It’s Less About Sex…More About Being Desired

Infidelity is tricky. On the surface it can seem like it’s all about sex and just wanting to engage in sexual activity with another or even multiple partners over the course of time. It can also seem as though the unfaithful just ‘wasn’t getting it at home’ so they went elsewhere. It’s an easy conclusion to come to, but merely scrapes the surface of the illegitimacy.

A deeper look will reveal that it’s more about desire. We, the unfaithful, love to be desired. Unfaithful spouses typically resort to excuses like “I just wanted to be wanted for a change.” We’ll pin our affair(s) on our spouse’s lack of desire or passion and try to resort to blaming our spouse for making us vulnerable to an affair as they never wanted us. At least I did.

In my case for example, Samantha did in fact, lose 90% of her sex drive and desire for me or any sexual activity at all. Why? Well here are a few reasons for why her sex drive diminished so severely. She was having kids, three to be exact. She was bedridden for 6 of the 9 months of pregnancy with all three kids. She was married to a control freak and workaholic who would be gone for a week at a time, or at the very least gone 4 to 5 nights a week doing ‘ministry.’ Why wouldn’t she feel her desire crash and burn? There was no connection and there was very little intimacy which was in place on a daily basis.

We unfaithful spouses love to be desired like anyone, but quickly lose sight of the fact that we do have a responsibility in marriage to not only desire our mate (which was easy for me as I found Samantha absolutely gorgeous and extremely sexy) but we also must create desire for ourselves within our spouse by our connection with them. If we’re never connected with them, how will they ever feel desire for us? This isn’t new marriage where you both run around constantly desiring one another. This isn’t middle school or high school where hormones are running rampant and are firing on all cylinders at all times. This is real life, mid-life with kids, financial pressures, life changes, body chemistry changes, and perpetual look back’s to the life we thought we were going to have. Connection does not come easy anymore, except with fantasy and the illusion that being desired all over again will make life right again.

It’s about desire and being desired. It’s about the insatiable hole within us, the unfaithful, which craves the feeling of being desired because we are not healthy. We are insecure. We are empty. We are craving validation. We want another to give us what we should only be able to find within ourselves and our mate. We want to blame someone else. We want to lay the blame at the feet of our spouse.

Sure, we should be desired. Yet, we should create desire in our spouse for ourselves by our actions of emotional intimacy and connection, understanding that not every desire is to be pursued, as not every desire we feel is for our good. After all, if we’re constantly having to be desired, doesn’t it reveal an emptiness inside of us in the first place?

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Thanks for putting my feelings into words

Thank you Samuel for this post. I always relate in someway to your posts, but this time, you have nailed succinctly what I (the unfaithful) have been trying to relate to my wife (of 37 years) about the "why" of my affairs. Our 2d D-day was about 18 months ago. Since then, we have participated in EMS Weekend, Hope for Healing (me), Harboring Hope (her), and have continued to weekly call our small group. In spite of all this, I have not been able to explain "why" as well as you did in this blog. I don't mean "why" in the sense of justifying my actions, but rather, what irrational rationale I used to self-justify my infidelity. I know it was all about "poor me" not being validated, desired, etc, etc. In the midst of my self-deception, it seemed easier to blame my wife. Since I am confrontation adverse, it made "sense" to simply go out and find someone else who would stroke my "fragile" ego without confrontation. I now know my infidelity was not caused by my wife's lack of desire, passion or anything else. In the end, my infidelity was a result of my own retreat from "into-me-see" and the resulting inattention to our relationship.
My wife and I have made significant progress in our recovery over the last 18 months and are more open and honest with each other about feelings and needs than perhaps any other time in our marriage. We still have work to do, but the AR programs (and our own work) have definitely been marriage savers for us.

Thanks to you both

You, Sam, for eloquently taking responsibility for your actions and for acknowledging that though sex is the tool we use to betray, it is really about an emptiness in our souls that we, ourselves, created. Bomar, thanks for showing me that even a marriage longer than mine can recover from repeated betrayals. Thank you for loving your wife enough to do the right thing. You give an old woman hope.

He said "I guess I just wanted the attention"

My husband keeps saying that the only reason he can think of for one of his affairs was that he just wanted the attention. And it was nice because he did not have to compete for her attention. Well I guess NOT....she was not busy cleaning his house, doing his laundry, cooking his meals, paying his bills, raising his kids, and picking up ALL the slack that he left in the relationship because he was "working so hard", and doing all this while she worked 40+ hours a week at a job too. It was easy for her because to give him all her attention because he was only there for a few hours a week and she was single. So you know if you wanted to pop over in the middle of the day on my day off (as if a working mother and wife ever gets one of those) sure I can meet you at the door in a little "something something" and tend to all your needs for a couple of hours especially since those needs don't include picking up your dirty underwear or cleaning your whisker shavings and tooth paste off the sink or pick up you socks for the 1 millionth time from the living room floor. If you showed up an whispered sweet nothings, brought me lunch, after texting me for 2 days about how much you missed me and how pretty I am and how much you NEED your time with me....heck yeah I could give you all that needed attention.
Guess I did not handle this very well, because when my husband tossed this one up I nailed him again in his ego. You want to be desired and wanted and you need all this attention....then get off your butt at the house, pick up your slack, stop sitting on the couch waiting to be ASKED to do the dishes and then acting like you did me some favor.....the attention I show you is a direct reflection of the attention I receive from you. Heck I would have had an affair too, but I was to tired because I was having to be the mother and father, the husband and the wife.
Don't worry I am in the online class EMOS program because I am sure I did not handle this correctly.

SLM...I get it...

thank you for your comment. I get it. I really do. I think you're spot on in regards to an attention needing hole in many ways. if his only answer to the affair is "i guess i needed the attention" he hasn't done much recovery work at all. the ems online course will help for sure, but that's not a safe answer (nor complete) answer for why he cheated. he'll need to go deeper in his recovery work to understand more about why he gave in and why he did what he did. Also, i think it's great you're processing through some of this and realizing what is/was going on in his mind and in his approach to life. remember, affairs are built on fantasy and illusion. you can't compete with that as it's not real, but now that he hopefully is sobering up a bit, maybe he will come back down to earth and begin to appreciate all you've done and continue to do for him. I hope it gets easier and I hope he comes to see things more clearly and definitively.

betrayed spouse

Bravo, Bravo! I have scoured this site since learning of my husband's affair, after 32 years of marriage. His AP was a former student of mine that I got a job working in his office. She had a midnight job and a child and husband. She said she needed a day time job----boy have I paid for that. Your comment made me do a belly laugh---best I have had since this nightmare came to light. I have tried to walk the Christian walk that I have been so entrenched in my whole life. I must admit my anger overwhelms me and I have not been proud of things I have done and said. You have come the closest to what I have felt...especially the part about "not handling this correctly". It is a long process I have before me. My husband is better to me now than he has ever been. He has returned to church--on his own and is doing all he can to work this out. He was flattered by a woman our daughter's age. Lots of prayer and support from counselors, family and friends are getting me through. As for him, well he appears remorseful but I am not sure where I stand on this marriage. But thanks for the laugh---that felt good! God bless you.

pkh...thank you for your honesty...

pkh, it makes total sense for sure....your situation is a parallel to ours at some level. it's self absorption and the need to feel better about ourselves that create vulnerability and a desire to seek attention. it's demented for sure, but it won't always be that way. it's not what he's doomed to feel or be like for the rest of his life. for now though, it's the residue that hurts like hell i'm sure. the desire to be straightforward with ourselves helps us to come out of the fog. it's a dark fog for sure and it's an overwhelming force at times. but as you walk out of the fog slowly but surely i think you'll both see clearly again. thank you for posting a comment.

When the Betrayed Wants the Unfaithful

And what happens then, when the betrayed has been asking for physical and emotional intimacy? What about when the Unfaithful turns down the betrayed for physical intimacy? Or the betrayed goes to the unfaithful and tries to communicate not only desire but the pain of rejection during the affair? And then 6 months into recovery the unfaithful is "too tired" for physical intimacy often, and just last night too tired after date night? How should that be read? Should I turn away? Am I looking for too much? Am I too needy? Is it that he has to chase, and is turned off by my willingness. It feels like mind games.

hi stella.....those are good questions....

the reality is, those are very good, very telling questions.   without your spouse here to share their own feelings, it's tough to assess why that's happening.  it's definitely a red flag my friend.  i would see if he is open to getting help together so you can discuss these things.  is anyone working with him?  i don't get a good feeling at his 'too tired' or lack of desire.  those are concerns for sure.  i'm sorry I can't be more deliberate in my answers other than the red flags....

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