Dear JoAnn and Friends

Thank you for being my daily dose of anti-crazy for the past 2 weeks. You have helped me to maintain my sanity, and for that, I am hugely grateful. I feel so lucky to have found this group of phenomenal ladies – you have all given me the strength to cope with this.

Please forgive the length of my story – it’s just a wonderful feeling to be able to share this with (sadly) so many people who’ve been through various versions of the same thing. And I would like to tell you as much as I can, to get your advice on something (which I will ask at the end).

The history:
My husband and I have been together for 5 years and married for just under a year, and I love him very, very much. In addition to a potential sex addiction, our relationship hasn’t been easy. We live in a fairly traditional country with a history of racial inequalities, and with him and I coming from different racial, cultural and religious backgrounds, my extended family did not initially accept him. (I call it my Romeo and Juliette story – because I have the naivety of a 13 year old and his emotional maturity is nothing over 15 .) However, with the support of my parents and sister, things have gotten better. With regards to the addiction, over the past 18 months I have found many unsettling things on his computer (which I will describe a bit later). He has never actively disclosed any of these activities, and only admits to some of them after I have found evidence. During our first and only joint therapy session, the therapist alluded to him having a sex addiction / dependency, but he refuses to agree with that – he feels that he just has an increased libido.

The things I know he’s done:

It all started when I found sexually explicit conversations with an ex-girlfriend (- who was initially described by him to me as the love of his life). Following that, I had seen sexual conversations and naked pictures exchanged with a female friend (- who subsequently attended out wedding). I have also found evidence of cybersex and the exchange of explicit pictures with strangers; and some e-mail contact with a prostitute. And most recently, I found out that he has had “actual” sex with a 19 year old (- he’s 37).

The things I suspect he’s done:

I’ve found out that he’s lied to me a few times, mainly through omission, and I suspect that he’s lied to me / avoided the truth many, many more times. I do suspect “actual” sex with many women / prostitutes – and have no idea whether he used protection or not. A few weeks ago, I found my fairly unique name-surname combination being linked to an adult site, after he used my computer, (which is registered to my name) – it seems too connected for it to just be a co-incidence. I am starting my career in research and everything thus far linked to my name (through Google search), had been my publications. His response to this was: “It’s not such a big deal”. I’ve belabored this last point because, strangely, it pisses me off the most.

The reasons why it took me so long to react – i.e. in my defense:

My fragile self-esteem and need to rescue people makes me the perfect target / play-dough for any cluster B personality. I was convinced in our relationship that I really was very sensitive, did over-react and was somewhat paranoid. Also, with the guilt of my family situation, I allowed many criticisms, bad moods and temper tantrums. (I’m working on all my issues in therapy.) And the other factor was, whenever I confronted him with some evidence, he would do the whole shameful-injured-puppy routine, and I would fall for it / be irritated by it enough to do what I could to make it stop. For a few months, I even took on the classic co-dependent role, which included: sexy lingerie, increased sexual activities and even some involvement in the cybersex – though I did protect my identity.

Please forgive my following judgmental rant and inexpert opinion: The good thing with being part of the cybersex stuff is that I got to see how sad and superficial the whole thing is, which makes me feel so much better about myself. It seems tragic that so many people around the world feel that they are “connecting” with each other through internet sex, when (in my opinion,) they’re just desperately trying to feel / experience something, which they probably never will.

Where we are now:

He says that he only had sex because I was distant and a “paranoid emotional vampire”. He’s promised to never have “actual” sex with anyone else (- he refuses to call it an affair -) but says that he might still have cybersex intermittently. He’s been for 4 sessions of therapy, but said it was too expensive and a waste of his time. He has very little family support, (as they live over-seas,) and feels that he doesn’t have many close friends. Therefore, I am his only support / available family / close friend. I have wonderful friends and family – I just don’t tell them the full story because they would never forgive him. I have been attending therapy for a year now with a somewhat over-protective, but nevertheless amazing psychologist. My STD tests thus far have been negative and I am awaiting the final results. Through much persistence, I have finally removed the smut associated with my name on the internet. I am (fortunately) financially independent and we (very fortunately) have no children. I have moved out into a place of my own and will probably, within the next year, file for a divorce.

The good things that have come out from this:
I am far stronger and more confident that I have ever been. My extended family has accepted someone into their lives, whom they normally would never have, because of their prejudices. Once the pain subsides, I will have wonderful memories or our times together. And I am just a spring-chicken, turning 30 this year – I know that I still have the best years of my life ahead.

My question:

After my very extensive reading (- books, articles and most of this site), I feel that I have a better insight into sex addiction than my husband does. I don’t know what childhood trauma caused him to develop these maladaptive coping skills, but I imagine it must have been significant. And so my question is: Should I try to force him to deal with all that past trauma in order to heal and live a fulfilling life, or should I just give up on this man, whom I truly love?

Please help me answer that question, with the following in mind.

He bought me a print a few months ago. It reads: “I wish my heart was bigger, so I could love you even more”.

Thank you for listening,