Mostly Straight (Bi-Sensual) / Male / 28–32 / North America / Married /
Hello hello. Welcome to another story from one of our friend’s intimate lives. We think it’s wrong that there is no reliable place to learn about intimacy and make changes to your own intimate life. Sadly, we still don’t know what’s happening in other people’s bedrooms. This stat is a great example, it’s estimated that between 25% and 80% of married people have cheated on their spouse at least once. Talk about a precise range. Nevertheless, it appears that the expectation of exclusive sexual activity is unsustainable for many couples. Our aim is to do what we can to share the truths of people’s intimate lives so that we can all make decisions free of stigma. Sign up to our mailing list for first access to stories and coaching services as they become available. If you would like to share a story from your own life that you think others will find interesting and useful, please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy!
There I was. In a hotel room. Paid for with cash to avoid the charge showing up on my credit card statement. It was a Saturday afternoon, and a few hours ago I didn’t even know the woman who was now undressing in front of me. She knew I was married. I knew she was too. And that she had children not much younger than me. We both knew why we were here — to have extramarital sex. Without our spouses’ consent.
The sex we had that afternoon was mechanical yet intriguing. I assume the forbidden and rushed feelings added to the overall excitement. I drove her back to her car afterwards and she went on to her friend’s BBQ. The next day we exchanged a couple of emails with our fake Gmail accounts and then never heard from each other again. We didn’t even know each other’s last names.
This was four years ago.
It all started for me when I had the idea to “try out” one of those hookup sites for married people after reading about it in an article a month prior. The article talked about how easy it is for married people to find a hook-up partner online because both sides are mutually invested in keeping it a secret. I signed up with plenty of curiosity, excited to see what would happen. Things got serious pretty quickly. I was browsing and sending out messages for a couple of weeks. It was exciting to see the interest I received from women based on pictures and messages we exchanged. My wife, of course, didn’t know about this and I was not about to tell her either. We had been married for a few years and had a good life together. The only wrinkle was that I was looking for excitement and variety, so my logical conclusion at the time was to search for it outside my relationship. In hindsight, I realize that I was simply insecure about myself, about committing to my wife and about our relationship after the initial excitement of a new marriage was starting to be replaced by the routine of everyday life. I thought I could fill a hole inside me by escaping our agreement and getting high on the excitement.
My wife and I had a mostly monogamous relationship up to that point. We did go to some swinger parties (after my urging) and also allowed each other to make out with other people when we were out together at parties or events. With that being said, signing up to that website and secretly looking for a sexual encounter was firmly outside of our agreement. I knew it and it was thrilling.
Using one of these sites was pretty much the same as using OkCupid today — with the obvious difference being that people on there were usually married and looking for sex, secret relationships, “excitement outside the marriage”, escaping boredom and whatever else you can imagine.
Due to the secretive nature of the messages and connections, I set up a fake gmail account and fake phone number with one of the free VoIP apps right away. Partly because I didn’t want this to show up in my normal email and phone messages, and partly because I didn’t know what kind of creepy people I would encounter. I suppose they were as “creepy” as I was. But I didn’t want to take any chances. I had seen the depths of the internet and this was one dark corner that I didn’t necessarily want to explore with my real identity. And of course, by keeping all accounts separate, I wouldn’t run into any chances of my wife seeing messages or calls.
During the weeks I was on the site, I chatted with a few women and sent over some pictures. One of them seemed like she was in a similar situation and was interested in meeting up. We exchanged a handful of messages talking about our respective ‘situations’. She was in her late 40s and her pictures looked nice. She was caucasian with an asian touch, which turned out to be from eastern Russia. We didn’t go into details about our sexual fantasies in the messages but merely negotiated a time and place to meet.
We met on a Saturday in a coffee shop downtown. I was excited to say the least. This was new. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
She was in a blue dress looking quite sexy. We chatted over coffee about how long we had been on the site, who else she met and why we were looking to have sex outside our marriages. She had met a couple of guys online before, so by default had more experience with the online hook-up scene. Her reason for doing this was that her husband was not as sexually active as her, so after many years of marriage she began to venture out to see how else she could satisfy herself. I talked about my past relationships and what kind of sex I was into. Everything went down pretty casually. Looking back now, a bit too casually. She told me about her rule to not sleep with a guy on the first date — but shortly after we ended up driving to a nearby hotel anyways. If I was a betting man, I would say her rule was just part of her regular spiel. In any case, I was prepared and had looked online prior to our meet up to see which hotels might be close by and where there was a hot-tub to rent by the hour. We settled on a hotel not too far away. I brought condoms and lube with me and was pretty much ready for anything.
Arriving at the hotel I was definitely nervous. Two strangers with no luggage, paying for the room with cash at check-in. The voice in my head was having a chuckle: “the receptionist 100% knows what’s going on here”. But that wasn’t going to stop me. I was too excited about the newness and forbidden nature of the situation.
When we got to the room, we immediately got down to business; we made out, undressed and started having sex. As I mentioned, it was a bit mechanical, not so spectacular. But it was what I came here to do. We had a couple of hours and we used the time well until I drove her back to her car and dropped her off.
On my way home, in a strange way I felt successful. I feel like ‘successful’ needs some defining here. Successful as in “I did something I set out to do. I did something forbidden. I fucked another woman.” But like a dog who finally caught his own tail, I had no idea what the hell I was going to do from here. What does this say about me? How will this influence my relationship? Is this a normal thing to do now? Was this a one-time thing?
I hadn’t seen my wife for a few weeks as she was on an extended business trip and I was still not going to see her for another 10 days. We had a planned vacation out of town for when we were to reunite. In those 10 days leading up, it started to occur to me that I might have done something profoundly stupid. I replayed that Saturday afternoon scene in my head over and over again, dissecting my motive and emotions, trying to figure out what the heck I would do from here. Leading up to my departure for the vacation, I talked to two friends about my encounter. And then I had a long flight in front of me where I was alone with my thoughts before being reunited with my wife. During those 10 days of reflection time, I jumped back and forth between “Never say anything. Nobody will know” to “I have to come clean”. I can’t recall all of my emotions at the time but I vividly remember sitting on that plane and crying because I did a stupid fucking thing and there was no way to undo it. In the end, I knew that truth and honesty were what my wife deserved. I didn’t want to keep it a secret and I knew the confession would be painful.
That night when I finally saw my wife, I told her what happened within a few minutes of her arrival. I was shaking and I vividly remember saying “I slept with another woman” and I recall even clearer how her emotions changed from “I am so happy to see you! I am so glad we get to have an awesome vacation together!” to utter confusion and despair in a fraction of a second. She didn’t understand. She cried and was in a lot of emotional pain. I cried. She was angry and felt used. We didn’t sleep much that night and I can still feel the heavy guilt coating the pit of my stomach. The storm of emotions that I was facing (both mine and hers) was very hard to digest knowing that all of this was my doing. My own stupid doing.
Needless to say, the following months of marriage were hard work. Hard conversations and difficult times.
The biggest harm to our relationship was the breaking of trust. How could she ever trust me again after I violated our bond so fundamentally and intentionally? I didn’t head out to have an affair with the express intent to hurt her but I did deliberately plan and act this out without thinking about the consequences. I was not under the influence nor was it unexpected. I set it up from the beginning. In secret. Fully intentional. She had every right to mistrust me and I wouldn’t have trusted myself again if the roles were reversed. I went to see my therapist again who I saw a year or so prior and my wife and I went to a couples’ therapist as well to talk through what happened and where to go from there. Therapy was mostly focused on talking through the pain, unearthing emotions and re-connecting back together. I also read a lot about the topic of infidelity and how to make amends. In the end, it was my wife who utterly surprised me by offering her forgiveness and showing me her deep love again.
During those tumultuous months I learned a lot about myself but also about others. Conceptually, I always knew that infidelity was not uncommon but it totally blew my mind how many stories of betrayal and adultery we encountered in our relatively close circles while on our journey to heal the relationship. For the most part, these stories were about long-lasting or frequent affairs and cheating. Often the other partner somehow found out about the ongoing affairs after years of dishonest encounters. If there was a silver lining to my situation at all, it was that I brought the issue up myself and as quickly as possible. Anything else would have harmed our relationship even more and made it so much harder to repair.
All of this happened a handful of years ago and time has a peculiar ability to heal, but there are two things that will likely never be the same in our relationship.
To this day I feel the guilt in my bones. Sometimes when my wife calls me or comes to me upset or angry, I immediately think through all the things I might have done wrong that could have broken the agreements we have in our marriage today. I rapidly jump to a place of guilt and fear because of my infidelity and end up having to pull myself out of it in order to merely be present with my wife. It got much better over time, but man… that shit is deeply rooted… It’s still something that pops up for me every now and then.
The second change was something that my wife shared with me a little while after the incident with tears in her eyes: “I love you and I want to forgive you. Over time I think I will be able to trust you again. But the thing that hurts the most. The thing that can’t be undone is that I will never be able to see you again in the purest light of love and admiration that I saw you in before. My perspective on you has shifted forever and I will never be able to see you in the same pure way that I saw you in before.” I was helpless as I could not undo my actions. The only thing in my power from then on was to show up with my honest and best intentions for our relationship with the hope that we can get back to our deeply rooted, true love.
Fast forward to present day, it feels like we are close to where we were before my affair. However, the same way one cannot separate oil and water after they have been mixed, we will not be able to eradicate the memories and feelings tied to the affair. We will carry a piece of that with us wherever we go.
I really don’t enjoy revisiting this whole experience as it brings up tough emotions and still makes me feel uncomfortable. But in my opinion the learnings I have been afforded are worth sharing. The experience of healing the broken trust in our relationship is something that allows me to see my wife, our marriage and myself in a new light. I am fundamentally convinced that being honest and standing in my own truth is crucial for me to function in my relationships. And I don’t mean that exclusively for my romantic relationships. I now know that with mindful and vulnerable collaboration, we can get through incredibly difficult times. In this instance, it was made possible by my wife’s open hearted acceptance of my apology and her ability to continue to show me love even after the world of hurt I brought upon her. I like to say “my wife made me a better man”.
We now talk about our relationship more openly and deeply. We are aware that the commitments we make to each other are paramount and that it is better to speak about a mismatch of expectations instead of silently letting mistrust or condescension creep into the foundation through misalignment of our words and actions.
Building on this foundation we were able to weather many storms over the years. From family tragedies to changes in our personal lives and careers. We also changed our relationship agreement to include non-monogamy at times so long as there is consent and positive intentions on both sides. My infidelity and the subsequent fallout from my decisions strangely allowed us to become closer and see more of the humanity in each other. We now openly accept the imperfections and struggles that come with being in a romantic relationship for many years.
I really hope that one day, one of my friends or brothers will talk to me *before* they cheat on their partner so I can tell them this story. The hope would be that they might learn from my mistakes and instead choose honesty and an open mind from the start.