
Then I found a receipt from one of his recent trips to Vegas that showed he'd dropped $800 at a strip club there. I knew that meant lots of lapdances and booze. I found a receipt from a jewelry store, as well, and when I tried to convince myself it was for a gift on our upcoming anniversary, it didn't "stick" with me. I decided I couldn't stand being plagued by doubts anymore so I hired a private detective to install a hidden recording device in our bedroom and told Bryce I was taking the kids to my mom's in Montana for a three-day getaway since she missed them so.
Sure enough, the device picked up an entire evening's worth of sexual activity between Bryce and a girl, right in our own bed. I was devastated that he'd do this in the first place, but even worse that he didn't use a hotel, instead desecrating our marriage bed. Of course, the worst recrimination I saved for myself: In my quest to be the Cool Girl, I'd unwittingly green-lighted his infidelity from the very beginning. I raked myself over some mighty hot coals over that and it took a long time to "get" that I still had a right to be angry at his cheating on me. I asked him to leave our home, citing the tape as evidence of his infidelity and he seemed absolutely crushed that his family was leaving him. When he called me to beg me to forgive him a few weeks after I'd moved myself and the kids out, I mandated that he either go to a therapist with me AND quit the clubs and affairs, or the children and I weren't coming back home. Bryce accepted my conditions but for two years, I kept finding evidence of weak-to-non-existent recovery and relapses galore. He'd always offer tearful apologies with perfect-sounding explanations of why stress had gotten the better of him and that he'd now redouble his efforts to go to more 12-step meetings and stay in closer contact with his Sponsor.
After two years of barely-there recovery on his part, I finally decided to tell him I was filing for divorce since our love story was officially over with no chance of saving. He decided to use that as his alarm clock and recommitted himself to REAL recovery and he's been doing well in the one year since he started. I insist on polygraphs every six months which relieves me of the constant spying and checking. Still, it's been a horrible road to travel, knowing he'll always live with the temptations of the lifestyle that was so easy for him to access, and knowing I was complicit in allowing it from the beginning.
Today, we each work our own recovery programs and a huge part of my own work is in forgiving myself for my complicity. The trauma model from Your Sexually Addicted Spouse has really helped enormously towards that end, as I can see how much I gave myself away in an attempt to secure his love, and that I'd descended into a trauma state when I started getting all the clues he was being unfaithful. When newcomers at recovery meetings now ask me what prognosis I have for our marriage, I tell them that it's one day at a time. It's sad to hear those words come out of my mouth, instead of being able to say, "Why, of course I have high hopes for us!" I have to use discernment every single day of my life now. Maybe it's a gift, and I'll get to see that eventually.
Ian is a computer program writer and told me about his 'unwanted' habit of using porn when he got stressed out, right from our first date. He is ten years younger than I am, and a product of the generation that grew up learning their A-B-C's on a computer so I knew that Internet porn was a staple for his generation. I never gave porn much thought one way or another although I didn't much like it. And I truly thought it's something single guys do but once they have a girlfriend they would naturally stop. This made sense to me. So I applauded his honesty in telling me. Still, I explained that I expected fidelity from him or we couldn't be a couple. He said he would really try his best to give up the porn when he got stressed, and come to me with his sexual needs instead, which in my naiveté at the time, sounded like a great plan.
That was a year ago. All I have found in this past year is evidence that he not only hasn't tried to quit, it seems like there's more porn than ever in his life. I know this because I've mastered spy techniques, something I loathe having sunken down to doing. When I confront his lies about still using it, he acts ashamed of himself and promises to try harder but that his work has been more challenging than ever. His list of excuses seems to be growing.
Today, I understand from reading about porn compulsions, that he is addicted to the chemicals that porn dumps into a man's brain, so that's why he's using more than ever. I feel trapped because we live together and I'm in love with him, yet the porn habit feels like it's a part of him. Worst of all, I feel like I unknowingly signed some secret contract with myself that it's my job to find him help! I cannot seem to stop finding him therapists, books, and I even spoke for hours to an intake counselor at a rehab place that we can't even afford! I frightened myself when I found myself obsessing on how to get the money for Ian to attend this rehab.
Meanwhile, our sex life is now non-existent. Partly that's because we're always fighting about his lying to cover up his porn use (despite his assurance he'd always practice total honesty with me) and partly because he claims to be too exhausted/stressed out from work to sufficiently relax into making love with me. I'm not stupid, though. I know it's because he's "spending himself" at the computer when I'm not around.
Whenever I try to detach emotionally to save my sanity, he decides it's time to get serious about recovery. I take the bait and off we go for another round of his abstinence for a few days, then right back into the porn cycle. If someone had told me one short year ago about the living hell I'd be in now, I would've called them a lunatic. Yet, that's exactly what my life has become, a living hell.
I am relieved to now have found some resources for partners of porn addicts to help me since I see I can't help him without being pulled down into his addiction. Besides dealing with all this on the personal level, I also feel such anger at how we're selling an entire generation of young men down the river with this Internet monster that's been unleashed.
Well, I knew our real-life fights were getting worse and worse when I discovered my husband's virtual hidden life. He had an “avatar” in a virtual reality online game-type thing that allowed his persona to have sex with many other “avatars.” I could hardly get my breath when I discovered this! Fake people having sex with fake people? All online? I was stunned that such things existed. Along with this, I discovered the porn and emails that revealed he was attempting to actually meet up with one of these “avatars” in an upcoming trip. I confronted him in one of the most violent fights we ever had.
I insisted that he be seen by a psychiatrist and we did go shortly thereafter. Do you know that he actually believed at the time that the doctor would want to admit me to the hospital? He really thought that he was fine and I was the crazy one. As it turned out, the doctor put him in a day program treatment for alcohol, pot and sex addictions. I was left to flounder with a couple of visits to the doctor who admitted him and eventually found a CSAT because it was the sex addiction that most distressed me.
I went to N-Anon and Al-Anon and tried a S-Anon group as well. I did appreciate the language that these programs gave me for the things I was feeling about his actions although I never felt like I was a co-addict. I did find a support group that eventually broke away from the 12-Step model and became a PoSA group. My husband is still learning in his recovery after four years and together we have learned that the marriage will have to be rebuilt from the ground up. This is not an easy path, I may never receive the empathy that I deeply desire from my husband. He simply does not have that to give.
When I see newcomers enter our group, I remember the day I found out about my husband's secret life and it confirms that this world of porn and online sexual activity is hurting many relationships. If you are reading this, you are far from alone and there are many courageous women here to stand by you.