Just a fool in love?
May 8, 2007 9:21 PM   Subscribe

Just found out that my long time love is a daily phone sex participant and while away on a business/pleasure trip (staying with friends whom I spoke with on the phone) is posting and responding to online "casual sex" posts for both men and women. I don't know if meetings occured.

Our sex life is terrific (we're both straight; maybe bi-curious?) emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually we're right on and totally the love of each other's life; we're committed to being together 'till death do us part'; can this behavior be curiosity, stupidity, boredom, ego boosting, checking out what is out there? I'm stumped and unbelievably hurt. I don't want to overreact, but right now I'm not sure what to do. Suggestions? Ideas?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

I have no answers, but I just discovered the same thing about my boyfriend today. I almost posted the exact same question... I'll be watching this thread.
posted by rndm at 9:41 PM on May 8, 2007

You should start out from the assumption that there is indeed fire where there is smoke. Given that you indicate that your sex life is terrific, I think that even Dan Savage would say this is about some sort of issues with him and not with you. Finally, you must keep in mind that it is not your responsibility to help him work out those issues at the expense of your sanity and soul.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:49 PM on May 8, 2007

Sounds like it's a bit more then "checking what's out there". Although, it is possible that it was something they started prior to the relationship and it has become a bit of an obsession.

I have no idea how you would approach something like this but tread carefully. I personally believe that you're in the right to be upset but emotional accusations could cause a guilty reaction that will probably not end well. Ending poorly may not be the worst outcome depending on their reasoning behind the activity, so it really depends on whether or not you can trust this person again.
posted by purephase at 9:54 PM on May 8, 2007

Ironmouth, I don't see any indication as to whether this is a girl or guy posting.
posted by purephase at 9:55 PM on May 8, 2007

Get yourself checked for STDs, then confront your partner. Check to see whether any casual meet-ups have happened. You won't know what their motivations are until you ask them. Choose the next course of action based on their answer.

The phone sex thing could be a sign of a desire to cheat, it could be a fetish that they're embarassed to admit to you.

The casual sex is extremely disturbing. They are potentially not only betraying your relationship but putting your health in danger.
posted by schroedinger at 9:55 PM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

My advice stands from guy or girl perspective. But my gut says guy. Follow schroedinger on the STD advice. Do not have sex with the person again until you've worked this all out.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:57 PM on May 8, 2007

Ending poorly may not be the worst outcome depending on their reasoning behind the activity

That's right on.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:58 PM on May 8, 2007

I don't think you can over react, it sounds like your partner is intentionally deceiving (lying to) you by acting monogamous while not actually being so. (Phone sex is still sex, and long term behavior isn't oops-we're-all-human.) I would plan on leaving, which sucks, but that's how life goes. Especially, even if you think you can cope with being the second or third or fourth or whatever, the problem isn't how many partners your partner has, it's that they haven't been open with you about it (lying) which is the relationship-killing sin.
posted by anaelith at 10:19 PM on May 8, 2007

This is a pretty big secret to be keeping from you (for how long now?!). Unless you get excellent answers when you confront him/her about it, the secret-keeping aspect sounds like a dealbreaker (even if we set aside the "what counts as infidelity" aspect). I'd think it would be hard to trust this person again.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:02 PM on May 8, 2007

Weather or not the meetings took place (but nthing the STD tests) this was kept from your for a very good reason.

I'll give you a moment to think about what that reason might be.


Answer: They're cheating on you. If not literally than emotionally, which, while safer on the STD front is just as much poison to the relationship. If you were really that close you'd know they were having daily virtual sex. Or they would have told you about it before and why it was important.

Sorry, but I don't see how either of you can trust each other again without drowning in self delusion. You clearly can't trust them, and they obviously can't trust you with who they truly are.
posted by Ookseer at 11:59 PM on May 8, 2007

Yes, that's a good idea-- let's blame the OP! I'm sure that's very helpful.

I think all you can do is calmly sit your person down and say "Listen, this is some stuff I've found out. What's going on?"

And it will be VERY HARD not to be judgy and shrill (and only an idiot would try to make you feel like you don't have every right to be judgy and shrill) but if you're aiming for anything but immediate walking out - even if it's an explanation, followed by you walking out - I think that's where you'll have to try to come from.

Good luck. That sounds terribly, terribly hard.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 12:06 AM on May 9, 2007

Sorry, but I don't see how either of you can trust each other again without drowning in self delusion. You clearly can't trust them, and they obviously can't trust you with who they truly are.

I wouldn't jump to these conclusions, given that we don't know either of the people involved here.

I don't see what talking about this won't resolve. Assuming all sorts of scenarios without any first-hand information will only make you miserable. Dealing with these situations is never easy, but you've got to have a frank discussion with your SO.

If you initially don't feel comfortable directly talking about this, how about asking them if they're satisfied with the relationship first? Then mention the reason you brought it up. I wouldn't consider this overreacting at all.
posted by spiderskull at 1:30 AM on May 9, 2007

if you feel that you are indeed 'totally the love of each other's life' and have all that good stuff going on between you like great sex, intellectual harmony, then imho you would be NUTS to follow some of the more aggressive advice here, which will likely lead to the end of your relationship. my advice would be, since you plainly can't and probably shouldn't ignore what's happening: broach the subject, don't be judgemental, found the whole conversation on the love you describe, and try to get a full understanding. if the person you describe is a young man (i make that assumption for various reasons), then for sure he has a head full of sex ideas; that's a biological given, really. it may well be that your joint sexual harmony (as you describe it), which seems to involve a fantasy side (you're both 'bi-curious', so i guess you discuss that and maybe get turned on by discussing it) is in itself a stimulus for your partner to behave like this; you are the inspiration, your great shared sex-life the launch-pad. one thing is clear: he/she keeps it secret because he/she doesn't want to upset you (although doing it in front of your friends is pretty asinine, i suppose). if this is love, then proceed with love: take it easy, don't be judgmental, speak your mind but try also to understand, and try to create the conditions whereby your partner's desires and explorations aren't kept secret from you. it may be that your partner is dead set on separate sexual enterprise and it's indeed gonna be a deal-breaker, but don't just throw what you have away.
posted by londongeezer at 1:54 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I will echo the "STD check" advice. Despite what some may say, it's not overreaction.

I don't think too many folks will disagree with the notion that men generally want more sexual attention than women. Phone sex and playing around on "casual sex" message boards without ever meeting anyone are pretty safe and anonymous ways for a guy to get that attention on an as-wanted basis.

What you need to decide for yourself is whether or not these activities are acceptable for the person you're spending your life with. My take is that they're cheating; if someone is in a committed monogamous relationship, then active expressions of sexuality (e.g., phone sex) should only be directed at one's partner, in my opinion. I'm sure others here will disagree.

Once you've decided whether or not these activities are acceptable in the context of your relationship, I think your options will become clearer. For what it's worth, don't underestimate his willingness to give up something he likes for a woman he loves, and don't think yourself shrewish for the asking.
posted by DWRoelands at 3:46 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

There's a huge difference between phone calls and hotel visits. If phone calls are out, what next? No unsupervised watching of cable? Hotel visits on the other hand include an element of physical risk to you, and emotional risk to your relationship.

I would also ask the question: what isn't being served at home?
posted by ewkpates at 4:02 AM on May 9, 2007

Half the people here are jumping to conclusions and they have even less information than you!

While they may be right, they are advocating action in the presence of ignorance and speculation. It's not a recipe for quality decision making.

Thehmsbeagle has it right, IMO. Get more info. Talk, talk, talk! Find out what's going on, first.

Postpone decision making until all info is in. Once you have all the info, you'll know how it stacks up to your personal values and you'll make the right decision for you and it will be a lot easier.
posted by FauxScot at 4:36 AM on May 9, 2007

I don't think you are over reacting, however, you should probably shift your focus from the "why" to "why so often":

my long time love is a daily phone sex participant

While casual phone sex/chat room stuff can usually just be shrugged off, daily phone sex can't be explained as an activity to fight "curiosity, stupidity, boredom, ego boosting, checking out what is out there".
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 4:47 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Do you have any evidence of this happening at home, or only second-hand via the friends he's staying with? Because while we're jumping to conclusions, another conclusion we could jump to is that the friends just don't like him (or you), and are making the whole thing up to drive you apart.

The only sane thing to do is, as said above, talk talk talk. Remember that until you talk to him, you don't know what is motivating him, or even what he's exactly doing. Addictive behaviors are often fueled by shame and cured by acceptance.
posted by bobot at 5:01 AM on May 9, 2007

Okay, here's my perspective.

I was in a long relationship with someone I cared (and still do care) a lot about. Still, I can't tell you if it was one specific day or not but I started "looking outside the box" in terms of my sexual life - I didn't make any hard moves, but I started entertaining thoughts about other women (albeit people I know, not random strangers). Pretty soon I'd was so into it - the flirting, the libidinous conversations and moves - that I somehow (out of guilt for the things I was thinking of even without any physical interaction) snapped out of it and broke up because I wasn't being as respectful as I believe my partner deserved me to be.

What I mean by this is that things escalate, and what starts as some random experimentation (the human brain needs to unconsciously flex the sexual drive muscle sometimes) may end up badly. It's rather scary what sexual drive can do, and where it can lead. I've always said people have this side to them that will hurt someone they care about for something like sex. Everybody has it, some control it - but in the end, it's a part being human.

Rants aside, if I were you, I'd probably be a little worried (thats dangerous behavior from your partner - psychologically and physically). Give him/her the cold hard facts and wait for the flood. It may end up being nothing, and I hope you get out of it with renewed trust in your partner, but if it in fact is something, it may have spun out of control already (in which case you need to think of yourself).
posted by fredoliveira at 5:13 AM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

my long time love is a daily phone sex participant

Daily? Something may be wrong with him. In short, this may be about him and not about you at all. You have to hold onto that thought as you go through this.

Confront the person, now. You have a ton of questions, so now is the time to ask so you can see what's going on with them and gain a fuller picture of what you're dealing. Do not mope around, thinking about what to do, blame yourself, or run "What if" scenarios through your head. GET ANSWERS NOW. You need to know how long this has been going, when it started, why it started, if they've had sex with other people, why they're hiding it from you, what they want from your relationship and will they stop doing this if you want them to stop.

Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you're feeling.

Do not have sex with the person. Get tested, for EVERYTHING. Do not take their word that they haven't done anything physical.

Keep in mind that this person, however much you two love each other, has lied to you and betrayed your trust. Do not take their statements as truth.

And remember, this may be their issue (daily use may indicates a problem) and not about you. It's entirely possible for a person A to do everything right in a relationship and still be betrayed by person B.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:12 AM on May 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

fucking run. trust me.
posted by mad_little_monkey at 6:27 AM on May 9, 2007

There is some information missing here, like how you found out about this.

To me, phone sex is just interactive porn. I had a long-standing phone-sex relationship with someone from Craigslist who lived in my own town, and I never met him nor did I ever want to.

Whether or not your partner met anyone as a result of (his | her) endeavours is absolutely the critical point. From what you've written here I don't think he's done anything that constitutes cheating or which should result in a loss of trust, though (he | she) is obviously curious. An honest conversation is in order.
posted by loiseau at 7:09 AM on May 9, 2007

Oh, and incidentally, no one would raise an eyebrow if the partner was masturbating daily. Even if they were using porn. Why is using phone sex such a giant leap and why does it indicate some dire mental illness?
posted by loiseau at 7:11 AM on May 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

Maybe your partner just has a large appetite, perhaps due to a medical condition - or maybe they're just naturally randy. It doesnt necessarily reflect badly on your relationship.

The first thing you need to do is let him/her know that you know. It could be that he/she wants to tell you but feels guilty or doesnt know how to approach the subject - its not the sort thing that crops up casually in the course of conversation - "pass the milk hun and by the way, I'm addicted to phone sex"

I'm guessing that you're not yet in the stage of the relationship where you're living together, otherwise you would have presumably noticed the huge phone bills, that in itself is going to be a major roadblock in the progression of your relationship, so if you want to go to the next level with this person, you have to get it out in the open.

You say that you have a good sex life but maybe your partner doesnt feel the same way. You should talk to him/her about it.

If your partner is bi/bi-curious maybe he/she is trying to indulge those urges. It is difficult as a bisexual person in a monogamous relationship because you only get to indulge one side of your sexuality, and no matter how much you love a person, they cant be both genders.
If that is the case, have you considered a 3some? If you're both comfortable with the idea then it might help ease some of the problems.

All this is ofcourse speculation, without knowing the specifics then it is hard to give advice other than talk to your partner.
What you need to know is:

Why he/she engages in phone sex
Have any of those online postings led to sex/meetups
What, if anything you can do to prevent these desires

But you also need to let him/her know how you feel about it . As you can see by the responses, different people feel differently about these sorts of things, some people think phone sex is just interactive porn, some people consider it cheating. If you feel that he's cheating and he/she feels its no different from porn then you need to work out a compromise where you can both be happy.

If the relationship is as great as you make it sound then its not worth causing a scene over and risking that relationship but if he/she is going that extra step into real cheating or has done already then there is a problem in your relationship that you seriously need to discuss. You may find that your partner is not as happy with the relationship as you are.

You both have needs, both physically and emotionally and relationships are about compromise, if you truely love each other you need to find a middle ground where you can both be physically satisfied and emotionally secure.

To be honest, if your physical and emotional desires are being met, I dont see much of a problem here, other than that maybe you are not meeting your partners needs. I'm not saying that its your fault, if he/she doesnt express those needs to you or let you know that you're not satisfying him/her then you cant be held responsible but now you know about the problem you need to talk about it and find out what's really going on.

The longer you leave it the more it will eat away at you and the more paranoid fantasies you will make up in your head when it could be something as innocent as, he/she doesnt consider these things to be cheating and you just need to let him/her know that you feel the relationship should be 100% exclusive, including phonesex or that maybe he/she would just like a little more action, or has some fantasies he/she didnt feel comfortable sharing with you yet
posted by missmagenta at 8:01 AM on May 9, 2007

Nthing the need to find out what is actually going on -- talk to your partner.

You need to have a frank discussion about what activites are allowed for each of you. Your partner may not feel that online flirting and phonesex are cheating if they have not met anyone in person. If you have never had a frank discussion about what exactly is and is not permissible in your relationship, you need to do that -- there is a wide variation in what people assume is permissible in a monogamous relationship, and it is common for people to assume their partner has the same views.
posted by yohko at 9:09 AM on May 9, 2007

I found out that my first husband was doing something similar to this when we were engaged (and not even as frequently as your SO). I stupidly let him talk me into continuing the relationship instead of breaking it off-- and now it's my major regret in life. If I could change one thing about my life, I would have followed my instinct and dumped the scumbag.

They concealed it from you, yes? So they knew it was unacceptable behavior. I don't buy this "maybe they don't consider it cheating" line. If they didn't consider it cheating, they wouldn't hide it.

DTMFA, and run run run. And get checked for STDs.
posted by Shoeburyness at 10:52 AM on May 9, 2007

Just because he hasnt told her about it, doesnt mean that he is hiding it. If this is something he does every day its probably routine, if you're not living with someone then they dont need to know everything about your life for you to be keeping secrets.
If he doesnt see it as cheating and just thinks of it as no different that looking at porn then he may not even have considered that he ought to tell you.

Never attribute to malice what can be attributed to stupidity.

Talk to him about it, and you will know pretty much instantly (from the look on his face most likely) whether its his guilty secrect or whether it is just something routine and mundane that he's been doing every day for years and does give a second thought.

If you've been told by friends about it then it must be something he's discussed with them (else they wouldnt know it was daily - unless they've been going through his phone bills and if thats the case, you have to question why your friend would be doing that)
posted by missmagenta at 11:00 AM on May 9, 2007

Shoeburyness, you make a very good point. I tend to always think the best of people, and your comment (right after my comment) points out something I really need to keep in mind.
posted by yohko at 12:54 PM on May 9, 2007

Why is using phone sex such a giant leap and why does it indicate some dire mental illness?

I'm not an expert and I'm certainly not suggesting this represents mental illness and I wonder if there isn't a lot of gray area around all this but: dosn't phone sex show a willingness/need to "share" with an actual human and third party? Shouldn't this be cause for greater relationship concern than if a partner is sometimes finds er.. encouragement from a magazine or computer screen? Paper or glass instead of actual person?
posted by scheptech at 7:28 AM on May 10, 2007

"doesn't phone sex show a willingness/need to 'share' with an actual human and third party?"

I thought phone sex was just someone talking dirty to you. A willingness to share with another human being sounds more like therapy. I don't think they're remotely similar.

But I still don't understand how the "friends" know this person was responding to "casual sex" postings - and you didn't. Did they see this? Were they confided in? Or are they guessing? It doesn't make sense that this info would be intentionally kept from you, but freely shared with mutual friends.

I hope you get to talk this out and get some answers.
Good luck.
posted by mike0221 at 8:12 AM on May 10, 2007

A willingness to share with another human being sounds more like therapy.

No - a willingness/need for a real person to know, in the moment, what they're doing. Sharing the experience. More of a relationship concern.

But I still don't understand how the "friends" know

Hmm, perhaps they similarly have a willingness/need to share this info with friends?
posted by scheptech at 8:32 AM on May 10, 2007

Hah. well, find out if $other_person is actually meeting anybody. if you're referring to the "casual encounters" section off of craigslist, 99.9999% of them are spam. I found that out years ago.

And nowadays, a good percentage of the "Women seeking Men" posts are just spam as well. You email them, and they auto-reply with some porno site URL.

so who knows, it is entirely possible that $other_person has made attempts but has gotten nowhere. "The thrill of the chase" perhaps?

And missmagenta for the win. Excellent posts.
posted by drstein at 9:57 AM on May 10, 2007

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