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blocking out your partner during cheating

GuiltAndShame posted 1/6/2020 20:32 PM

While cheating, during the actual cheating, did you block out thoughts of your wife/husband? Did your wife/husband vanish from existence? Did you fail to recognize how the cheating would hurt your wife/husband?
Before the cheating, I felt a mix of guilt and excitement.
After the cheating, guilt dominated.
However, during the cheating, it seemed different, almost like my mind had entered a parallel dimension to enable the cheating. Even if the AP discussed my wife, I felt disconnected.
Anyone else have that sort of experience?
Or am I uniquely flawed?

[This message edited by GuiltAndShame at 9:16 PM, January 6th (Monday)]

IHatePickingName posted 1/6/2020 21:24 PM

I didnt, but the two EA's i had that really went sexual happened after dday, with people i went to for support. So we talked about him a lot.

I definitely was more distant from him whenever i was in a gaming addiction period, but it wasnt so much that i blocked him as that i game too much when in a bad depressive episode, which also correlates to when i am more closed off. Most of those times didnt include anything I would call an EA but there are two i have recategorized as EA's recently. They were primarily non sexual but they were too close, too much time and attention devoted to online friendships and not my family, and featured moments of sexual conversations. I was no more distant during them than other periods of similar gaming addiction.

A significant factor for me is that my husband knew about all of my AP's at the time, including a pretty good idea of any sexual conversations that happened when they did. He was ok with it at the time. So i didnt really distance myself to cheat because i didnt need to. I blurred lines, minimized, and kept details i thought "he wouldnt like" a secret, but it was more abusing freedom i had than concealing whole affairs. It was so easy for me that it didnt take a lot of effort.

It all sounds so calloused. 🙈 Anyway, i will ask my husband to comment tomorrow for you. I believe his experience may be closer to yours.

GuiltAndShame posted 1/6/2020 21:36 PM

Thank you, IHatePickingName!

EvolvingSoul posted 1/6/2020 21:38 PM

No you're not uniquely flawed. What you're describing is a combo of response to cognitive dissonance and lies that you may still be telling yourself.

Cognitive dissonance is the psychological tension that you experience when you are trying to simultaneously hold conflicting beliefs as true. One way your brain can respond to alleviate the tension is to change what you believe. Like "I didn't think he would be hurt by it" when at bottom you knew that he would. Otherwise, why go to the trouble of hiding it?

It takes a while to unwind the lies you tell yourself. I had to peel them back in layers. Statements like "I didn't know how much this would hurt you" was one of them. One strategy that was pretty effective for me was to take the statement and reverse engineer it to see what I might have been avoiding by taking it as a truth. For example, "If I did know how much it would hurt you but decided to cheat anyway, that would mean that I (insert thing I didn't really want to be true about me here). In almost every case it came down to "that would mean that I'm a bad person". Ignorance/cluelessness was easier to claim because it didn't involve me being a bad person.

Ultimately almost every lie I told myself was rooted in this kind of thinking. I would start with the premise that I was a good person and then work backward, bending my perceptions and beliefs until everything was (in my mind at least) consistent with that. It was olympic level pretzel logic. Fancy dinner with AP? BS doesn't enjoy that sort of thing. Spending tons of time with AP? BS was at work during those hours so I wasn't really taking any time away from him.

I started figuring this stuff out when I studied the work of Brené Brown on shame and vulnerability. Shame almost always has to do with unwanted identities. If you can fill in the blanks of "I don't want people to see me as ________." and "I do want people to see me as ________." it will go a long way to figuring out what lies you are telling yourself and why. If you haven't yet I heartily recommend her books "I thought it was just me" and "The Gifts of Imperfection." They were real game changers for me.

Proceed with conviction and valor.

IHatePickingName posted 1/6/2020 21:55 PM

Yeah, i agree with ES. I didnt lie about most of it because i knew he wouldnt be hurt by it. My cognitive dissonance came in differently, when i justified that his lack of caring meant there could be no negative consequences and what i was doing was therefore ok. It wasnt ok, there were lasting consequences, and it damaged my character and let me justify more and more over time. My lies to myself are different, but they served the same purpose: to maintain the self image i wanted to believe for myself while letting my actions differ wildly from that.

QuietDan posted 1/6/2020 22:22 PM

It's been awhile, however, as I recall, it was like I was interacting and engaging my wife in autopilot mode.
I was mentally and emotionally preoccupied with the other person most of the time.
I was also somewhat emotionally detached as well.
At the time, it had the curious effect of artificially improving the day to day interaction and surface relationship. Since I was not emotionally involved with my wife, it was easy to ignore and not take notice of the historical points of offense and conflict.
I treated her as I would any general acquaintance. In like wise fashion, politely bowing out and retreating to a location of isolation and avoidance was a regular habit as well.
Again, even my conversations and day to day interactions with her were primarily auto pilot conversation that were taking place while 90% of my thought were otherwise directed elsewhere.

GuiltAndShame posted 1/7/2020 05:38 AM

Thank you, EvolvingSoul!!!
I appreciate your explanation of cognitive dissonance.
Your “Olympic level pretzel logic” comment made me laugh.

GuiltAndShame posted 1/7/2020 05:42 AM

Thank you, QuietDan!
Interesting observations about your interactions with you wife being “in autopilot mode” and “emotionally detached”, and how that led to artificial improvement in the surface level relationship.

Zugzwang posted 1/8/2020 16:17 PM

Compartmentalizing at its finest. Watch Laugh your way to a better marriage. He explains that very well.

While cheating I didn't let the APs talk about my wife. I just felt that if we didn't I wasn't doing anything wrong. After Dday, I did talk about my wife and her over-reacting with AP2. I got an excitement before cheating because I was looking forward to the escape. During I was aware but pushed it down. After, guilt. Felt shittier and worse and went back to fix that with more ego feeding because well- fuck the reason I felt bad was because of the drug. makes a whole lot of sense huh. One huge toxic cycle.

Razorbyrd posted 1/12/2020 20:23 PM

GuiltandShame - you definitely have a lot of us in that boat with you...

Compartmentalizing at its finest. Watch Laugh your way to a better marriage. He explains that very well.

Zugzwang, this popped into my head the minute I read the post, and also, that's exactly what I did to rationalize my A's.

EvolvingSoul - thank you for that breakdown of cognitive dissonance, it was very helpful

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