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.

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Another relapse

Three sex addicts that my husband knows have relapsed in the past few weeks.  Two of them were discovered by their wives.  The third one came clean of his own accord and made the heart wrenching decision to tell his wife about his mistake.  There are many complicated issues at play within any addictive behavior, but in my opinion the man who is willing to admit his powerlessness and ask for help and forgiveness seems so much further down the road in recovery than the others.  It seems that he is truly serious about beating his addiction and understands that he can not remain sober without complete honesty.  He has taken appropriate actions to start again – a day at a time.  It’s refreshing and comforting to hear that men like him exist in this community of sex addiction.  It gives me hope that there are those who are getting sober not because they have been given an ultimatum from their spouse, but because they don’t want to live in shame and regret and isolation any longer.  

99% of the relapses I hear about are when partners discover some horrid secret by accident – this is also how I found out about my own husbands relapses.  Discovering the secret activities myself added an unimaginable degree of pain to the already devastating information.  Being cheated on is one thing…but being lied to about it is a betrayal that is most difficult to overcome.  Although this latest group of guys who went astray doesn’t include my own husband, I live with the understanding that it could be him tomorrow.  I hope that if and when another relapse plagues us that he will have the courage to tell me and together we can figure out how best to proceed.  

Sex Addiction – the newest ‘go to’ theme for TV and film

It was just over 4 years ago that the Tiger Woods scandal introduced the word “sex addiction” to mainstream America.

Sex addiction is as old as the hills, but on that November day in 2009 (thanks to Tiger) sex addiction became a household word.  A few more celebrities entered rehab, Kanye West admitted to Details magazine that he is a sex addict, Dr Phil started to cover the subject and lo and behold sexaholism slowly began to be recognized as a societal problem (even if it’s still not generally accepted as an actual sickness).

A few movies started to look at the subject of sex addiction over the past years – and now it seems that all the big Hollywood studios are instructing their writers to add a sex addict story line to their scripts.  What alcoholism was to the 80’s (Barfly, When a Man Loves A Woman) and drug addiction was to the 90’s (Requiem for a Dream, Drugstore  Cowboy, Gridlock’d, Trainspotting), I predict sexaholism will be to 2014.

Addiction has always been a theme in music, film and tv.  Some of the best were clearly ahead of their time.  The 1962 film “Days of Wine and Roses” is a very realistic look at alcoholism during a time when social drinking was the norm.  Mickey Rourke’s character in 9 1/2 weeks was certainly a sex addict long before it was being discussed openly.  In the last couple of years we saw two excellent movies come out which centered entirely around sex addiction – “Shame” and “Thanks For Sharing”.   With top directors and big name actors starring in these films, the addiction is getting a lot of attention.

(SPOILER ALERT!)  Last nights “Shameless” episode is the latest show to use sex addiction as a theme.  Long story short, Fiona has sex with her boyfriends alcoholic brother.  She speaks with the alcoholic later that day and she says “we are going to forget this…it never happened” to which the alcoholic replies that it DID happen, and it WILL happen again.  Then he calls her “addict”.    Is this a case of the brother wanting to define others as addicts so he doesn’t feel so alone?  Or is Fiona indeed an addict herself – a result of being raised by an alcoholic father?  I’m guessing Al-Anon is in her future…as is a full blown affair with the alcoholic brother.  I mean, what addict could resist?

Wherever the story line goes for Fiona, this progress is really good and really important.  Film, TV, Music & Art are such important catalysts to bring information and understanding to people.  Mental illness, eating disorders, addictions, gay marriage…you name it…if it happens in the world, it eventually makes its way to the big screen and into the consciousness of millions of viewers.   Sometimes the real world and art collide as in the case of David Duchovny whose character Hank Moody in “Californication” is a sex addict, as David is in real life.

Some films will get it wrong and it is likely to be used for comedy as much as anything.  But the more the public sees of the damage and truth of this addiction the sooner we can all crawl out from under it’s shadows.

Sex Addiction in the movies: Don Jon

Anyone who has been to the theatre lately has likely noticed that sex addiction is the new hot topic for filmmakers.  Considering the increasing prevalence of this addiction in our society due in no small part to internet porn addiction, it’s a natural subject to be considered on the big screen.

Last year I saw “Shame” – a brilliant, uncomfortable, spot on psychological drama by the genius director Steve McQueen.  Shame was so well done, that my words could never do it justice.  Michael Fassbender’s performance is filled with pain, anger, sadness, fear…and of course, shame.  It is the cold, hard truth about the loneliest of addictions.  Just like McQueen’s “12 Years A Slave” it is a masterpiece.

Cut to this years stereotypical, unoriginal, sexist and repetitive “Don Jon”.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt is better than this movie.  As is Scarlett Johansson.  Essentially, Joseph plays a sex and porn addict – as a viewer you know he is an addict because there are dozens of identical scenes depicting his addict behavior (this is the repetitive part).  The stereotypes come in the New Jersey box of bad accents, pushy mothers, guido clothes and Catholics  – they should have cast The Situation, he would have been more convincing.   I am all for comedy, even about painful subjects like addiction, but unfortunately there was nothing funny in this film – especially the sexism.  To say that fantasy trumps reality for sex addicts isn’t a surprise – we get that part.  But Don Jon puts the blame for his addiction not on himself or his obvious intimacy disorder, but instead it’s put upon on the women who don’t measure up to the porn standard in the bedroom.  If his real life girlfriends could just be freaky enough in the bedroom he would surely be cured.  Enter Julianne Moore…she is older, damaged and when she sleeps with him his entire world changes.  If only it were that easy.