Warning: Very long post! Filled with questions this morning! I am currently taking some time away from my husband in an effort to get perspective and avoid rash decisions. For the most part, I am now indifferent to him and the marriage. One day the proverbial switch flipped in me and I stopped caring after a very long spell of intense concentration and hard work on the relationship. I beat my head against a wall until I came to the end of my capacity to keep doing it. There was some relief that came with the switch flip, but unfortunately I have found that, even in my indifference, the pain inflicted and the negative effects of BT remain with me. One negative effect that is burdening me this morning is what to do about recovering from the realization and hurt that comes from knowing I was never what my husband wanted. I fear this will stay with me for a long time. I know I am not alone in this, as it is a common refrain among SOs. @Jagliana talks about it a lot in her journal. When I used to bring this up with my husband, he would say, “Don’t confuse me with the addiction. The real me wants you.” But where does one draw that line? What is real preference and what is the addiction? Does that statement even make sense? Of course, people have preferences that feel innate, but to a very large extent, people’s preferences are influenced by the larger culture. We are told what to like, through marketing, tradition, etc. @GhostWriter made this point well, when he hypothesized a society where people are raised without any imposition of the culture on their sexual preferences. So how does one ever know what one really likes? Isn’t it the case that since we can’t return to that “untouched by culture” state, the only thing we have to go on when trying to answer this question is what we seek out and what we physically respond to? And what’s the problem with this anyway? One SO, (whose name I can't remember - so, so sorry! I will look for you and edit) made this point about preferences when she wrote something like, “I would rather have a well hung man with a full head of hair.” Her husband did not fit this description. I guess I think that the problem comes in when we encourage and cultivate certain preferences to a point where they interfere with “healthy” functioning. For instance, that SO acknowledged this preference in herself, but also stated that her husband was perfect for her and I believed her when she says it. Why did I believe her? Because I assume she never groomed her preference by spending months and years devoted to cultivating desire for it and directing her sexual attention to its pursuit to the point where it effectively precluded her from being able to respond with the same intensity to anything else. If she had done that, I would have a hard time believing she truly desired her husband. So it hurts. I now know that my husband chose to cultivate a preference for (fetishize) a very particular and relatively uncommon physical attribute that I do not have. And it wasn’t a situation like that SO described, where he simply had that preference, he acknowledged it, then lived his life. Instead, he felt compelled to search out images and concoct fantasies of his “type” for hours every day (while lying about working), all the while letting me think I was what he desired. Does it really matter whether he did this because it was a “real” preference or because of his addiction? Knowing these facts, I spend those magical hours lying awake in the middle of the night trying to figure just what the hell I was ever for? There is no way around the fact that no matter what my strengths and virtues, and no matter that he indeed genuinely loved me, I lacked a thing that was of HUGE, overwhelming importance to him. I was unable to satisfy him in a huge area of his life. What the hell was he doing with me? Most nights, the inescapable conclusion is that I was a compromise. I had everything he needed, except the one thing that he was compelled to spend hours every night directing his sexual energy toward. So he made the pragmatic choice. I was the thing he settled for because in reality, the thing he most wants doesn’t actually exist in any achievable way. A never-ending supply of 15 year olds (he would crumple them up and throw them away the day they turned 16) with that unusual attribute who are also willing to fuck him, simply doesn’t work out demographically. Realistically, there is no way for him to ever be totally satisfied in this requirement that has preoccupied him. That it was due to his addiction doesn’t really matter, the way I see it. As @Jagliana so eloquently put it, "What the c*ck wants, the c*ck wants." (Sorry! I can't make the quote thing work) So what the hell was he doing with me? I have the answer to my question. He should really be alone, but wanted the comfort and convenience of having a wife. The problem is that I wasn’t informed. I didn’t sign up to be relegated to being the comfort and convenience. And now I am left with the burden of worrying that I will never stop hating him for that. This whole thing reminds me of a Dan Savage column I read once, in which he tried to get women to “just get over” their men’s porn consumption. He talked about how it was inevitable and we just needed to accept it. He ended by saying something like, “But don’t worry. Men need their wives for lots of other things.” That was supposed to make us feel better, I guess? In effect, he was saying that it is the lot of wives to settle for and be happy with being the comfort and convenience and accept that they can never be the true desire. Is he right?