Salon’s “I’m the Woman You Met on Ashley Madison: how the rush of infidelity led to affairs online”

  

Salon’s Betty Andrews confessional about being an Ashley Madison girl may be disregarded as a disguised public documenting of her infidelity, her exploits, the Ashley Madison world, and the failure of monogamy for those who are wired for insatiable sensation-seeking, but I believe it is more a testament to a new style for an old theme—so many themes, actually: cake and eat it, self-sabatoging, avoidance, brazen dishonesty and crass conformity, to name just a few.

In reflecting on my proclivity for infidelity, I can only describe it as a kind of sensation seeking — the addictive quality of falling for someone new — and a propensity for self-destruction — reinforcing pathological defense mechanisms. Sure, there’s the sex. And that part is great, sometimes even amazing. But for me, it’s not about a secret kink, an insatiable sexual appetite. or not getting enough attention at home. It’s the novelty of someone else. The intensity. The escape. The possibility. The falling …

I used to call those serial daters, the thrill-seekers aka commitment-phobes. But add in the desire to have it all–the comfort and safety of marriage peppered with the spice of the new–and you have a dream life, right? Or you have someone who likes complications that appeal to the brains who love teasers, puzzles and risk, juggling all those balls to keep them in the air–husband, kids, lover(s), job, secrets, etc.. And ultimately to be alone, not so much without a partner or choices due to burned bridges, though that is a risk, but more so due to dancing yourself into a corner.

My insatiable appetite, not just for the sex, but for the whole confusing mix of physical and emotional feelings, persists. Maybe it’s the escape from real life. The exploration of something new. The thrill of falling for someone else. But ironically, there’s also a very isolating quality to infidelity. There is no one to talk to about it all, to reflect on my actions, to process the big picture. I can’t talk to my lover about my husband. I can’t seek advice for marital spats or discuss fertility woes. And I can’t talk to my husband about my lover. I can’t brag to him about the amazing sex, or cry to him with the heartbreak that is being involved with a man who loves someone else. None of it makes any sense to me yet, and the secrecy draws me further, not closer, from the people in my life. In my search for excitement, romance, connection and intimacy, I’m as alone as I’ve ever been. Sometimes I wonder if that’s the point.

In a perfect world, we would all know ourselves enough each to say, “I am thus and so should be true to myself, choose someone who can accept me for who I am” and be brave enough to act in accordance with the statement. But the question arises: Would Andrews seek the others if her husband accepted her dalliances? Or would that take away some of the lure of seeking lovers in the first place? The deep-seated need to be alone, as Andrews remarks, may be the motivation for maintaining infidelity practices, and she suspects or knows it. So long as the cost-benefit analysis weighs in favor of the benefits, she will continue to feed her need to be conflicted and between worlds–or someone finds out and gets really hurt.  

I believe the lure is more insidious; it’s about being someone other than who you are. That is what cheating allows, the fantasy of being someone’s “all I ever dreamed of or all that I don’t have” It’s easy when there is really not all of your skin in the game, so to speak–for either. Affairs allow you to be what you are not in your main relationship–and that is the fun, just like Halloween or costume parties. Pretend. And much needed release for being so much of what you are not for someone else.

Fugue

  

  
Sundays. 

In day-drifts I spend them in lengthy morning sheets, 

woven threads striping maypole my legs with yours.

Skills. 

You have them: attentive, unwavering, intent. 

Your strong gentleness fills our bed with symphonic hum, a vibrational fugue. 

I cry. 

Some tenderness tears at lost time, flaked off bits of skinned cycles round, 

a heart with no hands.

Touch: soft swept fingers warm atop cupped palms, like namaste hands, loose prayers. 

Your hands. 

The edges brush by bristled cheek, full flesh and heated like sun-baked summer squash.

Promises: unsaid, steady and willed. 

You cannot. 

Ties from September past, 

a dozen dozen or more in months melded to seamless years of you and you and you. 

And her. 

Until: always when, yet, but still, then again, for now, someday, and forgive me.

 
credit: thisisnickwhite.com

“How Open Marriages Really Work”

im-with-them “I feel that the biggest benefit to having a relationship that allows for others is that you never have to worry about being everything for someone,” said Skye. “We get to love each other and be with each other, and we get to love other people who are special and important to us in other ways.

Salon’s article “How Open Marriages Really Work” is refreshingly candid about choice and the nature of relationships–that monogamy is not for everyone. Though polyamory is tossed about quite a bit, I think that label imposes a false sheen over the article that aims to shatter the accepted notion that people who do not do monogamy fall into another label, namely polyamory.

Always one to shun labels, I felt a little compartmentalized by that term, even while the article indulged many scenarios where open marriages were either fallen into after initial monogamy or chosen at the outset. In all cases, the catchwords are honesty, openness and love. However, brave is the overall impression I get.

Yes, it takes honesty and ability to articulate jealousies, desires and needs. Some couples felt jealous of the outsiders but later located the source as something missing in the primary relationship that caused the jealousy. If they spent quality time together, either or both were okay to go off on a date with others. But speaking up and facing fears–of loss, jealousy–takes guts.

I was pleased about the mention of some open marriages that are not acknowledged but known by both parties as well as all shades in between complete openness and shadowy closeted. Having enjoyed monogamy for many years before my relationship opened up, I appreciated the nod to necessity as well as choice. Some couples cannot complete one another intimately and so rely on others to do so. And if both agree to any given arrangement, it works, for however long it works. I suspect child rearing years are different from before and after those times. Once again, fluidity.

Monogamy is tough. It is what most of us believe we want, but in truth, most of us do not, not always. I love the options open to the mature who can agree on their relationships from phase to phase, time to time. We are not static beings and neither are our relationships. But more importantly, it is rare to find someone who can be all things at all times for another. Not even the Stepford Wives worked out so well.

Now, if people could just stop being threatened by others doing it differently than they do…what a wonderful world.
 

credit: polysingleish.files/wordpress.co

Ashley Madison and American Hypocrisy 


What do I think about the Ashley Madison come Josh Duggar (a name I first heard yesterday) “scandal”? Not too much. Surprising coming from someone whose blog is themed on the mistress in that word’s narrowest and broadest sense. But I have written a lot on the subject of infidelity from all sides, and much boils down to the same recurring ideas:

People get hurt–are hurt–and that saddens me. Luckily, counseling resources for the infidelity-wounded exist. Some have called those hurt by infidelity, victims, like the wife of this Duggar, publicly humiliated by someone who apparently spoke out in defense of “family values.” A shame, but the story often unfolds as more complicated than good guys and bad guys, abusers and victims.

People are not honest. Relationships survive on honesty, an ongoing practice that most are not dedicated to but expect from others.

America’s hypocrisy and sexual dysfunction fosters dysfunctional relationships. It is no secret that what we say what we want is not what we want–or do. I featured this article from The Daily Beast before, but it reports the unsurprising facts and bears repeating:

 

As Pew reports, extramarital affairs are generally condemned worldwide but the U.S. still seems to be uniquely moralistic about them. In fact, most major developed nations in the world are more accepting of infidelity than the U.S., including Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany, Spain, and Japan.

In France, a mere 47 percent of adults find extramarital affairs unacceptable, which is less an endorsement of their practice and more a reflection of a widespread refusal to think of it as “a moral issue.” In America, sex is a moral language by default; abroad, less so…
 

All this being said, Americans’ sexual words do match up with their sexual actions in some special cases. Fifty-seven percent of men and 65 percent of women approve of having babies outside of marriage, although CDC estimates show that only 40 percent of all births are to unmarried women. Divorce rates appear to be on their way down in the 21st century while acceptance of divorce has been steadily increasing.

But these are some of the only realistic moral attitudes in a country where sexual attitudes and sexual behavior tend to be dissonant. And although this mismatch might be mystifying in and of itself, the probable reasons behind it are not: the United States has the largest population of Christians of any country and is one of the only deeply religious wealthy nations in the world. That math—like most Americans—does itself.

Ashley Madison? Only in America.
 

credit: johnmbecker.com

Science Meets Philandering

hardinginternal87873

I like today’s compelling Fox news story about Ancestry.com’s confirmation of President Harding’s love child. Some folks were vindicated and love shone on the day.

Of course my first thought questions the motivation, desire and impetus for such DNA testing to prove something that does not really matter in terms of inheritance or political effect these many years after the fact. Who even remembers Harding’s presidency?

But this passage is my favorite:

Based on DNA from Britton’s grandson and descendants of Harding, the results are 99.9 percent certain, Ancestry said. The findings were first reported Thursday by The New York Times.

I mean there is always that .01% chance of mistake. Then what? 😉

Define Mistress 

  
I certainly enjoyed the following Urban Dictionary definitions of the term “Mistress:”

***Something between a mister and his mattress.

***Spare pussy to have when your wife or girlfriend is either on the rag or just not in the mood to straddle the cock. Traditionally a popular stress reliever in France, which might explain why they rarely wage wars these days.

***The woman who is dominant to you and will gladly punish you at any time for any thing. 

see bitch

You missed a spot on the window… 

Bend over to be spanked!
***<ORIGIN> from the Old French maistresse, from maistre ‘master’

Noun 

1) – a woman in a position of authority or control.

<special usage> a woman who is skilled in a particular subject or activity. (possibly sexually)
2) – a woman having an extramarital sexual relationship, especially with a married man.
<special usage> a woman loved and courted by a man
3) – a woman that is the dominating role in a dominate/submissive relationship or arrangement.

***Side hoe
***mistress

a women who has a foot slave and allows him to worship her feet, ie kissing each toe, licking her soles, eating her toejam

mistress gemma wanted to punish her foot slave so took off her boots and smothered his with her sweaty soles, the slave was in heaven, she even then made him masturbate over her smelly socks

***female PIMP

***1.) a lonely female with no self-respect who willingly subjects herself to the marginal attention of married men 

2.) enemy to the institution of marriage 

3.) an example of female energy used for evil

4.) a married man’s co-conspirator 
5.) the puppet a married man keeps in his closet and pulls out only at night and only when no one else is around to witness its existance 

6.) one who will never experience real romantic love, and seemingly has no desire for it

7.) a woman with no value other than that of sexual gratification

credit: http://pre01.deviantart.net

9 infidelity ‘things’ and more…

     
Salon’s  9 things you might not know about infidelity is one of those numbered titles that packages tidbits of information from the significant to the pandering. And though the author does a fine job of gathering, presenting and contextualizing (sort of) the information, there is never a question in my mind about the transparent motives of articles like these: seduce readers with and for the numbers.

It is all in the packaging. Lost leaders abound.

Opening sentences handshake the readers to the tone and subject:

Monogamy is a nice idea in theory, but in practice, humans are less adept at it than they might admit. 

Yes, so we have read. The author, Kali Holloway, then launches into the biology of two of the nine “things” such as the correlation between ovulation and frequency of infidelity as well as a lesson on spermatology: the race to the egg is a competition including beating the opponent out of the race altogether. 

Next up, sociology. Having participated in society only in the last 100 years, women surpassed previous records of infidelity running a closer race to cheater men:   

A 2010 study from the National Opinion Research Center found that over the last 20 years, the number of married women who admitted to affairs rose a staggering 40 percent. Which we can all agree is a lot. Nearly 22 percent of men copped to sex outside of marriage, a number that’s remained fairly consistent since 1991. For women, that percentage rose to 14.7 percent. A number of theories are floated for this change, including increased financial independence for women, the fact that women spend more time in co-ed working environments (most affairs begin in the workplace) and changing attitudes around women’s sexuality.

Now this next came as a surprise:

Most cheaters, across the board, don’t get caught. A recent survey found that 89 percent of spouses engaged in extramarital affairs are able to keep their infidelity on the down-low. But women are better at keeping their affairs a secret than men. 

Though it somehow does not surprise me. My theory: most spouses do not want to know (read: denial) or silently sigh a relief in the face of infidelity. I have no numbers to back up that hunch. All I know is, sex is complicated, monogamy or not. Conflicting sexual appetites, ebbing and flowing of phases of the moon as well as the decades, and a hundred and one sexual hangups originating from family, society and biology, all contribute to the complications inherent in trying to maintain interest in, let alone quality or quantity of sex in the long term relationship.

Holloway cites a Forbes interview for the following statement by a dating site CEO in item number 6: 

“You often don’t catch the women. Because women naturally think more contextually. They consider long-term vision and potential consequences much more thoroughly before acting.”

Based on which evidence: anecdotal? experiential? statistical? A CEO?

People who make $75,000 and up are 1.5 times more likely to cheat than those whose annual salaries are $30,000 or less. Those with graduate degrees are also more likely to seek sex outside of marriage, being 1.75 times more likely to have an extramarital affair than people who haven’t graduated high school. Living in a city also ups one’s chances for cheating by a factor of 1.5 times.

The take home from these statistics? The struggle to survive financially takes up too much time–none to spare for the affair. No doubt social values of a society in which the measure of an individual is in the size of his or her wallet has something to do with it. The equation of money to power weighs heavier on those with lower salaries and affects confidence, logically. 

As we near ages that end in zeroes, the chances for infidelity increase.

Mortality. Enough said.

…people who use Twitter every day tend to have shorter relationships than those who don’t, regardless of age. And not that it’s totally germane, but daily tweeters were also more likely to masturbate on a daily basis

Ok, how in the world does one measure that last info-bit and who even thought to ask?

And along the same vein (pun intended), appealing to salacious appetites for the sexual, inane, absurd and obvious:

…penis fractures and extramarital affairs may correlate according to a too-small-to-be-significant study that the author includes–just because–in an otherwise responsible gathering of information on recent infidelity findings. The study authors appear credible, at least, and if they are not as strong as the National Opinion Research Center out of the University of Chicago, the author comments upon that fact.

And while the trend for the numbered article annoys me, caters to the soundbite mentality of pop readership, I too cannot resist the draw of itemization, the buffet of tidbits of data big and small, serious and amusing, but most of all, the back story of the findings, the minds of the surveyors who seek quantification and categorization of minutae and the commonplace. 

The story, for me, breathes in the cracks of the facts, the why’s and wherefore’s.

Monogamy on the Ropes Again

  
credit:  https://polysingleish.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/1003954_1423682221182522_1247773358_n.jpg

This time by Salon.com’s Anna Pulley in the article 4 Reasons Humans are so Bad at Sexual Monogamy, which faults our natural proclivities and our ancestors. According to Pulley’s resources, we humans crave variety, get bored easily (especially women with sex) and hear the call of our collectivist primal ancestors who lived, parented and copulated communally. Her cited resources are a few notable books on the topic, including Chris Ryan’s Sex at Dawn, a synopsis of which you can find at Ryan’s site among other of his projects, to bolster her brief scan of the huge monogamy balliwick. 
In the end she echoes a call to action I myself have made on this site–more tolerance and less dysfunctional belief when it comes to sex and marraige.

To say we are bad at monogamy isn’t an indictment of monogamy in general. Of course, people can and do succeed at life-long monogamous arrangements. Non-monogamous arrangements aren’t inherently better or worse than monogamous ones. And yet, just because we are monogamous with one person doesn’t negate the fact that many of us are still and always will be attracted to other people. As German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer put it: “One can choose what to do, but not what to want.” We’d do better as a culture if we could exercise a little more tolerance, acceptance and honest discussions around sex, desire and marriage, and try to be less rigid in our idealistic views of monogamy.

Support Others Supporting Others: Infidelity Counseling Network Drive

  
Posted on Infidelity Counseling Network yesterday, Praveen Kumar’s Reasons Why Couple’s Cheat on Each Other in boldsky limitless living cites the statistic that ten percent of marriages are headed for divorce due to infidelity. Though unverified in the article, I don’t doubt that is true. Anecdotal evidence from my former practice conforms to that reality. Kumar goes on to state that most cheat before they separate and then lists the reasons for cheating in relationships: neglect, dissatisfaction and boredom, essentially. 

While these reasons are no revelation, some of the statements the author makes are rather surprising. For one, she distinguishes male from female patterns:

The cheating patterns of men tend to be a bit different than that of women. Some men would perceive cheating as just having fun outside the relationship.

And women don’t? I am curious as to the basis of the author’s conclusions. Which studies differentiate men and women’s cheating patterns on the basis of fun? Seems to me the validity of the article’s conclusions would be more compelling and interesting with some foundational support and less bias. In Kumar’s brief summation, men are presumed to be superficial weasels–of which I am sure there are plenty–and women victims. 

Some of those cheating men don’t even feel guilty unless they are cornered. When it comes to women, most of them resort to cheating when they are emotionally dissatisfied or feeling lonely in their relationships.

However, attributing dishonesty and overall bad behavior to one gender strikes me as a hasty generalization. Shortcutting the work of proof and relying on stereotypes perpetuated by cultural lore or media does no one any good. Moreover, it makes fluff of some serious consideration: the causes of infidelity and its immediate and collateral devastation to spouses and children.

One non-profit organization that focuses on those life-altering effects of infidelity is the aforementioned Infidelity Counseling Network, which is having a fundraising drive today. While I have balked at some of the articles on their website as genderist, favoring women, I have since come to realize that their services would logically benefit those who come forward to seek help from the heartbreak and trauma of cheating and resulting divorce: most prominently women. 

There is currently debate in the field of evolutionary psychology whether an innate, evolved sex difference exists between men and women in response to an act of infidelity; this is often called a “sex difference”. Those that posit a sex difference exists state that men are 60% more likely to be disturbed by an act of sexual infidelity (having one’s partner engage in sexual relations with another), whereas women are 83% more likely to be disturbed by an act of emotional infidelity (having one’s partner fall in love with another) (Buss, et al., 1992). Those against this model argue that there is no difference between men and women in their response to an act of infidelity.

This excerpt from Wikipedia citing The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests there are sound reasons to believe that women are more affected by infidelity than men, and thus, it would seem, along with socially constructed beliefs men hold about confessing emotion and weakness, women are more likely to avail themselves of counseling services for their pain.

And so, I believe there is a necessity to support nonprofits like Infidelity Counseling Network, a group of professionals that inform and support those suffering from the pain borne from betrayal, loss, and rejection, some of the profound suffering resulting from any broken relationship but especially from one irreparably or remediably damaged by cheating. 

An invaluable public service focused on healing and compassion thrives only on the support of the many who believe in spreading the wealth of giving, caring and sharing.

Here is the link for this Cinco de Mayo support drive:  Infidelity Counseling Network May 5th drive.
Peace.

Guest Post: Telling Everyone



credit:  http://f1.bcbits.com

The week after my husband told me he thought he was in love with someone else, I emailed a
group of close girlfriends with the news. My words must have been hysterical because the very next
night they stopped their busy-lives-kids-husbands-making-dinner-supervising-homework and told me to
meet them at a local café, which I did, where we sat and drank tea and I wept and wept and wept. And
they listened.

After that night, I decided that I simply had to tell people. Everyone. Anyone. My friends, my
family, his family, a few co-workers, the woman in front of me at the supermarket, the moms of my
daughter’s peers. I remember thinking that if I tell enough people, it won’t hurt so much. If I tell enough
people, no one will blame me. If I tell enough people, they will nod knowingly when we get divorced (or
when I kick him out, which I inevitably did, in my rage. He came back though. That’s for another blog
post).

And soon, hearing the news, friends and family began to react in ways that told me more about
them than about me and this infidelity experience. My closest girlfriends started to call, phoning to tell
me they love me, they are here for me, an invisible army out beyond the house where I can’t see them,
rows and rows of people who support me unconditionally, waiting there to hold me in my arms if I
needed holding or walk with me to happiness when I was ready to walk. My mom, in an atypical
expression of outward emotion, told me she would be there for whether we got divorced or stayed
married. A few friends, both male and female, told me they’d happily get in line to kill, maim, or
strangle my husband (one of them sounded uncomfortably serious). A couple of girlfriends admitted
they were so angry
with him that they didn’t know how they were going to work through that (they are
still struggling, I think, because their manner is different around him now). One friend never mentioned
it, not for the entire five months of the affair nor the following two years of marriage recovery; to this
date she does not bring it up or ask me how I am.

I know that my story, and my telling everyone so openly and forcefully, was terrifying to many
of our friends. “If this could happen to her, could it happen to me?” went the unstated refrain. “Would
my husband do this? Is he capable of such a choice?” No one ever spoke those words but I knew they
were there. My experience was a threat, something “other” that loomed on the edge of our nice middle
class world.

And yet. While this support was so beautiful, so unwavering, and so key to my eventual survival,
there was something missing. No one said, “Hey I’ve been there.” No one ventured, “My sister has been
through this.” I felt as if I was the only human on earth whose husband had betrayed her. Of course I’d
heard about infidelity in movies and books, with celebrities and politicians but I did not know
anyone else like me who had been through it. Anyone else like me: educated semi-suburban wife and
mom, married 20+ years, seemingly happy (though the marriage bore cracks) and basically successful.
Feeling so uniquely marked in this way was like a scarlet “I” (for infidelity) worn, invisibly, on my
forehead for an entire year. It was only later, once we began to rebuild our relationship and I started
sharing with people too about that effort, that three girlfriends came to me with their own infidelity
stories. Suddenly I was not alone.

Cross-posted on http://betrayedwivesclub.blogspot.com/, http://counselingwithcaroline.com/blog/, and
http://eldamlopez.com/category/blog/

Laura S.
Executive Director
Infidelity Counseling Network
www.infidelitycounselingnetwork.org