How to quiet the "think about other women" impulse and become faithful in thought as well as action?
October 11, 2012 5:43 AM   Subscribe

How to quiet the "think about other women" impulse and become faithful in thought as well as action?

I am happily married, have been in this relationship for over a decade and in the last year became father of a wonderful son. My relationship is fun, exciting and one of the best parts of my life. I'm committed to my family, hoping to expand it in the near future and look forward to growing old with my beautiful wife. Yeah, smug bastard me.

But when I'm not with my partner I find myself flirting with other women. Part of me says that this is no real problem, and that I would never take it further. That's not strictly true - twice whilst very drunk I've kissed other women, which is one of the reasons I quit drinking some time ago. But I still find myself thinking about other women and it's starting to make me uncomfortable. It feels like cheating, and my resolve isn't the strongest. Surely there's only a fine line between entertaining these thoughts and acting on them?

Case in point, last night I went to see a band. My wife stayed home, she wasn't keen to take the trip into the city so I went on my own. While I was there a beautiful girl started talking to me, and after a while it was clear she was coming on to me. I was (I hope) the perfect gentleman, didn't lead her on, refused offers of drinks, kept things friendly and made a point of gently showing my wedding ring so as not to give her the wrong idea. She mentioned she'd recently split up with her boyfriend so the last thing I wanted to be was blunt and hurt her feelings.

At the end of the night I said goodbye and went home with a smile on my face, feeling flattered by the attention, and that's obviously where it should end. So why have I spent the next day thinking about her and wondering if life would've been more fun if I'd just gone with my urges?

Of course it would've been the wrong thing to cheat on my wonderful wife and family. Of course it would've been a completely selfish action. And that is why I didn't do it - because my circumstances meant I couldn't, not because I didn't want to.

How do I get to a place where I don't want to?

I hope I don't objectify women, I don't believe I do. Women do fascinate me, and I have a great deal of respect for them. That said, when I'm out on my own my default mode seems to be "look for attractive, fascinating women". I guess that's fairly typical, but as soon as I find someone interesting I'm launching into flirt mode which is just sleazy and horrible. I've never had an extended period of single life, never slept around or dated a lot of people, and maybe that's the root of this, that curiosity about what other relationships would be like. I guess I'm quite superficial and egotistical as I do enjoy the thought of someone finding me attractive, but on reflection that seems selfish - not just to my wife, but that it's got to the point where I'm using flirtatious behaviour in a way which leads people on.

Sure, I'm overthinking this... but that's the problem! Argh! I want to STOP thinking about it, to put it away and be the committed husband and father my family deserves. Like I say, nothing wrong with being flattered from time to time. Plenty wrong with finding myself there last night calculating just how far I could let it go before I'd have to stop it. Just glad I had the wit not to let it get that far, and I'm pretty disgusted with myself that it almost did - hence the ask.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (52 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
You know what, this is going to happen. That is life. I suggest that you take it back to the bedroom with you and insert it into a fantasy somehow that you can tell your wife about. You clearly want things: more kids. People find men attractive. People find women attractive. I wonder if you can't use your outside experiences to draw up the intimacy that you need to remain monogamous. Time will tell.
posted by parmanparman at 5:53 AM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

Plenty wrong with finding myself there last night calculating just how far I could let it go before I'd have to stop it.

You need to calculate this AWAY from other women.

I think the problem, here, is that you've equated something that basically everyone does (finding other people attractive) with something some people will do and some won't (flirting) with something that most people consider wrong (cheating). So, in your mind, once you let a woman smile at you, you're on the ROAD TO DANGER TOWN. But it doesn't have to be that way if you draw a bright line in your mind and say- yes I am allowed to do X, no I am not allowed to do Y.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:54 AM on October 11, 2012 [18 favorites]

You are a guy. You have testosterone. Your eye for attractive women means you have the kind of normal sex drive that evolved in men to make sure there is procreation. So don't feel bad about having those desires. If you were an animal in the jungle, you would probably be acting without limitation on those urges, but you are a human being living in cultured society, so the issue is whether you can control those urges with your mind. You need to figure out what are the strongest motivators for you not to act on those urges. For example, consider that if you do act on those urges, and it destroys your marriage, and your child ends up in a broken family and knows it's your fault. I presume that's about the last thing in the world you want to happen.
posted by Dansaman at 5:55 AM on October 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

Meditate. Forgive yourself. Stay in love with your wife.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 5:57 AM on October 11, 2012 [9 favorites]

I am happily married, have been in this relationship for over a decade and in the last year became father of a wonderful son. My relationship is fun, exciting and one of the best parts of my life. I'm committed to my family, hoping to expand it in the near future and look forward to growing old with my beautiful wife. Yeah, smug bastard me.

I'm trying to square this paragraph with all of the others you wrote, but I think you should perhaps read it again and again until you believe it.
posted by three blind mice at 5:59 AM on October 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

So, hi, Anonymous. As a warning, this answer comes from a woman with a seriously conservative (at least by MetaFilter standards) religious perspective. My answer is going to assume you're OK with that, because I can't ask you if that's OK. BTW I am totally on board with fighting off this kind of thought/feeling/behavior cycle, but most MeFites probably are going to think you're nuts for trying.

1. You must be honest with yourself, and with an outside authority, about what you're going through. Think of how in AA you have a sponsor. This person probably shouldn't be your wife (I recommend very strongly that you be honest with her, too, but it's not advisable to rely upon her as a backup you can turn to for advice.) Whoever your outside authority is, they have to be 100% on board with your desire to stop lusting after other women.

2. You must stop putting yourself in situations that are absurdly likely to lead to the lusting-flirting-making out train. I'm sorry, that means you need to stop going out to party/see bands/drink/whatever alone. You don't have to bring your wife with you, but you need to have someone who knows that you're married and will call you out on this kind of behavior.

3. You must start reading books and blog articles and the like that reinforce the decision you say you've made (recognizing that your intentions, your beliefs, and your actions are not currently in alignment.) This is one of my favorites, but it's (shockingly) very religious in nature.

Lastly, I want share a quote from that article I just linked to, on the tentative assumption you won't actually read the whole entire page:
Like thieves in the night, unwelcome thoughts can and do seek entrance to our minds. But we don’t have to throw open the door, serve them tea and crumpets, and then tell them where the silverware is kept! [...]

Throw the rascals out! Replace lewd thoughts with hopeful images and joyful memories; picture the faces of those who love you and would be shattered if you let them down. More than one man has been saved from sin or stupidity by remembering the face of his mother, his wife, or his child waiting somewhere for him at home. Whatever thoughts you have, make sure they are welcome in your heart by invitation only. As an ancient poet once said, let will be your reason.
I wanted to share that because a) I want to prove to you that being reminded of your wife and feeling like you need to stop doing something is actually totally healthy and happens to people a lot, and b) I want to remind you that even "good" people are tempted. The point is what you do after the thought occurs to you.

I think it's really, really unlikely, but on the off chance you want more stuff like that, I happen to have a fine collection of resources to share. :)
posted by SMPA at 6:05 AM on October 11, 2012 [26 favorites]

I guess one thing I'd add is this: If you feel troubled by your flirting/serious girl-watching and feel that it messes with how you want your marriage to be, that is all the justification you need, and you don't need to argue in your head with various other narratives of male sexuality. ("It's normal!" "All guys have these urges, just flirt away but stop before you have sex!") You're not all guys and you don't need to fit your individual sexuality, state of mind and relationship into someone else's narrative.

I like SMPA's answer above, even though it's not how I run my relationship.
posted by Frowner at 6:14 AM on October 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

How do I get to a place where I don't want to?

Setting aside the rest of the details of your situation here, whether or not you feel like it's right to think a certain way, IME it often doesn't help to fight directly against having those thoughts - that can just make them more powerful in your mind and make you feel upset for having them. What I've found to be more helpful is to acknowledge you're having a particular thought and to try to be fully aware of it. This kind of awareness also helps you separate having the thought from acting on it, which as showbiz_liz pointed out is the real problem (nobody can see what you think, after all, only what you do). I mean, thoughts are just thoughts, not commands. Every once in a while when I'm holding something very expensive and fragile like a Faberge egg or a piece of lab equipment or whatever I briefly get the urge to throw it out the window. It's just how minds work.

You will probably need other strategies also - like when you notice that you're flirting, you may want to interrupt yourself with something practiced like "welp! look at the time! gotta get back to $x" or "would you excuse me I really need the bathroom" and then get out of the situation. And also be aware of rationalization ("I didn't want to hurt the cute girl's feelings by rejecting her" seems kind of like that to me, though of course I wasn't there).
posted by en forme de poire at 6:22 AM on October 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

She mentioned she'd recently split up with her boyfriend so the last thing I wanted to be was blunt and hurt her feelings.

You probably hurt her feelings plenty by not giving her a kiss goodbye, and your wife would be hurt if she knew, too. Be blunt.
posted by acidic at 6:26 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

For a nonreligious liberal, I am fairly conservative on issues like this, as well. For instance, I don't buy that garbage that "men just got to lust after every woman ever and if only they could slam every woman eevveeer, they would." That is not how the men I am close to describe their inner lives. However, it really is okay to find other people attractive. showbiz_liz has the right idea here -- you are conflating that normal aspect of human life, with flirtation and cheating. You don't need to feel bad for thinking someone is attractive. I don't even think mild flirting is a reason to tear yourself up.

But, honestly, if I were your wife, I would be heartbroken to read that you had been behaving this way. Is she really staying at home with your baby while you go out and do anything to find pretty women to flirt with? That's bad, dude. I guess you don't want to let a little thing like an infant child keep you from hitting on strange women, or anything? Your wife isn't important enough to you that you would refrain from this behavior, obviously -- but your kid isn't, either?

I suspect you aren't as committed to your family as you think you are. You are rebelling against them with this behavior. Maybe you could use some therapy -- but maybe that would just end up as another commitment for you to rebel against.

Stop going out on your own. Or with anyone who would encourage this behavior. Cold turkey. Go out with decent friends, or with your wife. Let your wife go out while YOU take care of the baby. Otherwise, one day, you may wake up to a wife who has finally had enough of being treated this way.
posted by Coatlicue at 6:31 AM on October 11, 2012 [42 favorites]

Maybe it's time to stop going to places where you will have the opportunity to flirt with women.

I live in Japan at the moment, and I live about 2 blocks from a drinking district with hostess bars. I'm 2 minutes by taxi away from a district with massage parlors and brothels.

It's quite common in this country for men to go to hostess bars and have girls sit on their lap. It's quite common for men to go to brothels. The opportunity is there for me. My wife would never know. I have acquaintances and even cousins by marriage who frequent these places, and have invited me to go.

But I don't. It's a choice I make.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:37 AM on October 11, 2012 [16 favorites]

Without getting into all the psychoanalysis of the male sex drive, I would say that the single best thing for you to do would be to minimize your exposure to situations where you are tempted to or have the opportunity to flirt. Don't go to bars and clubs by yourself. A big part of the equation of unfaithful behavior is consciously creating opportunities for such behavior.

On preview, what KokuRyu said.
posted by chicxulub at 6:39 AM on October 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

I've never had an extended period of single life, never slept around or dated a lot of people, and maybe that's the root of this, that curiosity about what other relationships would be like.

You're missing less than the media has led you to believe, bro
posted by MangyCarface at 6:41 AM on October 11, 2012 [40 favorites]

Whether or not having these feelings is a form of betrayal in a relationship will always be a totally subjective question, completely rooted in the boundaries that exist between you and your wife. I don't necessarily think that simply being attracted to somebody else is necessarily a problem (nor is it necessarily wrong to enjoy flattering attention from others), but it does sound like you're ramping up the exciting energy around these kinds of thoughts by being flirtatious and encouraging attention. So you need to nip that in the bud, as well as the whole justifying-your-actions-in-your-head thing (eg. "She just broke up w/ her boyfriend, I don't want to be blunt.").

A helpful thought, when you find yourself interacting with somebody you find attractive, might be, "If my wife were here right now, would I feel comfortable acting in this way around her?" I think it's also helpful, as others have said, to simply acknowledge the thoughts and then move on, trying not to dwell on it. Anytime I find myself getting a little crush on somebody, it helps me to say to myself, "Yep, they're cute/funny/nice, but I also barely know them, and I bet they come with their own set of issues. My husband is also cute, funny, and nice, and an amazing partner to boot, because he knows me incredibly well and we've made a commitment to each other." I dunno, YMMV, but that relieves the interaction of a little bit of its magic, and I can still enjoy meeting someone new without having the urge to kiss them.

I also think it's worth exploring what underpins these little flirtatious forays.

So why have I spent the next day thinking about her and wondering if life would've been more fun if I'd just gone with my urges?

I've never had an extended period of single life, never slept around or dated a lot of people, and maybe that's the root of this, that curiosity about what other relationships would be like.

These two bits of your post stood out to me a little bit. You say that you're very happy in your relationship, which I don't doubt. But do you have underlying doubts/fears about your marriage that might be fuelling this, or worries that you've missed out on something? Possibly thoughts that you don't feel comfortable discussing with your wife? It might be worth a little bit of therapy to try and unpick your thoughts about your relationship; you might find you're missing something in your marriage that's causing you to seek it outside the relationship.
posted by catch as catch can at 6:43 AM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

You stopped drinking because drinking too much overrode your little switch that reminds you to stop.

That's good.

Now you have to trust yourself that just because you talking to some girl at the bar, that doesn't necessarily mean flirting. Were you touching her? Going on about how lovely she is? Or were you just chatting and keeping it friendly?

Talking to other women is not cheating.

I mean honestly, you didn't SCREW other women when you got drunk, you kissed them, you recognized your behavior and corrected it.

I don't know anyone that hasn't gotten very drunk and kissed someone when it was a bad idea.

Just because you talk to a woman at a bar does not mean you are going to fuck them or that you would even given a chance. I'm going to guess you probably had a chance when you kissed those two other women when you were drunk...but YOU DIDN'T.

so have a little faith in yourself. you are in control of your actions.

if you find yourself thinking about the cute girl from the bar the other night, don't go all crazy on yourself. just kinda chuckle and think "hey brain, thanks for reminding of me that. " or "i'm thinking about that girl." and let it go.

someone up thread said meditation. mindfulness is pretty helpful for stuff like this. you don't need to beat yourself up over being human and especially over things that haven't even happened. wondering "what if?" in ANY direction is pointless energy. you've got better things to do.
posted by sio42 at 6:46 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

How to quiet the "think about other women" impulse and become faithful in thought as well as action?

Practice. Just practice it. Don't indulge in the thoughts, don't indulge in the action, don't indulge in talking to strange women. And when you're with your wife, practice being there in the moment. It works.

Also, this is from left field but if you don't already you could pick up a solo sport and get good at it (running, climbing, etc) and this would be a different, more healthy way to feel proud about yourself and get positive attention. The level of attention we get from women is such a common way for society to "score" men but a great 5K time might be a more positive outlet.
posted by ftm at 6:47 AM on October 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

That said, when I'm out on my own my default mode seems to be "look for attractive, fascinating women". I guess that's fairly typical, but as soon as I find someone interesting I'm launching into flirt mode which is just sleazy and horrible . . . I guess I'm quite superficial and egotistical as I do enjoy the thought of someone finding me attractive, but on reflection that seems selfish - not just to my wife, but that it's got to the point where I'm using flirtatious behaviour in a way which leads people on.

I think you're locked into this cycle where you enjoy the flattery and attention, then you feel bad for enjoying it, and need more attention to pick yourself up again. It's very seductive to validate your worth through attention from others, but you'll keep needing that attention until you become more secure in yourself. These flirtations sound like they're less about your marriage and more about you needing new ways to boost your self-esteem--ways that don't make you feel horrible afterwards. What do you do that makes you feel good about yourself? What are you proud of about your life? How can you focus more on those things so you feel validated in ways that don't undermine your self-esteem later on?
posted by gladly at 6:50 AM on October 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Whatever you do, don't attempt thought repression. Don't decide that you MUST NOT think of other women. It's like trying to tell yourself not to think of a white bear. If you are determined to never think of white bears, it's all you can think about. It's called Ironic process theory.

If you feel the thoughts creeping into your mind, let them. Follow it all the way to inevitable outcome, the outcome that is not as positive as your first impulse is leading you to believe.

Also, change your view that refusing to flirt with a cute woman is hurting her feelings. If you think that you are a nice person, and that nice people flirt with newly single hot ladies (how convenient), then logically from that the only way to be as faithful as you hope to be would be to act as a BAD person.

You need to flip that around to it is something wonderful kind and nice people do, to refuse to flirt with and lead on women when you know your wife is waiting for you at home.
posted by Dynex at 6:52 AM on October 11, 2012 [8 favorites]

I'm going to talk about the semi-buried lead in the story - your 1 year old. Mrs. randomkeystrike and I had two children back to back - about a year apart. I'm not sure where we had the sex in that window a few months after the first pregnancy, but we must have. Well, infants do put the kibosh on a lot of activities of this nature. On the one hand, I felt more attracted and committed to my family than ever, but on the other, a very basic biological drive was being frustrated more often than ever, and this was the period in my marriage where I came closest to straying.

I think rather than analyzing where those lines should be drawn, it's just plain easier to stay the hell away from them. Another point to consider - you've got the rest of your life to go to concerts, clubs, etc. WITH your wife when the child is at a point where babysitters are easier to come by, or even unnecessary. Kids become a lot lower maintenance after they get into grade school. Meanwhile, it's not just the flirting that's problematic, you should be home helping to change diapers, etc. My wife wasn't working outside the house at the time, so I rationalized a lot of time doing other stuff on the grounds that this was her full time job. Well, maybe that's a fair analogy, if you enjoy jobs where you're on 24 hour call. If you think that would be a little rough, well, imagine how much more you might be getting laid at home if you took total care of the baby for the evening on a regular basis.

In saying this, I don't mean to presume that you're not doing any of this, and I'm aware that I may be totally on the wrong track. I'm just pointing out a possible area of tension.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:09 AM on October 11, 2012 [12 favorites]

She mentioned she'd recently split up with her boyfriend so the last thing I wanted to be was blunt and hurt her feelings.

There is an extremely standard procedure for how to behave in these situations. Forget the subtle flashing of your wedding ring. Once you start having a prolonged conversation with another woman when your wife is not with you, begin mentioning your wife explicitly in the conversation. It may be a little awkward, but who cares? The deliberate wife/girlfriend mention is the most basic part of taking-to-other-women etiquette.

Secondly: please do not listen to all the people who are going to pile in here and talk to you about your natural manly urges to have sex with as many women as possible. You are a modern human person living in a society. Of course you can't control your thoughts, but you also don't need to justify things like drunken bar makeouts as a basic part of your nature that can't be avoided. You can decide not to put yourself in bad situations, and you can decide to behave as a married man when talking with other women, regardless of what is or isn't going on in your head.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:11 AM on October 11, 2012 [21 favorites]

I really like Coatlicue's advice above. I'm going to focus on the new-baby stresses because that's where I am right now. Our new baby is almost two but it's really had a heck of an impact on our relationship. I was talking this over with another mom recently and what is really difficult is that the window of opportunity for my husband and I to just be like our old couple selves is so very narrow. Our toddler is just so demanding of our time and attention. "No duh," right? But, really, it's a stresser. And in that narrow window, we are each often tired and recovering from our day and it's not really quality time for us.

Around age 1 is a good time to start finding a way to make those windows of couple-time happen with more regularity and start to turn some of the focus back on you two as a couple. I think you're missing quality couple time and, frankly, you will need to accept that this time is very different right now.

And, yeah, Dad's really do have more opportunity to get away when understanding wives and mothers stay home but I don't think it's really cool for you to be putting yourself into this atmosphere. Bands, music, drinking, late nights. It's just going to be too full of temptation. What if instead of going out, you were watching a movie with your wife? Or staying home with the kid and sending her out with a girlfriend? She should be getting out for some battery-charging every week minimum and you should be with your kid during that time.

I feel for you. These kids, man, they're awesome and they will kill you. Heh. Re-focus!
posted by amanda at 7:15 AM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

I don't think that wanting to stop being attracted to other women is a reasonable expectation. You got married; you didn't re-wire your brain. But what you think and what you do are not the same thing. One is not so much under your control but the other squarely is.

Never in a million years am I going to tell you to stop going to bars and gigs. And it's normal to enjoy the ego-boost of the back and forth of flirtation and the newness of the unknown person opposite you, whether it happens at the office or in a social setting. But you don't seem to manage your own boundaries very well, so I am going to tell you to stop flirting, because it's getting you into trouble - with yourself, if not with your partner.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:19 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe have a conversation with your wife, keeping it very light, about just how okay it is to be attracted to and flirt with other people? If she's comfortable with it and trusts you not to do anything about it, it might set your mind a bit at ease. My husband and I are monogamous, but completely aware that both of us are going to be attracted to other people, and completely okay with a bit of harmless flirtation with interesting strangers. It's flattering and entertaining, and neither of us has to feel guilty about it.

I'm female, by the way, so blah blah testosterone masculinity et cetera-- I still do the same thing (and in my 30's at that). Marriage is a long time, and the gentlemen do not all suddenly become completely unappealing to a young lady just because she's not going to *do* anything with them. I am a huge fan of dropping spouse-mentions immediately into conversations, so it's fairly infrequent that anyone really thinks they have a chance. But when they have thought so, and propositioned, I have politely turned them down. So I know it isn't that hard. I'm not afraid, as I think you may be, of getting Caught Up In The Moment (TM) and being unable to control myself. Trust me, you can say no even if you really really don't want to.

I don't know, I consider it perfectly normal to think about other people when in a long-term relationship. I can't imagine how you could avoid it, male *or* female. That's nothing to beat yourself up about. Even if you think you're going too far with the flirting, focusing on the idea of never being attracted to anyone but your wife probably isn't realistic. Different people function differently, of course, but to me it's about how far your actions go, and what the agreement in your relationship is as to how far is too far. (For example, in my current relationship, kissing someone else is over the cheating line, even though flirting isn't.)

Everyone else is right that it's probably about the baby too, but this is not my area of expertise, so here is where I bow out.
posted by Because at 7:30 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Did you date your wife in college? Did you get married sorta youngish?

It's sounds like maybe you did. Given how much you are romanticizing the drama and STD filled shit show that is adult dating.

Finding other people attractive and even having some lingering fantasy is completely normal.

Feeling like there is a fine, dangerous, easy-to-cross line between those feelings and actual cheating is less good.

You kissed some people while drunk. So you quit drinking. Good.

You want to kiss girls while chatting them up. So quit chatting them up.
posted by French Fry at 7:32 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you feel the thoughts creeping into your mind, let them. Follow it all the way to inevitable outcome, the outcome that is not as positive as your first impulse is leading you to believe.

This actually doesn't help me with problem thoughts (usually anxious hypochondriac ones in my case), although I'm sure it works well for others. I find that I've learned to sort of "blank" a thought once I recognize it - like, I take a moment and think of absolutely nothing, it feels sort of like the blind spot that you get from staring at the sun. And then I redirect.

Sometimes I also have a sort of mantra. In my case it's "you don't need to think about awful things from ten years ago!" (which is another kind of stupid thought I have). But perhaps something like "I don't need to think about flirting" or "I want to think about my wife" might help?

It took a while, but both of these strategies have genuinely reduced both the frequency and power of problem thoughts.
posted by Frowner at 7:36 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

It is impossible to only be attracted to one person. Impossible. You will never be attracted to this woman without being attracted to some larger subset of women generally. That's just how it works.

But your attraction is a problem for you when you choose to substitute it for your judgment or your commitments.

Do you ever get mad at somebody, really hopping mad? Your boss? Your co-worker? That annoying guy in your bowling league? A politician on tv? So mad you'd like to punch them in their stupid face? Of course you do. Getting mad is not, in and of itself, a problem. It's a totally normal response to certain kinds of stimuli.

Now, when you do get that mad, do you haul off and punch your boss? Do you throw something at the tv? Probably not. Because you're an adult, and you don't have to be ruled by your emotions.

When I smoked cigarettes, and would half-heartedly try to quit, one of the things I'd do was to demand perfect purity of myself from day 1. I'd do my level best to quit, and I'd be good for a couple of hours, or even a couple of days, but then I'd break down and bum one from a friend. And I'd figure, "I blew it. Today doesn't count. I'll start over tomorrow." And then I'd smoke another cigarette or two, or four, because today doesn't count. And then I'd be hooked again.

Smoking one cigarette is a problem, and I shouldn't have done that. But the bigger problem was feeling like I'd blown it, and, as long as I've blown it today, I may as well smoke another, and another.

Imagine how hard it would be for me to quit, if I felt like I'd blown it every time I wanted a cigarette? I want one right now. I've blown it, I may as well find one somewhere and light up.

You are going to want to smoke, so to speak. You are going to want other women. That's not blowing it. Blowing it is wandering outside where the smokers are, and sidling up to them, and asking to bum one. Blowing it is entertaining and indulging that thought, is wondering what the other woman smells like, is imagining her smiling at you the morning after, is flirting with your eyes, with your voice, with your body. It's important not to get those things confused with ordinary attraction which is and will always be a feature of your life.
posted by gauche at 7:38 AM on October 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

But I still find myself thinking about other women and it's starting to make me uncomfortable. It feels like cheating, and my resolve isn't the strongest.

It's not cheating. Seriously, it. is. not. cheating. If we were all judged on our thoughts, none of us would last an hour or two before being sent to the electric chair. You can't really control your thoughts, so it's not helpful to set that as a goal. You're just setting yourself up for failure.

What you can control is your reaction to your thoughts and that's the part you should focus on. Someone up above mentioned meditation and they're exactly right. See you're getting upset about thoughts, when the human mind is like a chattering monkey, always wanting to think something and if you try not to think of anything, like say a pink elephant, you're immediately going to the image in your head.

So learn to meditate, which can help you to stop reacting to your thoughts. Make peace with the fact that you may think certain things and don't focus on them as problem. They're just thoughts, not actions.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:38 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

You cannot adequately control the "think about other women" impulse.
You can, however, completely control the "act on these thoughts" impulse. That's part of being an adult.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:38 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I came in here to say what Narrative Priorities said. The Unneccessary Wife Mention is your friend here. After all, you displayed your wedding ring, but that only proves that you're married. It doesn't prove that you care that you're married. So the thing to do is to make a point of mentioning your wife within the first two minutes of conversation. It can come totally out of left field, in fact it's better if it does, because showing that you're deliberately mentioning your wife is the whole point.

I know you don't want to hurt people's feelings, but on balance they will appreciate not having their time wasted. I know I always used to appreciate the Unneccesary Boyfriend Mention when I was single.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:39 AM on October 11, 2012 [8 favorites]

There is no One. Your wife's not the One. In your life you are going to meet many other people who, given the opportunity, you might be able to have something with - a fling, a relationship, a lifetime - and they won't be the One either.

Commitment is acknowledging that fact, but honoring what you've built with your partner enough not to throw it all away for something else.

You asked how to make the thoughts go away and the answer is they don't. You just choose not to act on them.

(also, not to pile on too much but: you have a new kid? Under 1 year old? If your eye has time to wander, then your wife is doing too much of the work. Your new hobby is your son.)
posted by AV at 7:41 AM on October 11, 2012 [14 favorites]

A cousin and I sat on a low brick wall, overlooking the valley, speaking with Grandfather of many things. One of us was recently married; the other in a long-term relationship. We'd always figured that those urges would dwindle and eventually evaporate. Grandfather laughed. "Boys, it never goes away. A beautiful woman will always be a beautiful woman. Do yourself a favour and don't fight it."

Your experience is not unusual. In fact, I would even say it's the norm. How do you handle it? Accept it. Being married doesn't make you a better person, or change your hormones, or do anything apart from making you married. Your biology generally doesn't change.

What does change is your behaviour. Perhaps marriage is a behavioural modification programme. The thoughts are triggered by instincts. When you see a fertile, attractive member of the opposite sex, the magic button is pressed. You are attracted. That is a biological feature.

Once it happens, the social navigation kicks in. Why you should or shouldn't. What it means if you do. The following day, how it could have been if you did.

Grandfather also said, "cheating is not a thought, it's an action." Fantasies about kicking the neighbour's dog are not the same as kicking the dog. Fantasies about telling the boss off and walking out the door is not telling the boss off and walking out the door.

Fantasies about sleeping the girl in the bar is not the same as sleeping with the girl in the bar.

So how to you stem your fantasies? Paradoxically, allow them to be. Meditation is wonderful for managing your thoughts and emotions. They are just thoughts. You do not have to follow them up. The feeling of attraction to the woman at the bar does not have to turn into a massive fantasy. You choose to continue thinking about it and making it into a story. If you don't spend your time creating the elaborate fantasy, it will be a blip.

Further, I see something in your post about the intersection of your drinking and fantasy. You kissed two women and have stopped drinking. I wonder if you have a deeper problem of not trusting yourself. Here, you have everything you want in life and you love it. Infidelity could bring that crashing down, so maybe now you're now afraid of yourself – of your lack of ability to control yourself perhaps.

Next, I'm pretty disgusted with myself that it almost did. In your fantasy. In reality, you were in a bar, speaking to a girl. Could you have gone home with her? Maybe. Would you have slept with her? Maybe. You met a girl in a bar. She was flirty. You went home alone to your wife. That's what happened.

The story is that you could have been doing circus love with her all night and thank god you didn't. It was almost inevitable, but with all your willpower, you managed somehow not to ruin your life. But just barely.

I don't believe it. I think you are getting into your married life, now with a kid. Sounds like you are fighting the fantasies, repressing your inherent sexual desires, and it's manifesting in other ways. Embrace the fantasies mate. They are okay. Do you feel guilty if you have a fantasy about being rich? Or about running away to Prague to paint? Or anything else? No, they're just fantasies. So is this.

The bigger issue I think is that you may want to become less outcome-oriented in your flirtation. It's okay to be married and flirt. In fact, the wedding ring is one of the most powerful aphrodisiacs, for two reasons. The first is that married men are often "safer". That is, women can flirt with them, knowing there's a different boundary. The second is "mate-poaching" and that if one can steal another mates, they are inherently more attractive.

If that is the biology, the psychology is much different. Living in outcome-focused cultures, flirting is a step to sex. If we are successful in flirting, the outcome is sex. Perhaps that was triggered the other night. As a single man, you would have 'transacted' with that woman. As a married man, perhaps you were a bit confused. Successful flirting used to lead to sex, but now it can't.

Well, it can, it you choose it to. Or it cannot. Regardless, flirting is still fun.

TL;DNR: You're married, not dead.
posted by nickrussell at 7:41 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

You sound like you have a self-esteem based on trying to get women to want you sexually. You really need more than that to be a healthy person and you really need to value and nurture other aspects of yourself to truly feel good about who you are.
posted by discopolo at 7:56 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

But I still find myself thinking about other women and it's starting to make me uncomfortable. It feels like cheating

Another element is that conflating 'thinking about other women' with 'cheating on your wife' is sort of a false wall.

It seems like you are being really hard on yourself but you are actually making cheating less of a step.

Because "hey, if I'm already thinking these thoughts I'm basically cheating... so it wouldn't be that much worse if I actually cheated."
posted by French Fry at 8:07 AM on October 11, 2012 [11 favorites]

Think about how crappy the other women feel after you tell them "oh yeah, you're hot and all, but I'm married and love my wife and would never in a million years leave her for you." Rejection really hurts, no matter what the situation.
posted by Melismata at 8:12 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

A wise man once gave me the following advice... AHEM...

It doesn't matter where you get your appetite as long as you eat at home.
posted by milqman at 8:35 AM on October 11, 2012

I'm a woman but I can relate. Here's what you should do:

1) stop drinking (check!)

2) stop going to bars and clubs alone. If your wife won't/can't go out with you, go with happily attached men. I really think 75% of saying "no" is minimizing opportunity to say "yes."

3) throw yourself into your relationship with your wife. Hire a babysitter and go out. Talk to her. Be intimate. The more engaged you are with your wife, the less appealing the idea of cheating on her will be. As a bonus, the more time and effort you put into loving your wife, the less energy you have to pursue other women. (Along these lines, I think the idea above about a new sport was a great idea).

4) fantasize. I mean this in two ways. First, bring the thoughts home to bed with you. Second, play out the cheating in your mind. Make sure you follow it all the way to its shiitty conclusion. How will you feel in the morning? Will you tell your wife or carry that guilt around? Will you lose your family? Will your son grow up without his dad? Think about the negative consequences every time you want to act on tempting thoughts. Don't push them out of your brain. Hold on to them.

5) talk to your wife. Tell her that you love her so much, but you're human, and sometimes you think about other women. (NOTE: I would start with a vague and exploratory conversation about monogamy, nothing too specific in the event this will upset her). You might be comforted to learn that she has the same feelings and struggles! I think most married and committed people would admit that fidelity can be a challenge. If you clue her in, you can face this challenge as a team, instead of as individuals. If you need something from her or the relationship that you aren't getting (intimacy, compliments, etc.) tell her.

Good luck.
posted by murfed13 at 9:45 AM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

I do want to throw this out there -- a few people have suggested it. And, you will have to gauge your relationship and circumstances to decide if it's a good idea. But, there's this idea that you should bring this up and discuss it. I'm kind of sour on that. And I'm really speaking from the point of view of the wife here. Like, I'm really, really not going to be happy to stay home and take care of the baby if I know you're out there having a good time (fine) and chatting up the ladies (not fine) and getting all this special different-girl fantasy time in (weird and not fine).

By bringing it up, you're asking for her to engage on this issue and I don't necessarily think that's fair. You're asking her to be understanding and have an exchange over this and she may frankly be too tired and/or uninterested and/or hormonal to have a rational and philosophical discussion about the role of fantasy and other people in your lives. The hormones don't stop the day you give birth and there's often a super strong protective, fighting instinct that I don't really think you want to rile up without a very good reason and without an understanding that this could backfire horribly.

I mean, if it's a choice between have the conversation or leave your wife for another girl, then yes, I suppose you should bring it up. But maybe in therapy. It's just not a nice thing to spring on a new mom who has a LOT on her plate right now.

Best of luck, anon!
posted by amanda at 10:03 AM on October 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

I've traveled the globe and experienced an approach that might work for you:

Avoid gazing at attractive women, and giving them that 2nd glance. Look away, or look down .

I've seen this approach (especially looking down) among men and women in China, parts of the middle east, and South East Asia. In fact, I noticed I was the only one at the cafe or shop looking and trying to flirt with the noticeably attractive woman that just walked in. Some looked up, but did not take the second look (which I think leads to start of your troubles).
posted by Kruger5 at 10:09 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Learn to meditate. Learn to let those thought occur, stare at them, tell them they are just thoughts, get bored of them, and lovingly deposit them in a mental paper shredder.

Stop putting yourself in circumstances where you act this way. And drop the false equivalence between minor thoughts and major actions. Deciding not to do something is still, always, a choice. Every step of the way.

Cultivate other sources of self esteem. Like being a giving and attentive father to your newborn child. That is an opportunity that doesn't happen every day.
posted by ead at 10:17 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Here's a nice analogy for you: Sounds to me like you are checking to see if the safety on your rifle is in the on position by pulling the trigger.

You've been married quite a while. You've had time to wonder if the thrill is gone. Not exactly, but something has changed from back in the carefree days when you were a butterfly, or whatever your wont was way back then. Dating various women has its ups and downs, but mostly the thrill is when the quest is about to be reciprocated by a woman. Nothing else is quite like that thrill. You won't ever get it more than once per person. Ah, "the first time, ever..."

Nostalgia is good. It's sweet, or it's cutting, or it's sad, depending. Maybe you are approaching the metaphoric top of the hill, and sense that soon it will all be downhill. Some guys buy a motorcycle. We are made of our memories. It's good to qualify them. They may happen sequentially, but they permeate us like layers of skin, and take on a timeless aspect: we are always who we were at any given moment, and perspective lets us be embarrassed by what we did before we knew better. The point is that there are some memories you don't want to carry, but you are stuck with them.

Anyhow, there really is a definite line to be crossed here, and you've already pushed a toe over it, and used liquor as your crutch. Nothing wrong with thinking about past loves. Nothing wrong with the little flush of pleasure if you realize that an attractive woman is eyeing you speculatively. Nothing at all wrong about musing over the days of what you thought was your endless summer. Perspective kicks in, though, and it gets a little scary once you realize that winter will soon be here. impression is that you seem to be seeking to revisit those days. You may intend to encourage circumstances to pile up to the extent that you can rationalize committing an actual infidelity. Reading through your post, it's tempting to look between the lines to try to see unspoken aspects of your life (your relationship, family) that you feel are unfulfilling. Please know that we all have unfulfilled potential, and the older we get, the more paths we reject in favor of the one we've chosen to take. Those rejected paths often come back to us in the wee hours just before sleep, or during that long and boring road trip. What if I'd.....

I promise you, having to say you are sorry to your wife is perhaps the worst of the choices you are faced with now. You are building trust equity in your relationship with her and your child. It evaporates easily, and then--if you are as lucky as you can possibly be--you have to start to rebuild it from a negative balance situation, and at a lower rate of interest. If you need to meditate on something, conjure up the look on your son's face when he understands what you've done. No, wait, do the easier one first: your wife.

By the way, that dangerous rationalization you used--the one about hurting the woman's feelings--think about that a while. If you do step over the line, don't try to use that excuse when you are trying to deal with your wife. I can assure you that it won't be recieved well.
posted by mule98J at 10:30 AM on October 11, 2012 [7 favorites]

Following up with three blind mice's answer, if you truly believe the first paragraph that you wrote, then I suspect you might be taking your wife for granted.

I respect the advice w.r.t. to manly testosterone and allow that it may help, but I will also assure you that women have problems with this kind of scenario too. It might be different in its essential character, but I've experienced being in a stale relationship, seeing a cute guy in a coffeeshop, getting sexually aroused, and going from zero to sexpot in 3.5. More than once.

I can honestly say that in my current relationship that while I flirt (who doesn't), I don't feel intense desire to stray or the need to play with fire. My relationship is only a third as long as yours, and I suspect that most long-term relationships go through this particular trial, so I wouldn't feel like there's anything wrong with you personally. I'd just try to nip in the bud in as much as it's causing you distress and endangering your relationship.

So to combine my first and second paragraphs, maybe consider that your wife struggles with the same feelings when she's out alone. Even if you think, "yeah, my wife, no way," consider that you functionally have no idea.

When I think back to relationships where I felt like I could go out alone and flirt with hot men and tempt fate, they were pretty universally earmarked by the fact that I felt like my boyfriend was secure at home and wasn't going anywhere. In other words, I took them for granted. There's a reason that pick-up artist bullshit works on people, men and women, in a relationship and not. People want what they can't have, or aren't sure they can hold on to.

Do you consider yourself more attractive than your wife? More sexual? More outgoing or worldly or engaged? If any of these you might want to take a few steps back and think about what is causing you to mentally shelf her when you're out alone. (It's normal to enjoy a bit of freedom, but most men I know don't automatically seek out the hottest woman in the room and ingratiate themselves to her unless they have self-esteem issues. Or they're single.)
posted by stoneandstar at 11:19 AM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

Begin with the end in mind. Meaning, stay away from places where people flirt a lot. Also, when you see women, any women, practice seeing them from the shoulders up, and quit trying to decide whether they're attractive enough.
posted by coldhotel at 11:28 AM on October 11, 2012

To underline the perspective I'm trying to illustrate, basically if you think your wife is attractive and engaging and a catch, maybe it's a bit chastening to imagine her eying up a sexy waiter/bartender/librarian with the intent to flirt to the point of a pick-up. Because I imagine that would make you feel quite crummy, if you knew about it, and might also have the dual effect of making you appreciate that she happens to love and want to reproduce with you. It's also possible that you're having doubts about her suitability to you, or feeling that she's not as physically attractive any more, or something else that might lead you to want more affirmation from outside... in that case, maybe you need to meditate on your wife and your relationship a bit more to feel re-invested.

Also, flirting in general is totally fine and probably healthy. If you can flirt in a healthy, friendly way with women, there's nothing wrong with that. But zeroing in or pursuing women or getting to the point where you're kissing them means that you are definitely looking for something that should maybe come from your marriage.

(And seriously, I know, testosterone, but ask most women what they feel like the week before their period begins... we basically want to jump any guy with a cute butt, or exposed arms, or a nice smile, or who looks in any way like he might be pleasant to make a baby with. Nature and all of that.)
posted by stoneandstar at 11:36 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thinking about other women? Hell's bells, that's just being human.

If you aren't having an affair, you aren't having an affair.
posted by ellF at 12:10 PM on October 11, 2012

Once I was the girl at the bar that you talked to, and the married you did the following--

After much flirting and wonderful conversation, he smirked at me and said, "And would this usually be the point in the conversation where you give me your number and then maybe I ask if you want to leave and we go find a quiet place together?"

Me, "Yes."

And he said, "And you know what? I totally would if I wasn't already so happily married."

I put my hands playfully on my hips and said, "You are? You cad." Coy smile. "What a lucky woman!"

And we talked about how great it is to find someone who is your rock, and it wasn't awkward, and he felt validated that I was totally into him and I felt validated that he was totally into me, and neither one of us crossed any lines. It was a blast.

Life happens. You will always meet people. Don't feel guilty for acknowledging the attraction...but don't throw away your rock for a fleeting jump into the wind.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 12:48 PM on October 11, 2012 [8 favorites]

> It's not cheating. Seriously, it. is. not. cheating.

Maybe, that's debatable. I'm thinking here of President Jimmy "I have committed adultery in my heart" Carter, who I'm quite sure was telling the truth as he saw it.

But even if it's not flat out cheating it's still a very bad place to live, paddling around in a lake of unfulfilled desires and never getting out--on either side. In fact it's hard to think of a worse one, outside of actually dying in a fire. I can totally sympathize with the OP on this one.

I have some heavyweight friends with me here, #1 being Blake (in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.) Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.

And here's C. P. Cavafy to explain exactly why and how nursing unfulfilled desires is scary bad:


Like beautiful bodies of the dead, who had not grown old
and they shut them with tears, in a magnificent mausoleum,
with roses at the head and jasmine at the feet --
that is how desires look that have passed
without fultillment; without one of them having achieved
a night of sensual delight, or a moonlit morn.

--Constantine P. Cavafy

If the OP really truly DOES NOT WANT to pay the price of that night of sensual delight, damn who it would hurt and what it would wreck, then he (I, we, because every married person has had this problem some time) we really don't have any choice except to walk actively and whole-heartedly in the other direction. Starting, dare I say it? with the real no-brainers like don't go drinking by yourself in pick-up bars. There's nothing at all there for us except a) rubbing the same old unacted desires raw again, or b) moving on to the actual adultery step.
posted by jfuller at 1:02 PM on October 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

There's a ton of great mindfulness stuff in this thread, but to get a little more specific, here's how mindfulness helps you in practice:

Your brain has a "doing" mode, where it jumps from sensation to emotion to thought to emotion to thought to action so fast you usually don't know it's happening, and a "being" mode, where the existing sensations and emotions and thoughts simply are as they are, with no next steps planned.

"Doing" mode is you out on the savanna hunting food for your family: its job is to see, process, react, and keep you alive. When people have intrusive thoughts and are afraid of their own next actions, what's usually happening is their doing mode is wired in a way they don't like, and they don't know how to escape. For you that might be something like (or totally different from) "see an attractive woman" -> become aroused -> feel guilty -> think about your wife -> feel trapped -> look for solace -> flirt -> become aroused -> feel guilty ... People have awesomely complex minds, so it could be all of that at the same time and more. This is why I don't love the idea of distracting yourself with thoughts of your wife or of how terrible it would be to have an affair or whatever -- our associations are so powerful that throwing in extra emotionally-charged distractions is more likely to contribute to the problem than to help.

On the flip side, "being" mode is where your son is when he just sits and looks out at the world -- no judging, no planning, no next step. The way you can escape a doing-mode loop you don't like is to flip over to being mode, let all those thoughts and emotions and sensations settle, and then start again from the top. You can do this anywhere along the chain when you notice you're in a situation you don't like: "huh, I like the way this woman looks. That's OK. There is no next step required." "Huh, I'm feeling trapped and lonely. That's OK. There is no next step required." "Huh, I'm feeling flattered this woman likes me. That's OK. There is no next step required." You're here along with seven billion of us born to feel this same way and struggle with these same things -- don't you kinda have to laugh? You can have the same compassion for yourself that you have for your son when he falls down and for all of us when we fall down. You're not going to ignore the problems in your life or the awesome things in your life, but when you flip back to doing mode and start solving problems or having fun, you're going to act as the person you actually are (thoughtful, in love) in the situation you're actually in (listening to music with strangers) -- not from a soup of subconscious reactions you weren't aware of. It makes all the difference.

So how do you physically do that? One easy way is the meditation cliche -- your breathing. It's always there to pay attention to, and it has no next step, and you can easily experiment with flipping back and forth between controlling it or letting it be. The next time you're in a situation you're concerned about, just pay attention to your breathing for a while, practice noticing it and letting it be. Then pay attention to the other things you're thinking and feeling, notice them and let them be. Then flip back into doing mode for a while and see where that gets you. Good luck.
posted by jhc at 2:12 PM on October 11, 2012 [15 favorites]

I love the way you express yourself about your wife and family when you are in their presence. You seem genuinely engaged and fully committed. Now, the other side of your brain reacts differently when alone and here are some things I believe help. My partner and I share our every day experiences and encounters. As someone said above, it builds intimacy and closeness. If I feel I can't share it with him, then I know something is wrong. He started doing the same after some unpleasant incidents which are behind us. It's a good measure to think if your actions can be shared with your partner. If they cannot, then something has to change. Your actions or your relationship. Good on you for stopping the drinking. :)
posted by i_wear_boots at 5:36 PM on October 11, 2012

i say indulge your thinking about other women, it's ok, because what you should do after it's lost it's excitement is that your fantasy could never work out in reality. if it were to happen it would be a net loss, emotionally. that's what works for me.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:59 PM on October 11, 2012

That said, when I'm out on my own my default mode seems to be "look for attractive, fascinating women."

This is the part that struck out at me. Why do you need the attention of such women? What needs are getting fulfilled here? Is it validation? Sexual thrill? The power of knowing that you can make them want you? Figure that out and find ways to get it without potentially hurting your wife.

Everyone looks at attractive people. Occasionally we fantasize about them. But not everyone feels the need to seek them out, and certainly not everyone risks their marriage for them.

I don't agree with the "don't worry about it" crowd. Yes, attraction is normal, but borderline-sleazy behavior is a choice. You're a married man hitting on random women at the bar while your wife and baby stay home. Find out why you're making this choice.
posted by snickerdoodle at 4:49 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

> The next time you're in a situation you're concerned about, just pay attention to your
> breathing for a while, practice noticing it and letting it be.

Been there, done (do) that. It helps. It helps most, though, when you don't have to be actively engaged for totally innocent reasons with a very attractive lady who isn't your wife, e.g. having a work-related conversation with a totally hot co-worker.

The following may not help anyone else in the universe but it helped me when I was a young married man with a new baby at home. The former Shah of Iran, a great ladies' man and very proud of his sexual prowess, reputedly used this trick when he thought he might come too soon and lose his erection before satisfying his current partner. The trick is to think of a plain brown empty cardboard box instead of what/who you're doing. OMG it works.

I happened to remember that little the-Shah-does-it-like-this factoid when I started to be aware that business conversation plus interior "wow, nice rack" was just not an appropriate place for my head to be any more. (Not that it ever was, but now more than ever not.) I can report that it's not a bit harder to make sensible and responsive professional conversation while thinking about our friend the plain brown box than it is while thinking about your interlocutor's boobies. Easier in one respect; the box is not physically present, so your eyes don't wander.

As an added bonus, I was so thoroughly tickled by what I was doing--often close to the LOL point, especially when I thought of who the trick supposedly came from and how scandalized he would be at how his legacy was being misused--that I got the utterly undeserved reputation of being a very cheerful and sunny-tempered guy. If anyone asked me I said it was my new family that was making me so happy. (Which, without going into details that none of them needed to know about, it was.)
posted by jfuller at 10:11 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

I am very attractive and social and I love to sauna and I tend to spend about an hour a day doing so at my health club which is also part of a hotel. And e.v.e.r.y d.a.y at least several (4 on average?) married dudes talk to me....

half the time they're just being friendly and immediately mention the wife and then talk about the weather, or a news article, and then say they're nipping off home to fetch the kids and eat dinner...

and the other half, well, they never mention her and I am shocked when through the shadows I glimpse a wedding ring... or they are clearly married and flirt with me anyways.

In October I've come across 10 of these flirty married men and so far and its only the 12th. By the end of the month I'll have chatted with over 30, and I'll be frank, because I hope it can be a tool in helping you stop this: you men are a dime a dozen... there's nothing special about any of you and I don't remember most of your faces... and you're embarrassing yourself.
posted by misspony at 3:32 PM on October 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

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