I DON'T see couples for relationship counselling, marriage counselling, or civil partnership therapy.
Please note, for relationship counselling, I ONLY see individuals privately (independently of their partner),
who want to work through their OWN, SPECIFIC concerns, issues in their relationship.
Affairs, Infidelity & Unfaithfulness In The Relationship Or Marriage - Counselling London
Infidelity Counselling, Counselling For Affairs Even in happy relationships, affairs can occur. The may be conscious understandings and unconscious agreements between each other about infidelity, affairs. Each of us define our morals and beliefs about monogamy, what is infidelity, what constitutes an affair, flirting, using pornography, digisex, emotional affairs - limerence (see also Online Infidelity, Internet Affairs, Cheating On Someone). And we may have unmet, unexpressed emotional, sexual needs, desires, fantasies (or an unexpressed shadow side) that aren't realised in our primary relationship (see also Exploring & Sexually Opening Up With Our Partner & Emotional Engagement, Emotional Connection, Emotional Intimacy) and use emotional, sexual infidelity as if to balance, preserve this.
Emotional Affairs, Limerent Love
Emotional Affairs, Emotional Infidelity, Limerence Emotional infidelity occurs when we become emotionally connected with someone outside of our primary relationship - either in person, on the phone, online or text. 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, video chatroom, webcam room - this may have developed into cyber affairs a sexual relationship, affair. (They may validate us in ways others don't.) We may try to convince ourselves it's only a friendship with our "special" friend and our love may be unreciprocated - experiencing lovesickness as if we enter into a pathological love anxiety state of ecstasy. The longer our love is unreciprocated, unrequited, or there are mixed messages, the longer we hang on in there. 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, consumed by day and night thoughts of the special close friend in our life, forever checking messages. Fearing abandonment, rejection, if we don't hear from them, this affects our moods. We may do bizarre, out of character things in order to pursue, connect with them, overly confide in them, revealing personal issues, looking more towards them to satisfy our emotional needs. We may have got into the habit of telling them everything happening in our life, as if things spill out of us, struggling to contain things. They can 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. 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 our original relationship 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.
Having A Partner Alongside A Simultaneous Emotional Affair - Other Love Interest, Emotional Cheating We may or may not be in a relationship with someone else at the time. 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 side-lined 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. Emotional infidelity, an affair of the heart, can be seen as having an emotional affair - a special friendship, crush on another, 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, either way we may try to look good for them. We may deny any sexual feelings in order to keep it a special friendship. 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.
Counselling For Limerence - Indications Of A Limerent Relationship
- An intensity of attachment & involvement with someone else
- Idealising this person's characteristics, whether or not they are good or bad
- Depending on our special close friend for the good feelings, any emotional highs they provide for us
- Despair when feeling abandoned, rejected
- Having intrusive thoughts, fantasising imaginary scenarios, obsessively dissecting, replaying times with them, imagining we are seeing this person everywhere
- Rearranging our schedules in order to increase possible meet-ups with them
- Butterflies in our stomach, maybe shyness in their presence
- Subtle flirting, leading to warm feelings, attraction, which we crave more & more of
- 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.
- Become like an addiction in that we can have a distorted sense of intimacy, fulfillment, feel empty inside with similar characteristics of a love addiction, be in a trance-like state, detach ourselves from guilt, shame
Limerence Counselling - 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
- 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 minimise or 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
- 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
- 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
- Breaking of trust in our relationship, marriage
Ways Of Looking At Limerence, Emotional Affairs, Emotional Infidelity When we are in a limerent relationship it can feel exciting, yet dangerous, because it takes away our time and energy from our primary relationship. This can lead to sexual infidelity or an end of our primary relationship. Yet another way of looking at this, is that it's a symptom of problems already existing in our primary relationship, which may not be physically intimate or emotionally connected, where there are issues of power and control, anger, blame, criticism, withdrawing and resisting. We may feel disconnected from our partner and lonely. It can therefore be easy and compelling to be close to someone, get the good feelings we get, when someone doesn't live with us doesn't see all our issues and where there is no shared responsibility, e.g. chores, money, children. Even if we chose to break up our primary relationship into a new permanent relationship with our limerent partner, the chances are our same unhealed issues (including self-abandonment, not taking responsibility for our own feelings, ability to love) will re-emerge.
Limerence Counselling Limerence is experienced more extremely than a heartache and 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 the thrill, 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, abandonment, 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). One of us may have become a rescuer to the other. This limerent 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. On occasions our limerence may spread to others when the person we are obsessing about is unavailable, unreceptive. The therapy for limerence can explore what love means for you, how you get your love needs met. Some couples, who don't want to end their long-term relationship, yet have little in common emotionally, attempt to have a consensual, non-monogamous, open relationship, where there is emotional (or sexual) connection with another.
Breaking Off From An Emotional Affair We may have a pattern of getting sucked in to damaging, intense unconsummated 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 fulfilling nourishing experiences 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. (See also The Challenges Ahead For Both Of Us)
Seeing Someone Else, Affairs, Infidelity, Cheating In Our Relationship
Non-Monogamous, Open Relationships, Polyamory While In A Relationship These relationships can be described as when two or more partners are romantically and/or sexually involved with each other, where there is consent regarding other romantic and/or sexual experiences with other people. Some of us want and believe that a relationship, civil partnership 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, casual "hook-ups" outside of the relationship or marriage. We may also have similar or different views about what it means to be in an open relationship, and this may work for some couples (see also Finding Out, Exploring Our Sexual Selves). When in open relationships, multi-partnered, or seeing someone else, having clarity, feeling empowered and in a sexually safe space may be important for us, alongside having honest communication, boundaries in place and assessment of why we and our long-term partner both want to go down this road - what we need, want, what is / isn't tolerable. (We may also need to check-in with ourselves if anything is missing, lacking in our relationship, what might need resolving, and whether this is an early sign to end the long-term relationship. For other couples this may not at all be the case.) When seeing others, very strong feelings can develop complicating things in our primary relationship if we become sexual elsewhere, where the deep, loving, respectful intimacy (including sexual intimacy) we once had with our primary partner can erode. In open relationships, having feelings we are not "supposed" to feel can creep in (including inner conflict between what we prioritise, value, even jealousy). We may question what is sacred, what our sexual boundaries are and what is the relationship we have now with our primary partner.
Monogamy, Seeing Someone Else, Affairs, "Cheating" On Someone In A Monogamous Relationship If we have chosen or agreed upon (spoken or unspoken) a monogamous, conventional relationship, civil partnership or marriage, valuing its sanctuary, this has consequences if our actions are different to what has been agreed, even tacitly. (There may have been unexpressed or tacit taboo about being sexual with others.) 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. Monogamy is challenging for some of us and we may have been monogamous in our beliefs, yet have an internal conflict between our values, integrity and behaviour as if we have become unfaithful to ourself (maybe challenging our own loyalty, commitment concerns), having crossed a line we never thought we would, as our sexual boundaries are washed away, risking everything, lured by the power of the forbidden, excitement, something different. Our "new relationship" may have become quite charged, as we experience emotions we've never quite felt before. It can be as if we've learnt to fly again - showed our wings and flew, flourished, and we don't want to give that up, or may believe these experiences are not possible in our primary relationship. 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, Limerent Love above). Constantly covering our tracks, we may be worn out by the circle of lies, where our integrity and sexual honesty may be compromised. We may start seeing someone else because of our own lost sense of self-identity, especially if we are over work-identified or caught up being a team as a parent, yet losing our self, individuality, expression. 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.
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 fear of intimacy, commitment, rejection, engulfment, difficulty in our relationship or marriage, as an attempt or distraction to solve or get away from our relationship problems. Some of us may be questioning what is being satisfied by this new person in our life, as sometimes having an affair may be an easy way out to avoid things that need resolving 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 the new person in our life. We may believe that turning to someone else may solve our problem, yet our troubles may remain, and some of us may question 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, feel alone, lonely at times, believing that turning to someone else will take away all these feelings. We may have emotionally abandoned ourself - seeking the attention we refuse to give to ourself without taking responsibility for our own needs, feelings, fears. We may use sex or the power we feel in the conquest to fill our lack. Some may start seeing someone else as a means to end their current relationship, not knowing any other way to do this. Others may not want to leave or end the primary relationship and in it we may have become long term friends, hoping the passion develops between us, yet it hasn't. (See also Reflections, Way Forward)
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.
Online Infidelity, Internet Affairs, Cheating On Someone
Online Affairs, Online Infidelity, 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 Counselling For Sex Addiction, Online Porn Addiction, Sexual Compulsion & Masturbation Addiction). Our online affair, cyber affair or internet affair can be just as damaging and 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. This may damage our emotional connection, sexual intimacy with our partner, who views our online infidelity just as they would off-line, because our sexual boundaries are loose. The issues that come up for us (including sex from our wounded, needy self) can be explored in the relationship counselling or marriage therapy.
Serial Sexual Relationships, Cheating In Our Relationship
Parallel Relationships, Serial Infidelity, Multiple Sexual Relationships, Serial Affairs, Cheating On Someone Sexual wandering may have become our habit. Notwithstanding polyamory, some of us may believe we need parallel relationships, many relationships, serial affairs, seeking the initial thrill, adrenaline buzz, like a drug and excitement we get (often in men for the seduction, chase, conquest) when sexual or falling in love, as if this remains the only way left to feel these feelings. Seeking novelty, we may become easily infatuated, led by a need for instant gratification, desire, with the possibility and potential of so much sex. Some may have an obsession for women, men, crave female attention, male attention, enjoy the lure as if treating sex or sexualised touch like any other recreation. (The way we were/weren't touched, held when younger may impact upon our sexuality now.) Love of power may be present. The power of love may be absent. We may compulsively seek others out, as if we must be with others to enable us to feel alive or at least something, because underneath we may feel numb inside. 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. And learning to love without lust may be our challenge. 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 orgasm as a way of managing stress, releasing tension (see also Compartmentalising Sex, Cycle Of Sexual Dissatisfaction - Staying In Our Head Or Overly Focused On Sex, Lust, Climax, Orgasm, Speed, 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. Wanting more, we may go for all the sex we want to have without doing any work or having any responsibility. We may have made our existing relationship or marriage of secondary importance to our personal, sexual fulfilment. Lying to others may build up, affecting them and us. We may fear intimacy, commitment, rejection, engulfment. Addicted to meaningless sex, we may want to stop moving from one person to the next yet can't quite do it. We may have very loose sexual boundaries and may have a need to push things, have risky sexual encounters which have become harmful. Abandoning ourselves, we may have an overwhelming need for contact, connection, real intimacy approval, affirmation, reassurance, recognition, validation, appreciation, praise, permission, confirmation. We may continuously look to others for love, adoration, be seeking the perfect partner. 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 through sex. 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). We may lack stimulation in our life , try to get stimulation through using sex, experiencing multiple sexual relationships, we may question how fulfilling they are, yet sex (or the chase) 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. Affecting our self-esteem, self-worth, we may believe we don't deserve love and that sex has become our only value (see also Uncomfortable With Being Sexual - Sex From Our Wounded, Needy Self, Who In Us (What Part Of Us) Is Sexual?). Binging on emotionless sex, some may struggle to bond or feel much with others in a deep way, which can feel sadistic or masochistic. (Yet at least when sexual, we can feel something, not numb.) We may overlook that life is about making relationships, soul-to-soul connections, and unless we get that, we may not go very far. Relationship counselling and marriage psychotherapy can help look at why we do what we do, what is sacred, what we yearn for (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 (see also Online Infidelity, Internet Affairs, Cheating On Someone) similarly to having an affair. (See also Sex Addiction - Pornography Problem, Porn Addiction, Online Sex, Internet Sex & Cybersex Addiction, Masturbation Addiction)
Reflections, Way Forward
Being Led By Our Desire Whether we are escaping from something or walking towards something more meaningful, may be a question we hold. 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 for deeper sexual union. Frequently yearning for the "other", which can be explored in the relationship therapy, we may be seeking erotic mystery outside of the relationship, marriage, believing that this can't be explored or is not possible within it. Sometimes it can be as if we have fallen in lust and sexually wandering, 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 temptation, excitement, the novelty, 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 Our Biological Drives, Instincts, Urges, Impulses, Passion, Desires, Aspirations, Imagination). 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. (We may also be led by our sexual imagination and fantasies, without acknowledging that we have to act those fantasies out.) These issues can be discussed in the marriage counselling or relationship counselling.
Unsure, Unclear Of Why We Did What We Did We may have entered into something, yet not fully know why. For some of us there may be conflict between our values and behaviours. Sometimes our unconscious, unacknowledged feelings might be shrugged off to our detriment. As if we are searching for something, we may not be fully aware of our own unmet needs, believing or hoping someone else can meet them. 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, which may have become a little stale, routine and not very real. One or both of us may have slowly checked out of the relationship, maybe overworking, turning to an unhelpful habit or addiction (as if we too are having an affair with our addiction), so we may have ended up not honestly, really talking to each other. There are a multitude of reasons for seeing someone else. We live in a culture of individual happiness, we may be exploring, opening up to another version of ourselves, want to feel more alive, have existential issues - wondering if is this all there is in life. (This may include our deep grief, mourning losses or holding a health, death anxiety.) Something may be missing in our relationship or marriage that we can't put our finger on and this can be to do with the relationship with our self (maybe needing to be someone else - to explore the different sides of us - see also Exploring & Sexually Opening Up With Our Partner). (Also for some men, when a child comes along, we may feel excluded, neglected, and rather than talk about what we feel, seek love and attention from another). 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 - theirs or ours), a need to test, retaliate or punish them, take revenge as a way of avoiding, bypassing, internalising, repressing, suppressing our feelings or withdrawing, withholding, because we are holding a grievance "you owe me" may play a part, especially if we feel unable to express our deepest feelings, needs, and be heard by them. 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 this new person in our life, 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 the relationship counselling and marriage therapy. The marriage counselling can provide a space to explore these issues.
Reflection Upon Our Relationship Or Marriage Dissatisfied, unsupported at home (or not contributing much ourself) some of us may have looked outside ourself for attention, comfort, love elsewhere, someone more attentive, sexy, available, playful, etc. And because of our own (or our partner's) feelings of insecurity, inner emptiness, unworthiness or believe that someone else can validate us, complete us, make us happy we may look outside of ourself. 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, appreciated. Some may feel impotent, unwanted, rejected, struggle with conflict, confrontation in our relationship or marriage, and may take flight by finding someone else. Things may appear emotionally unresolved in our relationship, there may be pain and rather than openly communicate with our partner, be emotionally connected, share difficult feelings, 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, being controlled. 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.
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 (see also Uncomfortable With Being Sexual - Sex From Our Wounded, Needy Self, Who In Us (What Part Of Us) Is Sexual?). 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, maybe as an act of rebellion 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. Existential issues, midlife crisis, unresolved childhood issues 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 a strong sense of never having enough love (often linked to our early bonding patterns).
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 To Heal Love). Healing our relationship may also include positively responding to the routineness, predictable ways it's been. 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 We Are 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 released, 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, which can be necessary for the couple to heal. 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 it may be unrealistic for them to trust us if we can't trust ourselves. Stopping our affair, or one-night-stands, may not make us being trustworthy to our partner. Life is serious at times, and our own inner trust work may take time, so we are ready to atone, share our love with our partner, earn their trust again. If we now know we are trustworthy and honest, in touch with our own integrity, values, vision, 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.
Deceived Partners Reflections On Their Relationship, Marriage
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, we may feel broken, shattered, gutted, traumatised, unsafe, struggle to sleep, question everything, maybe now experiencing the relationship as toxic. 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 feel rejected, abandoned. Our esteem may erode and we may lose our sexual confidence, questioning our lovability, 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, grow, flourish, make the relationship work or move on. However, as a couple we may need to talk about things in our relationship that have been brushed under the carpet (e.g. one or both of us may have "checked out" of the relationship, lack of intimacy).
On The Receiving End Of Infidelity, 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. 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. Some may ruminate, hold on to a lot of anger and also blame, feel outrage towards our partner for betraying us. We may be holding on to powerful feelings of outrage, maybe heartbreak, helplessness or feels victimised. 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. 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 ourself and us as a couple. Some may reflect whether we were complicit in any way to our partner's actions or whether the relationship was drifting apart, that there is some way we betrayed, abandoned ourself (or them) in some ways, ignored what we needed to attend to, not listening to our gut feelings, inner voice.
On The Receiving End Of Infidelity, 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, test them, 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).
On The Receiving End Of Infidelity, 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. Considering our options, do we make immediate, absolute decisions if this is the last straw, or take the long view. 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, as may remaining open ourselves, so we don't close down with the belief that we can't be open unless they prove we can trust them. Each of us need to do the inner work to heal false beliefs, underlying fears, which led 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 and provides us with an opportunity to re-think our life, reshape our future. Accepting we both have to learn from this painful situation, being truthful and honest from now on without the need to control (from either of us), finding our way to heal old beliefs and fears, rebuilding the foundations of the relationship or marriage, sharing our love again with our partner may enable the relationship or marriage to become stronger than before, as if creating a new relationship.
The course of true love never did run smooth.William Shakespeare
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. (For other couples the relationship may be more real now than it ever has been, providing the opportunity to heal, grow together.) 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 tolerance, understanding, stability and security, future trust, intimacy, healthy, positive sex life, 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 Counselling). Paradoxically (see also Life's Predicaments, Priorities, Paradoxes, Contradictions, Conflicts, Contrasts, Dilemmas, Ambivalence), 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 open, 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 in the couple, to honestly, openly be willing to look at their lives together, unhelpful patterns, find the courage to communicate all our feelings, heart to heart, soul to soul, have real conversations (which may have been missing for years) really listen to each other's experience, being receptive to fully hearing to what went on, recognising what each is feeling, compassionately witnessing this, so the relationship can heal. This may take both of us to move through our own pain and pain as a couple. This experience for some can ironically bring us closer together, feel and be, 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 Loving Someone When It's Hard - Opening Our Heart To Others, Even When Things Are Difficult). The "errant" partner may counter-intuitively need to hold hope for the relationship to flourish, drop their need for forgiveness - our partner may never forgive. And this can paradoxically open up space for both in the couple to move on. Before trust can be rebuilt, both us and our partner may need to courageously hear 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, Sharing Our Sexual Feelings, Needs, Desires, Our Uncomfortable Areas With Our Partner), through forgiveness. Some of the old ways and 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. And going through our pain (both individually and as a couple), it may be important to engage differently, establishing new boundaries, new structures, a new relationship with each other and others. Having fun again and a loving, healthy sexual life - finding a way to make it sacred again in a fresh, renewed, satisfying relationship, can be challenging for both partners alongside sharing each other's vision of the kind of relationship we now want. Relationship counselling and marriage therapy may also include other considerations, like:
- Do we want to control our partner to feel safe through withdrawal, resistance, anger, compliance?
- What inner prompting, feelings did we ignore (maybe through fear of conflict), or mistrusting our intuition, inner knowing
- Are we both transparent? Did we speak our truth?
- Were there ways that either of us abandoned ourself
- Making sense of what happened, what it all means
- Facing up to our sadness & pain in attempting to recreate any lost intimacy
- Any underlying personal problems, which may have led to the affair
- Exploration of the causes & consequences of the equilibrium of the relationship being disrupted
- Taking responsibility for our actions
- Looking at underlying relationship issues
- Envy & jealousy in relationship or marriage
- How to overcome bad patches
- How important the relationship or marriage is to each of us
- Opportunities for increasing communication & openness
- Changing the relationship structure by making it less prone to affairs
- Acknowledging whether it's more important to be right or be together
- 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, practising appreciation, gratitude
- Identifying our longing, yearning
- Reconfiguring relationship, marriage, find new balance within it
- Are we both open-heartedly open to being curious about each other, learning what we need to learn through our relationship about ourselves or the other (rather than protect against hurt or remaining distant?
- Sexual union & love making from the heart
- Trust, intimacy, love, touch & sex in relationship or marriage
- Resuming loving sexual intimacy, prioritising this (see also Intimacy - Deepening Our Relationship)
- Evolving Individually & As A Couple
- Relationship Maintenance - A Framework For Regular Couple Check-Ins
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