How to Handle the Hormones
May 16, 2012 9:56 AM   Subscribe

Emotional cheating vs. Real Life cheating (with prostitutes!) or how to handle hormones...

I am a dude, 30, heterosexual. I've been dating an amazing woman for almost 8 months. She's everything to me, funny, brilliant, sexy and awesome. It's the best relationship I've ever had, and I've never been happier.

Unfortunately, for work I have to leave my home, and live alone in a country where prostitution is legal. For two months. Girlfriend is back in the states--we've emailed or called nearly every day. Things are good, and we're communicating well--and although we miss each other a lot, we're doing a lot to stay in contact.

HOWEVER, I've been spending a lot of time fantasizing about having sex with a prostitute. Manual stimulation doesn't seem to cut it anymore, and I've spent hours planning and researching. Even walking by the brothel gives me a huge thrill. I keep thinking that I could just go and have safe covered sex and not tell my girlfriend. There'd be no way that she'd ever know, and it'd satisfy this fantasy.

I know that this emotional cheating. And I'm a shitty person and boyfriend for it even THINKING about it, not to mention the obviously fuckup-ness of prostitution and sex-slave trafficking.

Here's where my head is: Part of me thinks that I should break up with her because I've got these weird feelings. I don't think that I could talk to her about being poly/non-monogamous, because I don't think she'd be into it, and also I don't think i could handle it, etc ---that's like opening a whole other can of worms.

I don't really think breakup is the right solution. She is so awesome, caring and loving, and she and I both feel like we've met someone really special. I care so much about her and I think we would both be devastated if I broke things off abruptly. And it seems stupid to break up for a month just so I can get my rocks off. Everything in the relationship has been really good--we have great sex, have tons of fun together, and make each other laugh. I don't really want to break up with her over this issue, especially since I will be coming back in a month. I just want to get laid--to fulfill a fantasy. I do not want to start a different relationship. I certainly don't want to date the prostitutes.

But I am really struggling to last the month--and I'm pretty sure that this fantasy won't go away even once I get back home. So, to avoid harming her/hurting feelings, I should probably stop dating her...which means that I should just give up on the idea of being in a committed relationship?

I've even thought about the skyping my girlfriend, doing some kind of cybersex thing, where she role-plays a prostitute...but...i don't think that it will help. I mean, even the idea of talking to her about my feelings...I think will end up doing the relationship more harm than good. I mean, imagine: "hey, i've been thinking about having sex with prostitutes all the time, but I also really miss you!"--sounds like a recipe for a major relationship turmoil.

Part of me thinks that I should just go and get it out of my system, and as long as I am very conscientious regarding my condom use, it will be fine because the women at the brothel are visited regularly by a doctor (see--I even did research).

I'm sure that there are a million terrible ideas to this (an still-obvious STD danger, not being honest to a partner, and then having to live with the horrible guilt of it).

I guess what I'm really asking Mefi, what is the appropriate way to handle my hormones or this fantasy?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (71 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Well, first of all, if you go the prostitute route, it IS actual cheating, not "emotional cheating." and you can either try to talk to her about it and explain how much you care about her and share your worries and shame about these feelings, and try to be intimate with her about it, or you can suck it up and not cheat. You will not die if you don't have sex with a prostitute, and it may not live up to your fantasy anyway. Seems a shame to throw away a good relationship over.

Or you can cheat and be slimey. Or you can break it off with her, have sex with all the prostitutes you want, and not have a relationship right now.
posted by agregoli at 10:01 AM on May 16, 2012 [7 favorites]

If fulfilling the fantasy is more important than the relationship, you need to talk to her.

If not talking to her is more important than the relationship, you need to break up with her.
posted by tchemgrrl at 10:01 AM on May 16, 2012 [22 favorites]

I guess what I'm really asking Mefi, what is the appropriate way to handle my hormones or this fantasy?

If you really don't want to break up over this issue, maybe it would be helpful for you to see a psychologist who specializes in compulsive thoughts or sexual compulsions.

Out of all the other options you list, absolutely PLEASE DO NOT stretch to mentally justify "just getting it out of your system" behind your girlfriend's back. "Covered" sex protects against a fraction of what is out there. The doctors testing the sex workers are not testing for everything. With the cancerous forms of HPV out there, you'd be putting your girlfriend's life at risk. That's not okay just to satisfy your sexual fantasy.
posted by cairdeas at 10:03 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

You're 30. You're in a relationship with someone who sounds great. It's time to act like an adult and control yourself. Sex is not the boss of you.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:03 AM on May 16, 2012 [90 favorites]

what is the appropriate way to handle my hormones or this fantasy?

Think about fucking a prostitute while you jerk off, do this for the next month, then go home to your awesome girlfriend and try to forget about the fact that you ever considered ruining such a good thing for an awkward, ten minute encounter with a prostitute. An encounter that would be no more intimate than ten minutes with your own hand.

Seriously, man. I know you're hard up but it sounds like you have a really great thing. Don't fuck that up.
posted by bondcliff at 10:03 AM on May 16, 2012 [24 favorites]

If you can't manage to be away on business without having sex with someone other than your partner, then you need to end this monogamous relationship.
posted by xingcat at 10:04 AM on May 16, 2012 [25 favorites]

I don't think prostitution being legal is really relevant. Take it out of the equation and I think this question becomes a lot clearer:

You are in a long-distance relationship. These are famously difficult. You want to get it on with someone and your girlfriend is not around or going to be around for a while. You know that someone is available for a no-strings-attached fling. Do you:

A) Remain faithful to the terms of the relationship
B) Break up and have the NSA fling
C) Have the fling but don't tell your girlfriend

Note that A) could include negotiating some kind of agreement about what you do when you're not around each other, although you seem to think that will not go well, and I agree with you. Also, consider whether you'd be okay with the agreement being reciprocal.

I think you can answer this simply by asking yourself what how you would want (say) your sister's boyfriend to act.
posted by gauche at 10:05 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do not let your loneliness and boredom get the better of you. You have got to find something better to do with your time then thinking about this. Start an arduous exercise program, research places in nearby cities to travel, learn the local language, whatever.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:05 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

So let me get this straight. You're afraid to talk to her about possibly roleplaying a fantasy scenario for you, because you're afraid this will undermine the relationship and possibly lead to a breakup... and your proposed alternate solution is to break up with her? That only makes sense in Crazytown.

It sounds to me like you're just looking for external validation to visit the prostitutes, which is a horrible idea. If you have a sexual fantasy, talk to your girlfriend and see if there's anything she can do to fulfill it. Otherwise you don't have any right to compain about your sexual frustration.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 10:06 AM on May 16, 2012 [11 favorites]

It's only two months! You can't simply fantasize about this for two months and just wait until you get back to your awesome woman? Also, why not talk to her about your fantasy and see if she'd be up for a little role play?

And to co-sign thorzdad: Time to role play adulthood.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 10:06 AM on May 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

First of all, it is NOT emotional cheating to have fantasies or even urges. Emotional cheating is if you're sharing all of your private details with someone and are emotionally intimate with them. It is perfectly fine to think about whatever you think about and fantasize about whatever you fantasize about.

It is NOT, however, cool to the person you're dating to make this physical and enact your fantasy. If you do this, have the human decency to break things off with her first.

And don't fool yourself into thinking this is just a one time thing. People who are compelled to have sex with people despite their better judgment have problems. And you could very easily find yourself being a regular customer.

Break up with your girlfriend, find a local woman and have sex with her if you absolutely can't control yourself. But just don't do anything unless you've broken up with her.
posted by inturnaround at 10:08 AM on May 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

how do you know that sleeping with a prostitute will "get it out of your system", anyway?
you can't know. you can't guarantee that once you've done it, you won't be just as obsessed with doing it again.
although even once is cheating, period.
posted by changeling at 10:09 AM on May 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

I know that this emotional cheating. And I'm a shitty person and boyfriend for it even THINKING about it, not to mention the obviously fuckup-ness of prostitution and sex-slave trafficking.

Emotional cheating is a real thing, but this might not be it, and it might not be as bad, under the terms of your relationship, as emotional + physical cheating. It sounds like you might be thinking, "as long as I'm an awful person anyway, why shouldn't I get what I want?"

That thought is a rationalization fucking with you.
posted by gauche at 10:10 AM on May 16, 2012 [8 favorites]

You don't have to actually fulfill every fantasy that you have. You can continue to have it as an unfulfilled fantasy.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:11 AM on May 16, 2012 [6 favorites]

If I was your girlfriend (and mind, I am a pretty open minded person) I would want you to ask me if I was okay with you having a one night stand. Not breaking up, not having continuous polygamous sex. Just once, to get your rocks off and fulfill your fantasy.

The idea is to communicate with your girlfriend. See what she says. She might be understanding and say a ONS is okay. She might say you are a horrible person for even considering it. Relationships are partnerships, as in there is more then just you. You want to do this without any of her input; and that isn't fair.

If she is against it, then you need to decide if you can let your fantasy go or want to break up.

Now, if she is for it.. be aware if I were her:

1. I would not have sex with you until you had a full STD test done and came back clean.
2. You would lose some of my trust.
posted by royalsong at 10:11 AM on May 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

Emotional cheating is sharing emotional intimacy with someone other than your partner. Sharing physical intimacy (with or without the emotional intimacy) with someone other than your partner is regular garden-variety cheating. Thinking about having sex with someone else is neither one of those.
posted by amarynth at 10:11 AM on May 16, 2012 [15 favorites]

Well, first of all, you're not a terrible person for thinking about it. Everyone thinks about weird, questionable shit.

It probably would be exciting to try, and maybe enjoyable, but we have to pass on a lot of things for the greater good of our lives. If I did everything I wanted to do, I'd be 500 pounds and wearing rags. This is just one of those times you've got to pass on a pleasure for the greater good. Is your relationship the greater good? If so, take a pass. Stop making plans. When you start to think about walking to the brothel, just say, "STOP," and force yourself to do something else. It's not that different from forcing yourself to do anything else.
posted by amodelcitizen at 10:12 AM on May 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Is GF willing to have phone/skype sex with you?
posted by brujita at 10:12 AM on May 16, 2012

What's the value of "the best relationship I've ever had" compared to the cost of a flight for one of you to just go visit the other for a quick weekend? Or two months of frustrating celibacy?
posted by judith at 10:13 AM on May 16, 2012 [7 favorites]

I think the OP means it's emotional cheating to think about it, which it isn't. I would not call fantasizing about another woman emotional cheating. If it is, most men are guilty of it everyday.
posted by amodelcitizen at 10:14 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Whoa whoa whoa. You are not a shitty person or partner just for thinking about this. People have urges -- often irrational destructive urges. It's not always nice to talk about them, and we don't always want to hear about them from people we rely heavily on, but we all have them and we all know that other people have them too.

You have wayyyyy more control over your actions than your thoughts. That's where you need to focus. There are ways to spend your time in that place that will distract you (mostly) from the perfectly normal urges you're feeling.

You can also just make up your mind right now to not act on them, by telling the girl you're dating that you can't help being intrigued by the preponderance of sex-for-hire at your current location, and that you're really horny because of being away from her, but that you promise NOT to do anything to betray her trust. By pre-emptively reassuring her, you are also drawing that line in the sand for yourself. By not keeping this aspect of your trip a secret, you will deflate some of its mystique and allure. And she'll know she's with someone who can talk frankly about sex and desire, and who is determined to remain trustworthy in her eyes. I'm sure the idea of you sleeping with a prostitute has crossed her mind, women are well aware of what happens on business trips in countries where that's legal.
posted by hermitosis at 10:17 AM on May 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

Sublimate, verb, - to divert the energy of (a sexual or other biological impulse) from its immediate goal to one of a more acceptable social, moral, or aesthetic nature or use.
posted by mattbucher at 10:19 AM on May 16, 2012 [7 favorites]

The appropriate thing would be either to a) not engage in sex outside the relationship or b) end the relationship so you can.

If what you're interested in is sex outside the relationship, you need to do b). If what you need is sex, take the money you would have spent on a prostitute, buy a ticket home, and take care of what ails you. Whether you tell her you're on your way or not I leave to your judgement.
posted by Mooski at 10:19 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you have a regular route that takes you by a brothel, change your route. It's not as simple as "out of sight, out of mind," but it'll certainly help to stop literally finding yourself on the doorstep of self-destruction.
posted by griphus at 10:20 AM on May 16, 2012 [12 favorites]

I think the OP means it's emotional cheating to think about it, which it isn't. I would not call fantasizing about another woman emotional cheating. If it is, most men are guilty of it everyday.

I would argue that it's...not emotional cheating, precisely, but sort of emotional withdrawal - if you're spending all your mental/emotional/sexual energy on thoughts (whether compulsive/uncontrollable or intentional) about having sex with someone else, that's a huge withdrawal of energy from the relationship and it's likely to be pretty destructive. Emotionally checking out of a relationship is a bad plan if you want to keep that relationship.

This is pretty different from idly fantasizing the way we all do (not just men, ladeez; it's anyone's guess how much of the whole "women fantasize about backrubs and tears-of-joy-sex when they fantasize at all" thing is about socialization, but based on my experience I surmise that it's a lot). Anyway, idle fantasy, even fairly frequent idle fantasy, isn't something that you spend all your time on and have compulsions about acting out. That's...either sexual compulsion or stress and anxiety masquerading as sexual compulsion.

Me? I'd try to tough it out until I got home. You're in a foreign place, you're lonely, you're stressed (culture shock and travel are stressful, even when they are good stress) and there really isn't any way to know until you're home how much of this is A Serious Compulsion That Requires Therapy and how much of it is "that really weird headspace I was in that one time when I was working in [place]".
posted by Frowner at 10:22 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is pretty clearly obsessional thinking well outside the bounds of ordinary physical urges. I think seeing a therapist should come way ahead of "break up and see a prostitute," because your problem has very little to do with the physical act of sex, and breaking up and seeing a prostitute won't fix it.

BTW, if you listen to nothing else, at LEAST make sure to refrain from keeping your "I slept with another person" activities from your girlfriend. That's "life and death" level stuff there.
posted by SMPA at 10:27 AM on May 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

What is it about prostitution that turns you on so much??

I bet if you did research into how horrible these women's lives are (especially depending on where you are in the world) it would take all of the sexiness out of it.

It's 2012. I'm not against sex work per se, but I'm betting that wherever you are, these women working in this brothel would not themselves choose this line of work if something else was available to them.

If the idea of sexually degrading one of your fellow human beings is a turn-on for you that you just can't turn off - see a therapist.

(I'm REALLY not against the idea of sex work! I'm against that often the women (and children) performing this job are forced into it, or feel forced into it. Even in places where it is legal.)
posted by jbenben at 10:27 AM on May 16, 2012 [12 favorites]

What exactly do you think being with a prostitute is going to be like? Examine the best case scenario and the worst cast scenario of what you think might play out. Figure out the chances of either scenario actually playing out in reality. What are you actually looking for in the experience?

I knew the girlfriend of a guy who went to a brothel (before they met--he had terrible self-confidence and wanted sexual experience) and it didn't sound like a good time.
posted by discopolo at 10:28 AM on May 16, 2012

"Emotional cheating" happens entirely inside your head, so it's just like other imaginary things that exist only in your head.

If you believe in emotional cheating, do you also believe in fairies and goblins?

No, you don't. But fairies and goblins and time spent with an imaginary hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold are all fun things to think about in between the times you're thinking about real things like work and school and taxes.

Go forth and fantasize.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:28 AM on May 16, 2012

Only with her permission.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:35 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Fantasies are not cheating.

"Emotional cheating" is when people have a romantic and intimate, but not sexual, relationship with another person that would be perceived by their partner as in violation of their relationship agreements. In other words, it's an activity that involves another person.

Now, would I love it if my husband got as enmeshed in a fantasy of having sex with other people as you seem to have been? No. Would I be happy if he was seriously considering ending our relationship so that he could live out his fantasy of having sex with sex workers? No. Would I be at all open to the idea of role-playing "sex worker and client" with him as a way of incorporating said fantasy into our sex life? HELL no, although that's me; other people might feel differently about it.

But I wouldn't consider any of the above "cheating". I might consider them signs that we were in different places about what we wanted, sexually.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:36 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've been spending a lot of time fantasizing about having sex with a prostitute. Manual stimulation doesn't seem to cut it anymore, and I've spent hours planning and researching. Even walking by the brothel gives me a huge thrill. I keep thinking that I could just go and have safe covered sex and not tell my girlfriend. There'd be no way that she'd ever know, and it'd satisfy this fantasy.

I know that this emotional cheating

Not Cheating. Just fantasy.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:41 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

There is a whole category of sexual fantasies that just, because of the other priorities of life (commitment, monogamishness, health, nonviolence, etc.) need to stay fantasies. For example, I know one person from my past with whom I am very, very sorry to have never had sex; but now that I'm married, I accept that I'm never going to have sex with that person. I still fantasize about it, but I know it's Never. Gonna. Happen. Sad but true. Other things in my life are more important than ever having sex with that person.

This is one of those fantasies for you. So, fantasize about it. Enjoy it. Even enjoy the incredible tension/pain/discomfort that comes from thinking about it but not doing it. (The fantasy is probably more fun than the reality, or memory, anyway.) Share your fantasy with your girlfriend if it will be sexy and special between you - but don't if it's just yours and will hurt her feelings. (I would guess the latter but I don't know your gf.) But at some point you have to make an Official Decision that This Is Just A Fantasy. If I were you I'd do that sooner rather than later.
posted by TrixieRamble at 10:42 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh, I almost forgot! Then have lots and lots of explosive, built-up-tension sex with your girlfriend when you get home. Let her think the tension is all about how much you missed her (which it likely is, actually, even if it's amplified by the prostitute fantasy). Enjoy!
posted by TrixieRamble at 10:44 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not cheating to have fantasies, everyone does. Being attracted to other people is pretty normal--the issue is figuring out appropriate ways to handle that.

The thing is, prostitutes are not your Magic Vagina Fairyland. They're just people who work in the sex industry. Even if they chose it and they're content, you are not sexy to them. They've seen a million guys just like you, and you're just as likely to find it boring or awkward or depressing in real life. And then you'll leave and they'll gossip about your weird birthmark and dorky socks. It's not romantic.

Sorry to be harsh, but really, I think you'll be pretty damn sorry if you cheat on your awesome girlfriend that you're going to see in only five weeks. Five weeks is not a long time. If you get home and you're still thinking about cheating all the time, you and she need to have a serious talk.

Finally, it sounds like a big part of the fantasy for you is "she'll never know", but odds are pretty good she's gonna figure it out. People are often perceptive like that, especially when their boyfriends come back from Thailand or wherever acting all squirrelly. If you tell the truth, you have to deal with the blowup anyway. If you lie to her successfully, you're going to be stuck doing that forever.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 10:45 AM on May 16, 2012 [17 favorites]

I just want to comment on the line about "getting it out of your system". I actually said exactly that one time before cheating on an ex-boyfriend.

THAT IS NOT HOW IT WORKS. (in my experience). One time lead to all the time, and rather than think about it less I thought about it so much more. You've given this fantasy a lot of power in your head, and it's not actually that powerful. Memail me if you want to hear more about that disaster.
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 10:45 AM on May 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

How would you feel if this situation were reversed?
posted by floweredfish at 10:46 AM on May 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

Sometimes the best solution to many of life's problems involves not fucking all the things.

This often includes hard things like not participating in sexual trafficking, not ruining a great relationship, not working on building up unfulfillable fantasies, and not being a deuchebag to your girlfriend.

anonymous: "There'd be no way that she'd ever know, and it'd satisfy this fantasy. "

You would know and, if you are anything like what your partner deserves, that should bug the hell out of you.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:46 AM on May 16, 2012 [8 favorites]

I just want to get laid--to fulfill a fantasy.

This is pretty much the entirety of the case you're trying to make for doing this. And it's a specific thing, it seems, it needs to be a prostitute. That's your fantasy.

And this sounds like a powerful fantasy, something that really hits you where you live. But I'd be comfortable wagering that, if you were to fulfill it, you wouldn't feel like it was worth it in the aftermath. Certainly not worth losing this relationship.

And you know what? If you can't talk to her about opening your relationship up, then maybe you should talk to her about roleplaying something like this. It wouldn't be super hard to bring up. If you're as close and connected as you say, she might be up for it. Don't tell her why. Don't bring up that it's an alternative to actually doing it. And don't rush her into it, either - give her the rough size and shape of your fantasy and let her ruminate on it a while.

Your best bet with that is for you to figure out what aspects of the prostitute fantasy really hit home for you - the strangely impersonal nature? The fact that it's a stranger? The sexualized presentation? Something else? And then see if there's a way that roleplaying this with her would satisfy you.

Because the general tone of all this suggests that you've already made up your mind that you're probably going to do it (you keep talking about this in mitigating terms - in short, telling yourself what you want to hear), to the point where you've hit on possible healthy solutions but dismiss them out of hand, and I really feel like you're missing something here: Nail a prostitute now, and you stand a good chance of ruining a good relationship and also having this fantasy associated with guilt and shame in your head for a long, long time. Or tough it out, figure out a way to get your needs met with her, and you can indulge in this fantasy guilt-free, again and again, for as long as the two of you are together. I don't really see how this is some big dilemma.

If you're still ruling that out, then I don't know what to tell you. I understand temptation and I understand hormones, but look: This is something you want. It's not a need. There isn't a bomb strapped to your balls that'll go off if you don't fuck a prostitute soon. Sometimes incredibly strong desires can feel like needs. I get that. But this is something that is outside the current terms of your relationship, and at the very core of your question is the idea of "I know I shouldn't do this thing, I know it would be incredibly damaging to my relationship with, and very disrespectful of, this wonderful person, but I really want to get to do it." Well, good for you. I want to sit on the couch and draw monsters all day. I can't, because I have to go to work to get money to pay rent. Adulthood means making sacrifices like that for the sake of the bigger picture, you know?

So: Roleplay this with her but don't tell her it's because you're trying to refrain from cheating on her. Talk to a therapist about these obsessive thoughts. Recognize that fantasizing is not cheating, and make sure it stays as just fantasizing. Avoid going near brothels. When the urge comes upon you, rub one out and then do it again and then do it again, until you can't imagine wanting to have sex with anyone at all. Repeat as necessary.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:49 AM on May 16, 2012 [6 favorites]

So, uh, you're bored, you're lonely and you're horny. Sounds normal, given your circumstances.

I've spent hours planning and researching. Even walking by the brothel gives me a huge thrill.

Here is my only suggestion to you: stop planning and researching, and stop walking by the brothel. Fantasize all you want, but don't actually take active steps towards doing this, or that heighten the possibility of you doing this.

Consider yourself a diabetic in a town that specializes in sugary treats: it is one thing to fantasize about eating them, and quite another to drive yourself crazy by looking at pastry menus, planning out the things you'd order, and walking by the shops.

In short: this will get to you a lot less if you just pick other things to do when you're bored and lonely. Then fully appreciate your fantasy thoughts when you're horny.
posted by davejay at 10:51 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Long time business traveler here. IMO It's not were you are, or the prostitutes, or the two months.

This is just a commitment issue, you are bored and want to cheat on your girlfriend.

tchemgrrl has the right of it:

If fulfilling the fantasy is more important than the relationship, you need to talk to her.

If not talking to her is more important than the relationship, you need to break up with her.

Cheating is shitty, I guess it's up to you if you wan't to be shitty.
posted by French Fry at 10:56 AM on May 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Here's the thing, you're horny as hell, so by definition you're a little crazy right now.

You need to get laid before considering where to cheat on your girlfriend. Ergo, practical solutions/ideas: Can she fly out for weekend o fucking? Can you fly home for a weekend of fucking? A day? Quickie layover? Can she video tape herself doing something sexual for you? How about audio tape? Can she send you panties she's worn? A Skype session full of dirty talk as you both masturbate? Is there a device you buy to help you get off as you listen to or watch her? Will watching porn help?

You need to talk with her about this. You two are unit and you're considering doing something that will harm that unit. Take steps to avoid that. If she's as smart as you say, she help you figure out any problem. That's part of being in a relationship.

There'd be no way that she'd ever know...

You would know. You'd have to carry this secret for the length of the relationship and probably most of your life. Think about it, if this relationship ends, are you going to tell your next girlfriend that you slept with prostitute when you away on a two month work assignment? You might, but that'll seriously impact that relationship.

Go call your girlfriend, ASAP.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:05 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Emotional cheating is when you spend an hour on the phone every night with a coworker, discussing things that your girlfriend should probably get first pass at.

What you're experiencing is an urge and a persistent fantasy. People have and resist them all the time. I, for example, love the idea of going to grad school in social sciences. I know I would love it and do really well, and I also know it would be expensive and I can't quit my job and would be no more employable after graduating than I am now (less so, probably, since I work in IT). I also have to resist the urge to run down long hallways, because I am 40 years old.

I think part of you fully understands that the experience you would have at the brothel would be...pretty awful. Going through with it would very likely cure you of ever wanting to do it again, but there's documentaries on Netflix that'll serve the same purpose without the danger, expense, and crushing horror.

This very likely isn't those kind of hormones driving the bus here, rather the less interesting ones like cortisol, melatonin, insulin - your life is upheaved, you're in a weird work situation, you don't have much to do socially. Consider spending a couple of weeks getting some exercise every day, focusing on your health and well being, and I think you will find this compulsion fades fairly quickly.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:09 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you get together with a prostitute, do let your girlfriend know about it, so she can make a decision based on the information that she'd be sleeping with someone who has paid a stranger for sex.
posted by SillyShepherd at 11:10 AM on May 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

I know that this emotional cheating. And I'm a shitty person and boyfriend for it even THINKING about it, not to mention the obviously fuckup-ness of prostitution and sex-slave trafficking.

Nah, it's just fantasizing. Hell, I've thought of worse stuff than that while i was actually having sex with my girlfriend.

Thinking about it is way different than actually acting on it and planning, though.

Not doing all the shit you think about doing or want to do is part of growing up and being an adult. You have to make choices, and those choices define the kind of person you are. Think about the kind of person that you really want to be, and be that person.
posted by empath at 11:10 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

empath makes a great point. You're waaaay overstating your culpability in having a fantasy (because many and probably most people have sexual fantasies that don't involve their partner; I know I do), but you're understating the potential culpability of having sex with a sex worker and not disclosing that to your partner.

It might be worth it for you to introspect a bit on that. Are you pre-shaming yourself for something that really isn't a violation of a healthy relationship's set of agreements (fantasizing about sex with others) so that it will seem like a slippery slope from that to either a) doing something that really would be a violation of a healthy relationship's set of agreements (having sex with someone else, particularly a sex worker who is by nature of their job at high risk for sexually transmitted infections, and not disclosing that to your partner) or b) breaking up with your partner because UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN! and thus being free to frolic with all the sex workers you want?

I think that holding oneself to unrealistic standards in relationships (like thinking it's "emotional cheating" to fantasize about sex with someone who isn't one's partner) is likely to lead to failure rather than success in maintaining the relationship. It's kind of like abstinence-only sex education--once someone breaks the seal, they're all "in for a penny, in for a pound, let's just have unprotected intercourse because everything is equally wrong" and we see where that gets you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:20 AM on May 16, 2012 [10 favorites]

Don't go the prostitute route while in a relationship. That's just bad for everyone concerned, because even if you never tell her you get your rocks off and then feel guilty and you have this "thing" just hanging over the relationship. You will feel like shit long after any thrill of sleeping with a sex worker has long passed.

If the idea is something that turns you on though there is nothing wrong with telling your gf you have fantasies about sleeping with hookers, and maybe she'd be up for all sorts of fun games when you get back. Stop masturbating while thinking about sex with sex workers, think about fun sexy games where your gf plays a hooker and you both have hot fun times together when you masturbate, then that will help make the thing that turns you on again your gf. Heck you know her she might well be up for all sorts of fun games over the phone, she could play a phone sex worker, you could tell kinky stories where she's a hooker to each other, you could have all sorts of fun with the idea. . . . with your girlfriend. Which lets face it is going to be a billion times better than anything with a sex worker.
posted by wwax at 11:22 AM on May 16, 2012

Take a deep breath. You don't actually have to do anything here. It feels like you do, but you don't. Get busy doing things that are incompatible with obsessing over this. It seems like the result of boredom and anxiety, which should lead you to a mental health professional when you get a chance.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:28 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

You're there for two months? Just two months? Get a hold of yourself.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:28 AM on May 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

what is the appropriate way to handle my hormones or this fantasy?

Repress the fantasy and do not act on the hormonal commands. They're not helping you to live a more fulfilling life. They're shitty imps, best pushed forcibly away. Think of them as such -- as literal imps, literal demons, literal evil noncorporeal beings. Don't fuck with demons.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:32 AM on May 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

If it were me, I might imagine three scenarios:
1) Your girlfriend tells you she wants to have sex with a stranger back home. Is that OK with you?
2) Your girlfriend has already had sex with a stranger while you're gone. She hasn't told you. Is the idea of that OK with you?
3) Your girlfriend admits to having sex with a stranger after it happens. Is that OK with you?

If you have sex with a stranger, at least one of those scenarios will happen to your GF. So how would you feel? Would your relationship be majorly harmed by one or more of those? If you'd be OK with #1 but not 2 or 3, then your girlfriend deserves #1 as well.
posted by nakedmolerats at 11:33 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I should clarify - I don't mean the above comment to be read as "well if I'M okay with #3 then she should be too!"

But for many people, at least one of those scenarios would be hurtful or trust-breaking in the relationship. If you wouldn't want it to happen to you, then obviously, don't do it to her.
posted by nakedmolerats at 11:39 AM on May 16, 2012

Other practical ideas/solutions: Can you keep busy in other ways, say volunteering after work, hitting the gym or something that channels all that energy somewhere else?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:51 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, if you have a job/career where you'll be in this scenario a lot, you need to talk to your girlfriend about it. Not now, while your desperation is obvious, because it'll freak her out, but once you are chill and home and happy. It's a risk, but it's important to be honest about the fact that you find strict monogamy challenging in this particular way.

Plenty of people have agreements that basically amount to "if you're travelling, safe anonymous sex is okay". But you will never get there if you keep this all inside. Trust your girlfriend enough to talk about this with her. Whatever the outcome, you will know a lot more about your long-term prospects with her and you'll remove a huge source of anxiety and fear of rejection.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:57 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've spent hours planning and researching

This doesn't sound healthy to me; and the more you do it the more you may be reinforcing it.

not to mention the obviously fuckup-ness of prostitution and sex-slave trafficking

I'm sure that there are a million terrible ideas to this (an still-obvious STD danger, not being honest to a partner, and then having to live with the horrible guilt of it).

I'm sure you're right. Don't do it. I suggest you refrain from fantasy and self-stimulation for a while--it sounds to me like it has become abnormally compulsive, and try talking to your girlfriend more often and find other healthier things to do with other people.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:31 PM on May 16, 2012

Okay, I will say one thing-- that regardless of anything, you should seriously reconsider accepting an attitude where you think talking to your gf about your sexuality or feelings is ever a bad idea. This-- regardless of what happens in this episode-- is the kind of thinking that will mess up a relationship down the line, if not this then some other reason. If you hit a bump in the road and your instinct is to play it close to the chest to avoid hurt-- you will hurt both of you more.

If role-play will satisfy you, you should 100% go forward on that route. As for how to explain it, all you need to say is that it's a kink or fetish and not elaborate that it's that or 'do it for real'-- instead, the dynamic just turns you on. Strings-free sex is a common fantasy, and it's not hard to bring it up if you bring up kinks and fantasies in general and ask her what hers are, share, etc. As far as doing it for real, you probably will only want it more once you did it once, and then role-playing may not satisfy the urge even if it would have before. Also, it is unlikely to be as satisfying as you imagine (few experiences are what you imagine). You may also not be able to live with the guilt, as you implied. I can't recommend doing something you admit you couldn't handle doing afterwards; if you could handle your own guilt, and you were 100% sure you'd get over it after one time due to other similar situations (where you wanted a treat that might be addictive but you didn't go back to it compulsively), then-- well, do it.

I mean, condoms are really quite effective, so from that angle I wouldn't be too concerned. If it's a freak occurrence (which I doubt), then no harm no foul in some ways. If you are capable of completely isolating this incident within your mind and not revisiting it in the future-- to obsess, to feel bad or to feel good, to feel guilty over it or horny over it-- which most people wouldn't be able to do, but if you can do that and go on with your life, then make your mistake and move on. The thing is, much as we wish it, there's rarely such a thing as 100% string-free sex-- no matter what, there's consequences, emotional, physical, or both. It takes a sort of sociopathy to be able to completely isolate one's actions from their consequences on others and oneself, and so it's your innate decency as a human being that sort of dooms your fantasy. I say that, but sometimes the only way we can move forward and break the cycle of fantasy and useless repression is to make our own mistakes.

So the second-best solution is to ask your girlfriend for a 'break' while you're abroad, 'cause you need 'space' and 'time to re-evaluate'. A lot of people need breaks when they're long-distance, so she may not be suspicious and you may get your cake and eat it too. However slim that chance, it may be better than relying on your willpower if it's weak, than breaking up simply for one night's fun, and than carrying around a burden of guilt that may feel enormous. Just take a break and go visit your prostitutes every day and see how it feels. I'm sure by the end you'll realize one of two things: either there's no way you'll be ready for a monogamous relationship in the near future, or you will be permanently turned off to the very world 'prostitute'.
posted by reenka at 1:15 PM on May 16, 2012

So the second-best solution is to ask your girlfriend for a 'break' while you're abroad, 'cause you need 'space' and 'time to re-evaluate'. A lot of people need breaks when they're long-distance, so she may not be suspicious

If someone told me they needed a "break" while they were abroad because they "needed the space", I would assume that they just weren't that into me, because "I need a break" is soft-break-up language. Failing that, I would immediately assume that they "needed a break" because they had a serious plan to sleep with someone/someones else and didn't want to tell me about it or discuss the issue. "I need a break while I'm traveling to sex-tourism land" would be about the biggest red-flag imaginable.

I mean, YMMV, but still.
posted by Frowner at 1:25 PM on May 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

I mean, even the idea of talking to her about my feelings...I think will end up doing the relationship more harm than good. I mean, imagine: "hey, i've been thinking about having sex with prostitutes all the time, but I also really miss you!"--sounds like a recipe for a major relationship turmoil.

In my estimation, it shouldn't. I don't understand why a couple working through what happens when one/both feel unexpected sexual urges has to be such a scandal. It's normal.

Maybe I wouldn't phrase it that way, but I do think it's important for you and your girlfriend to have a frank talk about your sexual expectations, especially if you will be traveling a decent amount. Simply having the conversation shouldn't be worth breaking up over, though cheating might be. People take monogamy for granted, like it's always so clear-cut. Be honest with your girlfriend and work it out.
posted by girlmightlive at 1:40 PM on May 16, 2012

I think what you're going through is pretty normal (ok, maybe not the prostitution part.)

Basically, your brain knows you haven't been having real sex for quite some time, and now it's sort of flipping out. There are many people who this does not happen to who will happily tell you the story of how they didn't have sex for 17 years because they were dutifully waiting for their partner to return from god knows where. They are probably telling the truth, it's just too bad you're not one of these people.

There's a reason why movie star and military marriages often have a much shorter lifespan and a much higher incidence of cheating than the other kinds. It's weird and unnatural to be away from your significant other for a long time, and given enough time, your brain makes you crazy enough where you begin to seriously consider sleeping with other people instead of your awesome girlfriend.

This is what is known as an Evolutionary Kick In The Ass. Your brain has put these crazy ideas in your head as if to say "Dude, who said you're allowed to stop trying to make copies of your genetic material? GET BACK TO WORK SLACKER."

If you've ever wondered how someone can cheat and then claim to have "make a mistake," well, I'd imagine you're experiencing the lead up to that right about now.

And so, if you want to keep your girlfriend, I think you should fly home and have sex with her. I think if you can't find a way to do that you're going to do something stupid, and since you're struggling with the morality of emotional cheating in your post, which is barely even a thing, you don't strike me as the kind of guy to be able to keep that sort of thing under his hat.
posted by Feel the beat of the rhythm of the night at 1:42 PM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Delayed gratification and impulse control are really useful qualities to cultivate.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:03 PM on May 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

2 months? 8 weeks? 60 days? you really are so horny that you're considering throwing it all away because you've had to polish your own knob for half that amount of time so far and doing another 4 weeks will drive you crazy? this is not a long time and you're not Job for suffering through it.

honestly, if you were my boyfriend, i'd rather you break up with me if 2 months of driving solo can have you ready to pay for sex. the appropriate response is to keep it in your pants when you're in a monogamous relationship.

i say all of this as an enthusiastic supporter of safe and fully consensual sex work.
posted by nadawi at 3:51 PM on May 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

Let me add in my two cents here. There's a good lecture by Jordan Peterson you can find on I tunes under the podcast "Big Ideals" ... it's called "the necessity of virtue" and in it he says that if your surrounded by unvirtuous things you could end up doing something as such by your expose.

If you were in the middle-east or somewhere where that's not cool then i doubt you'd be having these feelings as badly. You are a man, so you have hormones as you said .... but i bet in other locals you'd be able to control yourself more.

In the end, it's not worth it ... when the deed is done ... you'll just be filled with regret. Just buy some really awesome porn and stick with manual release for now.

Unless you, underneath it all, don't think she's all that, then that changes the story. But if she's great, then stick it out ...1month left, that's nothing man!

Best of luck!
posted by pytar gucchy at 4:31 PM on May 16, 2012

Dude, you're bored. Go out and do something.

I am shamelessly stealing this advice from my boyfriend, who travels internationally for weeks- or months- long stretches for work, and has seen his fair share of colleagues avail themselves of the opportunity you're considering. His take (prompted somewhat recently by the secret service agent scandal) is when there's nothing to do after work, it leads to mind wandering, which leads to being horny and frustrated, and with nothing to redirect the train of thought (and also with usually some alcohol being involved as a way to pass the time) it leads to choices a person would otherwise not make.

So I'd suggest that you address the boredom. If you're someplace where prostitution is legal it's probably somewhat culturally different than the US. There must be a whole whack (ha!) of interesting things to do if you look. Find other ways to occupy your time. Two months sucks, but people do it all the time and so can you.
posted by AV at 4:51 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is in your head. You need to make a decision on what you want. If you want to be faithful to your girlfriend then you need to treat it on body level:

Any time you think of a hooker take an ice cold shower. Any time you think about cheating put an ice pack in your crotch. Any time you start planing your visit do 20 push ups. Jump rope, bite your lip, do whatever to distract you from those thoughts and wear your body out.

I am totally with Brandon here: role play can satisfy your fantasy and potentially save your relationship.

And I absolutely agree with BlahLaLa: it's a freaking month. Get a grip. You are 30, not 5, you can wait for the candy.
posted by travelwithcats at 5:43 PM on May 16, 2012

You say you consider your girlfriend to be someone special, guess what, there are tons of sex workers and even more clients. Nothing special about that.
posted by travelwithcats at 5:45 PM on May 16, 2012

Hey, OP, if you want to hear about some of the ways in which obsessing about sex can have nothing whatsoever to do with hormones, feel free to MeMail me. In the meantime, I agree with everyone who says it's your brain, and you can make conscious choices to redirect yourself from the path you seem to think you're doomed to follow...

(Staying away from brothels and stopping the research are really good ideas, and are based on sound principles. My therapist and I have a covenant that I won't Google methods of suicide and the lethalness of various drugs, for instance: it counts as suicidal behavior on my DBT diary card.)
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 6:18 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you want to let the air out of the fantasy, have a look at the johns who are patronizing the place. Do you see yourself as one of them? Does it bother you to think that you are one in a long line of them? Usually the idea of prostitution is only appealing to people who can delude themselves into feeling that they are special, and forget that this sex is available to absolutely anyone with enough cash, no matter his appearance or character.
posted by banishedimmortal at 8:06 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just want to weigh in on the talking to your girlfriend thing.

The more often my husband tells me about his attractions to other people, weird sexual fantasies, and even potential/almost moments of cheating, the more I trust him.

Why? Because if he is cool with admitting to this stuff, then I can believe him when he says he is NOT attracted to a certain person, or into a certain kink, or considering cheating, or even really and truly cheating. Some people drive themselves crazy worrying and wondering about what their partner is thinking with regard to sex. It's so much better not to have to, even if it can be awkward sometimes to confess things.

So I'm always for full disclosure of these sorts of things.
posted by lollusc at 8:15 PM on May 16, 2012 [6 favorites]

This is not emotional cheating. Emotional cheating is a thing you do, out in the world, with another person. It is visible to other people. The things in your head don't hurt anybody else if they stay in your head.

It sounds like you're so excessively guilty about a totally normal hornyness/fantasy issue that exists entirely in your head that you're contemplating doing something in the real world. These two things are very different. Your thoughts are not a big deal. Cheating would be a much bigger deal. Breaking up with your girlfriend because you think about having sex with other women would be monumentally stupid. It's fine if this fantasy doesn't go away when you get back. It's fine if you think about having sex with the prostitutes while you have sex with your girlfriend. The things in your head don't hurt anyone.

Relax. This is fine. Stay away from the red light district. If masturbation isn't cutting it anymore you're probably not masturbating enough.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:57 AM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you're getting a little commitment-phobic, because this woman is someone you can actually see yourself being with, and there's a part of your brain spazzing out, and wanting to run! Or at least do all the things you didn't do first.

So, it's the self-destructive little impulse that wants to do this, so that you'll have to break up with her when she finds out, or you feel guilty, or you do it again.
People often have affairs as an excuse to break up.

That self-destructive impulse is a dick. A complete dick.
Listen to it, but tell it - fine. If you want this relationship to end? I'll do that. But I'll do it like an adult, by telling her I want to break up, and NOT by doing something something leotarded that'll cause us to break up later.

Your choices are, break up and 'go to town', or get through this. It may help do list all the things you'd like to do 'at some point' that you can still do with this apparently great girl, rather than focus on the doors you are closing. Because the alternative is closing the door on her.
posted by Elysum at 4:39 PM on May 20, 2012

Not sure if the OP will see this, but I've walked in your shoes, so please hear me out (might be long).

I was in a similar situation as you, albeit a bit younger. At that time, I've been in a relationship with the girl for 2 years (I actually had prior crush on her few years past).

She was my first relationship, and it was a happy relationship with barely any fights. She was caring, loving, pretty much someone that I envisioned a future with. But the idea that a future together with her...would mean that I won't get to experience "what's out there".

I had the same rationalization as you; told myself that I'd do it just once behind her back, to give a closure to myself before I commit to this relationship. I also chose the sex worker path as that's the easiest way to get to experience "what's out there" with no strings attached.

Not only did I walked in your shoes, I walked to hell with them. I actually cheated on her. You may think that you can do this behind her and not speak of it ever again. But trust me, once that raging hormone is released, you'll be cast down to the darkest corner in the deepest level of hell.

I lived in hell for 3 weeks overwhelmed with guilt and regret, and one day I took up the courage to confess to her that I had cheated (without all the gory details). I shattered the heart of a girl who not only loved me, but also trusted me with her dearest heart. Before I confessed, she had suspected something was wrong with me because I just couldn't hide the overwhelming guilt. I still remember the face she had, before I told her the truth, the last shred of hope she had in me, like she was saying "please don't tell me what I think it is" through her eyes. I've destroyed it all.

She tried to give it a second shot in our relationship, and for that I will forever be grateful. She left me a year after reconciliation. Though she never mentioned my cheating as we parted ways, deep down I knew the trust was in a broken state and she couldn't live with it anymore.

To this day I am still trying to overcome this tainted past of mine, and I don't know when I will truly be able to crawl out of this hell.

So OP, take a step back, jerk off a few times, and look at what you have. I sincerely hope my experience will be of great use to you.

Think with the head on your shoulders, and good luck!
posted by mixahead at 9:00 PM on June 13, 2012

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