Cyber Affair
June 20, 2012 5:08 PM   Subscribe

I don't feel guilty, am I an jerk?

I am married, love my partner with all my heart but we have a terrible sex life. Atrocious actually. I joined Second Life years ago, don't go on it much but for the last year and a half I have engaged in a virtual affair with another user. They live 3 hours from where I do (just a fluke), we don't exchange anything personal, we went through some intense emotion at the beginning, mistaking the connection for deeper than sexual but got over it. We have strict boundaries and stick to them. We are essentially each others pornography. I don't feel guilty about it but worry that I might be in denial and maybe I should feel that way. My partner is not interested in sex at all and avoids discussing it. I am not unattractive, I am only in my early thirties and am intensely sexual so his lack of interest doesn't make me worry about that, it just makes me insatiable and I have to satisfy that so Second Life is the outlet.

Thoughts?
posted by antigone to Society & Culture (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
The real question is how would your partner feel if they knew? Either get to counseling or get out if the answer is they wouldn't be pleased or won't change. You both have a right to the relationship you want/need - you want more, so talk to your partner then decide what the course is. I wouldn't say you were a jerk, but rather you are clearly unhappy with some aspects.
posted by lpcxa0 at 5:14 PM on June 20, 2012


I think that if Second Life satisfies you and makes your situation tolerable, then you're very, very lucky; most people are driven to cheat or just become extremely unhappy in this situation.

But I'd be surprised if the differential between you and your partner's sex drives won't become a more serious issue eventually, and it's probably a good idea to insist on discussing it before you have kids.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:14 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Most importantly, does your partner know about this?
posted by Vaike at 5:14 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is your partner aware of this "virtual affair?"
posted by livinglearning at 5:14 PM on June 20, 2012


Nobody can say if you're a jerk. If what you're doing violates your explicit or implicit contract with your partner then your actions are unethical.

For example, in my own personal case, I made a vow to my partner, in front of my friends and family. So to do something behind her back would be to dishonor her, my loved ones, and my friends.

But of course, every marriage has different bounds.
posted by ftm at 5:15 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh and as for feeling guilty, I think it's a twofold answer. In the simplest terms, yes, you should feel guilty, because you are doing something behind your partner's back. In more subtle terms, if this activity is really going to be enough to make your marriage otherwise tolerable, and it's going to be what lets your partner stay happily married to you without having to put out, then you're doing him/her a solid and don't have to feel guilty about it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:17 PM on June 20, 2012


I don't feel guilty, am I an jerk?

You're asking the wrong question. Ask yourself how long you want to be in a sexless marriage and having to hide or deny your feelings.

Love is an important aspect of a marriage, but it is not the only aspect.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:22 PM on June 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


I don't feel guilty about it but worry that I might be in denial and maybe I should feel that way.

I don't think the guilt/jerk aspect of this is really that much of a big deal. The big deal is that you're married, you haven't mentioned at all what you have or have not told your partner about this other relationship you've been having and you're asking questions here as if that part of the equation isn't glaringly missing from your explanation of the situation.

So, it's fine to not feel guilty in an abstract sense. It's fine to not feel like a jerk about this, in an abstract sense. However, a marriage in the conventional sense is about combining your life with that of another person. It seems like there's a bump in the road here [your lack of intimacy with your partner] that you have gone and solved for yourself but not as a team. Whether this is or is not the solution that your partner would desire or prefer or even consider acceptable is a big open question and one that you should probably work on answering.

There isn't a strictly logical yes or no answer here so much as "You and your spouse should find something that is agreeable to the two of you" not "You set up a situation that is as defensible as possible while at the same time maybe not actually being totally clear with your partner about it" We used to call this the "grade my report card" phenomenon in my family where my one parent would do something that was sort of sketchy in a relationship sense but would have a completely fully thought out list of reasons and explanations of why it was okay and sort of require my other parent to find holes in their argument.

However, many or most of those explanations didn't actually matter if my other parent was like "Hey that's sketchy and makes me feel bad" So, I'd figure out whether it's okay with your partner and then you can figure out whether you're a jerk or should feel guilty. There's no such thing as an absolute jerk, it's all relative.
posted by jessamyn at 5:25 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not telling your partner, keeping this secret - it is essentially living a lie.
If you intend to maintain a life-long connected relationship with your partner, then this is poison. This will lead to an increasingly meaningless relationship with your partner over time.
posted by Flood at 5:26 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


We have strict boundaries and stick to them. We are essentially each others pornography. I don't feel guilty about it but worry that I might be in denial and maybe I should feel that way. My partner is not interested in sex at all and avoids discussing it. I am not unattractive, I am only in my early thirties and am intensely sexual so his lack of interest doesn't make me worry about that, it just makes me insatiable and I have to satisfy that so Second Life is the outlet.

I don't feel guilty, am I an jerk?


You're not a jerk. You just have needs. You're taking your satisfaction into your own hands, so to speak, and there's nothing wrong with that in itself.

The only way it's potentially problematic lies in what it portends for your relationship. How are the other aspects of your relationship? Is it worth staying in, even if your spouse can't meet your sexual needs?
posted by clockzero at 5:40 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't feel guilty, am I an jerk?

No, but to me what this indicates is that what you do feel is incredibly angry and resentful. And that's fair enough because a non-negotiated sexless relationship can be soul destroying. It's okay to both love your partner and decide you are not alright with living in a sexless marriage for the next SIXTY YEARS. I'd give this some thought.

Just so you know, I have been in SL for years and years so I'm pretty familiar with it. I'm not sure the people who are minimising your sexual relationship on SL understand that you are having an online affair with a real person. Because you certainly are.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:15 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


The short answer: Yes, you should feel guilty. You are having an affair. Guilt is appropriate.
The long answer: Your marriage has serious problems that you should address. Get some counseling, and if it doesn't work, get divorced.
posted by 3491again at 6:29 PM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


You're asking the wrong question. Ask yourself how long you want to be in a sexless marriage and having to hide or deny your feelings.


This - it's only going to get worse - not better. Affairs are not necessarily about phyisical pleasure only - emotional loyalty is important too - therefore, this is still an affair.

How would you feel if you found out the reason your SO is not interested in sex is because he is being physically satisified elsewhere?

Would that hurt?
posted by jkaczor at 7:02 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Need more detail, seriously.

But let's say the internet judged you a jerk? What then?
posted by sm1tten at 7:32 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Unless you know that your partner is ok with this you are a jerk.

But the bigger problem, or root problem, is that you have serious relationship problems and you're not addressing them.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:06 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: "I don't feel guilty, am I an jerk?

You're asking the wrong question. Ask yourself how long you want to be in a sexless marriage and having to hide or deny your feelings.

Love is an important aspect of a marriage, but it is not the only aspect.
"

SO. MUCH. THIS.

You are doing what you have to right now to stay in a relationship that you are deeply committed to, but that relationship is not returning your efforts.

Gotta tell you: I don't see you spending the next 50 years living sexually starved in this relationship. I doubt you do, either.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:16 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's what you're doing that I think is a jerky thing to do (as opposed to you being a jerk): you're wimping out on having the conversation you want to have, and need to have--i.e., "Why don't we ever have sex? How can we fix it? Or, if we can't fix it, how can we renegotiate our relationship so that I can either get sex elsewhere, or so that we can move on to relationships with people who have comparable libidos?"

Pretending to fuck someone in a computer game is just putting off that conversation, and doing so in a way that might be truly upsetting to your partner, who might well see it as a betrayal of your agreements. (It's really not like using porn; porn doesn't talk back.)

Have the real conversation you need to have. You owe it to both of you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:52 PM on June 20, 2012 [15 favorites]


You're asking the wrong question. Ask yourself how long you want to be in a sexless marriage and having to hide or deny your feelings.

This advice, while sound, sort of comes off like we're recommending that you get a divorce. Personally I think the more appropriate solution is to talk to your spouse about the lack of sex, whether or not it is acceptable to each of you, and whether or not you can work together to find a compromise that is acceptable to both of you. A bit of conversation and therapy certainly seem like worthwhile enterprises, rather than just pulling the plug. That is, assuming the rest of the relationship is as good as you say.
posted by vytae at 10:40 PM on June 20, 2012


You know, if you asked Dan Savage, he'd say you're not a jerk in theory, but you are in practice. In practice, you're having an open marriage (of sorts) in secret. Not so kosher. No way to make it kosher. It's just plain un-good.


As a fandom person, I get being each other's pr0n and having weird feelings (oh, do I), but, well, I wasn't married and also we were writing porn for the fun of it, not to like, turn each other on. Which is a relevant aspect: writing porn for someone as opposed to just with someone is a whole unique kettle of writhing fish, you know? I mean, I say that even though you can write porn for someone in fandom and it's just a cute gift, but you know what I mean. Hopefully.



Also, if I controlled the world, people would stop saying they're madly in love but have no sex life. It just really doesn't confuse, hurts my head, and also seems to lead non-jerky people to be assholes. If I can stop you saying it, it'd be almost as good as stopping you doing it. Suffice it to say: anything that'd a) hurt you if the other person did it; b) you know would hurt the other person if they knew you did it = you really shouldn't do it. Further, love sans sex, well, what's wrong with that? Nothing. I love my mom sans sex, and my best friends sans sex, and President Obama sans sex. It's all good. But. If you love your spouse sans sex and it's bothering you, and you are ignoring the problem or sublimating it and cheating and-and-and-- it's bad. Sometimes we love people and it's okay not to fuck them. They're called our friends. And sometimes we like people and it's not okay to fuck them, because they're our friends. Fucking your friends is actually a bad idea for the friendship, which is probably in part why romantic relationships and marriage makes sense (emotionally) in the first place. It's sort of like this magical place where friendship and sex gets to coexist, and need the other to function, and basically redefine the rules in its own favor. But marriage isn't friendship just as friendship isn't marriage, and for good reason. I really think it's just as important to have sex with your spouse as it is not to with a person you love who is a friend.

I know people have all sorts of opinions on marriage, probably, but I am here to say-- don't fuck your friends if you don't love them. It's a dick move, even if they let you.
posted by reenka at 10:55 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, you're a jerk. Even if your partner was a jerk first. Neither of you are addressing the problem, and you're willfully damaging your marriage. Regardless of whether they know know, they know. If you'd like intimacy in your marriage, you're going about it wrong.
posted by treasuretroveoftrollsandlust at 2:56 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


So why can't you talk about it? That seems to be a pretty huge issue in your relationship, frankly one that's kind of a deal breaker.

If your partner truly wouldn't care, you'd be upfront about it. "Hon, you know how you have no sex drive and I have enough for both of us? You don't care if I wank around with people on the interwebs do you?" It would be off hand, your partner would be relieved that he/she didn't need to do anything about it and you could get your rocks off.

But you're not open and upfront about it. Why? Have you discussed counseling? Is there a reason your sex life is so terrible?

Sexless marriages are fine for those who like them, but if you're not one of them, why are you in one?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:35 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


That you don't feel bad about your extra-marital arrangement is probably a sign that you're already emotionally detached from the relationship. I have been in a similar situation and from the other side, I wish I'd ended it earlier rather than end up doing some shady things (fantasies have a way of trying to assert themselves IRL) that I regret.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:33 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


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