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Husband looking for love on internet

December 2006

I just found out something which I find devastating to my happy marriage(or what I thought was one).

Unwittingly, while looking for a tile and stone website I had visited on the internet (we are remodeling) I went through our computer's file log. I found some disturbing things that have really shaken me to the core. My husband has been on scanlover.com, been on myspace web pages, asianbeautybook.com etc. This is all so ''out of the blue''. I'm sad and upset. We have a very good marriage, two kids, nice house, good income, good families, we are happy, I am pretty good looking/good b ody, great sex life etc. Why would my husband do this? Why would a man ''troll'' for cheap looking women (they looked pretty bad to me) on the internet?

What should I do? Confront him about his secret web searches? I just found out that I'm pregnant with our 3rd child. I all of a sudden feel trapped. Should I get an abortion? Should I threaten to leave him? Most of me is so sad, I cannot stop crying about it, the angry part of me wants to leave him, make him suffer etc. Has anyone encountered this situation? What did you do? very sad


So my response to you is basically the same as my response to the person who wrote about their husband's internet porn issue. I'll cut and paste what I wrote to her, but first, I just want to say that in my experience men who look for sex or porn or love on the internet are usually doing it for a much more deep-seated reason than their partner not being ''enough.'' There is an emptiness they are trying to fill, or a fear of intimacy, relationship dissatisfaction, childhood abuse or neglect issues being worked out, or an intense addiction to fantasy and difficulty dealing with reality (real relationships with real human beings are much more difficult than fake relationships with internet personalities or real women who are being paid to pay you attention!) It is also an escape from difficult feelings a person might be having. This may not be something you can fix. But you can certainly focus on taking good care of yourself in this and get some support. There is a 12-step program / support group for people who have been affected by another person's compulsive sexual behavior that you might find really helpful: http://www.cosa-recovery.org/

There is also a program for Sex & Love Addicts, partners of addicts also often find themselves in this meeting: Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous http://www.slaa-sfeb.org

There is also CODA, which can be helpful for ppl who are in relationships with addicts... and RCA (Recovering Couples Anonymous) which is a program you could go to together if you were both interested in working on this stuff.

I hope you can get some therapy, or go to a support group, before you make any huge decisions about leaving or having an abortion. Best of luck to you! Anon


While it may be as bad as you think it is, it also may not be. You need to talk to your husband openly. From what you wrote, it sounds like one possibility is that he was just browsing through those website out of curiosity. I have actually done that myself, out of boredom. Almost as a sort of curious joke about what is out there, having absolutely NO desire to know what is really out there or any desire whatsoever to act on it or speak to or contact anyone. Just literally bored and curious. Maybe that's all it was. You won't know for sure without confronting him, though. Good luck. Anon
My heart goes out to you. Your situation seems different--and more distressing, in a way--than the woman who found out her husband is looking at porn on the internet. It appears that your husband is at the very least fantasizing about another relationship, and possibly even actively pursuing one. This would be devastating to discover, especially when you just learned you are pregnant again. Particularly given your pregnancy, I think you need to talk as soon as possible with your husband about what you found. You don't say how old you both are, but a ''best case scenario'' might be that he is going through a mid-life crisis, feeling vaguely restless, and letting off steam through these online wanderings that he has no intention of acting upon. I'm sure you can conjure up the worst-case scenarios yourself. Either way, couples counseling may well be necessary to get all the issues out on the table, and to make sure that now is a good time to have a third child. I wish you all the best.
I'd say first assume the more benign ... that your husband is just looking for some sites to fantasize to, probably while pleasuring himself. This may or may not be anything at all. He may just be feeling like he needs a little more sex than he feels comfortable asking you for, particularly since you're pregnant and most likely tired, so he's taking care of it himself. It could be something more, but don't drive yourself crazy over something that may not be such a big deal Anonymous
I have recently found myself in the same situation. I searched the BPN archives and found similar topics covered in 2003 and 2005. I found explicit text messages on my husband's phone. When I confronted him, he admitted that he had actually created a profile of a fictional version of himself and put it on an internet dating website and has been ''flirting'' with women he met there on his cell phone using text messaging. He swears he has never spoken to these women and has only emailed and texted them. I took his phone away and he is changing his number. Our sex life has been not so great since our baby was born earlier this year, but I feel for you because I feel that it is completely cheating regardless if it is virtual or in-person because there is a level of time, energy, and intimacy that he put into this whole secretive thing that I would rather be spent on ME and our marriage, not directed outside of our marriage. I would definitely confront your husband and see what he says. If he says its harmless, tell him it isn't so, because you are extremely hurt by it! It may be that something is lacking in your relationship from his perspective, and perhaps counseling might be a good idea, if that kind of thing works for you. My advice, talk to him, see how he reacts (denial, fesses up and apologizes and says he'll never do it again, wants to talk about something he's missing, etc.) Does he know you are pregnant? I think it might be a communication breakdown in your relationship, and I personally think you can work through it and save your family, but only if both sides are willing to be honest and open about it and can face any underlying issues (sex addiction, etc.). But who knows, I am still trying to figure it all out myself! Can't wait to see other's responses anon
Whoa Whoa Whoa...just because someone looks on a site does not mean that they are looking for or having an affair. I have ofen checked the local single men in my area on yahoo singles(or whatever) for fun, it makes me realize how lucky I am to NOT be looking for anyone. I would be HORRIFIED if my husband looked up what I had been checking and thought I was looking for an affair!! And often there are links that just come up that your husband might have clicked on. Don't jump to conclusions. Ask him about it, it might be totally innocent...plus, there is nothing wrong with looking, it might be making him realize how lucky he is to have you! Stay calm!!
Your message brought back some old memories for me. I had to deal with a similar issue when I first moved in with my now- husband, and I get the feeling it's VERY common just not talked about much for good reasons. I know it's hard to imagine being accepting of this behavior on any level, but there are a bazillion married men out there (many of which would probably never have an affair) who enjoy looking at naked women. I don't think it's perverted at its core. Perfectly normal, actually. It's just that the naked women are often found on these terribly named, cheesy websites so it makes it seem more lewd. I think the nature of it being dangerous (''what if my wife catches me?!'') plays a part. Anyway, I had to come up with some ground rules that worked for both me and my husband. He stopped looking at porn when he thought it might break us up. Now we've been together for 10 years and we have a don't-ask-don't-tell policy. I don't really care if he does at this point because our relationship is solid otherwise. Hope it helps to know that you're far from alone in this Anon
I think porn is valued different by different people. I know my husband does it and I'm OK with it. I've also done it occasionally, and we've watched together in a few instances. I think getting a divorce over this may be too strong a response, especially if you already have two children and are expecting a third one. Maybe therapy will help you both see each other's perspective and work towards a middle ground that works for you? Anon
hi, have been in similar situation, our partnership is pretty sexless (i think defined as less than 10x's per year?) and he was looking at a lot of stuff on the internet.

i think you have to break the issues down a little bit. He lied and broke your trust - which feels like cheating. He has to own up to that.

the porn can serve as a distraction and drive those energies away from your relationship, i know some therapists don't like any porn because of that factor - the sexual energy should be driven toward each other.

i think your anger is very valid and he has to work for your trust. if he is unwilling to listen and understand your frustration and fears that he has conjured up by his behaviors than you have to decide if you can continue to live with this type of behavior.

my partner pretty much stopped looking, but i did have to make a humungous fuss a couple of times and it took a while for him to get it - he hadn't thought about it critically before and started to see my point of view and how it hurt our relationship...visually it is a stimulation they can become addicted and the danger is they tend to want ''more'' stimulation after time by looking at more aggressive or surprising situations/pics.

so things can change, but it can be a struggle good luck


How terrible for you! I unfortunately understand what you are going through.

I would give yourself some time to sort your feelings out. But print out or save the screen images somewhere - because if you do confront him you have to have evidence, they will deny deny or say it wasn't a big deal - you have to show them what the big deal is.

looking is not the same as doing, so don't jump to conclusions. if your marriage seemed happy, you could very well be happy. but perhaps he thought he was being harmless or wanted a cheap thrill (looking, not doing).

it is most important that he know how hurtful it was and that his actions were inappropriate. i think most men have a completely different world view then women about porn and even escort sites (closely related) on the internet.

there is no real way to be sure if your partner really called one of the girls or used their services, you will have to decide and use your instincts on that one. it could have been a road he was going down but never went ''all the way''. your kids and marriage can survive it if you both use it as an opportunity to communicate. however, i will warn you it may likely happen again and you will have to make a fuss again...it can take a toll and cause lots of distrust - and it can take years for you to feel confident again and lose the nagging doubts or concern. i think some men are eternal teenagers.

having kids, and the new pregnancy, perhaps there are issues he has about needing attention, sex or fears that his life will be totally consumed w/ kids that caused him to seek escape?

good luck to you, don't make any rash decisions, but make sure he knows how you feel guys are from Mars


First, I'm just a guy whose been there. It's interesting that you explain how you found out about your husband. Were you trying to justify to us how you found out? Anyway, I understand your shock about what you have discovered, but perhaps this is not as ominous as it might seem. I have searched the sights as have many of the men I know. Perhaps your husband is just curious. Even if he is more serious, I would hope that you can see this does not have to be the end. When I was looking, I hoped that I would find the convenient 'affair', but it does not exists on the internet, especially on the porn/date sites. You say that you believe that your marriage is a happy one. Are you sure? When my wife and I finally went for counceling, she was amazed that I felt that our relationship had been in the dumps for a long time (years!) I was equally amazed that she did not feel the same. We fought all the time, we were not haveing sex and often would sleep in seperate beds. Does this sound 'happy' to you? If your marriage is truely as 'good' as you describe, then I would find it hard to believe he is 'looking for love'. Even if your husband had succeded in his search, I presume you are still together. At this point I think you need to talk to him and find out why he is looking.

Whether you do this alone or with a counselor is up to you and how you believe both of you will be able to handle the situation. I would suggest with a counselor. Perhaps you can find a counselor to talk with for yourself and then bring your husband, that is what my wife did when she found out about my affair. Let me also say, in my defense(?)that all the time I was out 'looking' and even when I was having an affair, I still loved my wife and did not intend on leaving. Although counseling may seem to be a very difficult and painfull task, going through a divorce is far worse. It may be the easy way out, but it is NOT easier.

Of course I can not speak for why your ''husband was looking for love'', but unless you believe that the reason you married your husband has truely disappeared I think that you both deserve the opportunity to find out why your relationship has begun to stray and perhaps then you can put it back on track. Hopefully you will be able to rescue your marriage and your third child will not be an issue. I hope this gives you some hope.


Infatuated with a guy I met on my blog

Sept 2005

I am hoping someone can give me some sound advice.

I have been married for over a year to a man I truly love. He is younger than me by 8 years (I'm 41) and I feel that basically we have a really good friendship and marriage. Our sex life is excellent and he is a good man who I trust and respect. We don't have children yet, but we are trying and hope that will happene soon, one way or another (IVF, etc.)

There is something that has been bothering me more and more though: he seems to have a limited repertoire of conversational topics and he repeats them over and over and over again as we talk throughout the days, weeks, months together.

In light of all the horrible relationships that are out there, I almost feel bad for bringing this up. I tell myself I should be more patient and I make an effort to listen. I know he has needs that need to be met too, and I want to be there for him. But it just seems like its the same crap, over and over and over again. It changes from time to time as things change in his life, but basically it's always the same. It mostly centers around work and his experiences there. Other than that, its his views on the world which are unchanging and sometimes more conservative and close-minded than mine. Sometimes I can handle it, other times I just flat out say, 'you have to change the subject, I can't hear the same shit another time.' I worry that I am hurting him each time with such brutal honesty, but on the other hand I feel it's better than repressing my feelings.

He is an engineer and I know that they can have a certain mentality... I am a designer by profession, I also sing and have a lot of other creative interests. He appreciates those, but does not really have those qualitites himself. That has never bothered me until now.

I few months ago I started a blog, I think partly in response to this. I wanted a different kind of conversation. I don't have a lot of friends, I should probably mention. I really want more, I just find it hard to find kind and trustworthy people who have time to be there for you.

Here's where it gets tricky: a young man started leaving comments on my blog. I went to his blog and started reading. He is an aspiring poet and his poetry is beautiful. Moving and it touched something in my soul. I slowly became obsessed and even started flirting shamelessly with this young man. I think he picked up on it because his poems became more and more erotic. It got worse and worse, including me masturbating thing of him and his poetry.. you get the picture... and I even sent him an email at one point... he now has my contact info, etc. A big internet no-no, but I know now how stupid that was. Fortunately, he lives in Canada, so I don't think anything realistically ever will really happen... but I am feeling very, very guilty. I feel that I have damaged the sanctity of my beautiful marriage.

I never even wanted to hardly look at other men (aside from occasional lusting.) And suddenly this...? What the hell is going on with me? Has anyone ever been in a similar situation?

I want my beautiful marriage back. I do not want to have an affair. I love my husband. But how do I get him to really talk to me instead of repeating things over and over? Am I wrong to expect him to be able to fulfill my need for connection like that? I want to feel my soul is connected, not just my heart... if that makes sense to anyone.

Please send your thoughts - I will read every one. Thank you. anon


In my opinion, you definately need to get on birth control now and file for divorce as soon as possible, like today, BEFORE you have children. Your husband sounds like an awesome guy and deserves someone who doesn't cheat on him and has their life together. Internet chatting, blogs, emotional affairs or whatever is cheating and as bad or even worse than having a actual physical affair in a marriage. Ask anyone who has experienced the betrayal. There is no difference. Who cares if he's shy and not a conversationalist, not everyone is and peole deal with imperfections or others that don't possess the same qualities. You knew what he was like before you got married and I'm sure he hasn't changed too much. It would be selfish to stay in the marriage at this point. I feel really sorry for him and hope he finds someone whole and wonderful that he can share his life with and have lots of babies who appreciates him for the great guy he is. Please, please, please do not get pregnant and let him go! He's too young to deal with these complications you've dumped on him and I think if you had a son in a similar situation, you would agree. anon
Sometimes my partner goes on and on about work and it bugs me too, and sometimes I tell her, but all in all her wonderful and amazing and loving qualities outweigh her tendency to talk a lot about certain topics. I think it's all a matter of realizing our partners aren't perfect (and neither are we!) and judging for ourselves if the good outweighs the bad. As for the web romance, I know that whenever I've briefly found myself attracted to someone else (or a concept of someone else), it's because of something I have a lack of in my own life. If I'm attracted to someone who seems more literary than my partner, for example, well, maybe I should join a book club where I can share my love of books with others. I don't mean to say it's all simple and easy, but I do think this web romance is more about what's missign for you than anything else. I'll put in the perennial plug for counseling and sign off. I wish you well. anon
Hi - My first thought upon reading your post was that you've married my ex-husband. Seriously. I had to do the math on the age thing to figure out that it's impossible.

I, too, got really bored with his unchanging conversation. He, too, was an engineer. And I, too, got obssessed with someone else, also over the computer.

I can say this to you: if you keep corresponding with this other man, your husband will look more and more boring to you, and you will not become more interested in your marriage, and you will not regain your loving feelings toward him. If you are really serious about revitalizing your marriage and staying with your husband, you must cut off all contact with this other man.

It's very easy to fantasize that someone else is our ideal mate, particularly when we don't have to live with them. But there is no relationship where the man doesn't stink up the bathroom, leave hairs in the sink, tell you the same jokes, etc. It's just that your computer-based relationship is void of reality. It is not a certainty, or even a great likelihood, that you could forge a lasting relationship with this other person.

Your obssession with this other man will eventually wane, if you let it. You may be left with ''what if'' thoughts, but they will not be the first thing you think of when you wake, and consume you all day. You will feel so much better in a month. Just let it go and see. older and wiser (and staying away from the computer)


My husband does the same thing. I call it his 'top 10'. It drives me crazy too. And, I'd guess a lot of us don't always put our spouses in our fantasies. I have a rotating lineup.

But, with regard to the internet flirtation, that can be dangerous. I'd suggest stopping the blog and staying away from his, and blocking his email address from your email accounts. You can keep him in your fantasies, you've already idealized him.

And, what keeps me from getting too worked up by my husband's annoying habits is to talk to friends who have it worse. It helps keep things in perspective. Not always thinking about my spouse


This may be hard for you to hear but I invite you to try. What your husband offers up in conversation is not the issue. That it drives you crazy is clear evidence that you are extremely uncomfortable with how you are showing up in your relationship.

I understand what you mean when you say that you want to feel your soul connected. But from my experience, that is not something that comes from outside of ourselves. If you felt connected with yourself, you wouldn't feel a need to try to get it elsewhere. Look at what you wrote- ''how do I get him to really talk to me.....?'' But you are not really willing to talk to him. You are hiding from him!!!!!! You are not willing to expose yourself to him, so how do you expect him to be vulnerable with you. You can't even see what is really going on with him while you are keeping secrets. All you can see is your own discomfort which your mind then blames him for.

The titillation and fantasy that you are engaged in probably seems fun to you. But it is a major distraction and detour from what you say you are looking for. And it is all an illusion.

Ultimely, you can't have any control or much influence on how someone else shows up in relationship. All you can hope to influence is how you show up in relationship. So you need to start showing up the way you think you want him to show up. Expose yourself, reveal yourself, let him see all the hurt and wounded places inside yourself that you are afraid to show. This is what it means to be brutally honest- with yourself. And yes, this includes telling him the whole truth about your blog relationship in detail and that you justified doing it because you were making him wrong for how you thought he was showing up. But that you aren't going to make him wrong any more.

Once you really show up in relationship, I guarantee you that your husband will look different to you even if he doesn't change a thing. Might he look boring to you? Sure, but if you get serious about your connection with yourself and expose all the crap that is in the way, the level of intimacy in your relationshiop will go through the roof. And in the process you won't feel the need to get your needs met outside of yourself. Been there ------------------------------------------ Hey, sounds awfully familiar. I am an artist, my husband is an engineer. Now we are divorcing. We have a child and he suffers. We do not reach each other on an intellectual, communicative level. A must for erotics.

I completely understand your romantic fantasy with the poet. words have the same effect on me and it happened sth similar to me. Realize now, if your marriage is not giving you what you need, because later it will only feel worse. sitting in the same boat


I've been in a very similar situation and have a couple of thoughts for you. First, realize that you have done nothing wrong so far. Despite the current emotional turmoil, it's very likely that you'll be able to go back to having a normal relationship with your husband, and that after some time, the emotional intensity of the moment will subside. As you say, it's very unlikely that anything real will come out of the internet conversation, since the other guy is so far away. However, a more serious question is whether the current 'affair' is pointing to something that is missing from your relationship with your husband, specifically emotional support and spiritual connectedness. I think it's worth thinking hard about your emotional needs, and whether they are being met by your husband. While the current situation may pass, these issues are likely to come up again, especially if you have children. Second, your description of monologues and repeated topics of conversations reminds me of Asperger's Syndrome. It's possible your husband has a mild form of this. You may want to look it up on the web. One site you can start with is http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/(Pages)/Asperger_syndrome_and_adults?OpenDocument I would be happy to tell you more about my own experience with all of this. Please ask the moderator for my email address if you're interested.

Good luck figuring things out


Dear Friend,

Some people are better conversationalists than others. Some value conversation more than others. It sounds like you and your husband are woefully mismatched in this area.

You'll have to decide if you can live with this mismatch for the next, say, three or four decades. Sobering? It would be for me. I love conversation and would give up a lot of other relationship perks to get/keep that in my life.

If it's just a matter of him wanting to talk engineering, I'd go out of my way to learn some of the subject matter; but it sounds like what he wants to do is mostly complain. Look deeply and honestly to see if that's true, or whether it's just a subject-matter problem.

Also, this just in: people tend to get *more* conservative with age, not less, so don't expect him to become less ''unchanging and close-minded'' than he is.

Be wise about this blogging guy -- in fact, if I were you, I'd pull away from that situation immedately. But take it as a sign that, like it or not, you are looking for a way out of your marriage.

Good luck, A Conversationalist


I read your post and had a few thoughts to share:

1) It is inevitable in a long-term relationship that some conversations will repeat over and over. These range from the ''how was your day?'' exchange to the funny story you will hear a hundred times over the years. This is part of being with someone for the long haul. Sometimes it may be a bit boring, sometimes you may not really listen, and sometimes you may be able to listen attentively and hear something new that you missed before.

2) There have been times when I felt my husband was being boring and not giving me the stimulation I needed, but often I realized that I needed to turn the spotlight on myself. Was I trying to start interesting conversations, or was I waiting passively for him to entertain me? Was I talking with him from the heart about the things that were most important to me? Or was I down and flat and blaming him for being the same way?

3) Following up on the last point: you mention in passing that you are trying to start a family. Attempting to get pregnant and going through fertility treatments can be incredibly stressful on both partners (been there, done that). It seems highly likely to me that some of the stuff going on in your relationship right now is related to this difficult experience. Both men and women can have strong, though sometimes masked, responses when they discover it won't be easy for them to procreate. You might want to check out Resolve, an organization that deals with fertility and infertility issues.

4) Finally, I think the guy with the blog is pretty much a mirage--a place for you to project your feelings. You seem to genuinely love your husband and care about your marriage, so I assume your obsession with Mr. Blog is mainly a way of focusing some of the frustration you are feeling right now. It's important to remember that men who write wonderful poetry or novels or music that touches our souls are not necessarily nice guys in person--in fact they tend (if I can make a huge generalization) to be somewhat self-centered. It sounds like you want a healthy partnership with a man you can picture being a good father to your child. I would encourage you to focus your energy on your current relationship and put Mr. Blog aside. anon


Pardon my blunt honesty, but get over it! Dump the online flirting and get back to reality! Your husband is at home where you should be. If you want to seek attanetion from other men then get a divorce and go for it. Keep your issues out of your husband's feelings; I am sure he'd be torn up if he found out that you're masterbating to somebody you're also writing emails! You knew who you were marrying so don't use his conversational skills and ethical/political views as a crutch to seek attention elsewhere. This is not his fault at all. Get back to your marriage or get yourself a divorce. truthful
An engineer with a revolving (often political) monologue? How familiar! I've learned to shut it out and focus on what I do find interesting about him. I also call him on it (so when he complains about x political thing for the 100th time, I ask what ACTION he plans to take to change it). I also yearn for more (diverse) connection- the kind you write of. I had a good friend tell me ''don't try to get it all from one person.'' It's REALLY helpful to think about. Is it always bad, no? Having a baby helped us have a more common topic (not suggesting that, though- it comes with it's own problems).

Perhaps your young male interest (sans masturbation) is a good way to get your needs for other types of conversation met. But to avoid an affair beyond emotion- I don't know... you might need to cut him off and find a local poetry/ art group. People with common interests- a group that will keep you in a more comfortable, non one-on-one-tempting situation. Hey, we're animals- put the temptation there with the right need... it can be tough.

Remember we can't love everything about everyone in our lives. It sounds like you really do love your man. Focus on why. And see if he can find people with common interests who like his gig. Then he won't need to give it to you all the time. Can Relate


Unlike some of the responses you may receive, I do not think having ''crushes''or fantasies about someone other than your significant other are particularly wrong, or unusual, for that matter. Just because you gave some guy (in another country) your contact info. does not mean you were unfaithful to your husband. The real issue here, as your posting's title states, is the lack of what you feel is real communication within your relationship. This is a big problem. It sounds to me like you and your husband should try a bit of couples counseling. I know several engineers/scientific minded men, and a few truly do exhibit the poor communication skills you describe. However, I wouldn't just chalk up the inability to communicate with one's spouse to having a certain kind of left-brained intelligence. Have you ever felt satisfied with the manner and content of your husband's communication? You clearly want a soulful connection that includes the creative spontaneity involved in making art or music. As an artist myself, I know that the creative muse ebbs and flows.

Perhaps you're at a period in your life where singing and other art forms are more important to you than they once were. This would certainly explain your frustration with your husband's lack of artistic interest and participation.

Definitely try counseling, and try to find an activity or hobby that you both can genuinely enjoy and explore together. Cooking classes, dance lessons, hiking, anything that might generate some new dialogue and allow your relationship to grow. And...remember...there is nothing wrong with fantasizing. Most married folks do it, I'm sure. The issue here is not that you're interested in another man or in having an affair, but that you wish your husband had certian qualities that you're discovering are important to you. Wish I could help more


Husband's internet flirting

Feb 2005

Over 16 years of marriage, every few years my husband develops an intense relationship with other women. According to him these are not sexual relationships, but they do involve him spending a terrific amount of time and energy involved in verbal communication often with flirting element or tone that makes me feel uncomfortable when I enter the room. During the times of these relationships, I also notice that he becomes somewhat critical of me and implies I don't appreciate him enough. The most recent one involves an online relationship that started with a woman at a blog site. I had some suspicions from the time he was spending online and flak I was getting, but found out about it when I was shutting down the computer one day and he had left open a file of copied email correspondence. Although I shouldn't have checked his email, I realized he had sent her two valentines, and didn't even bother to give me one. I also found out that he has created a website where the two of them can receive secure email. We argued about it, and he basically feels that we each have the right to have friends outside of the marriage. I agree that that is true, but feel that a friendship with this degree of a secretive nature and dedication is what I consider an emotional affair. I have gone to therapy myself in the past during one of these ''emotional affairs'' as he was unwilling to go. Am I being unreasonable? Any suggestions for therapists if I could get him to go? Feeling like I keep seeing a cycle


This emotional flirting is really trying and I have been on both sides. I feel it is symptomatic of problems in the relationship. The person feels dissatisfied and searches outside the home for something more satisfying without severing the current relationship. It is very destructive and time consuming. I confront my partner when I see him flirting with blonde, much younger, attractive women. He always hotly denies doing it, says I am seeing things, etc. but then stops doing it for awhile. I was flirting with guys on the internet and I don't think he knew about it, but I was spending more and more time on line. Finally he gave me a lecture about what constituted flirting, cheating, etc. and that if he ever caught me doing it, our relationship would be over immediately. I immediately cut off all! contact with my on line buddies. If your husband thinks you are serious and values your relationship, he will stop his activities as well. If he doesn't stop, can you live with it or do you need to make a change? been there, done that
I really feel for you. Long, long ago, I was one of these ''other women'' (emotional only) to a married man. It was clear that he dealt with his own commitment issues by having two relationships at once, and thus did not feel ''trapped.'' Since then I've been able to see that his feelings for me were rather artificial--before me he had fallen in love with a lesbian. In other words, he always chose women who would not ultimately ''give in,'' thus playing it safe. When I married, my husband made it clear that he would not tolerate my having these sorts of male friendships. While it would be easy for me to say that he's jealous, etc, the truth of ! the matter is that, when we encounter problems, we are forced to deal with them, rather than escaping to intimacy with someone else. I now see the wisdom of this arrangement. I do have some good male friends, but there are clear boundaries on the relationships. I no longer confide in my best male friend from college when it comes to my relationship with my husband, and we talk much less frequently. On one level it's sad, but on another, it's the best thing for my marriage. I don't know what to tell you vis-a- vis your husband, especially since I think men in these situations most often refuse to admit it's a problem. One friend I know started doing exactly what her husband did. In her case, it worked, but it's a risky business. On the other hand, it seems like drastic measures are in order. Basically, though, all I can offer is confirmation that your husband IS indeed cheating on some level, and that you're right ! to feel upset and hurt about it. good luck. anon
This is a very vexing problem. I had several experiences of this type with my first husband (from whom I have been divorced for more than 30 years now). The most difficult part for me was that it seemed ''innocuous,'' yet made me feel terrible. So, if this is true for you, let me be among those who tell you that your reaction is ''spot on,'' that it is an ''emotional affair,'' and that his secretive behaviors do demonstrate that even he realizes he is doing something ''outside the boundaries.'' Interestingly, what I finally figured out with my ex was that he had a ''two woman'' syndrome. He had, in fact, been raised by two women (a full time maid, and his mother). He loved them both, felt a desire to have two women, and tended to pit one of them against the other (in order to keep them apart! ). Even after we were separated, he presented a woman he was dating to me in such a way that I soon grew resentful of her. That's when I realized the ''two women'' nature of his interactions and reasoned he was trying to keep us apart, which he did by telling us each things about the other that made us feel uncomfortable and/or upset with the other. My solution: I called the other woman on the telephone, and let her know what I had discovered. I told her I wasn't happy that my husband and I were apart, but she had a right to be with him if I wasn't. I told her I wasn't angry at her when her relationship with my estranged hubby started and that any bad feelings we had toward one another were unnecessary. In invited her to get in contact with me ''at will'' and let her know I was not angry or estranged from her. Boy, was that ''spot on!'' My ex had dumped her within two weeks ! of learning that she and I had talked (he was mad at me, too, but I was okay with that). It is purely immature behavior. Your husband is not willing to take responsibility, fully, for what he wants. He keeps two women, one a fantasy woman and the other a real woman (one to be romantic about, one to snap at and treat not as well). Check out your situation to see if your husband grew up with two women, and needs to keep two in his life now. My best. Ilene
My guess is that your husband is cheating on you emotionally, if not physically. It's a vicarious affair. I don't know if the following situation is like yours but I hope this advice is helpful:

There's a particular kind of man who doesn't know how to get out of a relationship so he just doesn't bother to end things. Instead, he makes life unbearable for his partner by ignoring or criticising her so that she is the one forced to leave. He may even strenuously deny that he wants out. I've seen women go totally neurotic because the guy keeps saying ''it's all in your head'' when it's right in front of her face. Some people stay in this kind of relationship for years before one of them finally ends it. It often ends with the man leaving after getting involved with someone new. A coworker of mine told me that he would have left his wife years before but he was waiting for their kids to graduate from high school - then he dumped her flat. He felt like he had done the right thing by waiting.

I think that instead of asking yourself if your husband is having an affair, you should ask yourself if your husband is trying to find a way out of the marriage. For many women the financial and emotional implications of divorce after years of marriage are so staggeringly frightening that they don't even contemplate the possibility until it's too late for them to plan for their own future.

I truly hope that you can get him into counseling and that things will work out for you both. On the otherhand, don't wait to be traded in for a newer model. You need to find out where he stands so that you can either work with him to fix the marriage or start preparing yourself for life without him. Good luck anon


What an interesting dilemma: Having affairs without technically having them! My son's father was prone to the same behavior. Every once in a while, he would ''befriend'' a woman who would become his constant companion until it petered out. I will tell you that one of these occured while I was pregnant, and his female ''friend'' got very nasty, and even once showed up at my door with a tale about buying a video camera from my husband. A few months later, when I was very pregnant, she started calling me and threatening both my life, and my baby's life (too bad for her that I'm a formidable opponent, and she quickly disappeared). It was all very odd, given that he swore up and down that they were just friends (and he did spend the night at home, so I didn't really suspect anything).

Here's my point: Your husband is having affairs. He may not be consummating them, but he is definitely having charged relationships with other women. You don't know what these women are like, nor how emotionally attached they may get to your husband, and you don't know whether you will become inadverantly involved, either by your own emotional reaction, or like, the target of an irate woman who's love isn't being requited quite as she would like.

It's not fair in any way, shape or form for him to shove this back on you as if he's doing nothing wrong. He's being secretive, your gut is telling you there's something not quite right about these ''friendships'' and yet he's calling on you to question what your instincts are telling you. He's probably rationalizaed his actions by NOT having sex, if that is true. And it may well not be. Of course you'd like to think that these intermittent attachments are harmless and aren't affecting your marriage, but they are. You know this, and have sought therapy for it. The problem, however, is him, not you, and he is the one who needs to figure out what the hell he is doing -- to you, to these other women, and why he feels the need to do this. You may want to get him into couples counseling, though I've never had any luck getting a guilty male to do such a thing. Ultimately, I left my husband becuase of this behavior. I wasn't jealous, but it just didn't feel right. I hope you find a solution that suits you, rather than allowing this manipulative husband of yours to force you to accept uncomfortable situations that are compromising you and your relationship with him. Good luck. heather


After reading your post I had to write in. You are not being unreasonable. I don't have a specific therapist to share but I just want to make sure you understand that what your husband is asking is not ok. If my husband wanted to have a relationship with a woman that I did not know and he spent a lot of time with this woman, whether in person or thru email I would be furious and incredibly hurt. I think your husband is engaging in an affair whether it's sexual or not. What he is doing is not having friends outside the marriage - he's have an emotional relationship that I think constitutes him cheating on you. If he refuses to go to therapy I would look at whether you can stay with him if he continues to have these affairs. I wish yo! u all the best - I know this must be so difficult. anon
It sounds to me like you're being used. Sex or no sex, he's cheating you of the love that you deserve, and he's using you to fall back on when the companions he deems worthy of his love grow tired of him (or when he grows tired of them). I can't imagine how your self-esteem could stay healthy in this situation. Must you stay in a marriage with a serial cheater? I think you deserve a man who can give his love to you. You Deserve Love
That sounds awful. Get counseling. Good luck. anon

Husband is using the internet to meet women

August 2003

I just discovered--for the second time in two months--that my husband has been using the internet to meet other women. Previous to this, at least to my knowledge, he was visiting internet porn sites, so even if I was not okay with this, I figured that he was basically doing this for some fantasy outlet. However, these two recent discoveries involve an ongoing email conversation with an ''old friend'', and to some matchmaking site--my guess from his responses from this site is that he was seeking in his preferences a woman in my same age range (I am ten years younger than my husband), of my same ethnicity, and in the local Bay Area. Ouch!

I haven't seen any emails my husband has written to this ''friend,'' only an email she wrote back, which was quite flirtatious (''thinking a lot about you'', and ''you're good looking'', etc.) so I don't know the extent of their relationship and although I know they see each other in casual situations (the gym) I don't know if they had made an effort to see each other in a ''date'' situation. By the way, my husband said he deliberately left one of her emails to him open on his computer screen so I would discover it.

I would have let this email incident go, since he assured me that it was a misunderstanding on her side (although, I pointed out to him, he did nothing to discourage it, or tell her that he had a wife and two little kids), except that then I discovered this internet match site thing. When I asked him about that, he told me that it was unsolicited spam, based on some preference card he filled out a long time ago just for fun. Well, yesterday I found out that the internet site had made a charge to his personal credit card less than a month ago, so his activity on this site has been relatively recent!

My question is, is this sort of activity part of a ''normal'' fantasy life for a married man, or is this a pattern of behavior that I should be concerned about? Right now I'm pretty mad that he's lied to me about this, but I'm not sure if this will be the deal-breaker to our marriage. I'm going to seek counseling if he won't (I've suggested it to him in the past but he was reluctant to go, rather saying that we should solve our own problems). Thanks for listening. Anon


this is NOT normal. your husband is playing games. confront and deal. the sooner the better. also anon
Is this behavior normal for a married man?

Um, no. At least, it's not normal for a married man who's being faithful to his wife.

He should not be lying to you or sneaking around. If he can't stop, it's reasonable for you to evaluate whether your relationship is going to work. Now, by ''lying,'' I don't mean, he looks sheepish when you find his porn on the computer (*everyone* looks sheepish when that happens.) I mean you consistently catch him doing things he's agreed not to do.

My husband had a real problem with lying to me for the first three years of our marriage -- I finally put my foot down and said he could either clean up his act or I was out of there, but I wasn't going to be lied to any more. To his credit, he straightened himself out, and we now have a really good relationship. It is possible. But you really have to be convinced in your own heart that you don't deserve his dishonesty any more before you can tell him to knock it off for good.

Good luck, and be strong -- you'll need it for yourself and your kids. Been There


Ouch! How painful! I've seen this a lot, and unfortunately, learned the hard way myself. Your husband is cheating and lying to you about it. Either literal and/or emotional infidelity. A lot of women talk themselves out of the severity of it, or deny it altogether, or just endlessly argue. As a result, the spouse assumes there's little or no consequence for his behavior and he can continue. Only when women face it squarely on, calling a spade a spade, and appropriately assigning a significant and impactful consequence, does it have any chance of stopping. Without that, we're condoning and teaching men and/or our partners to be disrespectful toward us, our relationship, and even toward our children. Anon
I'll bet you're going to get a lot of advice on this one! Since I'm sure there is more involved than what you could put in your post, my first advice would be to go to that counsellor to get their perspective. That said, I'd be more than a little upset about your situation! If he can't demonstrate, in no certain terms, that this is an innocent situation (staying OFF the internet.. introducing you to the woman at the gym), I'd really consider thinking about getting serious - separation, couselling, etc. Really tough situation.. good luck! anon
Both of you need to go to marriage counseling NOW. good luck
Be forewarned: my opinions about this are very strong. Your post seems very calm about all of this. I have been dealing with a similar situation for the past three years. I am not married, but we lived together. He was writing other women. He slept with one that I know of. I finally moved out.

I was, and am, very hurt and angry. This has been happening in varying degrees for three years, and I am not confident that it will stop. He is now finally willing to go to counseling, but I don't know that it will be worth it for us.

If I were you, I would try to get him into counseling so that he can hear a third party relate to him how offensive and disrespectful this is to you and to your children. This is ABSOLUTELY unacceptable behavior. I can't tell you what to do, but I've found that men who cheat and lie about it DON'T STOP. Ever. I know that people cheat on each other, and that cheating is a sign of other couple problems, and that some people stop. From what I see, the people who stop cheating fess up when they get caught. Men who deny, deny, deny, then try to make you feel like YOU misunderstood and that EVERYTHING is innocent on his behalf, and that THE OTHER WOMEN misunderstood his innocent phrases are, in my opinion, the ones who will never reform on their own without third-party interaction. They need to hear from other people that they are wrong, and they need to believe they are wrong before they change. It sounds to me like your husband doesn't think he's doing anything wrong.

I chose the man I've been with because I was convinced he'd never do this, but I was wrong. I'm now trying to resolve why I choose men who cheat. I'm looking for a therapist now. Your husband will not change until he understands why he needs so much female attention and he deals with it. It sounds to me like it has nothing to do with you, but I think he will continue to lie to you, like my man did/does, because he is too selfish to understand how damaging this behavior can be to his family.

EVERY SINGLE TIME I've discovered that he's done this, I IMMEDIATELY wrote the other women to tell them he was involved with me and that we have a child, and I cc'd every email to him. I've NEVER been cruel to the women because they were always lied to about our situation (he always said we were broken up and he was single, which was not true). They generally have written me back to tell me what he said, and have advised me to drop him because they believe he's scum. They call him and curse him out or write him to leave them alone and THEY tell him he's a bastard. I believe that these women have helped him understand how damaging his behavior is. He no longer says I'm crazy, and he acknowledges that HE has a problem. He wanted what was happening to be a big secret adn told me, like your husband, that our problems should be solved by us ONLY, but I FORWARDED HIS MESSAGES TO HIS PARENTS and to ALL of his female friends. I was not going to sit and be dignified and just take it. Until I started confronting him and the other women, he always believed he was doing NOTHING wrong. I don't care what people think of me about being indiscreet. He fucked up, and everybody finding out was the consequence. He now has no confidants to run to who view me as the evil girlfriend. He was demonizing me to his friends so that he could justify his behavior, and now they at least ACT like they respect me. They now know I'm a real person, not someone evil woman who is ruining his life, which is a great way to get sympathy from people to justify your hitting on other women. This worked for me, but you do what you feel comfortable with.

Your problem won't go away. If he REALLY loves you, he will go to counseling to save your marraige. If he doesn't go to counseling, you can stay and accept that he's this way, or you can leave him if you can't take it. I couldn't accept it, so I left. He's still trying to get me back, but I'm trying to figure out if it is worth it to me to go through couseling to save us. Good luck. I feel for you. Anonymous


Everyone else will no doubt tell you this too: Your husband is not fantasizing but actively seeking (and perhaps seeing) other women and lying to you about it on a continuing basis. Whatever ''normal'' is -- cheating and lying make intimacy with you impossible. Unless he undertakes a serious, honest and life encompassing effort to change, these behaviors are all but certain to continue. You can't make him change, but you can focus on yourself and how you are going to take care of yourself now that this awful truth is out. It sounds like you're in a bit of denial, and who can blame you? Posting your problem and reading responses is a great first step. Good luck. anon
Well, in short - No, I don't think this is normal behavior and even if one were to say it's ''normal'' - it really depends on how YOU feel about it, right? The fact that his credit card has had recent activity means that he is actively participating, not that someone solicited him or SPAM.

He may be acting out fantasies or acting on frustrations he's had. It obviously seems as if you two need to have a heart to heart. Anyway, straying from a relationship is not usually what breaks up the relationship - usually, it's the things that lead up to straying that breaks it up. So, I'd address those issues. Good luck! anon


It seems like it's time for counceling for you and your husband. What he's doing, of course, is not ''normal'' in the sense of being OK. It may be normal in the sense that he seems to be unhappy (or more likely unfulfilled) in your current relationship and is fishing for something outside (attention, praise, excitement, etc.) He probably thinks that as long as he doesn't have sexual relations with another woman what he's doing is OK, and doesn't realize that he is putting your relationship, his family and everything he holds dear in jeopardy.

I don't really have much advise for you. I went through something similar with my husband - and even though we went to counceling, he just wasn't ready to accept that the world did not revolve around him and his needs until it was too late. Maybe a better councelor would have helped. anon


Marriages are ideally supposed to built on trust and your husband is not being honest with you about his 'internet night life.' Your concerns are valid, and you are wise to get some counseling. By going to the Match-making site it seems that he's taken the next step from porn surfer which most men probably do, to active seeker? good luck anon
You ask if your husband's behavior is normal for a married man... I can't speak for all marriages, but can give you an example of one for comparison. I know that my husband checks out the porn websites from time to time. The way I see it, it's the modern version of Playboy, Penthouse, etc and I don't mind. BUT, I would have a VERY big problem if he were contacting women over the internet! That comes very close to cheating in my book. Anon
i think this whole new world of internet relationships is just such a bad bag of worms! my sister's fiance was having a cyber sex relationship which she found out about and they almost broke up too. i think the lame part is that because it is a new territory the rules are not as defined as definitely wrong or definitely cheating so some people are doing things hoping it's not wrong.

anyhow, my feeling is that if your partner/husband is doing something that violates your sense of security in the relationship than it is wrong. if he ''wanted'' to get caught he is throwing out a big blazing red flag - cry for help of some sort or is not brave enough to confront how he really feels with your relationship. i know a LOT of people who would rather get caught cheating to break up than are brave enough to break up or deal with real relationship conflict - for some reason it is easier. i'm not saying he wants to break up but maybe doesn't know how to address the problems or express what he wants effectively and is being selfish and immature.

because you have a family i think it makes confronting things like this so much more volatile - but don't let that be an excuse to let things go too easily as well! i wish you lots of luck in dealing with this! at the least i would express that this definitely is not ok with you and what boundaries you are comfortable with. oy vay


I think you are amazingly calm and that you have handled things in a very trusting, non-accusatorily way. He on the other hand, does not seem to have reciprocated with honesty. If he lied about the site being free or spam mail, it is very hard to believe anything else. I encourage your instincts to get counseling. It is very hard to handle the feelings of disappointment, frustration and betrayal that arise from catching your spouse in dishonesty. Firming up your own foundation, knowing what you can and cannot do in support of your marriage will add to your confidence and resolution no matter how things work out. I wish you the best. sympathetic
Yes, you should be very concerned. No, it probably won't be a deal breaker to your marriage if you guys can move through this period. Your situation sounds almost exactly like one my husband and I went through about two years into our marriage. He was looking at match services (though not writing to any of the women) and writing to an ex-girlfriend (who thankfully was a few states away) in a bit more than flirtatious matter...okay, it was pretty graphic. I found the e-mails and leveled with him. I told him that if he wanted to leave (mind you there was plenty of sobbing on my part) then I would let him go...yadda.yadda. In the end, we spent a week having the most frank conversations of our relationship -- found out what each wasn't giving the other. The result of this episode is that we are now great communicators and more in love than ever before (just had a baby).

I have always believed that infidelity, in most cases, is the result of things that both people in the formerly monogomous relationship did (does that make sense). I guess that I am saying that if my husband cheats, it isn't all him -- it is actually us. He isn't 'that sort' to cheat so things must be pretty bad with us for him to do it. I am not saying that it is the right thing for him to do or justified, but I won't be able to say that I would be perfectly blameless. At that point, we would have to figure out whether or not the relationship is worth saving.

I don't think that your husband is there yet, just as mine wasn't. But, he could be headed down that path. You two need to have a 'come to Jesus' to figure out what your problems are and figure out what you need to do to solve it. And realize that going to therapy is not for everyone. But, if you guys really want to figure out what is going on, then you can without bringing in a third party. Good luck. anon


It sounds as though you don't trust your husband, and your husband is pretty busy giving you more and more reason not to trust him. I think getting counseling on your own is a terrific idea but it would be better if you went as a couple. You can point out to your husband that he is making it pretty difficult to sort out your problems on your own- that would call for a little more honesty and self-discipline on his part. Sure, men like pornography- look how rich the porn publishers are! Guess who spends the $$$ to look at it! That isnt the real issue. The real issue is that he is going beyond looking at tittillating iimages, and damaging his marriage with lies and flirtations. Now, for all I know, he may legitimately feel his needs are not being met in your marriage- two little kids can do a lot to sap the romance out of an evening- but the only way out of that one is honest communication and the willlingness to try to change things, not some half-assed pathetic passive aggressive attempt at communication like leaving a provocative internet message open so you are sure to see it and get upset!! Counseling takes time and isn't very fun, but it is cheaper than divorce and child support payments. anon
It doesn't sound like this is a harmless situation to me at all. If your husband is lying to you about what he is doing on-line and in-person then there is a problem. I must confess that I may be biased, your message rang a chord in me beacuse just two years ago I found suspicious websites on our computer and after searching the saved files discoverd that my husband had for years been frequenting some increasingly graphic porn sites. In horror I confronted him and he admitted to the problem and decided to change. (I was pretty clear that he had run out of second chances since this wasn't the first big lie that had come between us.) After some searching of the net we found sexaholics annonymous (I am not sure of the exact name) and then he entered therapy. We actually found a great therapist Dr. Charles King who has his office on the corner of Ashby and Shattuck. He specializes in men with sex addictions. My husband's therapy has been very successful and has led to some big changes in our relationship including better, more honest, communication. If you want to read up on sex addiction the best book I have read is by an author named Phillip Carnes (I think that is all spelled correctly.) Some of the books on this subject are not good because they are very moralistic and preachy, but his books are very good. There is hope... if he is willing to work for change. BTDT
your husband is not only being dishonest with you, but with himself. no, this is not normal behavior in a marriage. it is very difficult to deal with a problem when one of the parties can't even admit that what they are doing is wrong. i think you should insist on counseling to work it out one way or the other. it all will depend on what you are willing to accept or not accept in you marriage unless he realizes that what he is doing is hurting you and your marriage and makes a change. jill
Your husband is indulging in lying, addiction (yes, one can be addicted to the whole endeavor of flirting with and finding people on the Internet), and seems to have a problem with real intimacy. If that were not enough, your husband may or may not be committing adultery. (And what of other lies that you haven't unconvered?!)

Do you want to be married to this person whom you have painted as not being anywhere near accountability and/or contrition (or healing) regarding his behavior? It doesn't really matter what other woman would do in your situation; it matters what you would do, and, of course, you need to consider the needs of your children; on one hand having a liar (and possible adulterer) living in their midst. On the other hand, living without their parents together on a daily basis may be more problematic.

I wish you luck; the situation is both frighten Better cynical than fooled


From experience, I broke up with a man who I was dating for a long time when he repeatedly (2 or 3 times)said he'd stop this activity and didn't. It was the best thing I ever did. If there are no children, I'd leave a husband for this in no time flat! anon
Iím single, and have done some dating through personal ads. A man answered an ad of mine and we decided to meet. He told me he was separated from his wife with a divorce pending, no chance of reconciliation. In our correspondence he told me about some of his past dating experience. I was just looking for some fun sexy dating, not a long-term relationship, and his tales, some of them pretty racy, didnít shock me.

When we met, we wound up sitting in his car talking and I began to figure out that in fact he was still married and not even separated. He told me more about his personal ad experiences, many of which were during his marriage, and some of them were really out there- real acting out fantasy, semi-dangerous stuff. He blamed his wifeís lack of interest in sex!

He was by appearance your average, mild-mannered, upper-middle class, professionally employed guy, and no one knew he had this shadow side. His wife had once found some porn he had downloaded in the trash, and one time asked him about a charge on the credit card to one of those personals phone lines- he brushed both off with some excuse that he thought she had bought. He was eager to talk and confide in me, and I saw just what a sick puppy he was, and seriously jeopardizing his marriage (2 young kids). He was in complete denial about the seriousness of his actions and delusions.

I let him have it regarding his behaviour and told him to call Sex Addicts Anonymous and start going to meetings. His kind of behaviour is an addiction, and the kind of isolation and denial he was in with it is typical of addiction. I followed up with one email giving him the phone number to call for SAA, and pointing out again that he was really in trouble and needed help, and told him that I was not interested in being his further confidante. He wrote back, thanked me, and said that he had gotten the SAA meeting schedule.

I hope I made a dent in his denial and think that this guy was lucky to meet me. There is a huge gap between looking at porn, and telling women that youíre single and available to date and lying to your partner. My experience demonstrates that some ordinary people cheat do on their mate and that they often drop clues, maybe unconsciously.

Donít ignore the evidence, trust your intuition, and take good care of yourself!
Not a Home-Wrecker


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