Response to POST 74: ADULTERY NO REMORSE

I tried to comment on this article and found that I had a few too many words to make it just a comment.  So I am making it a post instead.

This is the response to https://marriagetroublesite.com/2017/06/26/post-74-adultery-no-remorse/

This was an interesting read and one I had trouble swallowing.  It was not difficult to hear that people who commit adultery are selfish people who did things to satisfy their own shortcomings.  However, I think this whole article is written from a very simplistic view of adultery/infidelity.

I am an adulterer.  While I am not currently cheating on my wife and do not plan on ever doing it again, I feel the moniker is still appropriate because I cheated on my wife.  It is something that I don’t think anyone who has done the things I have done, just gets to decide to let that title go.  It is very much my own scarlet letter.  I know my therapist would like to punch me in the face for saying this as we have “conversations” on this topic, however, it is how I feel

Before I go into the reasons as to why I think your view is simplistic, I would like to preface it with a note that every affair and the details around them are very different.  If you have a narcissistic partner or someone who does it for the thrill, your experience will be vastly different from someone who is not.  I also am looking at it from the view of an affair relationship, rather than one-off events that are more likely with narcissists and opportunistic thrill seekers.  My thoughts are not taking this into account, so even what I am going to say is still somewhat simplistic and not all-encompassing.

As I have read a ton on the subject and more importantly, communicated with a host of people who are going/gone through affairs or recovery.  While selfishness is at the center of the problems, I do not believe it is recognized by the adulterer until the end of the affair when they are forced to confront their actions.  I think there are actually 3 stages to an adulterer’s thought process of an affair.

The first stage is pre-affair.  I think this is where a lot of soul-searching and self-delusion occurs.  It is also where a number of potential affairs end.  This is where the adulterer has an unresolved issue or issues within the marriage that they cannot find a way to solve.  This could be a reoccurring problem in the marriage that frustrates the potential adulterer and they do not seem to get resolved through their normal channels of resolution.  If the potential adulterer talks about these issues with their partner and can get a working resolution then the affair may never happen.  However, more than likely because it is reoccurring, the potential adulterer looks for another way to resolve this issue.  If the issues have been decreasing the adulterer’s sense of self then they will look for self-preserving methods of resolution.  I think they will look outside the marriage for a solution, if the problem is contributing to their lack of self-esteem.  For example, if the issues is related to sex and intimacy, the potential adulterer may not go to the partner because of the risk of further diminishing their self-esteem.  If they want/need more sex and intimacy but the partner is not willing to do this, then it can be internalized as an issues within the potential adulterer (‘Why doesn’t my partner find me attractive?’  What is wrong with me that my partner does not want me?’).  This is where the self-delusions begin and the “affair fog” begins.

The potential adulterer does not understand that something is actually wrong within themselves.  They may not feel like they have low self-esteem, they only recognize that it hurts when their partner cannot seem to meet their needs.  They are also cognizant of the pain the unresolved issue in their relationship causes their partner.  If they can find a way to get their needs met and do it without causing pain to their partner be bringing up the unresolved issue then they are actually helping the relationship.  This is the root of all the delusions that occur during the affair.  To them this self-delusion is a win-win.  They do not think about the hurt they will cause their partner if caught, only that they are helping by not bringing pain to them from bringing up unresolved issues.  If they were to actually think about the destruction the affair will cause, I do not believe they would proceed with the affair, but instead they are blinded by the possibility of success and making everyone happy.   I think it is important that this delusion is not perceived by the adulterer as self-centered.  Yes, they are looking to get their needs met, but more important is the delusion that they will be helping the relationship and not causing pain to their partner.  They cannot see the selfishness of their actions.  They also believe that it will not be something permanent and they can stop at any time without harming anyone.  They don’t understand that the real problem is with themselves and once they find something that makes them feel good, they will become attached very quickly, even if the attachment is to a fantasy they have created in their head.  They will never recognize the selfishness of their decisions and thinking in this stage of the affair.

The second stage is the affair.  I am sure you could break it down into different stages here, but I am not going to go that far into detail.  Instead, I think there are important elements to this stage.  The most important is that the adulterer is living in a delusion day-in-day-out.  It is commonly referred to as “affair fog”.  They see what they are doing as helpful.  In the beginning, they get a lot of affirmation that it is working.  They feel good about themselves because they are getting attention from someone who is not their partner.  This makes them happy and usually relieves tension in the relationship, for the short-term.  With the temporary decrease in tension in the relationship, it makes the adulterer believe that made the correct choice.  This is a temporary state of mind.

Their thoughts quickly go from thoughts about the helping/saving their own relationship to constant thoughts about the Affair Partner.  This is where the second delusion is created.  It is often perpetuated by the AP.   They have these feelings they believe are about the AP and the feelings they have when they are with them and confuse them as something they are not.  They may believe they are in love and that the AP makes them so happy.  What they do not recognize is that they are really just addicted to the feelings they get from the affair.  The boost they get to their self-esteem from the constant attention of an AP, especially one they can confide in about their current problems in their relationship.  The low self-esteem that is not recognized by the adulterer is actually what is driving this addiction.  The adulterer will find themselves needing a fix to boost their self-esteem.  All the while misinterpreting this fix as feelings of love and happiness.  When this addition kicks in, the affair will be the center of the adulterer’s life.  It will be the center of everything they do and every thought that they have.  Their relationship will suffer because of the attention they need to give the affair and the AP.  They will read this as their current relationship is failing and the new affair relationship is where they need to be and where they are really wanted.  They won’t understand that it is all their doing, that the neglect of their current relationship is adding to the current state of their relationship.  The “affair fog” keeps them from recognizing this and instead concentrates their thoughts and actions on what is making them feel good about themselves, which is the affair and the affair partner.  This is why few affairs end on their own and when they do, it is usually from the promptings of the AP, not the adulterer.  It is also why the adulterer may do one of two things if that were to occur.  They may look for a replacement AP.  I believe this is when the delusion was at its highest and the relationship with the AP breaks down quickly.  They will need to fill that void and get their fix.   The second would be to turn their attention back to their own relationship.  They may begin to recognize the destruction that they have only begun to cause and while it is not at its highest, they will still be shocked at what they have done.  Both of these are examples are assuming the affair has not been discovered.

The affair is usually discovered during this stage and it is when the destruction will be at its most destructive.  The adulterer is forced to look at themselves when they are at their worst.  They are forced out of the ‘affair fog’ and have to see things for what they really are and who caused them.  This dissonance can be devastating.  They back up through their delusions and try and hold the thoughts that what they were doing was for the good of the relationship.  However, the mounting evidence against this, and seeming the harm they wreaked upon their partner, makes it even more difficult for them to keep this delusion.

This leads to the last stage, post-affair.  This is the hardest on the adulterer and challenges them to look at themselves.  Many adulterers cannot handle this and hold onto the thought that they were just trying to help.  They also don’t not want to fully own up to everything they did because of what it will do to them personally.  It will strip them of the little bit of self-esteem they have left.  The little bit of hope that they were just trying to help, as stupid as it sounds even to them.  It is hard for them to understand what their partner actually needs is for them to come clean and own up to disclose everything because they feel like it is exactly opposite of what they need.  The shame and regret are so hard to deal with they just want to forget.  In addition, this battle of self-preservation within themselves makes it difficult to fully recall all things in the details that some partners want.  The adulterer is fighting to forget and the partner needs certain things so they can heal.  Add in the “affair fog” and it is truly hard to remember everything until it is pushed into the adulterer’s face.  This does not mean that they will forget everything, this means that they don’t want to remember anything, but can when needed.  However, the more they relive it, the more it hurts the adulterer.  The best solution for both the adulterer and the partner is the get full disclosure up front and early in the healing process.  Then things should only be brought up infrequently about the affair, and only when needed for healing.  I have found that if full disclosure is given at the beginning, then there is less need to bring it back up.  Instead, the focus is on the healing of the relationship, not what is still out there that needs to be discovered.  If the adulterer only provides bits and pieces, then it hurts both the partner and the adulterer because both are forced to relive it over and over and the partner will have constant thoughts that things are still out there to be discovered, which breeds a lack of trust (not that there will be any left).

This stage is where the adulterer is actually at their lowest and the reason many of them cannot do the work to get back into the relationship.  They are forced to accept what they have done, and open themselves up to the constant reminders of who they have now become.  They are very much at the mercy of their partner, all the while, having the lowest possible self-esteem.   They will now recognize that they have no self-esteem left.  They will feel like garbage and there will be times throughout the healing of the relationship this idea will be reinforced by the partner, sometimes knowingly, others not.

I think this stage is life-long and they will never regain anything of who they once were.  They have to rebuild themselves and often it is a lesser version of themselves.  This is all contingent of them staying in the relationship.  I think this is why many relationships fail even when the couple tries to work on staying together.  Couples try to regain what once was, and unfortunately it will never be there again.  The adulterer and the partner have both been stripped down to their core, all because of the actions of the adulterer.  The adulterer has to learn to live with that for the rest of their life.  They have to live with the fact that they destroyed the partner they proclaimed to love.  They have to live with the thought that they were selfish and because of it they destroyed the very thing they thought they were saving.  This forces them to put themselves last, not wanting to be selfish again.  Which is actually one of the worst things they can do, because they will again not get their needs met, and yet, they will feel like their needs are not important or deserved of being met.

Obviously, I have simplified my depiction of an affair and all the things surrounding it.  I also did little to discuss the effects on the partner as that was not my focus.  I am cognizant the destruction of the partner is as great as or more so than that of the adulterer.  I don’t want to belittle that fact, as the partner did not have a say in the actions of the adulterer.  Instead, I just wanted people to understand that adultery and infidelity is a complex and devastating event to everyone involved, even those who caused it.

 

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About bac4sccr

I am just a run of the mill, ever day father/husband who is just trying to navigate my way back to where I want to be. Unfortunately there isn't an "Easy" button or a "Reset" button or I would be hitting them repeatedly. This is just my journey from my perspective.
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33 Responses to Response to POST 74: ADULTERY NO REMORSE

  1. Thank you for sharing this information! It was helpful for me to understand what was going on outside of my awareness when my husband cheated on me.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Carly Quinn says:

    You’re making me glad I’ll never regret mine. Regret the pain, regret thewaste, regret the years spent trying to reflect him back at himself…..never regret the first time I saw myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. RUCHI says:

    A great read as always. I do agree on what you wrote post affair. Till lately, I did not of many things until I stumbled on a recorded call of his. When confronted, why he never told even after having read that they should tell full truth was his reply that I was not brave enough. It all makes me feel guilty and I never want to remember even a single day of that period.
    Someday, both the partners have to stop discussing if they want the marriage to be revived again. I’m trying actively not to bring her in any of the discussions because now I know it spoils both the moods and takes us step back again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bac4sccr says:

      I agree. You can never get your marriage back. I think you have to decide if you want to start a new marriage because your old one is gone and the more you try to bring it back he more frustrated you both become.
      You can take parts of it to the new endeavor but focusing on what is in front of you, not what is behind you, is the only way to move forward.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Kae Bucher says:

    Excellent post … thank u

    Liked by 2 people

  5. SLM says:

    bac4sccr,
    I don’t remember how I stumbled onto your blog, but I am so happy I did. I started at the first blog and read it straight through.
    Your writing skill are remarkable and I so thankful that you posted such personal information in a public forum.
    I , like I have noticed from a lot of the comments on here, am a betrayed spouse. While just like with all affair stories mine is different than your. My husband and I have struggled with healing the damage done to our marriage and selves. Reading your thoughts have really helped me to better understand some of the thoughts that might have been in my husbands head. It has helped to answer the WHY and HOW questions. That has been a struggle. My Husband refuses to “blame” me for anything, even issues in the marriage that lead to his affairs. This is another area we are working on. I have loved the fact that he refuse to blame me for the choices he made to have an affair. He has had issues expressing his emotions, so reading your words have helped us move forward. He had read many of the post and was able to say Yep that was me or no that was not me. I think your words just gave him a format and an idea of how to put some of the things he thought and felt into words. It has been suggested that he is emotionally anorexic. He is working on that because he now realizes the importance of accessing his emotions and learning to “feel” them and expressing them. We are 3 year post D-day. We have both committed to the marriage and each other.

    I hope you and your wife are healing. I wanted to suggest some information that helped my husband and I. I did not read all the comments so some of these things might have already been suggested. This web site is one of the best that I found. It is biblical based, but not totally preachy. Affairrecovery.com They have some free stuff and some things you have to pay for. But it has helped us so much. Also a book that had made a HUGE difference is the Emotionally Unavailable Man. It has a man section and a womans section.

    I hope that you have found some sort of personal forgiveness. Many people think of forgiveness as this huge onetime event. I don’t and can’t view it in that narrow a lens. Forgiveness for me has been a journey. There was not a morning that I woke up and said okay all is forgiven. I had to forgive things in stages. The areas of those stages did greatly depend on my husbands behavior. Some where easy, some more difficult and painful. I had to grieve the loss of the marriage I thought I had. As I moved through each area of grief, healing happened. He and I have had to grieve things together. But healing has occurred through grief.

    You have mentioned several times about the difficulties of your childhood. My childhood was not great. I know how it feels to have to “ghost” your family for self protection and the protection of your children. I totally get that and support it when I find people in that same situation. Good for you to be strong enough to set those boundaries and honor them.

    I know you have rejected the religion of your childhood, however I would be remiss if I did not suggest to you that not all religion is that way. If it is a bible based church, that ONLY uses the bible for its teaching, their are many denominations to choose from. Just a thought.

    I look forward to your next post.

    SLM

    Liked by 1 person

    • bac4sccr says:

      SLM,

      Thanks for your comments on my blog. I am happy that it has helped you in you healing process. It was one of the minor reason I write in the blog. I hope that in some way it will help others. I know there is not a manual out there that teaches you how to go through this and it would be hard to write one. Every story, as you say, is so different from one and other.

      I will look into the book you suggested. I have never heard of it. And I like the term emotionally anorexic. I think that would fit me well, at least in real life.

      As for forgiveness, that came up the other day in counselling and I honestly don’t think that it will happen for me. I just cannot see a future where I feel like I have forgiven myself. I still think it is a myth because all we are is a combination of our thoughts, emotions, and actions. Those actions, thoughts and emotions of betrayal will always be part of me and who/what I am. I am working to not let those things hold me back, but I also know that I won’t be able to just let them go.

      Feel free to ask me any questions you may have as we are coming up on our 3rd year in a few days. I am hoping it passes quickly and without any issues.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I delight in reading through your site. It was extremely enjoyable. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pugs says:

    The language to describe my spouse is “intimacy anorexic” coined by Dr. Doug Weiss of Colorado Springs. His recovery program has been a game changer. Love your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. alittlebitbraveblog says:

    I liked this post.
    My views- on my betrayal are much different. I betrayed my husband- but it was after years of me telling him how unhappy I was. We were rarely intimate for years.. and young! In our twenties. I told him how ugly he made me feel. Unloved. Unwanted. And I also told him we needed counseling if we were going to work. But- he put other things before us- the kids- his work. He went to counseling with me once- and decided not to ever go again after the therapist told him he was not fulfilling his duty as a husband. So yes- I cheated.. but left him that same week for divorce. It’s not always just the adulterers fault. And not all blame should be on them. The partner needs to realize and admit that they are lacking in their role in the marriage too. (In some cases- not all). We are victims too even though we are the ones who actually did the cheating. Never would I say cheating is okay- but in my case- I don’t regret it so much. It was his fault too. Yes, I feel bad for hurting him- but- I gave him fair warning that if he continued to abandon me- I would find someone who would be glad to take his place. For me- the grass was greener on the other side.
    Thanks for sharing your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Talula Rouge says:

    I’m going to be a bit of an outsider, since the truth is, I never cheated on anyone. My marriage came apart for other reasons, but the funny thing was, I had opportunities. I’d been propositioned by other people, and gently turned them away. When I was young I was very clingy with my husband. I had a very different view of relationships. Now that I’m older, I can honestly say that our marriage could have survived infidelity. At least, I could have forgiven the other person. And he had a history of infidelity in previous relationships. My view of love is very different now. I have no desire to possess or control my loved ones. To that end, I do not feel my sense of identity is tied to another person’s behavior. It was possession and control that killed my marriage, ultimately. The best thing I can do for those who love me and those whom I love, is to be emotionally self-sufficient, to want them in my life, but not need them, to never tie my sense of self-esteem to them. Some might find that cold, distant — but it’s how I give an accommodating, expansive kind of love. It loves gently, forgives all, gives freedom, the freedom for another to choose their life and independence. And a lot of people don’t like that kind of love. The monogamous model of traditional marriage, for many, is that standard, and I can respect that. I did it, I did it for years. But for all those reasons, I don’t see myself returning to it. I watch so many devolve into senseless rituals of shame. Shame is the opposite of love. And I did nothing to deserve shame in my marriage; I often see the shame of infidelity as being a symptom — not the main problem — of a failing relationship.
    I look forward to reading more of your insights.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This post really helped me a lot – I think you articulated a lot of what went on in my husband’s head. I don’t think he thought he was ‘helping’ at all but you actually helped me make a little sense out of our situation with the rest of your perspective. I am late to finding this blog and from what I’ve read, you had another one? Thanks for this post, it is one of the more helpful articles I have read lately.
    xo Dolly

    Liked by 1 person

    • bac4sccr says:

      I am glad that it helped you a little. I found it very difficult to articulate anything to my wife so writing has been very helpful.

      What did you mean when you asked if I had another one? Blog? Affair?

      Like

      • Blog – I saw references and was looking to read more about the beginning of your affair. My husband has difficulty with disclosure, although over the past year he has. He hates to rehash and is uncomfortable with me when I am triggered and go back. Your writing seems to show a lot of similarities to what I think he is feeling but not verbally expressing. We have a similar story in some ways and reading your story is in a weird way like communicating with my husband. Thank you for sharing your story…

        Like

        • bac4sccr says:

          If you want to start at the beginning, here is the link:

          https://affairwithcoffee.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/sometimes-the-questions-are-complicated-and-the-answers-are-simple-or-are-they/

          Let me know if you have any questions. I can try and answer them as best I know how. And I am sorry that you are finding this blog, as going through an affair is not something I would wish anyone to go through.

          Like

          • I think I did find the beginning and have been reading for the past 2 hours. I don’t mean to pry, but how long did your affair last and did your wife find out, or did you tell her? I didn’t come across that in what I’ve read so far.

            Like

            • bac4sccr says:

              My affair lasted about 6 months and she did find out. She found out after about 4 months but I lied my way past it and continued on with it. Two months later she found out more. I had already ended it to some extent (I had stopped seeing the AP but hasn’t broken off contact). Once she found out the second time I had already started writing and was starting to break out of the fog I was in and see how things really were.

              After that I had read enough to know just to come clean and try not to hide anything. To be honest it was really hard, not because I wanted to hide anything but because I didn’t want to remember any of it. So I would block a lot unless I was forced to remember. It is still that way. It all seems foggy and like a bad dream.

              Like

  11. Reblogged this on thatannoyingfeministblog and commented:
    I found this very interesting. Particularly as it recognises the pre affair as being a valid stage of an affair, as opposed to just physical intimacy. I guess I’d call it emotional infidelity. A lot of this rings true about the delusions and denial. I think most people who have affairs, end up lying more to themselves than their partners about the motives and impact.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Slm says:

      I agree with your insight. The unfaithful has to justify their actions in their own mind before they can proceed. The pre-affair stage is the warning call that something is lacking in their own marriage and provides them the opportunity to focus on repairing the marriage, provided they are willing and their spouse is willing to make changes. However most don’t realize this as the case because of the pain or preserved rejection from their mate. And so the justification, which is actually the self lying starts.

      Liked by 3 people

      • bac4sccr says:

        I think it is one of the most overlooked aspects of an affair. Most people don’t just wake up one morning and decide they are going to have an affair. The are unresolved issues in their relationship and then small steps that walk them down that path. I know I did not even understand I was walking down that pathway. I thought I was just coping with issues in my marriage and making things easier for both of us. It is the most believable form of self-delusion, thinking what you are doing is actually helping your relationship. It just seems easier, at the time, than the endless fights about the same things within the relationship.

        Like

      • Apologies, I’ve just realised I posted this on the wrong blog, so I’m going to do it again. I promise I’m not stalking you.

        Like

  12. Andie says:

    Reblogged this on No Empty Words and commented:
    I found this very interesting. Particularly as it recognises the pre affair as being a valid stage of an affair, as opposed to just physical intimacy. I guess I’d call it emotional infidelity. A lot of this rings true about the delusions and denial. I think most people who have affairs, end up lying more to themselves than their partners about the motives and impact.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you for following my blog. I’ll admit title of yours made me come over to read. I can see you working things out and moving forward and that’s a good thing. Definitely you write about a lot of things I’ve never thought of before. Have a gentle day 🙏🏼😊

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Angie says:

    SOUL TO SOUL
    You cheated, once twice so many times.
    I asked my self was there something wrong with me ? did I do something wrong?.
    I suffered, I hurt, I begged for loyalty and happiness.
    It went for to long with out a care about my feelings.
    I went and got revenge just for my sanity and just to find out if there was something wrong with me.
    I found out that is you that doesn’t want to be happy .
    Now you are hurting because I did once what you have done thousands of times, I don’t ask to forgive me because I can’t never forgive you for all you’ve done to us, all I ask is to give what you are asking for, LOVE, RESPECT, LOYALTY AND TRUST.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. dharkanein says:

    You know what you have described very well the perceptive but still the pain is nonetheless lesser.

    Like

  16. laurah5107 says:

    Your thoughts on the aftermath of the affair are very insightful and thought provoking.
    The marriage will never be the same, no matter how much therapy is taken because despite our words the cheating spouse cannot forgive themself and the betrayed spouse cannot forget.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bac4sccr says:

      You have to choose to build something new that will have baggage from the beginning. It will also never be on the equal terms the marriage once was, instead the cheating spouse will feel lesser. The betrayed spouse may never know but the cheating spouse will always have it hanging over their head.

      Like

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