asdfg
I was away at a conference when a man hit on me, in a very direct rather than flirtatious way. We had hardly talked, but we danced, and he massaged my palm in a sensual way. I said: "I need to talk to you before this gets weird. You know I'm married. I'm committed to my marriage. It has been fun dancing but that's it." He said: "Are you sure?" I said: "Yes." I did kiss him on the cheek to say goodnight; it felt weirdly like a consolation prize. The next day he told me I was sexy, and amazing, etc etc, I repeated that I was flattered but very married. He said he understood and hoped we could be friends. I (stupidly) gave him my number.

This experience hit me like a tonne of bricks. It awakened feelings of desire in me that I thought long dead. My amazing, lovely, loving husband and I had drifted apart after kids; I was just coming out of the tunnel of raising little kids and learning to be myself again and follow my career and hobbies, but my husband and I weren't really connecting. I wanted to plug this energy back into my marriage and learn a lesson from it. I wanted to use it for good.

But I found myself fantasizing about this man. EVEN THOUGH I was reconnecting with my husband, I found, to my surprise, memories of this dance invading my thoughts. This man and I started to communicate. Over 3 months we exchanged: 2 phone calls (10 minutes and 16 minutes); 38 text messages; 10 emails. On paper it wasn't much. I didn't ever get to know him; he remains a stranger. Much of our communication was banal (like photos of the scenery, saying it's a nice day, etc). But in my head it was a lot. I indulged in thoughts of him, on purpose, deluding myself there was no harm in that. I worked myself into an obsessive infatuation, for absolutely no reason. I never thought this man was my soul mate; I was aware I was constructing a fictional version of a fantasy person in my mind. I never wanted to leave my husband. I convinced myself I wasn't putting my marriage at risk. BUT, in the end I emailed this man saying I had a crush on him. I said I "really, really, really, really" wanted to see him again. Stupid things. (Interestingly he never replied to the stupid bits; he ignored them. This fed my delusion to see it as harmless, somehow). He said he might come to my home town for work, and I said I would meet up with him. Thankfully that never happened.

After 3 months, and this "crush" email, I felt overwhelmed with guilt and anxiety and a desire for accountability and closure. I told my husband. Stupidly, I blurted it out; it was not a well-considered confession. I did not think at that point I had even HAD an affair. It was a crush, a sexual fantasy, a flirtation with a fictional character. I expected anger but not hurt. I panicked in response to my husband's extremely negative reaction and started back-tracking, lying and hiding details ("it was only 2 emails!" I stupidly declared). I have done many dumb things. Trickled out the truth. Been extremely defensive. Provided justifications for why it wasn't "so bad" and why he was over-reacting. Sigh. It has been hard to face up to myself as a person who, apparently, is the kind of person to have an affair. I waded into these waters without knowing what the hell I was getting into.

So... a caution. Do not think just because something is "mostly in your head" that it's not hurtful. Do not think you haven't YET crossed the line (if you're wondering, then you've crossed it). If you find yourself saying "I'd never do anything so stupid as to endanger my marriage" then consider that you've already endangered it. If you're keeping secrets, you have crossed a line. Be more mindful, more careful. Don't play around; it isn't a game. I know many, many married women with little kids who joke about flirting or having crushes; it isn't a joke. I know that now.
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Experiencethedevine29
asdfg wrote:
I was away at a conference when a man hit on me, in a very direct rather than flirtatious way. We had hardly talked, but we danced, and he massaged my palm in a sensual way. I said: "I need to talk to you before this gets weird. You know I'm married. I'm committed to my marriage. It has been fun dancing but that's it." He said: "Are you sure?" I said: "Yes." I did kiss him on the cheek to say goodnight; it felt weirdly like a consolation prize. The next day he told me I was sexy, and amazing, etc etc, I repeated that I was flattered but very married. He said he understood and hoped we could be friends. I (stupidly) gave him my number.

This experience hit me like a tonne of bricks. It awakened feelings of desire in me that I thought long dead. My amazing, lovely, loving husband and I had drifted apart after kids; I was just coming out of the tunnel of raising little kids and learning to be myself again and follow my career and hobbies, but my husband and I weren't really connecting. I wanted to plug this energy back into my marriage and learn a lesson from it. I wanted to use it for good.

But I found myself fantasizing about this man. EVEN THOUGH I was reconnecting with my husband, I found, to my surprise, memories of this dance invading my thoughts. This man and I started to communicate. Over 3 months we exchanged: 2 phone calls (10 minutes and 16 minutes); 38 text messages; 10 emails. On paper it wasn't much. I didn't ever get to know him; he remains a stranger. Much of our communication was banal (like photos of the scenery, saying it's a nice day, etc). But in my head it was a lot. I indulged in thoughts of him, on purpose, deluding myself there was no harm in that. I worked myself into an obsessive infatuation, for absolutely no reason. I never thought this man was my soul mate; I was aware I was constructing a fictional version of a fantasy person in my mind. I never wanted to leave my husband. I convinced myself I wasn't putting my marriage at risk. BUT, in the end I emailed this man saying I had a crush on him. I said I "really, really, really, really" wanted to see him again. Stupid things. (Interestingly he never replied to the stupid bits; he ignored them. This fed my delusion to see it as harmless, somehow). He said he might come to my home town for work, and I said I would meet up with him. Thankfully that never happened.

After 3 months, and this "crush" email, I felt overwhelmed with guilt and anxiety and a desire for accountability and closure. I told my husband. Stupidly, I blurted it out; it was not a well-considered confession. I did not think at that point I had even HAD an affair. It was a crush, a sexual fantasy, a flirtation with a fictional character. I expected anger but not hurt. I panicked in response to my husband's extremely negative reaction and started back-tracking, lying and hiding details ("it was only 2 emails!" I stupidly declared). I have done many dumb things. Trickled out the truth. Been extremely defensive. Provided justifications for why it wasn't "so bad" and why he was over-reacting. Sigh. It has been hard to face up to myself as a person who, apparently, is the kind of person to have an affair. I waded into these waters without knowing what the hell I was getting into.

So... a caution. Do not think just because something is "mostly in your head" that it's not hurtful. Do not think you haven't YET crossed the line (if you're wondering, then you've crossed it). If you find yourself saying "I'd never do anything so stupid as to endanger my marriage" then consider that you've already endangered it. If you're keeping secrets, you have crossed a line. Be more mindful, more careful. Don't play around; it isn't a game. I know many, many married women with little kids who joke about flirting or having crushes; it isn't a joke. I know that now.


you will find a great deal of wisdom here if you stick around, as well as some ‘2 x 4’s you might not be ready to hear, but do it anyway. Chart your journey back to integrity.

How is your husband feeling/coping? How are you helping him now to heal from your EA? (emotional affair).


ETD 🌻
Expectation is the root of all heartache.. ’Will Shakespeare
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asdfg
Thanks for this. He has been hit hard; trauma for a while. Things may be settling? We are seeing a couples' counsellor and individual counsellors. I have ordered and started to read about 5 books. I go on these websites. I am interrogating the "why" and being honest with him. I try SO HARD not to be defensive. I listen, and make promises to keep working on it and doing self reflection. On a practical level I have taken a leave from work, stopped any travel for work, and promised to only drink with my husband from now on (never at conferences or on girls' nights out). DO TELL ME if there's more. I want nothing more than my marriage and healing!
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Keepabuzz
asdfg wrote:
Thanks for this. He has been hit hard; trauma for a while. Things may be settling? We are seeing a couples' counsellor and individual counsellors. I have ordered and started to read about 5 books. I go on these websites. I am interrogating the "why" and being honest with him. I try SO HARD not to be defensive. I listen, and make promises to keep working on it and doing self reflection. On a practical level I have taken a leave from work, stopped any travel for work, and promised to only drink with my husband from now on (never at conferences or on girls' nights out). DO TELL ME if there's more. I want nothing more than my marriage and healing!


I am a male BS.  For more than a year after my wife’s confession, I was only in one of 2 modes. Deep sadness, or blind rage. In the early months my wife had difficulty with defensiveness at times.  Whenever I picked up even the slightest hint of defensiveness it would send me into a full on blind rage tear that would literally last for hours, sometimes all night. The one thing I think helped her the most was our marriage therapist told her this: “I know defensiveness is a natural reaction when you feel attacked. But you have to stop it. Recognize it, and stop it before it comes out. He is reacting emotionally and has little to no control at this point. When that happens, you need to just take it. What might help you is to change how you look it, how you receive his rage. What you see is rage and attacking, when in reality he is showing you his pain.  All that rage, is just hurt that can’t yet express to you. He will get there, as long as you aren’t defensive.”


Welcome to the community. 
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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Experiencethedevine29

Keepabuzz wrote:


I am a male BS.  For more than a year after my wife’s confession, I was only in one of 2 modes. Deep sadness, or blind rage. In the early months my wife had difficulty with defensiveness at times.  Whenever I picked up even the slightest hint of defensiveness it would send me into a full on blind rage tear that would literally last for hours, sometimes all night. The one thing I think helped her the most was our marriage therapist told her this: “I know defensiveness is a natural reaction when you feel attacked. But you have to stop it. Recognize it, and stop it before it comes out. He is reacting emotionally and has little to no control at this point. When that happens, you need to just take it. What might help you is to change how you look it, how you receive his rage. What you see is rage and attacking, when in reality he is showing you his pain.  All that rage, is just hurt that can’t yet express to you. He will get there, as long as you aren’t defensive.”


Welcome to the community. 




What Keep says...you will need to ‘see’ what’s underneath and recognise that anguish that for many of us (I was very much like Keep, I ranted and raved like a Mad woman,  those feelings were so intense) come out of nowhere and take US by surprise too.

When a wayward is defensive, gaslighting, hiding under their shell, it’s sends the betrayed ALL THE WAY BACK TO DISCOVERY, so they must go through all that pain and nauseating gut wrenching hyper vigilance AGAIN... it’s truly horrific.

As an aside, I am definitely not the same woman I was the day my former marriage died, but when I offered him the opportunity for us to build a new one we both made big changes. Him for the better although it was like pulling teeth to witness his 2 steps forward and 6 back for a while, and he still makes the occasional boob, but the difference is I don’t have ANY of the s*it I would have in the dead marriage. In this one I call him out. He is now conscious of boundaries, and cares about me in ways I had not previously seen. We’re both at a stage in our lives where we appreciate what we’ve got.

I changed in myriad ways. I stopped allowing ANYBODY to take advantage of my generous nature, and learned to say ‘no’..both were huge for me, I’d previously gone above and beyond for everyone, never leaving anything in reserve.

Put yourself in his shoes. They won’t fit of course, but you’ll get a ‘feel’ for how he walks in them.

ETD 🌻



Expectation is the root of all heartache.. ’Will Shakespeare
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AnywhereButHere

Hello asdfg,

I’m curious as to how much of your husband’s anguish would be attributed to what was “in your head” versus your actually engaging with your AP on the basis of your infatuation…giving him your number, telling him that you had a crush on him and “really, really, really, really” wanted to see him, etc. My wife had an emotional affair with a coworker she was infatuated with and sexually fantasizing about. I told her straight up that her infatuations and fantasies were a matter between her and God and were none of my, her husband’s, business. I claim no right to police her mind. And having worked in boring office work for 30 years, I knew what an infatuation was. I knew, from experience, that they die a natural death after a few weeks...unless they are nurtured. Unfortunately, my wife crossed-the-line and shared with her coworker about how she felt and, she claims, he reciprocated. Just like that, her coworker became her emotional affair-partner and her infatuation became an interactive 5-month-long emotional affair.

It was the sharing with another man that emotionally killed me and damaged what, we used to tell one another, was our great and ‘special’ marriage. And it matters little that this engagement was non-physical. Stereotypes about “the only thing men are interested in” being BS, sex isn’t the be-all and end-all regarding how significant your engagement with another man will be to your husband.

Lastly, there is an unintended consequence of less-than-total transparency and honesty peculiar to an emotional affair. In a physical affair, the betrayed spouse can imagine ‘how bad it got’ with little input from the WS – especially if they read some of the testimonials about how cheating sex can be pretty intense and mind-blowing. A BS knows what their WS is like in bed. But in an emotional affair there is a much wider range of possible interactions and things being said – degrees of ‘how bad it got’ from saying “You’re such a nice person” to “I love you and I wish I wasn’t married”, from sharing photos of sunsets to sharing porn selfies. And when a WS believes she needs to lie, back-track and stonewall regarding the details of her emotional affair (as mine did), the BS considers the continuum and thinks, “Oh my God!!!! It was THAT bad?!?!?!?!”.

So I wanted to ask if are you certain that what was “mostly in your head” is the principal source of your husband’s pain? Does he say this? Does your husband feel that if your infatuation had stayed in your head, not been expressed to your AP in any form (number-giving, etc) and, therefore, likely lasted some fraction of 3 months…would your husband still feel the same way? …still be just as devastated?

I ask because I’ve made the distinction between what happens in a person’s mind and what they allow to transpire with the object of their infatuation the dividing line between what is not cheating…and what is.

Thank you for your response and for the sage-advice you’ve imparted to would-be wayward spouses in your post. Truly, it is gold.

BH, 5+ Mo EA, DDay 3/8/18
"...regarding all as God after God."
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asdfg
Thanks AnywhereButHere... all good points. My partner has been haunted by what "might have happened"; where it "might have gone", and that is largely determined by what was going on in my head, rather than on paper. One thing that really guts him is a stupid letter I wrote BUT DID NOT SEND to this other man. I think it's my thoughts and feelings that upset him most.  That said, I'm getting it now. For a long time I thought "if it's in my head, what's the harm?". But there is harm. It means I wasn't wholly invested at home, and that on its own is bad enough... Of course to make matters worse there's some blurry lines between "thought crime" and reality. In my head I was fantasizing about sex, but of course (I mean that, though even I guess I don't know what "of course" really means) I would never have ACTUALLY had sex with him; but I WAS thinking about meeting up with him... I wrote the letter, but did not send the letter. So where exactly is the line between a fantasy, a thought, and a plan? I think in the end I was compartmentalizing the whole thing in a box in my head labelled "FANTASY", and as the lines got blurry even for me it got harder to shove things into the box. After confession I think I was still compartmentalizing and didn't at first feel that guilty (I remember shouting at him "you're acting like I had an affair!?! Why?!?!"). Then about a month after D-day I had a nervous breakdown or something like it... now I think that was the compartmentalization box dissolving. I had to face up to what I'd done and realize how bad it was. That was hard. Harder than the confession in the first place.
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Keepabuzz
asdfg wrote:
Thanks AnywhereButHere... all good points. My partner has been haunted by what "might have happened"; where it "might have gone", and that is largely determined by what was going on in my head, rather than on paper. One thing that really guts him is a stupid letter I wrote BUT DID NOT SEND to this other man. I think it's my thoughts and feelings that upset him most.  That said, I'm getting it now. For a long time I thought "if it's in my head, what's the harm?". But there is harm. It means I wasn't wholly invested at home, and that on its own is bad enough... Of course to make matters worse there's some blurry lines between "thought crime" and reality. In my head I was fantasizing about sex, but of course (I mean that, though even I guess I don't know what "of course" really means) I would never have ACTUALLY had sex with him; but I WAS thinking about meeting up with him... I wrote the letter, but did not send the letter. So where exactly is the line between a fantasy, a thought, and a plan? I think in the end I was compartmentalizing the whole thing in a box in my head labelled "FANTASY", and as the lines got blurry even for me it got harder to shove things into the box. After confession I think I was still compartmentalizing and didn't at first feel that guilty (I remember shouting at him "you're acting like I had an affair!?! Why?!?!"). Then about a month after D-day I had a nervous breakdown or something like it... now I think that was the compartmentalization box dissolving. I had to face up to what I'd done and realize how bad it was. That was hard. Harder than the confession in the first place.


I would say the hardest part is that you “chose” this other man over your husband. He feels less than, second best, not good enough. That breaks a man’s spirit.  
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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AnywhereButHere
Keep makes the point: A fantasy is is not a replacement man. When I started at this forum, I asked a question to all if they believed porn use to be just as bad as an affair or, though not a pleasant option at all, having now experienced affair betrayal would you prefer to have been betrayed by porn use instead. It was nearly unanimous...porn/fantasy betrayal is not nearly as bad as betrayal involving a living, responsive AP.
BH, 5+ Mo EA, DDay 3/8/18
"...regarding all as God after God."
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JORGE
I want to commend you for being quite candid in your original post. Refreshing and not too often does a person apply the brakes on a locomotive and avoid marriage annihilation  of which you were clearly on course for. First, let's talk about this quote. 
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a man hit on me, in a very direct rather than flirtatious way. We had hardly talked, but we danced, and he massaged my palm in a sensual way. I said: "I need to talk to you before this gets weird.

I was once a man who had his way with women before I got married. If I don't have the equivalent of a PHD, I definitely have a Masters degree. Guaranteed. I never used it on married or taken women, but could have.  Men who hunt (he was a hunter) take inventory of the landscape before they pounce. It's not as innocent or random as you'd think. Sometimes it is, but more times than not, years of experience at saying, touching, seeing and avoiding in some instances, is all part of the game. Sometimes it's random, but more often predicated on something clue that you may or may not even know has made you his target. It's all part of the game and he choose you at some point, tested the waters and he had you before you could say, "you know I'm married, right?" Women who aren't seasoned at being single or playing single, or whatever, are no match for a predator or playing man. It's equivalent to a novice going to buy a car from a car salesman that sell 100 cars a year. Often, even if you think you have a deal, the sales person made a couple thousand from the sale, when you thought he made a couple hundred. 

Second, I want to second Keep's response above. On the money. 

Quote:
but I WAS thinking about meeting up with him.
 
Third I want to respond to this quote. If you read enough threads, I believe the majority of wayward spouses will say, "I wasn't looking for it". Some look for affairs, some put themselves in position to get "chosen" so to speak so they can say, I was just minding my own business and he pursued me. This is the easy one, as men will do all the work if you bat an eye or twinkle them, just right. :-)

Others, recognize they are straddling the boundary, but are too smitten with the naughtiness and excitement of the hunt that's full of subtle exchanges that evolve to, non-subtle ones. This is where people get burnt, and men in particular understand how other men are and know when they're wives or loved ones are playing with fire. Next thing you know the wife/girlfriend say's this.
Quote:
My amazing, lovely, loving husband and I had drifted apart after kids; I was just coming out of the tunnel of raising little kids and learning to be myself again and follow my career and hobbies, but my husband and I weren't really connecting. I wanted to plug this energy back into my marriage and learn a lesson from it. I wanted to use it for good.

Why... because this is the beginning of self permission and justification to engage and see what's behind the door. The talk to yourself where a bullet lists of what he isn't doing or what husband is missing starts the engine. It then evolves to........, I owe myself this or or no one will get hurt if I'm careful, after all, husband works too often, plays video games, doesn't do this, doesn't do that. It's all part of the self indulgence

, . .......this leads to wanting more emotional fulfillment, which leads to physical want and consummating the attraction with the ultimate act, Sex. Next thing you know, you're knee deep into it and even while knowing it's unjust, unfair and wrong, you can't really stop the rush and from there the relationship deterioration accelerates, but it's not because of the betrayed's actions, but because of waywards success in the making wrong turns at each intersection and couldn't  resist succumbing to the intrigue, curiosity, lust or naughtiness of the situation. 

After the destruction, they look back and say, "I wasn't looking for it to happen", or " I just wasn't thinking". Of course they weren't. Most don't. They did however leave the door open to getting thrills from a 3rd person. That crack in the door is what causes the house to be blown off it's foundation, and in some cases, beyond repair. 
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