Thursday, February 4, 2010

I Lost My Wife to CyberSex

His marriage of 19 years crumbled due to “emotional cheating.” Here, advice on how to move on.

Dear Dr. Gilda,

Has anybody else lost a relationship because of cybersex? I believe it is an addiction. Nineteen years of my marriage went down the drain! What tips do you have for helping me get over this? I know that my wife did not physically “cheat” on me, but she “emotionally cheated.” How can I explain this to people when talking about my divorce?

Real Marriage, Pretend Wife

Dear Real Marriage, Pretend Wife,

Plenty of marriages fall prey to cybersex. Anything that consumes someone so much and distracts from a partnership is indeed an addiction. And addictions must be treated.

You ask about other cybersex addicts. The world was shocked when the news hit that actor David Duchovny is a sex addict hooked on online porn. I’m sure you can identify with the torment of his wife, actress Tea Leoni. Duchovny was able to hide his real problem through his pretend role as the sex-driven writer on his show, Californication. As you have now learned, pretending becomes reality.

Emotional cheating can be very painful for an abandoned partner. Some therapists say that unless Flap A enters Slot B, cybersex is harmless. I am not one of them. I have counseled people who were discarded by partners, even though it was “only” through virtual sex. Emotional cheating can leave scars as deep as those perpetrated by the physical act. Don’t apologize for feeling remorse.

As you requested, here are some tips for you to cope:

1. Get literature from SAA, Sex Addicts Anonymous, and understand what your ex’s addiction is all about. Also, get some support for yourself.

2. Stop worrying about how to present your past to others. New dates don’t need a biography of your woes. If a relationship is to unfold, your story will unfold, too—but it will unfold to loving ears.

3. Don’t blame yourself for your wife’s betrayal. Instead, enumerate the things you enjoyed during your 19 years of marriage.

4. Consider whether you noticed your wife pulling away from you. While you can’t do anything about that now, you could sharpen your awareness of the signs before a future disconnect occurs.

5. Be determined to rise above the betrayal. My e-Book “How to WIN When Your Mate Cheats” describes how a marriage can become stale unless two people actively and continuously nurture it. Focus on relationship nurturing in your next involvements.

I know your wife’s betrayal came as a shock. Write her a letter (but don’t send it) thanking her for helping you grow in whatever ways she did. This exercise is for YOU to finalize that your official contract with her is over. Then follow this Gilda-Gram: “Operate as though love, success, and happiness are already yours.” When you truly believe that, you will burn your baggage and welcome exciting new luggage.


Dr. Gilda

Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle (Ph.D.) has a private practice and is an associate professor at Mercy College in New York. Her best-selling books include 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her at

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