Affairs and betrayal
“Most affairs are not primarily about sex; they’re about a hunger for connection and not knowing how to satisfy this hunger with one’s partner” – Sue Johnson, developer of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy.
Does that mean that seeking an affair is ok? No.
It means an affair (emotional or sexual) is a tragic attempt to meet needs for connection and emotional closeness. Tragic because it betrays, deeply shocks and hurts the original partner. It creates a fracturing, painful injury to the relationship bond and often doesn’t deliver the connection truly being sought.
Does this mean the one who acts outside of the relationship bond is bad? I don’t think so. They’re not ‘bad’. Misguided in their attempt to meet important human needs and lacking vital emotional resources or blocking these in themselves and the other in harmful ways – yes.
They’ve often been emotionally lonely and unable to reach out through self perceptions of unworthiness, hopelessness, addictive alternatives, lack of skill or know-how, or subconsciously don’t believe their needs for closeness and connection matter enough.
I don’t expect someone who has suffered betrayal (been there x 2) to feel empathy for the one who has triggered so much pain and shattering. Your pain needs to be deeply heard, honoured and felt.
Ironically it’s when you can also understand and even have empathy for how the other had no emotional access to a better way, that the pain lessens. If they could’ve they would’ve.
You’re not saying what happened is ok. You’re coming into whole reality – theirs and yours – it’s hard. However kinder to you. Potentially opening the door to new or dormant parts of each of you and in the relationship. Together if you can. On your own to heal and grow otherwise.
If you’ve betrayed – valuing your needs and turning towards with these to your partner, receiving their response and honestly replying, is a piece of work I recommend you get good at.
Relationship trauma is rarely black and white. There’s blame, shame and/or grief. Yet it’s possible to heal.
If this post touches your heart or speaks to someone you know, please share or comment. We need to walk this path with others.