moving on after an affair

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-11-2003
moving on after an affair
3
Sun, 05-11-2003 - 11:35pm
First a synopsis of my life...XH had an A (14 years into the relationship) and we separated then divorced. I've been dating a wonderful man for almost two years (not the first relationship post marriage), but I think I've hit a brick wall. Everything's been great, not a single red flag. I'm scared out of my wits, but we're going slowly, slowly. He's ready to move in but because I have kids, this is never going to happen.

With XH we had a fairly regular sex life. We were each other firsts and it was fun. My XH wasn't into porn movies or magazines. Periodically we would watch a movie, but it was rare. He never, ever checked out other women in my presence, etc. I was confident and comfortable.

While I know that SO is totally in love with me and bends over backwards for me...he _does_ check out women. He's not so discrete as other men I've dated. His response to my complaint is that he'll stop when I stop. Caught. When I was going to therapy with XH, the doctor said that it's human nature, etc. I get it in my brain, but it just totally makes me anxious. Sometimes some man will walk by and I will look so I totally get it that means nothing. People get dressed to be noticed and we notice some more than others.

And SO and I have a fantastic sex life...when we're together, it's more than enough for me. When we're apart, he takes care of himself which doesn't bother me. What gets my goat is that he uses porn. This is not news to me...he's mentionned it once or twice...but my anxiety over this is at full tilt. In my brain, I understand because I incorporated porn in my sex life in another lifetime before there was a betrayal. While we were looking at people with fantastic proportions, it never bothered me...but now, now it's totally different. I'm so insecure about him looking at women with larger breasts, flat bellies. It's irrational.

A part of me acknowledges that I'm probably making a very big deal about this because we're getting closer and closer to getting engaged and I might be throwing it up because of fear. I knew before and it wasn't a big deal to me because it was something that he did at his house. To think that I'll go to bed some night and he'll stay up to be online instead of joining me...that's my fear and the source of anxiety. It's not like he's going to leave me for this woman on a screen. And I don't know that it's something that I can share with him, something that I can incorporate into my sexlife now, post affair.

I've come a very long way. I'm in love and I trust and I'm building a new life with someone...but these things keep coming up.

You're wondering if I haven't talked to SO about this. I have. I was clear that I wasn't asking him to change or to stop. His response is that he doesn't know what to say to me about this...because he does think that he is addicted to this activity, but that he can't see that he would turn on the computer when I would be in the bed waiting for him. I told him that I thought this was my issue and he said, no, that it was our issue because it's causing me stress/causing stress on the relationship. He was really anxious that at this late point (almost two years), I would be telling him 'out of the blue' that I've found a dealbreaker. He asked me what I was going to do to actively figure out if this was something that I could live with. I don't know. All I can think is to a. go to therapy or b. check it out what he sees, maybe try to incorporate the porn back into my repetoire.

What do you guys think?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-02-2003
Mon, 05-12-2003 - 12:16am
I think there is a difference between "looking at porn" and being addicted to it. I am not sure, based on what you write here, if he is really addicted, or if you are the one with the hang up.

if he is *often* "taking care of himself" and viewing online porn while his loving SO (you) is waiting in bed, then *you* indeed have a problem.

I have learnt however, that sometimes, what SEEMS to be the real problem, is only an issue which is tangible, and the real problem is something else. this would be best dealt with in couple's therapy. if he is willing to go - then do it.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 05-12-2003 - 2:24am
There are mountains and there are molehills...but what's great about this situation, and perhaps it's saving grace is that you openly acknowledge that you're being irrational...so there's still hope.

*** A part of me acknowledges that I'm probably making a very big deal about this because we're getting closer and closer to getting engaged and I might be throwing it up because of fear.

It sounds like you're more afraid of taking the plunge a second time, which would make you vulnerable to the same kind of catastrophic betrayal that you experienced before, than you really are about the porn viewage...but I wouldn't saddle your SO with the deeds of your ex...they're two different people, and I'm also pretty sure that you wouldn't want to be saddled with every psycho thing his exs put him through.

*** I knew before and it wasn't a big deal to me because it was something that he did at his house. To think that I'll go to bed some night and he'll stay up to be online instead of joining me...that's my fear and the source of anxiety. It's not like he's going to leave me for this woman on a screen. And I don't know that it's something that I can share with him, something that I can incorporate into my sexlife now, post affair.

The "affair" was your ex and another woman, not some guy satisfying himself when his SO was unavailable. And since he only does this when your unavailable, the solution seems very simple...be available...and keep things as hot and exciting as you both can.

*** I've come a very long way. I'm in love and I trust and I'm building a new life with someone...but these things keep coming up.

They don't keep "coming up"...you blow them up...irrationally. The key would be to look beyond these "things" to see what's really causing the anxiety.

*** You're wondering if I haven't talked to SO about this. I have. I was clear that I wasn't asking him to change or to stop. His response is that he doesn't know what to say to me about this...because he does think that he is addicted to this activity, but that he can't see that he would turn on the computer when I would be in the bed waiting for him.

Perfect answer...and quite probably the exact truth. Be the caretaker of your relationship and your sex life and I can't see you having too many problems. The issues start when people start thinking about themselves and protecting their own issues rather than giving to their partner and protecting the relationship. It's a sacrifice sometimes but it keeps the relationship alive and fresh.

*** I told him that I thought this was my issue and he said, no, that it was our issue because it's causing me stress/causing stress on the relationship. He was really anxious that at this late point (almost two years), I would be telling him 'out of the blue' that I've found a dealbreaker. He asked me what I was going to do to actively figure out if this was something that I could live with. I don't know. All I can think is to a. go to therapy or b. check it out what he sees, maybe try to incorporate the porn back into my repetoire. What do you guys think?

I think you've found a great guy with a great attitude...and I like the openness of your attitude, particularly in your leaving the option that you might be wrong or open to change. Totally fantastic. But before you begin imposing restrictions onto your SO, I'd suggest that YOU go to a counselor...perhaps one that specifically deals with relationships and sexual issues...and tell him how you feel and why you think what you do. I think that you'll find that your anxiety stems frantessues and experiences entirely seperate from porn or your SO's interest in it. I also think that (possibly in counseling with him at a later date) you'll be able to address your "insecurity" issues and come to terms with the fact that he has specifically chosen YOU, and that your relationship goes leagues beyond "big tits" and "flat stomachs."

Hang in, don't stress, and really, really enjoy what you've got.

Mac

P.S. And yes...add porn back into your repetoire...and all of the toys you can get your hands on. : )

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-27-2000
Mon, 05-12-2003 - 4:15am
Since we can't know if he really has an addiction or what's really a common interest in porn, it's tough to give you feedback on that. What is different in your post than some others is this guy sounds like he's being completely honest and not hiding a thing, we don't always hear that. I do think I'm hearing you having some second thoughts here because of your experiences prior to your current relationship. That's where some therapy could work its magic, learning to separate that from this, since that gets lots of us into trouble. If he joined you, then you could also get some professional feedback about whether or not he really does have an addiction, and if he does, does he want to do anything about it or can you deal with it as is. If this situation is bothering you now, best to deal with it before you move to the next level. Your current guy is who he is, if he checks out other women he's in good company, if he takes care of himself sometimes when you're not available or he just feels like it, I don't see that's a problem, either. If you already have a good sex life, I see no reason for you to feel threatened knowing he looks at other women - real or on-line - my understanding is it's not likely he's comparing YOU to them at all, he looks at them in ADDITION to looking at you, it just enhances his interest in sex and you're the lucky recipient. If he looks at women longer and harder than your ex, perhaps your ex really didn't look much at all? Comparisons like that are hard not to make, but don't, unless he's just insultingly rude about it.

What I'd say to you is your post was well written and covered most of the bases. I would suggest you do get some counseling to get your head straight, you do sound like you're confusing the past with the present to some extent. You do sound afraid of a bigger commitment and are clearly concerned about his interest in porn. These are things you have to deal with now, not after the fact. But this guy sounds like a keeper to me, short of knowing whether or not he has a true porn addiction that could definitely interfere in your life together. Let's hope he's exaggerating, but why not find out? And as you added at the end, maybe you'll find you can openly include porn in your life together, if you're so inclined. Neither of you is "right" or "wrong" here, I just hear some confusion going on more than anything. Get some therapy.

 


~~joannaran~~