Is Engaging in Online ‘Sex’ Cheating?

phone-man

When my friend contacted me to ask if she could write a guest post for my blog, I was immediately stunned, outraged and upset for her when I found out why. She said writing it down would help her to process it and not only that, it is becoming so much more common place and needed to be said that it is not ok! As I’ve got older and had children, marriage inevitably becomes harder. I hear it time and again that some men feel neglected and therefore look elsewhere for attention. In the past two years I have heard of at least 5 men firsthand who have been found out engaging in the same practices as what this post is about. They seem to think because they didn’t actually physically DO anything that that makes it ok.

What do you think?

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A GUEST POST

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When I was in my 20s, I met a guy at a club. I was newly single and he was gorgeous. We shared a dance floor kiss and exchanged numbers. Living in a small city, it was no surprise that my friend knew him. What did surprise me was she told me that he had a girlfriend. He lived with her.

I was horrified.

I called him and let fly. I told him I knew and it was disgusting, she had the right to know and if she had any self-respect, she would dump him. I remember saying to my friend “I have a zero tolerance policy for that kind of thing. If he cheats, he’s gone. No questions.”

So that’s pretty clear cut, right? You pash a stranger on a dance floor when you are in a relationship with someone else and very clearly, everyone would consider that cheating. Right?

So what about the other kind? The kind that is on the rise in our society, but is still a “grey area” to many? What about internet cheating?

In this day and age, it’s easy to assume a whole different life online. With so many chatrooms, dating apps and different social media at our fingertips, we can assume any identity. We can join dating websites like Tinder, Zoosk and even Married Affair. We can use any name we like. We can be older, younger or hotter. We can use fake profile pictures and no one is any the wiser.

The other day, while working on my home PC, I came across a folder. Inside that folder were pictures of at least 3 different women all in different stages of dress. Some of just body parts, some of just faces, and most shocking of all, inside that folder, were naked selfies my husband had taken of himself. The pictures were named – and were from only 2 months ago. My mind was spinningThen, I scrolled down and I saw the screen shots of the messages he had been sending to these women and them to him. I can’t describe the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I realised the messages were actually them describing what they were doing to themselves and what they would like to do with and to each other, spattered with the naked selfies. It dawned on me that my husband of 8 years was engaging in message sex (is that what it’s even called?!) with other women. I checked his Facebook friends list but couldn’t find any of the women. The messages also had some weird logo on them. 

Oh my god.

So I sent him a message and I waited:

“Please answer me honestly… are you or are you not taking nude selfies and sending them to other women and are you or are you not on any dating sites?”

Then, the message I feared most:

“Yes, I was a while ago, please call me.”

I called. I cried. I was told it was only because he was seeking validation since I had been pre occupied with the baby (she is 5 – so basically this has been going on for years). I was told that I made him feel like I didn’t want him, because I didn’t have sex with him enough, so he sought validation from women that did find him attractive.

I don’t know the whole story about what went on with them because I have only seen a selection of the messages and pictures and my husband is being cagey on the details  but that’s not the point of this story. 

I know many people believe that the only type of cheating is the type discussed earlier in my story. The physical. Whether it be regular hotel sex or a dance floor pash. That is obviously clear cut cheating. 

But what about this?

My 20 year old self would tell me if he cheated, I need to dump him and leave… No questions, remember? If I have any self-respect, I should kick his butt to the curb. Only he swears “nothing happened”. That’s the word he used. Nothing. He never had sex with them so really, while he is sorry I am hurt, and he won’t hurt me again, it’s nothing. It’s just his way of feeling like he is worth it. But is it nothing? Really?

In reality, we share a lot of ourselves in our digital footprint. Hardly anyone picks up the phone anymore and calls someone. Instead, plans are made, conversations are had, friends are made via text message, email or facebook. The written word and the spoken word have become interrelated. I have friends I have made on social media that I have never spoken to, but my friendship with them is so real. I share my personal life with them and them with me. We have long conversations over social media about ethics and marriage, and parenting. I really like my friends. I actually know them better and am more emotionally attached to them than I ever was to the “Pash and Dash” from my 20s.

I think this is our answer. Emotional attachment. I believe that where naked pictures are sent, erotic words exchanged and sexual gratification achieved, it’s cheating. Where do we draw the line?

Let’s head back to the 1980’s.

If a man calls a sex line, and he has a partner, is that cheating? I say yes.

If he watches sex is that cheating? I say no.

Why?

Because of the personal and emotional attachment. A voice on the other end of the phone, responding to your requests, or telling you what you want to hear is personal. So too with this new kind of “phone sex”.

When a man or a woman is sending messages of an erotic or sexual nature to someone without their consent, it’s sexual harassment. So then if they are sending them to a willing participant then it’s clearly sexual relations … obviously not intercourse, but the emotional attachment means so much more than that. 

Meeting someone online and forming a relationship with them whereby you engage in actions or words of a sexual nature is not ok. 

It is cheating. 

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What do you think? Would you consider what my friend discovered about her husband as cheating? Where do we draw the line?

Linking up with: #IBOT @ Kylie Purtell 

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Your Voice, Your Story: Postnatal Depression (PND)

pnd

Most of us who have had children experience the blues in one form or another in those early months. Whether it’s the notorious ‘Baby Blues’ that strike around day 3 or 4 as your milk comes in and messes with all your hormones, or the blues brought on through lack of sleep and the enormous life changing event of looking after a newborn baby and all that entails, we all tend to have had our moments of feeling down. But eventually the fog subsides and we become completely enamoured by this new little being we brought into the world.

But what if you don’t and haven’t? That’s usually a warning sign that you may be experiencing something more serious than a case of the blues. Postnatal depression affects approximately 15% of woman after the birth of their baby. This is *Kate’s story.

(*Name changed to protect privacy)

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I can vividly remember how I felt when my daughter was first placed in my arms. I was so happy I thought I would burst. As time went by and I adapted to the crazy world that is motherhood, I only fell more and more in love with her.

Fast forward a couple of years and my husband and I decided to try for a second child. I fell pregnant again quickly and we were over the moon. I assumed things would be just like the first time, but I was wrong.

From the start, my second pregnancy was a difficult one. I had extreme morning sickness that never went away. I was vomiting at home, at work and in the car. I was utterly miserable and sick of being sick.

As the pregnancy progressed, I began to have trouble sleeping. I’d fall asleep exhausted each night and wake at 2 or 3am and that became the start of my day. Coupled with looking after a toddler and a stressful job, it all became too much. I felt low, anxious and tearful, but figured that was just pregnancy hormones.

When my son was finally born, things began to unravel. I held him in my arms and waited for a sense of elation to take over. It didn’t. I just felt tired and detached. There was none of the emotion I felt when my daughter was born – I could have been holding a stranger’s baby.

Things worsened when I got home. Lack of sleep is a given with a newborn, but even when my son was sleeping, I was lying awake, filled with anxiety as my mind raced through a variety of horrifying and improbable scenarios.

I never had the slightest intention of hurting my son, but I was so scared I would do something accidentally. My thoughts became more and more irrational. I was afraid someone would shoot us. I was afraid I would crash my car with him inside. I was afraid I would drop dead and fall on him.

Visions of my son lying badly hurt or injured flooded my mind constantly and I couldn’t shake them. These thoughts would pop into my head, unwanted, uninvited, at all hours of the day and night.

When it was time for my husband to return to work, I’d beg him every morning not to go. Not to leave me alone with my son. This tiny new human who filled me with so much fear.

I spent most of my days sobbing. As a second-time mum, I knew in theory what I was supposed to do with a baby. Every day I would go through the motions – changing nappies and singing songs to him, but with tears rolling down my cheeks. My two year old would do her best to comfort me “Don’t cry, mummy – it’s ok”, which only made me cry harder.

I felt nothing for my son, except resentment each night he woke crying. He didn’t feel like mine. I was certain the only reason he was crying was because I was a failure as a mother and that he deserved a better one. I genuinely thought adoption would be a good solution.

The sadness, the emptiness and the guilt became unbearable. I’d force myself to go out and put on a happy face, so no one would suspect a thing. When people asked how I was doing, I’d say ‘fine, fine’ and crack jokes about tiredness.

Eventually, leaving the house became so complicated and overwhelming, I’d end up staying home.

I realised I needed help when the empty feeling started to extend to my 2 year old. The rational part of my brain knew that I used to love her more than anything, so it wasn’t normal that I felt so detached from her now. Everything she or my husband said or did seemed to anger me. I would alternate between irrational rage, lashing out at the people closest to me, and total numbness.

In some part of my mind, I understood that this must be postnatal depression but I didn’t want to admit to it. I had little experience of depression before that point and didn’t understand the ways in which it could manifest itself. I thought depression meant you were suicidal and couldn’t get out of bed or function on a day to day level. I was still functioning, albeit not very well.

At the end of my son’s 6 week check up, the doctor asked how I was doing. As I prepared to say ‘fine”, I burst into floods of tears instead. It all came out – the intrusive thoughts, the anxiety, the tears and the fact I was such a terrible mother and that my children deserved better. She gently suggested I make another appointment to come and see her.

I was formally diagnosed with post-natal depression and together we decided on a course of counselling and anti-depressant medication

I got in touch with a local organisation which offered help and support to people suffering from PND. Through them, I met people who were in a similar boat and who understood.

Slowly, things began to improve and I started having more good days than bad. As the medication began to work, my anxiety lessened and I began to laugh again.

Recovery has been a difficult journey. At times, I’ve felt like I’ve taken one step forward and two steps back. But I’ve progressed from feeling nothing for my son to all-encompassing love. We recently celebrated his first birthday and I can’t believe there was ever a time when my heart didn’t ache with love for him.

I still have the odd bad day, but they are fewer and further between now. I no longer lie awake every night, anxious and terrified or spend my days in tears. I’m aware of my stressors and understand the importance of self-care.

In some ways, I think I’m a stronger, better person than I was before. I certainly have a much greater understanding of mental illness and have become less judgmental and more empathetic.

As I’ve started to feel better, I’ve begun to be more open about my experiences. I hope that the more we can talk about postnatal anxiety and depression, the more we can shed the stigma of it and help mothers to get the support they need.

For further information click here if you are in NZ and if you are in Australia click here.

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Have you or someone you know ever experienced PND?

Linking up with: #IBOT @ Kylie Purtell 

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4 Itchy Microscopic Beasts You REALLY Want To Avoid!

Itchy bugs. I don’t mean the tummy bug type bug that is every parents worst nightmare, waking up with spew in your hair is no fun for anyone (yes, that really happened to me and very recently in fact!). No. I’m talking ACTUAL BUGS. The alive creepy crawly type bugs. The microscopic beasts that make your skin crawl, the kind that will have you itching your skin and scalp by the end this post in full blown paranoia.

I have honestly had the worst September. I wrote about it the other week in fact and I had hoped that was the end of it. Do you ever have those months where it’s just one bad luck event after another? Well mine continued to pile up until it became a comedy of errors that just had to be written about because if you don’t laugh you cry right? It was certainly one of those months! And I appreciated the laughs because it made me feel like it had all been for something, even if it was just to give others a giggle at my expense! But just to top things off, it wasn’t the end. It was just the beginning of the worst of it. Yes, I said WORSE.

My 3 year old son came home Tuesday night with a few spots on his legs, the kind that make you look twice. As he has eczema though I shrugged them off. Fast forward to Wednesday night and suddenly he had WAY more spots. All over his legs and arms in fact. I panicked and thought chicken pox and immediately made a doctors appointment because not only have my kids never had it, but my husband hasn’t either. Chicken pox was the last thing we needed! Can you imagine both your kids AND your husband holed up miserable with chicken pox?! No. Just, no. So off to the doctor we trotted, fingers crossed and all. And it turns out it wasn’t chicken pox at all. No. It was worse. Scabies.

SCABIES

Have you ever heard of scabies? It is a bug that crawls under your skin and hatches eggs so more bugs can crawl all over your body eating you. Kind of. the true definition is as follows:

Scabies is a very itchy rash caused by a parasitic mite that burrows in the skin surface. These tiny insects burrow along in the skin, laying eggs as they go. Above the eggs small blisters form, surrounded by red patches which are extremely itchy and can spread very easily through human contact.

Yeah. RIOT!

Contrary to popular belief, scabies can attach to anyone no matter social standing or cleanliness. Even the cleanest people can catch scabies because all it takes is brief contact with someone who has it and it can spread like wildfire.

The ‘official’ diagnosis was ‘possible scabies’ but I just heard bug, itchy, eggs, crawl, washing.

Yes, that’s right. WASHING. Did I mention we had torrential rain forecast AGAIN (hello Spring!) and I was informed I needed to wash EVERYTHING in the house – sheets, blankets, towels, pillowcases and any clothes that had been worn in the week prior to the ‘possible diagnosis’ and any clothes that had touched other clothes in the last week. HOT wash. NIGHTMARE.

In addition, we also all had to shower and coat ourselves in cream from head to toe overnight before showering again the following morning. I’m itchy just thinking about it! As it turns out, it’s likely he did not (I repeat, DID NOT) have scabies as his rash started to clear up by that afternoon BUT after reading all that, would you not still do what you were told in total fear of bugs crawling under your skin and laying eggs?! Yes? Yes. So I had a fun filled weekend of neverending washing to do and nowhere to dry it. Story of my life!

Scabies are however, not the only itchy bug you will probably be introduced to at some point in your lifetime.

Hellooooo NITS

Head lice (nits) are small, wingless insects than infest the human head and hair feeding on tiny amounts of blood drawn from the scalp.

My head gets itchy just writing the word! (Still itchy!). Nits are a common childhood nightmare brought to you (mostly) by little girls with lovely long thick hair that they just love to get tangled up in and provide hours of entertainment (ha!) for already run off their feet parents to tediously comb through and remove eggs and live crawly treasures one by one. And even then they very rarely go away and you need to repeat, repeat, repeat! Apparently the cleaner the hair the more they love it! Terrific! Thankfully I have yet to re-experience these little beasts since becoming a parent (I was just the carrier as a child on a couple of occasions!) but I don’t hold my breath. I’m sure I will get to experience it at least once! And it’s not the boys I’m worried about (hello head clippers!) it’s me! The boys in my bed = easily spread from one head to another.

Ugh!

FLEAS

Fleas are wingless insects, with mouthparts adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood.

If you have had a cat or a dog in your lifetime, then chances are you have dealt with the pest that is fleas! Some seasons are especially worse than others! Like as the temperature warms and eggs that have sat dormant come to life and start hatching in your carpet and baby fleas start bouncing around the place. You’ll be sitting relaxing on the couch and then you’ll see one hop across your arm and you’ll realise you have a problem. I hate fleas! They can be really hard (and expensive) to get rid of and the vet recently told me that they have been inundated with pets infested with fleas in the past month (joy!) so my hubby tends to search Teddie’s hair most nights and hand pick them out if he sees them, just to be on the safe side! I actually think he finds it kinda relaxing but don’t tell him I told you that! Fighting fleas one by one since 2016. Ha!

BED BUGS

Bedbugs are small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans.

As the name proclaims, these lovely bugs love to hang out in your bed and feast on your blood. Lovely!

Fortunately I have never had to deal with bed bugs but I know someone who has and it sounds like a nightmare of epic proportions! I’m using the word nightmare A LOT in this post but it’s definitely warranted! I’ll stick with fleas that require a few flea bombs and a fortune invested in pet companies to kill (what is with flea treatment for pets being so darn expensive?!). Even scabies sounds better than bed bugs!

Have you ever had to deal with any of these microscopic beasts? Are you itchy yet?

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Linking up with: #IBOT @ Kylie Purtell 

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8 Startling Similarities Between Puppies & Children

So right in the midst of an epic vent on Facebook the other day about an incorrigible puppy who insists on peeing on the carpet, it suddenly occurred to me that the things I complain about most with this little devil puppy have remarkable similarities to the things I moaned about when my kids were younger (still moan about where the youngest one is concerned!).

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A Comedy Of Errors

cone-dog

Comedy of Errors: A set of amusing or farcical events involving a series of awkward missteps or other mistakes.

I have been seriously procrastinating booking my puppy’s spey operation (aka desexing or getting fixed) for the past several months for two reasons:

ONE. The exorbitant cost (always starts at one thing but add all the ‘optional’ extras that are ‘Up to you but it could save your dogs life to have this $83 blood test because then we can see that she’s healthy. But it is fully optional, no pressure. You don’t have to have it but if you don’t we won’t know if she could have an adverse reaction. Entirely optional though’); and

TWO. Hands up who loves to look after a dog with a slit in their tummy and a cone on their head that irritates the shit out of them? Didn’t think so.

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When Life Smooshes Your Brain

Smoosh

Smooshes:

Squeezes your brain into a big pile of mush.

How do you know when enough is enough? To stop pushing the things that aren’t coming naturally to fit into your days? For me blogging has become one of those things. I started off with a hiss and a roar, wrote some of the best things that I have ever written in my life and then I just all of a sudden ran out of words. Some of the things I felt compelled to write were cathartic. Healing. Some were controversial in a sense (gender disappointment is a known topic of derision) and some were ‘tie your tummy up in knots’ nerve wracking to publish (hello hunt for the father who doesn’t know I exist – now the potential father who does know I exist but claims never to have met my mother so either she lied for some reason or he’s in denial/has a terrible memory). The posts I wrote about mum were probably the most healing of the lot. Losing a parent is probably going to happen to all of you at some time in your lifetime and it’s a lonely experience. I think whether you are young or old, it doesn’t make the pain any easier. Some could argue fairness (hell, I know I did! In what world does losing your life to cancer at 43 seem fair?) but that’s life isn’t it. Unpredictable at best, heartbreaking at worst.

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Your Voice, Your Story: Infertility & Hope

Infertility
“To dream anything that you want to dream. That’s the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed”

Many of you may not know this, but years before I started Maybe Baby Brothers I actually had another blog. My little slice of the internet was used to document my way through my infertility journey and was called Maybe Baby … (or maybe the loony bin). I started it as a survival mechanism, infertility is a lonely and hard road to travel, especially so soon after losing a parent. I was 25 when we started trying to conceive our first child and 29 by the time I gave birth to a healthy baby boy after 3 cycles of IVF.

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Your Voice, Your Story – How I Escaped a Violent Marriage

Meet *Valerie.

I met Valerie in an online group for mums. We didn’t meet when we had our babies but shortly thereafter and over the years she has shared tidbits of what she went through in her first marriage and now she has agreed to share her story.

I am astounded at the courage she has shown to go through that and come out the other side the woman she is today. She is sharing her story in the hopes that it will be able to reach someone who is in the same situation and help them to find the courage to get out. She is certainly not what you would think of as a typical victim which just goes to show that there is no typical in family violence. It could be happening to anyone. Chances are it’s happening to someone you know right now and you wouldn’t have the faintest idea. Statistics show that 1 in 3 women experience physical and/or sexual violence from a partner in their lifetime. That is a very scary statistic.

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How I Somehow Accidentally Bought A Puppy …

I’m a cat person. I am. I have to confess that right off the bat.

I never grew up with dogs, only cats so when I was old enough to make my own decisions I ‘encouraged’ my now husband that we needed to get a dog. In all honesty, I’d just come back from a big overseas adventure in Europe and was quite possibly just bored and looking for something new to inject a bit of excitement into my return to an everyday mundane routine.

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