He plays on webcam with other girls, and I feel cheated upon.
November 4, 2005 8:50 AM   Subscribe

He plays on webcam with other girls, and I feel cheated upon.

I made the mistake of peeking into my live-in boyfriend's net history and this is one of countless times that he's been wagging his weiner for old voyeursgirls on Yahoo! chat. He's signed up for some webcam site and saved his user/pass so it automatically logged in; his profile said he was interested in meeting girls face-to-face. I feel like I'm being cheated on because all day I've had this flopping, sinking feeling in my stomach and I've been miserable. I feel like somehow, I'm not enough, because most of the time when he's doing this, I'm in the bedroom reading or napping or something.

There are no problems in our relationship besides his affinity for porn, which I've ignored because I know it's an outlet for fantasy and nothing more (but some of the more violent, choking-girl stuff scares me). This, though, is more than porn, because I know that if I were showing my body to people online without telling him, he'd be mortally hurt. That, and the potential of cheating really scares me.

We love each other very much, are affectionate, spend time together, and help solve each other's problems. Why is he doing this and not telling me? How can I confront him about it? I am thinking about buying him a rose (a typical peace offering of ours) and going home tonight and telling him that I love him a lot and bring it up gently--not accuse him--to show that I'm not angry, just worried. I won't dump him--the thought never entered my mind until now--because we have been together through thick, thin and the mushy.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (40 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A friend of mine has been dating a girl he met online for quite a while, and he even chose a law school near her.

Unfortunetly he's quite shameless in hitting on other chicks online, he was showing me pictures of all the hot San Francisco chicks he'd found online and how he was chatting them up, etc, even buying them webcams I think. He definitely wanted to try to bone these girls. His girlfriend caught and complained about it, and he told me that he would stop doing all that stuff, but who knows. (I think she caught him via his leaving AIM setup to sign in automatically as well)

Were any of the girls local or were they far away? I'd say if they were far away you have less to worry about.

Anyway, you should just tell him how you feel, IMO.
posted by delmoi at 8:57 AM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

I don't understand why you're not angry. Get the facts from the horse's mouth then go from there. Everything you've said indicates big problems with this guy.
posted by letterneversent at 8:58 AM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

Here's a suggestion that avoids any kind of confrontation. You can access his profile right? Change his profile picture or some other detail to something that means something to both of you (a private joke or pet name perhaps). Don't say anything. Let him figure it out. Gently, he knows that you know and that you're not happy. Chances are he'll get the message. Just an alternative to charging in, all guns blazing.
posted by grahamwell at 9:03 AM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

What he is doing--with webcams and cybersex--IS cheating. Talk to him about it. If he doesn't quit doing it, dump him.
posted by cass at 9:08 AM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

Best answer:
I feel like somehow, I'm not enough...
That has nothing to do with this. Trust me. I won't claim to have a groundbreaking insight into why your boyfriend does this, and I rarely make definitive statements about strangers over the internet -- but trust me. This has nothing to do with you.

I'm a bit puzzled by your tone. You seem almost apologetic, like you'll feel guilty for confronting him about this. That's not warranted -- but tagging emotions with rationale rarely works. I just thought I'd say that.

Before you talk to him, decide what result you want. Do you want him to stop doing this? If so, how important is that? Is it a dealbreaker? I respect and admire your optimism toward working this out with your boyfriend, but it's important that you acknowledge your emotions fairly in order to be honest with him. You clearly feel this is head-and-shoulders above buying a copy of Playboy, and most people will agree with you. Also worth mentioning: If you feel cheated upon...haven't you been, at least in some significant sense? Isn't that feeling of betrayal kind of the point?

Be honest with him -- but first, be fair and honest in assessing your own reactions, emotions, and needs. Good luck.
posted by cribcage at 9:08 AM on November 4, 2005 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't come to him in a surrender-like position with a rose. I'd confront him with the strong assertiveness of a woman confident in in the knowledge she could easily do better than some unfaithful guy who yanks it to .MPG files of girls being strangled. I mean, come on, anyone deserves better treatment.
posted by johngoren at 9:20 AM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

Treat it as if you walked into your bedroom and found him shagging a stranger. He is cheating on you.

And do't be in any way apologetic. He needs to explain himself and if the answer doesn't satisfy then leave him.
posted by twistedonion at 9:26 AM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

cribcage:. Is it a dealbreaker?

No. To be honest, I don't care if he webcams with anyone as long as he makes me aware that he does so--at least then, I could express how I felt about it without charging in, as grahmwell said, all guns blazing. If he were to tell me, I would probably congratulate him and join him. It just hurt to find out through means other than him.

I feel guilty because I went on his computer, snooped through his stuff... I am afraid that if I confront him, he'll turn it around on my not trusting him by going on his computer in the first place. Vicious circle and all that.

letterneversent: I don't understand why you're not angry

I don't like pretending that my sexuality is everyone else's and that my rules are the only rules. Perhaps he's not aware that he's hurting my feelings. Maybe he thinks it's okay. I can't be angry if I don't know his side of the story because that's simply not fair. Perhaps he's making a dumb mistake, and for that, I forgive (since I make plenty of my own.)
posted by sian at 9:28 AM on November 4, 2005

He may an addict, in which case nothing is going to get better until he confronts it and seeks help.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't be pissed and hurt -- it's just that he may not be able to control it.
posted by o2b at 9:29 AM on November 4, 2005

For reals girl, get angry about this. This is not OK with you-don't be buying him flowers and shit. And how come you're totally closed off to the idea of dumping him? Scared of being alone? Watch some of his violent porn, read his online profile that says he's interested in *meeting other women face-to-face*, and then think long and hard about if being alone would really be worse.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:29 AM on November 4, 2005 [2 favorites]

Perhaps he's not aware that he's hurting my feelings. Maybe he thinks it's okay.

His actions suggest otherwise.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:37 AM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

These are only my own experiences and I don't think every person who wanks it over the internet are going to turn out like this. Having said that--I have this ex-boyfriend. We were together for 3 1/2 years. Six months into the relationship I found out (through snooping) that he was chatting to guys and girls online about the size of his dick (by the way, he was a liar), and what he liked to do.
We were both bisexual, but faithful. I freaked out a little as his dealings also indicated that he would like to meet 'face to face'. He convinced me it was only fantasy and that it was little more than interactive porn. He said he'd stop and I said I'd stay.
Six months after that we moved in together. The day before move in day, I find out he hasn't stopped. I decided I wasn't going to make a big deal out of it. Well, over the next 2 1/2 years it came up countless times and worsened. It started with talking to mildly unattractive people about sex acts I wasn't interested in. By the end of it, he was seeking out molestation, rape, underage, pissing, fat chick porn and personals. tmi filter He also looked at violent, choking chicks stuff, but as I'm into that I never found it to be a problem. What was the problem was he could only talk to girls on the internet about it and never actually bring it into our bedroom. If you want my armchair shrink write up of him, I'd say he was actually responding to me scolding him than his base sexual desires. i think it all grew out of some extreme mommy issues. That's not really here nor there.
We've since broken up (4 years or so ago) and I think I've learned a few things. I'm not a snooper anymore. It doesn't help anyone and it only hurts me. Issues of trust can be delt with much more effectively than that. I've also decided that looking at people being paid to take of their clothes in print or on a screen=porn. webcams, personals, chatrooms=looking to cheat, and if you're getting off and their getting off, that's cheating. But everyone has to make their own rules.
Decide for yourself how much this violates your sense of how things should be. Also, watch for signs of escalation in what he wants to do/look at. Most of all, good luck. If you want to talk more about the specifics, feel free to get the email addy from the profile.
posted by nadawi at 9:43 AM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

He is being a gigantic ass. I'm sorry, maybe he has reasons etc. etc., but he's being an ass. I can't imagine behaving the same way in a relationship that I wanted to keep.

Personally, and maybe this is just me, but if he doesn't stop immediately I'd leave.
posted by aramaic at 9:47 AM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

Dear god, it's not cheating.

If you're doing something that your partner considers to be cheating, then...you're cheating. If you're doing something behind your partner's back that would make them feel hurt and betrayed if/when they find out, then...you're hurting and betraying them.

I'm always disturbed by conversations in which people discuss what does or does not "count" as cheating, lying, or otherwise trying to get away with/justify something that they know would cause pain for someone else.

I second ThePinkSuperHero -- think long and hard about why you're unwilling to consider leaving someone who is very likely to cheat on you (you say yourself that you're "really scared" of this happening). I'd start quietly making preparations for one of you to move out.

It might be worthwhile to gently confront him as you originally suggested, just to see what he has to say for himself (dollars to donuts he'll say he "didn't think it was a big deal," "it doesn't mean anything," or some variation thereof, or else do the Indignant Dance of Being Caught in the Act, aka "What, you don't TRUST me?!?!?!"), but I think it's unlikely that he'll stop. More likely, he'll just get sneakier about it, change his passwords, etc.
posted by Gator at 9:59 AM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

The one point I'd make is to not give him an ultimatum. If you say "stop doing this or I'll leave," well, he probably would be better off leaving. Tell him what you feel, see how he reacts, and then decide where to go from there. You're perfectly justified in feeling that you will leave him if he doesn't stop, but keep it to yourself, let him act, and then judge for yourself whether or not to stay.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:02 AM on November 4, 2005

his profile said he was interested in meeting girls face-to-face.

Does any of the rest of this matter? He's trolling for ass. He's either cheating or working towards it.

Do yourself a favor and just walk away. Relationships are hard enough when you start out with two partners willing to be honest with each other and keep their words. Your man apparently isn't even up to that standard and it's a reasonable one to hold to. There's a lot of people out there and plenty of them would be willing to treat you with respect. Go find one.
posted by phearlez at 10:34 AM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

My question would be why you felt the need to peek into his net history in the first place? That, to me, indicates some sort of issue to start with, even if you say that there are "no problems" in the relationship. Personally, the "violent, choking-girl stuff" alone would scare me to the point of making ultimatums, but that's just me.

I second those who said to think long and hard about what it is that you want to get out of a confrontation, and approach him in a manner that will help you get that.
posted by gemmy at 10:42 AM on November 4, 2005

I find there's a *BIG* difference in how men and women in couples perceive online sex and visits to strip clubs. With some notable exceptions, I find that the men consider these things to be no big deal, and women consider it to be cheating. I don't understand why this difference in perception exist. A friend and I had a theory that it has to do with men's preference for visual stimuli, but to be honest, I have no idea.

I do know that this becomes a a big deal when one partner discovers the other one is cruising for porn or chat on the internet. My opinion is that you all definitely need to talk about it, though it will probably be tricky to arrive at a solution. In my experience, men will often say "yeah, ok I'll stop" but then keep on doing it because, after all, they don't think it's fair that the woman gets to define whether something is cheating or not, and they also really don't think it's a big deal.

I don't go along with the "confront the bastard!" mode of conversation, unless you want to break up. This will only make everyone feel defensive, and you all will never arrive at an mutually satisfying accommodation as long as one or the other of you is feeling attacked. Maybe if the two of you could have a heart to heart talk and decide what is and isn't out of bounds for the relationship - but make it clear that lying about this stuff is definitely out of bounds.
posted by jasper411 at 11:34 AM on November 4, 2005

There was a thread here a while ago dealing with a situation similar to this (spouse snoops through someones stuff, ok with it but not with the covering-it-all-up, feels guilty for snooping, etc etc).

Some great points brought up in that thread:
1) Maybe he WANTS to keep this private, even if you are ok with it being out in the open. This is something you'll need to be sensitive of when you confront him.

2) Yes, he will probably think that you snooping is wrong, but you think that him doing all this stuff in secret is wrong. This is something that you should bring up straight away - "I know what I did was wrong, but what you did was wrong too, so let's not play the blame game." Yes, you broke his trust by snooping, but he broke your trust by not sharing his emotional and sexual needs with you. That's something the two of you will have to work throuhg.

3) This may very well end up being a deal-breaker FOR HIM. That's something you'll have to consider when you talk to him. I am, of course, assuming you'll confront him about this - otherwise, you're expecting him to be honest with you when you're not being honest with him.
posted by muddgirl at 11:40 AM on November 4, 2005

Oh, and I just wanted to add my two cents on the issue of the appropriateness of this: My boyfriend looks at porn. Fine. If he's showing his penis to people on web cams without telling me first, that's cheating, plain and simple. When we said "monogamous relationship," that pretty much implies there has to be mutual consent for any physical shenanigans.
posted by muddgirl at 11:43 AM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

An online friend of mine had this situation with her husband (who is training for the ministry, btw). She found out he was going onto personals sites and getting into stuff with women he met there.

He also looked at porn - not 'straight' porn, but nasty stuff with names like bloodyhole.com and all kinds of scat, menstruation, humiliation sites, nothing that looked like two consenting adults having fun, always with some element of cruelty to the woman.

My friend confronted him about it, he promised to stop. Then she found his cum towel stashed behind his desk. Again he promised to stop, they prayed about it, talked about it with their pastor (we're talking Texas Bible Belt here), but she suspected he was still at it.

So she set up a 'honeytrap' - a fake personal guaranteed to appeal him, and he took the bait. She let him know it was her after he'd set up the meet at the Days Inn just across the OK state line. He begged forgiveness, promised to stop, yadda yadda yadda ...

About three months ago she took an overdose (she survived, she sent a 'drama mama' email to a list I'm on and the Sheriff was called). An extreme, attention-seeking action on her part, but one borne of utter desperation, due (not wholly, but in part) to her husband's unwillingness to have any consideration for her feelings in the pursuit of his own sexual gratification. They're still together - she's made an economic and social choice to stay with him (plus she's ultra-codependent), but I fear it will be at the expense of her sanity, dignity and any possibility of happiness.

Anyway, I don't know how/if this will help but I know how much unhappiness his internet porn addiction has caused and, like any other addiction, it escalated over a period of time.
posted by essexjan at 12:00 PM on November 4, 2005

If the two of you have never discussed what constitutes cheating - or even inappropriate behavior - for each of you, and you intend to stay with him, you probably ought to have that conversation. I suspect that your definitions will be very different.

I don't understand why you need to be bringing peace offerings. That smacks of "baby, I'm sorry I made you so mad you had to hit me" and it's creepy. Just engage full spinal deployment, own the fact that you invaded his privacy, explain that, nevertheless, you have the following problems: a) that he is willing to meet other people face-to-face, b) that he is spanking it on camera for other people's viewing pleasure, c) that you feel inadequate because of a and b.

I can almost guarantee you that he will say many nice things about how you are not inadequate, and that these other people are different, and you shouldn't feel bad, and he's just goofing off, and it's no big deal, and then when you guys are done talking and you go to bed or whatever, he's going to turn on the webcam. Or he'll try to get you to do it with him. You may want to decide ahead of time whether either of those things are okay with you. Because the only decisions you get to make here are about your own boundaries. You cannot make him do anything.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:19 PM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

There may be a few different problems here, with regard to the original poster's relationship, that really aren't related at all. Let's list them out, for the confused folks trying to play along at home.

1) He's web-camming with other girls, showing them his genitals and so on. That's not okay with you. The combination of those two facts is what makes it a problem. It might be OK in some relationships - but, according to you, not yours. Whether it's cheating, or more generally *why* it's not OK with you, is not relevant.

2) You went through his computer, presumably without asking him first. That's a violation of his privacy, and it's probably not OK with him. The combination of those two facts, if indeed I'm right about the second, makes it a problem.

3) You distrust him enough that you went through his computer looking for evidence of infidelity. Distrust is no way to run a relationship. That's a problem. Why does it exist in this relationship? I don't know; maybe you do.

4) He may have sexual or other needs that aren't getting met by his relationship with you. This is impossible to speculate further about without asking him.

The answer to all of these problems is very easy and very difficult: communicate with him about them. Find out what he feels, what he's thinking, what he thinks of your opinions and feelings. After you do that either they won't be problems any more, or at least you'll be dealing with problems in a way that suggests they may eventually be resolved.

While communicating, do not forget about the possibility of compromise. Compromise is how mature adults deal with the fact that they do not always think, feel or believe the exact same thing.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:21 PM on November 4, 2005

Be careful how you approach this. He didn't cheat on you. He didn't lie to you. He's done absolutely nothing wrong. (The face-to-face thing is iffy but it's likely nothing.)

This is your problem, not his. For whatever reason, there's this part of his life that he's decided not to share with you. There's a lot of reasons why he might keep this from you and most of them aren't wrong. More than likely, he's just not ready yet.

Your plan sounds perfect. Stick to it. Just come right out and admit that you snooped around on his computer. This is perfectly ok. People in relationships snoop on one another. Also make it clear that you're not attacking him. You found out about his hobby and it's ok with you. Earlier in the thread you expressed a desire to join in, so tell him that. Do let him know that you're hurt that he kept this from you. You want the relationship should be open enough such that both of you can freely discuss all your kinks and he shouldn't feel the need to hold anything back from you when it comes to sex. Further, when he does go off to find his kicks elsewhere it does make you feel inadequate but this is how you feel and he should be aware.

As for the cheating thing, only you really know if he's cheating or not. Porn and doing the webcam thing don't mean anything. If you really fear he's with other girls then you need to figure out where this fear is coming from. Unless you have more evidence, it'd be quite unfair to accuse him of infidelity. Unless there are other factors involved you shouldn't bring this up.
posted by nixerman at 12:30 PM on November 4, 2005

Not sure if this helps or what is going on....

I came to realize in my relationships fantasy was one way of me check out of my relationships. I was often scared to (and not even conscious) of what I really wanted in bed, and didn't want to froce my loves to play a role for me. I feared rejection and judgment more than anything. So instead of sexualizing and working with my girlfriends, I checked out and became withdrawn fearing myself. Not sure if you're situation's like that but thought I'd throw that in there.
posted by aussicht at 12:42 PM on November 4, 2005

Dear god, it's not cheating. Which is not to say that it's not skeezy, but thinking about doing something and actually doing it are two different things.

Could we posit that doing something on camera in front of people is a third thing that is definitely more toward the second thing than the first thing?

I agree with those who say he's cheating. What you do about it is as difficult as what to do in any cheating case. But you are going to have to confront both him (even if gently) and the choice about whether (and under what conditions) to stay or leave.
posted by namespan at 1:04 PM on November 4, 2005

23skidoo, you're right that conversation needs to take place and these things should be clarified, but there's that other part of my post where I talk about doing things behind your partner's back when you know it's likely to hurt them if they find out. In your case, if you know that your girlfriend would feel hurt and betrayed if she found out you had lunch with a crush, you'd be well within your rights to think she's being unreasonable and possessive, but you probably shouldn't just go ahead and have lunch with your crush without first clearing the air and having that conversation with your girlfriend. If you care about her feelings, that is. Doing it behind her back, knowing she'd be upset if she found out, just because you don't think it's a big deal, without at least acknowledging her feelings...not real considerate, y'know? And in sian's case, things appear to be much more serious on an intimate level.

I think it strains credulity when people pull stunts like sian's boyfriend has (that whole "wanting to meet girls in person" business), and then turn around and try to claim that they didn't think they were doing anything wrong because it hadn't specifically been prohibited ahead of time. I don't care for the suggestion that nothing counts as cheating unless it has been precisely agreed upon in advance. That sort of thing just encourages the mindset of people who look for loopholes, the kind of people who say "it wasn't really sex, I just went down on him" or what have you.
posted by Gator at 2:18 PM on November 4, 2005

You're not enough. Sorry to put it bluntly, but that's what he's saying in a passive fashion. Some attached guys can control their inner caveman, some chase women in the open, and some do what he's doing - behind closed doors, on the sly, until he gets caught and then has to deal with it when confronted. He's sabotaging your relationship in the least direct way possible.
posted by Gunderstorm at 2:19 PM on November 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

dflemingdotorg, sure, your woman may have been highly paranoid and unreasonable, just as in 23skidoo's hypothetical situation, but...if you were doing stuff that she felt was a betrayal, however unreasonable her feelings were, you were still betraying her, as far as she was concerned. You didn't and don't agree with her feelings, but there her feelings were, regardless. And presumably, since you mention her in the past tense, the relationship ultimately ended, I'd guess at least in part because of this inability to agree on this cheating/not cheating thing.

People do get crazy, unreasonable notions about cheating, but I don't think it's healthy for any relationship to just go, "Your feelings are incorrect," and feel free to disregard them (especially on the sly).

You get props for being completely open with her, though. That's the way to go, however deeply you disagree upon what's cheating and what's not. As 23skidoo said, it needs to be brought up in conversation. It allows both parties to make a decision about how to move forward in the relationship, having all the facts at hand and all the feelings in the open. In the unlikely event that sian's boyfriend owns up to his hobby and says, "I understand webcamming and hooking up with other girls in person bothers you, but I'm going to keep doing it," I'd have to give him some props too, for at least being open about it. I expect sian would as well, though I expect their relationship will still come to an end over this.
posted by Gator at 2:58 PM on November 4, 2005

As with most things, this kind of black/white vs. grey argument takes us precisely nowhere (although I do know which AskMe folks I would never date now).

It's pretty clear that sian and her boyfriend need to have a clear, explicit conversation about what her limits are. They also need to come to an agreement about what they consider to be cheating, and failing that, what they (sian) can live with.
posted by LGCNo6 at 3:06 PM on November 4, 2005

What if it never occured to me that she would even care one way or the other?

Then of course you're in the clear. However, once you casually mention that you had lunch with So-and-So and your girlfriend's veins start bulging, you can no longer plead ignorance thereafter. Commence with the Conversation.

Adjusting your Yahoo! settings so that you're automatically logged in...isn't exactly hiding anything.

Alternatively, it just may not have occured to him that she would check his computer/log into his account.

I do concede that "I really didn't know" is a possibility in some situations (but once you've been with someone for a substantial amount of time, it becomes less and less plausible), but situations like sian's? I don't really think so, not so much.
posted by Gator at 3:17 PM on November 4, 2005

Follow up--

We talked. He thought I knew about the webcam chatting thing. I told him I didn't, that I felt betrayed and cheated on because he hadn't said anything and that these are real people he's dealing with, and he clammed up. I went into the other room, heard the webcam hit the wall and break into twenty-some pieces, and came back and got a big hug and a teary apology.

Either way, an honest conversation ensued and of course, everything is going to be fine. The sky is not falling, as so many of you scolded me.
posted by sian at 3:21 PM on November 4, 2005

I'm very glad to have been wrong. :)

Thank you for updating us, and I hope you won't think too ill of us Negative Nellies.
posted by Gator at 3:23 PM on November 4, 2005

How come you're totally closed off to the idea of dumping him?

Some of us are that way. I'm totally closed off to the idea of dumping my wife. Totally. I take my marriage vow seriously (and I would feel this way even if we were "just living together.") Is this because I'm scared of being alone? No. Is it because I'm scared of being without her? Partly. There are those who say "there are many fish in the sea." These people (and I'm not mocking them -- I'm envious of them) feel enough connection to humanity in general that they know, under the right circumstances, that they could give their love to many people. But I didn't get married until I was 30. And before I met my wife, I had never been in love with anyone, though I desperately wanted to be. I don't want to go another 30 years without love -- and it might take me that long to find someone else I could bond with.

But that's only part of it. The other part -- as old fashioned as this seems -- is that I take my commitment to her seriously. Now, I'm not a masochist. At some point, if she treated me horribly for years and years, I would get out. But It would take a lot. I would try ANYTHING first. Long conversations, behavior alterations, counseling, etc. Breaking up would be the act of last resort.

It's fine if you're more independent, but please don't treat people on the other side of the coin as sick or weaklings. I think I'm strong to stay committed. It's not easy. It's work. Committed relationships always involve work.

What if I discovered my wife cheated on me? I would be DEEPLY wounded. Would I leave her? No. (Naturally, I would if she fell in love with someone else and wanted to be with him -- I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about a scenario in which I discovered she was sleeping around but still loved me). Would her cheating be acceptable to me? No way. So I would WORK to change the situation. I would talk to her; I would try to get her to stop; I would suggest counseling; I would look at my own behavior and see if there was anything I was doing that was contributing to the problem. I would, if her behavior was unchangeable, look deep within myself and see if I could live with it. Failing all this, I might leave her.

Okay, end of that lecture. Next lecture: how is this endless debate about the definition of cheating helping anyone? Okay, we know different people define cheating in different ways. So maybe sian's boyfriend doesn't consider himself to be cheating. Whatever. Whether or not he is cheating via your or my or sian's definition, he is behaving in a way that hurts sian, and that's a problem.

I recommend complete honesty, including being honest about fears: "Honey, I did something that I'm really ashamed of and I scared you'll be mad at me, but we have to talk about it. I snooped through your stuff, and I know that was wrong. I'm very sorry, and I won't do it again. I feel like I have no right to confront you about stuff I found -- seeing as how I shouldn't have been snooping in the first place -- but I DID find stuff, and regardless of what's right or wrong, I can't stop my feelings about what I found..."

I know some here will gasp at idea of sian apologizing for anything. Cheating is MUCH worse than snooping. I agree. I would much rather have my wife snoop through my stuff than cheat on me. But snooping still IS wrong.

In any case, none of that matters. It doesn't matter who is right and who is wrong, because sian is not looking for justice. She's looking for a way to make her relationship work. And her boyfriend is almost definitely going to feel violated. He may "have no right" to feel this way, but he's still going to feel this way. And those feelings will impact sian. So merely from a selfish point of view, she needs to deal with them.

Finally, I'd like to comment on something sian said in passing: If he were to tell me, I would probably congratulate him and join him. I don't know if you truly mean this, but if you do, I think it's a very positive sign. It's almost impossible to change someone's sexuality. At best, you may get him to curb his behavior out of respect for your feelings, but you can't get him to curb his desires. From what you've said about being "together through thick, thin and the mushy," it's possible that he LONGS to share his sexuality with you. But he may be scared you'll reject him if he does. Even people who have been married for years can have these fears.

Without threatening him (i.e. saying "I'd like to be with other guys,") is there a way you can fantasize out loud about kinky stuff on the web? Maybe he'll join in with you if he discovers that you're not prudish about this stuff. I'm sure you've never given him any indication that you'd laugh at him or reject him, but most of us think we're wicked and transfer that feeling onto other people.

Sian, there's more I could say here -- based on some experience in my past -- but I'd rather not make it public (anon responses, PLEASE, Matt!). My email is in my profile if you want some support.

Best of luck. My thoughts are with you!
posted by grumblebee at 3:26 PM on November 4, 2005

sian, I'm SO glad things worked out well. I hope they continue that way. (Remember, though, desires will remain even if behavior changes.)
posted by grumblebee at 3:28 PM on November 4, 2005

sian, unfortunately it seems to be a hidden feature of AskMe to always assume the worst about people. I'm glad things worked out. You're lucky, he sounds like a good guy underneath it all.
posted by nixerman at 4:50 PM on November 4, 2005

sian, been there, been assured *repeatedly* that it would never happen again. It did. The first time I discovered the (repeated) activity, I was very upset, and made absolutely clear my feelings on such things - there were tears, there were promises never to repeat it ("I don't need that stuff anymore"), etc. It came back. Sneakily, of course, but it returned. He's gone. I'm glad. Lies and covert behaviour do not make for a warm loving relationship. Best of luck to you - I hope he can kick the habit.
posted by fish tick at 5:55 PM on November 4, 2005

Pay close attention to Gunderstorm.

To Gunderstorm's comment, I would add that all guys are cavemen. Some of us can layer a degree of civility on top, but sexuality resides down in the lizard brain, next to respiration and peristalsis. You cannot change it. You can only moderate your exposure to it.

You have several choices:

Believe the veneer, and in doing so, set yourself up for a nasty shock, should you ever get a peek below. Too many women do this, IMO. This is the "He's cheating! Dump him!" chorus. You can operate at this level if you wish - just prepare to be disappointed. Repeatedly. Or prepare to avert your eyes, and preserve the veneer.

Or you can decide that you will peer into his heart of darkness, and react to what you find there. Computer snooping is peering into the abyss - only do it if you can handle what you find there. And the subsequent question is what to make of what you find. What some people call choking, other people call breath play.

As you evaluate your response to his innermost sexuality, particularly with respect to your feelings of adequacy, be aware that he may carry a heavy load of shame about the deeper kink. He may be hiding his deepest turn-ons from you out of fear that you aren't that kinky, and may disapprove. It may not be that you aren't sexy enough for him - it may be that he respects you, and doesn't want you to see how 'dirty' he really is. (I don't swear in front of my grandmother, either) And in turn, you either find that deep kink to be too much, or you find you can deal with it. If you really can't handle the kink, say so, and negotiate his continuing to repress the lizard brain. Or if you can handle it, let him know, or maybe even indulge him - it will make his day. But either way, go forward with eyes open, and you both will be happier for it.

Ok, gotta get back to my webcam!
posted by Triode at 11:19 PM on November 4, 2005

Thanks for updating us sian. I'm so glad you had a positive experience and an honest conversation.

Keep having honest conversations! Don't wait for a crisis to get up the courage to tell him how you feel.
posted by jasper411 at 11:19 AM on November 7, 2005

Glad it worked out for you.
posted by cass at 10:50 AM on November 16, 2005

« Older What kind of guitar should I buy?   |   How do I extend my bed? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.