Posts Tagged ‘affairs’
Infidelity is infidelity…but there is the kind of infidelity that is about sex, and the other kind. Though most infidelity has a sexual component, it is often SO NOT about sex.
Infidelity comes in many forms, like the inappropriate friendship, the one-night stand, or the full-blown affair.
To most the breach of monogamy is defined physically, but it is emotional component of infidelity which poses the greatest threat.
I see it differently than most women, but here’s my take. The least significant act of infidelity is the one-night stand. It is often, as unintended as a hiccup. Anyone can be vulnerable to the sexual attraction of another and wake up the morning-after with clear-headed remorse. Nobody wants to find out that their partner has spent the night in the arms of someone else, but as infidelity goes, this is rarely reason enough to trash an otherwise sound relationship. However, this is only true if the one-night stand is a single incident. A series of one-night-stands is the behavior of a person who is probably incapable of being faithful.
I can already hear the thoughts of those who would ask, “But what about the sanctity of marriage?”
Sanctity???? How about sanity???? Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but even among the most sanctimonious and devoutly religious many marriages fall short of sanctity. Fidelity is meaningless if our relationship becomes hostile or cruel. If our relationships are not loving, it hardly matters if we are faithful.
The second most damaging kind of infidelity is the affair. The affair is different from the one-night-stand, because it is ongoing. It is an intentional undercover relationship. A longer affair is not necessarily indicative of deeper emotions, because once in an affair, it can be difficult to get out. The sexual and emotional satisfaction are satisfying and addictive. Though affairs are fueled by sexual desire, they are driven by emotional need.
Upon discovering that one’s partner has become involved with someone else, there is a myriad of confusing emotions and daunting questions. Answering those questions is often destructive, but understanding the answers can be helpful.
My advice to anyone who discovers infidelity is to skip the obvious questions, because the answers will only cause more emotional upheaval. If you wish to restore the relationship, focus on the questions that are helpful. Any good investigative journalist knows the first question is always, “Who?”. Knowing who will satisfy curiosity, but knowing is rarely positive. Where and when are also NOT very helpful.
“Who” is not helpful, because it shifts the focus and blame to the wrong person. The other woman/man is not the only culpable party. Despite this, women can become very hung-up on the “who” causing a toxic cocktail of emotions, which will ultimately compound the issue. The betrayed woman will compare herself to and try to compete with the other woman. She will ask what the other women had that she didn’t. The question can be answered without being asked, because the answer is almost always the same.
She had one thing. It wasn’t her face, her hair, the outrageous body, sexual talent or anything else. She had the magical ability to make your partner believe he could be happier with someone else. Whether she was short, tall, fat, skinny, blonde, brunette or redhead; she was Tinkerbell. She opened the door that allowed him to fly out your bedroom window. That’s all.
You cannot compete with Tinkerbell. She is fantasy. You are real. Your real life is full of real issues and real annoyances that will cause tensions between you and your spouse. Her real life is tidily separate from his, allowing them both to exist, for a season, in a place about as real as Never-Neverland.
The only question worth answering is “Why?” Why was he willing to turn his back on a marriage and risk ruining your life? This is another easily answered question. It was because within the other relationship his emotional needs were met. As it turns out, the sex is a bonus. Somehow she was able to make him feel contentment, self-worth and an emotional connection–like the one you once shared with him.
It is SO NOT about the sex. It is almost always about a commonality, being understood and feeling a connection. Real life has a way of battering and bruising connections, especially in a long relationship. Once damaged, they can be hard to heal. This is why ultimately, an intimate friendship is more dangerous than a sexual liason.
Upon being discovered, the question of whether or not they slept together is usually THE biggie. It is painful to think of one’s partner with someone else, but if he says they never slept together, don’t breathe a big sigh of relief. Even if he’s telling the truth, whether or not they slept together is almost irrelevant, because it is SO NOT about the sex. The heady emotion of feeling cared for or understood is more seductive than the most beautiful woman. If he felt that he was misunderstood or not cared for, the only question that needs to be answered is why.
Those raised on Snow White and Cinderella believe marriage to be a “happily ever after”. Sadly, sometimes “forever and ever“ is short-lived. There are lots of fairy tales, but alas life isn’t one.
This is the tale of a friend of a friend–I know it sounds suspect, but it‘s true. Though I’ve never met her, I know her story well. Like a school play, recast and re-enacted season after season, I’ve heard this one before.
She was married–married a respectable long time. Everyone who knew her, believed she was happy. She wasn’t. Her marriage was stagnant and she was lonely. She might have stuck it out longer, had it not been for the other man. She wasn’t looking for someone else, but before long she had fallen in love with someone who was not her husband.
I’d tell you her name, but it’s immaterial–and unless you are living in one of the better zip codes of Utopia, you can probably insert a familiar proper noun into this, not so far-fetched, real-life Mad Lib.
It was never her intent to start something else, it just happened.
(Yeah, I know it’s cliché, but Hans Christian Anderson would assure you it is perfectly true.)
Her husband was too preoccupied to notice that she was unhappy and too preoccupied to notice when she became preoccupied. What followed was unintended. She fell in love. Fortunately, or unfortunately for her, he fell in love too.
The double lives they lead left them both conflicted. She eventually she left her husband. She didn’t leave to be with this other man, she left because she was unhappy. She left because her husband had failed to make her feel loved. Nevertheless, the other man gave her the motivation and courage to give her former king the goodbye-look.
Then they lived happily ever after.
Did she love him? Wholeheartedly.
Did he love her? Absolutely.
While both were still married, they had envisioned a fantasy life together. So what was the deal breaker that turned this fairy tale into an unpleasant fable? Was it just another case of “Why sell the cow , when you can get the magic beans for free?”
You might surmise that they moved in together and found out they were incompatible, or that perhaps the spoiled princes and princesses from the previous unions became a contentious issue, or maybe he lost interest when the object of his desire was suddenly available, like a knight, who once in possession of the holy grail, begins to seek a new conquest? None of these is true.
Did he suddenly discover that he loved his wife more than his lover? Maybe, but I don’t think so. Before I share my own conclusion, let me tell you how the story ends.
She started over financially, emotionally and was ready for her prince to take her to a castle somewhere–except for one itsy-bitsy little detail–he was still married.
When she had made the decision to leave her husband, they had planned to marry. She would be free, he would leave his wife–they would live happily ever after. A Grimm’s fairy tale in the making, except this one becomes grim in a most unfortunate way.
Grimm and his other tale-telling pals forgot a couple details–the ones usually spelled out in pre-nupts.
Her knight had stuff. There were the heirs to his kingdom to consider, there were castles and lands to be divided, and there was a royal legacy of past memories. He loved this woman and would have loved to have made her his wife, but in short, it was too complicated. He had too much to lose. His castle wasn’t perfect, but it was more attractive than renting a thatched-roof cottage in a village far away.
Being a believer in fairy tales, I am convinced he had at least as much fondness for his lady-in-waiting, as for his wife, but he wasn’t ready to sacrifice half his kingdom. Leaving her meant giving up half of all he’d spent his life building. Not only that, but the honorable part of him, filled him with a sense of duty to the woman who had been there when he’d been out conquering and building his kingdom.
As lonely as Rapunzel locked in a tower, she lays awake at night crying for this Jack of Hearts who jacked her heart and her well-being.
He still lives in his castle, perhaps at night he lays awake dreaming of the damsel he distressed.
She has nothing. He has everything he had before. She has become Sleepwalking Beauty, with her life on hold, while everything around her goes on as before.
I wish the story were unique, but I have been privy to the tales of more than one woman who lost her heart in this kind of joust.
Sometimes the story has a different ending. There are men who leave their lives for their lover–especially if the princess comes with a dowry better than the stuff they stand to lose–you know, jewels, riches, cattle, or a better castle. Men who promise to leave their wives often don’t, and the ones who do may not be as gallant.
Over the years, variations of this have appeared on everything from t-shirts to coffee mugs.
I’d like to propose the following variation.
Behind every badly behaving woman, there might be a good man.
I am always surprised when normally sweet & nurturing females turn into shrews–or worse.
It reminds me of a belief I hold. Good relationships cause us to want to be better. Bad relationships bring out our very worst, and least human qualities.
Some relationships start bad and get worse. Most relationships start good, before going bad. Many things can turn a good relationship bad. One of the most common is when one, or both partners take each other for granted and/or fail to meet the others’ needs.
It’s the old male affair cliché. Those who feel they aren’t getting what they need at home, may be tempted to stray.
When I was growing up affairs were something that mostly men had. I don’t know what changed, but it’s no longer just men who are having affairs.
Women who don’t get their emotional needs fed by the man they are with, will slowly become starved for the company or love they feel they deserve.
It’s a feeding disorder. I call it Manorexia.
If you’ve ever seen a cat which has been starved, you know what I’m talking about. Once upon a time that sweet little kitten was cuddly and approachable. Now that same cat has become defensive and menacing. Seeing such, one knows instinctively to keep a safe distance. Imagine a creature like that with a larger and highly developed brain—like that of the average adult female. We’re talking real danger.
The need to be cared for is fundamental to all beings, but it affects women in a profound way.
Women who feel loved are lovable. Women who feel desired are desirable. Women who feel contempt are contemptible.
It’s not always a boyfriend or husband that fails to “feed” or care for woman. Sometimes it’s a father or some other guy who has caused a kind emotional malnutrition in a young girl; the effects of which, can linger into adulthood.
In preparing for de blog, I talked to quite a few women who had become involved in affairs.
These weren’t bad women. They were good women, who had been a little bad for a season. As I canvassed those who were willing to talk about their affairs, I wanted to know what caused them to stray. They all seemed to be saying the same thing. It all came back to Manorexia–the feeding disorder.
Except with those for whom the affairs were retaliatory acts, I heard the same things over and over. Women said they felt ignored or neglected. Instead of feeling appreciated or desirable, they felt overlooked and undervalued. The most often recurring word was “invisible.” If you’ve ever felt invisible, you know what I’m talking about.
The trouble is invisibility doesn’t extend past the front door. Women are not invisible to “other” men. A woman who has been starving for attention is highly visible and vulnerable—especially to the men who would give them what they’ve been hungry for.
Sometimes when men forget to feed and tend their little pets, they often don’t even remember they’ve forgotten.
Over time, this neglect, can cause a very precarious situation for both parties. Wish I knew how to remind the guys, their little kitten might be crying out for a few strokes or some little treats, because I’ve seen what can happen when they forget.
Manorexia is not pretty.