The sex addict world of betrayal may in fact be a bit different (or a lot different) from the average infidelity nightmare. Sex addicts are not out shopping for a new spouse with their sexual indiscretions. Often an SA’s destructive behaviors have gone on for years and included any number of secret sexual activities. The behaviors don’t always include affairs. Porn and masturbation, common SA behaviors, are often just as destructive as an affair as they create unrealistic expectations, similar feelings of betrayal by the spouse, sexual anorexia, and time stolen from their otherwise healthy, intimate relationships.
Why would a person cheat if they weren’t looking for a way out? Sex addicts and non sex addicts do it all the time. But the media would have us believe there is something wrong with the loyal spouse or the marriage. That’s it. Mystery solved. But the media is often wrong. The cheaters are filling an emotional void that they have rationalized can’t be filled by their loyal spouse. It doesn’t necessarily mean they want a divorce. I know I believed early on that there was no way Blue Eyes would seek out a sexual release that didn’t include me unless I was just not good enough. And who has affairs if their spouse is loving and kind and enjoys sex? I must not have been filling his needs, right? It’s one of the reasons I have such a difficult time reconciling the 8-year affair partner of my husband. As I have said before and honestly I am trying my hardest to be objective, the woman is older, meaner, harsh looking with beady little eyes and straw-like hair, heavier, less nurturing, has habits like hoarding, alcoholism, and stalking. She just doesn’t fit in with a person Blue Eyes would want to be seen with in his regular life and that is why she worked. She worked because her expectations were low. And, she worked because she was secret. She was never going to see the light of day. Again, it’s like a guy who normally drinks a fine Macallan Scotch at the nearest trendy bar, but eventually stoops to drinking Thunderbird out of paper bag in an alley…. because, he’s an alcoholic. Addiction is a secret, shame-filled disease that ruins lives.
Unfortunately for addicts most often their dirty “little” secrets don’t stay secret forever. They escalate, they become less vigilant, they get caught. Sex addicts rarely out themselves because their secret life is really important to them. I believe there were two reasons (or more) that Blue Eyes kept his secret for so long, because he actually did orchestrate being caught, even if he didn’t actually literally out himself. First, his secret life fulfilled a basic need in his brain that had been fed since childhood. Those hits kept him going, they took the edge off the stresses of daily life. Second, if he was found out, life as he knew it would be over. He would lose his spouse, his family, potentially his job, who knows. You see, even though they are doing things that surely are not conducive to the happy, loving relationship they committed to, they don’t want to lose those relationships. They just don’t know how to stop the behaviors. They don’t know how to stop the madness. Exposing the dirty secret to the light of day is the first step.
Well, that got off track rather quickly.
Bottom line: most sex addicts don’t want to lose the non-addict driven intimate relationships (marriage) they do have.
So what about the rest of the cheaters? I think some do and some don’t want to end their marriages. I do think there are lots of cheaters who temporarily lose track of why they got married in the first place. Their selfish desire to fill a vulnerable emptiness with an available body wins out over what they know is right. They rationalize their selfishness. There are others who think they want their marriage to end and so they cheat, cause destruction, some leave and some realize they were wrong, and stupid. Regardless, obviously there is actually no legit reason to cheat. Just leave, people. Cheating is wrong no matter how you look at it.
Nina’s situation got me thinking about this. I do believe that the married man’s marriage was struggling and potentially going to end anyway, but it doesn’t matter now. Nina should have waited until it did end, because, duh, look what happened.
Anyway… like so many others with betrayal blogs, we talk about this a lot more than the average person. There are so many different stories. Some who knew their marriages were struggling at the point of the affair. In some cases the loyal spouse was totally blindsided. In some cases the spouse was wishing it would happen, an excuse, if you will, to end it all. Who needs THAT kind of excuse, I say. Just leave. Why stay in a miserable marriage. But then there I was, thrown into an absolutely abominable situation. Nothing is so black and white. Sometimes people stay for monetary reasons. Sometimes for the kids, to keep the family together. My own bias on that though, it only works if the marriage is civil.
I attended that betrayed wives seminar almost five years ago now and I still remember the devastating stories. Every single one of those women who attended the seminar were still hurting even the ones who were already divorced. In the case of one of the mentors, and I’m going to say this in my own subjective and biased way, she is gorgeous and sexy and a successful career woman and they had a young child, and she wanted her marriage to survive the infidelity. All those things you would think would make for a marital success story, right? Apparently not. So, her husband cheated, I think with a co-worker (cliche, I know). Anyway, affair had ended, but wife found out and kicked husband out. He was supposedly miserable without wife and child, promised to never be so stupid again, and of course he despised the affair partner and couldn’t believe he had been such a fool. Wife took him back. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) she couldn’t make it work. She was too affected by his cheating and she didn’t trust him, so off he went. Where did he go? Right back into the arms of the mistress. Yep, people are weak. He didn’t want to be alone. The wife was right all along, to kick his butt out. He was never going to be able to put other people’s needs first. She is still single, but she is happy. That’s what matters. There’s also another story where the whole lying, cheating affair was blamed on the mistress. I mean REALLY blamed on the mistress. She seduced the husband when he was in a very weak and vulnerable spot. She threatened, she blackmailed. She was the devil incarnate. Both husband and wife ended up hating the mistress. A partnership in hate. And, it would never ever happen again. Husband learned his lesson. Until it did, happen again, with a different woman. Now I guess it is the husband’s fault. Divorce is pending.
Back to Nina. I don’t think Nina is responsible for the married man’s marriage ending. I personally think it would have ended regardless. And the fact is, he ended it. He asked for the divorce, Nina or no Nina. I think it is easy to assume that the wife is heartbroken and didn’t think there was anything wrong with her marriage, but I’m not sure that is the case. My own parents, like the married man and his wife, met when they were very young, maybe 14 or 15 years old. My parents also had a young daughter, me, when things started to fall apart. My father is a bully and was not a nice husband. I remember hiding in the closet trying to drown out the fights, covering my ears, but still hearing my Dad yell at my Mom, and hearing my Dad hit my Mom. I remember being happy the day my Dad “met someone else” and walked out. My Mom had already asked for a divorce about a year prior. My Dad had begged and pleaded for a second chance. She said he even cried, which I find hard to believe. He is a pretty good bullshitter and actor though. She gave him a second chance and what did he do, he went off and found himself a replacement and then dumped my Mom. My Dad is a dick. This shit happens every.single.day. We all have a story. This was 50 years ago!
I do know some things about the married man’s marriage. He never expressly told me he was unhappy in his marriage (that would have been inappropriate, and I only talked with him in a very public setting) but he did talk about how they had been together since they were young, early high school. How he felt a lot of pressure from her, especially to be successful in his career, financially. When he talked about it he seemed stressed. We had been talking about tattoos. He had a couple, small ones that could be covered up with work clothes. He said he wanted to get a tattoo in a visible spot, like mine, but his wife forbid it. I remember saying how can she forbid you from doing something? He said she felt like I might need to get a “regular office job” some day and wouldn’t be able to because of a tattoo. I said, “ah, I see.” I told him I would hire him with a tattoo and we work in a corporate environment and he said, “yeah, that’s because you are cool. Most people in the south aren’t.” The next time I saw him he had a super fun, geometric tattoo that was pretty visible. I laughed and told him how much I liked it. He said some things had changed in his life, so he had just said, “fuck it,” he was getting that tattoo. I didn’t question it. I never told Blue Eyes I was getting a tattoo. It was a surprise! 😉 On the other hand, when we talked about Nina, which we did because I was worried about her, he showed true compassion and care. I really really really thought they were just good friends. I never saw anything even remotely inappropriate.
So I guess what I have been ruminating about is this concept that we know what goes on in other people’s lives. The assumption that the wife in Nina’s case is heartbroken, or really even surprised. I’m not convinced she is. I think she is angry and using everything in her power to get back at the people that took her choices away from her. Her choice on whether she would be getting a divorce, and when. Her choice on whether she was going to have to forever be the betrayed spouse. We know how much that SUCKS! Her choice on where she will now live, and how she will afford to do so. I know I am projecting like everyone else. By the time my Dad came home and asked for a divorce, my Mom wasn’t hurt, she was angry. I get that it all sucks. All the emotions are bad ones. There is no winning when it comes to cheating, but I’m not convinced that I know who the real losers are here in the Nina scenario. They’re all losing something. What that all is, for all of them, I don’t really know.
25 thoughts on “Assumptions”
Wow, so so true! I remember going through a lot (if not all) of the above-mentioned during my years of addiction(s). I think more people should read this.
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Life is messy and life is complicated. Friendships come and go over time and we all get to decide who we will maintain ties with regardless of their behaviors. (I personally have some limits but those are not important here.) I have friends who have cheated on their spouses, both male and female. I always felt superior because my marriage was “safe”. Hah! Go figure. In any event, I think that when my friends told me about their affairs or whatever they did my response was pretty much a variation of this, “I am friends with you (and your spouse if applicable) and what you are telling me makes me uncomfortable because I believe it is wrong. You can choose how to live your life but I really don’t want to know about this part of it. Our friendship might suffer because you want to hear me say things I won’t and you probably won’t like what I have to offer if you ask. My mother always said, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Hurt people, hurt people. I don’t want to be one of those people.
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Hi Marie. It sounds like you have firm boundaries that you have set to protect yourself and that is all we can do. The betrayal trauma changes us and forces us to look at things we might never have internalized before. I have dealt for many years with people with mental illness, and sometimes addiction as a salve for deep wounds. Nothing will ever shock me though like the day I learned my husband had a secret sex life. Having been in those situations before somewhat prepared me for a teeny bit of what went on post d-day, but we are forever changed. Also, if people ask for my advice, it’s because they want it. That’s how I look at it, and I behave accordingly as well. xo
Just because the wife is displaying anger, doesn’t mean she isn’t heartbroken. I was very angry at the actions of my SA husband., but I was also hurt. Anger is a secondary emotion, and in my case, the primary emotions were hurt and fear. Being duped tends to produce anger in most healthy people regardless of how one feels about the duper. I can guarantee that if my husband had invited one of his acting out whores to a family gathering with some BS of how she was a friend, and I treated her as a guest in my home, I would be beyond furious when I found out the truth. I would consider that a type of stalking or invasion of privacy.
I agree with Joshua Shea that you don’t have to justify Nina’s actions to be her friend. You can be supportive and not have to justify what she did. Mistakes were made.
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Again, like I said to Joshua, I should have titled this post “projecting.” We’re all doing it, it’s how we attempt to make sense of so much of life.
You know I know how it feels to be the wife of a sex addict who cheated. I’m not attempting to justify the cheater’s actions in any way. I’m also not downplaying the insanity of the situation or attempting to justify my friendship with Nina.
I offloaded the story here because I needed to. It was stressful. I continue to offload. That’s why I have a blog. There are no winners here. They all lost and will now have to build back from the destruction.
I’m not here to ask permission for how I feel. My life has been inundated with sex addiction for going on six years. Potentially it’s the only reason I even know Nina. Having this space to talk things out has been so helpful. Thanks for hanging in there with me. xo
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I’ve been following your posts about Nina with great interest as I’ve been learning a lot about betrayal trauma and how things take place from the women’s side, at least as porn addiction is concerned, over the last year or two.
I don’t want to sound like an ass, but I think you’re really reaching to justify either Nina’s actions or somehow justify your softer stance against her actions. I don’t think because one person is married to a sex addict while the other isn’t that it really changes the fact there was cheating. As long she knows there is a wife, the “other woman” is never justified, no matter how rotten that wife or marriage may or may not be.
If a bartender serves an alcoholic and he goes out and gets in a car accident, is it any more condonable than if a bartender serves someone who just had a few too many and he gets in a car accident? No. It’s the same thing. The outcome isn’t made cloudy by the fact the alcoholic has an illness.
Nina is “the other woman” but the circumstances of the marriage she helped implode don’t make what she did any less damaging than a sex addict’s situation. I don’t really understand how you can make so many assumptions about the marriage she got involved with or the people involved when you’re probably getting only one, very bias, side of the story.
Here’s a completely different take…you don’t have to justify your friendship with Nina. You’re not her keeper and you’re not required to only have friends who follow your moral code. You can be friends with her, even if she is “the other woman” without having to twist what happened into a somewhat defensible act. It doesn’t say any less of you as a person for having her as a friend and it doesn’t have to humanize the woman your husband cheated with. You don’t have to draw contrasting pictures. Nina did exactly what your “other woman” did, regardless of the mental/addictive picture of the male involve. But that doesn’t mean she can’t be your friend and you can’t support her unless you give qualifying justifications.
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Thanks for commenting, Joshua. So bottom line, I don’t really care what people think of Nina, or my relationship with Nina, or me for that matter and I’m not trying to justify my friendship, nor justify what Nina did. I simply would never abandon a friend in need. I probably should have just called this post “projecting.”
We project our feelings and experiences onto others. I totally get it, and do it. I also intimately understand sex-addiction-induced betrayal trauma. It’s what this blog has been partly focused on for years. I’m a poster child.
The Nina situation has nothing to do with sex addiction. I was talking out similarities and differences. I talk a lot about myself on this blog. 🤷🏻♀️ A number of the women that follow me are betrayed wives of sex addicts who intimately understand betrayal trauma, both SA induced and not SA induced.
I’m not at all attempting to justify Nina’s actions, I just don’t fault her for the divorce. Unfortunately I do know a bit about this situation, and at this point, not from just one side, which differs significantly from my own marital situation and I find it fascinating how we all want to take sides. There are no sides. Everyone is hurting. The wife has been betrayed. That has never been my point. That is a given and as I state above, I know it sucks. Been there albeit in a different context.
I’m most certainly not asking for anyone’s permission to act or feel a certain way. I’m merely giving my opinion about a story I needed to off-load for my own well being and the main reason I journal in this way. This has never been about the wife, for me. It’s about broken people seeking broken people and blame doesn’t really solve anything.
As far as assumptions go, I named this post that because I start out talking about how people make assumptions about why people cheat. It’s never okay, and it’s never okay to blame the faithful spouse. I guess at this point, what’s done is done, but I do believe that the cheating spouse had the greatest responsibility to his wife, protecting her, and making her feel safe. I feel the same with my husband. It’s where he failed me.
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I think you are a Super Empath like me, which makes it more likely for you to see tremendous nuance in almost every situation. I find the excessive capacity for empathy to be both a gift and a burden; the burdensome part is that it often leads to emotional exhaustion for me,
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Thanks, B. I know I am an empath. Each of my therapists were concerned I had too much empathy for the other women in my life. I didn’t understand how my husband could use women for sex (at least not the husband I thought I knew), but not want to be with them. I didn’t understand his addiction and I felt bad for the women, especially the first one. But the therapists set me straight in that these women were active participants who knew my husband was married. The therapists didn’t want me expending what little energy I had at the time worrying about the other women. As you know, the last woman stalked me, so I was doubly confused. I’m not so confused anymore, but because of who I am, I do understand how the women got sucked in. Emotional exhaustion is real and I try not to get too caught up in worrying about other people’s lives. I’m surprised how long this Nina thread has held my attention, although she is texting me daily, so there’s that. I don’t always respond, but I don’t want to abandon her either. I thought we were going to be in NY in a couple weeks and I was going to hit you up, and a couple other people, but it looks like the trip has been postponed…
Let me know when you’re coming! I’ll be away at the end of the month but back in early November.
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I will let you know! The schedule is pretty fluid, but we have regular business in Boston/NYC right now.
This rings true for me as well. It is exhausting, but I like who I am. Those nuances and complex situations – I can see the big picture (forest) and the details (the trees). I think this is one reason I like Kat’s blog so much.
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This makes me think of that thing that CL has said… along the lines of, “Maybe you DO suck but that doesn’t mean you deserve to be cheated on.”
If your spouse is shitty, then divorce them; don’t cheat on them.
If you “find yourself in love” with a married person and justify it by saying their spouse is terrible… then wait for your married, could-be lover to decide that their spouse is terrible enough to divorce.
It is very simple. Not easy… simple.
Hating your lover’s wife is a bizarre kind of bonding activity.
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Yes, it seems so simple, right? Get a divorce first. Nina never hated the wife, just thought he was ending his marriage because he was unhappy. Now I know she definitely hates what the wife is doing, but that is the consequence with getting in the middle of a marriage.
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It doesn’t matter if she hated her or not… she participated in deceiving his wife. Keeping his secret. Accepting a partner who actively lied to his promised partner for life.
The thing is… he was not ending his marriage. She knew that because it did not happen. If he was unhappy, he should have gotten a divorce. As a friend, she could have encouraged him to make healthy choices – like leaving a wife who treats him poorly – but chose to fuck him instead. And hide it. For a long time.
To her, the wife didn’t matter.
If horrible people weren’t charming or didn’t seem kind/vulnerable/charming, they’d not get away with being horrible. The villains in my life? All very charming. People like them, generally. A lot. That’s how they get away with being assholes… few can imagine them being such pieces of shit.
You are the one that brought up hating the wife. I merely addressed it in terms of this particular shit show. Yes, she participated in deceiving the wife. Yes, she fell in love with a married man. Yes, she was wrong and her actions were hurtful.
Actually, it did end. They ARE divorcing. This all takes time, and it did. It took about 18 months for him to finally get the balls to go home and ask his wife for a divorce. And the reason I think their marriage was failing… because he didn’t have to tell his wife about Nina at all. He didn’t have to tell his family either. He didn’t have to ask for a divorce at all. The shit hit the fan when he finally did tell them what he wanted, out.
My guess is they are telling him to dump the mistress or they will all wreak hell on him like he has never seen. And he did bring it all on himself for not getting the divorce FIRST and then finding a new woman. This is not my story, or your story. This is someone else’s story. I’m not making up the facts. I was just offloading to de-stress. The married man could have easily told Nina to fuck off, at any point in time. Once his family came down on him, then he ghosted Nina, he couldn’t handle it. I know for a fact they threatened him. There is a daughter at stake here.
Yes his marriage WAS ending, and it has ended, but not because of Nina per se. Because a man was unhappy and instead of trying to make his marriage better, he cheated and planned a life with another woman. My Dad did this and has been married for 49 years to “the other woman.” It does happen, just not sure how often. Because of the lying and cheating, the married man’s plan is not going so well. Consequences.
I don’t personally believe either of these people are horrible. I think they are all human, and humans make mistakes.
Him being an asshole to a greater degree doesn’t take away from her being one too…
The marriage was bad. Sure. Then get a divorce. Marriage ending either way? I’m sure you’re right. It was going to end. (I’m sure, though, that him watering the Other Woman’s grass, so to speak, certainly didn’t make his yard any greener.) Their marriage was going to end anyway…
But again, that doesn’t take away from him being a cheating, entitled asshole. And it doesn’t make her less of sneaky, self-centered mistress.
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Agreed! Pretty sure he had stopped watering the marital grass before Nina came along, but yes… bad bad behavior by both of them.
Kat, the married (former) co-worker with whom I had an emotional affair that continued long past when we stopped working together, whom I have not seen in 4 years and with whom I have had very little contact over at least the past 18 months, is still chasing me. He has grown children who are long out (one is an addict, one pretty much left home when he left for college and never returned), is never parting with his money or his social status, etc. And yet, every chance he gets he tries to pull me back in; tells me how much he cares for me, how he thinks about me all the time, what a great “friend” I am.
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Well, if he is some kind of addict, then it makes sense. If he isn’t an addict, then he’s a guy who doesn’t respect boundaries. Either way, tough relationship. ❤️
All these years later, many years after I thought I knew a tremendous amount about him, I am not sure if he is an addict. He is almost certainly a narcissist, and their needs for supply are very similar to sex addicts. He is also most likely a (high functioning) alcoholic.
It has been one of the biggest lessons of my life to learn that you cannot possibly know enough about someone with whom you don’t live to really understand them. Notice I did not say “know everything” because I believe it is truly impossible to know everything about another person, no matter the relationship.
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I agree, B! It is impossible to know everything. In my case, I didn’t know some really major things about my husband, because he didn’t want me to. I personally don’t understand people who lead secret lives. They have got to feel like shit, a lot. I know BE did. I cannot imagine living that way.
It sounds like your friend kind of thrives off it and maybe doesn’t feel remorse. Perhaps narcissism is his demon, in which case, he doesn’t see the problem. I’m glad you have your boundaries. I know you care about him, but I know you also know how toxic relationships work. My roller coaster has slowed way down, but I still very much just want off. xo
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B, I was married to my husband for more than 36 years and thought I knew him pretty well. Then he told me he thought he had AIDS from buying sex on a regular basis. Ummm, I’ll never ever believe I know anybody again. His sexual acting out started when he was very young as a response to extreme neglect, abuse and abandonment issues as well as being sexually abused and of course there was shame around that so he kept it secret. Secrets grow exponentially over time. We are still married now over 40 years and I still look at him and fully accept that I’ll never know what is going on in his head and I’m probably better off for that. All I know and he knows is that if he makes one wrong step he has chosen to exit our marriage.
What a terrible shock. I don’t know how you every get your head around that! However, I do agree that secrets grow exponentially with time. I suspect your husband didn’t expect to end up in the place he found himself in.
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