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Compartmentalize the A

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 Livingingrief (original poster new member #79723) posted at 4:35 PM on Thursday, January 13th, 2022

How did my H compartmentalize the A if it was with a friend of mine that lived next door. We hung out with them alot if seen her almost every day. How can you separate the A in the mind if you are constantly around both your spouse and AP?

posts: 21   ·   registered: Dec. 29th, 2021
id 8709532
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Linus ( member #79614) posted at 5:00 PM on Thursday, January 13th, 2022

These folks are amazing. Problem with trying to understand their mindset is that we attribute the same values to them that normal, moral people have then try to analyze them from that perspective.

But, quite simply, they are very different from normal people. You know that you could never have done what he did under any circumstances. Yet, he could.

Your husband is a drug addict, as well as a cheater. And, as you mentioned, he betrayed an old friend as well as you. Think about how depraved that is.

He may have compartmentalized, or, this stuff simply does not bother him. Never try to understand the mind of a cheater.

posts: 146   ·   registered: Nov. 21st, 2021   ·   location: Connecticut
id 8709543
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MIgander ( member #71285) posted at 5:29 PM on Thursday, January 13th, 2022

hi LG,

Maybe post this on the BS Q's for WS in ICR. You're likely to get more insight there from the WS's.

posts: 295   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2019   ·   location: Michigan
id 8709556
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RealityBlows ( member #41108) posted at 12:16 AM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

It is amazing how they pull it off. I can see how a high functioning alcoholic, drug or gambling addict does it, but an affair, a whole other relationship or love life, sometimes even a whole other family?

For one thing, It takes an enormous amount work. A lot of premeditation, preparation and strategy. It's very stressful. It takes up a lot of head space and preoccupation. That's why one of the signs of someone cheating is they become very distracted, preoccupied and irritable, especially if you impede or threaten their next fix or complicate their schedule.

(This is why I've always had a hard time excepting the old, "I fucked up...I made a mistake" clause.)

That alternate reality they create (The Affair Bubble) conveniently shields them from their conscience and creates a wonderfully romantic, although morally ambiguous, environment complete with soft focus, glamour glow, cinematic slow motion, key lighting, and background music from Des'ree or Pink Mountain Tops set in an illicit, dark, fatalistic, forbidden fruit noir and where your AP looks like Kevin Costner or Diane Lane.

And then they come home to us, Le chateau of deferred maintenance, screaming kids, bills on the counter, and meatloaf-again.

[This message edited by RealityBlows at 12:35 AM, Friday, January 14th]

posts: 776   ·   registered: Oct. 25th, 2013
id 8709674
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Tallgirl ( member #64088) posted at 12:48 AM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

My ex had a serious girlfriend for 5 years while married, them are some special skills.

I imagine your wh has a lot of practice compartmentalizing from his past, whether it is childhood or something else. Mine did.

[This message edited by Tallgirl at 10:27 AM, Friday, January 14th]

Legally separated, one more step.

posts: 1785   ·   registered: Jun. 11th, 2018
id 8709685
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Linus ( member #79614) posted at 2:12 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

Some call it compartmentalization vs simply lacking a conscience. One thing I observed in both my XW's was that the lack of integrity and empathy was present in many other areas, not just in the sexual fidelity area.

Maybe look at how your husband acts in all aspects of his life. Drug dependency and infidelity are rampant in the personality disordered.

posts: 146   ·   registered: Nov. 21st, 2021   ·   location: Connecticut
id 8709792
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AbandonedGuy ( member #66456) posted at 2:32 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

Beautifully stated, RealityBlows. I never gave the seeding of her affair much thought, but I suspected the origins were located around a couples coworker holiday to some sunny location that I did not attend but my exwife did regardless of my absence (work >>> family to her, always). Perhaps she and her OM were two of the ones without a spouse in tow and they hit it off, hearing beautiful music in each other's presence.

If true, I still would not go back in time to prevent it. A stress test which leads the BS to cheat is, to me, better experienced as early as possible in the marriage. If she is able to compartmentalize so easily as she grabs onto another branch, then best for me that this bandaid is torn off in short order. If the bridge is to fail, I'd rather it does so with a few dozen cars on it rather than a few dozen cars, ten schoolbusses, and a tanker truck filled with nitroglycerine. For me, that means I'm glad I got to witness this behavior before we had kids.

EmancipatedFella, formerly AbandonedGuy

posts: 1066   ·   registered: Oct. 9th, 2018
id 8709804
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Chaos ( member #61031) posted at 2:38 PM on Friday, January 14th, 2022

That alternate reality they create (The Affair Bubble) conveniently shields them from their conscience and creates a wonderfully romantic, although morally ambiguous, environment complete with soft focus, glamour glow, cinematic slow motion, key lighting, and background music from Des'ree or Pink Mountain Tops set in an illicit, dark, fatalistic, forbidden fruit noir and where your AP looks like Kevin Costner or Diane Lane.

And then they come home to us, Le chateau of deferred maintenance, screaming kids, bills on the counter, and meatloaf-again.

Yup. 4.5 year LTA and this describes it to a T. Now I have a married LTAP that doesn't want to let that go. Hello Cease and Desist sent in spring 2021. Per OBS recently - she is still plotting a "revenge"

FOO did come into play with WH case. Allegedly even his IC for a while was shocked with some of those stories.

IDGAF if it did for LTAP - that's on her and OBS to figure out.

I'm here shaking my blonde sparkly head trying to pick up the pieces. And figure out what spices are going into my meatloaf as I sort bills and see why the dishwasher is acting up.

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

posts: 3365   ·   registered: Oct. 13th, 2017   ·   location: East coast
id 8709807
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Seeking2Forgive ( member #78819) posted at 8:02 AM on Saturday, January 15th, 2022

My FWW's A started out online as an EA that later progressed to a PA. She says that compartmentalization that she learned to deal with FOO issues is the way that she was able to pursue the A and keep it separate from our M.

Of course we all compartmentalize to deal with stress and pain, but usually that's most effective in dealing with things that have little overlap. It's easy to compartmentalize your work stress when you go home at night or your family issues when you no longer live with them.

My FWW learned her compartmentalizing as a child dealing with FOO issues so clearly that's a much more constant, active compartmentalization. But even in that instance we're generally talking about pain and conflict that is being imposed on you, not something that you're actively doing to someone else.

Much of my FWW's online A was conducted literally right behind my back. Our computer desks were setup in the den in sort of an "L" shape. I could reach out and touch her and I often did. But I tried never to peek at her screen. That would be snooping and that would show a lack of trust. It wasn't until one day when I happened to look over and see an obviously suspicious picture that I finally overcame my reluctance to snoop.

She probably reserved the most blatant betrayals for times when she was at work or I was away. But I know from chat logs that it was often literally behind my back. This is some next level compartmentalization shit. But even distance shouldn't be enough for someone to just compartmentalize away the physical act of betrayal.

So even though I believe that it's true that some WSs are able to cheat because they compartmentalize, I think those compartments have to be heavily insulated with selfishness and a sense of entitlement to enable such heinous behavior.

[This message edited by Seeking2Forgive at 8:19 AM, Saturday, January 15th]

Me: 60, BS
Her: 59, FWS
Dday: 11/15/03
Married 37 yrs
Reconciled

posts: 199   ·   registered: May. 18th, 2021
id 8709988
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ISurvivedSoFar ( Guide #56915) posted at 12:33 PM on Saturday, January 15th, 2022

It is a psychological phenomenon I think we cannot understand. At least I cannot. Intellectually sure, but emotionally it is really difficult to understand how you can ignore what you know is hurtful and continue to do it.

I'm sorry Livingingrief you have a double betrayal. It must be so difficult to process the amount of betrayal that has happened to you.

DDay Nov '16
Me: BS, a.k.a. MommaDom, Him: WS
2 DD's: one adult, one teen,1 DS: adult
Surviving means we promise ourselves we will get to the point where we can receive love and give love again.

posts: 2726   ·   registered: Jan. 15th, 2017
id 8709992
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BreakingBad ( member #75779) posted at 1:07 PM on Saturday, January 15th, 2022

You ask a good question: "How can you separate the A in the mind if you are constantly around both your spouse and AP?"

Perhaps the questions that speak to the pain and worry of betrayed spouses that lay underneath the question of "How could they?" are:

If my WS is capable of this level of betrayal and compartmentalizing, can they really change? Are they willing to do the work? Are they capable of real change, even if they are willing to try?

Can I live with a partner who I will always know is/was capable of this?

Me=BW
WH had online affairs
Married 30 yrs now
2 kids, both in HS
Dday#1=2/7/20
Dday#2=2/12/20
Dday#3=2/17/20
Dday#4=11/25/20...1st A with cOW was actually 2 1/2 years
BW & WH in IC & MC. Working toward R, but day

posts: 108   ·   registered: Oct. 31st, 2020
id 8709998
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jb3199 ( member #27673) posted at 6:36 PM on Saturday, January 15th, 2022

Some call it compartmentalization vs simply lacking a conscience.

I do often have a problem with the term. It is almost some sort of phenomena that was unavoidable. I prefer a term like 'absolutely-effing-awful-coping-mechanisms-itis' over compartmentalization.

LIG, your husband can say he compartmentalized his affair all that he wants. But what you know....and HE knows....is that is was beyond cruel---but he wanted it more than he cared for your best interests. We can explore FOO all that we want, but if a person is capable of doing this, and has, what else is he capable of?

That is the risk that we take when we consider reconciliation. We surely shouldn't even be considering such unless they can show you that they don't want to be that type of person anymore.

By the way--I like meatloaf. A lot.

BH-50s
WW-50s
2 boys
Married 28yrs.(together over 30yrs.)

All work and no play has just cost me my wife--Gary Puckett
D-Day(s): Enough
Accepting that I can/may end this marriage 7/2/14

posts: 3898   ·   registered: Feb. 21st, 2010   ·   location: northeast
id 8710043
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RealityBlows ( member #41108) posted at 8:29 PM on Sunday, January 16th, 2022

How do we know that WE and our reconciliation aren’t being compartmentalized? Hard knowing what’s real. Which compartment do they want to live in?

Using alternate realities is a form of escape. There’s healthy forms of escape that don’t involve hurting others and then there’s the unhealthy (drugs, alcohol, infidelity).

When your spouse is trying to escape from you…into the arms of another, just seems like a total departure. I want someone who escapes reality to me, with me.

[This message edited by RealityBlows at 8:53 PM, Sunday, January 16th]

posts: 776   ·   registered: Oct. 25th, 2013
id 8710197
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Riverz ( member #79713) posted at 10:02 PM on Sunday, January 16th, 2022

I want someone who escapes reality to me, with me

RB, this is also the kind of relationship I want...and I thought I had, sadly. A big reason why his betrayal is so effing painful....I thought he wanted to escape with and to me. But he didn’t.

posts: 98   ·   registered: Dec. 27th, 2021   ·   location: Canada
id 8710210
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Shehawk ( member #68741) posted at 10:58 PM on Sunday, January 16th, 2022

"How can you separate the A in the mind if you are constantly around both your spouse and AP?"

Well me, I couldn't.

My WH though, could.

This is why I consider him so dangerous to me. He could rationalize doing something that could have passed incurable or even fatal diseases on to me and that caused me horrific trauma.

posts: 824   ·   registered: Nov. 5th, 2018   ·   location: VA
id 8710222
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 Livingingrief (original poster new member #79723) posted at 4:56 AM on Monday, January 17th, 2022

I still cannot comprehend in my mind how my H always acted so normal when we would be hanging around with his AP and her husband. How did my H even feel comfortable being around me and his AP like we are all just friends knowing they are sexting each other every weekend? It makes me sick to think of all the times they probably made eye contact and smiled at each other because they knew they had their little secret. It makes me sick to think about how the OBS was my Hs friend since childhood and his AP was my friend since childhood. How can I ever trust someone who has the ability to do all of this?

posts: 21   ·   registered: Dec. 29th, 2021
id 8710270
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 4:10 PM on Monday, January 17th, 2022

When your spouse is trying to escape from you....

I think most WSes are trying to escape from themselves and their own pain, not from their BSes. They are uncomfortable - they feel like there's pain and/or a hole inside them. Whether they blame the BS or not, they jump to the conclusion that someone else will cure what ails them. They're wrong.

I want someone who escapes reality to me, with me

I'm not exactly sure what you mean, but I hope you mean something like

I want someone who lives in reality with me.

I could swear that my W and I really - that is, in reality - connected before her A. I think we really connect now. The fake connection we had during her A just isn't as satisfying as the connection we had before her A and have now.

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: 26513   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8710324
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RealityBlows ( member #41108) posted at 10:51 PM on Monday, January 17th, 2022

Yes Sisoon, that’s what I meant. I mean we all need a break from reality periodically. And, some of us need a break from ourselves and preexisting pain, mental anguish. A spouse should be your primary source of help with that too, should be a source of refuge, and salve.


There’s healthy pursuits to take a break from reality (I define reality has the day-in-day-out grind of life). None of these pursuits should be at a detriment to your marriage or harmful to your spouse. Many pursuits can be WITH your spouse (vacations, watching a movie together, sex-and all it’s manifestations, romance, date nights, enrichment activities, travel, exploration and adventure, etc.)

When someone cheats they aren’t just taking a break from reality, they are escaping reality altogether, crossing bridges and burning them down in their wake, leaving their BS, and all they have to offer, far behind.

I think many WS’s are escaping themselves and their pain

Fundamentally, yes.

Are they in escape from, or in pursuit of, something. Or, are they escaping one thing by pursuing another? Are they escaping from pain by pursuing the highs of an affair or, are they escaping boredom, restlessness, or lack of fulfillment? Or, are they just chronically unfulfilled? Why are they chronically unfulfilled? Or, do they just lack healthful coping skills?

I think many of us suffer, by degrees, all the above but most deal with it by running TO our spouses, or away WITH our spouses, not from our spouses. We all need some healthy alone time periodically, but I think if you find yourself needing progressively more, and more time away from your spouse, that’s a red flag. I think if you escape into the arms of a bartender, a dealer, or an affair partner, you’re not going to get the help you need.

When Escapism becomes unhealthy, to me, is when you’re escape takes you from your spouse, your primary source of refuge and salve, or when your escape is hurting others.

posts: 776   ·   registered: Oct. 25th, 2013
id 8710381
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