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Delving into the foggy WS mindset

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 oldmewasmurdered (original poster member #79473) posted at 6:32 AM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

Trigger warning

So I have been reading a lot of what makes up the WS behavior (especially leading up to the affair fog) in an attempt to understand why my xWF behaved the way she did, and how she went from my sweet and loving girl to... a cold and uncaring person. Maybe this can lead to discussions to help understand and explore how someone can turn to wayward-dom. I welcome any feedback or corrections on anything I have gotten wrong.
This is my interpretation of how a WS would think during A and fog.

So as far as I know, pre-A starts with the destruction of BS in your head.
Afterall, you cannot betray someone you hold on a pedestal.
So you start with something missing in the M, or something that your BS can provide to make you happy.
From what I can gather, most foggy WS behaviors are conflict/pain avoidant in nature. So instead of talking to the BS, you avoid the conflict by not talking. Maybe you talk a bit but to minimal success.
End result is you're in pain, caused by your BS not giving you what you want.
So you look at the situation, "if BS not giving me what I want is hurting me, and BS is still doing it, then maybe BS doesn't love me."
This is where smaller stuff your BS wrong or poorly is used to reinforce that your BS doesn't love you.
Once you're convinced that your BS doesn't love or care about you, they don't even need to do anything. Your brain will simply make up stuff to be upset about.
And if your BS doesn't care about you, why should you care about your BS?

So why do this? Because you want something from your BS or M, but you can't get it. Since you are the good guy/gal, your BS who won't give you what you want must be the bad guy.

Sliding into A:
Here comes AP. Initially they're just a friend, colleague, ex, etc.
They listen to you vent about your BS or M. They give you attention and praise.
All these positive attention feels good, great even. They feed your ego.
Finally someone who understands you, unlike your BS.
As you find new reasons BS doesn't care about you, who do you vent to? The person who understands you of course!
A bond is made.
You may feel something is not right here. But you brush it aside and make excuses.
I mean, you're a good person and AP is just a friend who listens.
The truth that you push down here is that if you were to stop with AP, then they would stop feeding you praise and stroke your ego. And you don't want that now do you?
Before you know it the bond grows stronger (just like the start of a new relationship), and the AP falls in love with you or vice versa.
You keep pushing boundaries because it feels so good with the AP. You feel so right. They get you like no-one else. Maybe the AP is your soulmate?
What about the BS? Why think about the BS? Think about them takes away your love fantasy with the AP.
It won't hurt the BS if they never find out right?
At this point you're already deep in EA.
Maybe one of you push for PA.
You know it's wrong to have a PA. But you're in love. And you've already pushed the boundaries so much that it might as well not exist.
So you plan for the PA. Of course you need plans. What if BS asks? What will you say? You don't want to hurt the BS right?
The deed is done.
You go home for the first time after PA, and feel TERRIBLE and scared.
You convince yourself that you're in too deep now to back away now.
Oh and the BS can never find out, otherwise your M is over. You'll protect the M by keeping this a secret.

Compartmentalizing:
Say it's valentines day.
Obviously you need to spend it with your BS. Do your usual valentines day routine.
But you feel bad the AP is lonely on valentines day. You should send the AP something too, maybe an "I love you"?
Well how can you love your BS and AP at the same time?
How about when you're with BS, you have your love for your BS here. And when you text AP you have your love for your AP there.
Do you love your BS? Of course you do. Look here to see how much I love you!
Do you love your AP? Of course you do. Look there to see how sorry you are you couldn't spend V-day with them!
Separate your love for BS and AP into neat little compartments. That way you can keep your genuine emotions for whoever needs it.
And remember, the compartments MUST BE SEPARATED. BS love is for BS. AP love is for AP. No mixing emotions.

post D-day and fog:
So the BS found out about the A and AP.
You feel TERRIBLE. You know what you did is wrong.
You apologize profusely.
You look at how hurt the BS is. You never meant to hurt your BS. BS never should have found out. That way they wouldn't be hurt in the first place.
But BS did find out, and is lashing out at you. You feel you deserve this. This is your punishment.
BS asks for the truth. Look how hurt BS is right now with what little they know. BS can't possibly handle more of the hurtful truth.
So you tell just a little, and watch the BS wince in pain. See? You were right.
BS demands the full truth. No way. There are truths that will DEFINITELY cause BS to D you if BS ever found out. These are things that you'll take to the grave.
You think to yourself, "BS already knows the major pieces like PA, the details won't be as important."
BS asks you to drop the AP. Fine BS, you'll break up with the AP. You won the war for me BS, are you happy now?
BS wants you to go NC with the AP. Uh that's too harsh. AP is also human and is really hurt by all this. Maybe you can stay friends or let him down gently. You are so kind.
Deep down you may still love the AP as well.

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BraveSirRobin ( Guide #69242) posted at 8:35 AM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

It's no surprise that I see myself in this, especially the compartmentalization and after D-Day sections. However, I don't think you can develop a single profile that fits all foggy waywards.

The WS in your early description is what Shirley Glass refers to as a monogamous infidel. They can only attach to one person at a time, and so they vilify their spouse in order to make room the new bond. The WS in this case is likely to become cold and hostile to the BS and focus on resentments that "justify" the A.

The compartmentalizer doesn't need to do that. Maybe they're a remorseless cake eater who is happy in their marriage but selfishly wants more. Maybe they fear they aren't good enough for their BS and are shoring themselves up with ego kibble. These opposite personality traits, egomania and low self esteem, can both result in the WS seeking validation outside the marriage.

Speaking for myself, I was indeed able to betray someone I held on a pedestal. It wasn't nearly as simple as BH not giving me what I wanted, nor was my connection to the OM founded on me venting about him. Actually, OM avoided the subject of BH like the plague. I think he was afraid it would remind me that what we were doing was wrong and that I might call a halt.

Here's another thing to consider: an A is the intersection of two broken people. You might have two compartmentalizers, two monogamous infidels, or one of each, and that's going to drive how the A unfolds. Two compartmentalizers can carry on a long term affair without ever considering ending their marriages. Two monogamous infidels may fantasize or even plan for divorce and remarriage. If you have one of each, there's going to be constant tension. And if the AP is single, that creates a whole new wrinkle, because they almost certainly are strategizing to end the M, whether the WS realizes it or not.

WW/BW 50s (Me)
BH/WH 50s (TimeSpiral)

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Linus ( member #79614) posted at 1:59 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

This mindset, the monogamous infidel' s, typically involves a fair amount of gratuitous cruelty toward the BS. The view of the BS as deficient or evil in some way, results in a fair amount of abuse of the BS. This is often manifested in criticism, ridicule, just overall meanness combined with withholding affection.

It is quite bewildering and traumatizing. IMO, this treatment is more responsible for my unwillingness to attempt reconciliation. Yes, the act of cheating was terrible, but this attendant abuse made me so angry and resentful that I wanted payback.

So, in order to avoid stooping to revenge, I divorced.

I have no idea if most WS consider how abusive they were not just by cheating but by the way they treated their BS. I am pretty sure neither of my XWs have even considered their abusiveness. And, it is impossible to bring the subject up,as they refused to even look at it.

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AbandonedGuy ( member #66456) posted at 2:15 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

This is a thoughtful analysis but my personal experience deviates when WS is caught and feels bad about it. Some don't really care and go so far as to capitalize on the DDay revelation to capsize the marriage and target the BS with an aggressive campaign of destruction, lest they sway any minds against WS. I agree with the comment that there is no one size fits all, but I would still advocate for a rigorously researched reflection on what the hell the BS was thinking. Lord knows I spent the better part of a year immersed in such articles/books/videos.

I too have trouble thinking that my exwife bothered to consider her own selfishness and cruelty. Or if she has, those thoughts have been severely suppressed in a macabre "onward and upward" sort of way.

[This message edited by AbandonedGuy at 2:15 PM, Friday, January 14th]

EmancipatedFella, formerly AbandonedGuy

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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 4:30 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

Not Just Friends delves into how a variety of A's start. The specific lies the WS has to tell themselves vary.

Often the A develops prior to destruction of the BS. They just meet someone attractive and interesting. They get along really well. They probably tell the BS how happy they are to make a new friend/how cool the new coworker is. They talk about them a lot but not more than you would expect for a new friend. But it ramps up from there, and once feelings are discussed. Boom, secrecy starts.

They never intended to betray their partner and if the feelings are good how could they be wrong? And besides they are special and can't have a fun flirty relationship without "crossing a line" but the EA might have already started. Then once it become undeniable, they tell themselves the same lie as every other cheater. If no one finds out, no one has to get hurt.

I think we sometimes don't give enough credit to how good the A feels and why it is so similar to a drug addiction. It's like saying "I'd never do cocaine" but someone stick the cocaine right up your nose, and holy shit you didn't even know you could feel like that. Not that I know first hand, but the descriptions I've heard are almost always "electric". The internal dopamine reward is through the roof.

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

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Evertrying ( member #60644) posted at 5:04 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

I thought this was very interesting. A lot of what was written was EXACTLY how I think my husband felt with the exception of still loving me while in the affair. I think he told himself that he didn't love me and only loved his AP because any decent human being could not love their spouse while they were fucking someone else.

Problem was, deep down he actually did love me and when the shit hit the fan, his AP and the possibility of his marriage ending wasn't what he wanted. SHE wasn't what he wanted and she was no longer worth it. Yes - the fog had lifted.

BS - 55 on dday
WH - 48 on dday
Dday: 9/1/17
Status: Reconciled

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 oldmewasmurdered (original poster member #79473) posted at 5:26 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

Thanks guys for the feedback. I didn't know about the different classifications of WS serial vs. compartmentalizer. I thought they were just two strategies used in conjunction by foggy WS to justify their actions. So some WS are better at one than the other. Also will need to add Not Just Friends onto my reading list.

I am still attempting to understand how someone can turn into WS mindset from the perspective of a confused outsider BS. I'm sure any pro fWS can blow holes through my logic xD. I can see how I weaved this around my own story as to try to understand my xWF more. So I'm sorry if it seems I'm generalizing all WS it's not my goal, and am sorry for the clickbait.

Maybe it can still be of some help to a new BS to attempt to answer the question "how could you do this to me." I know I was dying for an answer.

[This message edited by oldmewasmurdered at 5:36 PM, Friday, January 14th]

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RealityBlows ( member #41108) posted at 5:30 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

I have also read somewhere that there are also gender differences on how each approach, justify and compartmentalize an affair.

The article claimed men are more capable of separating sex and love and separating and compartmentalizing the two relationships whereas women not as capable. The article went on to claim that males are more capable of polyamory, of bonding with multiple partners simultaneously, then females are. The article stated that females are hard wired by evolution to bond with one partner at a time whereas males are hardwired to bond with or "spread their seed" amongst multiple partners simultaneously to further perpetuate the species.

The article went on to say that many times, especially when the A turns physical for a female, the female wayward is evolutionarily hardwired to turn away emotionally from her BS, to break her bond with her BS, redirecting her love towards the AP, and her heart will shut off, like a switch, to the BS, and that female waywards are more likely to begin a mental campaign of demonization of their BS, sometimes viciously and without mercy, to facilitate this.

I haven't been able to track this article back down but perhaps others know it?

My WW's A seemed more sexual than emotional. There was no Fog that I could detect. She shut down her A the moment I found out and never seemed to look back. She regarded it as an escapade, a dalliance, a brief vacation from a long marriage that she thought she deserved after giving so much of herself to the family.

She did mentally reduce or defund our marriage to enable her A, claiming we had grown apart, but she never mounted a demonization campaign of me personally, until after R broke down and we divorced and I began seeing other women. THEN the demonization of me began-big time! My WW's unmet needs grievance seemed to be directed more at the institutional constraints of Marriage in general than at me personally. Like a midlife crisis.

So, people are infinitely complex with so many variables at play that influence the culmination and the evolution of their affair, that it's difficult and unproductive to categorize or stereotype-too much. You really have to look at the individual and everything that goes into that individual and your unique relationship.

[This message edited by RealityBlows at 5:43 PM, Friday, January 14th]

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 oldmewasmurdered (original poster member #79473) posted at 5:41 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

@RealityBlows

Reading your story, I'm sorry for what you've been through. What you had and lost is the exact thing I'm afraid of. Someone in a loving 2 decade relationship, with everything anyone would want, would throw it all away for some ego kibbles, and then attempt for false R. If that can happen to you it can surely happen to anyone right? How to even prevent that slide into wayward-dom? It honestly makes me feel scared of committing wholey again.

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RealityBlows ( member #41108) posted at 7:08 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

If that can happen to you it can happen to anyone right?

Yes, it could happen, but not necessarily.

You really have to look at YOUR spouse, and YOUR situation and the many variables involved. Although we see many commonalities here on SI, you have to be careful to evaluate your unique spouse and situation fairly.

Your WS's actions and results should speak louder than case studies and other's experiences.

I know where you're at right now. My experience with infidelity began for me 22 years into what seemed to be a beautiful marriage and family. No red flags. No grievances, direct or indirect, subtle or implied, what-so-ever. Leaves you stunned and very confused, about everything, questioning EVERYTHING.

I was trying to make analytical, educated projections on the odds of successful R, odds of her cheating again, of her staying for The Right reasons-that I wasn't a concession.

R is a huge investment, sacrifice of time and patience, especially when you're in latter mid-life and your chances of starting again are fleeting. Do you cut your loses and start fresh?

You want assurances and so does your WS but, you're not going to get them. Love is a gamble. It's always a gamble. Whether you're beginning a new relationship with an unknown or rebuilding a relationship with a known cheater, it's a gamble with almost the same odds of failure-except, now that you have been exposed to infidelity-19, you have the opportunity to build specific antibodies to protect against it.

Many people humming along blissfully in there seemingly good healthy marriages are actually sitting on unknown ticking time bombs. Like the Shingles Virus, the predisposition to cheat can be waiting in dormancy, for decades, for contributing factors to come into perfect alignment (age, length of marriage, life stressors, midlife crisis, etc) to manifest itself.

Your bomb has gone off, the virus has broken out, now you can directly intervene. This is your chance to fix her issues and fortify your marriage for another 20 years.

It's just a chance. Not a guarantee. It's a loving gamble. A leap of faith. A risky venture that you both enter into together, both taking the same risks of failure with the same enormous sacrifices, especially the sacrifice of precious time.

Her efforts and actions should be your guidon. Even truly remorseful WS's initially fuck up. A WS is basically a debilitated healer. They have to heal you and themselves at the same time. That's very difficult to successfully pull off, no matter how remorseful they are. So you have to be somewhat patient and allow for that. It's going to be a rough start up with lots of setbacks. As long as she is doggedly persistent, learns from her mistakes, you have a good chance for successful R. This will ultimately be a team effort.

SO, if your WS survives the incredible trials and rigors of R, and successfully pulls you through, she loves YOU. Would she go through all this shit for her AP? If you both survive this and truly R, your marriage will have been truly tested and you will both be part of something truly special, this time.

[This message edited by RealityBlows at 7:27 PM, Friday, January 14th]

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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 7:55 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

I gave this a little more thought.

I think the type of WS and type of A both play a lot into how the fog develops and why.

If we consider the various portions of the "why?" in the fire analogy I use sometimes (stress, attraction, opportunity, deceit : heat, oxygen, fuel, spark), you could consider four broad archetypes, but any one of them is still going to have a mix of the others.

So, when the boundary fails if we "explain" with the various factors you could get "overwhelming stress", "unusually high attraction", "abundant opportunity", and "motivated cheater".

I think overwhelming stress and abundant opportunity both tend to demonize the BS before the A. One actively "BS suck!" the other passively "BS doesn't care." Negative sentiment override is built up against the BS and the AP presents as a "positive" influence. The fog builds as described in the OP.

Unusually high attraction tends to build toward the A first with an active knowledge they shouldn't be, but continuing anyway. The fog builds due to the internal reward more than anything.

Finally, the motivated cheater simply doesn't give a shit and accepts their behavior. Any explanation from them is just a bunch of bullshit because they don't want to say, "I'm just a selfish person that wants to sleep around and will lie to my monogamous partners to do so." No fog, just bullshit.

EDIT: A lot of folks are also talking about how could you "love" two people at once, or cheat on someone you "love", and I think many WS at least believe they can love two people at once (may require a twisted definition of love). Which is why they so often offer an open relationship (usually after at least an EA is underway) with AP as an already selected target.

[This message edited by This0is0Fine at 8:05 PM, Friday, January 14th]

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

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BoundaryBuilder ( member #78439) posted at 8:15 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

You really have to look at YOUR spouse, and YOUR situation and the many variables involved. Although we see many commonalities here on SI, you have to be careful to evaluate your unique spouse and situation fairly. Your WS's actions and results should speak louder than case studies and other's experiences.

Yup. I too spent a lot of time trying to figure out WHY my H did what he did. This is not YOUR job. It's HER job to understand why. Educating myself about infidelity patterns, statistics and power dynamics was empowering FOR ME (and gave me the tools to name behaviors and ability to identify them), but it was up to him to do the work to kickstart reconciliation, to change HIS mindset. He was the one who betrayed our marriage, not me. I could email him a gazillion articles and suggest books to him but it was up to him to read them, and apply the information to work on himself. I didn't see much action to accompany his apologies. Even after I frantically tried to point out the WHY of HIS behaviors, and practically handed him a guidebook highlighted with a yellow highlighter explaining what I needed from him to reconcile. When I should have been working on saving myself. Eventually I stopped sending those helpful links. I was done. His actions had to start aligning with his words or I was out of here. He knew I meant it when I said it, too. I didn't realize what I was doing at the time, but I started to gradually implement the 180. I could only be responsible for myself. That's when the tide turned and he started to seriously work on supporting my recovery from the mess he created. Only when faced with D did he start to seriously look at WHY he thought it was okay to do what he did.

ETA:

I took a look at your backstory and I see you broke it off with xWF. I understand why you are doing a post-mortem on why she did what she did. If this will help you sort through the pain and put it behind you, do it. But, gently, I hope this post-mortem is also tied into "fixing your picker" as they say, so future relationships are with an emotionally healthy, fully reciprocating person? Yes, it was a shock when my H betrayed me and lied to me. I searched for explanations, questioned everything, re-examined our decades long marriage. I too thought it was out of character, that he had morphed into some kind of soulless pod creature. This surely wasn't my loving H doing these things to me! The upside of mucking through the WHY, at least for me, was I now could reconcile with my eyes wide open, armed with knowledge. Able to put a name to dynamics that were ALWAYS in place in our marriage. I just wasn't willing or able to identify them before the betrayal.

Whether you're beginning a new relationship with an unknown or rebuilding a relationship with a known cheater, it's a gamble with almost the same odds of failure-except, now that you have been exposed to infidelity-19, you have the opportunity to build specific antibodies to protect against it.

Yup. And be better equipped to spot those red flags early on in a relationship before you are committed to that person. That's my hope for you.

[This message edited by BoundaryBuilder at 8:49 PM, Friday, January 14th]

Married 31 years w/one adult daughter
ME:BW 63
HIM:WH 65
13 month texting EA with high school X who fished him on Facebook 43 years later
PA=15 days spread over final 3 months
DDay=April 21, 2018
Reconciled

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AbandonedGuy ( member #66456) posted at 9:12 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

You really have to look at YOUR spouse, and YOUR situation and the many variables involved. Although we see many commonalities here on SI, you have to be careful to evaluate your unique spouse and situation fairly.

Hindsight is 20/20. I can look back at a series of behaviors that, in total, point to a person who is ripe for cheating. Behaviors which span the entirety of our relationship. Taken individually, one could write them off as benign, as things that you're just overthinking or insecure about. On top of those indicators, there are personality traits which aren't directly tied to cheating but which imply a certain type of person who is a "fair weather lover/friend/colleague", a self-absorbed materialist who can shake off a person if she thinks they can't be mined for more security or dopamine hits. Then there are circumstances which might ignite the whole shitstorm of infidelity in a person like this.

Interpersonal dynamics are complex and as we've learned, in a most painful life lesson, you can't truly know another person sometimes. Balancing what could be your spouse's unfaithful actions and what could be your insecurities is tricky, especially when you're in the thick of the marriage and will do anything to rationalize that "everything's fine, we're fine, this is worth fighting for". The best thing one can do when they find themselves on the business end of an affair is build up a healthy sense of awareness, both of yourself and of the motivations of those around you, and create heuristics which stop you from falling into the same traps of letting people cross your boundaries, papering over others' bad behaviors, making yourself vulnerable to opportunistic predators, etc.

Educating myself about infidelity patterns, statistics and power dynamics was empowering FOR ME (and gave me the tools to name behaviors and ability to identify them)

Yep, this is so key to forging ahead. When someone says to a BS "know how your actions contributed to the affair" and the BS gets defensive, I worry that perhaps the BS is not using this opportunity to see how they might be able to protect themself against this kind of thing in the future. You don't have to blame yourself for your spouse's infidelity (I know I don't, and none of us should) to reflect on what mistakes you made in the lead up to it, what conditions were present and how you contributed to them, and how to taken steps which reduce the risk of running into it in the future. Even better, learn how to spot the red flags and find the wherewithal to nope out of the situation so you don't ever have to feel like you're compromising yourself lest you wake the cheater dragon.

[This message edited by AbandonedGuy at 9:17 PM, Friday, January 14th]

EmancipatedFella, formerly AbandonedGuy

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sleepylove ( member #68848) posted at 9:28 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

Often the A develops prior to destruction of the BS. They just meet someone attractive and interesting. They get along really well. They probably tell the BS how happy they are to make a new friend/how cool the new coworker is. They talk about them a lot but not more than you would expect for a new friend. But it ramps up from there, and once feelings are discussed. Boom, secrecy starts.

I think This0is0Fine is right. The WS most likely gets in too deep with the AP first and then starts destroying the BS to justify their actions.
Some of the issues the WS has with the BS may be legitimate but they lack the moral fiber to end the A to either work on the marriage or Divorce before it goes too far. The A just feels too damn good to them.

BH 49WW 49Married almost 22 years at time of AShe had an affair Dec 2017-Feb 2018Found them together 2/2/18 Final Dday 2/23/18 Still don't know the whole truthTrying to R

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 oldmewasmurdered (original poster member #79473) posted at 11:07 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

Thank you @BoundaryBuilder for the kind words. Yes I am doing this post mortem to get answers for my somewhat unique situation. Because of the impeding wedding the decision to R or D had to be made rather quickly. And now I know that most WS, even remorseful ones, initially are foggy. That made D or delaying the wedding the only options. Then the question became could she become R candidate eventually. From the one month I was observing her actions the answer was firmly no. She was firmly picking herself over my healing at every point, which made the limbo extra painful. I didn't know enough from SI back then of how long this foggy phase would last, so I thought it would last forever. I mean, if she stabbed me in the heart and have been twisting the knife for a month, then I should take the knife out and protect myself.

My FOO issues didn't help here. My dad is a serial cheater and my mom a serial rugsweeper. So I have lots of A-based trauma built up already. I knew no matter what, I did not want what they had. So when I saw that my xWF wasn't remorseful I chose D, maybe to protect myself from my own version of false-R hell. Ironically my FOO made me almost too good at the 180. I did the right things and ended it too quickly, never giving her the chance to come out of fog (if she ever would).

So the super fast D-day, 180, and D made me not get any answers whatsoever from my xWF. Hence my fixation on self education I guess. Yes I fully intend on watching for red flags and fixing my picker, just need to learn how. Hope this provided some context as to my actions.

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emergent8 ( member #58189) posted at 11:10 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

I was attempting to understand how someone can turn into WS mindset from the perspective of a confused outsider BS. I'm sure any pro fWS can blow holes through my logic xD. I can see how I weaved this around my own story as to try to understand my xWF more. So I'm sorry if it seems I'm generalizing all WS it's not my goal, and am sorry for the clickbait.

I think it was a good stab at understanding the mindset of a WS in a certain-type of affair and I think there are likely a number of BSs and WSs that see elements of either their spouses or selves in what you wrote.

I don't believe that all affairs begin with the destruction of the BS in your head - some do I'm sure. My husband's certainly did not (his A was not a "love" affair though - it was more about ego/the thrill of feeling powerful and desired). I *DO* believe that quite often Waywards start from a place of unhappiness (and poor boundaries -always poor boundaries!). Sometimes, perhaps often, they have convinced themselves that their unhappiness is due to a perceived problem in the marriage (and maybe sometimes that's true - often it is not). We commonly hear "I was unhappy because I didn't feel like my BS loved me" - whenever I hear that, I always think "need for external validation". Whatever the source/driver, the unhappiness or maybe the emptiness as I've also heard it referred to, creates a vulnerability.

Some people went out actively looking for it... more often, it just sort of falls into their lap. At first, maybe it just being overly friendly. It feels good. Then maybe it's just gentle flirting - it feels better. They justify it to themselves, this is fine. No one is getting hurt. I deserve this. It continues - it feels good. Because of the unhappiness and the need for external validation, the dopamine rush they get is hitting just the right spot. Like ThisIsFine pointed out, the dopamine is through the roof. The flirting continues, slowly boundaries start getting pushed and then crossed. Any feelings of guilt they may have are ignored or quickly pushed down because that might put a damper on the ego kibbles. Any minor issues they have with the BS, might be magnified in their brain because that resentment allows them to justify what they are doing without feeling guilt or shame. The compartmentalizers avoid the negative thoughts by keeping their thoughts about the BS and their WS in separate compartments. The monogamous infidels might convince themselves that because it is 'true love', the ends justify the means (or that they deserve it because their BS doesn't love them anyway). They become like addicts - searching for that next hit, with declining concern for how their behaviour effects those around them.

I see some BSs scoff at trying to understand the WHYs and the HOWs of the affair, but I think it's important. It hurts like hell and can feel victim blamey at times (it isn't, but it can certainly feel that way when your actions or inactions are involved), but understanding it all did wonders for me in a) helping me process everything; b) feeling like there were specific things that could be worked on to make my husband a safe partner; c) being able to feel safe in my relationship again; and d) actually allowed me to have some empathy for how my husband had been feeling in the lead up to the affair. This was important for me in being able to R. It made me realize that our marriage was both more fragile and more resilient than I had thought.

Me: BS, Him: WS. Mid-late 30s.
Together 15 years, married 6 (11 m at D-Day).
D-Day: Feb 2017 (8 m PA with married COW).
5 years (and two toddlers) into R. Happy.

posts: 751   ·   registered: Apr. 7th, 2017
id 8709943
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guvensiz ( member #75858) posted at 11:37 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

APs enter the frame first, demonizing BSs is done later to justify the A.

There is usually no such thing as a loyal, reliable person turning into a WS. You are just witnessing her behavior in different times and conditions, nothing changed. Probably she was still the same sweet and loving girl, but this time to her AP, while she was a cold and uncaring person towards you. And when she no longer cares about AP, she will treat him the same way. This is not an indication of a change in her personality.

How can people who love and care about us do this to us? The answer is very simple; they can't. So they don't love and care about us anymore, that's what we don't want to accept.

We see them, ourselves, and our relationship as special, but they are not. We can't look objectively at ourselves, at them and at what is going on.

We can see a lot if we look at how a person behaves generally, rather than how they treat us.

Their approach to people, whether they are rude or kind, do they keep their word, are they liars or honest, etc.

For instance, instead of questioning their view we prefer to believe a spouse who says very bad things about their ex, but we don't think we can one day be in that ex's place. Or, we like it when our partner lies to their friend/family or doesn't keep their promise to be with us. We can't see the moral problem in their character.

This is what I mean by objectivity; if we manage to see things as they are and not as they seem to us, we are much less likely to be mistaken.

[This message edited by guvensiz at 11:46 PM, Friday, January 14th]

posts: 624   ·   registered: Nov. 14th, 2020
id 8709947
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BoundaryBuilder ( member #78439) posted at 12:49 AM on Saturday, January 15th, 2022

We can see a lot if we look at how a person behaves generally, rather than how they treat us.

Well said.
Oldmewasmurdered, some of your wording has me wondering if part of your post-mortem research is to fabricate acceptable logic/reasons to justify giving her another chance? "Ironically my FOO made me almost too good at the 180. I did the right things and ended it too quickly, never giving her the chance to come out of fog (if she ever would)."
Are you maintaining strict NC? It's possible she'll attempt to hoover you back. I hope your resolve to remain NC is firm.
You're young, and are doing a great job mastering some difficult lessons to take into your next NEW relationship. Your FOO has demonstrated what you don't want to replicate. Stay strong. Hope my musings are wrong.

Married 31 years w/one adult daughter
ME:BW 63
HIM:WH 65
13 month texting EA with high school X who fished him on Facebook 43 years later
PA=15 days spread over final 3 months
DDay=April 21, 2018
Reconciled

posts: 72   ·   registered: Mar. 4th, 2021
id 8709959
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 oldmewasmurdered (original poster member #79473) posted at 1:06 AM on Saturday, January 15th, 2022

@BoundaryBuilder
I have held onto NC firmly, never reached out, blocked on all common platforms. It was tough at times though, especially during holidays (I expect valentines day to be rough too). It was just a shock even to me that I ended things the day after our supposed wedding with my supposed wife (before she wanted R). That part just seemed... cold, and very un-like me.

posts: 75   ·   registered: Oct. 12th, 2021   ·   location: Canada
id 8709961
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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 1:21 AM on Saturday, January 15th, 2022

I don't think there is anything wrong with trying to understand how affairs, or the particular affair that has affected you occur.

I've mentioned this before, but after extensive learning here, I would say I'm now less susceptible to making decisions that would get me roped into an A without intent that I was before. None of us are perfect, most of us have selfish impulses if we aren't generally selfish, and unless you've really never told a lie, you are capable of deception.

"Yes but I'd never cheat!"

How many people that cheated said that before they did?

Not excusing the behavior even if you understand it. It helps prevent repeats, and helps you see the signs sooner.

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

posts: 1669   ·   registered: Dec. 11th, 2019
id 8709963
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