Infidelity’s Tragic Story!
By Ann Mody Lewis Ph.D
Infidelity has always been a tragic story, because it’s usually an out-of-the-blue experience, unrelated to reality and unsustainable. Its secrecy is part of its charm and source of shame. For that reason, the betrayed partner will suffer signs of trauma: a shattered reality, emotional instability, and questionable belief system. The betrayer is not off the hook either, as they face the price of their betrayal: consequences of poor judgment, loss of self and social-esteem, financial stress and emotional instability. Infidelity produces NO WINNERS!
In this golden age of technological opportunities, it's easy to live a duplicitous life...and just as easy to get caught! Infidelity doesn't require kissing, sex, or torrid relationships with another. It doesn't even require leaving the house! Any outside attachments or habits that satisfy erotic hungers causing an emotional split from a primary partner is an affair. As the unhealthy attachment evolves, the primary partner usually becomes a bore, nuisance, inconvenience, intrusive, and undesirable. The betrayer shifts their emotional connectedness to a new person or illusion that feels more real. The betrayed will intuitively feel the separation, be annoyed, and confused; but fear thinking about what it could mean. Instead they make excuses and assume more responsibilities, so the relationship will stay on track. As the emotional connectedness is broken, the betrayer becomes indifferent to their commitment, dismissive of future dreams and uses conflict to justify their betrayal. They leave the relationship without saying: "Good-bye!"
Although infidelity has always been part of human history, it has become inevitable today because of the ever-present, all-inclusive use of the internet. During moments of discouragement, family distractions, or mundane daily routines, it’s so easy to click for excitement. The secrecy of a private connection makes the betrayer feel new again, because it’s a connection without the complication of reality. From the start, the delusional affair overshadows the power of its destruction.
The emotional availability of the betrayer is compromised by their infidelity. Their emotional absence will be felt long before the affair is discovered. As they both exist in a numbing purgatory of critical attitudes, confusing disappointments, loss of friendship and unexplained disinterest in passion, couples drift further away from each other. Betrayers make themselves believe that their secrets don’t matter, as the betrayed is overcome by mysterious changes of behaviors that don't make sense. Guilt leads the betrayer to find fault with their partner to justify their departure. The betrayed will struggle to maintain their self-esteem by adjusting what they wear, how they make love and eradicating signs of aging. The tension between the betrayer and the betrayed is palpable until the silence of the infidelity is broken!
When and how the secrecy is broken adds to the trauma of deception. The betrayer feels the loss of their once-private sanctuary of pleasure with their coveted confidante. They now feel betrayed by exposure, accusations they don’t want to face, loss of presumed integrity, social, financial and familial stability. The illusion of being a winner crumbles beneath demands for honesty. Will they continue the lies or stop the insanity with honesty? The betrayer’s real integrity is their only hope for restoring relational-truth and thus making themselves a partner of forgiveness. Betrayers are not bad-people; they are people who became lost in their own immaturity.
The betrayed is flooded by the trauma of discovering the deception. Therapists now realize infidelity creates post-traumatic stress symptoms that will take a long time to heal. The shock of realizing that someone you loved and trusted has forgotten that you matter is riveting. The rage of realizing you believed in a relationship while you were being abandoned is humiliating and debasing. The sadness of lost love, a shattered world and dream of companionship send the betrayed into the deepest depression. The shame of being forsaken makes them question their self-worth at the very time a sense-of-self may be their only source of strength. They replay the past looking for clues of truth. Why didn’t I see it coming? Why didn’t I question their whereabouts? Who else knew of the betrayal? Questions flood the silence of every moment as they struggle to make sense of the senseless behavior of a person they loved and trusted. Their friends say: "Move On!” But the thought of another love is unimaginable because they feel too damaged.
Smart couples don't move-on they create a deeper love.
Couples can recover from infidelity? I believe that tragedies become experiences for growth. I have worked with hundreds of couples who know themselves better and love each other deeply after infidelity threatened their marriage. In follow-up articles I will explain how relationships can recover from infidelity as a near-death-experience but not death itself!
For further reading of writings by Dr. Ann Mody Lewis please visit the Writings section on the Alewisandassociates.com website. Contact us at 954-776-0406.
© 2017 Ann Mody Lewis Ph.D.