Dear Dr. Bob,
I recently found that my fiance has been writing to several other women over the internet and I found the e-mails. They are all very suggestive and sexual and he talks to them about things that he and I have shared. He cannot understand why I am upset. I told him I have given him everything one woman can give a man, emotionally, sexually, spiritually, etc....and I don't know what else to do. I told him I didn't feel I was enough, and he SWEARS over and over again that I am enough woman for him, yet he has this need to write these woman and discuss all this. They have even sent him photos of themselves and he kept them until recently, so he says. He says he doesn't feel like it is cheating at all since there is no physical contact and this is all just e-mail bull. I consider it every-bit cheating, especially when he is telling a woman what he would do to her if he was with her.....which what is worse, is that it is all the same stuff he says to me when we are together physically. What are your thoughts?
Is this Internet Cheating?
If you think it's cheating, if you come close to thinking it's cheating, IT IS CHEATING. If you have a problem with his internet escapades, it is a problem - for you, for him and the relationship. You have every right to voice your concern, so, don't hold back.
Before we look at his escapades, I want you to "get this" so it sinks deeply into every cell of your womanhood: you are not defective! There is nothing wrong with you as a sexual being! There is nothing else for you to do - for him or to him! Actually, he sounds like a real lucky guy!
Please understand, the reality of life and intimacy is that sometimes it's hot and sometimes it's not, and mostly it's between. Would you settle for 10% hot, 10% not and 80% between? That's probably pretty close, especially as relationships grow and mature.
It sounds like he is fairly immature or is grabbed by an addiction. I don't think it's an addiction, since he appears not to hide his activities. There may be seeds for an addiction, but considering your age (I'm assuming 20's or so?) I would think his fantasies (played out on the 'net) rule and/or he's fairly clueless about the next step needed to develop a more mature relationship. (If you were in your late 30's, 40's or 50's I would see it differently.)
You can't compete with fantasies or addictions. Don't try. It won't work.
He is giving you a clue about his internet activities: they are meeting a "need." What kind of need is this? Does he need excitement, to feel in control, be wanted and wanted more, feel powerful, competent, adequate or are there other personal needs driving and living in these fantasies?
Personal needs are typically powerful and our "neediness" can guide our lives until we identify them and transform them. I have a program in my coaching resources that lists over 200 personal needs and step by step shows you how to get them met in constructive ways.
The good, open communication base in your relationship will enable you to talk about your personal needs. Pick apart his fantasies. What are the personal needs that weave through them? Are there patterns? What are they? Where do they fit with your personal needs? Are they different? Are there points of similarities?
Being able to talk at this level might take some time. It might feel strange and a little weird, but go for it. I think the two of you are ready. Eventually, as you explore your personal needs and mutually commit in very practical ways to meet some of those, your relationship will move to a deeper level of intimacy and the netcapades will fade into cyberspace.
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