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User Topic: What exactly is compartmentalization
feelscrazy
New Member
Member # 39705
Stop  Posted: 2:34 AM, July 1st (Monday)

I heard this term again and again when I was going through affair recovery websites and accounts of wayward spouses- they said they compartmentalized, switched off their phones or removed their rings and I have heard from BS also saying- he is a master compartmentalizer, he thought he can have sex with someone and still love me but I could never understand exactly what compartmentalization exactly is. I know it is like having many boxes in mind, but how does it work with respect to adultery?
Having never cheated before, The only way I can relate to this concept is this way-- Is it like enjoying a party thoroughly while forgetting the fact you have exam tomorrow for a while so that you don't feel bad?
I remeber as a teenager, I had lot of impending tasks and I would still continue to play games and just forget about test and homework for a while. IS IT SIMILAR TO THAT?

I would love to hear responses from waywards because their account is something which is usually not available on the net. so like this site very much because here I can see the wayward side like what kind of things go through their mind and do they feel the pain like BS etc etc


Posts: 4 | Registered: Jun 2013 | From: all seems unreal
Pa9rw
New Member
Member # 37385
Default  Posted: 4:48 AM, July 1st (Monday)

It's a way of leading a double life. My home life was in one compartment and my affair life was in another. Depending on where I was, I would inhabit one or the other, one some level trying to stop thoughts of one compartment bleed into my consciousness while I was in the other one.
What you describe with the exam/going out thing sounds more like an ostrich head in sand attitude, which, I suppose, is similar to compartmentalizing
It helped me enable my affair but left me perilously inept at identifying my feelings.
Off subject a bit, I've lurked here for a eight months now and absorbed a lot of insightful stuff- a big thanks to all who have helped us.


Me WH 50
Her BS 51
D-day 9/10/12. 3 day PA oct 07, 4 year PA
nov 08 to sept 12

lies til June 13


Posts: 8 | Registered: Nov 2012 | From: Uk
Clarrissa
Member
Member # 21886
Default  Posted: 6:19 AM, July 1st (Monday)

I think compartmentalizing (in regards to an A) could be described as consciously (or subconsciously) deciding that the A and the feelings accociated with it are completely separate from the M and your spouse. It *is* a double life, completely separate despite the fact that both have one common element - the WS.

I think compartmentalization has to include some head-in-the-sand attitude or the WS would have to think about what the A can/will do to their BS.

I may get flak for saying this but I personally think it's possible for a WS to have an A and still love their BS. And it's due to the compartmentalization all WSs do during the A.

[This message edited by Clarrissa at 6:29 AM, July 1st (Monday)]


BH Cee64D - 48
WW (me) - 49


All affairs are variations on a theme. No one has 'Beethoven's 5th' to everyone else's 'Chopsticks'.


Posts: 5893 | Registered: Dec 2008 | From: A better place
JustDesserts
Member
Member # 39665
Default  Posted: 6:22 AM, July 1st (Monday)

This topic is interesting to me, and I've been back through the older threads seeing what I could find and learn. One thing that I was surprised to learn is compartmentalization is, according to experts' definitions, an INVOLUNTARY psychological defense mechanism used to avoid discomfort and anxiety caused by having conflicting values, emotions, beliefs, etc.

The involuntary part surprised me, as I've mostly heard talk about compartmentalizing as if it is a choice. So, apparently, we can know we are compartmentalizers, and our actions and analysis of our actions can confirm that. But to say we chose it as part of our defense mechanism is, apparently, not quite accurate. More like it chose us. I offer this up not as gospel truth, but just something that struck me and which I had never heard.

So if there is an involuntary nature of compartmentalization, it got me thinking what about all of my active, daily, thought processes (which were not involuntary) that created, for me, separation of my "nice guy husband father self" from my "sneaking, cheating, delusional, lying self" during my affair - and in its aftermath. And what made sense was the idea that the VOLUNTARY behaviors of Rationalization and Justification are the compliments to compartmentalization's involuntary nature.

Not sure if any of that is right or wrong, but it does kind of help me see there is a pretty strong construct in place in terms of "tools for engaging in negative" behavior, and those same tools helped me stuff feelings of self loathing and disgust for what I was doing and who I was hurting. Add in some epic levels of self delusion and selfishness, and a portrait emerges of a very ugly human being.

You couldn't have told me that, as the photoshopped self-portrait I was handing out to the world, but most importantly myself, showed a great guy.

That's what, at least today, compartmentalization (and its cousins rationalization and justification) mean to me. I'll be interested to hear what others have to say on this topic.

[This message edited by JustDesserts at 6:29 AM, July 1st (Monday)]


2 year EA/PA. DDay 3/12. Broke NC 6/13 w/one stupid 5 line e-mail (which brought me to SI). Me: WH, 50. Her: BW, 49. Married 19 years. Two kids. Dog. Reconciling...together.

Posts: 403 | Registered: Jun 2013 | From: Suburbia, New England, USA
Abbondad
Member
Member # 37898
Default  Posted: 6:53 AM, July 1st (Monday)

WS only

[This message edited by SI Staff at 7:02 AM, July 1st (Monday)]


Divorced April Fool's Day 2014

Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
-Dune


Posts: 1649 | Registered: Dec 2012
Pa9rw
New Member
Member # 37385
Default  Posted: 7:20 AM, July 1st (Monday)

So this follows, JD, that we are all prone to comping (sorry, it's such a long word to type tho) to some extent, depending on what dilemmas come our way in life.
At least, in terms of infidelity, we can voluntarily avoid putting our brains in this situation....


Me WH 50
Her BS 51
D-day 9/10/12. 3 day PA oct 07, 4 year PA
nov 08 to sept 12

lies til June 13


Posts: 8 | Registered: Nov 2012 | From: Uk
JustDesserts
Member
Member # 39665
Default  Posted: 7:42 AM, July 1st (Monday)

PA9...I'm not sure what follows, which is why I'm interesting to get the take of WS's as to how they perceived, felt, and thought about "comping". Perhaps I want to relate to the involuntary part as being something I can at least say "ah, only a little bit my fault - it's human nature!" versus all the other ugly truths I am confronted with that were solely and fully voluntary on my part. At least those are finding the light of day, thanks in no small part to this site and the posters who have held up mirror after mirror to my face, and gently or otherwise told me to open my eyes.


2 year EA/PA. DDay 3/12. Broke NC 6/13 w/one stupid 5 line e-mail (which brought me to SI). Me: WH, 50. Her: BW, 49. Married 19 years. Two kids. Dog. Reconciling...together.

Posts: 403 | Registered: Jun 2013 | From: Suburbia, New England, USA
Trying33
Member
Member # 38815
Default  Posted: 7:45 AM, July 1st (Monday)

It's a way of leading a double life. My home life was in one compartment and my affair life was in another

Exactly this..

I think compartmentalizing (in regards to an A) could be described as consciously (or subconsciously) deciding that the A and the feelings accociated with it are completely separate from the M and your spouse. It *is* a double life, completely separate despite the fact that both have one common element - the WS.

... and this.

And what made sense was the idea that the VOLUNTARY behaviors of Rationalization and Justification are the compliments to compartmentalization's involuntary nature.

This makes so much sense.

I recently started a thread about LTA's and comping. many people agreed, betrayed and waywards, that comping becomes almost automatic in a LTA. For me it did for sure.

I became a master at switching on and off, to the point I could go from one world to another in an instant and sometimes simultaneously.

I also think there's an element of detachment when boxing parts of one's life. Looking back, in order to continue with the A, I detached from emotions in my real life. I went through the motions of a M, of being a wife and mother and my standards never dropped as a wife or a mother. But there was no connection.

The emotion and the connection was all for AP. I think if emotions were intense on both sides (AP and real life) compartmentalising would be harder.

What are your examples of compartmentalising?


Posts: 362 | Registered: Mar 2013
JustDesserts
Member
Member # 39665
Default  Posted: 8:25 AM, July 1st (Monday)

I also think there's an element of detachment when boxing parts of one's life. Looking back, in order to continue with the A, I detached from emotions in my real life. I went through the motions of a M, of being a wife and mother and my standards never dropped as a wife or a mother. But there was no connection.

The type of observation I need to hear and find helpful.

[This message edited by JustDesserts at 8:26 AM, July 1st (Monday)]


2 year EA/PA. DDay 3/12. Broke NC 6/13 w/one stupid 5 line e-mail (which brought me to SI). Me: WH, 50. Her: BW, 49. Married 19 years. Two kids. Dog. Reconciling...together.

Posts: 403 | Registered: Jun 2013 | From: Suburbia, New England, USA
uncertainone
Member
Member # 28108
Default  Posted: 8:30 AM, July 1st (Monday)

Anyone who smokes understands compartmentalization. Anyone who skydives, drives a car, hell, even get married understands it to a point.

It's a tool that helps us avoid the psychological discomfort in housing two conflicting beliefs.

People know smoking can kill them. I'm sure they know people it has killed. They still do it. Knowing they can become ill die and leave kids behind.

People that enjoy high risk hobbies (me), can also include driving a car according to statistics and marriage, sadly. I ski a run that was renamed for a skier that died...not skiing, mind you, but cliff diving in Italy...still.

You engaging in an activity that runs counter to your desire and belief in safety. I'll bleach a counter top to the point I'm losing consciousness from the fumes if raw chicken even floats over the top of it but have no issues repelling in a dark mine filled with bat shit.

If you have a strong moral compass and belief system that considers infidelity wrong wrong wrong...and you're cheating you were either fibbing...or you're avoiding cognitive disonence somehow. Compartmentalization is one of the tools that enables that.

Just desserts, the choice of the tool may be involuntary but the act of reaching for it is not. At all.

[This message edited by uncertainone at 8:35 AM, July 1st (Monday)]


Me: 37

'til the roof comes off. 'til the lights go out. 'til my legs give out, can't shut my mouth


Posts: 6795 | Registered: Mar 2010
Trying33
Member
Member # 38815
Default  Posted: 8:46 AM, July 1st (Monday)

I think people who compartmentalise during A's probably are good at keeping things separate in real life too.

IRL I have compartments. Home life, work life, social life, spiritual life, school friends, mum friends, childhood friends, day time stuff, night time stuff, weekday activities, weekend activities, my family, H's family etc etc.

I very rarely mix these compartments and mostly always choose to keep them separate. If I was having a birthday party I would have it with one of the boxes (social friends or work friends etc). I know that most people would do this for ease etc but I don't mix because I like to keep these compartments to myself.

I'm not a very good sharer.

I wonder if being a compartmentaliser in real life is an indicator of "how well" a person will deal with infidelity?????


Posts: 362 | Registered: Mar 2013
uncertainone
Member
Member # 28108
Default  Posted: 8:53 AM, July 1st (Monday)

I think people who compartmentalise during A's probably are good at keeping things separate in real life too.

Affairs are in real life. I know there's talk about fairy tales and fantasy, but affairs are very real. Snow White doesn't get kissed awake. She rots.

Yes, someone good at keeping things seperated in boxes is more at ease with the mechenations of keeping parts of themselves hidden from other parts...and also others.

I know you say you like to keep those compartments to yourself but what about from yourself? What have you boxed up and stored away from you?

[This message edited by uncertainone at 8:53 AM, July 1st (Monday)]


Me: 37

'til the roof comes off. 'til the lights go out. 'til my legs give out, can't shut my mouth


Posts: 6795 | Registered: Mar 2010
20WrongsVs1
Member
Member # 39000
Default  Posted: 8:58 AM, July 1st (Monday)

Perhaps I want to relate to the involuntary part as being something I can at least say "ah, only a little bit my fault - it's human nature!"

JD, nope, still 100% your fault.

the choice of the tool may be involuntary but the act of reaching for it is not. At all.

Totally agree with this. These psychological words are all new to me, but compartmentalizing and disassociation are both defense mechanisms which involve segmenting your life. Disassociation started out, for me, in adolescence, as an involuntary defense mechanism. But as an adult it became a choice, a welcome fantasy escape from my unfulfilling life. My As were a way of bringing that fantasy into the real world. Now I am on high alert for shifting into those disassociative states, and am trying different redirecting techniques to quit "going there." It's a challenging lifelong addiction to kick, but I intend to.


fWW: 42
BH: 52
DDay: April 21, 2013
Sweet DS & fierce DD, under 10
"Between stimulus and response there’s a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom." V. Frankl

Posts: 1249 | Registered: Apr 2013 | From: Redneck land
thecaves
Member
Member # 38062
Default  Posted: 10:04 AM, July 1st (Monday)

I have to agree with JustDesserts regarding the involuntary designation. I feel as though I was compartmentalizing as well but was not consciously trying to do this. It just happened; I didn’t have to really work at it.
But sometimes the unconscious compartmentalization did not happen and thoughts about what I was doing did creep in. At these times I was able to see some of the consequences and the hurt it would bring to my BS and those around me. But, I had a twisted view that my BS wouldn’t be hurt unless she found out, so I consciously chose to lie and keep hiding it.
While compartmentalization may be an involuntary defense mechanism we use to shield ourselves from pain we do still make further voluntary choices as well that enabled the affair to continue. The key is to recognize when you are making conscious choices and visualize the full consequences. Maybe that is when the cycle is broken and you can no longer compartmentalize. I think that is what happened to me when I finally confessed. Even after being discovered I initially chose to continue the lies but somehow even then started to see the consequences of continuing the deceit; compartmentalization was no longer defending me from the pain and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Bricks which I will be buried under for the rest of my life.


Me: WH
Her: BW
Kids: Yes
Married: 20+
D-Day: 12/2012

What defines us is how well we rise after falling.


Posts: 173 | Registered: Jan 2013
Trying33
Member
Member # 38815
Default  Posted: 10:06 AM, July 1st (Monday)

Affairs are in real life. I know there's talk about fairy tales and fantasy, but affairs are very real

The affair might have been real but every single thing related to it was as far from real as you can imagine. It was pure escapism and we didn't have to face reality in any way with eachother. Even when we came close to having to be real, that is to meet, we would both run scared as that was too real and it would burst our fantasy bubble.

My A couldn't have been further from my real life.

I know you say you like to keep those compartments to yourself but what about from yourself? What have you boxed up and stored away from you?

I'm not quite sure. How would I go about answering this question?



Posts: 362 | Registered: Mar 2013
Pa9rw
New Member
Member # 37385
Default  Posted: 10:44 AM, July 1st (Monday)

It may well be human nature to do it, but my IC said it was human nature to seek novelty and its human nature that older men are attracted to younger women and vice versa. For all I know it may be human nature to kill!
I certainly used it totally throughout my affair but, eventually, one compartment will start to feel like a cell, in my experience


Me WH 50
Her BS 51
D-day 9/10/12. 3 day PA oct 07, 4 year PA
nov 08 to sept 12

lies til June 13


Posts: 8 | Registered: Nov 2012 | From: Uk
feelscrazy
New Member
Member # 39705
Default  Posted: 10:59 AM, July 1st (Monday)

But what exactly is this compartment- Like the one who replied that there is one home life and there is one affair life. do you mean you behave like two different people in different situations? Like you did not used to think abt M when you were with your AP and did not think about AP at home?

Posts: 4 | Registered: Jun 2013 | From: all seems unreal
JustDesserts
Member
Member # 39665
Default  Posted: 11:09 AM, July 1st (Monday)

All kinds of things resonating. Really helpful topic.

"Just desserts, the choice of the tool may be involuntary but the act of reaching for it is not. At all."
Agree. Sadly.

JD, nope, still 100% your fault.
Agree. Hope it didn't appear I was claiming otherwise. Am actively trying to replace my delusions with ownership of my stuff.

it's human nature to seek novelty
I'm beyond guilty with that one.

@20Wrongs:

but compartmentalizing and disassociation are both defense mechanisms which involve segmenting your life. Disassociation started out, for me, in adolescence, as an involuntary defense mechanism. But as an adult it became a choice, a welcome fantasy escape from my unfulfilling life. My As were a way of bringing that fantasy into the real world. Now I am on high alert for shifting into those disassociative states, and am trying different redirecting techniques to quit "going there." It's a challenging lifelong addiction to kick, but I intend to.

I'll save this to my cut and paste journal with helpful tidbits I read. A really bothersome thing that I can take away is that, for myself, I haven't and don't have an unfulfilling life (Edit: externally, anyways) I can point to (edit to add: on the outside anyways. I guess it's fairly self-evident that my life inside, me with me, MUST have all kinds of unfulfilling aspects) as, strictly speaking for myself here, something that might justify any of my behavior and thought patterns. (Edit: reading my words I guess stopping seeking justification might just be a very good step in the right direction for me).

Good and helpful stuff keeps rolling in on the replies for this one. Thanks for posting it, FC.

[This message edited by JustDesserts at 11:20 AM, July 1st (Monday)]


2 year EA/PA. DDay 3/12. Broke NC 6/13 w/one stupid 5 line e-mail (which brought me to SI). Me: WH, 50. Her: BW, 49. Married 19 years. Two kids. Dog. Reconciling...together.

Posts: 403 | Registered: Jun 2013 | From: Suburbia, New England, USA
Topic Posts: 18