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Regarding Sex

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Rideitout posted 7/20/2020 11:30 AM

I think sex, for many if not most cheaters, is just another pleasurable bodily function, like taking a good dump or eating a good steak. They attach little significance to this act.

ROFL, we must know the same people. And, much like your lovely analogy, the toilet used doesn't matter a whole lot so long as you get to do what you need to do.

TheFallen posted 7/24/2020 09:36 AM

I'm currently struggling with sex myself. For a long time, growing up, I thought sex was bad. I thought it was supposed to be "secret" and was never really properly taught about it. Add that to young sexual experiences and being shown pornography at a young age, and there you have it.

Recently though, after being with my wife, I realized sex was okay. It's something great. Especially when it's with the person you love. It's okay to WANT it. It's okay to HAVE it.
But I spent so much time turning to pornography that I lost it's meaning.

Now, I want more than anything to be sexual with my wife. I find her so damn attractive. I don't ever want to look at another woman, in person or online ever again. But I've done so much damage that she can't even think about the idea of even kissing me at the moment. It literally twists her face into disgust.

I don't blame her for that. I mean, with everything I did and the way I continue to treat her. I know she doesn't find my personality attractive anymore. And she's made her needs so incredibly clear. But I just find myself thinking all kinds of regretful things, when I know the only thing to do is move forward and be a better man.

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is I miss sex with my wife. I wish I'd never seen pornography. I wish I'd never brought it over into real life and become a voyeur. But the fact is that I did. And not having sex won't kill me. Even if it really feels like it sometimes. I'm just so pissed at myself because I had an amazing, sexy, wonderful woman willing to be intimate with me constantly. But I chose to jack off instead.

That was really cool of me.

Jorge posted 7/25/2020 02:34 AM

I think sex, for many if not most cheaters, is just another pleasurable bodily function, like taking a good dump or eating a good steak. They attach little significance to this act.

Agree. Sometimes stuff is as straight forward as it appears to be. Lots of philosophies and concepts thrown around here. Sometimes stuff just feels good. No different than drugs, alcohol or some other activity one enjoys.

[This message edited by Jorge at 2:35 AM, July 25th (Saturday)]

leavingorbit posted 7/25/2020 08:03 AM

TheFallen, thank you for your post. One q: by young sexual experiences, do you mean CSA? I’m sorry you’re struggling. Re: porn/sex/love addiction, they generally suggest an initial 90 days of sobriety to reset and start the process of reevaluating the role sex plays in one’s life. Have you done any 12 step? 12 step groups are generally really valuable resources IME. I would really encourage you to examine this. Are you in IC?

Jorge, thanks for contributing. Everyone has different experiences. I will say if it was just that sex feels good without any other emotional attachments or associations pinned to it, I’m not sure this website would exist.

TheFallen posted 7/25/2020 11:14 AM

It's kind of complicated as far as CSA. I suspect there was some, but I had some inappropriate contact with other children my age, around 5 years old, that were the result of them having CSA. On top of that, I was shown pornography by irresponsible adults. I don't really remember how young I was then.

Yes, I'm participating in 12-Step. I've abused SA in the past as a way to manipulate my wife and did a lot of lying throughout. I also chose not to do the work when I had a really good sponsor. I'm taking another serious swing at it this time as I know that it actually helps me. The first time I did this, I had a 90-day complete sexual abstinence and it did wonders for my brain. I'm attempting another 90 days right now but I've had a bunch of relapses over the last few months.

Currently looking for a new IC. I just have a psychiatrist at the moment. I've had trouble staying in counseling for one reason or another. I've chosen to drop out many times and cited different reasons. I'm really my only barrier there.

irwinr89 posted 7/28/2020 09:34 AM

"I think sex, for many if not most cheaters, is just another pleasurable bodily function, like taking a good dump or eating a good steak. They attach little significance to this act."

Certainly a lot of courage here in many to open up their deepest issues...
As a BH of a W with CSA a lot of this makes sense...

The one thing thou, when you married were you self aware of all the internL issues u were struggling with... And if so... Why commit, why say the vows to forbid all others?

JBWD posted 7/29/2020 13:58 PM

The one thing thou, when you married were you self aware of all the internL issues u were struggling with... And if so... Why commit, why say the vows to forbid all others?

I don’t think you will find a person here who entered into a marriage eagerly anticipating lying and betraying down the line. I’m sure there are some who were actively cheating AS they said “I do,” but I can’t speak to that. What I can tell you is that at the time I made my vows, I was convinced that I could count on my BW to “keep me honest.” The same way I could always count on her to make me feel better, feel wanted, etc. It was all so very passive and blind to my failures.

It’s the same lack of responsibility across the board in my case. I continued to escalate throughout our M, and so that was the emerging knowledge of the associations I described earlier in the thread. But it took the continued lying and subsequent separation for my BW to show me how unhealthy I was.

Each line I crossed was an opportunity to recognize, acknowledge, and work on these issues- But the ability to deceive includes self-deceit, and so hubris intervened and told me “It’ll be ok, I just won’t do it again; I’ll just do better.” It’s absolutely shitty but it took me this long and this much wreckage to recognize.

hikingout posted 7/29/2020 15:47 PM

The one thing thou, when you married were you self aware of all the internL issues u were struggling with... And if so... Why commit, why say the vows to forbid all others?

No, I wasn't aware. I mean, I know it happened, but I think often CSA's excuse the behavior away. I felt nothing about it. But, I didn't understand trauma, I didn't understand therapy. I was just not self-aware. My mom knew it happened, she didn't do anything. My counselor at school knew it happened and insinuated that I liked the attention of it. That last thing is very confusing when you are 12 - because unfortunately even if you do not want the abuse the grooming does teach you to enjoy the attention, you are rewarded with the attention. And, our bodies betray us, even "bad" sexual touching can feel good. We end up feeling accountable, bad, as if we were the co-conspirator of it.

I just disassociated. I was in counseling for several months and the counselor stumbled upon it. I told her with the detachment that it happened to someone else. She asked me why I had never mentioned it, and I said I forgot about it. It's one of those insidious things that are lurking beneath the surface. It forms behaviors that you just have throughout your life until you examine where those behaviors come from and why. I was very surprised when she had me do an exercise after that to help me process/remember that I cried and cried and shook uncontrollably. I would never have imagined that was even possible over something I forgot about, or pushed down so far it was ancient history to me. Human coping is very weird.

hikingout posted 7/29/2020 15:49 PM

I don’t think you will find a person here who entered into a marriage eagerly anticipating lying and betraying down the line.

I agree. I would have told you UP UNTIL I had the affair that I would never do something like that. I married with full intentions of honoring my vows.

Rideitout posted 7/29/2020 20:25 PM

I agree. I would have told you UP UNTIL I had the affair that I would never do something like that.

I need to separate these statements, because I have 2 different answers for them. I wouldn't have told the day of my wedding "I'd never do something like that". Would tell you that now. I know I would, in the right (WRONG!) situation. I avoid the situation; relying on my internal willpower, restraint, etc.. Well, for me personally, that's a fools errand. A big part of the "I would never" statement (which is exactly what my W said) is that if you really know "I would never" well, you don't need to guard against it. And so many people, I'm going to go with the vast majority of WS's here, are oh so wrong when they tell themselves "I would never". Yes, you would and did, what you failed with is a lack of imagination, you never pictured yourself in the situation that led to it. I'm pretty sure there are some situations where I would, and I absolutely don't think myself immune to it, I know what A's offer, and I value what they offer highly. So I spend my life "on guard" against it.

I married with full intentions of honoring my vows.

Here I agree with you, I married will full intent of honoring my vows too, I just go about it differently. For me, avoidance is the best option, avoid situations where it could happen with people who I have any desire to sleep with. It's kind of like if I vowed to be at work every day at 8AM, I could look at myself and think "I wake up at 6AM perfectly every day" and, for the most part, I'd be right. But if I really want to "honor my vows" (and I do) instead of relying on my internal clock, I set an alarm. Every day. And just about NEVER need it, in fact, I can't remember the last time it went off before I turned it off. But it's still there, just in case, because honoring my vows means "belt and suspenders", at least for me.

JBWD posted 7/29/2020 21:40 PM

So is the difference you see a lack of awareness?

Both Hikingout and I, if I’m reading right, attribute a lack of awareness. In my case, like I said, I had lots of indicators that could have pointed me towards avoiding.

I’m trying to understand your response because I think it’s pretty interesting: Your vigilance, is that conditioned by the betrayal you suffered? Do you think empathy from a partnet would help mitigate that to some degree?

Rideitout posted 7/30/2020 07:08 AM

So is the difference you see a lack of awareness?

Awareness, internal motivations (what drives you), but most of all, a failure of imagination. We address the crisis (the A), but often skirt around the root cause of the issue, which, IMHO, is simply that if you play with fire enough, you will get burned.

Let me be a little more concrete, I often see other BS's posting things like "I could never do that to someone else" or "I'd never do that" or even "I could never..". And, let me say, there's a good chance that some of them are right. There's also a near 100% chance that some of them are wrong and are just failing to see their "weakness" and protect against it.

If you'd asked me, the day after my wedding, "RIO would you cheat on your wife" (and we were having a real conversation, not just someone asking me to get the "right" answer), my next question would be "Please tell me the situation you have in mind and I'll answer the question". In some outlandish situations, it's pretty obvious (She's been lost at sea for 10 years but not declared dead and you have a beautiful girl asking you to sleep with her and have an NSA relationship in case your wife comes back), yeah, I'm pretty sure I'd do that. The more interesting ones to me though are the realistic ones, traveling for work, out at a restaurant and a really pretty girl smiles at you with an unspoken invitation to come sit next to her. This has happened to me several times since I've been married, so I know exactly what I'd do here; I don't sit down/acknowledge it or chat her up. That's a "flashing red" Danger Will Robinson for me, I know in that situation, I have a really good chance of doing something I've promised not to, and therefore, I remove myself from that situation entirely. What I think a lot of WS's do is lie to themselves, "I can handle that, shoot, I don't even like blondes" about their level of control in that situation. I know it can/would get out of control, because, IMHO, I'm honest (or more honest) with myself and I don't start from a frame of "I would never", I start from "I would, in the wrong situation, so let's avoid those situations".

People, in general, from my perspective, have a stunning lack of imagination or understanding of their capacity to do wrong. I study WWII a lot because I'm just so taken aback by the level of "wrong" committed by mostly "normal" people during that time. How on earth do you convince a normal person to turn on and start killing their neighbors?! Well, you can, and shockingly, it's not even that hard to do, you paint their neighbors as evil and the cause of their suffering and then just let the rock roll downhill. Sounds pretty much like the lead up to an A, right? Just paint your partner as "not meeting my needs" or "doesn't care about me" and then, suddenly, why care about them? That is at play in the vast majority of A's that we see and talk about here (which, incidentally, are different than most A's I know about IRL, those are much more deliberate and there's no "painting" the spouse negatively, it's just about getting more/gluttony).

The phrase I often use in my head is a "stunning lack of imagination" when I see people make "I would never" statements. The sad thing is, SOME of those people are right, they really would never, under any circumstances, do the negative/bad act, but, also, I don't think there's anyway to tell group A/B apart. Those who really wouldn't, compared to those who've convinced themselves they wouldn't. So I think it's much, much safer to move to group C, yes, I would, but only in certain circumstances, so let's avoid those circumstances.

hikingout posted 7/30/2020 08:16 AM

I agree with you RIO. I think when I said it before, it was a complete lack of awareness. Though, I never exercised bad boundaries with other men, nor did I have lusting after them type of issues. I think today, I say I always be vigilant of myself. I have seen how bad things can get in a short period of time. And while I really doubt acting out in an affair would be the choice next time, I have full understanding when we allow ourselves to get to those states we will act out in some way and it can be in a flash and it can be devastating. We have enough life situations that cause devastation we are not in control of, I am going to be vigilant of the ones I can control.

leavingorbit posted 7/31/2020 15:53 PM

@ TheFallen

It truly won't work unless you want to dig in. I know it's hard, especially finding the balance with supporting your BW. There are so many layers of muck to this crap.

I'm really my only barrier there.

It's good you realize this. Our lenses can be, and have been, skewed by our prior experiences but I do believe we choose to clean them off and see differently. I hope you choose that for you and for your family. I'm so sorry for the abuse you experienced. Thank you for sharing your story.

@ irwinr89

Thank you so much for your question and reply.

The one thing thou, when you married were you self aware of all the internL issues u were struggling with... And if so... Why commit, why say the vows to forbid all others?

Oh, this is something I still struggle with so much. I think hikingout has it: I lacked awareness. The abuse I experienced was so normalized that I seriously thought everyone went through it. I thought it was normal. I thought it was how stuff was. I was so callous. I remember a conversation with my mother after I tried to unhook myself from my rapist for the first time. She said, "you're so cold. You're like ice." She was right. She didn't know how to help me, she didn't know how deep everything went, and I don't know if I did either. It was very dissociative.

Those vows? They meant something, I could feel that they did, but it was like they were numbed or qualified, or asterisked. I was just so separate from myself. I sleptwalk through my 20s. It got worse and worse over time, it was quicksand. They say that as children we fear quicksand a lot more than we do as adults? I think I keep a lazer eye on my quicksand, now. I didn't understand trauma, at all, and then I turned around and traumatized others, especially my husband. They say hurt people hurt people, not that it makes anything any better, because it doesn't. It still hurts.

I think that's the compartmentalization. I think that's the crux of the impact of abuse. I could say a lot more about this but I think that hikingout's reply was really excellent, and summarizes much of what I would say. I too sat in a chair across from my therapist and said matter-of-factly, "oh yeah, I think I might have been pimped out when I was 16."

JBWD has it, too. Everything was in nice, neat boxes. Except they weren't so nice and they were not neat, and they were full of a bunch of glass that I exploded all over myself/everyone around me.

@ Rideitout

I think for me, it starts to get into, okay, why would you suddenly paint your neighbors as bad? Why do you cast your spouse as a villain? How the hell did you get there? And to be vigilant about individual shit. Maybe that's got more to do with hows, but I think that's the key, for me. I don't believe that those steps will happen if the strands are untangled and you (not you, but the general you, or your WW) dig deeper into those steps. Where'd my callousness come from? Why didn't I care about this stuff? Etc, etc. It's numbing and avoidance, and it's figuring out what one is running from. I think that's why I started this thread, because sexual abuse and dysfunction is a hell of a big monster to run from.

Rideitout posted 8/1/2020 07:24 AM

Where'd my callousness come from?

Well, this probably won't be popular, but.. I think it came from the same place your 10 fingers and toes came from. It's who we are, who we're born to be. It's our "base instinct" that many or all of us are born with.

Again, one only needs to look at history to see that this is who "we" (or a lot of us) are. I do a lot of reading at WWII, and I think that's perhaps the best example; or most relatable example for many of us, but Germany went from a pretty "normal" country with normal people walking around, getting along, working together and living next to one another to.. A few years later taking those same 2 people and having one person send the other to death in a gas chamber. And it wasn't "one guy", it's was 10's of thousands of guys who suddenly went from "Morning Franz, hows the garden looking today" to reporting Franz as a Jew and then forcing Franz to his death.

WWII is just one example, there are millions, all over the severity curve. The way I get "blind" to homeless and suffering when I'm in a big city, those people, after enough time being around it, just stop existing for me and for the vast majority of those walking by with their 10K Rolex and 500K jobs but not a dollar to "spare" for someone in need. The politics at the office or in friendships; pretending to enjoy another's company with the express goal of getting something or keeping your job.

Honestly, I have no difficulty at all with "where did this come from", it's in me, it's in you, and I think it's really in all of us. It's why I think the "I could never" statements are so dangerous, because, in my eyes, that's someone setting up a deliberate blind spot for themselves (certainly what my W did) and in her case, showing a stunning lack of self-knowledge.

I've heard said that society is a micron's thin veneer on who we really are as people, and, I mostly seem to find that holds in my day to day life. Sure, I can make jokes with the best of em, I can discuss politics and poetry and tell you about places I've traveled all over the world. But how far am I removed am I from what my WW did, from being "able" to have an A? Somewhere between a nanometer and a micron. How far removed am I from what happened in WW2? Well, further, for sure, it would take more to get me to do that, but do I think I'm "immune" or "couldn't do it"? No, I don't and I think that history proves me right here because most people weren't "immune", they went right along and changed from who they were to the death camp guard in the course of very little time.

The other example I often think of here, which I believe is from a movie; but the farm boy in Iowa who's enjoying his Mom's cooking, playing ball with his friends and has never even been in a fight is, 24 weeks later, in the jungle of Vietnam with his face painted in blood from his most recent kill. How does that happen?? How do you go from picking corn and thinking about who's pants your gonna try to get into in one moment to "Apocalypse Now" less than a year later? And how can you get people to do that with such reliability/predictability? IMHO, much like affairs, and how they are so predictable, it's really the same thing; it's predictable because it's who we are are a "base" level.

JBWD posted 8/1/2020 12:46 PM

RIO- Interesting thoughts for sure.

There’s a big difference though IMO in understanding the coercive social examples you’re describing and the much more foundational individual capacity for betrayal we’re all trying to grapple with here.

The social models you’re describing all factor unique survival pressures (extraordinary social survival pressures capitalized by group identity in Nazi Germany; armed conflict) that don’t surface in an intimate relationship. People all exist on a continuum of conscience for sure, and while we can live in fear of our innate capacity for destructive, selfish action, it sounds like you’re living every day white knuckling. Like the only thing keeping you from not going “Lord of the Flies” is the countering social pressure that reinforces compliance (Jonathan Haidt’s blurb is telling in this realm: “We’re 90% chimp and 10% bee.” That is to say our tribalism is remarkably well structured and innate and reinforces a lot of useful behaviors just like a beehive.)

I don’t discount that people are capable of evil, and that we are remarkably susceptible to coercion, but I submit there’s a distinction between that and the self-coercion of a cheater. And quite honestly I believe there’s a significant input in how you are raised that helps you better absorb the models of empathy that make that choice far more implicit and informed, first and foremost, by “first do no harm.”

[This message edited by JBWD at 12:47 PM, August 1st (Saturday)]

secondtime posted 8/2/2020 12:38 PM

I don’t think you will find a person here who entered into a marriage eagerly anticipating lying and betraying down the line.

I agree. I would have told you UP UNTIL I had the affair that I would never do something like that. I married with full intentions of honoring my vows.

The rules are different for active addicts that enter into marriage.

One should expect that active addicts, and even dry drunks lie. It's what they do.

Frankly, that's something I'll never get over...that he stood up in front of god and took vows HE KNEW he couldn't be capable of keeping in his lifetime.

Unfortunately, my husband never told me he was an addict. I found out by discovery. Then I made the unfortunate decision of trusting him when he said he would be honest about relapsing.

In fact, we've been married for 19 years this September. He's been somewhat honest with me for 6 years. Mostly honest for 2. Completely honest? Never. I don't ever think we'll live long enough where he'll be honest with more for more years than he's lied to me.

My husband DID want to marry me. Of his own free will. I didn't coerce him. He did not marry me under duress that I caused.

JBWD posted 8/2/2020 16:58 PM

The rules are different for active addicts that enter into marriage.

One should expect that active addicts, and even dry drunks lie. It's what they do.

Frankly, that's something I'll never get over...that he stood up in front of god and took vows HE KNEW he couldn't be capable of keeping in his lifetime.

I agree with your thoughts, but I see a distinction (and it’s the part that may be unbelievable) in what an addict knows vs what they intend- FWIW I don’t necessarily know if that’s an addictive hallmark as much as it is a “wayward characteristic.”

As I described previously I had a LONG pattern of escalating and crossing boundaries before getting to a “conventional PA.” And after each instance I had an opportunity to address why I was making bad choices- But instead I said what I imagine your WH did at the moment he made his vows- “I won’t do it AGAIN.”

Now there are so many varying degrees of addiction and self-awareness that play into this: Were he diagnosed, recovery well in hand, etc, I would be frustrated to see him fail to honor this commitment. BUT this is the frustrating part in understanding the cheater’s mind- He potentially had THOROUGHLY convinced himself it wasn’t going to happen again. And there consistently is a degree of intention that doesn’t appear in the cheater’s mind, that goes hand in hand with self-blindness and hubris.

It SUCKS, because while it at least removes the specter of malice towards the BP, it demonstrates indifference towards the BP- And as Elie Wiesel stated, indifference is the opposite of love, not hate. When we then get to the logical extension that says “Well then you’re trying to exculpate the cheater,” I think the “reasonable person test” places the ball squarely BACK in the cheater’s court.

gmc94 posted 8/2/2020 17:38 PM

Just wanna say thank you for that language. I drafted a reply or two after the "lack of awareness" posts, then decided against putting on my semantic/ linguistic police cap.

"lack of awareness" is troublesome language for me. It's passive as F. The word "avoid" at least has a connotation of awareness (IOW, "I avoided" [active] vs "I lacked awareness" [passive]). In the context of an A, the WS is "aware" they are engaging in destructive and hurtful behavior - that they are on the slippery slope. Even the frog is "aware" it's in a pot of warmer than 'normal' water looonnnng before it gets to boiling.

And in the context of pre-A baggage, trauma, FOO, etc (including CSA), there is still an awareness. It may be compartmentalized or disassociated, but there is still an awareness w/in ourselves that something is amiss. We use whatever tools are at hand to become self-blinding and to avoid feeling or processing those hurts. Even then, most folks engaging in addiction or other numbing are very very very much aware their actions are not healthy. IMO, this is how we get to the "never again" thinking that JWBD speaks of. The alcoholic wakes up with the hangover or the promiscuous young adult walks away wearing last night's clothing (or from the abortion clinic or the STD diagnosis or the feelings of shame for yet another meaningless sexual encounter that felt great in the moment, but awful in the morning light), saying "never again"..... until the next drink or casual sex partner (or both) is in their field of vision.

"Self-blindness" is sooooo much better IMO. It takes ownership.

hikingout posted 8/3/2020 11:26 AM

I k ow what you are saying gmc and I am not disagreeing with you. But in this case context is important.what was swung discussed is being aware of how sexual abuse effected us. Or really it boils down to FOO even.

I don’t think most people who have not had therapy have processed the ways in which their foo effects them. As leaving or it ways saying a lot of abuse especially sexual gets normalized. I forgot about mine for the most part, feeling like it was water under the bridge. But unprocessed trauma isn’t water under the bridge.

In an affair - yes some self blindness. Justifications, avoidance, denial - alll active and not passive. But the ither stuff, the stuff that makes us who we are and what we are comfortable with, that stuff generally is passive. Every single person has blind spots, and the not bridging past with present is a common one. I don’t think this post is about accountability to the affair, it is more about our bliindspots.that led to our development of people. I would never disagree that language is important especially when it comes to affairs. But in this case, it’s a different vocabulary because this is about the activity of seeing cause and effect in your life in more general terms? I don’t know if I am explaining it right.

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