Dear Wendy: “I Caught My Husband Perusing The Casual Encounters Ads On Craigslist”

The other day I got home and “caught” my husband perusing the casual encounters ads on Craigslist. He’s done this in the past and tells me he does it when he feels rejected by me sexually. We have sex three to four times a week. He told me he hasn’t contacted anybody. Since he’s not big on computer porn or videos (we do have couples porn and occasionally watch), I guess I just want to know if I should be worried. Truth be told, when we were going through a hard time a few years ago, I did catch him actually writing an email to someone on Craigslist. I want to believe him now that he’s not contacting anybody — his body language and everything seems to indicate so. Plus, his actions speak very loudly — he’s always home on time, etc. After talking about it, he said he needed friends for when I got pissed off (he’s not very sociable). Should I be worried or just let this go as curiosity/arousal/etc.? — Craigslist Caution

Wake-up call, wake-up call: your husband is a liar and you’re in denial. He says he’s never contacted anybody, but you’ve actually seen him with your own eyes writing an email to someone he found on Craigslist. Imagine what’s he’s been doing that you haven’t seen! And if he’s looking for “friends” for when you get pissed off — which, by the way, is one of the lamest things I’ve ever heard — why would he be looking at the “casual encounters” ads on Craigslist? Even if Craigslist were the only way in the world he could meet people, which we know it isn’t, there happens to be a section called “strictly platonic” where he could connect with people. Why, if he’s looking for platonic friends, would he go to “casual encounters” where everyone’s looking for hook-up buddies? Because, obviously, he isn’t looking for platonic friendships! At the very least, he’s looking for people to “arouse” him, as you say — to virtually flirt with, maybe even engage in some cyber or phone sex. And at the worst … well, use your imagination.

Yes, CC, you should be worried. Not simply because your husband is using Craigslist — and who knows what else — to engage in extramarital activities and then lies about it. You should be worried that when he feels rejected by you, either sexually or emotionally, he turns to strangers on the internet for comfort instead of talking to you about it. You need to sit down with each other and discuss your issues. You may even need marriage counseling. But definitely what you don’t need is to keep sweeping your troubles under the rug and pretending they don’t exist.

I have a friend, Sue, who is married to her second husband, Bob. She is Bob’s second wife. Both of them have children from their first marriages, and also have kids together. When I met her, Sue told me that she and Bob met when they socialized with the same common group of people. After their first marriages failed, they started dating each other and later married. A few years ago, my own marriage ended, and both Sue and Bob were wonderfully supportive towards me during that difficult time. Recently I began dating a lovely man whose own marriage was destroyed by his wife cheating on him. When I discussed this with Sue, talking about how awful the ex-wife’s betrayal was and how sad I was for my boyfriend and his children to have to go through that, Sue surprised me by saying that she and Bob had an affair while still married to their first spouses. Needless to say, I was shocked and changed the subject quickly. I never would have asked the specifics of how they got together, but it’s clear that Sue lied about it in the first place. Since that conversation, we’ve barely had any contact at all. I miss our friendship, but I still think cheating is an awful thing to do. What should I do? — Second Spouse

Whoa, you’ve turned your back on a friend who has been nothing but wonderfully supportive to you because of details in her personal life that are neither clear to you nor affect you in the least? That’s pretty crappy. The only people who ever really know what goes on in a relationship are those in it, and here you are purporting to know what went on in relationships with people I assume you’ve never even met. I’m talking about Sue and Bob’s respective first marriages here. You have no idea what those marriages were like and what drove Sue and Bob to seek comfort and support from each other. It’s easy to say “cheating is an awful thing.” Of course it’s an awful thing. But you don’t know that that’s what broke up your friends’ first marriages. You don’t know what led to the cheating. And you don’t know what decisions were made and how they were arrived at that led to their respective divorces. And even if you did know those details, how does any of it change how wonderful Sue has been to you?

Sue is not your husband’s ex-wife. Sue is not every woman who has ever wronged a man. Sue is your friend — and a good friend at that. As long as she continues to be there for you, she deserves your loyalty and reservation of judgment. She deserves an apology. She trusted you with personal information — she made herself vulnerable to you — and you turned your back on her. Hopefully, Sue is the kind of person who will understand that people make mistakes — that they aren’t perfect and that sometimes they say and do things without thinking how their actions affect the people they care about the most. I hope you’ll find some humility and courage to pick up the phone and offer Sue a sincere apology for judging her and tell her how much her friendship means to you and how much you’ve missed her. And I hope Sue has the grace to accept your apology and welcome you back into her life with an open heart.

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