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Another blogger commented recent on my post about feeling sexually deprived while still being surrounded by sexuality.  Because it was left as a public comment, I feel no compulsion to maintain the anonymity of chely5150, but it was lengthy enough that I decided to go ahead and respond publicly, as I have before.

I classify this correspondence as more misplaced rage, and I invite chely5150 to read that post, as it applies here. In summary, chely5150 suggests that Ashley’s lack of interest in sex is likely my fault. She cites her own experiences with an unfaithful husband and a lack of love and respect in their marriage as a reason for her own disinterest, and says that such could contribute to our situation. (It is worth noting that my and Ashley’s sex life has improved substantially from what it was in the roughly two years since writing the post eliciting her comment.)  Snippets and responses are as follows, and you can read the full comment on the original post.

I was, AM the wife who wants to explore and discover all things sexually together with my husband and we did, until the emotional covert emotional abuse began. After years of abuse, so perfectly concealed behind the facade of our perfect little family… I became Ashley. I no longer found that much pleasure [in the man] who adored and loved my body but NEVER could find the need to adore and love ALL OF ME!

I can certainly see how emotional abuse could make you lose sexual interest in your partner.  But let me be perfectly clear–that has never happened in our relationship.  For whatever problems Ashley and I may have had, we have never been abusive toward one another, and she has always insisted that I am the most loving, compassionate person she has ever known, and that I am an excellent care giver and provider for her.  One could arguably define my infidelities as “covert abuse”, to use your phrasing, but frankly, I wouldn’t. Sure, it’s scummy, but I would not go so far as to call cheating “abusive behavior”. (But I invite psychologists/counselors to provide evidence to the contrary.)

So, right out the gate, your experiences do not apply to us.  But let’s continue.

And I began to loathe the man who could treat everyone (pretty much) with such love and care and respect that I HATED evry thing about him.

If I understand you correctly, you’re suggesting that you hated him for loving and respecting everyone around him, but not yourself? I can also see how that might be painful. But it also strikes me as slightly selfish and demanding of you. I obviously can’t speak to your personal situation, and I have no desire to belittle or demean you, so I will simply let that comment stand as is.

And yet I loved him, I tried to leave him a couple of times but could never fully escape. After many years of depression I decided if we were going to stay together dammit I was going to make it better for us. And we did (yeah ah huh) and others thought too until the day I discovered his affair. And then weeks later when I discovered so much so- it has been excruiciating to say the least.

Ahh, and now we come to the point of this message.  Your husband cheated on you, and you see much of him in me and what I write.  Fair enough, I suppose.  Lord knows I’m a cheater.  But if I may ask, have you determined *why* your husband cheated on you?  Have you given any thought as to whether you may have done something, or a series of somethings, that might make him want to fuck someone else?  Or is it genuinely that he is simply a cheater?  Note that both are plausible, but given the resentment you display toward him, the evidence would suggest that unhappiness on his part might have caused his behavior.  Again, I don’t have the complete picture, so I can’t say definitively.  But have you considered that the fault may not lie solely with him?

They say I have PTSD, but I just go forward…..

May I encourage you to seek counseling for that?  PTSD following such an event is, to my understanding, a common reaction, and you may very well be suffering from depression.  Please, dear reader, see someone.  I suspect my close friend Hyacinth might be able to offer guidance here.

So while I fucking hate you with all my being…

I bet you’d love me if we met.

…I respect the fact that you are being honest…

Oh. Well, thanks.

…as much as one could expect honesty from a LIAR…

My, that’s awfully manic of you.

…being on the other side of those sheets and knowing but not knowing is probably the hardest thing to live with.

This is something that, again, doesn’t really apply to me.  If Ashley were to find out about my infidelities, I would own them.  Once caught, you’re done for.  Best to fess up to it and hope to salvage something from the wreckage than to pretend the boat didn’t crash.  But, in your case, you have my condolences.  Knowing but never receiving a confession is a good way to breed resentment and often prevents any sort of closure.

Maybe just maybe You had something to do with your wifes sex needs diminishing. If it went away there is a reason.

By Ashley’s own admission, her lack of sexual interest stemmed from three things: 1) experiencing physical pain from having sex with me due to my girth (which, thankfully, has resolved since we have begun fucking more regularly); 2) insecurity due to gaining weight post-marriage; and 3) a lack of sexual experience sufficient to keep up with my own interests.  She has since come out of her shell, remarkably so, and our sex life and marriage have never been better.

Who the fuck died and made you GOD? What makes you think you deserve to have your every desire fulfilled?

I never claimed to be God, or that I deserved to have my every desire fulfilled.  To suggest otherwise would imply you haven’t read all of my work.  (Not that I expect you to.  Hence, my response.)  I have long struggled with controlling my sexual urges, balancing them against my desire for a fulfilling and loving marriage.  But when you go months at a time without having sex, the ability to resist–hell, the *desire* to resist–disappears.

No man “deserves” to get laid, regardless of marital status.  A woman’s body is her own, and she gets to decide what she does with it, and when.  Period.  But, relationships are partnerships, and if one partner is not sexually fulfilled, well, don’t be surprised if he/she seeks that fulfillment elsewhere.

Maybe if YOU put as much effort into your marriage-not just sexually either, you wouldn’t have put yourself and Ashley (although unbeknown to her) into such a lose/lose marriage.

No one who knows me can accuse me of not putting effort into my marriage.  I haven’t written about it much, but Ashley and I have been to several counselors, alone and together, in pursuit of a “fixed” marriage.  We have spoken at length about it over coffee, breakfast, drinks.  We have cried together because we thought we were failing.  And we have celebrated our not-so-recent upswing.  And, from a domestic standpoint, she and I are true partners, sharing evenly the housework and financial burdens.  Not to brag, but she calls me “the perfect husband”.  (I am far from it, mind, but it makes me smile when she says it.)

Do yourself a favor decide which you want. Can’t have both little boy, don’t work like that! You should show Ashley the respect she deserves and let her choose for herself- No one gave you that privilege. It’s not right -if you love her as much as you say you do GIVE HER THAT RESPECT.

I don’t love and respect anyone enough to give them that, because I am selfish.

Please don’t let my differing opinion affect the fact that I enjoyed your writing, I find it brutally honest and appreciate knowing the thoughts of a sex addict as I am discovering that I have been married to one for a long time.

Well, I do appreciate that, though I would not classify myself as a sex addict.  I once wrote about that possibility, but I don’t think I am so deep into my compulsions to be considered a nymphomaniac.

I am in the deciding process in my marriage, is this what I want for the rest of my life? The jury is still out on that one.

I wish you the best of luck in that.  Choosing whether to continue or end a marriage is not a pleasant endeavor, and I truly hope it works out well for you, chely5150.

Pro tip: You have to take the venom out of your words and be less accusatory if you want me to refrain from responding with so much snark and sarcasm.  Though, admittedly, I use much less of both herein, maybe because I truly sympathize with what you’re experiencing.  Before I was the hopeless cheater I am today, I was cuckolded by the woman I loved, and it left a lasting impression, and I can tell you are hurting.  I don’t want to contribute to that.

Or maybe I’m just going soft in my old age.

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Well, hello there.

Forgive my absence. Very recently, I found myself suddenly faced with a series of unexpected deadlines for work, and I had to throw my focus into that. Then, I had to revise a manuscript that was accepted for publication. (Hallelujah.) Since finishing those professional tasks, I have been terribly busy these past weeks being terribly not busy–that is, I went on a vacation. Not a work vacation, wherein I have a little fun in between meetings or presentations or field work, but a true-blue, honest-to-God vacation, hiking and swimming and boating and site-seeing hundreds of miles away from what anyone would call civilization. It was refreshing, to say the least.

Then Ashley went on vacation without me for a week.

And Tina came to visit.

It is a fascinating experience, having my lover in my home when my wife is gone. For four days, Tina and I interacted as though we were a long-term couple. We cooked together, we spent time at the beach, we went out for drinks, all the while holding hands and stealing kisses and sharing quiet jokes and whispered innuendo. We slept in the same bed, woke up together, showered together. The spats and misunderstandings of the past months simply disappeared. We were best friends again, lovers in the truest sense of the word. I can’t tell you how badly I missed that.

And the sex. Holy fuck, the sex was mind-blowing. Passionate and intense, occasionally frantic, never shorter than an hour, and always at least twice a day. Tina is truly insatiable in bed.

Sadly, all good things must end. I recently said goodbye to her, and she has begun the long return trip to her home across the country. It was decidedly painful to watch her go. Neither of us managed it without a few tears.

I am now sitting alone in my home, at my computer for the first time in two weeks. Her scent still lingers in my house, and I occasionally close my eyes as I inhale, savoring the aroma and remembering the feel of her hand in mine, her lips against mine, her hair on my shoulder. I am still uncertain how I came to be in this position, being in love with two women, my wife and my lover.  It is a difficult thing to manage, but weeks like this are more than worth the effort.

So again, forgive my absence. I assure you, I have not forgotten my regular readers, and I am working on a couple of different entries that I intend to post here soon. But, I am also closing in on the end of my contract with my current institution, thus much of my attention must shift to work, both in terms of completing required manuscripts and datasets, and of finding a new position. As such, I may not be as regular a blogger as I have been recently, but I will continue to work here as time permits.

I hope all is well with you, my friends and readers.

So, let’s examine the other side of the coin from my last post.

It’s no secret to Tina that my sex life with Ashley has historically been less than satisfying.  In fact, the details of our sexual relationship were one of the first things Tina and I discussed after finally admitting our shared interest in each other: the rarity with which I fuck my wife, her general lack of interest in sexual exploration, and so on.  Tina couldn’t fathom how Ashley could feel that way around me, because she had wanted me for years.  (I can be quite oblivious at times.)  So, she offered to help me relieve some of that tension.  Fast forward to a cold winter’s day reunion, when Tina and I fucked like there was nothing else in the world that mattered.  Our affair was born out of mutual respect, physical attraction, and an acknowledgement that neither of us were even close to living the sexual lifestyle we truly wanted.

When Tina started fucking her new lover, they established that they would tell each other any time they had sex with another person.  This affects him more than her, as he frequently fucks new and random people, and she wants to make informed decisions about her sexual health.  This is an entirely pragmatic arrangement in my mind, and she and I agreed we would be similarly open with one another.  It’s not been much of an issue because I haven’t had any new sexual partners in a while–just her, and Ashley–and she has only slept with him while she’s been away from me.  I understand that she sleeps with him on a regular basis, and I don’t expect her to tell me every time they fuck, but I do expect her to tell me if he sleeps with someone else because I, too, want to be informed about the risks to my sexual health as much as possible.

That’s our arrangement, in a nutshell.  We tell each other if we fuck someone else, share anything that could change our exposure to risk of STIs, and understand that we could be fucking our significant others at any time.

At least, I thought that’s what it was.

It came as a real surprise to me when Ashley suddenly became more sexually active.  For the longest time, literally years, she wasn’t at all interested in sex, and we would go weeks, if not months, at a time without being intimate.  Hence the topic of this blog.  Neither she nor I know what flipped the switch for her, but we now fuck much more regularly than we once did, and she has begun exploring new fantasies and activities with me, including BDSM, pornography, mutual masturbation, female dominance, and other fun and exciting things.  (This is likely the reason I haven’t had any new sexual partners in a long while.  I just haven’t needed them!)  I didn’t share this with Tina because I don’t ask her for similar details of her sexual escapades, and my understanding, as stated above, was that we know the other could be fucking their local partner at any time.

Boy, was that a mistake on my part.

Tina recently asked me who all I had fucked this year.  My answer: just her, and Ashley.  The anger and resentment that followed was truly astounding.

How could you possibly think I wouldn’t want to know if you had sex with Ashley.

What if my lover didn’t tell me he slept with someone else, you would be livid.

I can’t believe you would be so dishonest with me.

I reminded her that I don’t expect her to tell me when she fucks her other lover, and I assumed she felt similarly.  She argued that it was different because she shares a house with him, and she fucks him so regularly it just makes sense that she probably fucked him on any given day.  I countered with, I live in the same house with my wife, and married people fuck sometimes, which I took as a given.  She responded with a bitter comment about the “sanctity of marriage”.

Point is, it was a very, very unpleasant exchange.  She and I are still recovering from the events of that day.  It was a bit of a turning point for us, frankly, and our relationship hasn’t been the same since.  There is an underlying hostility and resentment in her words at times, roiling just under the surface, that she acknowledges because she “is slow to forgive, and never forgets”.  (Her words.)

I wonder, who is at fault here?  Was it unfair of me to assume that we had a mutual understanding?  Or was her response an overreaction to the obvious realities of being in a clandestine relationship?  Admittedly, I could have told her that my sex life with Ashley had been improving, but it seems perfectly reasonable to me that two people in a relationship will occasionally have sex.  I would have told her if I fucked a new person, or if Ashley had fucked someone else and thus exposed me to a new risk (not that that would ever happen, Ashley is depressingly monogamous)… but fucking Ashley is nothing new to me, and doesn’t change my risk exposure.  So I never shared it, because I often didn’t think to, and when I did, I simply didn’t want to chance hurting Tina.

Or, is assigning fault a useless exercise?  Emotions rarely adhere to strict reasonable guidelines.  Tina freely admits that she loves how receptive I am to her being promiscuous, and simultaneously admits that, though she wants me to have that freedom as well, she would probably be terribly hurt by me sleeping with someone else, because she wants me to be hers and hers alone.  So it is entirely plausible that her reaction was born from that jealousy, and thus assigning blame is simply a juvenile response to a natural human inclination.

Really, what it makes me wonder is whether Tina and I are truly compatible.  She is a phenomenal lover, and sex with her is arguably the best I have ever experienced.  She is a gifted professional and a remarkable woman, and I care much more deeply for her than I should.  I wonder whether that depth of feeling and our inability to act on it, and the exposure and vulnerability it brings to our emotional lives, makes us hypersensitive to things that would normally not bother us were we to be together regularly and in a committed fashion.  I’ve no way of knowing, obviously, and there are so many questions and unknowns that I can’t shake this sense of unease I’ve felt for so many weeks.

Perhaps I should just let it go, let the relationship end, but the thought of not having her in my life is extraordinarily painful.  So ever onward do I trudge through discontent and melodrama.

Perhaps I just need a vacation.

It’s hard for me to talk to my lover about her lover.

There was a time in my life when I was a decidedly jealous person.  In retrospect, I often feel like that is less a personality flaw of mine, than a product of the specific relationships I was in during my youth.  My first real girlfriend fucked her ex mere hours after having sex with me for the first time, so losing my virginity didn’t quite have that je ne sais quois advertised by word of mouth and media.  I was too great a pushover to end it though, and actually stayed with her (as much as can be said for any high school relationship) for three years after that, during which time she fucked two coworkers, a boss, and the same ex multiple times.  I was insanely jealous because I was too scared to end it, and I knew that she could be fucking someone else if I weren’t on my game.

Then Kelly.  I was still pretty fucked up from the first girl (I should really give her a pseudonym at some point), and I had difficulties trusting anyone.  I don’t know if it was my insecurity that eventually drove her to cheat on me, or if it was the kind of atmosphere fostered by her performance arts department (all those kids fucked like rabbits all the goddamned time), but it happened, and I was insane with jealousy and insecurity any time she was out with that crowd, doing a show, or whatever.  I couldn’t bear the idea of losing her, and simultaneously, hated that I was in another relationship where I cared so much for someone who cared so little for me.

I’ve often said that Kelly was a major milestone in my sexual education.  Aside from giving me the opportunity to explore certain facets of my sexual tastes, she also “drove me” to cheating.  I hate that phrasing, because it implies it was her fault, which is terribly unfair.  It was always in me to be a lecherous bastard.  I just needed an excuse, an opportunity.  Kelly gave me that excuse.  Because of her, I learned how to cheat and get away with it.  It’s a skill that I carry with me to this day.  Not one I’m super proud of, but there it is.

Kelly also taught me to stop caring so much.  After her, I let go.  I stopped trying to control the situation.  I accepted that people are weak and unreliable, and driven by carnal urges that no amount of love and respect can overcome.

Everyone–and I do mean everyone–has it in them to cheat.  And you have to be cool with that, or shit will drive you crazy.

So, in the decade since my relationship with Kelly ended, I have been incredibly mellow and laid back about sex and relationships.  It has caused several women to hate me, not because I cheated on them (I did, but they didn’t know that), but because I was never jealous.  They thought it meant I didn’t care.  They would push me, try to make me jealous, and I just never gave a shit.  I’m not sure why it surprised them.  Perhaps because most guys are inherently jealous and territorial.  But not me, man.  I am cool as a cucumber.  Chill as fuck.  That’s me.  It’s part of why Ashley loves me so much, so it’s served me well.

But, for some reason, talking to Tina about her lover just… gets my hackles up.  I don’t have a high opinion of the guy anyway, for reasons that I can’t go into because those things would be awfully specific.  Suffice to say, he strikes me as an inherently untrustworthy fella.  (Not that I’m the most honest guy around, mind you.  I acknowledge the hypocrisy here.)  But she has real feelings for him, and she likes fucking him, despite his flaws.  So I let it go.

Most of the time, I’m okay with it.  But when she talks about how excited she is to see him after a trip… or how badly she needs him to fuck her… or how she wants to tell him to try this new thing… or how she has developed genuine feelings for him… or how disappointed she is that he doesn’t last as long, and can’t fuck as frequently, as me (take that, asshole)… something in me stirs.  I guarantee you know the tightness, the wrenching in your heart that makes you have to take a deep breath, because it feels like your chest is suddenly too small for your ribcage.  My jaw clenches, my muscles tense, and all I want to do is tell her, “NO.  That is NOT okay.”

Naturally, I don’t say that.  It would be ridiculous.  I fuck Ashley, she fucks The-Guy-Who-Can’t-Fuck-Multiple-Times-A-Day.  I’m married.  She’s not.  I can not possibly impose restrictions on her.  And I want her to feel like she can talk to me about anything, including her sex life, because I care that deeply about her.  But I can’t seem to fight off the tightness.

And yet I never get that way with Ashley.  It’s strange at times, trusting someone as much as I trust her.  But I can’t help but wonder, is the fact that I feel no jealousy toward her, but I do feel it toward Tina, an indication of trust, or apathy?  Do I genuinely trust Ashley, or do I just not care what happens?  I love her, certainly.  But I don’t feel the same sense of excitement, of longing, of absolutely need, that I feel toward Tina.

Do I truly love Ashley?  Or do I just love what we used to be and have?

Do I love Tina, too?  Or am I just experiencing residual anxiety from previous relationships similar to that which I have with her?

This is what I’ve been kicking around the past few days.  I wish I could say I had some kind of answer to it, but typically, I just mull the questions over, then go to the gym or have a glass of scotch and try to forget about it.  I’m really much too passive about the whole thing.  But I don’t know how to be active about it.

I’m not sure I *want* to be active about it.

I recently chatted with an acquaintance I met through this site. Maybe not acquaintance–friend now? I’m not sure yet, and I hate assigning labels to developing relationships, but if you read this post, friend-quaintance, I think you’re just the best.

Man, I get side-tracked easily. Gotta work on that.

Anyhow. Said friend-quaintance commented that they admire my self-awareness and honesty. Though flattered, those are two qualities that I would never expect anyone to apply to me. I certainly make every effort at introspection, the better to understand myself and my interactions with the people around me, but I wouldn’t say I’ve been particularly good at it. And those times that I successfully nailed down whatever thing was stewing about in the back of my mind, I probably didn’t actually do anything about it because I am primarily driven by three desires. They are, in no particular order: 1) to learn and understand everything, 2) to avoid conflict at most any cost, and 3) to fuck as often and passionately as possible.

That last one is a real doozy, and doesn’t really mesh with the second one. Most people I have ever known don’t have my libido. My current lover, Tina, certainly does, and on our business trip we fucked every afternoon and evening, at least once, usually twice or three times, and would have gone for a fourth round if we hadn’t had to be up early for work.

What can I say, I have a really short refractory period. Multiple orgasms isn’t possible (*sigh*), but four times a day isn’t too difficult for me.

But that’s why she’s my lover. Most people don’t seem to be like that. So, when Desire Number Three kicks in, if my wife can not or will not satisfy the urge, and my lover is not available, then I have to find it someplace else.

…well, “have to” is strong phrasing. It’s not as though it’s a necessity. But I’m sure we can all agree that the need to fuck is a powerful motivator. Sadly, the other people in my life would certainly not take well to my promiscuous endeavors, and so I am driven to craft elaborate and entirely believable lies and scenarios that permit me to engage in my infidelities without upsetting Desire Number Two.

But, I sometimes wonder what it would be like, not to be dishonest. Not that I think I would be any good at true openness and transparency, mind you. Deception is too much a part of who I am at this point. But if I were to do that… what would it even look like? What would it take? I am only ever truly honest on this site, because this is about as safe and accepting a place as exists for me to share the things I think about and struggle with. I can’t really imagine what an honest relationship would be, because I’ve never seen or experienced one. I’m not sure they exist. Like a really communicative sasquatch.

I can say, however, that if I were to really try at that kind of honesty, it would only be for a woman who was every bit as sexual as I am. She would have to be able to read this blog and not be terrified. She would be accepting of how much I struggle with these things, and rather than judge me for them, she would experience them with me. She would share my sexually debauched lifestyle in every way. Swing by my office for a quickie over lunch. Bring home a random man or woman she met at a bar, and let me watch them fuck her. Wake me in the morning by straddling my face. Plan a weekend involving a premium hotel suite, pizza (because room service is for chumps), four bottles of wine, and an arsenal of new dildos, vibrators, masturbators, restraints, and lingerie.

Hmm. That last one sounds a bit pedestrian when you say it that way. But you lock me in a hotel room with my dream woman for 60 hours and there is no telling what will happen. They’d probably have to burn that bed.

It’s likely such a woman exists, somewhere, but sadly I’ve never met her. If I did, I imagine I would be willing to communicate anything and everything she wanted for another chance to ride that particular unicorn.

Or sasquatch, if I want to continue that metaphor. But “riding the sasquatch” sounds incredibly dirty.

Tina comes close. Probably closer than any woman I have ever been with. But she has her reservations as well, and is not nearly the go-getter I am when it comes to sex. She’s also not a morning person, so straddling my face first thing when she wakes up probably will never happen.

Which is a goddamned shame, because fuck waking up to the smell of coffee, I want to wake up to the smell and taste of a woman. Hence my previous post.

Though coffee is a close second.

I am more honest with my lover than I am with my wife.

That’s a strange thing to realize, but it’s not altogether surprising. I have long said that I am not honest with the people who are closest to me. There are lots of reasons for it, but mostly, I suspect it’s a product of growing up in a family with a… let’s say, temperamental patriarch. In my family, it was generally understood but rarely spoken that you did everything you could to avoid making him mad. To my mother, that usually meant keeping things back, hidden, and only sharing unpleasant things if it were necessary. She passed that along to me. But somewhere along the line, I figured out that lying about something, and getting away with it, would keep him from flying off the deep end, and if you were caught, well, it was no worse than it would have been otherwise. So really, there was no downside to lying. It kept peace in the house.

Over the years I got very good at lying. Not just about things I don’t want you to know, but about anything. Pretending to think and feel things that I don’t so as to minimize conflict, or maximize social interactions. (There’s some awkward wording for you.) I felt bad about it, from time to time.

Then I learned that, in intellectual circles, pretending to agree with something you don’t isn’t considered lying.  It’s considered debate.

It helps that I am by nature an academic, and am genuinely interested in learning as much as I can about most things. It lends an aire of authenticity to things when I launch into a discussion in support of a topic or position that I may not truly agree with. I think of it as being similar to the Socratic method, always questioning, always pushing, because I learn who I am and what I think by engaging in informed discussion with other informed people. But it’s probably better represented as a ‘devil’s advocate’ kind of thing. I do it with everyone–my students, colleagues, friends. Ashley, and Tina. I use it as a defense mechanism. A suit of armor, piece mail comprised of plates of intellectuality held together with bands of bold-faced but well-practiced lies. It helps me seem sharper, harder. Stops others from realizing just how weak I really am, while simultaneously preventing unpleasant interactions and hurt feelings.

Thanks for sticking with me through that, dear reader. On to the point.

I recently spent an extended period of time with my lover, Tina, in a foreign city. (She was the subject of my previous two posts. At some point I may finish that story. But for now, this is on my mind.) Ours is a relationship born certainly out of mutual physical attraction, but also intellectual and academic respect. We spend much of our time engaging in discussion of recent developments in the world stage, particularly in light of progressive politics, feminism, the notion of privilege, and dietary morality. For the record, I consider myself an ally to most progressive causes, particularly anything dealing with sexual and body rights. But that doesn’t mean I won’t criticize or scrutinize those same movements, because I find that such scrutiny can only improve one’s position, and refusing to see the opposition’s side clouds your judgement and limits your ability to debate them.

It seems I may have pushed it a bit too hard, though. Tina often seemed withdrawn during our visit, save for when we were fucking ourselves into a sweaty stupor. When we parted ways, she shared with me that she felt like she didn’t know who I am. That I present two very different images of myself in almost any issue. I tried to explain what I wrote above, but she said it was more than that. She had caught me in a lie at one point–a minor thing, something I once confessed to her and had forgotten, and didn’t want to admit to in the moment in question. She had called me out on it, I explained, I moved on, but she didn’t.

We are having an affair, she reminded me. Trust is the only thing we have. And you violated that. It was such a little thing. How can I believe you on the major things?

I considered that, and came to the almost immediate conclusion that she was right. I promised to make a conscious effort to avoid such behavior in the future, and it’s a promise I genuinely think I will keep. Ours truly is a relationship built on trust and honesty. She was my friend long before we became lovers, and she knows more about my true feelings and opinions than most people. If I can cloud that for her, then I need to change my behavior.

Yet I don’t feel that way about Ashley. Many things have improved between us, particularly in terms of sexuality and intimacy, but my relationship with my wife is still inherently based on deception and lies. She is my best friend and partner, and once again my lover. I should be honest with her, and loyal. Yet I will sit beside Ashley on the couch at night, talking about our days and our plans for the future while I simultaneously chat digitally with Tina about how badly I want to fuck her. And not the slightest hint of guilt do I feel.

Someone once told me I might be slightly sociopathic. I sometimes wonder if they were right.

First and foremost, I appreciate the concern I’ve received from so many of you.  Numerous comments and dozens of e-mails inquiring as to the state of my mental and physical well-being, statements that my absence has been noticed, requests that I return to writing.  Even a text message or three checking in on me.  Thank you, one and all.

I know I don’t have to explain myself, so please don’t interpret the following as justification for my absence.  As per the usual, I’m just writing to get things out, to let spill the tide of various emotions I’ve been feeling for a while so that I may think more clearly.  I don’t want anyone to have the impression that I’m not okay.  I’m always okay.  I just have those moments.  The past month and a half has been a particularly long moment.

Christ, has it been that long?  Anyway.

A day or so after my last post, Pretty Grad Student and I had a nice sit-down about our affair.  It had become obvious to me that she was developing some pretty serious feelings for me, which she confirmed over coffee.  I had to explain to her, as gently as I could, that while I certainly shared the emotional connection with her, it could never replace the emotional connection I share with Ashley.  That I firmly believe it’s possible to have intense feelings for multiple people, but that acting upon them by committing to some form of exclusivity can be risky for everyone involved, particularly when one or both parties are already participating in exclusivity elsewhere.  (That’s scientist speak for, “Yeah, I have feelings for you too, but I’m married and that ain’t changin’.”)  This led to an intense discussion (not a fight, but a sincere, gin-yoo-wine conversation) about my feelings for anyone–her, the numerous other women I’ve slept with, Ashley, and even myself.  She ultimately suggested that I may be depressed and need to seek some kind of counseling or otherwise attempt to right the wrongs in my immediate universe.

I value Pretty Grad Student’s opinion more than most.  She’s a sharp cookie, very perceptive, exceptionally sympathetic.  So I took some time off from everything but work, with the intention of examining what, out of all the things I’d excluded, I missed the most.

It didn’t quite work out like that.  Sure, I spent a lot of time at work, and just as much time at home with Ashley.  But I found that, the more I isolated myself from everything, the less inclined I was to come back to it.  I found myself thinking, “Hmm.  I could do [insert activity here].  But I don’t know if I want to.”  That indecision stopped me from doing a lot of things, including writing this blog, and I saw no measurable difference in my happiness.  Effectively, I spent a month and a half treading a fine line between depression and apathy.

And that pisses me right the fuck off.

So this morning, as I stood comfortably in Virabhadrasana for the first time in weeks, watching the sun creep up over the hill, I decided, at least for the time being, to embrace who and what I am.  Fuck if I know where things are going, or what will happen in the near future.  But I’m tired of fighting it, of trying to justify it, of struggling with something that is as deep a part of me as anything can be.  So I ran with more purpose than I’ve felt in months.  So I worked harder, wrote faster, thought more clearly.  So I left work early and fucked Pretty Grad Student with all the intensity our bodies could muster.

When we were done, she rolled onto her side, pressed her bare body to mine, and said, “It’s good to have you back.”

All I could say was, “It’s good to be back.”

“So what did you think of the conference today?”

I walk down the hall, my hands in my pockets, messenger bag over my shoulder, side by side with Pretty Grad Student.  We spent the day, as did most of our colleagues, at a small conference on management and ecology.  Unlike the massive conferences for which we typically plan for weeks, this was more directed, with an emphasis on the intersection between policy and ecology.

“It was disappointing,” I answer, continuing the inner monologue I’d been running for the past several minutes.  “It was like everyone wanted to be the keynote speaker, so hardly anyone presented any real science.”

“That one guy did.”

“Yeah, one guy,” I agree.  “I was expecting presentations on new findings and advancements in the field, not hours of proselytizing.”  I shake my head and sigh.  “Two days, wasted.  I could have made such headway on my analysis.”

“Quit overachieving,” she scolds me.  “You’re making the rest of us look lazy.”

“Quit being lazy and you too can be the department bitch,” I say with forced enthusiasm.

She snorts.  “Now you’re just whining.”

“Yeah, sorry,” I say.  “Just frustrated.”  I unlock my office door and step inside, tossing my bag into one of the empty chairs across from my desk.  I fall into my large work chair, an excessive expenditure I have never once regretted, and slump comfortably.

Pretty Grad Student shuts my office door and sits on the corner of my desk, silent.  After a moment, she asks, delicately, “Are things going better with your wife yet?”

I glance at her.  We normally don’t talk much about my and Ashley’s relationship.  It’s not like we purposely avoid the subject, but we always seem to be occupied by other things (usually our nether regions).  The only reason she knows we’re in a rough patch is because she stayed with me at my hotel, helping me make the most of my self-imposed isolation.  Her interest surprises me, and I say as much.

“I worry about you,” she says calmly.  “I don’t think anyone realizes how much effort you put into being happy.  I mean, I didn’t realize it either until these past few days.”

“I’m spending time with you because I genuinely enjoy your company,” I say calmly.  “I’m not using you.”

“No, and I’ve never thought you were,” she says.  Then a sly smirk crosses her lips.  “But, for the record, you can use me any way you need, baby.”

I smile at her.  “Thanks.”

Her smirk remains, but she furrows her brow as though concerned.  “Seriously though, it can’t be healthy for you to keep all this frustration bottled up like you do.  It’s great that you put on a stiff upper lip and all that, but eventually you have to let yourself be unhappy.”

“I don’t want to be unhappy,” I answer, annoyed, swiveling to and fro in my chair.  “I don’t have any reason to be unhappy.  I’m tired of being unhappy.”

She stands up and moves toward me, sitting on her knees in front of me.  She takes my hands in hers and locks gazes with me.  “If you want to quit being unhappy, then stop pretending that you aren’t.  Lying to the world about how you feel is one thing, but refusing to let yourself experience your own emotions is another.”  She smiles warmly, if a bit sadly.  “You’re the most amazing man I’ve ever known.  But even the most amazing of men can have bad days, and it sounds to me like you’ve been having an awful lot of them.  You deserve to let it out.”

I look at her and smile weakly.  “Thanks.  But I don’t agree with you.  The best thing I can do is try to keep positive and not let myself get overburdened by my own baggage.”  I squeeze her hands lightly, and she nods quietly.  She kisses my knuckle once before standing, leaning forward, and kissing me gently on the lips.

“Suit yourself, baby,” she says, more lightheartedly than before, but the concern is still there.  “But don’t think I’m going to let this go.  We’re going to talk about it tonight.”

I grin.  “Assuming you can get my mouth off of you long enough to get me to say anything.”

“If you’re not talking, you’d better have your mouth on me.”

“Now you’re just repeating me,” I say as I wave her off.  “Get to work, minion.  I’ll be ready to leave in an hour.”

She glares playfully and snaps her teeth at me.  (It’s much sexier than it sounds, especially coming from her), then turns abruptly, letting herself out.  I hear her voice from around the corner: “Yes sir, professor.”

I look at the empty doorframe, listening to her footfalls as she goes down the hall.  I smile, despite my frustration, and sigh.  Strangely enough, I feel a bit better.

I’m having coffee with Ashley tonight.

That’s such a strange thing to say.  “I’m having coffee with Ashley tonight.”  A perfectly unremarkable statement, carrying with it some weighty implications, as though it were an event that required planning, that having coffee with her should somehow be out of the ordinary.  It’s normal for married couples to have coffee together.  I see it all the time on television (and we all know anything on television must be normal).  But it becomes weird when you’ve been estranged from your spouse for over a week.

I haven’t seen her in ten days now, not since June 8, when we had our argument.  We’ve barely been in communication since then.  Presumably, she realized that I wasn’t just going to come home with nothing resolved, so there were a few days with no communication whatsoever.  Then today, I got an e-mail from her, asking if I wanted to have coffee at our favorite cafe.  I hem-hawed about it for a while, before finally texting her my assent.

So, after ten days of separation, I’m meeting Ashley tonight, to have coffee and catch up, and, I assume, to discuss the state of our marriage, why I left, and what it means for our future.  It’s not like we haven’t had this conversation a dozen times before.  We’re not breaking new ground here.  But, given the circumstances leading up to our meeting tonight, I have no idea how this is going to go.

…you know, I say that.  But it’s not entirely true.

I know that I’ll arrive fifteen minutes early, because that’s what I do.  I know I’ll be done with my first cup of coffee, likely with a shot of Bailey’s in it, by the time she shows up, perfectly punctual, as always.  I know she’ll look beautiful in her summer attire.  When I see her, my heart will skip a beat, my throat will catch, my stomach will turn in knots, the same as always when I see her the first time after any extended period apart.  And I know, despite how happy I will be to see her, I won’t hug her, or shake her hand, or anything, because I’m stubborn.  I’ll stand up while she sits, because that’s what a gentleman does, and I’ll ask how her day was.  She’ll tell me some brief anecdote about the day’s events, then ask me the same, and I’ll do the same.

By the time her first, my second, coffee arrives, we’ll have run out of pleasantries.  We will be silent for a little while.  I’ll ask her why she wanted to have coffee.  She’ll say she missed me, that she wanted to talk.  I’ll tell her there’s nothing to be said that hasn’t been said before.  She’ll agree, and her voice will catch, and she’ll try not to cry.  She will tell me she loves me, that she wants to be there for me sexually, but she doesn’t know how to change herself.  I will tell her that I love her too, that not a single day goes by that I don’t thank God for bringing her into my life, but unrequited physical intimacy is sufficient to destroy any relationship.  She’ll tell me she knows this, but she just can’t bring herself to be physically intimate as often as I’d like.  So I’ll ask her what she wants to do about this, the same problem we’ve had for years now, because something has to be done, because even though I thank God for her every day, there is also not a day that I don’t feel some level of resentment toward her for refusing to be intimate with me.

And this is where the future becomes cloudy.  It’s unlikely that she’s going to tell me that a permanent separation is in order, but given the state of things, I doesn’t strike me as totally impossible, either.  It’s just really improbable, because we still love each other as much as we ever have.  Ashley feels like she’s not enough for me (and let’s call it like it is–she isn’t), which scares and upsets her, but she won’t do enough to amend the situation.  However, that’s not enough to drive her away from me.  She wants me for the rest of her life, as she so often reminds me, in the most romantic, if still asexual, manner possible.

That means, if things go badly tonight, it will most likely be my doing.  And for all our problems, and despite my indiscretions, I’m not ready to say goodbye.  Being away from her always reminds me just how much I need her.  I acknowledge it frequently, but it’s her absence in my daily life that makes the need more palpable.  When we’re together, I crave her physical touch.  When we’re apart, I just crave her.

Anyhow.  This was intended as more of an update, and instead evolved into some kind of inner monologue about the state of my marriage.  My apologies.  Also, please forgive my absence in the past couple of weeks.  I just… haven’t felt up to responding to emails, comments, etc., which I hope is understandable.  I’ll be back soon, hopefully with something more positive to report.

Regards,
BimodalTendancies

I hate hotel rooms.  I like the service, sure, and the water pressure is usually something out of a wet dream (no pun intended).  But I hate how empty they feel.  Hotel managers strive to pack their rooms with all the comforts of home–fresh linens, a television with cable, a writing desk, wireless internet access, and a variety of scented soaps and lotions to make you look and smell as lovely as the room you’re staying in.

But everything feels artificial.  The bed is a little too firm, the linens a bit too abrasive.  The shower is too tight, even with the bow-shaped curtain rod, which is designed to create a sense of space–also artificial.  The television is grainy, the writing desk cramped, the internet too slow.  The soaps and lotions have the same smell across all hotels, clean and soapy, but uninspired, unoriginal.  And no matter how many lights you turn on, it’s never bright enough, always slightly more dim then you’d like wherever you’re working.

And it’s all just a little too cramped.  The desk is always shoved in the corner, out of the way, with a floor lamp above it (the one place in the room where you can get sufficient light, but it’s too bright on the laptop’s screen, causing eye strain).  Clearly defined walkways are narrow, and too angular.  There’s no flow to the space, no feng shui.  In their effort to make the place feel like home, they have stripped it of anything resembling the natural comfort of your personal living space.

And it makes the place feel soulless.  Every hotel is the same, regardless of its position on the star-rating continuum.  And as I sit in my hotel, I can’t help but wonder about the room’s previous occupants.  How many people have come through here?  How many have left their individual mark on the place, only to have it sterilized the next morning by hotel staff?  How many individuals have been homogenized by this place, their stories assimilated by the collective?

I’m just being bitter.  I know I am.  But then again, I have plenty of reason to be bitter at the moment.

My phone chimes, and the screen lights up.  I retrieve it from the desk beside me and half-heartedly activate the screen.  A text message from Ashley.

Please come home.

I consider the words, the implication.  It’s been four days since I saw her.  Since the last time she rebuked my sexual advances.  Since I reminded her that it had been a good month since our last sexual encounter, if not longer.  Since we argued about the role of sex in our marriage, and my need for intimacy.  Since I grabbed my gym bag and stormed out of the house.  Since I booked my hotel room for an unspecified amount of time.

I look at my phone, rereading the message over and over.   I imagine what it would sound like coming from her mouth.  I can hear her voice, straining through pain, struggling to hold back the sobs.  I can see the tears in her eyes.

I know she misses me.  Christ, I miss her too.  Being away from her hurts me at the core of my being, at the most fundamental of levels.  I love her more than I can explain.  I need her in my life, like I need food and water.  She sustains me, supports me.  She centers me.  I want to be close to her.  I want that intimacy, that sexuality, to feel her physically consuming me the way she consumes me emotionally, mentally, and hell, probably spiritually.

Christ, that sounds fucking crazy.  It sounds like an unhealthy infatuation.  Hell, maybe it is.  Ashley is my obsession.    She is the physical representation of everything that is good and wholesome in my world, and I want to be a part of it, in every imaginable way.  And to be constantly denied the sexual intimacy that I want, that I crave, from someone who is otherwise everything I could possibly want and need…

My phone blinks off.  I hastily reignite the screen, rereading the message, over and over, anxiously, obsessively.  Fuck, I’m so angry at her that I can’t think.  Four days later, and I’m still angry.  Does that make me juvenile, I wonder?  Am I a spoiled, immature brat?  Or am I justified, and this is righteous indignation that I’m experiencing?  I don’t have the slightest clue.  All I know is, I’m fucking furious.  I’m frustrated beyond words, beyond any hope of reconciliation.  I need something to change, but I don’t know how to change it, and that just fuels the anger.  It’s probably why I’m still mad, I think.  I’m a published scientist, a researcher, a theoretician, a programmer.  Hell, I’m a fucking genius.  And yet I can’t find a solution to the one thing that I need more than anything else in this world.

What good is intellect if it can’t give you the things you need, if it only makes you dwell on alternate scenarios, how things could be different but never are?

That’s my problem.  I’m dwelling.  I need to stop thinking about things.  I need to stop letting the situation get to me.  I need to immerse myself in infidelity, to find pleasure and satisfaction in my marital indiscretion.  Ashley won’t give me that, for whatever reason, so I should get it elsewhere.

But I don’t want to get it elsewhere.  I want what we used to have, and I’m afraid that in losing it, we’re about to lose everything else.

I don’t think my marriage is over.  I’m sure I’ll go home soon.  But isn’t leaving, for any amount of time, an indicator of what’s to come?  Is the ability to just up and leave for days at a time the litmus test for a failing marriage?  If so, where does mine fall on the scale?  Are we on the cusp of a major failure?  Am I about to become another divorce statistic?  The idea is heartbreaking.

And I realize now, I’m not bitter.  I’m just sad.

I reread the message.  I consider the words, the implication.  And I have no idea what to do.

For now, I put the phone to sleep.