Tag Archives: Unfaithful

How Marital Affairs Happen: The Beautiful Stranger I Wanted to Sleep With While I Was Married

man sitting at bar drinking

(Image/Shutterstock)

Because I am sometimes a walking cliché who struggles with controlling negative emotion, I found myself sitting at a bar on a Sunday afternoon with a shot and a beer in front of me.

I’d walked out of the house after another fight with my wife who hated me. My marriage was complete shit and I’d convinced myself that it was mostly her fault. She’d suffered a difficult personal loss, and because her emotional calibration and mindset had the “wrong” settings, she wasn’t prioritizing our marriage over her sadness.

I’d been sleeping in the guest room ever since the night she told me over dinner that she didn’t love me anymore and didn’t know whether she wanted to stay married. That had been more than a year earlier.

Don’t love me, huh? Neat. Way to screw me over after I pledged my entire life to you.

Instead of exercising humility and putting all of the effort I could muster into understanding why my wife was unhappy, I felt sorry for myself and moved into the guest room.

I couldn’t explain how we’d arrived here—a depressed wife seemingly apathetic toward her husband and marriage, and a depressed husband trying simply to not suffocate. It felt like a problem that was too big for me. When things feel too big for me, I tend to avoid them.

Help always came during life’s hardest moments growing up. Maybe I thought my wife would snap out of it and we’d find a way back from this.

I’d been sleeping in the guest room for more than a year because I’m not sharing a bed with a woman who tells me she doesn’t love me and doesn’t know if she wants to be married to me anymore.

It seemed like a reasonable decision at the time if you don’t count the part where I was an adult male approaching 18 consecutive months of celibacy I’d never wanted nor asked for.

So, a Fuck this, I’m not going to sit here and take any more of this crap reaction came naturally when something she said struck me as extra bullshitty.

And then I did what all the sad and angry guys do in the movies.

I went to the bar to drink and smoke cigarettes, leaving my wife at home to care for our toddler and reflect on how her husband always puts himself first during disagreements, completely dismisses her thoughts and feelings when they conflict with his interpretation of truth, and consider a future where she wouldn’t have to put up with any of that.

I ordered a shot and a beer. And then another. And then another.

I’m good at drinking. I tend not to get sloppy drunk and stupid. Sitting there alone on a Sunday afternoon, I wasn’t planning on getting either sloppy or stupid. I was just trying to medicate enough to numb the tightness in my chest and throat.

I was probably doing a lot of staring at my phone and the bottom of my glass because I didn’t see them walk in. I only remember lifting my head and locking eyes with a beautiful brunette woman sitting with her friend on the far side of the bar.

I won’t be mistaken for a Gucci underwear model or anything, but considering it was a Sunday afternoon and the bar was mostly empty, I was the obvious choice for any women interested in meeting a guy.

After our eyes had met a few times, the two ladies invited me to the other side of the bar to sit with them.

I obliged.

Drinking alone isn’t any fun.

Her name was Donna. Donna’s friend was cute and friendly too, but I don’t remember her name. Just Donna.

She was beautiful. Educated. Fun to talk to and drink with.

But what really stood out—and why I still remember her today—is that she liked me.

She liked me. She wanted to meet someone who enjoyed cooking and weekend-afternoon orgasms which is totally a demographic of which I’m a member.

We spent hours drinking and joking and talking and laughing. Donna, me, and her friend I can’t remember.

Donna and I didn’t have an affair.

We didn’t make out, hold hands, or even exchange text messages after that. I loved my wife and absolutely wanted to be married to her for the rest of my life.

But no amount of alcohol could make me forget how horrible it felt to be home in my loveless and stressful marriage.

No amount of alcohol could prevent me from feeling the excitement of an attractive person demonstrating genuine interest in me after so many months of craving my wife’s affection and being denied it.

No amount of family values, codes of moral conduct, or of being philosophically against sexual unfaithfulness in marriage could stop this from being true: I wanted to sleep with Donna.

I did. I wanted to.

I was married. I loved my wife. We had a little boy at home. And I believed it was fundamentally wrong up and down the social and spiritual spectrum of acceptable human behavior.

Cheating = bad, is how I felt about it—no matter how painful and shitty my life and marriage felt.

So I didn’t.

But still. I wanted to.

She made me feel good, simply by paying attention to me, demonstrating interest in me, and expressing verbally and non-verbally that she liked me. All of that paired with her attractiveness was enough to trigger the feeling inside.

I wanted to.

This is How Affairs Happen

As many of you know, it was largely me—not my wife—whose behavior slowly led us down the sneakily disguised path to resentment and divorce. I didn’t know it back then while I was feeling sorry for myself and drunk-flirting with strange women at a bar. I managed to do that WHILE blaming my wife for the state of our marriage.

She doesn’t like me or want me anyway, so who cares? The rules are different now.

I really thought and felt that.

I’m telling this story because I think—save for various details unique to our individual lives—it’s a story that most people reading will understand and relate to. I think this story is a VERY common example of how marital affairs happen.

It’s not usually someone who loses all sense of reason and self-control and gives himself or herself over to lustful temptation.

It’s usually that someone in a committed relationship feels abandoned and alone and miserable inside their home and relationship. And THEN, someone attractive and interesting starts demonstrating emotional, intellectual, or sexual interest—and it’s how amazingly good that feels after months and years of being deprived those feelings that intoxicates people and lures them into submitting to the craving.

That feeling.

They want me.

A powerful drug. Appealing. Addicting.

I want more.

I never really understood how a husband or wife could sleep with someone else. But then my marriage turned to shit and I felt like dying every day, and then she eventually left and it somehow got worse.

And now I do understand.

When something hurts all the time, it’s easy to chase things that relieve the pain.

When we’re deprived of powerful wants and needs like food and water, we starve and dehydrate. Starving people will eat unspeakably disgusting things. Dehydrated people will drink desert sand if the mirage looks real enough.

When we feel deprived of love, attention, physical intimacy, respect—and then we get a taste of that elsewhere? It’s easy to want more.

Maybe if my wife had held on to our broken marriage for another year, I’d have cracked eventually. I don’t know.

I just know this: I messed up big-time in our marriage, and failed my wife and family. In 2017, I can see it clear as day. Despite that, I STILL felt genuinely like a victim. And in all my victimhood, I felt justified in letting my mind want sexual and romantic fulfillment, even if it meant wanting it from someone else. It seemed totally okay to me since my wife ignored me all the time when she wasn’t acting annoyed that I lived in the same house.

A Thought Exercise

I’m a reasonably evolved human being. Even when I was a shitty husband, I could still mostly be counted on to treat people well and make choices that wouldn’t hurt my wife or son.

I was the problem in my marriage, and STILL played the victim card inside of my head and chest.

So, what do you think the people are doing who are ACTUALLY being emotionally neglected and mistreated by their spouses?

There are women and men out there who are married to way bigger screw-ups than me.

What do you think the real victims of shitty spousal treatment are thinking and feeling when their hot co-worker flirts with them, or when their high school sweetheart reaches out to them on Facebook?

There are a lot of marital affairs happening. Too many.

There are also a lot of people who aren’t physically acting on their impulses… but they WANT to.

If your wife or husband doesn’t actually sleep with your best friend, or her work-trip partner, but they WANT to… how do you feel about that?

And we can choose to get all morally righteous and holier-than-thou about it, always pointing fingers at someone who succumbed to an affair as the reason a marriage fell apart.

Or we can tell the truth, even if it’s a little bit inconvenient.

We can talk about root causes. We can talk about all of the little things that did or did not happen over many months and years which resulted in two previously happy and in-love people becoming totally Bizarro versions of themselves who sleep with other people and feel morally justified in doing so.

It’s rarely about the sex.

It’s usually about human connection.

Affairs don’t lead to disconnection, per se.

Disconnection leads to affairs.

And then the world is a little darker and uglier than it was before.

But it doesn’t have to be.

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The Magic Boner

Old-man-looking-sad-eating-alone-547114

(Image/express.uk.com)

Men frequently demonstrate wisdom and foresight to protect future interests.

Saving money for retirement. Physical fitness and healthy eating. Career advancement. Thoughtful real estate and home-improvement investments. Paying for insurance policies.

These things are all done in the spirit of sacrificing now, so that their future lives might be better for having done so.

And it begs the question: For those who showcase this level of forward-thinking, disciplined decision making, why not apply the same logic to our sex lives and marriage?

There are many good reasons for a man to love his wife faithfully.

There are also bad reasons.

I want to believe when guys invest money in engagement rings, and thoughtfully execute marriage proposals, and make the internal decision to swear off other women for the rest of their lives, it is their honest intention to follow through.

I think men aspire to this. Because their fathers married and loved their mothers, and now they want to live up to that same standard, or maybe their fathers DIDN’T, and they tell themselves they’ll never do that to their kids.

My good friend’s dog passed recently. A bulldog. Let’s call him H. Super-close canine pal for the past 12 years. Got him through a difficult divorce. He knew H was struggling and didn’t have much time left. But he felt mentally and emotionally prepared for it, he said.

Then it happened, and it was MUCH harder than he thought it would be.

And I think I know why. I think we have a bunch of moments in life that we anticipate and think about and imagine a certain way. Our minds almost involuntarily predict how it’s going to be, whether it’s a date, high school reunion, wedding reception, business presentation, pet death, or marriage.

But we’re kind of shitty at predicting things. Moreover, when human emotion—specifically pain—is involved, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to know how we’ll feel during this future thing. It’s hard for someone who feels good now to know how they’ll respond to something later when they’re feeling unexpectedly bad.

Men propose to their girlfriends and enter marriage with good intentions, “predicting” that it will always be and feel like it is today. We have a great relationship! She’s the one! Failing to account for all the times (and more importantly, how it will feel) when the relationship is no longer a positive experience.

The good reasons for making marriage last are obvious. But, just in case that’s not enough for you, there’s also a bad reason to make marriage last, and we should talk about it.

Thinking With the ‘Other’ Head 

Men like and want sex. Lots of it. No reason to sugarcoat it.

Don’t tell me how much women like it too. I get it. I know women also like and want sex. But it’s often different with guys. Common is the man that would walk into any busy bar on Saturday night and sleep with any (literally any) woman that passes his Would I sleep with her? pass-or-fail test which probably gets less stringent with each drink. Much rarer is the woman who would do the same.

I don’t know what the adult entertainment industry is raking in these days (I’m totally talking about pornography, by the way), but the numbers are always scary-high. The Rockefellers could have probably just as easily built their fortune on sex films as they did on oil. Those eye-popping dollar amounts have everything to do with men’s appetite for it. (Which I think is bad, and we can talk about why someday.)

Man’s general desire for sex appears to be a root cause for many life choices. How he grooms, how he smells, how he dresses, the cars he drives, the stuff he buys, the way he behaves.

Any choice a guy makes along those lines has EVERYTHING to do with wanting to be sexually attractive. I promise he’s not trying to impress his buddies.

Men totally like sex.

If you’re a woman, you probably know this already from your personal experiences. If you’re a woman currently dating online, you FOR SURE know it, because dudes online are shameless and tactless and fail to exhibit whatever little manners they might in a real-world, face-to-face scenario.

Men sometimes are dishonest with their wives (and girlfriends) about how much they crave sex, and what kinds they like. I think it happens a lot to guys who grew up in conservative families where wholesomeness was a virtue to which everyone aspired. They’re taught their entire lives that premarital sex is bad, and God is mad at them for masturbating at 13, and that sex is only appropriate with their demure wives in the missionary position IF they’re trying to have a baby. They develop weird guilt-shame complexes about sex.

Secretly, they might want to go to European sex parties, or have BDSM dungeon sex, or have a three-way with a couple Asian chicks.

Even conservative guys want infinitely more than Demure Missionary™, but might feel uncomfortable having open and honest conversations with their wives about it. If she knows I’m into this, she’ll think I’m a sexually deviant pervert and won’t love me anymore!

One thing leads to another, and some couples go years without ever having a real conversation about what they want (or need?) from their partner, sexually (and emotionally).

Sex is no longer a positive in their marriage, because even at its best, it’s only moderately satisfying. Wives fantasize about being romanced by the cute guy at work who will spend a little more time doting on her collarbone and inner thighs. Husbands turn to porn and “take care of themselves,” while they fantasize about someone else. Sometimes, their respective fantasies lead to affairs. Even if they don’t, the sexlessness is an eventual marriage killer.

When he proposed to his girlfriend, he was eager to marry her and swear off all others. She wanted him. He felt really good.

Now? Both of them are justifiably sad, confused and angry. The marriage looks nothing like they thought it would.

Sometimes that, combined with months or years of a sexless marriage, lead men to look outside their marriage for sexual relief. They like feeling wanted again. And they justify it because their wives clearly don’t want them anymore. She changed, not me! What did she expect me to do!?

Tomorrow Always Comes

That’s a really long and tedious way of saying: sometimes men cheat on their wives for a variety of psychologically sexual motivations the rest of us often don’t understand.

Whatever the reasons, we should all agree it’s bad to break wedding vows or engage in deceiving our spouses, and that some component of the cheating is rooted in a desire for immediate gratification even at the risk of jeopardizing long-term security.

And the question is: Why? Why so much effort to work hard now and save money for later in this one area of life, but a total disregard for the long term in this other area?

Chump Lady gifted me this thought (and fantastic post title) in one of her posts from last week:

“The Dan Savages of the world would excuse such unilateral decision making (as a response to what they’d blameshift as your unilateral decision to Deny Him Sex), because Sex Is Of Paramount Importance! It trumps considering your partner and his or her health! Obey the Boner! Is cheating “optimal”? No, but hey, the MAN NEEDED SEX!

“Okay, you know what, cheaters? — go for it. Please, fuck the younger woman, the Thai prostitutes, the Craigslist hookups, the slutty co-worker. Do it all in service to Almighty SEX. Make that your paramount value. And good luck later when you need someone to change your colostomy bag. When you’ve traded all your gold for a magic boner — who’s going to love you when you’re old and vulnerable? When your equipment fails? When you’ve invested all those years in the magic boner and not in meaningful relationships — then what?”

And she’s right.

She is.

Tomorrow always comes, guys. Where you’re bald or sick or fat or ugly or can’t get it up anymore.

And all those cheap orgasms you chased? When you’re alone and unloved in your condo? What good did any of it do? What was it worth?

Tomorrow is gonna come, and your wants and needs will shift accordingly. It’s totally possible dying sick and alone with herpes on your penis is a super-fun time. I won’t pretend to know.

But I have to believe growing old with someone who stuck with you through it all, and feeling grateful for her every day, and falling asleep and waking up each day free of guilt and shame, might be a preferable alternative.

With fun holidays. And grandchildren. And self-respect.

Maybe not chasing cheap pieces of ass at the expense of your wife and family isn’t something you want to avoid because of your particular moral bent. Maybe it just doesn’t seem wrong enough to you. Some people seem okay with shooting and blowing up innocent people as much as possible, forcing me to admit there is some human behavior I can never understand.

Maybe “doing the wrong thing” isn’t a big-enough deterrent for you, and never will be. Maybe all the good reasons for excelling at marriage don’t register with you.

But why not, at the very least, give it a shot in the spirit of long-term security and your future self-interests?

Why not do a good job in your marriage for bad reasons?

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An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 12

(Image/Staten Island Advance)

(Image/Staten Island Advance)

Sometimes you hear about some married guy banging his coworker or one of his wife’s friends or one of his friends’ wives, and you think: What!? Why!?

Sometimes you see guys with super-gorgeous wives (Hugh Grant with Elizabeth Hurley, Tiger Woods with Elin Nordegren, or someone you know in real life, etc.) and you find out they hired a prostitute or had some cheap affair, and you think: What the!?

Sometimes guys appear to be in functional, happy marriages with a couple kids and everything going according to script. Then out of nowhere you hear they’re getting divorced because he was sleeping with someone else. How could he? Why would he want to?

There’s a lot going on here.

Lesson #1 – Physical attractiveness matters little 

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, marriage counselor M. Gary Neuman, author of The Truth About Cheating, reported 88 percent of men who cheated did so with women they didn’t consider more attractive or in better shape than their wives.

Sexual attraction is a funny thing. Show me a photo of an attractive woman making a suggestive face and dressed provocatively, and sure I’m going to think she looks good. Girls walk by me every day who pass the Sure, I’d sleep with her test.

I mean that strictly in a physical attractiveness pass-or-fail kind of way. I think all men do this. When I see a woman, and I know absolutely nothing about her except how she looks, the only judgment to be made is whether I’m physically attracted to her.

Most of the time, that’s the extent of our relationships with people we see but don’t know. But sometimes, we have the opportunity to observe people and talk to them. This is the stage when physically attractive people can become unattractive in a hurry. Or people you find only moderately attractive grow in your esteem because you find out something admirable about them or discover a sexiness that shines through in less-traditional ways.

If she is unkind, judgmental, self-absorbed, uneducated, lacks emotional depth, or demonstrates interest in things I don’t value, she becomes unattractive. That’s always disappointing. When something ugly on the inside ruins the pretty shell.

Sometimes you meet someone and discover she loves the same music you do, or the same books, or learn about some other similar interest or passion. Maybe you find out she volunteers to help people. Or is exceedingly kind to strangers. Or practices the same faith. Or roots for the same sports team. Or is a brilliant doctor.

You feel your heart do the thing hearts do.

That’s the good stuff. It’s all well and good when you’re single like me. This dynamic also happens unfortunately with married people.

It’s why the vast majority of affairs happen between people who meet at their jobs or while practicing a hobby.

Being “hot” means precisely dick. Physical attractiveness in a long-term relationship matters most in the context of health and psychology. The argument for exercise and being in good shape is to live a long time. (Better sex, too.) It subconsciously demonstrates that you value yourself. We are naturally attracted to people who respect themselves and demonstrate self-confidence.

Which leads to the heart of the matter…

Lesson #2 – People cheat because they want to feel something

Neuman the marriage counselor said it but we didn’t need him to: 92 percent of men said sex was not the reason for the affair.

“The majority said it was an emotional disconnection, specifically a sense of feeling underappreciated. A lack of thoughtful gestures,” Neuman said in an interview with CNN. “Men are very emotional beings. They just don’t look like that. Or they don’t seem like that. Or they don’t tell you that.”

Men do not want to participate in activities in which they perform poorly.

It’s the primary reason husbands and boyfriends don’t want to go skiing or salsa dancing or to an art class with their wives. It often has less to do with a lack of interest than in a man avoiding volunteer activities in which he might not succeed.

Guys tend to pursue jobs and activities in which they demonstrate proficiency. It stems from a psychological need to feel like we are winning, or at least progressing toward victory.

You will never read me blame my ex-wife for our divorce. I don’t believe it and I’ve never said it. But if someone were to ask me what she could have done to improve our marriage, this subject would sit atop the list.

She is emotionally colder than I am. Depending on mood and environment, she is not always warm with strangers and isn’t afraid to use a biting tone with people who disappoint her. Because I’m wired the way I am, that behavior sometimes comes off mean and bitchy, and I find it very unattractive.

When it’s directed toward me, I feel disrespected, unwanted, unloved, and like a failure. It also makes me angry because I’m predominantly nice and friendly and have little patience when the courtesy isn’t returned.

I have always believed I was capable of bigger and better things than a ho-hum life in suburbia and a cubicle job. Out of every person I know, my wife was the least likely to make me feel believed in or rooted for. The feedback was primarily constant disappointment.

That is a bad thing for a guy to feel if you want your relationship to work out. That does NOT justify the emotional abandonment my wife felt in our marriage. Nor would it justify someone cheating on their spouse. But I think it’s wise to be aware of WHY humans sometimes behave as they do.

Lesson #3 – People cheat because they are bored 

“Self-control is vital to our success. People who have good self-control tend to be both more popular and more successful in many areas of life,” according to PsyBlog. “Those with low self-control, though, are at risk of overeating, addictions and underachievement. Unfortunately, as we all know to our cost, self-control frequently fails. Part of the problem is we overestimate our ability to resist temptation.”

Psychological research shows that self-control is a limited resource. We need to understand how our bodies work and our limitations if we are going to be the best versions of ourselves. (Read: Top 10 Self-Control Techniques)

Let’s be real: People get bored with one another. I bet there are no two people you could put together who wouldn’t eventually tire of one another (at least secretly).

But to be fair, we get bored with EVERYTHING.

When you get your first massive high-definition TV, you sit around watching movies and ball games and even random nature shows on Discovery because it’s fancy and new.

When you first get your new car, you get this little jolt of excitement every time you climb into it and you hope all the people looking at you think you look successful and amazing. (They don’t.)

When you first hear a new album from your favorite band, you’re super into it and play it over and over again.

When you first get that new video game, you play it and play it and play it because it’s fresh and fun.

But INEVITABLY, every single one of those things lose their shine. You get used to them and eventually take them for granted.

Unfortunately, this same phenomenon happens (but to a lesser extent, thankfully) with people.

Combine boredom in marriage with a disengaged spouse who is connecting emotionally with a new friend at work? Someone who pays attention and makes them feel special?

Prepare for fuckery.

The Grass Is Not Greener 

So, here’s the big, annoying (but important) rah-rah speech.

If there is something VERY wrong with your marriage (abuse, addiction, infidelity), this doesn’t apply to you. But if you’re a guy like me? Just a typical guy in a typical marriage suffering from staleness after kids and a few years? Please think.

You’re either a person who wants to be alone, or a person who wants a partner.

I’m 97 percent certain you’re the kind of person who wants a partner because you already have one.

And if you’re a person who wants a partner, it stands to reason that if you end your current relationship, you will eventually find yourself in a new one. Then, guess what?

THIS EXACT SAME THING IS GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN.

I wish that wasn’t true. I wish there were magical partners in which it was all giggles and orgasms and freshly baked cookies that didn’t make you fat.

But it is true. The problem is NOT your wife or girlfriend. The problem is YOU. (Go easy on yourself. It’s not your fault you’re a human being. But it IS your job to do something because when something’s wrong, those with the ability to do something about it have the responsibility to.)

There’s a saying: The grass is greener where you water it.

Once you come to terms with the fact there aren’t exotic underwear models with whom you’ll never have fights and always have hot sex, it’s a good idea to walk yourself through the logical eventualities of partner selection.

You can choose the single life. More power to you.

But if you’re someone who wants (needs?) a partner, you MUST accept that conflict and hardships will arise with everyone.

Monogamy is a choice. One NO ONE forces you to make. But once you say “I do,” or even just promise your girlfriend? WATER YOUR LAWN.

We exercise self-control, because if we didn’t, all of our monogamous relationships would end (you don’t think she fantasizes about other men?) in total disaster.

If people simply acted on impulse without restraint all the time, everyone would be dead, sick, in prison, or running for their lives.

Love is a choice. You wake up in the morning, and you decide: I’m going to love my wife today no matter how I feel. Even if I get angry. Even if I get sad. Even if it doesn’t seem like she loves me back. I choose to love her.

That, and only that, is how you make your marriage last a lifetime. Doing that every day.

Maybe if you’re really frustrated with how your wife makes you feel, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how all the bad things will go away if you DID start doing that.

Maybe that’s how you save your soul.

Maybe that’s how to find Happily Ever After.

Maybe you could start right now.

You May Also Want to Read:

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 2

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 3

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 4

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 6

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 7

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 8

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 9

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 10

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 11

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 13

…..

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