UK Council for Psychotherapy

UKCP

Accredited Psychotherapist

British Association for
Counselling & Psychotherapy

BACP

Accredited Counsellor

Relationship Counselling
Central London, Camden, Kings Cross, London NW1
Glen Gibson - Dip. Counselling, MA Psychotherapy, Dip. Psychotherapy
UKCP & mBACP Accredited Relationship Counsellor & Marriage Counsellor

therapy@counselling-london.org.uk 020 7916 1342

Relationship Counselling & Marriage Counselling London

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Please note, for relationship counselling, marriage counselling, marriage guidance, relationship advice & marriage advice I only see individuals who want to work through their own marriage or relationship problems.
I don't see couples for relationship counselling or marriage counselling.

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Affairs, Infidelity & Unfaithfulness In The Relationship Or Marriage

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Emotional Affairs

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Emotional Affairs, Emotional Infidelity, Emotional Cheating, Limerence We may be in contact with, strike up a strong relationship with someone (which is exciting, unpredictable) who becomes our "special close friend" - maybe through work, social media, online chat (this may have developed into a sexual relationship, affair). We may or may not be in a relationship with someone else at the time. If we are in a relationship, marriage, we may be lonely, feel unappreciated or avoid expressing certain feelings, e.g. anger, disappointment, maybe hiding our dark side. Some of us may have developed an overwhelming emotional affair, with someone other than our partner, who impacts upon the overall dynamics and balance of our relationship or marriage, often resulting in emotional distance, reduced level of intimacy with our partner, because we sidelined them. We may try to convince ourselves, that up until now if there has been no sex, it is not an affair, yet if we are deceiving our partner have secrets, betraying them, in many ways it can be seen as no different to an affair, because of the amount of emotional energy we put into our special close friend, which we no longer share with our partner. We may try to convince ourselves it's only a friendship. Denial may also play a strong part, enabling us to be guilt free, not give up what we hold so precious. Obsessed, we may become preoccupied, maybe infatuated, by our special close friend in our life, fearing abandonment, rejection. Revealing personal issues, we may confide in them, looking more towards them to satisfy our emotional needs, as they boost our ego, give us the attention we find it hard to give to ourselves. It can be easier for us to talk to them, because they are sympathetic. We may have become more playful with them and got into the habit of telling them everything happening in our life, as if things spill out of us, struggling to contain things. We may also be selective, choosing what we say, don't say to both parties, as boundaries are crossed. The effects of our emotional affair may render us increasingly emotionally unavailable, distant and less present, stop it growing - so underlying conflicts, problems, remain unresolved (often our partner will sense something isn't right), and we may maximise their negative traits. It is said that an emotional affair, with its deception and betrayal, has the potential to damage a committed relationship more than a brief, sexual encounter.

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Emotional Affair - Other Love Interest Emotional infidelity, an affair of the heart, can be seen as having an emotional affair - a special friendship, which excludes sexual intimacy, yet includes emotional demands, that can stop emotional availability with our partner - creating an emotional distance, affecting the quality of the relationship as a whole, because we have become more emotionally available to someone else and less emotionally available to our partner. Emotionally-led, our loving relationship with our special close friend may, or may not, include an undercurrent of physical affection, flirting, sexual alchemy, sexual contact or lead to a sexual affair (we may try to look good for them). We may deny any sexual feelings in order to keep it a special friendship.

Characteristics Of An Emotional Affair Which May Undermine Our Existing Relationship, Marriage

  • Not attempting to overcome, resolve our existing relationship, marriage difficulties, leaving us vulnerable, open to other love interests
  • An intensity of attachment & involvement with someone else
  • Inappropriate, excessive emotional intimacy - we may spend excessive time with our special close friend confiding in them, sharing intimate, emotional feelings, secrets, rather than with our existing partner
  • Arranging private talk time
  • Secrecy, deception (adding to the attraction, excitement) - we may not tell our partner about how much time we spend with our special close friend, we may even say we are doing other activities, omitting to mention we'd seen them, when we have and if confronted by our emotional affair, we deny it
  • Shifting our moral compass - may include being in the company of others, who are doing the same or having affairs
  • Feelings of guilt, if our partner saw us together
  • Depending on our special close friend for the good feelings, any emotional highs they provide for us
  • Sharing, saying, doing many things we wouldn't share, say, do with our partner (including how we spent our day)
  • Talking a lot about our relationship, marriage problems, dissatisfaction
  • All good, all bad - we may see our special close friend as all good, and our partner often as bad, putting a strain on our relationship, often with more arguing
  • Setting up an emotional triangle - we may try to keep the other two people in our life from knowing the impact they have on each other
  • Subtle flirting, leading to warm feelings, attraction, which we crave more & more of
  • Denial - alongside our intrusive, obsessive thinking, we may have an element of sexual attraction, an intense romantic desire, which if fulfilled, damages our existing relationship, marriage (limerence)
  • Emotional & sexual chemistry - an unspoken or spoken attraction may exist; we may spend extra time getting ready to see our friend, taking care, smartening up our appearance, changing our appearance, maybe buy new clothes; we may have an increased level of excitement, pleasure, no different to what it would be when feeling a physical attraction; for some there may be a long period between emotional intimacy and any sexual contact; we may start to obsess about them, forever anticipating, getting anxious about texts, emails, calls, etc.
  • Breaking of trust in our relationship, marriage
  • Become like an addiction in that we can have a distorted sense of intimacy, fulfilment, feel empty inside with similar characteristics of a love addiction, be in a trance-like state, detach ourselves from guilt, shame

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Limerence Limerence can be described as having a romantic love attraction to someone else, certainly being emotionally attached, combined with an overwhelming or obsessive need to have our own feelings reciprocated. Carried away by unreasoned passion or love, our thinking about them may have become intrusive. Things with them may even become claustrophobic, weigh us down at times. Playing out fantasies (often preferred to reality), we may spend time, when away from them, imagining these feelings are shared. We can't bear to see the world without our rose coloured glasses. Our feelings may range from intense joy to deep despair, dependent on whether our own feelings are reciprocated. Longing for reciprocation, fearing rejection, we may struggle to have love, fondness and affection, without the need for these feelings to be returned. When the limerent part of ourself has power over us and when there are obstacles, distance or adversity between each other our feelings intensify. Obsessively thinking about them, we may end up analysing everything, even the small things, words, gestures for meaning, however unfounded. Some of us may become shy, awkward, unwell, maybe lose our appetite. Our limerence may mean we have a strong need for affectionate intense bonding with another, bordering on infatuation (see also Love Addiction, Romance Addiction & Obsessive Love). Fearing rejection, abandonment we may also fear our limerence won't be reciprocated. On occasions our limerence may spread to others when the person we are obsessing about is unavailable, unreceptive. One of us may have become a rescuer to the other. This relationship may have become enmeshed, co-dependent or emotionally abusive at some level. We may have lost our sense of control, power and own ground. Relationship counselling and marriage therapy can explore what love means for you, how you get your love needs met.

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Breaking Off From An Emotional Affair We may have a pattern of getting sucked in to damaging, intense emotional relationships, connected to our unconscious baggage, unmet love needs. It can be painful to give this up, take time for ourself to grieve, if that is our choice. Enlisting the support of good, safe friends (not connected to our special close friend) setting up a form of accountability may assist us. Allowing our lonely feelings, replacing our emptiness with something fulfilling may be part of the healing process. Some of us may want to consider reinvigorating our relationship, marriage and talking to our partner, that we've been sharing more with our friend than with them, that this no longer feels right and we want to be close again with them, talking about how we've grown apart and that we want our relationship to heal and grow, be open, honest, real, alive with an emotional connection.

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Seeing Someone Else, Affairs, Infidelity, Cheating In Our Relationship

Affairs, Seeing Someone Else, Cheating On Someone Some of us want and believe that a relationship or marriage should last forever, that no partner should have sexual relations with anyone else, and this is important, essential for many of us. Others may believe this is too much to ask, expect, yet still struggle with the consequences of having sexual relations outside of the relationship or marriage. We may also have different views about what it means to be in an open relationship. There may have been a spoken or unspoken taboo to be sexual with someone else. If we have chosen or agreed upon (spoken or unspoken) a monogamous, conventional relationship or marriage, this has consequences if our actions are different to what has been agreed, even tacitly. We may have met someone else or be involved in an affair, which undermines or threatens our relationship, marriage. We may have had a fling, "casual sex" or something more serious with a strong, emotional involvement, either way it can put a strain on us and others. We may have tried to keep this aspect of our lives separate. Our "new relationship" may have become quite charged, as we experience emotions we've never quite felt before. The secrecy may initially add to our excitement, attraction. We may enjoy the dating, romance and this new person in our life may now mean a lot to us. We may confide in them, connect with them emotionally more than our primary partner (see also Emotional Affairs above). Constantly covering our tracks, we may be worn out by the circle of lies, where our integrity and sexual honesty may be compromised. An affair or seeing someone else may have happened following an impulsive opportunity, a curiosity to sexually experiment, a need for love and connection, to experience something different, or started off as a friendship and developed from there.

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The New Person In Our Life - Unresolved Issues Within Us, With Our Partner? Alongside our attraction to someone else, maybe carried away with passion, we may also have entered into this liaison because of a difficulty in our relationship or marriage. We may have started an affair as a distraction to get away from problems in our relationship or marriage. And sometimes having an affair may be an easy way out to avoid things between us and our partner. We may have begun to turn away from each other, living parallel lives. One or both of us may not have bothered very much. Struggling to acknowledge, accept, manage differences between us and our primary partner, we may minimise their positive traits, maximising their negative ones, and reversing this for he new person in our life. We may believe that turning to someone else may solve our problem, yet our troubles may remain and we may now be questioning if we really want to abandon our relationship or marriage. We may also have unresolved personal struggles, problems or insecurities in the hope that by seeing someone else they will be resolved. We may for example feel unappreciated, be alone, lonely at times, believing that turning to someone else will take away all these feelings. Some may start seeing someone else as a transitional means to end their current relationship, not knowing any other way to do this. We may want to reflect further on these considerations. (See also Reflections, Way Forward)

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Our Choices The possibility of romance and flirting don't necessarily end when we are in a committed long term relationship and sometimes we are faced with choices and sacrifice of whether or not to pursue this... Being involved in an affair or infidelity we can seem like two different people at times. Anxious or in a panic, it can be hard to think clearly as if in a dream or stupor. Alongside seeing someone else, our "infidelity" or "extramarital affair" we may become confused, torn between what to do - what some people call being in a love triangle. Having a sexual affair, emotional affair, we may have a hard and fast choice as to what we invest in, where we place our energy and time. We may have come up against the impossibility of spreading intimacy in too many places. We may love our partner (maybe in a different way) and the new person in our life, and have a dilemma of which person to choose, how can I be with both, do I want to get back to my original partner and if so how can I get back? Some may have made a deep connection with this new person in our life (maybe in different ways), that we want to be with them, because this now feels right for us. For others, our "fling" or affair may have ended, but the repercussions live on. Some of us may feel apologetic, maybe ashamed for crossing a boundary, others not. How to get over an affair may now be our concern. Having a romantic liaison, sexual encounter or affair doesn't have to mean the relationship or marriage is over, yet for others, they may be considering ending their relationship or marriage. We want to turn to counselling, so we can discuss the effects and impact of seeing someone else, having an affair. Relationship counselling and marriage counselling can be a space to talk about what all this means for us, what would we like to do.

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Internet Affairs, Cheating On Someone

Online Affairs, Internet Affairs, Cyber Affairs, Cheating In Our Relationship Some of us may be "seeing someone else" online at the same time as being in a relationship or marriage (see also Online Sex Addiction & Porn Addiction). Our online affair, cyber affair or internet affair can be perceived by our partner no differently to seeing someone else in "real". We may have developed our online affair through sexting, online chat, internet dating or social media. The issues that come up can be explored in the relationship counselling or marriage therapy.

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Serial Sexual Relationships, Cheating In Our Relationship

Multiple Sexual Relationships, Serial Affairs, Cheating On Someone Notwithstanding polyamory, some of us may believe we need many relationships, serial affairs, seeking the initial thrill, buzz and excitement we get when falling in love, as if this remains the only way left to feel these feelings. We may become easily infatuated, led by desire, with the possibility and potential of so much. Some may have an obsession for women, men, crave female attention, male attention, enjoy the lure as if treating sex like any other recreation. We may compulsively seek others out, as if we must be with others to enable us to feel alive. Enmeshed, it can be as if we can't resist, we have to "act out" our passion when we feel it, struggling to contain it, that we lack the power or self-control to resist any temptation (see also Being Led By Our Desire). Lacking restraint, we may confuse sex or lust for love. For some having a lot of sexual partners can boost our esteem, confidence or popularity, yet for others the reverse may be true, and we may experience shame or feel a little like a fugitive, as if there are two different sides of us. We may become hooked on the initial attraction stage - the "honeymoon" period or early sexual encounters, addicted to climax, orgasm (see also Cycle Of Sexual Dissatisfaction - Staying In Our Head Or Overly Focused On Sex, Climax, Orgasm, Outcomes, Performance, Techniques, Goals, Positions, Genitals, Stuck In Over-Familiar Roles). Some of us may want sexual freedom when we want it (yet fail to make a link between our sexual freedom and the effects on our current relationship - if we are in one), as if our sexual relationships are disposable, have little consequence or effect on us or others around us. We may have made our existing relationship or marriage of secondary importance to our personal, sexual fulfilment. We may want to stop moving from one person to the next, yet can't quite do it. We may have a need to push things, have risky sexual encounters which have become harmful. Our sexual boundaries may support us in this. Abandoning ourselves, we may have an overwhelming need for contact, connection, approval, affirmation, reassurance, recognition, validation, appreciation, praise, permission, confirmation. We may continuously look to others for love, adoration. Commitment may be a challenge for us. Lonely, empty or hungry, as if we want to consume or hold on to something, we may not want to miss out on chances and opportunities, as they may not happen again, so we may fill ourselves up externally. Our challenge may be to love and fill ourself. In touch with our overwhelming desire, it can be as if we allow our sexual identity to dominate us, and we become overwhelmed or intoxicated. We may be seeking out sexual partners, because we believe we are entitled to do so, no matter what the consequences on others (or ourselves). Experiencing multiple sexual relationships we may question how fulfilling they are yet sex may be one of the few things that makes us come alive. Others may need multiple sexual partners in order to dull their feelings, so despite our sexual activity, we may feel disconnected inside, struggling to be fully engaged. We may believe we don't deserve love and that sex has become our only value. Others may struggle to bond with others in a deep way. Relationship counselling and marriage psychotherapy can help look at why we do what we do (see also Love Addiction, Romance Addiction & Obsessive Love). An out of control habit of turning to pornography, online chat and internet dating, sexting can also be experienced similarly to having an affair (see also Internet Affairs, Cheating On Someone).

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Reflections, Way Forward

What May Be Happening Inside Some of us may have been monogamous in our beliefs, yet have an internal conflict between our values and behaviour, having crossed a line we never thought we would, risking everything, lured by the power of the forbidden.

Being Led By Our Desire A desire for attention, to be special, important may also lay underneath our sexual desire. Whether and how we respond to our passion and desire is in our hands. We may be longing, searching for something we can never quite reach (see also Confusing Longing With Loving), have an insatiable desire that can never be fulfilled, desiring a love that is so longed for, so ideal, so perfect, that we can never get there (see also Love Addiction, Romance Addiction & Obsessive Love). One or both of us may have been sexually withholding, and rather than talk about this, we may have turned to someone else because of our desire to be sexual, or for excitement. We may be seeking erotic mystery outside of the relationship, marriage, believing that this can't be explored or is not possible within it. We may have been searching for more sex, yet actually want to reconnect with our own erotic vitality, aliveness - struggling to express this quality of energy and sexual alchemy (our desire) within our relationship. At some level, others may have become like an object for our desire to be met. Led by our desire for something different, some of us may at one level secretly want to be "found out". Aroused or led by our libido, we may believe that because we have desire, we have to fulfil it, as if we let our desire control us (see also Drives, Urges, Impulses, Passion, Aspirations, Imagination, Our Desires, Including Sexual Desire). We may have allowed our desire to be more important or stronger than what we really value. We may want to take charge of our motivation and the will that drives our passion and desire, so it doesn't always have to be acted out, supported by our personal boundaries. Others may want to explore the nature of their desire, how to respond to this and what lays behind it, what it all means. These issues can be discussed in the marriage counselling or relationship counselling.

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Unsure, Unclear Of Why We Did What We Did We may have entered into something, yet not fully know why. Sometimes our unconscious, unacknowledged feelings might be shrugged off to our detriment. This may include our deep grief, mourning our losses. We may have wanted to escape into an affair or new relationship because we've struggled to resolve something, which hasn't gone away in the current relationship or marriage. This could be vague or specific (for example, our relationship or marriage may have become too much for us or too little. Also or when a child comes along, some men may feel excluded, neglected, and rather than talk about what we feel, seek love and attention from another). Whether we are escaping from something or walking towards something more meaningful, may be a question we hold. Something may be missing in our relationship or marriage that we can't put our finger on, or have yet to explore, and marriage counselling can provide a space to do this. We may not be fully aware of our own unmet needs, believing or hoping someone else can meet them. Avoiding tackling something difficult with our partner, we may have turned to someone else. An unresolved issue with our partner (e.g. hurt, frustration, anger, envy or jealousy), a need to test, retaliate or punish them because we are holding a grievance "you owe me" may play a part. Communication may have become difficult in the relationship or marriage, as may how and whether to speak our truth, where we fear being misunderstood, unheard or find it hard to say things. We may want something different in our relationship or marriage, yet struggle to articulate this. Vulnerable, we may be questioning "What have I got myself into?", "What was it in us, or in them, that drew us to the affair or infidelity?" There are many reasons for seeing someone else, having an affair or being unfaithful. What this means and how to respond can be considered in relationship counselling and marriage therapy.

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Reflection Upon Our Relationship Or Marriage Dissatisfied, unsupported at home (or not contributing much ourself) some of us may have looked for attention, comfort, love elsewhere. Rather than try to resolve the problems in the relationship or marriage we can let ourselves get distracted by seeing others (especially for some if we are in a long distance relationship). We may simply want to be heard, listened to, be appreciated, seek validation of our worth, approval, affirmation, reassurance, recognition, appreciation, praise, permission, confirmation. Some may feel unwanted, rejected, struggle with conflict, confrontation in our relationship or marriage, and may take flight by finding someone else. Rather than openly communicate with our partner, we may have had imaginary conversations with them in our head. Unable to bear our own dependency needs, we may "act them out" outside of our relationship or marriage. For some we may fear that our partner may leave us, so we choose to pre-empt the ending by having an affair. "I'll reject or abandon them before they can do it to me" may be our subtext or we may fear engulfment. Others may have an affair as an indirect way of trying to end their relationship, marriage. Living our life as if single, fear of commitment for some may play a part. We may have different expectations of relationship, marriage or live our life as if single. What commitment means for us may be different to what this means for our partner. There may be an "immature" part of us, who refuses to accept our choices, accept our partner, or take on certain responsibilities. Lacking, fearing or avoiding intimacy in the relationship or marriage we may turn to another for this. How to be intimate, loving - giving, receiving and sharing in the relationship or marriage - may be our challenge. We may be disappointed about our relationship or marriage, the attitudes, assumptions, expectations we have about our relationship or marriage may be different to our partner's or simply be personally disappointed. One of us may believe it is acceptable to have a fling, see someone else. In our quest for happiness we may have turned to someone else, hoping they can give it to us. We may be seeking more freedom or less control in the relationship, yet struggle to articulate this. Some may be very clear they want to end their relationship or marriage.

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Understanding What We Are Doing & Where We Are Going Having a "fling", seeing someone else, an affair or infidelity may result in a sense of betrayal, unfaithfulness, regret, guilt, shame, excitement, danger, release, freedom, beating back deadness, being seen and understood, being in contact with, valuing, expressing the fullness of our self, which may have got lost. What this means for us at a deeper level can be explored in marriage counselling and relationship psychotherapy. Unhappy, bored or lonely inside, needing connection or depressed, things may have become predictable. We may have turned to someone else, and it can be flattering to receive their attention, boosting our esteem and confidence, yet underlying matters in us or our relationship may still lay unresolved. The sexual attraction we have or had from the new person, we may mistake for love or illusion of love. Unexplored motivations, self-sabotage, as if we are rebelling against something (e.g. I'll tell or show them something), feelings (e.g. fear, sense of emptiness), beliefs and expectations (e.g. what we think we need or deserve) may need clarification. Issues of control, being seen and recognised, appreciated and valued as a sexual man or woman may be important. Things may not be right in our relationship or marriage, and rather than address this, we may have started an affair as if a cry for help. Some of what has been going on between us and our partner may have been unconscious. Midlife crisis, unresolved childhood issues, having our own children now may also play a part. We may fear loss (even for things we haven't had, e.g. an exciting adolescence). We may experience separation anxiety linked to our dependency needs or have a health or death anxiety.

Bid To Heal Or End Our Relationship, Marriage Some of us may feel so enlivened, that we are considering continuing with this new relationship, contemplate ending our relationship or marriage, or want to rebuild and make this work. Some can't see another way out of our relationship - a combination of many unhappy years. Having an affair may sometimes be a bid to end (yet struggle to deal with possible conflicts of ending, can't bear ending it directly, hurt our partner, us) or indeed heal the relationship or marriage and this can be discussed in the relationship counselling and marriage therapy as space to take our time and reflect. We may have been seeing someone else, because we can't see another way out of our failing relationship. Others may be clear they want to get back with their partner, who they have hurt, yet feel cast out, in the doghouse, unsure how to get out of the doghouse, now on a leash - powerless, yet feel uncertain if this is possible (see also Wanting To Retrieve Our Relationship Or Marriage With Our Partner). This may continue for a long time (see also The Pain & Joy Of Life - Opening Our Heart). The relationship counselling can help to recover from the effects of an affair, if that is our choice, as we reflect upon what to do next.

Wanting To Talk, Yet In Different Places It can be a difficult time to talk to our partner about important aspects of the relationship or marriage, other than the effects of the affair or unfaithfulness. We may have also broken the trust between us. Regaining this trust may be a big concern. When our partner finds out we have been seeing someone else or had an affair (some of us may have secretly wanted them to find out, or in a strange way feel relieved, that things are now out in the open) they may be in a very different place to us, as if they have to catch up with the impact of all that has happened. This takes time and patience.

Wanting To Retrieve Our Relationship Or Marriage With Our Partner Ending our affair, we may initially need to properly grieve what we have let go of and move forward. We may have feelings of regret, guilt, shame, remorse. And some of us may really want to reconcile things, rekindle our relationship or marriage, wanting to make it work, yet may be unsure how. Wanting to rebuild our relationship or marriage we may struggle to bear witness to our partner's pain and powerful reactions. The marriage counselling and relationship therapy can support you with this.

Rebuilding & Restoring Trust - Our Work Before we can regain the trust of our partner, we may need to genuinely be a trusting, caring adult towards ourself, otherwise it may be unrealistic for them to trust us if we can't trust ourselves. Stopping our affair, or one night stands, may not constitute us being trustworthy to our partner. All our own inner trust work may take time, so we are ready to share our love with our partner, learn their trust again. If we now know we are a trustworthy and honest person, then we don't have to take our partner's lack of trust personally. Even if we do all this inner work on ourselves, our partner may still not trust us, unless they too address their own, internal trust issues, and the challenges ahead for both of us are worked through together, being open to what we need to learn.

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Deceived Partners Reflections On Their Relationship, Marriage

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On The Receiving End - Responding To Our Partner's Affair When we first find out that this has been happening, it can be as if the rug has been pulled underneath us and we question everything. Coping with infidelity, how to cope with an affair may be something we never imagined we'd have to face. Confused, fragile or raw, we may have a whole range of reactions. We may have difficulties eating, sleeping. The effects of an affair, infidelity or sense of betrayal often affect more than just the couple. There is a ripple effect on our friends, family and at work. The impact of what our partner has been doing may threaten our relationship or marriage. Consumed by the upheaval and turmoil, maybe bitter or resentful, it can be as if our whole world collapses. We may have difficulties eating. We may feel rejected, abandoned. Our esteem may erode and we may lose our sexual confidence, questioning our loveability, judgements, loyalties and beliefs. We may do a lot of comparing between the person our partner is/was seeing and us, become hooked on social media. We may have developed a very vivid imagination or can't get images out of our head. "What have they got that we haven't?", "What do they see in them?" Our mind can go into overdrive, wondering what's true. We may go over and over events for hours - what was said. We may blame ourself for what has happened. We may question if any of our lack of affection, indifference, lack of attention (or having our own affair), contributed to our partner's affair. How to survive an affair may be something we want to address. Others may want to rush headlong towards separation, divorce. The relationship counselling and marriage therapy may be a space to talk about what all this means for us and how we would like to respond.

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On The Receiving End Of An Affair - Responding To Our Sense Of Betrayal It can be devastating when the person we believe cares about us, betrays us, hurts us. Certain situations (e.g. places, scenarios, memories, fantasies) may trigger our pain further. Understandably wounded we can emotionally withdraw or attack. Believing our partner now owes us something, we may want to punish them, retaliate or seek revenge. Some may blame themselves, ruminate, hold on to a lot of anger and blame, feel outrage towards our partner for betraying us. No matter how much we blame them, it can't take away what happened. Accepting the truth of this, and our own helplessness (not our powerlessness), calling upon our self-compassion, may support us. We may be holding on to powerful feelings of outrage, maybe heartbreak, helplessness or feeling victimised. We may even blame ourselves for not seeing the signs, failing to notice the lies, being unaware, as if we should have known what was happening. Feeling, releasing some of these feelings, allowing our emotions to come out, can be healing. Compassion for ourself, being kind and gentle, may be in short supply. Painful though these feelings are, once released, a further challenge may be to discover what are the lessons for us. Some may reflect whether there is some way we betrayed, abandoned ourself in some ways, ignored what we needed to attend to, not listening to our gut feelings, inner voice.

On The Receiving End Of An Affair - Trust Issues We can suddenly feel very alone, isolated, coping with the effects of an affair. The very person we would naturally turn to for comfort and support would usually be our partner. The emotional effects on us can be overwhelming, when we find out our partner has been seeing someone else. Some of us may even feel ashamed because of our covert detective work on our partner. Remaining suspicious or no longer trusting them, we may constantly check up on our partner, which may in the long term be unsustainable and can drive a further wedge into the relationship or marriage. Once it is out in the open that our partner has been unfaithful (compounded by any deception or pretence), the trust can plummet. For many of us it is the breaking of trust, even more than the sex, which can be more significant. Recovering this trust, re-choosing to do so, may be our significant challenge, so we and the relationship feel safe again. We may have thought we knew our partner and what we thought or believed, may be no longer as we mourn or grieve this loss (see also Trust, Vulnerability & Intimacy In The Relationship).

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On The Receiving End Of An Affair - Rebuilding & Restoring Our Own Trust Apologies from our partner because they have deceived us, may not be enough. How our "errant" partner is sincerely interested in salvaging the relationship or marriage and taking responsibility, so they are above suspicion, volunteering information about their activities, genuinely seeking ways for us to regain our trust, may influence our response. Yet how, if, whether and when we are able to understand and really forgive may also have a huge impact. Finding our compassion and courage to do so is no mean feat. Each of us need to do the inner work to heal false beliefs, underlying fears, which lead to the unfaithfulness so we both come from our strong, trustworthy, mature, loving adults (with ourselves and each other) as opposed to our wounded selves. Most of us find it hard to trust others, unless we fully trust ourselves. And painful though it might be, it may be unrealistic for us to regain trust in our partner, unless we learn to trust ourselves - do our own inner work despite what happened. This "inner work" may include accepting that we have no control over someone betraying us, fully grieving our loss of trust, learning to trust our own deepest feelings, being willing to lose our partner rather than lose ourself and also willing to take whatever loving actions we need to take. We too may have our own inner trust issues - how to trust, love and value ourselves. We could now project all our mistrust issues onto our "errant" partner. (We may for example have intuitively known at some level what our partner was doing, but didn't trust this.) Our lack of trust is our issue. Feeling angry or victimised, our challenge may be to not take what our partner did so personally, as what they did was more about them, not just about us, so our esteem remains intact. Valuing ourselves, our own intrinsic worth, may be important for us, so what happened does not diminish us in any way. Accepting we both have to learn from this painful situation, being truthful and honest from now on without the need to control (from either party), finding our way to heal old beliefs and fears, rebulding the foundations of the relationship or marriage, sharing our love again with our partner may facilitate the relationship or marriage to become stronger than before, able to grow, as if creating a new relationship.

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The Challenges Ahead For Both Of Us

The Challenges Ahead For Both Parties Insecure or fearful, some may want to give up. Others may want to fight for the relationship or marriage. Because of the immediate hurt, pain, shock, anger, turmoil and crisis, vulnerability (often of both parties), some may question whether having an affair means the end of the insurmountable relationship or marriage, and we may be considering moving forward without our partner. Both may wonder whether it's possible to get over the effects of an affair (affecting not just us as a couple, but others around us) and how future trust, intimacy, tolerance, understanding, stability and security can be re-established and re-built. Being anchored, centred in our own ground can support us. Infidelity or having an affair does not have to mean the end of a relationship or marriage (see also Continuing Or Ending The Relationship Or Marriage). Paradoxically, an affair also has the potential to lead to changes that a couple both need to make to improve the relationship, grow together through this as a couple where both parties are willing to try. An affair often highlights deeper problems in the relationship, marriage. Without excusing the responsibility of the "errant" person, they may also have been unconsciously trying to communicate something to their partner about things in the relationship which aren't working or somehow they too felt "betrayed", yet in a different way (e.g. indifference, neglect, contempt). It can be challenging, yet healing, for both couples, to honestly, openly be willing to look at their lives together, unhelpful patterns, find the courage to communicate all our feelings, really listen to each others' experience, being receptive to fully hearing to what went on, recognising what each is feeling, compassionately witnessing this, so the relationship can heal and grow. This experience for some can ironically bring us closer together, more solid as a couple, when both of us are being real. Each of us may need to be willing to learn about ourselves, each other and us together as a couple. Healing any deep wounds, grief, depression, sense of betrayal, and whether and how to really forgive and love each other again, without threatening to end the relationship, marriage, can be enormously challenging, yet potentially rewarding (see also Opening Our Heart To Others - Even When Things Are Difficult). Before trust can be rebuilt, both us and our partner may need to courageously listen and understand what motivations lay behind how we have been, including differences between what the effects of the affair did to us and what it meant to us. Both of us may need to be congruent, speak our truth, really be open to seeing, listening to each other, accepting each other's reality so we no longer get caught (e.g. in a drama triangle). Although this may seem a long way off, sometime after an affair or one night stands have ended, the relationship or marriage can have the potential to grow through the betrayal, be even stronger, harmonious and more intimate than before (see also Talking About Our Sexual Feelings, Desires, With Our Partner), through forgiveness. Going back to where we were may not be possible or desirable, yet how we go forward and what we are prepared to do may matter. Having fun again and loving, healthy sex - finding a way to make it sacred again, can be challenging for both partners. Relationship counselling and marriage therapy may also include other considerations, like:

  • Making sense of what happened, what it all means
  • Any underlying personal problems, which may have lead to the affair
  • Taking responsibility for our actions
  • Looking at underlying relationship issues
  • How to overcome bad patches
  • How important the relationship or marriage is
  • Opportunities for increasing communication & openness
  • Changing the relationship structure by making it less prone to affairs
  • Finding our way to make our relationship or marriage stronger, loving & robust
  • Our own role, needs, desires, beliefs, expectations, hopes, etc. in the relationship or marriage
  • Rebuilding, restoring trust again through actions, not just words
  • What we value in each other
  • Resuming sexual intimacy, prioritising sex
  • Identifying our longing, yearning
  • Reconfiguring relationship, marriage

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