Boyfriend having sex with men and women, says it's to re-live childhood trauma

blinded

Registrant
I am new to all of this. Met an amazing man 5 months ago, have fallen madly in love with him but he's an alcoholic and fighting childhood trauma that's the source of his drinking. He was repeatedly raped between ages of 8-12 by multiple people, men and women.
He was dry/sober the first 3 months of our relationship, then started drinking end of October.

5 weeks ago he came over, fell asleep on my couch for 3 hours. I was reading an al-anon blog about her husband drinking and hooking up with X-s, so I started wondering if my BF was doing the same. I went to hang up his jacket and his phone was on bench. He has a password and face id, but when I picked it up...as fate would have it, it was not locked even though it had been sitting idle for a few hours.

I did what I have NEVER done in any relationship in my life, I looked through his text messages. I found a string of messages from a couple he hooked up with the week prior. It was a couple he’s hooked up with in the past, from what I read they hadn’t hooked up in almost a year. Text exchanges had explicit details planning the encounter, what they would all do to each other and photos/videos from past encounters. So not only did I find out he cheated on me, but he did with a man and woman.

When he woke up, I confronted him, he said it's his illness...part of his childhood trauma that led him to being an alcoholic, to numb his 24/7 pain. He's in therapy for his trauma and swears his "sexual urges" don't mean anything, just sex, his need to re-live his rape trauma. He says he’s not gay or bi, that he doesn’t desire anyone but me…but it’s impossible for me to wrap my head around it and details of everything they did to each other. He texted the couple the next morning about how "spectacular it was" along with details of what he loved.

He wasn’t drunk when he was with them, so how can he claim that he doesn’t desire others when he clearly chose to be with them...and enjoyed it the way he did? I’m no prude, we had a mind blowing sexual relationship, open to anything. Ironically it was the safest sexual relationship I had ever felt in my life, and he was the first man ever to cheat on me.

He went through days of self-loathing and says he’s ready to face his demons with his trauma therapist…something he’s never done b/c it’s too painful.

I haven't slept in weeks, I feel disgusted and ashamed that I ever believed his love for me. I’m trying to educate myself to understand his alcohol addiction and trauma, but for him to ask me for unconditional love that includes infidelity...that I can't tolerate, I don’t trust him anymore.

He's fighting tooth and nail for me, says he's been sober and taking all the steps to stay sober. I want to believe him, but think it's just a vicious cycle? I'm too ashamed to tell any of my girlfriends b/c they would tell me to run...which my brain is also telling me but my heart still loves him immensely.

What should I believe??? How can he say he doesn't desire anyone, especially men, when he enjoyed it so much and was planning another evening with them the following week?

Grateful for anyone’s insight, guidance.
 
Boy, this is painful to read but this is a familiar story to both the men and women who visit this website. My sexual acting out would be in abeyance when I was courting a woman. I could be don Juan, attentive, charming, sexually engaged... but in reality, I was terrified of intimacy and eventually needed to get away. Alcohol, food, pornography, some form of sexual acting out were my solutions. It seems your friend has his own recipe for running away from intimacy... alcohol and promiscuity. I was too frightened to be randomly sexual with another person, whether a woman or a man.

Your friend is trying hard to be a good little boy right now... working hard to be sober. He doesn't want to be carrying the residue of trauma any more than any of the men on this website... but that doesn't mean it is easily erased. I've spent hours yesterday and this morning talking with my former wife about how important it has been for her to set firm boundaries in our relationship simply because she can't got through another cycle of feeling betrayed because triggers laid down by trauma lead me to some form of running away. You can COUNT on the fact that if you continue your relationship with this man there will be more of what you've uncovered in the future... this is the nature of trauma. You'll likely hear from some of the women who visit this forum and who have remained in relationship with men facing trauma. It is possible to do that, but it is extremely hard work for both partners. This is like the Mission Impossible opening when the agent is asked if he wants to accept the mission. You have to answer that for yourself. If you say yes, you'll be called upon to dig deep in yourself to create boundaries that will keep you from being swept away by his trauma. My former wife insisted this morning that I acknowledge how MY trauma has flowed into her life through our relationship. Of course, it did. I've been overwhelmed by shame and done disturbing things to survive. If all affected her. If you stay you'll be carrying his trauma as well.
 

blinded

Registrant
Thank you for your honest insight. Not understanding what type of boundaries you are recommending? He already insisted on me having his phone and email password. Which I appreciate but anyone can work around that...that alone won't build my trust.
As naive as this may sound, I believe hm when he says it's "just sex"...but that doesn't make my pain more tolerable, or fear of getting an STD. My biggest fear is it re-occurring...and that he actually desires others. I can understand desiring men bc it's something I can't give him, but not other women. When I told him that, he insisted he's not bi, so I stopped asking.
Thank you again, especially if you can clarify or give samples of boundaries
PS-Love your quotes, especially Rilke one
 
I gotta agree with Visitor. I did not act out physically, but through porn and cyber. I don't do cyber anymore and hardly ever porn. But I think that has more to do with finding this place and have someone to talk to when I need it. Anxiety pushes my buttons and being able to release it here helps me. For instance, I just went through a trienial peer review that, if failed, I would be out of business. Talking to the guys in chat helped me cope. Does he have, or is he ready to have, places to go to talk it out or write out some of his issues. I know it is not for a lot of guys, but it helps me to overcome stuff before I jump into something that is not good for me or my wife. Good luck.
 

My_Mayberry

Registrant
Oh my. I was in a similar boat with someone. It was heartbreaking. He gave me access to everything, and I truly do believe he loved me and wanted to be together. However, a few months later, I found that he'd somehow installed an app that was invisible and was accessing a sexual encounter site again. We broke up for good after that.

I had little understanding of trauma at the time. I couldn't understand how ANYONE could put another human through that pain... ... ... until I did it a year and a half ago with a person I loved very much. In the only instance where I was the one who cheated, I can say unequivocally that I was incredibly attracted to the person I was in a relationship with, and I also really did love him. I understand better why I did what I did now, and I think only after the fact was I able to see what I could have done better to communicate with him before things got to where they got.

I can't tell you what to do because as someone who has struggled with all the addictions (sex included), I understand how a person can love someone very much and still be doing these types of things. Also, I've been in your position and felt what it was like to have a partner doing it, and it just wasn't okay for me to remain in that position. Everyone navigates it differently. The best thing I can say is that he may very well mean it when he says he cares about you and wants to make things right. Still, whether that means the relationship can be sustainable and life-giving for both of you is a different question entirely.

I don't know that it's my place to say this, but I'd avoid shaming him if you can. That's something I wish I'd done differently when I broke up with my partner who couldn't stop cheating on me. I understand why I reacted the way I did, but with what I know now, I'm certain shaming them didn't do anything helpful. I'm pretty sure they already felt plenty of shame and guilty anyway.

Wishing you the best,
 

KMCINVA

Registrant
Blinded

I am sorry for your pain. Visitor has eloquently said it well. He is trying to be the good boy he was before the abuse. The abuse forced him to bury a part of himself. Survivors cope in so many different ways, and sadly few of the coping mechanisms are healthy and rather self destructive. I suffered a life of dissociation, fugues and will never what happened during those periods of disconnecting from myself. Memories lost, time lost. You are working to understand and that is what your survivor needs. It takes time and as important the survivor needs to work on healing. The healing is not immediate and the survivor needs to accept the abuse as reality, needs to accept it was not his fault, needs to accept he is not damaged and needs to accept most, and I have to say most, people will be there for a survivor. A survivor needs to escape from people who denies the survivor's abuse, continues to trigger the survivor because they are toxic to a survivors healing. The people need to understand they first stepped away and I struggled to say good bye. I did it and one day after years of reaching out. It is now in their court to reach out. I still believe in them and their capacity to achieve to be who they will be and should be.

I found the right people with love and compassion. I no longer dissociate and know when I am being pushed to leave the present, I feel whole connecting the child with me--the child I long denied. I know my triggers and steer clear of those that triggered and denied their actions were triggers. I have come to terms with me, and I love myself. It was not always this way--I hated a part of me and it was the child within.

I admire your courage and desire to be there. Be the ear, do not judge and at the same time take care of yourself. Also his acting out may not be his sexual identity and rather a way to take control of the abuse he lived as a child. A child sexually abused can lose their ability to understand their sexuality. An imprint is left in their mind from the abuse because how their body reacted, believing they enjoyed the act vs realizing it is a natural physical respond.

Kevin
 
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Hi Blinded

Welcome to MS. I am truly sorry for what brings you here. It is hard to know what to do when things go that way. While I was with my wife I never acted out physically, I watch a lot of gay porn and felt a real need to act out. I didn't until a few years after I left, that sexual encounter triggered a serious panic attack. I guess I tell you this as this is how it went for me. My time for acting out on sexual trauma was from a teenager till I was over thirty. I really don't feel I had any control over my acting out, got into many dangerous situations that didn't seem to matter. I am a long way from that now and live alone isolated as I can't see me having a sexual encounter ever again. Would really like to but just the thought of sexual relations is to much for me. I think my future is with me.
 

blinded

Registrant
I gotta agree with Visitor. I did not act out physically, but through porn and cyber. I don't do cyber anymore and hardly ever porn. But I think that has more to do with finding this place and have someone to talk to when I need it. Anxiety pushes my buttons and being able to release it here helps me. For instance, I just went through a trienial peer review that, if failed, I would be out of business. Talking to the guys in chat helped me cope. Does he have, or is he ready to have, places to go to talk it out or write out some of his issues. I know it is not for a lot of guys, but it helps me to overcome stuff before I jump into something that is not good for me or my wife. Good luck.
Hi Jim, I do think he would be open to this site, just need to share with him at the appropriate moment. Thank you for your advice!
 

blinded

Registrant
Hi Blinded

Welcome to MS. I am truly sorry for what brings you here. It is hard to know what to do when things go that way. While I was with my wife I never acted out physically, I watch a lot of gay porn and felt a real need to act out. I didn't until a few years after I left, that sexual encounter triggered a serious panic attack. I guess I tell you this as this is how it went for me. My time for acting out on sexual trauma was from a teenager till I was over thirty. I really don't feel I had any control over my acting out, got into many dangerous situations that didn't seem to matter. I am a long way from that now and live alone isolated as I can't see me having a sexual encounter ever again. Would really like to but just the thought of sexual relations is to much for me. I think my future is with me.
Thank you for your feedback, especially the "no control over the acting out". I have been really hard on him telling him I don't understand how he chose to be with them when he could have been with me...chosen me, chosen my love and our relationship versus something that brings him pain. I need to stop asking him that. So grateful.
 

blinded

Registrant
Blinded

I am sorry for your pain. Visitor has eloquently said it well. He is trying to be the good boy he was before the abuse. The abuse forced him to bury a part of himself. Survivors cope in so many different ways, and sadly few of the coping mechanisms are healthy and rather self destructive. I suffered a life of dissociation, fugues and will never what happened during those periods of disconnecting from myself. Memories lost, time lost. You are working to understand and that is what your survivor needs. It takes time and as important the survivor needs to work on healing. The healing is not immediate and the survivor needs to accept the abuse as reality, needs to accept it was not his fault, needs to accept he is not damaged and needs to accept most, and I have to say most, people will be there for a survivor. A survivor needs to escape from people who denies the survivor's abuse, continues to trigger the survivor because they are toxic to a survivors healing. The people need to understand they first stepped away and I struggled to say good bye. I did it and one day after years of reaching out. It is now in their court to reach out. I still believe in them and their capacity to achieve to be who they will be and should be.

I found the right people with love and compassion. I no longer dissociate and know when I am being pushed to leave the present, I feel whole connecting the child with me--the child I long denied. I know my triggers and steer clear of those that triggered and denied their actions were triggers. I have come to terms with me, and I love myself. It was not always this way--I hated a part of me and it was the child within.

I admire your courage and desire to be there. Be the ear, do not judge and at the same time take care of yourself. Also his acting out may not be his sexual identity and rather a way to take control of the abuse he lived as a child. A child sexually abused can lose their ability to understand their sexuality. An imprint is left in their mind from the abuse because how their body reacted, believing they enjoyed the act vs realizing it is a natural physical respond.

Kevin
Oh Kevin, so powerful and gives me so much hope! I'm praying he will trust my love and compassion and find enough love in himself to not succumb to his urges and things that trigger him. He struggles with his self worth, so that will be as difficult for him to conquer as recognizing what happened as a child wasn't his fault. I'm especially grateful for explaining confusion in sexual identity...I'll have to trust what he's telling me, exactly as you put it. So, so, grateful and breathing easier.
 

blinded

Registrant
Oh my. I was in a similar boat with someone. It was heartbreaking. He gave me access to everything, and I truly do believe he loved me and wanted to be together. However, a few months later, I found that he'd somehow installed an app that was invisible and was accessing a sexual encounter site again. We broke up for good after that.

I had little understanding of trauma at the time. I couldn't understand how ANYONE could put another human through that pain... ... ... until I did it a year and a half ago with a person I loved very much. In the only instance where I was the one who cheated, I can say unequivocally that I was incredibly attracted to the person I was in a relationship with, and I also really did love him. I understand better why I did what I did now, and I think only after the fact was I able to see what I could have done better to communicate with him before things got to where they got.

I can't tell you what to do because as someone who has struggled with all the addictions (sex included), I understand how a person can love someone very much and still be doing these types of things. Also, I've been in your position and felt what it was like to have a partner doing it, and it just wasn't okay for me to remain in that position. Everyone navigates it differently. The best thing I can say is that he may very well mean it when he says he cares about you and wants to make things right. Still, whether that means the relationship can be sustainable and life-giving for both of you is a different question entirely.

I don't know that it's my place to say this, but I'd avoid shaming him if you can. That's something I wish I'd done differently when I broke up with my partner who couldn't stop cheating on me. I understand why I reacted the way I did, but with what I know now, I'm certain shaming them didn't do anything helpful. I'm pretty sure they already felt plenty of shame and guilty anyway.

Wishing you the best,
Thank you for your honesty. I agree, anyone can still hide things and find ways to lie and cheat. So I want to trust his effort, but my guard is up and eyes wide open. He even got a new cell # this week, says he doesn't want anyone from his past reaching him anymore. I thought that was odd (amde me wonder what else he's hiding), you can simply block people...but he chose a brand new cell #. I wont be shaming anymore, I did enough the first 24 hours after finding out even send him highlighted screen capture from his phone. He spend days crying and still breaks down when he knows I'm haunted with visions of them 3 having sex. I want so badly to believe him and give us that second chance, I'm just horrified of going through this again and as Visitor warns, "there will be more of what you've uncovered". As a "sex addict", do you think it would be offensive for me to ask him if he is...is that shaming??? So grateful!!!
 

My_Mayberry

Registrant
As a "sex addict", do you think it would be offensive for me to ask him if he is...is that shaming??? So grateful!!!
I don't think it's shaming to want the truth. However, in my experience with my ex, 'the truth' keep expanding and expanding...and expanding... and I eventually had to accept I likely would never know the full truth. That being said, that's not always the case. When I cheated on my *other* ex, I almost told him, and there would've been only one truth to tell. The reason I didn't tell him is that we had to break up anyway because I had to move to another state and he couldn't come with me. I decided it wasn't worth hurting him. Had there been any hope of staying together, I would have told him the truth.

With the ex who cheated on me, he had been having a lot of sex with a lot of men who he didn't know. In retrospect, I see that it was most definitely not about us. I think it was going to happen no matter who he was with. I think he also did so many things he didn't understand that he couldn't tell me the full truth either because he didn't know it, or else he was too ashamed to admit it all. Either way, I definitely shamed him for it and I apologized years later. In my particular situation, I do feel like it was appropriate for me to apologize to him given details I won't go in depth about in this reply. I only say it made sense because we're all only human and when someone cheats, it hurts, so we aren't machines that know exactly the perfect way to react. We are often hurting, and rightfully so.

Thinking back to my specific situation with someone who had been having random sex, I think in order to stay together, we would have both had to do therapy and I would have had to let go of knowing all the details right away. I think that would've been the only way for us to stay together. That's an option. It's always an option to say, "not right now, but I don't know what might happen in the future." Have you spoken with your own therapist? Sorry if I missed that in any of what you've said. It might help you get your own perspective alongside someone who is working for your wellbeing.
 
"no control over the acting out". I have been really hard on him telling him I don't understand how he chose to be with them when he could have been with me...chosen me,

Just a thought maybe it is that you are not someone he would see as an abuser, Acting out is all about abuse.

They knew when I was 11 I had been sexually abused, I was sent to a child Psychologist I never said a word, when I left his office I knew what had been being done to me was wrong. I was sent because I was trying to act out sexually but it came out as violence.

Acting out is not about anyone else but me, if that makes any sense. The influence is centred in abuse, I usually looked for older men and that was the abuse they were all older than me. I have no idea how to have a relationship with someone my own age, usually they are 15 or more years older than me. All though my wife was 10 years younger than me

You do need to look out for you as well. If he is out and about having sexual encounters. How do you protect yourself from STD's and what ever else is out there. I remember being indiscriminate and it was really like putting a gun to your head in Russian Roulette. Nothing mattered but the encounter.

Acting out is about him not you. You have no roll in that part.

I don't have any advice only my experience. For me there was no choice had to be done.
 

Guss

Registrant
You have 5 months in this relationship not 25 years or even 5 years. You may want to go to the al-anon meetings, and possibly get a better perspective on things. They may be able to encourage you, and help you to see what is the right decision for you. If COVID has caused physical meetings to shut down, some are doing them online. I wish you the best in whatever decision you make.
 

blinded

Registrant
Just a thought maybe it is that you are not someone he would see as an abuser, Acting out is all about abuse.

They knew when I was 11 I had been sexually abused, I was sent to a child Psychologist I never said a word, when I left his office I knew what had been being done to me was wrong. I was sent because I was trying to act out sexually but it came out as violence.

Acting out is not about anyone else but me, if that makes any sense. The influence is centred in abuse, I usually looked for older men and that was the abuse they were all older than me. I have no idea how to have a relationship with someone my own age, usually they are 15 or more years older than me. All though my wife was 10 years younger than me

You do need to look out for you as well. If he is out and about having sexual encounters. How do you protect yourself from STD's and what ever else is out there. I remember being indiscriminate and it was really like putting a gun to your head in Russian Roulette. Nothing mattered but the encounter.

Acting out is about him not you. You have no roll in that part.

I don't have any advice only my experience. For me there was no choice had to be done.
Your have given me comfort b/c I have been beating myself up thinking his love for me wasn't enough. But your experience that "encounters where all about you", are exactly what's he's been telling me but I didn't believe. Thank you for allowing me to give him the benefit of doubt in that. Again, INCREDIBLY grateful.
 

blinded

Registrant
I don't think it's shaming to want the truth. However, in my experience with my ex, 'the truth' keep expanding and expanding...and expanding... and I eventually had to accept I likely would never know the full truth. That being said, that's not always the case. When I cheated on my *other* ex, I almost told him, and there would've been only one truth to tell. The reason I didn't tell him is that we had to break up anyway because I had to move to another state and he couldn't come with me. I decided it wasn't worth hurting him. Had there been any hope of staying together, I would have told him the truth.

With the ex who cheated on me, he had been having a lot of sex with a lot of men who he didn't know. In retrospect, I see that it was most definitely not about us. I think it was going to happen no matter who he was with. I think he also did so many things he didn't understand that he couldn't tell me the full truth either because he didn't know it, or else he was too ashamed to admit it all. Either way, I definitely shamed him for it and I apologized years later. In my particular situation, I do feel like it was appropriate for me to apologize to him given details I won't go in depth about in this reply. I only say it made sense because we're all only human and when someone cheats, it hurts, so we aren't machines that know exactly the perfect way to react. We are often hurting, and rightfully so.

Thinking back to my specific situation with someone who had been having random sex, I think in order to stay together, we would have both had to do therapy and I would have had to let go of knowing all the details right away. I think that would've been the only way for us to stay together. That's an option. It's always an option to say, "not right now, but I don't know what might happen in the future." Have you spoken with your own therapist? Sorry if I missed that in any of what you've said. It might help you get your own perspective alongside someone who is working for your wellbeing.
Yes, I just started seeing my own therapist, but haven't gotten past intake meeting. My BF wants me to do a therapy session with his therapist, but I want him to focus on healing his trauma, not my anxiety. I honestly don't know how to let go. I used to fall asleep dreaming about us holding each other, kissing, etc. Now when I look at him I have flashes of him making out with them, of him thrusting against them...can't get it out of my brain. Even though I want to, I'm horrified to kiss him, and don't know if I'll ever be able to be intimate the way we were. If and when we ever get there, how do I keep myself from having flashes of their encounter? Thank you again and again, this is tremendously helpful
 

blinded

Registrant
You have 5 months in this relationship not 25 years or even 5 years. You may want to go to the al-anon meetings, and possibly get a better perspective on things. They may be able to encourage you, and help you to see what is the right decision for you. If COVID has caused physical meetings to shut down, some are doing them online. I wish you the best in whatever decision you make.
Yes, I have attended a few al-anon meetings and current on some blogs, that's how I found this site which has been a god-send! Huge thanks!!
 
Your have given me comfort b/c I have been beating myself up thinking his love for me wasn't enough. But your experience that "encounters where all about you", are exactly what's he's been telling me but I didn't believe. Thank you for allowing me to give him the benefit of doubt in that. Again, INCREDIBLY grateful.
I am glad my experience has helped you to understand some of what acting out is about, it is a very complicated action seeded way back in abuse. I send you lots of strength and compassion for you and you survivor, it is a hard road to travel. Lots of us do get to have loving partners like you and I understand it is going to be difficult best of luck. I am glad you have found therapy it does help to understand.
 

blinded

Registrant
I am glad my experience has helped you to understand some of what acting out is about, it is a very complicated action seeded way back in abuse. I send you lots of strength and compassion for you and you survivor, it is a hard road to travel. Lots of us do get to have loving partners like you and I understand it is going to be difficult best of luck. I am glad you have found therapy it does help to understand.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
 
Boundaries... setting limits can come in many different forms and they all are intended to make YOU feel safe. It seems knowing what he has done sexually and being troubled by it, you would begin by maintaining some physical distance. That could mean no kissing, no hugging, no snuggling, no hand holding. I would just observe, that when I was active in Sex and Love Addicts, it was common knowledge that ALL of the men were sex addicts and MOST of the women were love addicts. That makes a perfect combination because neither party is prepared to look honestly at what works and what doesn't work in a relationship... both are so in need of a fix. You have dreams of holding each other... not bad dreams to have but now reality has hit you in the face and dreams have no place in this moment of clarity.

You don't have to be unkind to set a boundary, to say for example, "I can't have a physical relationship with you right now. I can be friends. Right now telling the truth is paramount. If you're going to engage in intrigue or sexual acting out with anyone I can't be in relationship with you. Don't play games with me."

Those are my words, of course, and you will want to find your own truth here. My former wife had experience when she was younger with a man immersed in pornography she didn't discover until late in their time together. She is clear she will not be in an intimate relationship with a man who is using pornography. That isn't rocket science. Traumatized men who pursue some form of sexual release by perpetuating what we experience in the trauma ARE NOT available for intimacy. We can bullshit and we can pretend... but until we're able to acknowledge what we're doing and find capacity to care for ourselves we will not be good candidates for an intimate relationship. We have hard work to do and it appears your friend is just beginning his healing journey. This is a very long road that may lead to places you don't want to visit.
 
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