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Wayward Side :
Need advice - did I cheat and should I tell?

question

 SharpayE (original poster new member #84873) posted at 6:05 PM on Thursday, May 23rd, 2024

During my relationship with my SO, I used chat rooms to sext strangers completely anonymously (fake identity, no contact details, no emotional connection or repeated contact with the same person, no photos of myself / nudes). At the time I was doing it, we didn't live together and saw each other usually once or sometimes twice a week for dates. About a year ago, I had a wake up call and realised that what I was doing was disrespectful to my partner, and becoming too much of an addiction.I put an end to my behaviour. It's been a year since I've last done this and I know I would never do anything like that again. We live together now and are married, and the idea of doing it again would never cross my mind but the guilt is still present. Should I put this behind me as I'm very remorseful and will never go back to this behaviour again or tell?

posts: 12   ·   registered: May. 23rd, 2024
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hikingout ( member #59504) posted at 6:41 PM on Thursday, May 23rd, 2024

Cheating can be subjective to each couple who decides the boundaries together.

The fact you hid it and are now questioning yourself tells me you know she would not be okay with this. That spells betrayal has occurred.

The fact you had this tendency, could spell out some things in your character that needs shoring up. I think it’s the type of thing that could be used as a crutch later and it’s slippery behavior that can escalate. It’s hard to think in this day and age you didn’t video chat? Or see pictures of the women? You only talk about not sending pics.

You need to see that you are minimizing this behavior because you know telling her will impact trust, and will hurt her.

7 years of hard work - WS and BS - Reconciled

posts: 7261   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
id 8837588
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 SharpayE (original poster new member #84873) posted at 8:33 PM on Thursday, May 23rd, 2024

I am female, 27 years old. I think that's the issue - that we didn't discuss boundaries. We had a conversation a year ago which made me realise that our morals were not completely aligned and made me realise that although I didn't consider what I was doing as a betrayal, he most likely had a different view. That's why I stopped because I love my husband with all my heart and didn't want to carry on doing something that would potentially cause hurt to him if it continued and became known.

There was 100% no video involved and I never asked for any pictures, was sometimes sent some in the conversations. The intent of my involvement in these conversations was to help me imagine sexual fantasies to masturbate, I didn't really care about who I was chatting to and want to know anything about them or take it any further. It was kind of just like an interactive erotic story to me.

posts: 12   ·   registered: May. 23rd, 2024
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survrus ( member #67698) posted at 8:36 PM on Thursday, May 23rd, 2024

Did the sexting excite you more than marital sex?

If so it's unfair to your BH or SO to be second best and not know it.

Apologize for not telling before the marriage and taking their choice away.

posts: 1487   ·   registered: Nov. 1st, 2018   ·   location: USA
id 8837601
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 SharpayE (original poster new member #84873) posted at 9:48 PM on Thursday, May 23rd, 2024

No the sexting didn't excite me more than sex with my SO. I stopped before we got married - part of the reason I did it is because we were living apart and doing long distance so probably only having sex once a month

posts: 12   ·   registered: May. 23rd, 2024
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 11:00 PM on Thursday, May 23rd, 2024

When did you explicitly commit to monogamy? If before you committed and then sexted, I'd consider it cheating. If the commitment to monogamy ( I assume you both made one) came after you stopped, not cheating, IMO.

I'm with hikingout - this is bothering you, and it's probably a barrier between you and your H. I can almost guarantee he'd be very unhappy to find out about it, but I expect if he recognizes a barrier, he'll want it torn down.

So maybe tearing down the barrier is something best done by you without spilling your guts. But if you spill your guts, sooner is probably a lot better than later. I expect that telling your H years down the road when you're feeling loving, safe, and a little tipsy would cause a very big problem. You might think it's a funny episode in 2044, but I'm not sure he would.

Why did you do it anyway? What's enjoyable about sending photos while being anonymous? (That's an honest question. I'm curious.) And are you sure you really are anonymous?)

Maybe it's best to find a good IC and get help for evaluating options and deciding to choose the best one.

Stopping on your own bodes well for the future. A year's abstinence isn't much, though. Don't get over-confident.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 29994   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8837621
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 SharpayE (original poster new member #84873) posted at 11:23 PM on Thursday, May 23rd, 2024

Thank you for the advice - I am considering individual counselling.

I would say we had committed to monogamy when I did this as we were boyfriend and girlfriend but I stopped before marriage. I don't know why I didn't realise what I was doing was outside the bounds of monogamy, it just felt very fake / fantasy.

I didn't exchange any photos of myself and it was a website where the only info I put was my username which had no relation to myself and the identity I gave myself in the chats was completely fake so definitely anonymous. As to why I did it, I was in a LDR and so watching porn. One day I came across the site and just got addicted from there, I think it was the freedom to express sexual fantasies that you would never actually want people to know you have or do in real life

posts: 12   ·   registered: May. 23rd, 2024
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survrus ( member #67698) posted at 3:44 AM on Friday, May 24th, 2024

Sharp,

Another question is are the fantasies you indulged in with these strangers things you would never do with your H even if he asked for them?

posts: 1487   ·   registered: Nov. 1st, 2018   ·   location: USA
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HellIsNotHalfFull ( member #83534) posted at 4:08 AM on Friday, May 24th, 2024

From what I am reading, what you did sounds like an emersion experience of porn.
I would say, that you’re questioning it, and hiding it, then yes it’s a form of cheating. How your husband will interpret it, I can’t say.

And I will be honest, this is a rare case where I don’t immediately jump on the you should confess everything wagon. First, how do you think he would really react? From your post I am assuming he would be upset because you have guilt and remorse over it and are questioning if you should confess. That to me says you know it was wrong and that it will hurt him.

Ultimately, I do believe that you should tell him, because a marriage that has lies/infidelity in its foundation will have rot. That rot can fester and may come back in ways you never expected.

Me mid 40s BH
Her mid 40s WW
1 year EA/PA

"Just" a friend.in R, getting by

posts: 396   ·   registered: Jun. 26th, 2023   ·   location: U.S.
id 8837654
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 SharpayE (original poster new member #84873) posted at 9:53 AM on Friday, May 24th, 2024

No the fantasies aren't necessarily things I would never do if H asked for them, more things that I don't expect that he would ever ask to do because he's amazing and the fantasies involve quite derogatory behaviour towards myself.

There are a few things putting me off telling:
1. He may not believe that anonymous messages with a completely fake identity and no pictures was the extent of it. The site doesn't keep messages so I wouldn't be able to show any evidence and I'd be telling a year after the fact. In our culture him divorcing me is unlikely so it seems unfair to make him live the rest of our marriage not knowing if he's been told the whole truth and questioning my loyalty going forward when I know that going forward the chances of me doing this again or worse are non existent
2. I know I definitely crossed the boundary and I am able to express remorse and regret for this, I honestly wish I just watched normal porn! It would have had the same outcome for me without crossing the line into being unfaithful. BUT this was not a symptom of an unhappy relationship, I am so happy in my marriage and I love my husband. The "other person" in this scenario each time I chatted was just a new random stranger that I had no feelings towards
3. There is no chance of this coming out another way apart from me choosing to tell as I committed this negative behaviour under a fake identity and exchanged no photos or personal contact details

I feel like I could move on from this with time and individual counselling. I'm not trying to weasel my way out of telling, it just really feels to me like the benefits of telling do not outweigh the potential damage to our marriage due to a loss of trust

posts: 12   ·   registered: May. 23rd, 2024
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hikingout ( member #59504) posted at 2:08 PM on Friday, May 24th, 2024

Sharp,

Another question is are the fantasies you indulged in with these strangers things you would never do with your H even if he asked for them?

I would say we all have fantasies that we think about that we might never do. I don’t think that part is damning since it sounds more like this was erotic story telling. I find erotic stories a lot of fun even though they might contain things that sounds fun only in theory.

I think also if you can get to the root of whether this is something you do want to act out I would definitely talk to him about his interest level. I get the whole derogatory or even kind of being taken control of. It might be a good bridge to spend time talking about your fantasies with him and doing some experimenting and that might open the barrier Sissoon is talking about. Showing him that side of you may make you feel like you have brought him in.

I would say therapy could be also a way that this doesn’t turn up as acting out later when the trials of marriage have you in periods of disconnect.

I can’t advise you not to tell but I feel the same as hnhf. I don’t know if that is the ultimate answer. But for sure your husband should know all sides of you, should know your fantasies and preferences, and you should be aligned on boundaries and morality. Even if one of you is a little more conservative, respecting their stance on things and aligning behavior is important.

[This message edited by hikingout at 2:26 PM, Friday, May 24th]

7 years of hard work - WS and BS - Reconciled

posts: 7261   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
id 8837706
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 SharpayE (original poster new member #84873) posted at 4:51 PM on Friday, May 24th, 2024

Thank you all for your advice. I don't really know how he'd react to me telling him. He doesn't really use porn himself but I know he's fine with me using it. In relation to chat rooms, I don't know his opinion as it's not something we've ever discussed.

I wish we had discussed boundaries properly as that would make it easier for me to know whether this is something he would consider betrayal or not.

I know for sure though that he would be hurt and betrayed by the fact that I kept this from him if it was bothering me enough to feel the need to confess.

I don't know where this need to confess has come from because since I stopped I haven't thought about it again and I've just been a happy faithful wife but all of a sudden I just became plagued with guilt and haven't been able to stop thinking about it for the past month

posts: 12   ·   registered: May. 23rd, 2024
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 5:32 PM on Friday, May 24th, 2024

If you degraded yourself in your fantasies, perhaps confessing to your H is another way of getting yourself punished. I could be way off, of course.

IMO, you fit within the WS world, but note that's a description and an opinion much more than a moral judgment. As for my moral judgment, again it's something like, 'cheated, stopped when she realized that she was cheating, working on how to recover, much better than most.'

I'm very much against confessing out of guilt alone. Confess only if you have a positive outcome in mind. I think you may have a good case for not confessing.

I'll go back to recommending a good IC. A good IC will be able to help you identify your motivations and make good choices. A good IC will also help you figure out what's behind your desire for degradation (which isn't necessarily unhealthy).

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 29994   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8837794
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hikingout ( member #59504) posted at 6:46 PM on Friday, May 24th, 2024

I agree with Sissoon. When I said that I can’t advise against confessing it’s only because my therpist told me not to confess. I don’t think it was her place to advise that. The only person who can decide that is you.

But I do think if you are doing therapy and getting to the root, I am not sure I would hurt him over this either. (I would need to if it were really me because there is infidelity in our history- I am saying if I were in your shoes) I also don’t think guilt is a reason to confess.

I do think I would share sexual fantasies and desires. It’s healthy to be open with each other and maybe that also will make you feel he knows your heart and what’s important. I think honesty is so important, as is vulnerability. There may be ways to bridge this into your relationship even if it gets no further than he knows you deeply.

[This message edited by hikingout at 6:47 PM, Friday, May 24th]

7 years of hard work - WS and BS - Reconciled

posts: 7261   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
id 8837809
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 SharpayE (original poster new member #84873) posted at 11:31 PM on Friday, May 24th, 2024

Thank you hikingout and sissoon.

I think the reason I started visiting these websites in the first place is that this was my first relationship and before that I used to use Snapchat, dating sites etc. a lot and I just missed that interaction with people but thought anonymous chatting was a "harmless" way to carry on with something similar without crossing the line (clearly wrong about that which I now accept). I also think the fact that it was long distance played a role. I did it alone in my bed in my bedroom without my partner around and that made it feel less bad. I couldn't even imagine doing it now in the bed I share with my husband, seeing him every day.

I did become really addicted to chatting to anonymous people and I think it had a negative effect on my mental health. Doing this so much made me start to feel guilty and disgusting and I did try to stop a lot of times. When I stopped a year ago and was able to see it through, I actually felt really relieved.

I really have zero desire to go back to doing this ever again and I don't think the derogatory fantasies were healthy and something I want to bring back into my relationship. I do definitely have a submissive kink and I have been able to bring this into the relationship with my husband in a healthy way as he does know about this and is dominating when we have sex.

I would really like to put this in the past and focus on my happy marriage. If I am able to keep the guilt to a level where it just reminds me not to EVER do anything like this again then I agree the best thing to do is not tell my partner and continue working on myself in the background inc. through individual counselling. At the moment, I am struggling to control the guilt and think about much else so if even after individual counselling it gets to a point where it is getting in the way of me behaving normally in my relationship then maybe it would be unfair not to tell

posts: 12   ·   registered: May. 23rd, 2024
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Trdd ( member #65989) posted at 12:27 AM on Saturday, May 25th, 2024

It does not sound like an affair to me. It sounds like an extension of porn use. I wouldn't see the need to share it with him. Glad to hear you have shared your submissive fantasies with him in an open and constructive manner.

posts: 967   ·   registered: Aug. 27th, 2018   ·   location: US
id 8837826
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 3:43 PM on Saturday, May 25th, 2024

I used to use Snapchat, dating sites etc. a lot and I just missed that interaction with people but thought anonymous chatting was a "harmless" way to carry on with something similar without crossing the line

Yup. It may be as simple as that. Most WSes cheat because of deep-seated dysfunction. Some, however, just blew it once, realized they had blown it, and are done with it. It's worth checking with a good IC to make sure that's you.

If I am able to keep the guilt to a level where it just reminds me not to EVER do anything like this again then I agree the best thing to do is not tell my partner and continue working on myself in the background inc.

I don't think carrying guilt for the rest of your life is a good idea. I don't know how to describe what will work, but that's part of why I recommend a good IC.

As usual, hikingout makes good sense: sharing your fantasies with your H is a good idea. It should increase healthy bonds. It might lead to more fun for you and him. I've been married since 1967, and fun with each other (not just sex) is a large part of why we've been together so long. It's not that we are up for everything one of us wants. We say 'no' to each other regularly. But 'no' is an opening to find something we both can say 'yes' to. (We each have some 'nevers', but they are very few.) Also, by talking about what we'd like, we let each other expand our minds. Share your fantasies.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 29994   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8837845
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 SharpayE (original poster new member #84873) posted at 7:38 PM on Saturday, May 25th, 2024

Thank you. I am very sure I am in the first camp in terms of initially thinking what I was doing was harmless, having a wake up call and realising I was cheating and having no desire to do anything else to betray my husband again. I never thought I'd be a WS but I know I can be a safe wife for my husband for the rest of our lives. My next step is definitely to consult an IC.

My mum also passed away at the end of last year so I'm not sure if I am using this as a reason to stop myself from feeling that I deserve happiness.

I know that in my situation, confessing is likely to do more harm than good as I've been able to stop the cheating behaviour myself and there was no affair / affair partner (just one off chats with randoms) but I can't help feeling that this is a cop out. Does my partner deserve to know and would he want me to tell him or live in ignorance - I just can't answer those questions! I have been a faithful wife and I will continue to be for the rest of my life so do my mistakes in our relationship before marriage really matter in the long run? These are the thoughts in my head.

Could I ask would you want to know if your wife / partner was in my situation? And I'm still not sure what my final decision will be so if I decide to confess, does anyone have any advice on the best way to confess?

[This message edited by SharpayE at 7:38 PM, Saturday, May 25th]

posts: 12   ·   registered: May. 23rd, 2024
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hikingout ( member #59504) posted at 8:22 PM on Saturday, May 25th, 2024

I think the idea that your shame could be intertwined with your grief over your mother could be a thread to pull at in IC.

Personally, if my husband did this before we were married with no pics sent and random one offs and felt bad enough about it to start delving into his psyche in therapy, perhaps I am a minority, I think I would rather be left in the dark.

I can only speak for me though and not him.

Another thread to pull at, do you feel he is a better person than you? Because that is a dynamic shift I would work on as well. I felt I married up and over time that can create issues too.

My best advice is spend some time to irony a way to love and nurture yourself they same way you might feel he deserves too. I think if you work on those things then you will see hurting him to feel better isn’t going to make you feel better. I think the dwellling on it is being held as proof of your unworthiness. Deal with these things while you are young and keep that relationship with yourself. Plan how you will cope when things get hard.

7 years of hard work - WS and BS - Reconciled

posts: 7261   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
id 8837863
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 SharpayE (original poster new member #84873) posted at 11:41 PM on Saturday, May 25th, 2024

Yes I agree that these are topics I need to discuss with an IC.

Absolutely I think my husband is a better person than me. Before our relationship I slept with more people and I slept with someone once while we were talking on WhatsApp (before we even met for our first date) which my partner found out about a year ago and was very upset. He was also upset that I had sent nudes to people in the past (again before our relationship). That conversation a year ago is what made me realise that if he was upset about me doing those things in the past before we even started dating, then sexting strangers during our relationship was most definitely a boundary of his and not akin to porn / erotic stories in his view.

Since my mother's passing I've also started suffering with depression (thinking life is pointless), severe eczema which has affected my self confidence and I struggle to feel happy / enjoy spending time with people other than my dad and husband. Long story short, I don't feel like I'm the same person I was before and I feel like he deserves better.

Reading all my issues above, IC is a non negotiable and I will be restarting IC. I did have some sessions after my mother passed which helped but I think things are going downhill again. I don't know if I can forgive myself for sexting strangers during the relationship without getting forgiveness from my husband. I struggle to forgive myself without being forgiven by the person I've wronged first. But I don't want to make a shotgun decision so I think I will use IC to help me come to an appropriate decision.

Thank you all for your support / advice / opinions. It has been appreciated.

posts: 12   ·   registered: May. 23rd, 2024
id 8837868
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