Q. I have been happily married for 21 years. Communication is great, we rarely argue, and we spend a lot of time together. We have two wonderful teen daughters. Unfortunately, I have a major problem. I am completely consumed by lust. I was faithful the first 15 years of marriage but for the past six years I have had intimate affairs with 23 (and counting) girls in their 20s. I hook up with them on “sugar daddy” websites.
Thankfully this terrible action on my part has not caused any financial burden or STDs. I have considered seeing a sex therapist but I think my urges are too strong to fix. Recent example: I was shopping and came upon a hot 20-something. The second I saw her, my heart rate doubled and I had butterflies in my stomach. I started to approach her for a potential date but she walked away.
Believe it or not, I am a Christian and a churchgoer. I have extreme remorse over my behavior but can’t stop it. Sometimes I think it would be best if I simply filed for divorce so I don’t continue hurting people.
Hopeless in the Suburbs
A. Divorcing your wife will not diminish the hurt you are causing — it doesn’t even touch the damage you are doing to yourself (and others).
You sign your letter “Hopeless,” which illustrates the personal hell of an addiction that is consuming you. The description of your physical sensations and intention to approach a stranger in a store for sex puts you in the predator category. This compulsion is personally and spiritually degrading. It is also in direct conflict with your stated values.
There is help for you, but you need to be honest with your wife, admit your powerlessness over this, and seek professional help and treatment. The next time you are tempted to use the Internet to hunt for another sugar baby, I hope you will be brave enough to find help for yourself instead. The Society for the Advancement for Sexual Health offers information and links to articles, professionals, and 12-step groups on its website: SASH.net.
Q. I have (or thought I had) a great friend named “Carol.”
When my (verbally and physically) abusive ex-husband and I broke up last spring I told her about it and she was very sympathetic, telling me I should go to the police and that he deserves to be in jail. The ex is completely unrepentant and insists he beat me because I should have “respected him more.”
Now Carol works with this creep and is singing another tune! She brought him up in conversation and I told her not to talk about him around me. She then told me they were friends and that his name was going to come up from time to time, so I should get over it because their office is “so tight knit.” Amy, am I missing a rule of office etiquette that dictates that you need to be friends with the office wife-beater?
Is this girl missing a major empathy switch?
A. Yes, I’d say your friend’s empathy switch is faulty.
You cannot control who other people choose to associate with, but it is reasonable to ask a friend to leave your abusive ex out of the narrative. In refusing your request, “Carol” is telling you that you don’t control her and that she will do and say exactly as she pleases. Believe her. Now it’s up to you. If you can’t adjust, then I’d say it’s a friendship deal-breaker. If this man physically assaulted you during your marriage and you believe you can prove it, you should consider going to the police.E-mail Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.