Online affair has moved to RL

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-13-2012
Online affair has moved to RL
12
Thu, 12-13-2012 - 4:09am

Hello, I'm new to iVillage and new to posting on online boards in general, but here is my story. 

I am a 40 year old woman, married to my husband for 12 years.  I met him when I was 22.  He was my first serious boyfriend and the first man I ever had sex with.  We have two children in elementary school.

We lived together for a couple years before we got married, and even before we got married, our sex life had lost steam.  At the time we were married, we were having sex probably about once or twice a month.  We never were able to talk comfortably with each other about our sexual needs and desires. Speaking for myself, I was shy about discussing sex, inexperienced and a bit insecure.  As for him, he never opened up about his sexual needs either, we were just never comfortable doing so.  As a result sex was rarely mutually satisfying for us. Despite this, we had a sweet relationship.  Never truly and intimately passionate but sweet and comforting in its own way.

In the beginning of our marriage and through the early years, we had some major power struggles with his family due to their religious beliefs and their inability to accept mine.  My husband was never fully able to put his foot down and assert our independence as a couple and our own decision makers, and this contributed to some resentment and distance between us.

When our kids were born we fell into the obsessive mindset of putting them first always.  They became the major focus in our lives and we devoted little time to each other as a couple.  We rarely went out for date nights (maybe twice total in the first 5 years?) and our sex life became almost non-existent (about 2 times a year).  This has pretty much continued for the 10 years since our first was born.  That said, our life together has been "happy", we have worked hard to make a happy family life for our children and we work well together as parents.

About 5 years ago, I read about Second Life and tried it on a whim.  I was immediately hooked, the opportunity to engage anonymously with others online in a sexual manner was exciting and eye-opening. I had several online "flings" with men that lasted anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.  I saw these experiences as a way for me to experiment and grow sexually without actually having a physical affair. I kept my identity a secret from them, but sometimes engaged in voice sex.  My husband and I began to have sex more frequently, maybe once a month, so ironically it actually seemed to help our sex life.

I kept all of this a secret from my husband but he became suspicious of my lengthy hours on the computer, never really asking me directly about it, but I could tell he had a feeling that something was going on. I do believe at one point, he accidentally came across some chat on my computer between me and a virtual lover but stopped short of confronting me about it directly.  We never openly discussed this discovery but mutually seemed to prefer to ignore it, and carry on as usual...

I was active in Second Life in this way for 3 years and eventually it lost its appeal for me, it just wasn't fun anymore.  I felt more confident in myself as a woman, mother and sexual being and decided I would soon stop logging on.  I felt I could be satisfied enough with my marriage and had gotten these online affairs out of my system.  Exactly one week after this, I met someone in Second Life out of the blue and we quickly connected like no one else had before.  As we got to know each other, we discovered we were compatible on so many levels, (intellect, personality, sexual chemistry etc) and we became very close.  I worked from home at the time, and over the next year, we continued to meet almost every day, either during the day for a couple hours, late at night or both. Often having sex but mostly just talking and growing closer day by day.  My AP is my age but single and childless. 

My AP and I gradually progressed to Skype for video chat and our connection and attraction became stronger.  I learned to balance seeing him and my family life.  I became very good at concealing evidence and I doubt my husband was aware of my AP specifically.  I helped my AP with big decisions in his life and he ceased to date anyone in his real life.  We continued to meet in this manner for 2.5 years.  Our connection became insurmountable, we both realized we had a love, intimacy and sexual chemistry with each other that we had never experienced before in our lives.  Although I had felt guilty at times with previous online "relationships", with this one I rarely did; I came to feel we were meant to be.

In the meantime my husband and I again retreated to having sex maybe twice a year.  We continued to get along as partners (more like roommates) and our family life was happy.  He began to go out a lot after work on his own. Since about 6 months ago, I discovered by looking at his mobile that he is regularly viewing websites like Ashley Madison and escort ads.  I found a text message that appears to be from an escort, asking when he would come see her again.  I also discovered that he was going out with a woman once or twice a month to dinner and concerts, and although their text messages look friendly and not romantic or sexual, I know his type and I am sure he is attracted to her. I have not yet confronted him about this.

Recently, my AP and I made the decision that it was finally time to meet in real life. Our real life meeting was exciting and unforgettable.  Our transition to real life was seamless and natural.  We fell deeper in love and became even closer than before. We made love.  All of our time, effort and emotion previously spent towards each other felt validated once we met.  Before, we would often talk about "someday", but now we regulary talk about making a real future happen for us. Marriage and growing old together.  We deeply desire this to happen. And that is where I am today... I find myself truly in a real life affair.

Do I feel guilty for betraying my husband? Absolutely.  But meeting my online AP was an experience I decided I needed to have. So now I find myself at a crossroads. I do still love my husband but at this point that I realize I am staying with him out of habit and for our kids.  We have 10 years until our youngest leaves for college and we have talked about starting a "new phase" in our lives then, but I can't possibly expect my AP to wait that long for me, though he would surely wait half that time.  And how is it fair to my husband to stay with him now when I am in love with someone else?  He is a kind person, I will always care for him, he has been a good partner, a wonderful father and a good provider.  I would be happy to see him meet someone in the future and be able to experience a really fulfilling, intimate relationship. I'm not sure if he knows what he is missing.

At this point I am know I am deeply in love with my AP.  If I considered ending my affair and forced myself to focus on my marriage, I know the only way my marriage could survive would be to come clean with my husband, and if he was willing (I imagine yes), we would have a long and hard journey rebuilding our trust and building our intimacy.  It would also require a major overhaul of how we have structured our life - we would need to start caring for our needs as a couple for once.  I have serious doubts however, that my husband and I could ever acheive the kind of deep, natural and effortless intimacy that my AP and I have always had. Even without my infidelity, I strongly doubt this could have been possible. In addition, I know it would take a very long time for me to get over my AP, if ever.

I know that although my husband and I both failed to devote time and energy towards our marriage, I did allow myself to focus and make connections with men outside my marriage and this was wrong. Should we divorce, I realize it would break apart the happy family life that we have worked so hard to create.  I have never discussed divorce with my husband though I am certain the possibility has crossed his mind.  I doubt he would initiate a divorce on his own, and I am not sure if he would even want one. He tends to avoid confrontations and I wouldn't be surprised if he intended to carry on like this forever. He seems to be happy enough. Despite seeming aware of my online infidelity, he might even be completely blindsided by my wanting a divorce. My AP is committed to me and ready to help me through this journey. He will wait to move closer to me only when I am ready, and should I divorce, he is willing to live separately for a couple years until I feel that my children can accept that I have a new man in my life. 

I know I cannot live between two men like this for very long. I am curious about your advice, I have no friends besides my lover that know about this situation.  Thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy post and thanks for any advice.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Thu, 12-13-2012 - 2:44pm

If your DH is looking at escort sites and possibly seeing women IRL then he's probably not happy w/ the marriage either.  You do need to discuss things with him and I'd start by asking him if he's happy.  It seems like you have the options of either deciding to have an open marriage, since you get along well enough (don't know if I'd go for that but some people do it) or having a separation or divorce.  Then you have to deal with the issues that go along with divorce--dividing your assets, dividing your time w/ the children, etc. 

I would also say that you shouldn't compare your marriage to the fantasy of what it would be like being w/ AP, but compare being married to being single and possibly for the rest of your life.  I'd only advise people to get divorced if they think that being single is still preferable to being married to their partner.  My marriage was so bad that even though I've been single (hardly any dates) for 4 yrs now, it's still better than being married to my ex.  You might find that things w/ the AP don't work out in real life and would you be missing your DH then despite the fact that the marriage isn't 100% good now?  Basically your life w/ AP is still fantasy--you've had an EA basically for years but never had to deal with the reality of life together.  you've only met once?  Of course the sex was great--that's a pretty big buildup.  Even if the sex is consistently great, you've never had to deal with things like bills, children, sickness, etc.  You only really know someone when you have been with them in person for quite a while and have had to go through various problems with them.  That's why I think that LDRs rarely work out.

Avatar for xxxs
Community Leader
Registered: 01-25-2010
Thu, 12-13-2012 - 4:21pm

 Hi

   After reading i would say that keeping you mouth shut about your lover's existence.   Right now your M is in a state of ennui.   It is in your interest to resolve this situation.  Only you can decide which is better for you.  At these times it is paramount to be selfish.  You only get one life.

chaika

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-13-2012
Thu, 12-13-2012 - 8:24pm

Musiclover, thanks very much for your advice.  I have been thinking about your point that if I leave him, I should leave him because I am happier without him, not simply for another man.  It's a good point and I will continue to think about it. So far I have been coming to an understanding that part of the trouble in our marriage comes from my feeling of outgrowing him in several ways.  It's made it harder for us to relate and has often put me in an uncomfortable position.  This is a big issue for me that I would want to work towards resolving if he and I were to stay together.  Otherwise I know resentment and regret would build on my part.

You are also right to say that my AP and I have only met once and have spent most of our time together in an EA so far.  I do think he and I need more time to experience being in RL together before I can jump to conclusions or make irreversible decisions in my life.  We have helped each other through some difficult times however and have weathered the storm.  I helped him plan a long distance move, helped him find housing and a new job.  He helped me get through a death in the family.  He is a medical professional and helped me through every step of the way when my child was hospitalized with a serious illness.  So we do have some experience dealing with the unromantic, "real" side of life.  Thanks again for giving me some good points to think about.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-13-2012
Thu, 12-13-2012 - 8:29pm

Hi Xxxs, thank you for your reply.  Do you mean to say I should continue to keep my mouth shut about my lover's existence or that I should make my H aware? 

I agree we are in a state of ennui and have been for a long time. I feel in many ways that I have outgrown him and that he doesn't have the desire to mature and grow as an individual as I do.  I am going to think about how I can or cannot make this work for me in terms of living the kind of life that I want to have, with the kind of partnership that I need.  Thanks again for your words :)

Avatar for khatru1
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2004
Fri, 12-21-2012 - 3:55pm

I think what Musiclover said was right. You have to separate your marriage from your affair. Think about them as two different entities. First decide if you want to be married to your H, or be alone. Which of those options seems more appealing. You must be prepared to be alone if you deicde to go that route because as made ofr each other as you and AP might seem, you see it happen too many times that things can go south in a hurry.

I think your marriage suffers from a relationship that started when you were both very young, and over the years you grew apart. Your connection has been lost for years but no one did anything about it. Most women in your shoes face this decision much sooner, but since both of you looked the other way, you are now 40.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-24-2012
Mon, 12-24-2012 - 9:34pm

After reading your post I do have a few questions. First, what is Seond Life? I never heard of it. When I googled it, I saw that it involved avatars. Is this the site you are referring to? Second, how do you know that the man you met online is being true to his word and is who he says he is? That's also how you have to look at this situation. I have to tell you. after I read your story, I felt like I was reliving what I went through the past couple of months. Except, my boyfriend of 7 years was the one having an online affair and was lying to the woman who he was engaging with online about me and everything else in his life. It is scary because your story is so very similar to what happened to me. I found my boyfriend, who is close to your age, on a dating website and he admitted that he was talking to a woman about your age who also has two children in elementary school as well who lives a decent plane ride away from where we live. He also admitted to me that he was talking to her for over a year or so and he claimed that he continued to talk to her only she was having marital problems and claimed that he was helping her because she thought her husband was cheating on her. He insisted that he was just helping a 'friend', but I was not buying it..lol...and last, he is also in the medical industry and the woman he had relations with also worked from home, so this is to ironic! I only know all of this information because we went to counseling regarding this situation and he had to come clean. If by chance, a strange coincidence that your AP was my boyfriend, you were and are being lied to by this guy. I hope its not, because you seem to really be in love with the AP. However, the reason I am sharing my story with you is because you need to be aware that not everyone online, or even in real life, is who they say they are. In my case, the man I loved for over seven years was not who he claimed to be and I was living a life with him. I stumbled upon your post by chance because I have been reading ivillage posts for years, but never signed up because I didn't really have anything to share. I just was the average reader looking for inspiration in life. However, I just signed up so that I could respond to you. Whether it be to help you look at the situation you are in from an outside perspective or to see if our stories are linked, I feel your pain and the struggle you are going through. Especially in the online world, you just need to be sure that the person you are typing to and video chatting with is who they say they are, because chances are they are not. I am sorry for your struggles and hope it gets easier on you. Also, if we are not linked, I hope that I can help you during this time, because I went through a lot and I know first hand, how my boyfriend was lying to this woman, as well as me, and I thought it was unfair for her. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-24-2012
Mon, 12-24-2012 - 9:51pm

I wanted to add something else because I can not stop thinking about the similarities of our situation, wee were going to counseling and I found that he was continuing contact with this woman. I saw on his computer that he was looking up plane tickets for where she lived. He claims that never met yada yada, but if they did meet for the first time it was very recently. I can only assume that based upon seeing him search for plane tickets a short while ago to her home. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-13-2012
Fri, 12-28-2012 - 10:43pm

Hello Sonora Cat, thanks so much for taking the time to create an account and respond to my post.  First, I want to assure you that I am absolutely certain that your boyfriend is not my AP, despite the similarities.  I'm happy to elaborate more in a private message if that helps to ease your mind.

I agree that there are many people out there that are not honest with others that they meet online, and it's very easy to choose to misrepresent yourself and mislead others.  Besides initially lying about his age (he shaved off 5 years), everything else about him has checked out so far.  With every step that we have taken, from text chat, to voice chat, to video chat, to meeting in real life, things have lined up and nothing dishonest has been uncovered, in terms of his name, appearance, job, marital status, address, etc.  It's a very long process to trust someone that you initially meet online and I consider myself lucky.  It's way too easy to lie and I have been the victim of this also, fortunately though the other person was only a friend and not someone that I had deep feelings for. 

I'm sorry to hear about your problems with your boyfriend.  If there's anything I can do to help you understand your situation or what might be going through that other woman's mind, let me know.  About his dishonesty, I know in my own situation that in the beginning, I never intended to meet anyone in real life that I met online.  I actually WAS honest about my current situation to people I met, but I can see how someone might decide to lie initially. The anonymity of the online world gives people the chance to test out alternate identies, be someone that they wish they could be, be someone that they used to be.  I'm not saying it's right but only saying that I can understand why this is so common.



iVillage Member
Registered: 12-13-2012
Fri, 12-28-2012 - 10:56pm

Hi Khatru, I agree Musiclover's point was a very good one.  I've been thinking about it ever since.  I have been thinking about what might or might not have happened, if I didn't meet my AP.  Would I truly be happy?  Would I have cheated anyway?  Many questions....  I've decided to go to therapy on my own and sort out all of my feelings.  Hopefully it will give me some clarity and help me to make the right decision.  Thanks so much for your advice.

Avatar for khatru1
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2004
Mon, 12-31-2012 - 2:54pm

I am glad you decided to pursue the therapy. I hope it will bring you eventually to a resolution. Impossible to say  about your "what-ifs". You obviously were not happy in your marriage and still are not happy in it. So if you had not met AP or anyone else, I guess its fair to say you would not be happy. Even with your life as it stands now, it cannot be an overall happy place. You are embroiled in an affair , something that does not stem from happiness , and you have the potential to cause much unhappiness for yourself and those around you should you suddenly have a D-Day revelation of your affair.

Would you have cheated anyway? Depends what your definition of cheating is. By your acount you were having cyber sex, and phone sex prior to your current AP. Many would call that cheating. If you did not meet your current AP, would you have had a full on affair with someone else? I think if you met the right person you would have, as you obviously were vulnerable and looking for extra-marital liasons. 

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