How Can I Get My Confidence Back After His Infidelity?

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Betty Dodson

Dear Dr. Betty,

My husband & I have been together 20 years. My husband had only been with 5 partners before marriage, and I lost count at about 40. Honesty was always my first priority, and I made that exceedingly clear. I encouraged my husband to let me know if he was attracted to someone and that maybe we could work some fun sex out, I'm bisexual.

I introduced him to a few sex parties and brought a couple of girlfriends home for threesomes, but it was all very tame. I wanted him to be able to express himself sexually in a way he hadn't been able to with his past lovers, and was encouraging him to be more open sexually. I wanted him to have good sexual experiences within our agreed boundaries. The agreement was to be honest, that was the main agreement.

We had great sex together but things got difficult when I had a neck surgery and he had a stressful job at the same time. He was exhausted and I had a hard time getting comfortable during sex. He started having trouble ejaculating inside me. I started to feel insecure, getting older and feeling rejected. At the same time I tried to spice up our sex life by buying toys, bringing a girlfriend home, initiating sex a lot. He felt insecure about his ability to ejaculate inside me and didn't have feel comfortable talking to me about it. So he decided to go see what would happen if he got a hand job from a sex worker, but didn't want to tell me about it.

He continued the relationship with her and other workers and continued to lie to me for two years until I caught on and found a bunch of emails with lots of "I love yous", and heaps of praise for these younger women's bodies, especially that of his "all time favorite" sex provider. He had started a close friendship with his "all time favorite", and stopped having sex with her (so he says, I don't think I will ever know the truth). I was so emotionally hurt by the deception, and my self esteem went into the toilet and started comparing my body with the younger women. Not to mention he was paying his "all time favorite" worker money when he wasn't keeping financial agreements with me. He agreed to go to counseling with me, but continued to lie to me about what sex he had actually engaged in.

Two years later after counseling, I think I believe him when he says that his behavior has stopped. I am still trying to be able to trust him and he is trying to do things to show he is trustworthy. We have worked on making it so he feels safer talking to be about his needs.

Before all of this happened, I considered myself to be sex positive and open minded. After it happened, I kind of went crazy and turned into another person. I had so much anger and hurt to work through. I was surprised by the intensity of it and of how hard it has been to get over. My husband has suggested that I have an affair of my own if it will help me feel more confident. I don't see this as a solution, but the idea does intrigue me and is somewhat titillating. My goal is to keep my marriage intact because we love each other and have a lot of history together. I also don't want to be alone at this age. Things are much better sexually between us now, but trust not healed yet. So there is the back ground, now here are my questions, or where I need your opinion and help:

How can I become the confident woman I want to be? Am I a hypocrite by feeling so hurt?  Why did I "loose it" so severely at the betrayal, even though I wanted good experiences for him sexually and even though I am sex positive? How can I completely let go of my hurt and anger that I still struggle with in my dreams at night? Should I have an affair of my own, or start giving hand jobs for money as a way to feel better?

Dear B,

I understand why you were so hurt by him sneaking around when you openly offered him a wealth of sexual choices. I think women often make the mistake of treating men like adults when on some levels they are just lost little boys. Since you were the sexually advanced one in the marriage, he had to sneak out and get some nookie behind "mother's" back (to prove he was an adult?) Who knows? We are all raised to lie about sex in one form or other.

Since you want to stay together you are now faced with practicing a shitload of forgiveness. First you must forgive yourself for being honest and expecting the same in return. Then you must forgive him his childish acting out. This is an ongoing never ending process. As for trust, my best answer is to "trust yourself" but not to put too much emphasis on expecting others to be all that trust worthy. I wouldn't knock myself out setting it up BUT if some guy or gal comes along that tickles your fancy, by all means have a fling. You've been so busy helping him have a better sexlife it's time you figure out what you would like for some lighthearted flirtatious fun. And then do it.

Your final question is intriguing: "Should I start giving hand jobs for money as a way to feel better?"

My Dear Woman, if you can get paid to give a hand job I'd do it just for the blatant fun of it. When I turned my first trick as a postmenopausal woman (it's all in my sexual memoir) it felt GREAT to be paid for my sexual services. It also got old very quickly! I made the right decision to only work with women. So today, I get paid to teach women about orgasms with my private practice. I answer question free of charge to stay in touch with what's going on in the world of sexuality. Of course, donations for information given freely are always appreciated. Please fill me in on what you do to love, trust and forgive yourself a little more each day.

Dr. Betty

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