Many people have been affected by affairs; either by being a victim of an affair , or knowing someone close to them affected by affairs. Infidelity has many definitions today. Are we talking about affairs with someone, with porn, chat rooms, etc. ? The definition is expanding all the time of what is crossing the line. I recently listened to author and relationship expert Esther Perel speak on this topic. And here are some of the golden nuggets I got from her talk!
What are the triggers for affairs?
The feeling of neglect, indifference, feelings of contempt,, sexual frustration, feelings of deadness inside. It is a feeling of where a person feels either intensely conflictual or intensely estranged or where they are hungry for attention for presence, for someone who appreciates them which they no longer feel at home.
So at the heart of affairs; you have betrayal, and you have longing and loss..the longing for the lost parts of one self. I think this longing for the lost parts of one self is a key component to look at both the client and the therapist.
We all have basic human needs: the need for certainty, uncertainty and variety, to feel significant and special, to feel love and connection, and spiritual needs to grow and contribute
So often couples will say. I gave him everything….and what they gave may be everything, except what they needed, which is one or more of those basic needs. (PS…I am not condoning affairs here!)
Questions you can ask to look at the basic human needs being met:
How certain are you that you partner loves you? Is there a lot of variety or surprises? How special do you feel to them? How deeply loved do you feel? Do feel you grow together? People who are having affairs answer these kinds of questions completely differently when they think of their mistress vs. their wife. In relation to the person they are having the affair with; they will report things like feeling so much more significant, connected etc. as they are getting their basic needs fulfilled.
Why would people be willing to risk everything they’ve built to have an affiar? It’s the novelty and aliveness which is irresistble…so it’s so much more than sex.
How to heal from affairs? The good news is….Many people can heal from affairs…
Opening up the dialouge with a trained professional who can help you through these triggers and questions is important in the healing process. As you learn more about the deeper reasons about the affair, if often has nothing to do with the partner. meaning they didn’t do this to be against you…she or he did this to do something for themselves…there were missing pieces within or something cut off within and they are trying to find that lost piece or that aliveness in someone else. This is not to condone affairs at all, it’s only to help understand the motivation behind this….In this kind of exploration the healing can begin.
To heal from affairs; both parties need to begin to take responsibility and look at all our sides to this situation and to look at,,,,what has been my contribution in maintaining a meaningful passionate or alive relationship with my partner? Have I done my part? Have I put the best of myself and give what they needed? With this kind of dialouge, the relationships can be healed and taken to new level of love.
Wishing you light, love and abundance!
PS: You can check out Esther Perel’s book. The State of Affairs