Did Ashley Madison ruin your week? What do you do now?

I was going to entitle this “did ashley madison ruin your life”.  But I can’t manage to give this company that degree of power.  That being said, I’m guessing that more than one wife found out recently that their husband had sought an affair.  That’s a tough blow for even the strongest marriage to take.  Overnight there is anger, anxiety, fear, shame, disgust and a million other emotions swirling.

I’ve written about this site before because my husband had signed up for it once a number of years ago.  From the ‘history’ it seemed pretty clear that nothing amounted from it and truth be told I think he found it incredibly boring and he likely never accessed it after his initial ‘sign up’ high.  I’m sure he found the site ‘boring’…but that’s because he spent a few years acting out A LOT sexually – visiting chat sites, frequenting massage parlors, having sex with a couple women he knew – lots of horrible and unacceptable behavior.  I think the ‘vanilla’ nature of A.M. didn’t capture his interest as much as his other activities.

So you’ve just found out that your trusted mate has an Ashley Madison account.  Now What?

I think that most men on that site fall into 3 different categories.

  1.  The most harmless category will be the one that everyone is claiming to belong to.  The “I was just curious what it was but never sought an affair”.  A prurient interest can get the best of anyone and lead them to explore a website like this.  Someone sees a commercial – can’t believe what is being advertised – types in the URL and next thing you know the company is charging a monthly fee and you just wish you had never heard of the thing.  Honestly, I think this is probably true for some people.  I believe it because I am one of those people.  I saw a billboard and thought, what is that? A movie ad? A TV show? I searched the site – was pissed off it existed – and emptied my history.  OK, I never made an ad or paid for the service but men can be pretty dumb about these things and I don’t put it past someone to go that far down the path of fantasy only to realize they have no interest in being there.  So if your husband is claiming that this is his story then maybe it is.  Ask him to share his password – go to the site – see how much activity he has and go from there.
  2. A truly repentant man.  Let’s face it – people screw up.  A man can stray for any number of reasons but it doesn’t always make him a horrible or unloving person.  Marriages get over infidelity (or attempted infidelity) all the time.  Tust gets rebuilt.  Scars heal. Take for instance a man like my husband – a sex addict who has struggled for years with maintaining honest and loyal boundaries with me.  He is fully accepting of his mistakes and seeks every day to be a better man.  He shares his ‘slips’ and takes total responsibility for his actions.  In my situation, I knew long ago that there was an AM account so when this leak happened I just made sure that we cancelled the credit card he used to use for his secret activities so the info doesn’t get into the hands of hackers.  I don’t know if my husband was one of the people leaked, or if his account was even still active (I think we cancelled it but sites like this make that really hard so it may have still been up) but it doesn’t matter as I knew all about it and he has long since been forgiven.  As hard as it is to learn that your mate was seeking sex outside the marriage… if he seems truly remorseful and willing to be truthful and honest then try to remember who he really is as a person before throwing him to the curb.  He might deserve one more chance.
  3. The last group is of course the guys who cheat but have no guilt, no remorse and no interest in changing.  This is the guy who swears it will never happen again only to turn around and do it the next day.  This person may be an addict, or a disrespectful person or no longer in love, or maybe he is just a jerk – but this is the danger area.   He probably blames everything and everyone externally and doesn’t take responsibility for his own actions.  He is the kind of guy who thinks he deserves more than the rest.  You know the type.  Maybe you are married to him.  In this case there are a lot of decisions to make – but it’s important to not delude yourself into believing his words.  If you do, chances are you will just be hurt again and again.  You may decide to stay with this person for your own reasons…children, money, familiarity…but try to protect yourself and understand that another woman/women are just going to be a part of your life.  He may change eventually – but if not, just know your own limits.

All 22 million people (if that is the current number) on that AM site aren’t horrible people.  Some are.  Try to know who you are dealing with before taking the next step.

It’s probably not a surprise that I went to an all girls Catholic High School

I kept a pretty detailed diary in 8th grade which included in embarrassing detail my sexual experimentation with a few of the boys in my class.  The day that I got home from school, walked into the kitchen and saw my mom sitting at the table with the diary as it’s centerpiece will go down in history as one of the worst days of my life.  I literally wanted to disappear.  Apparently my brother tattled to my parents that there were some stories in our public junior high about me and my mom did the best worst thing she could have.  In hindsight I can see the love in how my parents handled the situation.  I didn’t get into “trouble”, my mom and I had a long honest talk and then I went to weekly therapy with my parents for a few months.  Of course, I should have told the therapist about my 5th grade molestation but I still felt that my parents couldn’t handle that kind of pain so I didn’t.  Such silly beliefs we hold when we are 13 years old.   No child has the capacity to handle such things on their own – but 13 year olds don’t realize they are children.

At any rate, the discovery about my promiscuity with boys forced my parents to bring up the idea of transferring me to the Catholic Girls School for 9th grade.  I resisted, I begged, I made a million promises if they would please not send me to that stuck up school!  Then my junior high had a track meet against the girls school.  I stood there with my friend Leanne watching the pretty, well groomed girls in their matching track suits warm up.  Out of the blue, Leanne said “the girls at that school always get laid”.  The rest is history.  I went home that night and told my parents I was happy to switch schools.  My mom was suspicious…she had recognized early on my ability to manipulate… but her hands were kind of tied with this.  You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  So off I went in my little uniform to join the class of 1988.

Leanne was wrong.  The girls didn’t all get laid.  But of course, I did.  I lost my virginity mid way through my sophomore year to a senior with a girlfriend.  I desperately wanted to have sex with this very popular guy and one night I was lucky enough to be offered a ride home from him after a keg party.  We parked in a lot up the street from my parents house and had sex in the back seat of his parents car.  By Monday morning the whole school knew…including the boys school which was across town from ours.  For a while, I became the girl you went to if you wanted to have sex for the first time.  Two boys lost their virginity with me because their girlfriends (my classmates) wouldn’t do it.  So much for Leanne’s theory.  When I was a junior, my friends older brother took me to a movie and then date raped me afterward.  And senior year I fell a little in love with an outcast and we had sex the night before he moved away.  He left behind a case of chlamydia to remember him by.

One would think that the displaced validation I felt when these boys ‘wanted’ me would have been outweighed by the negative affects on my reputation and health.  But it didn’t.  Being ‘easy’ started to define me and it was a label I decided to embrace.  It made me feel different…and different can feel special.

Hypersexual Behavior Disorder

It was a pretty big deal in the sex addiction community that “Hypersexual Behavior Disorder” wasn’t included in the 5th edition of the DSM – V (Diagnostic Statistical Manuel for Psychiatric Disorders).  As the spouse of an addict, I agree that this addiction should be recognized and treated with the same attention as other process addictions – Food, Gambling, Debting, etc.  The DSM is revised every so often, and is making steady but extremely slow progress in the area of addiction.  For instance, Gambling Addiction was classified in the DSM-IV under the section called “Impulse Control Disorders Not Elsewhere Classified”.  This is the same category as things such as pyromania.  It has been ‘upgraded’ to “Gambling Disorder” in the DSM-V which is great news for those affected by and treating this disorder.  But Sex addiction is still left out.

As much as I would like to see it included in the sixth addition – I have to say that I take issue with calling it Hypersexual Behavior Disorder.  I am not a psychiatrist, but in my opinion it’s the “hypersexual” part that is not accurate or inclusive enough to be the official name of the addiction.  Hypersexuality is certainly one extreme of the problem – just like bulimia is one side of eating disorders.  But there is another side to sex addiction – it is the equivalent of anorexia.

I have been highly sexual my entire teen and adult life.  I’ve had countless sexual partners and when I was in monogamous relationships I had sex, on average, at least once a day, sometimes a dozen.  The surprise isn’t that my own sexuality led me to a relationship with a sex addict but that my husband, the ‘sex addict’, barely has any sex at all.  Am I a sex addict?  Unlikely.  Is my husband a sex addict?  Absolutely.  So the one in the relationship who acts in a hypersexual fashion isn’t an addict – but the one who goes months on end without sex, masturbation, sometimes even an erection is one?  Very confusing to the onlooker.

When I was first dating my husband, we had sex at most 2 times a week.   By the time we got married (6 months later) we were down to a few times a month.  And when we went to Hawaii for our honeymoon – with much prodding I convinced him to make love with me just once, on our last night there.

It seemed like a cruel joke that the girl who grew up as the town/high school/fraternity ‘nympho’ ended up in a sexless marriage.  I constantly craved sex with my husband, but no matter what I did I could rarely interest him.   I eventually told him that if we didn’t start fucking that I would need to take a lover – he promised to start paying more attention to me sexually and blamed his lack of interest on age, antidepressants and stress.  It was a few weeks later that I found out about his cheating and everything changed.

In the 7 years that he was cheating on me, he attempted to have an orgasm about 2 dozen times and achieved orgasm 15 times, give or take.  This includes sex partners, erotic massage parlors, masturbation – ALL OF IT!!!  This certainly doesn’t sound like someone who is hypersexual.

Sex Addiction isn’t about the sex, and most certainly isn’t about the orgasm.  My husband is a prime example.  It makes it harder for me to tell people that my husband is a sex addict because I think the image that goes through their minds is of him having sex and masturbating all day, every day.  It’s just not so.  He has such intimacy issues that he can’t go there and his shame makes him a sexual anorexic.  It would be helpful to have the DSM reconsider the addiction for the 6th edition and to include a broader definition of the disorder.  Maybe “sexual behavior disorder” would be more accurate.  But with or without the medical validation of the DSM, anyone with an addicted family member knows it to be a very true, and very lonely problem.