Fantasizing about other men - help!
August 6, 2010 8:12 PM   Subscribe

How can I stop being hypersexual, get my therapist to see that it's threatening my marriage, and start focusing on my husband again?

I've been married for seven years to the best guy in the world. I love him like crazy and I know I could live a thousand years and never find another man like him. I really really really don't want to mess up my marriage, and the thought of doing anything that would hurt my hubby makes me feel sick. But I've already done it.

I had a make-out session with a guy about eight months ago, and simply can't forget it. Worse -- if it could be any worse -- he's married. We met at a summer camp decades ago when we were both teens. He treated me coldly then and we never got together. Apparently he's been searching for me ever since (so he says)! I had no idea about any of this until he started emailing me. He lives in another country. He emailed me flirtatiously for months, and when we got together it was VERY emotional. We hugged and kissed -- a bit too much. He gave me the impression that he wants to get together with me physically whenever he can (he travels here but only infrequently, on business).

I've been feeling like complete drek about this ever since it happened. And what's worse -- the experience has unleashed just a torrent of sexual desire in me. I fantasize sexually about almost every man I meet -- mostly sexually, but I sometimes realize I'm veering into emotional territory on occasion. It's like a light's been turned on. I'm aware of sex. I care about it. I want it with different men. I can't stop thinking about it. I'm surfing for porn online, I'm pleasuring myself like crazy (doesn't really do anything other than provide some tension relief), and I occasionally even fantasize about domestic bliss with a new man of my choice.

Meantime I'm still crazy about my husband and feel sick at the thought that I could act on my nutty new desires and totally torpedo everything I've tried to build with him.

Another thing -- I seem to be giving off new vibes that attract inappropriate guys. I'm suddenly in a very dangerous place. I've always had low self-esteem around men, so this new flirtatious attention I'm getting from them has REALLY turned my head. I suddenly feel hot. I've never felt hot before. I feel like I have to DO SOMETHING about all of these feelings.

I'm wondering if it's partly hormonal? Can you get a sudden surge of intense physical desire later in life? (I'm in my forties)

I'm worried because these feelings won't go away.

I have a therapist. He's nice and a great listener. His style is a bit passive because he's all about not judging me, but I'm in a pickle and could really use some moral guidance right now. That's the ironic thing about therapy. I go to my therapist for help -- should I do this? -- and I just get: "Watch your feelings like they're floating above you. It's okay to fantasize. It's normal." And I'm all, WTF? This zen cant isn't EVEN addressing the seriousness of what's happening to me. I'm feeling like I'm THIS close to shutting down my marriage and ruining the only thing I'm living for. I could get very despondent over this (I have suicidal tendencies that have been dormant for some time, but I'm always afraid they could return with especial force at a time when I'm feeling very weak).

My sex life with hubby has always been affectionate, but never explosive or fireworksy. I never cared about sex before. I'd been hurt by sexy guys in the past, and I think with my husband I was attracted to him precisely because he felt safe -- not super sexual but very solid. And he's my best friend. And that's what I wanted at the time! And I still love him!

But I CAN'T STOP THINKING about what it would be like to have sex with other men. I make myself sick and feel like a slut. I really need to start to have some hope or something. I'm so depressed, I've lost interest in absolutely everything. I don't know what to do.

We don't have kids. I love his mother like she's my own mother.

I can't tell my husband this. I can't stand the thought of what his eyes would look like. I can't hurt him.

I would appreciate any input! Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (35 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Time to get a new therapist.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:32 PM on August 6, 2010 [5 favorites]

You might want to ask a mod to post an anonymous email address. I can see how a lot of people who have felt this way wouldn't want to share publicly.
posted by supercapitalist at 8:39 PM on August 6, 2010

Yep. You need to tell your NEW therapist that your goal is to learn how to cope with these feelings without making a decision that you'd regret.
posted by mckenney at 8:41 PM on August 6, 2010

Email the mods and have them post an email address here to reach you! I have no useful advice for you ... but think about it: if you feel the need to be anonymous, don't you think someone else will too?
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:43 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to share these articles with you, for another possible way to look at it:

In all honesty, I bet if you asked your husband if he ever wanted to have sex with other women that he'd say yes. It's just human nature, ya know.
posted by Theloupgarou at 8:45 PM on August 6, 2010

I think this is called a mid-life crisis and it's completely normal. Do you have any close women friends you can talk about this with (in general terms)? Can you try spicing up your sex life with your husband? How about just giving yourself permission to use porn as much as you want to and not feel guilty about it?

Hormones are funny things and what attracts you at one stage in life might not be what attracts you at another. But you don't want to throw away a life time commitment for what might, in retrospect, be a fleeting period of heightened sexual awareness.
posted by fshgrl at 8:46 PM on August 6, 2010

Welcome to the wonderful world of socially-proscribed sex. It has little to do with you (the individual) and everything to do with us (the society).

We sanction and encourage formalized pairings (or groupings in the most extreme of customs) with the intention of promoting social stability and harmony. We all buy into it (mostly unconsciously) because we all have a need to know what to expect from others, just as others (in turn) need to know what to expect from us. (Heck, even YOU expect things from you...ever stop to think where and when and even IF you ever chose those expectations?--don't, you might freak yourself out!)

Now, you are suddenly reacting against these expectations that you have, heretofore, accepted unquestionably. Your eyes have been opened under unexpected circumstances and now you see what all us married/committed folks have come to accept and live with (usually, quietly)--we all have desires (sometimes STRONG desire) for others, and those desires generally have absolutely nothing to do with our feelings of social and romantic devotion to hearth and home. In the end, each one of us is--to put it poetically--as horny as a three-balled tomcat.

So there it is. And this is all really just to say that there is nothing wrong or atypical or abnormal about you or your feelings. And your feelings in no way (by themselves) predetermine your actions or pose a threat to your husband.

What you will need to keep an eye on is whether or not your love and affection for your husband (and his mother??) are strong enough to ground you against the persistent and strong currents of exploratory, reproductive biology. If not, then you can at least take measures (separation, divorce) to protect him, and give yourself the room you need to explore...

Best wishes in your future (where ever it takes you)
posted by DavidandConquer at 8:49 PM on August 6, 2010 [11 favorites]

It sounds like by taking a small step away from fidelity you showed yourself, concretely, that it is entirely your choice to pursue sexual relationships with other men or not. You know, for certain, that you can have a sexual relationship with someone other than your husband. It makes sense that, knowing this, you're thinking about all of the sexual possibilities around you. And if you're in that frame of mind--not just wanting something, but knowing that you can have it--you're going to give off a vibe or an air of sexual confidence that others will respond to.

I think you need to find a way to reframe this as a part of human life, but a part you want to stop obsessing over. I think that to do that, you need a new therapist.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:49 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

and I occasionally even fantasize about domestic bliss with a new man of my choice.

IANAT but the fact that you included this (decidedly non-erotic, relationship-reboot) detail leapt right off the screen. I will leave analysis of it to other members who are likely in a better position to comment, but it would seem to suggest this might not just be a wandering eye / lust issue at the root. I could be way off course, of course. I hope you are able to find a therapist that works for you and that you are able to work things out in the long run.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:53 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

You need to have a conversation about spicing your sex life up with your husband. Start talking to him about your needs... Start trying new things in the bedroom. Never, ever, ever bring up what happened with your friend. That would be very selfish of you, imho.

As far as therapy goes, there are specialists that specialize in just this sort of thing, and your therapist really should be giving you a referral to one of them about just this issue. This is couples therapy, sex therapy, and it doesn't sound like your therapist gets how dire an issue for you this is.
posted by xammerboy at 9:04 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm going to strictly address this one line that may catch people:
"I occasionally even fantasize about domestic bliss with a new man of my choice."

I don't think that particular thought is as troubling as it first reads. That particular thought. It's boredom, or maybe an excess of comfort. Who doesn't occasionally dream of a new life, even if you're happy with the one you have? How many people with fulfilling careers still wonder what it would be like to be a pilot? Or a doctor or a lawyer or a college professor...? Thinking it occasionally is normal. Acting on it is dangerous - especially in your circumstance. But you're not acting on it (seeking domestic bliss with another man).

The hyper-sexuality is something else entirely.
posted by 2oh1 at 9:06 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

The reality is that there is no way for you to tell your husband that you have betrayed him without the betrayal crushing him under its weight.

At some point, no matter our intentions, we will ALWAYS betray the ones we love most. It is the nature of human frailty. The real beauty of long term love is in its capacity for forgiveness. Admitting your frailty, asking for forgiveness and for your life partner's help to make this right are the first steps to recovering the trust you have already broken.

Your therapist is right in telling you that fantasy IS normal. It's how you choose to respond to it that makes your behaviour healthy or unhealthy.

However, if you really want to be morally castigated for a momentary indiscretion and for finally tapping into your own sexuality, perhaps a fundamentalist christian minister would be more to your liking than a psychotherapist.
posted by fauncub at 9:15 PM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

you are obviously in an extreme state - i would venture to say that this is a spiritual problem and not a "sex" problem for you -- you are grasping for something, but you are not sure what that is. i think what you are going through isn't "wrong" but is only revealing deeper, unresolved self esteem issues. and that's OK (!!!) imo - get past, or move beyond, this encounter with that guy- what happened, happened. what can you learn from it? what is it are you trying to escape from, or attain? ... i would say, reach out and "focus" on your husband - trust that he can take a little brutal honesty and talk about some of these issues with him... it might open some doors for you as a couple.
posted by mrmarley at 9:18 PM on August 6, 2010

My advice - and my advice may be crap, but I'm giving it anyway because, hey, these are the internets :)

Rediscover your sexuality with your husband. Rediscover your romance with him too. Make sure he knows how much you love him, because the change in your (and his) sex life may catch him off guard.

For the romance part: make time to do fun things you may not have done in years. Go rollerskating! Go on a picnic in the park. Go to a jazz club if that's more your style, but try to focus more on silly fun if you can. Laugh more together. Have more fun together.

For the sexuality part: spice things up. Do you have sex in the shower? Do you have sex in the morning? Do you make time to really, REALLY have sex? Do you ever surprise him in sexy ways? By spicing things up, hopefully you can help your husband to have a lot more fun too! A lot more fun with you :)
posted by 2oh1 at 9:19 PM on August 6, 2010

I'm not monogamous so I have a bit of a unique perspective on this which is: it happens. Having sex with someone new makes you randy and wild and it makes you feel sexy. This is just kinda a fact. Is it unnerving when you're already with someone whom you love very much? Yes. On the other hand, why not bring that sexual energy home to your husband so you can both benefit from it?

It may very well be hormonal, completely or in part, so maybe get that checked out.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:23 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe this is your body's way of telling you that it wants you to get pregnant already. I'm not suggesting that you should actually *DO* this, but it could explain the sudden surge in sexual desire.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:32 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

you mentioned both hyper sexuality and suicidal feelings in your past. Have you ever had any other symptoms like racing thoughts, reckless thoughts, reduced need for sleep?
posted by jockc at 9:38 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love him like crazy and I know I could live a thousand years and never find another man like him.

Are you certain that you actually believe or feel this to be true? What you're saying is, just speaking realistically, almost certainly not the case in the literal sense that your phrasing implies. It sounds like it might be a pessimistic cognitive distortion (paraphrase: "I could never find anyone else who would make me happy"). It's not necessary to have distorted beliefs like that in order to love someone fully and appreciatively. It seems like you're terrified that you're going to ruin your relationship with your husband; is he a jealous, judgmental person? Because most people think about sex with other people, and even if you had sex with another man, it wouldn't necessarily mean the end of your marriage. You seem to be tightly hemmed in by interlocking negative perceptions here: you've never felt attractive, you're convinced that you will only have this one shot at a happy relationship (and this relationship is the only thing you're living for), your sexual desire makes you feel like a slut. To be honest, and I say this as someone who is not a mental health professional, it sounds like a lot of your negative thoughts and feelings might be flourishing in a low-self-esteem environment. Building self-esteem is not easy if you're used to living without it, but I can guarantee that once you have it, you won't want to go back.
posted by clockzero at 9:43 PM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

And as jockc alludes to above, the sexual efflorescence might be indicative of a manic experience, which is very treatable, but you would need the help of a psychiatrist. That's what they're there for.
posted by clockzero at 9:45 PM on August 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

Yeah, without any other data here, I think you need your GP to check your endocrine status, a consult with a therapist who is more prepared to address the severity of your emotional upset, and possibly a psychiatrist if the new therapist thinks something else is going on.

There's randy, and then there's "shit, help, I believe these desires have already hurt my marriage and may lead me to self-harm," and you seem to be on the latter end of the spectrum.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:40 PM on August 6, 2010

I agree with SAotB: time for a new therapist. I'm not saying that your therapist is wrong -- but it is clear that he isn't giving you the help that you need at this moment. Even if it is temporary, I think you need to be working with someone new who can provide the perspective you need to figure this out.
posted by Forktine at 11:17 PM on August 6, 2010

+1 on finding a new therapist.
posted by 2oh1 at 11:57 PM on August 6, 2010

While there's the study-supported concept of the "seven year itch", your situation sounds different from that circumstance.

Not sure it's a mid-life crisis, either, because your deeper feelings for your husband seem to be intact and traditional mid-life crisis responses seem to include disassociation from those feelings as part and parcel of the self-separation process. But it's a possibility, sure.

What is clear is you're in distress, and your therapist isn't helping. Like everyone else said, it looks like it's time to take your therapy to another level and find someone who will challenge you, provide coping skills, and perhaps even establish if you need other treatment in addition.

I'm one of the many who perpetually advocate Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, particularly for situations like this where learning how to get around, through, and over mixed-up wiring for improved functionality and quality of life is the most important goal. There are other flavours of this type of approach (e.g., Dialectical Behavioural Therapy), too. If you're interested in the potential relief of this approach, make sure you ask if this is within the expertise of the therapists you consult while looking.

That said, there is definitely a hormone shift around your current age that can influence feelings of this nature, and it's not completely unusual to find yourself suddenly more sexual than you've ever been. It's a good idea to make an appointment with your regular doc to discuss checking hormone levels and that sort of thing in order to be aware of those factors in a more fundamental fashion.

The advice to make more adventure with your hubby, to pursue him the way you want to pursue these other men - it's good advice. Direct that lusty energy his way. If, for some reason, he's uncomfortable with it (you mention he's not as much of a sexual creature and depict him as somewhat low-energy), this might be something the two of you will need to work a bit on to come to a happy compromise.

Whatever you choose to do, spend time re-focusing yourself on the importance of taking ethical steps through this minefield of emotion and chemical response. Meditate, exercise, do art - whatever you can to establish control over these feelings and urges and give yourself positive anchors while you work this out.
posted by batmonkey at 11:59 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, some therapists are all "you talk and I'll just listen" but you need one that will discuss your options and perhaps provide you some guidance as well as take your current state more seriously that your current therapist, who doesn't sound very savvy to your needs.
posted by exphysicist345 at 12:03 AM on August 7, 2010

Channel the lust you're getting from other men into pride for your husband--go out in public with him and let the other guys stare at your and point them out to your husband. You get their attention. He gets you.

And maybe instead of a therapist, you need a priest. You still get to tell him what you're thinking, but he's not going to suggest you watch your feelings float above you. You can still ignore what you want, but it sounds like you want someone to tell you what's ok and what's not right now. Your current therapist isn't doing that, and AskMetafilter is a jumble.
posted by oreofuchi at 12:53 AM on August 7, 2010

Meantime I'm still crazy about my husband and feel sick at the thought that I could act on my nutty new desires and totally torpedo everything I've tried to build with him.

You've been married a while, so I may be way off base here (and disregard if I am), but have you considered the possibility that, instead of being an unpleasant side-effect of all your new desires, this may be the whole purpose of your feeling them?

It's a fairly classic pattern, especially for people who have difficulties with intimacy, to have a string of bad relationships followed by a good one. And then, because the good one is good, and it's scary to be intimate like that, there come all kinds of very plausible-feeling impulses to sabotage the relationship-- through infidelity, or by abandoning the other person before he can abandon you, or whatever.

You say you've had a difficult history of low self-esteem with men, that you've been hurt by bad guys before, and that your husband was attractive precisely because he felt safe. Especially if you've had early experiences with abandoning or abusive relationship models (parents, close relatives) early in life, I think it could really, really be worth considering whether all these impulses to mess up your marriage might just be you trying to get out of an uncomfortably good thing. If that were the case, then you'd expect all this to improve with successful work to revise your relationship models and improve your intimacy difficulties. Maybe a new and better therapist could help you work on some of this.
posted by Bardolph at 4:20 AM on August 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

You're not hypersexual. You're getting yourself into a self-made bind because you think your thoughts are wrong. They're not. They're frustrating and confusing, but they're not wrong. Stop being so hard on yourself. Don't cheat, spice up your love life, and be okay with yourself.

Yes yes, I'm not a therapist, blah disclaimer, what what.
posted by carlh at 5:34 AM on August 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

this may be hard but maybe you actually dont love your husband anymore?
posted by majortom1981 at 5:40 AM on August 7, 2010

If your husband really is your best friend, why aren't you in the habit of talking to him a lot more? You have all this feeling boiling inside you, and he's completely out of the loop. You're not only blocked from expressing the sexuality you feel toward other men, you can't even talk about it. You're considering acting out on the sex, leaving your husband, and even suicide. Why aren't you considering opening yourself up emotionally to your husband? It's a risk, but everything here is a risk. You portray your husband as someone you wouldn't want to have to look at if he were hearing something that upset him, but it's possible that your sex life with him could improve if you revealed all the sexual feeling you have. Maybe he has things to reveal too. And if he is at all sensitive, he's got to be noticing that something is going on with you. Confessing that you feel "hypersexual" may not be all that disturbing to him.
posted by Alizaria at 8:01 AM on August 7, 2010

Disclaimer: I am not married, IANAT, etc.

I think you're catastrophizing. Yes, get a new therapist. I like the suggestion of someone with a CBT specialty. You do need someone to talk to these feelings about who will acknowledge the pain they are causing you without contributing to the catastrophizing.

So far you have:
Fantasized about other men.
Flirted with other men.
Had an increase in your libido.
Made out with one other man.

Of all those things, only the last could be considered infidelity. Sure, you've fantasized about being with other men, but, to borrow some therapy-speak for a second, feelings aren't facts. There is absolutely nothing wrong with fantasizing about other men. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that even your nice, non-super-sexual husband fantasizes about other women. This is normal.

You say you can't talk about this with your husband, and I say "why not?" I agree with the other posters that there's no need to tell him about kissing the other guy. But the fact that your libido has increased is absolutely something you can and should talk about with your husband.

Here's a shot in the dark: maybe your husband isn't quite as non-sexual as you thought, but sensed that's what you wanted and played that part for you. I'm not suggesting he lied or misrepresented himself, but there are all sorts of subtle ways we subconsciously mold or adjust ourselves to suit what we sense our partner wants. It could be that finding out you want him to be more sexual might release that for him as well.

Of course, then there's the issue of whether or not that's what you actually want from your husband. I notice in your post that there's an interesting dichotomy: on one side is your "safe," "not super sexual but very solid" husband, and on the other side are the "sexy guys" who hurt you and who are "inappropriate." I think this is a fairly common dichotomy for women to hold - it's sort of the female version of the virgin-whore complex. But just like the virgin-whore dichotomy is a gross oversimplification, so is the one you are holding. Do you think there might be even a tiny part of you that is afraid or reluctant to see your husband as a sexy guy because of the connotations you hold between "sexy" and "will hurt me"?
posted by lunasol at 8:02 AM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

It sounds like your situation is a symptom of unmet needs in your relationship. Some thoughts ...

Your lustful thoughts need to be separated from your inappropriate behavior. The inappropriate behavior is not just the make-out session, but the fact that you countenanced months of flirtatious e-mailing with a guy other than your husband. So, however wonderful your marriage may be, you're still willing to cheat on your husband in more than one way, over a period of months. The flirtatious e-mailing is arguably a form of cheating just like the makeout session.

It sounds like your husband was a safe, solid choice of mate, but that he doesn't provide you with the steamy, sexual aspect of a relationship. I don't think that it will necessarily be possible to "spice up" your sex life with your husband --- the steamy, hot, passionate encounters you desire may simply not be possible with this safe, boring dude you've married. What is steamy and hot may precisely be the element of the unknown in other men, the distance between you and them coupled with the sex that you want from them. How are you going to duplicate this element of strangeness and adventure with your safe husband? He might have to become another person.

I think the first step to saving your marriage would be to set absolute limits on what is acceptable behavior. No more flirtatious e-mailing, no make-out sessions. That would be absolutely devastating to your husband if he were to find out.
posted by jayder at 8:39 AM on August 7, 2010

So far you have:
Fantasized about other men.
Flirted with other men.
Had an increase in your libido.
Made out with one other man.

Of all those things, only the last could be considered
is infidelity.

Come on, I don't think it's too moralistic to say that based on the description the OP has given us, she cheated. And that's wrong. But the best thing that you can do is put it behind you and don't do it again.

This advice is right on the money: "You're not hypersexual. You're getting yourself into a self-made bind because you think your thoughts are wrong. They're not. They're frustrating and confusing, but they're not wrong. Stop being so hard on yourself."

Now, maybe you think it's too optimistic of me to say "put it behind you" -- after all, you keep fantasizing about having sex with lots of different men and you can't stop! Oh no!

But wait a minute ... let's slow down and think about this rationally.

Having a high sex drive, even one that needs some release beyond what you get with your husband, is not wrong in itself.

You mentioned porn. Considering how big a deal this has become for you, why not just focus on the porn as an outlet?

As far as thinking about having sex with many of the men you meet -- this isn't wrong, and I don't think it's abnormal. For whatever reason, you've been going through a phase where your experiences seem closer to the (stereo)typical "male" mind than the "female" mind, and maybe that's what's freaking you out. But let's put gender roles aside for a second, at least for the sake of argument.

How do you think human beings even exist after all these millennia? By reproducing, of course. How do we reproduce? By having sex, of course. Why do we have sex? Because we really love having sex, of course! I mean, how else would this have happened? Do you think throughout human history, people just really wanted to raise children, so they dutifully, joylessly went through the process of creating children? Nope! How do we know that's not what happened? Because for most of human history, people were so ignorant that they didn't even understand that having sex is what creates children! They just loved having sex, and then they loved the occasional results of having sex (children). But to be clear: evolution has programmed us to really love having sex, for its own sake. There are evolutionary factors that account for why men might have more interest than women in having lots of different sex partners -- but it's hardly abnormal for both men and women to do this.

Fortunately, those desires can coexist with a faithful marriage. You just need to keep your impulses under control and have a safe outlet. Imagination, masturbation, etc.

Here's an idea: instead of spending your time reading commenter after commenter on Metafilter ruminating about all this, why not start a conversation about it with your husband? I'm not saying to confess the makeout session. But talk about libidos and sex fantasies. It's almost guaranteed that he'll be able to relate to fantasizing about having sex with lots of random people. Wouldn't it be a relief to talk about it, have it out in the open, and not feel like there's this weird/horrible thing about yourself that no one can find out?
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:59 AM on August 7, 2010

Can we take a second to examine a few of the things you've said about yourself?

First, you describe your recent interest in sex as "nutty new desires," but being interested in sex isn't crazy. It's something that, actually, frequently happens to women at varying ages in our lives. It's a thing to talk to a gynecologist about, but it's not necessarily bad. It is completely, total normal and appropriate.

At what point does your sexual desire become pathological? When it takes you outside of your marriage? And what is your definition of faithfulness in a marriage? How important is monogamy to you? Is there a religious reason for its importance, a public health reason, or is it about trust? How much would it hurt you if your husband made out with (but from my reading of the question, didn't actually have sex with) another woman? Why? What circumstances might change that?

You're judging yourself really harshly, here: "I make myself sick and feel like a slut."

If your married best friend kissed a guy in a bar, would you think she was a slut? What if she had a fling with that guy? And what exactly is a slut, to you? I mean, the thing is that you're going on the assumption that it's bad to be a slut, but there's a whole book to the contrary: The Ethical Slut.

So, as others have said, when you talk to your new therapist (CBT, blah blah blah), maybe some of these things will come up and you can work on them more concretely. Measure what's causing you distress, how much it's causing, and figure out what to do about it. But first, don't judge yourself too harshly. Sex and sexiness and flirting and being hot? Those things should be fun.
posted by brina at 2:30 PM on August 7, 2010

He treated me coldly then ... Apparently he's been searching for me ever since ... He emailed me flirtatiously for months ... He gave me the impression that he wants to get together with me physically whenever he can ...

... I've always had low self-esteem around men, so this new flirtatious attention I'm getting from them has REALLY turned my head. I suddenly feel hot. I've never felt hot before...

... with my husband I was attracted to him precisely because he felt safe -- not super sexual but very solid...

From what you've written, it really seems that your newly awakened sexual feelings all center around being desired, on the thrill of being the object of male attention and lust. It sounds like there was something about being wanted, sexually, that didn't feel "safe" to you in the past, like you didn't really trust or believe that men could find you hot and desirable. Your husband's affection, it seems, was less carnally based, and thus more believable to you.

So now this guy who'd been cold to you when you were younger reappears, and apparently has been lusting after you for years, and now you've awakened to the possibility of being an object of intense sexual desire, and this feeling is very exciting.

Maybe you'd get more help from your therapist if you focused less on feelings of guilt and self-recrimination over your fantasy life, and more on why you didn't feel "safe" as the object of sexual desire when you were younger, to the point that you married a man whose affection you describe in very chaste terms, and why at this point in your life you're suddenly more accepting of feeling wanted, more readily able to feel hot and to see yourself as the worthy object of sexual desire.

It sounds to me like your feelings of guilt and shame are getting in the way of your being able to take a real, honest look at how you're wired, sexually speaking, and really looking to yourself for answers about why this is happening now (instead of to, say, an anonymous internet community not privy to your innermost feelings.)
posted by patnasty at 12:32 AM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm going to take you at your word. You are having highly sexualized feelings that you do not want, that are interefering with your marriage. I also highly suspect that your stable husband doesn't want to have sex with other women, and even if he did, it would way harder for him as a man to obtain the level of having sex with others that you can as a woman.

So those who suggest some sort of polyamorous relationship are likely not taking account of his feelings or situation.

Not only that, but you know you are not right. Few people are obsessed, literally obsessed, with sex, to the level of being attracted to nearly everyone you meet.

This isn't to say polyamory is wrong, just that it is not the solution to an emotional crisis.

And that's what this is. When we focus so much on something, it means we are avoiding thinking about something else.

So you need to find out what that thing is. When you are having these hypersexual feelings, ask yourself what you were just thinking about before you got all hypersexual.

You also need to treat yourself well. That means giving yourself a break and a chance. Give yourself a break and don't beat yourself up and give yourself a chance by cutting off inappropriate contact with other men and work to catch yourself before you start flirting. Plan your use of alcohol so that you are not alone with strange men when you are drinking.

Finally, look into your past. From experience, I can tell you that a strong tendency to have strong feelings of attraction for ambivalent or rejecting partners is a sign of a difficult and unresolved relationship with a parent or close person who was abusive or rejecting. I'd think you need to look very closely at those relationships and things that trigger them. Often, a strong relationship with a solid partner can create fears that this isn't real or that it will collapse. Sometimes, to push those fears out of out minds, we act out.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:03 PM on August 8, 2010

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