General Question

stevenb's avatar

Is this considered cheating?

Asked by stevenb (3826points) June 30th, 2010 from iPhone

I have a friend who came to me about this. He is a very nice guy, has a relationship almost all of us envy, has been faithful for 14 years, and seems to love his wife tremendously.

The problem seems to be that all of his wifes female friends want a man like him.

So, he said his wife went out of town for the weekend. One of their friends he texts occasionally (he showed me all of her texts on his phone from the last six months or so) started texting him.

He responded slightly flirtatiously as he does to most people. (he jokes a lot with people, even guys) She is rather saucy also and the bantered back and forth.

On the second day he was working at home. I stopped by for a quick beer. By following the time stamps on the texts she texted waaaay more than him, and kept at it.

Around nine she got off work, started drinking, and getting a bit naughtier. He was also drinking a bit. They continues for a few hours back and forth. She was pretty bad. Talked about her lack of sex recently, on to how big her boobs are, what her likes are for foreplay, etc. He goes a bit far, and responds a bit dirtily also, though nothing awefull.

She then describes what her nipples look like, how she got wet thinking about him, and even used vibrator thinking about him.

At this point I think he was too far, and should have stopped. They didn’t. There was obvious liquor involved, because of the typos, etc.

So, they continue to “sext” more. Basically she walked him through what her best idea of foreplay is for her, and how she reciprocates. They continue until he masturbates while texting and she says she does too.

He seemed to sober up after that because there was a pause, and he came back and said they shouldn’t have done that, he was sorry, she says she is sorry, he says, it’s my fault, I should have stopped before, she still wants to be friends, etc etc. He says they can be friends, but no more texting like that. Pg only, and no more excessive texting like she does.

She works in a mall and has a lot of free time.

So is this cheating? Should he tell his wife definitely hurt her and possibly ruin her trust forever and maybe even cause a divorce? Should he keep it a secret and never tell her and use the constant pain of the memory of what he did to shame him as punishment for life?

I am on the fence. I told him I would not give him advice foe a few days. I KNOW he regrets a tipsy mistake deep in his soul. He hates what he did, but he hates the idea of hurting his wife. What should he do? What would you do?
Thanks for all answers.

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94 Answers

Keysha's avatar

Let me put it this way. If his wife did it, would he consider it cheating?

CMaz's avatar

Is it ok with his wife? If she does not know, or would not like that he is doing that.

Cheating.

chyna's avatar

Cheating.

asmonet's avatar

Fuck. That.

PandaMonium's avatar

Cheating for sure. She deserves better.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Not kosher. There is no U in a circle on the box, dude.

stevenb's avatar

So, should he tell her?

Aethelwine's avatar

If my husband did that, his phone would quickly be up his ass. just sayin

@stevenb If he feels guilty, he needs to be honest with his wife.

josie's avatar

Cheating implies something more than phone sex. Still, your friend did something that most people would not want to confess. And if you are doing something you can’t confess to your partner, you should not be doing it.

chyna's avatar

Would he rather tell her or let her find out through the other woman or looking at his text messages? Either way, she is hurt and he should never have done it, and blaming alcohol is a cop out.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I’d tell. And I’d take responsibility for my actions. Her pal was in the wrong, yes indeedy, but he didn’t have to respond to her. He should ask himself why he did respond and sort it out.

Andreas's avatar

@stevenb When the wine’s in, the wit’s out. And, In wine, truth. He must have had at least some sort of roving heart to do this thing. He needs to remember that marriage is a daily routine that needs to be strengthened. Eventually his wife will find out. The longer he takes to confess, the harder it will be for him. He should never have lost his self-control and self-respect.

chyna's avatar

And let me add that I think it is extremely stupid of him to continue texting with her under any circumstances, even if only GP. He needs to rethink his flirting actions with all women if he wants to keep his wife.

Jude's avatar

No question about it; that’s cheating.

Fess up and tell her. Suffer the consequences, guy.

I seriously hopes that she drops his ass.

Like chyna said, ‘alcohol was a cop out’. He knew full well what he was doing. Unfortunately, he was thinking with his other head a little too much.

JLeslie's avatar

Not sure if he should tell his wife, but he should stop and distance himself from this other woman. I would probably at least drop a casual comment at some point that she is very flirtatious, and sometimes conversations with her get uncomfortable because they go too far, and he feels badly afterwards getting caught up in it himself.

Blackberry's avatar

Gimme a break….....How harmless…...No it’s not cheating, to me.

Jude's avatar

@Blackberry I’ve got to say, I’m surprised that you responded that way.

Blackberry's avatar

@jjmah Really lol? I thought I was pretty liberal with my anti-cheating remarks on here.

I do not think in such a typical fashion, it seems that even admitting you like another person and thought about them is cheating by the majority of society. It’s so restrictive. But in my eyes I see people typing words on a freaking phone. I wonder how many people claim that they would never cheat, but think about another person in a sexual way even though they are in a relationship. No physical contact was made, but even then it’s just skin rubbing together, but I understand that as cheating at least.

filmfann's avatar

Good news: he doesn’t have to worry about herpies, aids, or any other stds.
Bad news: this was a friend of his wifes. She will eventually tell his wife about it.

He needs to come clean. (yes, I know that’s basically what he did).
I would start off by saying “What the hell is up with your friend? She sent me some pretty serious sexting while you were gone.”

nikipedia's avatar

Yes it’s cheating.

Yes he should tell her.

If she’s a reasonable person she’ll recognize that it was a meaningless slip up.

KatawaGrey's avatar

If he would condemn his wife for this kind of behavior, then yes, it is cheating. If she has told him that she did not want him to talk too much to this woman because of that, it is cheating. If it violates the parameters of their relationship, it is cheating.

Yes, he should tell her if only because he would be in a whole helluva lot more trouble if she found out from her friend.

casheroo's avatar

That would result in a boot up my husbands ass. And divorce papers.

chyna's avatar

My last comment on this: Why is he showing you all the text messages? Is he just showing off? Why did he tell you about this? The more people that know, the more likely she is to find out.

stevenb's avatar

I have to say, he does feel awefull. When he told me he was almost in tears. His wife and him are trying to have kids. They don’t get to have a ton of sex because of all of the drugs she is on make her a bit crazy except for a week or two each month. He deals with it very well, because he wants kids very much, but I cut him slack. He is practically a saint in my eyes. Never watches porn, never has fights with her I have ever heard about, he usually cooks, pays all the bills, cleans alot, painted the whole big ass house himself. Basically he does as much as he seems to be able to do to make her life easier and better. He spoils the crap out of her with presents and never says a word about wanting any back. He is what I wish I could be. So to tell her would hurt her, and him, and I just don’t know if it would do ANY good.

Blackberry's avatar

@stevenb “Never watches porn, never has fights with her I have ever heard about, he usually cooks, pays all the bills, cleans alot, painted the whole big ass house himself.”

No wonder he had his little sexting romp, the guy is so repressed he probably created another identity in his head lol. Is he even aware that he is an animal called a human?

nikipedia's avatar

Sorry but I think anyone who would get divorced over some stupid text messages must not value his/her marriage that much.

That said, he should still tell his wife so she can judge for herself.

JLeslie's avatar

Is he telling because she will find out possibly? Or, would he be telling to just come clean?

stevenb's avatar

I misspoke about her and his wifes relationship. They are “friends”, but only slightly. Probably more acquaintances. They really only see each other two times a year maybe. They have mutual friends, but she was the girlfriend of a guy we all used to be friends with who moved when they broke up. She stayed in our orbit, but not our circle. She is ten years or so younger. His wife is a lot cuter to, not that it matters.

Aethelwine's avatar

@stevenb This other woman could become angry if he distances himself from her and show the wife the messages. I really doubt this other woman deleted them. They are out there. He needs to say something before the wife finds out from someone other than him.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

He should tell his wife, then tell the friend. This chick needs to be dropped from their social circles. Should he have done it, no. Should his wife’s friend come on to her girlfriend’s husband? That’s worse than what the husband did.

stevenb's avatar

@chyna, he is quiet. I am the only one he really comes to talk to about anything like that. No real family around here.

casheroo's avatar

@nikipedia Just because we have different values for what we deem appropriate in a relationship (last I checked, you weren’t married), doesn’t make someone stupid.

WestRiverrat's avatar

He should either tell his wife, or stop showing the texts to his friends. He keeps talking and his wife is gonna find out from someone, probably sooner than later. If it keeps up, both of them will be mad as hell at you.

It would probably be a good idea for him to delete the texts too.

chyna's avatar

@stevenb But who all has she shown the text messages to?

nikipedia's avatar

@casheroo: Weird how I never said anything about anyone being stupid…

KhiaKarma's avatar

In short, whether it’s cheating depends on their understanding of commitment to one another. Did she know that her acquaintance was texting her husband? And I agree, you’re gonna end up in the middle. Try to avoid advice giving altogether…. that’s, uh, my advice.

casheroo's avatar

@nikipedia I misread your sentence.

Kayak8's avatar

1) It is cheating in my estimation. Maybe not rising to the level of divorce, but certainly a serious conversation and re-evaluation of the relationship.

2) Does he really feel awful or just guilty now that he might be caught doing something he knows he shouldn’t have done? A lot of folks cry when they are standing in front of the judge who is going to pass sentence (don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time).

3) We live in the digital age people! If he had had a similar sexy phone call, it would be her word against his. Now with texting, he cannot deny what he typed if she keeps a copy. And she could keep a copy for a very, very long time. This is a very stupid mistake even if it doesn’t rise to the level of cheating.

lilikoi's avatar

I see several red flags here.

1. He feels guilty.
2. He is bragging to you.
3. This isn’t some theoretical internet fantasy, it’s a person he and his wife actually know and are friends with.

I don’t think whether he is cheating or not is really the issue here. He needs to ask himself why he did it (don’t be a douchebag and try to hide behind the booze) and get to the bottom of his issues before he does something that is unquestionably and undeniably cheating and gets caught.

casheroo's avatar

I have to ask- Do they have a good relationship otherwise? And they’re trying to have children?
If he’s never had any slip ups before, then she may forgive him..but who knows. She may feel she can never trust him again.
I think he needs to tell her, and do all he can to prove to her it was a one time thing. He may even have to show her his texts or he stop communicating with the girl completely. If he wants to make it work, he has to be honest and deal with the consequences.

skfinkel's avatar

His relationship with this woman has to be completely dropped. No talking, texting, seeing, no anything. After he has done this, he can tell his wife what happened, and what he has done to make sure it will never happen again. If he loves his wife, and she loves him, they should be able to get over this drunken episode. Divorce is easy to talk about, but a seriously bad thing to have to go through, and usually for no better result.

stevenb's avatar

@casheroo, it is a relationship the rest of us envy, honestly. They are trying to have kids. I think he was just an idiot, liquor magnified his stupidity, and the girl used it to get herself off and feel, I don’t know, that she could have this guy everyone thinks is so great.

stevenb's avatar

@lilikoi, he defiantely wasn’t bragging. He didn’t want to show me, but I pushed until he did. I saw him erase them. I don’t know if he should have, because they would have show his wife that the girl (IMO) was instigating and pushing it. He responded, but he wasn’t the instigator.

pearls's avatar

Yep, that’s cheating. He needs to come clean with her and totally distance himself from the other woman.

Blackberry's avatar

@stevenb He does sound like a great guy and a great dad, which is why I feel he deserves a little release and a little fun every now and then. Being a great parent isn’t some awesome fun experience. The guy needs something to do.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Blackberry He could do his wife. ;)

Blackberry's avatar

@jonsblond Well yeah, but she wasn’t there, and sometimes you just gotta have some fun right then and there lol…...ya know…....

lilikoi's avatar

@stevenb Seriously, you can’t blame the alcohol. It takes two people to have a conversation, and he was one of those people. He needs to take responsibility for his actions. He may not have been the instigator, but he didn’t put a stop to it either. Frankly, who started it is irrelevant. The fact is, it happened. He is 50% responsible; stop trying to defend him and paint him innocent. I agree that he is entitled to fun and release, but within the boundaries of his marriage contract, without disrespecting his wife. Whether this is acceptable depends on their relationship. Regarding bragging, I just assume he shared this with you on his own volition, text messages aside.

JLeslie's avatar

@Blackberry And how long have you been in a happy and healthy relationship with mutual trust and respect?

stevenb's avatar

@lilikoi, I am just trying to help everyone see him more clearly. His wife is even better than him. She is a practical saint. Helps everyone, is sweet, etc etc. They have been trying for 14 years to have kids together. I feel bad for her just for that. She wants them so bad, but her body just won’t cooperate. They are almost to the point of adopting. I DO think he disrespected his wife, and I also think he f’d up. I just would hate to see her sad/hurt/etc. Now that I know, I hope he tells, so that I don’t have the burden of his secret. He should have just not done it, but I cant rewrite that night for him.

Blackberry's avatar

@JLeslie I’m still a young guy, I do not have much of an interest in such relationships at this time in my life, I tried it at 22 (marriage), but that took a horrible turn, so I was a little jaded. But now I am in one again, it has been a little over a year, so I do not place too much importance on it because from my little experience I feel that those relationships can only be developed through time, understanding, growth and compromise, and getting that with another person is not easy, that is why it takes time, at least in my opinion. So I am hoping it does turn into such a relationship, but I’m not going to throw all my chips in after a year ya know?

lilikoi's avatar

@Blackberry The situation is a little different when you are married to someone for over a decade.

@stevenb I hear ya. Everything you’ve said so far strongly implies he has in fact stepped outside the bounds of his relationship and indeed has cheated by his own, and his wife’s, standards. If so, he definitely needs to come clean and deal with the aftermath. He should also do some introspective thinking and get to the bottom of why he did it. It wasn’t because of alcohol.

JLeslie's avatar

@Blackberry Fair enough, you are young and it is a reasonable excuse. All I can say is if you want to have a happy committed relationship you have to be committed and respectful. When people “cheat” they are not thinking of the other person, if they are hurting the other person. They may very well not want to hurt their SO at all, care about them deeply, but it does hurt the other person even if there was no real mal intent. So, you are putting yourself in the place of the guy, identifying with him, who is not going to follow through with doing anything more or actually physical with this woman, but it is hurtful and deceptive behavior. It is not a place of integrity regarding the relationship.

Blackberry's avatar

@lilikoi Yes I was wondering about that as well, long term relationships: What makes people separate after multiple decades? Is there a definitive line or point in time where certain things just are not acceptable? If so, then why do people cross these lines? I guess I should ask Fluther in another question :)

Blackberry's avatar

@JLeslie I understand. I think it is one of those aspects of life I have a hard time grasping because I simply have not gone through it, I’m still uneducated in these long term relationship matters.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

If they’re monogamous, I’d consider that cheating. If I was monogamous and my partner did this and then talked to me about it, I’d be hurt but if there was real love, I’d forgive something like this, no doubt. I, like @Blackberry, think that these urges and experiences are pretty common – I don’t imagine my partner never feels attracted or flirty or excited about others, that’s deluded but our relationship therefore reflects that in that it is open and accepting.

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wundayatta's avatar

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

To tell her causes her gratuitous pain just so he can assuage his guilt. He made the mistake. He needs to deal with it on his own. He can’t tell her looking for absolution. It’ll just hurt her and really, for what purpose? How does it help her?

Maybe people would say he should tell her because it shows her something about his real character. Does it? Once a cheater, always a cheater? No chance to reform? No belief in the possibility of reform?

There is, it is true, the issue of whether she will blab. Or now, for that matter, the chance that you will blab, which seems to be why you’re asking the question. If it comes out, he can deal with that then. It may never come out. But to try to deal with it preemptively seems to me like inflicting gratuitous pain. Again, it is selfish for him to do that. It is not for her benefit.

People do a lot of stuff they are ashamed to tell their spouses about. Some people have told me they’ve done such things. But they are contrite and they don’t want to fuck up any further, and they haven’t done it again—as far as I know.

I’ve done phone sex and online affairs. I confessed to my wife. I was crazy at the time, so I was not making that decision in a very sensible frame of mind. My confession ripped off the gauze covering a large wound, and enabled us to get help and improve our relationship. It turned out for the better.

But I think I was lucky. I was selfish and I hurt my wife much more than was necessary, and I got lucky. My behavior is my problem. I love my wife and I am working hard on our relationship and on myself so that I can be in this relationship more fully. But I don’t think I would confess to assuage my guilt if I ever got into a situation like that one again. That would be selfish, and it would hurt a lot of people. This is a pain I need to hold, I think. I’ll work it out—or not—without spreading the pain any further, if possible.

Parrappa's avatar

It’s something he’d be caution about brining up with his wife, it’s probably cheating.

SublimeLover's avatar

Not to be corny, but that is emotional cheating. I tell my husband everything because I would never want him to find out something after the fact that he could perceive as much worse if I hadn’t told it to him straight in the first place. Meaning in this instance, if his wife ever does find out, and realized her husband never told her, she is going to think even more so that something really went on because he HID it from her. That is complete BS, and I have a REALLY hard time believing they are really in love and he could do something like that. Just my opinion. I not only love my husband, but I completely respect him, and would never in a million years dream of doing something like that. You’d have to be miserable in your relationship to take it to that level of disgrace.

JLeslie's avatar

I am surprised how many people think he should tell. I think it would hurt her, and he seems to feel guilty and would not do it again, learned a lesson hopefully.

Nullo's avatar

Cheating. To his credit, he seems to have come to his senses. A talk with the missus and her friends is definitely in order, though.

Aethelwine's avatar

@JLeslie Holding things in just creates more problems. He’s already hurt her. He’s just trying to find the easy way out and hope it will all go away. He needs to be honest with his wife about his feelings. If she loves him, she will forgive and try to understand why he did what he did. At that point they can work on their relationship. Something is wrong here, and it wasn’t at the fault of the booze. A couple that sweeps feelings under the rug is destined for a failed relationship.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

This husband must acknowledge his actions violated her trust and confess if full to her.
He must cut off all communication with the other woman.
He must promise he will never under any circumstances do anything like this again.

This relationship can and should be saved. He was stupid and he allowed things to go way too far.
If she can still love him and learn to trust his again, the a divorce would be a further tragedy for this couple.

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond If indeed that is the case then I agree they need to talk. In my first response I said maybe he should tell his wife that this other chick is dangerous and maybe admit that he himself has been too flirtatious with her, and he prefer not be around her. But, the details will be hurtful, and if she is not pressing for them, I say he not divulge. If she asks him point blank, he should not lie. If indeed he is feeling very frustrated in his relationship with his wife, I prefer he talk to her in a separate conversation about that. The thing is, if the relationship is strained, and he is showing “symptoms” of cheating, she probably will press him for details or begin to question him. Basically, they have found that the way a man acts (yes the study was done about men not women) while cheating, and just before he begins cheating is exactly the same.

WestRiverrat's avatar

If the husband had not spilled this already, not saying anything might have worked.
As it is the husband told at least one other party already. And that party basically told the world by posting the OP.

It is better the wife finds out from the husband, and not from someone else.

Aethelwine's avatar

@WestRiverrat The poor woman has strangers on Fluther talking about her relationship. I completely agree with you.

Dr_C's avatar

Totally cheating

augustlan's avatar

In my opinion, only your friends (the husband and wife) can determine whether or not this is cheating. (It would be for me, but may not be for them). Ordinarily, I’d agree with @JLeslie and @wundayatta that confessing would be a bad idea, as it would only hurt the wife. However, since the other party involved personally knows the wife… I think he should fess up. She’ll be hurt much more if the other woman is the one to tell her about it.

JLeslie's avatar

@augustlan Yeah, that is a big problem. That he did it in writing, texting, and this woman is probably not to be trusted.

Trillian's avatar

Call it cheating. Call it being unfaithful. Call it breaking faith with his wife, or breaking trust. Call it low down. Call it a huge mistake. Whatever.
He did something behind his wife’s back and crossed a line, whether he made physical contact or not. And I predict that he is going to pay for it. His wife’s “friend” will make sure she finds out. I’ll bet she uses it against him to try to make him nail her for real.

JLeslie's avatar

@Trillian Crap, why are you so sure she will be so evil? I mean I know it s a possibility, but you sound pretty sure she will purposefully try to come between them somehow. She could just be a tart who just does not bother to think about who she is hurting, and needy for attention.

Aethelwine's avatar

@JLeslie She is evil. She seduced a taken man!

sorry, but I have no sympathy for bitches like that

lilikoi's avatar

@Blackberry

Yes I was wondering about that as well, long term relationships: What makes people separate after multiple decades? Is there a definitive line or point in time where certain things just are not acceptable? If so, then why do people cross these lines? I guess I should ask Fluther in another question :)

I think over time people change and can grow apart. In a relationship, you have conversations about where the line is drawn. Perhaps it changes over the course of the relationship. Perhaps people cross the line because they have personal issues or are just extremely selfish.

@jonsblond Wow. I think he is the one to blame here. No one forced him to take the bait.

Aethelwine's avatar

@lilikoi it always takes two

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond Oh, believe me I think she is a piece of shit. But, it is another thing for her to actually take steps to let his wife know. I have known many cheating people unfortunately, and rarely did I see someone break the silence and tell.

aprilsimnel's avatar

In a way, at this point, the young lady doesn’t matter. Granted, it could have been a one-off mistake, but he should ask himself why he was willing to break his wife’s trust in this way, that’s all; talking to her about it and accepting responsibility for his behaviour is a way to do it.

We’ve all had our moments where we’ve done something we know we shouldn’t have done and felt guilty about later, but without examining why we’ve done the thing, or what needs we were trying to meet, we set ourselves up to do it again.

JLeslie's avatar

@lilikoi The other woman knows he is married. She is a piece of shit also. It is not only his responsibility to be faithful to his wife, but also our responsibilty as contributing people in society to not fuck around with married people. Some people will say that he is the one who broke a commitment, not the other woman, but I disagree. People of integrity do not do things willingly that will hurt another. True as @aprilsimnel says people are not perfect, but the people who make it sound like the other woman carries no blame, well I find that to be a problem. The same way I would not knife a woman in the street is the same way I would not sleep with her husband.

Iclamae's avatar

@stevenb My sister just went through a very similar incident with her boyfriend of 1 year. But he accidentally sent her a text he was trying to send the other girl so she found out the hard way unfortunately.

Best thing your guy friend can do is confess. Then, once he does, leave his phone with her and let her think. If she wants to read the conversation to know what happened word for word, she can. (This is a good thing. If the other woman turns out to be a bitch and wants to taunt the wife, the wife should know exactly what her husband said.) It also shows a level of honesty between them. Yes he will have damaged her trust, but he won’t have lost it completely. Or he shouldn’t if they are in such a serious relationship. As other people have pointed out, he stopped the conversation, there was no physical interaction, and booze was involved. Yes he fucked up, but it isn’t the worst case scenario and certainly not complete break up material. Based on his wife’s reaction, he should consider cutting all contact with this woman for his wife’s sake, not drinking while around female friends for a while, and treading lightly in the house. He fucked up, he’ll have to pay until she forgives him.

I like to think she’ll forgive him quickly if this is a man she wants to have a child with and is willing to be put on drugs to have said child. But, each woman is different. It will upset her but if he hides it, he’s dishonoring her and that’s worse.

Edit: Incidentally, this is more or less what happened with my sister. She loved him too much to completely break up with him but she will need time to heal. She forgave him but they have to rebuild the trust. And in this case the other girl was a complete bitch and slut so… they cut communication. Completely

frolix's avatar

Does this part mean anything at all? by default of by design? (or just me being less positive :D) —> ’...he showed me all of her texts on his phone from the last six months or so ..’

I can’t answer whether it was cheating or not cheating.
However, I believe it’s commonly agreeable that what he did was unfair to the wife. Hence, it needs more than luck to apply the ‘what you don’t know can’t hurt you’ theory on such case. Here’re two possibilities:
1. Let life goes on.
One day, the wife finds out about the issue, by accident. Even if deep down in her heart the wife regrets knowing the issue, yet, in reality, telling him of how he should’ve been honest to her at the first place – is the most natural thing to say. ( plus getting caught makes you zillion times guiltier)

2. I am guilty.
He decided to come clean about the issue. Possibly, this could lead to him having more chances to show her how uneasy to hide truth from her. How he always wants to prioritize honesty in the relationship no matter how. By admitting his mistake and express the regrets through real, meaningful actions, more likely he will win hear heart back.

All the best :)

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wundayatta's avatar

From what I understand, there are many people who completely lose control when they get really drunk. The sometimes don’t even remember what happened at all when they sober up. This amazes me because I always knew what I was doing, even when really drunk, but I believe them.

I don’t know how responsible I should hold people for decisions made when their thinking is impaired. I know I’ve done things under the thrall of bipolar disorder that I can not believe when I am stable. How could I have made those choices? I don’t know. They seemed right at the time.

I suspect that the guy isn’t the only one who is completely ashamed of what he did. I’m sure the girl does, too. I think the chances that she will talk are not that large. However, they both know many of the same people, and that makes it much more difficult if others do find out. The wife may face extraordinary pressure to divorce her husband, even if she does not want to do so. If she withstands that pressure, she may be seen as a doormat for the rest of her life.

On the one hand, I think she has a right to live her life with as much information as possible. On the other hand, if he is done with this, and nothing else changes, then the only thing a confession can do is cause her pain. Their relationship has value, especially if they have children. To put that up for grabs is irresponsible if this is purely a drunken mistake that won’t happen again.

I think that people way over-estimate the impact and meaning of online relationships. I know I’ve said this before and people tend not to agree with me, but in my experience, these things are almost pure fantasy. This is different in that they know each other in real life and they were texting. But what it is, whether in text or online, is a creation of a masturbation fantasy.

Do we confess to our spouses every time we have a sexual fantasy about someone else? If this is cheating, then so are these other fantasies. It means you are no longer fully engaged with your spouse. It is something you would be reluctant to tell your spouse. By the definitions of cheating I’ve seen here, that’s cheating, too. Should we send people to counseling because they fantasize about someone who isn’t their spouse? Is the relationship in trouble because you fantasize about someone who isn’t your spouse?

I’m sure some people will say that those kinds of fantasies are cheating and that it means the relationship is in trouble. I believe it is possible to fantasize without acting on fantasies. I believe that fantasies are not a threat to a relationship, ipso facto.

If sexting is a threat to his marriage, then I believe he should tell. If it isn’t, then he shouldn’t, unless it seems likely his wife will find out anyway. If he knows his wife is going to find out, he should get out in front of it. He made a mistake. It won’t happen again. He’s really sorry.

The problem is the uncertainty about whether she will find out. That’s where you have to make a choice one way or the other. That’s where you have to decide whether it is worth causing her pain to save yourself pain, or whether you suck it up and keep your own pain to yourself in order to potentially save her pain. It’s not an easy play to call.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

They’ve been married 14 years. Is this his first slip up? If so, I think he’s done pretty well! Of course what he did was wrong but at least he stopped things before they progressed any further. They never met up or had any physical contact. If he’s feeling guilty, he should talk to his wife about it. After 14 years of having a clean record, hopefully she’ll be able to forgive him for this one mistake.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I am trying hard to understand how people not tell their spouses something like this and simply move on – I’d never be able to.

wundayatta's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir That’s because you have a sane spouse with few jealousy issues.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta I had an insane spouse with jealousy issues as well and when I cheated, I couldn’t hold it in for a day.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta Besides, why would anyone in their right mind be with a spouse who is insane and has huge jealousy issues?

josie's avatar

@wundayatta People may have their sense of responsibilty impaired when they are drunk, but at the moment that they are sober, and before they take the first drink, they have the same opportunity to make a decision as anybody else. By the way, I had an insane spouse, with serious jealously issues. I did not cheat. I left.

wundayatta's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Because most people seem to believe that spouses own each other and have a right to keep their spouses from doing anything that makes them uncomfortable.

stevenb's avatar

I think he is NOT going to tell his wife. It’s been a while, and I think he must have talked to the other girl. She seems really distant, but still friendly towards both of them, but I noticed a difference. She seems remorseful,as does he. I don’t know what to think now. I’m stuck with a secret I don’t want, but I won’t break his trust and tell her. Still bites, though.

Andreas's avatar

@stevenb You’re the “meat in the sandwich”, so to speak. However by your friend ignoring the problem it will not go away, as it is unresolved. It will rear its ugly head sometime in the future. Then what will happen? That’s anyone’s guess. For your own sanity you might want to consider limiting your time spent with this friend. You could easily find yourself as “collateral damage”. I don’t envy you.

stevenb's avatar

@Andreas, thanks. I am doing that.

choreplay's avatar

Ok, I didn’t read every word in this thread so what I’m going to suggest seems to be a new idea here. There are some very fine lines blurred here. At one end it is interpretted as cheating but let me talk about it from the direction it was born from. First of all he did not initiate this. Secondly, the digital world is a slippery slope where fantasy can be reality before anyone realizes it’s happening. So, IMO this was flirting gone bad. I would tell my wife. If he chooses not to (remember there are multiple people involved) he now has a secret that ultimately alienates him from his wife, whether spoken or not it will affect that relationship and his fear and need to maintain this lie will continue this state and be five times worse if she finds out.

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