My girlfriend has been having cyber sex as part of her role playing, which she keeps secret from me. What should I do?
February 4, 2012 11:27 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend role-plays on a popular RP client. It's one of her big hobbies, but whenever I am around, she refuses to do it. I recently found out why this may be the case and need some advice dealing with it.

A bit of back story: Role-play has been a big part of her life for years now and it's actually how we met -- around ten years ago. Since then my interest in RP has pretty much bottomed out, but I know the terminology and the places and such.

Not long after we started dating, she began talking about how she still role-played. I was supportive as I don't think it's a dirty or bad thing to do, but mostly just stayed out of it since it doesn't really interest me and it's very much "her" thing.
I casually asked her whether there was ever any sexual element to it or whether she had cyber sex. She laughed it off and said that although plenty of people do engage in it, she didn't for whatever reason.

I moved in with her for a few months (I've had to travel for various reasons; I'll be gone again in April, but I should be back for good by May) and she told me that she's effectively put a moratorium on herself and refuses to RP. She told me that this is because she doesn't like having someone "read over her shoulder"; she also told me she wouldn't show me her character page because "[She]'d be embarrassed if [I] thought her writing was bad".

I thought this was pretty bizarre behavior considering it's an important hobby of hers, and I've been fully supportive and cool about it. I also thought it was pretty unhealthy because we're going to be living together and I don't want her to permanently give up a hobby, but I figured it wasn't a big deal and it'd work itself out eventually -- and since it was her thing, it was really none of my business.

Well, as it happens, I recently made a new acquaintance through a mutual friend of ours, both of whom RP with her. She told me that she's actually relatively frequently engaging in cybersex with people, and has been since we started dating. Not because she's putting herself out there, necessarily, but because this sort of thing just happens in the place where they RP.

I would probably never have known for sure without this person telling me, as although I have a very finely-tuned bullshit detector and can usually tell when someone's not telling me the whole truth or feeding me selective info, I have no real connection to this community besides these two people. I found her behavior suspicious, but couldn't really bring it up because she is not wholly secretive; she'll tell me about her character and about the people she talks to, and the stuff that's going on. When they have fights, or when an unusual situation occurs, she'll tell me how cool/interesting/close it was, etc., but never anything about cyber sex or relationships or whatever.

Now that I know, I don't really know what to do. There's two issues:

Firstly, and most importantly, she lied to me. When I asked her whether there was any sex involved (and note: this wasn't a pointed, accusative question, but we were talking and the RP community is sometimes a little raunchy, so it came up naturally in the course of the conversation), she said no. It's not a big lie, by any means, but it's a direct one. This isn't a huge thing in and of itself, but she has a tendency to tell white lies to couch the truth and make things (herself, I suppose?) seem better / "less bad" than they are [note: not my moral judgement, but hers, I assume], which means I tend to be left guessing some of the time, which makes me nervous (see question 2, further down).

Secondly, I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly how I feel about cyber in terms of boundaries. Having just found out, the shock is sort of filtering in, but does cyber cross the boundary from "OK" to "Unacceptable"?

In one sense, it's role-play; if you put yourself in an adult situation then these things might well happen. She isn't approaching it as "I'm gonna fuck this dude on the internet!", she's writing a storyline, and her character responds to the actions of others and for whatever reason ends up in bed with them.
...On the other hand, it's not really your character fucking another person's character, is it? It's you fucking someone else. Doesn't matter if you're writing from the perspective of an 18th century dwarf lord and they're a vampire queen, or whether you're a 9ft anthropomorphic lion and they're a fire-breathing dragon -- is there any difference between cyber and, say, phone sex, even if you are playing another character? It might not, physically, be cheating -- but how about emotionally? Hmm.

Two questions for you MeFi:

1. Is this acceptable behaviour? Is it acceptable for me to be upset about the fact that (a) she lied about it and (b) she's cybering with whoever in an RP situation? If not, how should I bring it up? Is it even a big deal?

2. She tends to, when discussing certain things, uncover the truth piece by piece over a period of time, as opposed to coming out and saying it. So she'll say something was X, then, a month later, revise it to being X, but also Y, and a month later, add that it happened with Z and A at B.
If she's willing to be secretive and vague and half-truthy about this and other things, then what other skeletons are hiding in the closet? This isn't a terribly big thing imo, but we are at a point where things are beginning to get serious, and if things are going to progress then I need to feel secure and not worry about skeletons popping out of the closet when we're living together and so on.
Just because this isn't a big skeleton doesn't mean there won't be one eventually?

Is it wise, acceptable even to say something like "look, if you've got secrets/skeletons/things you're hiding from me that I need to know, then tell me now, because if I find out after this, it's over"? Is there a better way to broach this, or should I just leave it/not bother to bring it up?

I don't think there is any malicious intent, FYI; everybody knows about me [i.e. that she has a boyfriend], but apparently cyber is just the done thing in that community or whatever. She's made it clear to me and all of her friends that she's head over heels for me and sees a future here. I love her, so help me deal.

PS. Please don't relate this back to previous questions. Thanks.
posted by the milky bar kid to Human Relations (37 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
PS. Please don't relate this back to previous questions. Thanks.

That's impossible, because the behavior you describe here is the same behavior you were describing there. She likes male attention. She needs it, for whatever reason. She also needs therapy, and maybe so do you.
posted by two lights above the sea at 11:40 AM on February 4, 2012 [17 favorites]

If I were you, I'd be pretty worried about not being able to trust her, but not at all worried about the RP sex. To me (girl) it falls into the "completely harmless and unrelated to actual life" category. As a sort of comparison, I feel totally okay with flirting with guys when I'm gaming, regardless of IRL relationships. This is because it just isn't real. They live hundreds of miles away, I don't know them, and I probably wouldn't be remotely attracted to them if I met them.

The real problem is that she considers it wrong enough that she kept it from you, and the pattern of lying that you have noticed. Relationships need to be based on openness and honesty, and yours isn't.
posted by DoubleLune at 11:45 AM on February 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

I don't think the cybersex in and of itself is necessarily a bad thing - some people i know think it's cool if their partner does that, others do not. but lying about it and hiding it like that is a serious wtf.

And just speaking for myself, that semi-deceitful "A. (later) Well, A and B. (later) Well, A, B, and sometimes Z." is one of those behaviors that freaks me right the fuck out because I've been in unhealthy relationships with someone who used that kind of behavior to deceive and manipulate me, so it makes me want to run screaming.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:48 AM on February 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

her personality is one where she values withholding as a power play or as a way to have an escape hatch. i don't think this is going to change in this relationship. there are women who won't do this and won't make you question their commitment/yourself.

i've been super shady in my past, but when i found the man that mattered, all of my shady behaviors went away. i didn't need someone in the wings for me to use to feel better or safer. i didn't need to tell half truths and eek it out over time. i grew up a little, changed a little, and really got committed to my (now) husband. it doesn't sound like your girlfriend is there yet and i'd bet she's not going to get there with you.

love is so often the very worst reason to stay in a relationship. you can love someone and it can still not be right. you might start asking why you value yourself so little that you'll allow yourself to be treated like this.
posted by nadawi at 11:52 AM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

1. Is this acceptable behavior?


2. If she's willing to be secretive and vague and half-truthy about this and other things, then what other skeletons are hiding in the closet?

You have no way of knowing, because your girlfriend isn't honest.

Please don't continue getting serious with this girl. She's not worth your time.
posted by jayder at 11:54 AM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

Okay, as a RPer myself (well, I used to be, haven't done much in the last couple years) and someone who used to roleplay huge amounts of sex (heck, I won a roleplaying award for my smut writing at one point) I have to say first of all, roleplaying sex =/= cybering. This is, of course, not a set rule, but pretty much everyone I've discussed it with agreed that when you roleplay, you are pulling a character's strings, not necessarily putting yourself in their place. And those are very different things to me and any other player I've RPed with. (I have never cybered with anyone, despite the amount of sexual situations I've RPed).

That said, the lying is a big red flag and you are not wrong in wanting to confront her. I can see how she might have been afraid of your reaction, but it's definitely not right of her to keep it from you.
posted by Trexsock at 11:54 AM on February 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

I didn't read your previous questions. I don't know much about roleplaying. I can't speak to whether it's acceptable to have RP sex in your relationship, because that's up to you.


You asked her if she was doing X. She said a flat out "no." That was a lie. For me, that's pretty much a dealbreaker.
posted by insectosaurus at 11:56 AM on February 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

I would not be comfortable with my partner lying about and having cyber sex on a roleplaying site.

I don't see any point in giving her a "tell me all your skeletons now or else that will be a deal-breaker when they come up" ultimatum, though. This doesn't guarantee that she will tell you those skeletons. I doubt it will even make that more likely. Plus, when you give an ultimatum and then don't follow through, you lose credibility. Are you prepared to follow through with ending it if something else pops up?

Also, are you sure she is having cybersex? She could be hanging out there and not engaging in cyber sex. Maybe I misread, but it sounds like all you know is that someone else told you that sex chat is common on that gaming forum -- not necessarily that your girlfriend engages in it.
posted by J. Wilson at 11:57 AM on February 4, 2012

@J. Wilson:

Yes, she is definitely having cyber sex.
posted by the milky bar kid at 11:59 AM on February 4, 2012

Cybersex would be fine with me, but then actual sex would be fine with me too. This is a personal boundary that you have to decide upon yourself.

I feel like personally, I'm not okay with people doing things that they feel the need to hide from me, you know?
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:06 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cyber != TinySex.

It's just not the same thing. Cybersex, like phone sex, is a way of simulating sex with a real person. TS is interactive writing of porn between two people who stand a very good chance of not having any sexual interest whatsoever in one another.

Lying is bad, but tons of guys have told stupid lies about their porn collections, too. Secrecy is sometimes bad, but again with the way guys are with porn.

It's not 100%, but in most RP communities, I'd say there's a better-than-average chance that the people she's TSing with are other girls with boyfriends of their own.

This is a thing in the MU*ing community--and I'm going to say I think it's extremely likely that she's a MU*er--that is going to look extremely weird to people who don't play and never have, but meh. As someone who still knows lots of people who play, I wouldn't say she's being unfaithful at all and I wouldn't consider the level of secrecy particularly worrying.
posted by gracedissolved at 12:11 PM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

is there any difference between cyber and, say, phone sex, even if you are playing another character?

Just wanted to add: Chances are that, yes, there is. As I pointed out before, you are playing a character, with a different personality, skills, attributes (etc) than yourself. It's a... well, it's difficult for me to explain, it's simply not yourself. For me, I drew pleasure/enjoyment out of making my character do stuff (whether that was sex or not, I've had characters murder/torture others when that certainly isn't something I'd do in real life) and have him/her suffer the consequences and trudge through it. A character doesn't need to be a persona either.

On the other hand, cyber sex would be flat out writing a sex scene with someone else whilst imagining you were the character/the things were happening to you.
posted by Trexsock at 12:12 PM on February 4, 2012

There's a line between keeping things private and keeping things secret. It's contextual and of course varies from person to person. In terms of what's healthy in a relationship, I think privacy is fine and dandy, and secrecy is a killer. She's keeping secrets (the lying is a big clue here), and that's a big red flag. If I asked my partner about something she'd rather not talk about, she totally gets to say "I would rather not talk about that for [reasons]." She doesn't get to make up a story about the thing that she'd rather not talk about, even if it's a misguided attempt to "protect" me.
posted by rtha at 12:13 PM on February 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

Your girlfriend said she was not having cybersex. Her friend said she was. Did I miss the part where your gf admitted she lied? Or where gf's friend backed up what she told you?

Otherwise, you seem to accept the friend's word more than your gf's. That says an awful lot about your relationship, right there. Why are you with her if you can't trust her?

Just because cybersex happens on a site doesn't mean that everyone's doing it. I know if I go on any role-playing site or chat room, I'm going to get propositioned a lot just because I'm female. It happens all the time. Most women just roll our eyes, ignore it and move on. Sometimes we have to block people. Cybering is not a given unless your gf wants it to be

Also, I hate to have people read over my shoulder, too. So I don't think that part is "bizarre." it only adds up to bizarre behavior if you already don't trust your gf. Clearly, the two of you have issues. You should be asking her about all this, not us.
posted by misha at 12:16 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sex during roleplaying is a form of fiction writing. It's really nothing to worry about.

Lying about it is an entirely different thing.

However ... before passing judgment on a person I don't know, can I ask: Have you ever given her any reason to think that you would have a negative reaction to it and consider it to be something like phone sex?

I'm not saying this excuses lying, but it can be an uncomfortable subject to talk about for exactly this reason. If she believed you might take something she considers "harmless fun playing a game" as "You have been cheating on me!" she might have panicked. It might be worth talking about the reasons that she lied before chalking her up as a Worthless Liar.

(Unless she has exhibited a pattern of similar behavior with regard to other, unrelated things, which you have implied she might.)
posted by kyrademon at 12:18 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, I hate to have people read over my shoulder, too.

yes, but would you totally stop playing an online game because your boyfriend moved in with you because you hate that sensation or would you say, "please don't read over my shoulder?" not wanting someone to read over your shoulder is a common complaint. most of us don't give up entire hobbies just because someone is sharing a house with us.

of course, to answer another point upthread, i am not comfortable with having porn hidden from me. i work to be open and truthful and i demand the same of my husband.
posted by nadawi at 12:21 PM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'd say, "Don't read over my shoulder, please." But if it weren't that big a deal for me and my boyfriend wasn't into it and he moved in, I might quit a while rather than play and ignore him, sure.
posted by misha at 12:26 PM on February 4, 2012

I don't understand really, what this has to do with Roleplaying, or anything. Your girlfriend is lying to you. What she is lying about involves some type of sexual interaction with other people.

If you are okay being lied to about this, then forget about it and everything will be fine.

If you don't like being lied to about this, you have to end things, because it's not going to change.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:31 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

The answer to your question, "is this acceptable?" is, is it acceptable *to you*? It's a complicated question, and it sounds like you're ambivalent.

Given your ambivalence, rather than think about this as a threshold of some kind, think about this as a way to explore yourself and grow within the context of this relationship. What I mean by that is that you should take the risk of communicating with your girlfriend about this difficult and sensitive question. You could basically say what you've said in this thread:

"Sweetie, I've got something on my mind that's troubling me. I ran into xyz the other day, and he said you've been cybering on the RP forum. I'm not sure how I feel about the cybersex, but I am sure that I feel hurt because I asked you directly if you were cybering, and you said no. I'm all sad and confused and upset, and I don't know what to do, especially since we've been talking about moving in together. What's going on?"

Relationships are about communication. Have the conversation. See how you feel about the relationship, whether it has potential or not.
posted by jasper411 at 12:37 PM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

Didn't read your prior stuff, per your request. But there are two points on which I'd like you and others to focus:

I casually asked her whether there was ever any sexual element to it or whether she had cyber sex. She laughed it off and said that although plenty of people do engage in it, she didn't for whatever reason.

Since this is the predicate for the accusations of lying -- together with the accusation, via her friend, that she is engaged in cybersex -- I would want you to be very, very sure about what you asked and how you replied. I'm not going to go all President Clinton, but it all depends on what was asked and what was said.

I moved in with her for a few months (I've had to travel for various reasons; I'll be gone again in April, but I should be back for good by May) and she told me that she's effectively put a moratorium on herself and refuses to RP. She told me that this is because she doesn't like having someone "read over her shoulder"; she also told me she wouldn't show me her character page because "[She]'d be embarrassed if [I] thought her writing was bad".

So one way of viewing this is that your GF knew that what she was doing was sketchy and was intent on dialing it back. If so, before resting on the assumption that she is lying, make sure that the time period your informant has in mind is the same one to which your GF was speaking.

Of course, all this suggests some "trust issues," but not sure whether those originate with you, your GF, or some combo.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:42 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Fact: She lied. Doesn't the matter the degree or severity, you asked her about it and she lied about the sexual element in her role-playing activities.

Fact: She has a pattern of lying. Again, doesn't matter the degree of the severity, you cannot ask her a direct question and get a direct answer.

Opinion: Is cyber acceptable? No one can answer this question but you. It's fine to some people, not so fine to others. I'm going to assume that your girlfriend must think this is an issue for you or else she wouldn't have lied about it, but it's something that you'll need to think through on your own before you talk to your girlfriend about this whole thing.

Opinion: Giving her an ultimatum about coming clean about her "skeletons" is not going to help the relationship in any way, and might even damage it. While you may be correctly assuming that her tendency to lie or omit or minimize might be a clue that she's hiding other things you might have an issue with, but if you're already predicting this then even if she "came clean" you'd likely continue to worry about this.

Fact: You don't trust her.

Also, it is utterly bizarre to me that you're saying that her lying and secrecy isn't a big lie/big deal, and that cybering is just something that happens, yet you were bothered enough by it to post this question and ask people to ignore the previous question (which is relevant). I'm not really sure what you want to hear, here. I can tell you what I'd do, but I'm not exactly sure what your end-goal is with this - learning to "deal" isn't the same thing isn't the same thing as "being happy/secure in [y]our relationship."
posted by sm1tten at 1:22 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just want to say, she may have lied about the cybersex because she's ashamed of some particular kink she can only explore in RP. Honestly, if what really gets her hot is pretending to be a 7-foot tall lion having sex with a dragon... then I can see why she wouldn't want to admit that. But she still craves that fantasy, and there is no. possible. way. you (or anyone) can make it a reality for her. Yeah, in a totally wonderful relationship, she would confess, and you would smile, and say, "Ok, I'll buy the dragon costume tomorrow" or at least agree to be her cyber-sex-dragon, but maybe she knows that if she confessed, you would go "OMG FURRY FREAK!" and drop her, and she doesn't want to risk that.
posted by The otter lady at 1:45 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's entirely possible that a vanilla heterosexual woman is RPing male homosexual BDSM (with other women RPing male characters), or other things that she would have no interest in doing / wouldn't be possible in real life. This is a really difficult thing to try and explain to anyone and it's possible that - if she's been doing something like that - she might have decided that it was too difficult or embarrassing to even attempt to explain.
posted by Lebannen at 1:56 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

the answer is what do you want? there is no rule. there is no acceptable.

Do you want a gf who does this? then it is fine. If you don't then break up.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:59 PM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

I just want to chime in that I think maybe more of what's going on here has to do with shame than with "secretly trying to get away with something bad." She sounds like she maybe has low self-esteem in general and that a lot of the witholding-the-full-truth is due more to a fear of losing you (if you know all her shameful secrets) than an attempt to manipulate or take advantage of you. That said, it is still manipulation of a sort, and it is still lying.

But I think approaching her from a place of understanding that she's maybe not super proud* of what she is doing, and making her feel safe telling you the truth, is better than a YOU LIED TO ME confrontation. I don't necessarily agree with nadawi's assessment that this is just how she is. It may be entirely possible for her to be much more open with you, but it may require you to work hard to demonstrate a willingness not to judge or "freak out" when the truths come out. (And you don't seem particularly freaked out by the roleplay-sex element of this, for which I commend you. It seems to be more the lying thing which bothers you, which I think is right.) Up to you whether that effort is worthwhile, though.

(*I think her saying she doesn't roleplay with you around lest you judge her writing style is kind of a stand-in for a more general embarrassment about the activity and the fact that you seem to have "grown out of it" as it were.)

tl;dr: Maybe start with: Listen, I want you to know that you don't need to hide who you are from me. I want to love you for who you really are, not for who you think you need to be for me, etc., etc.
posted by EL-O-ESS at 2:26 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

The OP says they met ten years ago.

If after a decade with someone, you're so embarrassed about a particular kink that you lie about it (as some posters have suggested), I think something is wrong with your relationship.

It seems that she was dishonest about the sexual aspect of the RPing. This seems like a red flag to me. You gotta be able to talk about things with your partner, even embarrassing things.

OP, we can't decide for you what is okay or not okay in your relationship, in terms of cyber sex, RP sex, and the like. Maybe some things to consider are if you trust her, and if you think she can be honest with you (and if she can't, why not?) Those issues are ultimately more important than what her character does with online strangers.

Good luck to you guys.
posted by too bad you're not me at 2:26 PM on February 4, 2012

@too bad you're not me:

We met a decade ago, but we haven't been dating for a decade, just to clarify. :-)
posted by the milky bar kid at 2:49 PM on February 4, 2012

Boyfriend and myself both look at porn occasionally. We both do what we can to avoid seeing each others' porn to avoid giving ourselves little spikes of insecurity.

I don't think that's super different from sexy RP. It's pretty understandable that she tried to hide it, and I don't think it's necessarily bad that she did - finding out certainly hasn't made you feel very good.

I would recommend against being too upset about it if you're generally happy in the relationship.
posted by kavasa at 3:42 PM on February 4, 2012

There are no rules about what specific acts are or are not okay in a relationship. It works like this: You have your desires and boundaries, the other person has theirs, you talk about it, and if something's not okay you discuss that in a situation where neither party is under duress or pressure and the communication is open and honest.

I say this because I've seen things happen before where one person insists that cybersex isn't cheating, therefore the other person can't be all that upset about it, as they weren't cheated on. And that's bullshit.

The fact that she's cybering through a character is entirely irrelevant. She's still the one who's typing. Cybering is not her goddamn job. It's meaningless that sex is part of the community's norms. If there were a restaurant that required everyone who comes in to circle-jerk before they got to order food, and someone went there more than once, I'm sorry, they're not just gritting their teeth and spanking off because the aperitifs are to die for.

Is it even a big deal?

See above. If it's a big deal to you, it's a big deal. In a relationship, you have the right to raise concerns and have them addressed, just as your partner does. There is no universal standard.

Is it wise, acceptable even to say something like "look, if you've got secrets/skeletons/things you're hiding from me that I need to know, then tell me now, because if I find out after this, it's over"? Is there a better way to broach this, or should I just leave it/not bother to bring it up?

This might be a good time to ask yourself what the chances are that you can reasonably expect that she'll level with you if you ask her to level with you.

Look, I'm gonna let you in on some wisdom: Everyone is trustworthy until they're not. She lied to you about this. You have no way of knowing what else she's lying about. You have two options:

1. Tell her that this made you uncomfortable and that you're someone who values honesty. Don't make a big angry thing out of it. Listen to what she has to say and communicate your feelings in clear, non-confrontational language. Keep listening to what she has to say. Figure out what your needs are, tell her what your needs are, ask her what hers are. If she's evasive or won't talk about it, see option two. If she makes a good faith effort at communicating then you need to decide to believe her and let it be from now on.

2. Leave.

That's pretty much it. There's no specific sequence of words you can say that will make her decide to tell you everything else she's hiding from you, if she's hiding anything else from you.

Having said that, the only definitive advice I can offer you is that you really, really should not move in with her until your feelings about this are settled one way or the other. Seriously. Don't do it. Bad idea.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 4:17 PM on February 4, 2012

I have done cycer-sex and I've written porn and I've RP'd sexual situations. All different things - cyber sex is about the partner, porn is about the writing and RP is about the game story. I don't talk to my husband about the porn I write because it is kinda embarrassing and I really don't want him thinking I want to do the things I write about. Same with RP. And even when I've cybered fantasies, it's about my fantasy. Not about a character or a story. So I would really dial back on the 'all the same' thing because that is exactly why most of us sex writers don't dig being explicit about it IRL.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:16 PM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

OK, of course she lied. Who the hell is going to say, "Why, yes, I am engaging in this RP sex all the time." I would not tell anyone that if I were doing it, and I wouldn't really expect anyone to be honest with me if I asked them that question. It'd be nice if they were, but I am not going to label them a "liar" if they don't tell me the truth. That's kind of embarrassing. And possibly none of your business. Is it affecting your sex life? Do you think she is cheating on you or giving out her personal info? If not, I think it is just her "thing" and she shouldn't have to answer to you about it.

She uncovers the truth piece by piece most likely because she doesn't know how you are going to take it. So she says one thing, sees how you react, and then if it seems okay, she tells you more. I actually like this approach because it allows you to see what is fair game to talk about and you're not unloading "truths" on someone right away. I don't think this approach is right for every situation, but I don't think it makes someone a liar, either.

I might not say anything, but if the lying was eating at me, I'd explain what I heard, and tell her I'm not mad but I love her and it hurts me to be lied to.
posted by amodelcitizen at 7:16 PM on February 4, 2012

I think comparing it to porn is a bad comparison, but there's a similar principle. It's about the partner's attitude. If I accused my bf of watching porn, he would probably admit it (because he is a terrible liar) but be really embarrassed. Instead, when it came up, I laughed and just said, "I assume you watch porn and masturbate since you're a guy. Do whatever you want as long as it doesn't affect our sex life." It becomes a subject that is comfortable to talk about rather than embarrassing. I stand by what I said earlier about her lying, but I definitely agree with the logic that she might just be really embarrassed about it -- even if not by anything you've done, by someone else. But this still comes down to a) are you okay with being understanding or b) is this something (lying included) that you can't deal with in your relationship.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:28 PM on February 4, 2012

An avid RPer here.

Roleplaying out sex scenes, to me, isn't even really cybersex. Its just part of the relationship developed there, part of the story. I don't even know if I would disclose it to a romantic partner, because it's just become a way to express what's going on in my head that day.

However, I wouldn't swear up and down that I wasn't doing it, that I wouldn't do it, that I only had slashy eyes for you, darling. I'd treat it as a total non-issue.

So, the cyber-sex thing wouldn't bother me. Hiding it, though... that's the problem.
posted by mornie_alantie at 7:40 PM on February 4, 2012

Look, women are very fantasy-oriented when it comes to their sexuality. They also tend to have a lot of messed up repressed guilt associated with allowing themselves to desire and enjoy that sexuality. In your girlfriend's case, she seems to be reacting to both of these things: she is enjoying RP and the excitement of sexually fantasizing, which is probably something she needs very strongly in her sex life, while simultaneously feeling intense shame and therefore lying to conceal it from you.
It doesn't sound like she is lying to manipulate or hurt you. Do you want to mortify her and possibly cause her some very unpleasant emotional damage and shame? Let this one go.
posted by labandita at 10:14 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

The fact that you are posting this pretty much means that you are uncomfortable with it. Personally, I would be too - splitting hairs that RPing sex with people is "not cybering" wouldn't matter to me. It's still engaging, in a sexual way, with another person. I'd be really upset if my SO were doing this, and on top of that, LYING about it.

You can find a woman who doesn't do this. You shouldn't have to wonder what your girlfriend is doing with other guys, and worrying about it. The great majority of women don't do this stuff, and have appropriate boundaries with other men.
posted by marble at 11:16 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Like you say, I don't think there is any malicious intent on her part. Role playing and cyber sex seem like a way to explore one's sexuality, and not necessarily based in reality. Just because there's someone else on the other end, doesn't mean you are engaging with them in a personal sexual way. It's all in the head. In that sense I view it as no different from porn, (although some may disagree) and I wouldn't mind.

For some people, her hiding it and lying to you about it may be a big deal, but as far as this one incident is concerned, I personally don't think it needs to be mapped out as "Lying=betrayal=no trust=red flag" kind of situation. She was probably embarrassed and ashamed, and I'm sure we've all lied at one point about our dirty fantasies when asked. I think something that you can work on, is to let the girlfriend know that you understand her, and that you actually don't judge her as harshly as she does herself. You seem to be aware of her patterns and even have some ideas as to why she's who she is, and you love her. That's a great thing, but does your girlfriend truly know that? A lot of people here question the problem of you not being able to trust her, but it goes both ways I suppose. If you are too afraid of finding other skeletons in her closet in the future, then how can she trust you? She may not be the kind of girl for you after all if that's the case. But if you think you love her enough to be able to accept her as who she is, then gradually let her know that over time, and I'm sure she will open up more if she wants to.
posted by snufkin5 at 2:56 AM on February 5, 2012

I can get the argument that this is more about collaborative fiction than cybersex. That may or may not be true, but I can see it.

I can also understand someone wanting to keep their fantasy world to themselves. Especially a woman, building up fantasies in ways that fit more into feminine culture and aren't socially acceptable and sanctioned in the way an extensive porn collection would be.

But the drip-drip-drip way she has of gradually spooning out small mouthfuls of truth to you is what's intolerable here. Her style of relating could be hiding much less or much more than you suspect, and you will always be wondering what's really going on. It will make you crazy and suspicious and you'll never be able to rest. Unless her fundamental style of relating to you changes, I don't think this relationship can be good for you.

And I say this without relating it to your previous questions, which, dude, "do not press this button"?
posted by tel3path at 2:06 PM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

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