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Question for WS and BS who have successfully reconciled

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 cedarwoods (original poster member #82760) posted at 8:29 PM on Saturday, May 20th, 2023

WH and I are about 7 months into R. We are working hard and making progress. I believe trust, commitment, and communication will continue to improve between us. HOWEVER, I don’t know if and how my triggers re: AP could ever get better. Whenever I see women who remind me of AP, I get very triggered. And I wonder if my WH also has an emotional reaction to women who look like her.

My question for BS: if you’ve successfully reconciled, do you still get triggered by people who remind you of the AP? If so, how do you deal with it? If you longer get triggered, how did you get to that point? Did it just happen over time?

For WS: when did you eventually stop thinking about AP, if at all? When you see people who remind you of AP, does it elicit any emotions or memories?

[This message edited by cedarwoods at 8:31 PM, Saturday, May 20th]

posts: 211   ·   registered: Jan. 20th, 2023   ·   location: USA
id 8791853
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denwickdroylsden ( member #51744) posted at 1:19 PM on Sunday, May 21st, 2023

For WS: when did you eventually stop thinking about AP, if at all? When you see people who remind you of AP, does it elicit any emotions or memories?

I have not and it has been over a decade. No longer a daily thing though and it's more random stray thoughts rather than ruminating as it used to be. I do see ppl that remind me of AP and have a bit of a visceral reaction. I doubt any of that will ever go away but it's not upsetting or any kind of threat. I am so far out of that, if AP popped up right in front of me today I would turn and bolt without a word.

Me: WH frequent flyerNow on straight and narrow.
Paragraphing: Try it. You'll like it.

posts: 66   ·   registered: Feb. 9th, 2016
id 8791897
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Tanner ( Guide #72235) posted at 3:03 PM on Sunday, May 21st, 2023

The AP was a stranger so I've only seen one picture of him. He is nothing like me and nothing my W would be attracted to physically. He played a roll in her fantasy and she cast him to be who she wanted him to be. She is all about health and fitness, she is a personal trainer, this guy was not in shape and older than me.

I dismissed him rather quickly as someone to worry about. Early after Dday I made it my mission for her to know just how disgusting infidelity is and especially someone she's not attracted to. She does not have fond memories of him or her A's, she is disgusted by it. That helped me with AP triggers, I triggered more on dates and places, but those are fading also.

Dday Sept 7 2019 doing well in R BH M 32 years

posts: 3458   ·   registered: Dec. 5th, 2019   ·   location: Texas DFW
id 8791912
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 3:17 PM on Sunday, May 21st, 2023

I never had the experience of seeing someone who looked like ow, but I was free of her within 2 years.

For responses from WSes, please direct your question to https://survivinginfidelity.com/topics/658162/bs-questions-for-ws-part-15. Thanks.

I talked about triggers with my W, though, suffering in silence didn't seem healing to me, and I don't think it helps R. Besides, what matters is how your WS thinks about ap. I imagine it's scary to ask your WS this question - and I think it's especially important to ask a question if you fear your WS's response. If your WS can't help you through your difficult moments, it's best to find that out as quickly as possible, IMO.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 29994   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8791915
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Saltishealing ( member #82817) posted at 3:30 PM on Sunday, May 21st, 2023

I am 15 months from d day and progressing in R as well. WH is remorseful and understands and allows me to vent but I still frequently trigger. I found out about the A from seeing texts and pictures of the AP. Nothing sexual thank goodness but I know what she looks like and yes every time I see someone even on tv that looks like her it will set me up for many bad days. It really is just a visceral reaction. I do not feel less than her. I too wonder when or if this will go away. I feel like I think about the affair more than I did a year ago. I’m hoping this is just my process of trying to accept and let go. It’s very difficult. I appreciate those people further down the road chiming in.

posts: 81   ·   registered: Jan. 31st, 2023
id 8791918
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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 9:01 PM on Sunday, May 21st, 2023

I'm not, don't know how I got here. I've always focused my anger, etc. at my wife. I think focus on the AP is misguided. FWW was recently sort of triggered over someone looking like AP.

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

posts: 2656   ·   registered: Dec. 11th, 2019
id 8791952
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HouseOfPlane ( member #45739) posted at 12:32 AM on Monday, May 22nd, 2023

…do you still get triggered by people who remind you of the AP? If so, how do you deal with it?

A key thing is to recognize you don’t get triggered, you trigger yourself. It is something you do, not something done to you.

If you pay very close attention in the moment between recognition and "getting triggered" you will see there is a moment in between. You’ve recognized, but you haven’t had the emotional response (created your emotional response).

It is at that moment that you intervene in the process and say, "fuck it, not going there today."

DDay 1986: R'd, it was hard, hard work.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver

posts: 3212   ·   registered: Nov. 25th, 2014
id 8791960
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OnTheOtherSideOfHell ( member #82983) posted at 12:37 AM on Monday, May 22nd, 2023

Five years out here and although it’s much better and the triggers are different (just an ick feeling, rather than pain)I still hate seeing a certain size of a woman. 😬 I hope I don’t offend anyone here, but my husband’s affair partner was morbidly obese (about 400 lbs) so when I see a woman of that size I immediately think low self esteem, needy, and untrustworthy. I know it’s illogical and not fair, but that is where my head goes. Ironically, although I am nowhere near that size, I certainly could benefit from losing some weight. Clearly, my husband has a type. 🤷‍♀️🙄

posts: 201   ·   registered: Feb. 28th, 2023   ·   location: SW USA
id 8791961
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The1stWife ( Guide #58832) posted at 12:59 AM on Monday, May 22nd, 2023

Other people were not my triggers. I got over my triggers if the OW about one year into R.

My fear was the unknown OW — the one that might be the next AP.

But throughout R my H was very open about the importance of our marriage and reconciliation etc.

It’s just hard to believe someone who lied and cheated and betrayed you.

But over time his actions were consistent and real. That is what helped me.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled. 10 years out from Dday. Reconciliation takes two committed people to be successful.

posts: 13947   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8791964
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ff4152 ( member #55404) posted at 2:45 AM on Monday, May 22nd, 2023

I really only think of the AP when I’m here. On the rare occasions that I think about her because of some event or place, it really evokes no emotion. She has become someone I used to know a very long time ago. I don’t wonder how she is doing nor do I care. She is out of my life and that’s just fine with me.

Me -FWS

posts: 2102   ·   registered: Sep. 30th, 2016
id 8791970
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SacredSoul33 ( member #83038) posted at 3:56 AM on Monday, May 22nd, 2023

My question for BS: if you’ve successfully reconciled, do you still get triggered by people who remind you of the AP? If so, how do you deal with it?

OW's name is the same as a fast food place and a weather condition, so I hear her name on almost a daily basis. She flashes through my brain, but it's not loaded anymore.

If you no longer get triggered, how did you get to that point? Did it just happen over time?

99.9% of my triggers lost their power over time. There are a couple of things that might set my teeth on edge if I encounter them, but they only hold about 5% of the power that they did in the early days. They don't ruin my day.

Hang in there. It gets better. It really does.

I talked about triggers with my W, though, suffering in silence didn't seem healing to me, and I don't think it helps R. Besides, what matters is how your WS thinks about ap. I imagine it's scary to ask your WS this question - and I think it's especially important to ask a question if you fear your WS's response. If your WS can't help you through your difficult moments, it's best to find that out as quickly as possible, IMO.

I second this. Be transparent with your H. smile

Remove the "I want you to like me" sticker from your forehead and place it on the mirror, where it belongs. ~ Susan Jeffers

Your nervous system will always choose a familiar hell over an unfamiliar heaven.

posts: 1298   ·   registered: Mar. 10th, 2023
id 8791973
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Edie ( member #26133) posted at 11:30 AM on Monday, May 22nd, 2023

I agree with HoP that you have some control in managing your triggers and that it gets easier. Your amygdala is scanning for danger and when, as in my case it spotted an attractive strawberry-blonde like OW, it sends out danger signals to your body to prepare for danger. In this way, the triggers are your sympathetic nervous system’s way of getting your body hyoeraroused and ready to respond to danger, and as you didn’t see the A coming so the antennae are very attuned to danger signs associated with it. Therefore you can bring your parasympathetic nervous system into play to calm it all down, disempowering triggers pre-emptively as well as retrospectively and in the moment. Possibly the best thing is not to be afraid of triggers, and to reassure your nervous system that way as resistance will not help matters. In some ways, you can thank your nervous system for its help but use grounding techniques so it doesn’t need to be so alert on your behalf.

Re your WH’s response to triggers, yes, talk to him. I expect for most WS there is a difference in the flavour of those after withdrawal has eased off and where it is shame and remorse that is triggered, not desire for the AP.

[This message edited by Edie at 11:54 AM, Monday, May 22nd]

Maybe a long walk in the Hindu Kush would do it?
BW (me) 52
FWS 55
Together 29 years; 2 kids 15 & 12
Dday Dec 08 (confessed) R'd.

posts: 6646   ·   registered: Nov. 9th, 2009   ·   location: Europe
id 8791992
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Chaos ( member #61031) posted at 11:26 PM on Thursday, May 25th, 2023

I'm a LTA survivor who is currently in R and doing well. I am 6 years from DDay 1, 5 years from DDays 2/3 and just over 2 years from when we discovered her creating fake profiles to cyber stalk us and duplicate our lives that resulted in us hiring an attorney to send a Cease and Desist.

My question for BS: if you’ve successfully reconciled, do you still get triggered by people who remind you of the AP?

Every single time. Still. However, I no longer have a crippling panic attack reaction. I still may whisper "f*** you" under my breath or in my head (depending on proximity). It not fair - but there is a look and if I see it I have a reaction.

If so, how do you deal with it?

I work with an IC - this is a PTSD reaction. I tell myself it is not her. I tell myself I will be OK. I tell myself it is a sucky reality. I tell myself I have an emergency Xanax with me at all times if it is overwhelming. I tell myself there is no shame in using that safety net. I tell myself there is no shame in leaving wherever I am if it all becomes too much.

If you longer get triggered, how did you get to that point? Did it just happen over time?

The reaction happens every single time. The severity of it impact has lessened greatly. Time has helped. I also make sure I have an exit strategy if I can't handle it. I haven't had to leave someplace in a long time.

BS-me/WH-4.5yrLTA Married 2+ decades - Children (1 still at home) Multiple DDays w/same AP until I told OBS 2018 Cease & Desist sent spring 2021"Hello–My name is Chaos–You f***ed my husband-Prepare to Die!"

posts: 3797   ·   registered: Oct. 13th, 2017   ·   location: East coast
id 8792535
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hikingout ( member #59504) posted at 7:50 AM on Friday, May 26th, 2023

First, let me say 7 months is still early in the process. I would be careful not to try to force yourself to do too much too fast emotionally. I understand you want to feel better but grief is not linear so you must pace yourself and be gentle and patient with yourself.

I wrote a few words on a post prior to this and I am going to just copy them here because I think it’s helpful to understand "thinking about the ap" is an evolution for both the bs and ws. I have experienced that both ways. But I am going to post my ws answer:

At the time my affair started I was at an extremely low point in my life. Burned out and dead inside. Not because of my marriage but because of the way I managed my life.

The affair started because it was the only time I felt anything. In hindsight, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it had nothing to do with the AP. It had to do with escapism, pretending to be someone I wasn’t. Doing something that I absolutely would never imagine I would do. Fueled by the entitlement of having a right to medicate my misery.

So yes, at the time it’s happening, I was a disgusting human being. I looked forward to any time we could steal to text. I abandoned reality. And the longer that went on the more things were falling apart around me, and that’s when I doubled down and ignored harder. Justified more deeply. The AP was the vessel for those things. That is the power he had over me. Reality? He was too old, too rigid in his ways, too picky, too unreliable, and a serial cheater. We had little in common and he was religious to boot, hardcore in church. (I am not, nor am I interested in becoming)

Having experienced the guilt, shame, remorse, consequences, and even just not being the person I should have been keeps me from looking at any of that time fondly. When I imagine any aspect of my affair it’s cringeworthy. I am embarrassed and disgusted by my actions.

At seven months out, your husband may or may not be to that point yet. Hard to say. There are ws who know the entire time they don’t want the AP and would have no positive thoughts from day one. There are others it might take a long time. It’s been too long now for me to pinpoint when I stopped having positive thoughts about the AP but it was several months. Not because the AP was great but because it was hard to admit to myself that I did this horrendous act over nothing special. And even worse, what I did to the one who really is special.

7 years of hard work - WS and BS - Reconciled

posts: 7259   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
id 8792574
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