While my husband spent most evenings catching up on the horse racing he'd recorded over the weekend, I began perusing chatrooms – not in pursuit of cybersex necessarily, but initially more for harmless flirtation, a little virtual attention.
Soon, I was spending hours in the parallel universe of cyberspace, often through wonderfully wide-awake nights, uninhibited in a way I never could be in reality.
I'm in my mid-40s now, and our relationship remains every bit as complicated today.
As I have come to learn, most of those who grow up in a dysfunctional relationship are condemned to seek them out forevermore. In adulthood, I had become a rather complicated girlfriend, each relationship beginning well, but then growing fractured and ending badly.
I got to know – or as much as possible online – a couple of regular men, with whom I conducted tentative conversations that were thoughtful and sweet, and that only developed into something more suggestive after much respective vetting and, on my part, several glasses of red wine. That initial separation, I later learned, all but ensured I would never be able to successfully bond with her.After a couple of months I had to end it – and it was after I had made this decision that my husband found out.He discovered messages on my phone and so I sat him down and poured the whole sorry tale out to him, feeling I was stamping on his heart with every word. I spent a lonely Christmas at my mother's house with nothing to do but wonder how I had got myself into this situation. I started therapy, and learned just how dysfunctional my life had been, and so little wonder I kept making new problems for myself.And for 12 long, frequently torturous months we painstakingly made it liveable and lovable. I had a husband, a home, yet I was missing something, intangible but palpable. I still loved my husband, but I wanted adventure, excitement, a reminder I was still alive. I began chatting to men online in private chat forums, concealing any obvious indentifiers of who I was but talking about my life, problems and thoughts.And then it was finished: our nest, our empty nest. I became addicted to the attention and craved contact with the men I thought I had come to know. But I found out it wasn't as easy as I had first thought. I quit decisively at first, then slipped up, then quit again, craving some kind of patch.And it was harmless, until I fell in too deep and wanted more than his messages.And so our long-nurtured virtual affair became real. And I did, pretty much, and I was perfectly fine - until suddenly I wasn't.There were redundancy problems at work; my marriage was showing strains; and there was something large and unnameable missing from my life.We urge you not to give your real name, location, address or phone number to anyone you meet in a chatroom.This is to protect your privacy and keep you safe." The fact that users often seek A/S/L information in "initial interactions" implies an "emphasis on the physical body online".