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I Can Relate :
BS Questions for WS - Part 15

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BraveSirRobin ( member #69242) posted at 12:38 PM on Tuesday, April 4th, 2023

I am hoping no one tries to invoke the LOVE IS AN ACTION loophole. I’m pretty sure love is a feeling. It can lead to behaving in a loving way or perhaps not. I feel like calling love an action is a linguistic contrivance. So I am asking about the feeling. Did you feel love for your spouse at that time? Do you think that is possible?

I hope you don't mind if I repost something I've written before that I think is applicable (and hopefully not inside your loophole).

If you're asking, "Did you enjoy spending time with your BS, were they attractive to you, did you have great sex, did you miss them when they weren't around, did you like doing things to make them happy, did you still have dreams and plans for the future with them, was staying with them your Plan A," then the answer is yes.

If the question is, "Did you have their back, did you keep your promises to them, did you respect their agency, did you put the needs of your relationship ahead of your own selfish desires, did your actions reflect genuine care for their well-being," then the answer is no.

[This message edited by BraveSirRobin at 12:39 PM, Tuesday, April 4th]

WW/BW

posts: 3632   ·   registered: Dec. 27th, 2018
id 8785625
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cedarwoods ( member #82760) posted at 3:50 PM on Tuesday, April 4th, 2023

Ff4152
As always thank you for your response. I find them very helpful.
Question for you: what if your AP was not who she turned out to be? What if she were a great gal who was faithful to you? Might it have affected the way you feel about the affair and your recovery? Maybe you might think of AP and the A fondly and not realize how terrible it was to cheat on your wife? I am just wondering if the remorse/desire to change comes only because the AP turned out to be a terrible person and the WH ended up being hurt by AP’s actions toward WH.
Thank you again

posts: 211   ·   registered: Jan. 20th, 2023   ·   location: USA
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Stillconfused2022 ( member #82457) posted at 4:53 PM on Tuesday, April 4th, 2023

BSR:

Thank you, that was the answer I was looking for. I even remember reading this response from you somewhere on SI before and thinking it made sense. I don’t know how I managed to forget it. It is an especially important question I think for those of us who had been married for decades at the time of the A it is particularly hard to understand how I can possibly have any faith in him loving me now if he suddenly stopped loving me for a period of months after 20 years of marriage. He says something similar to what you have described. But, he does not have your emotional vocabulary so he can’t explain it very well. But he will say didn’t I spend every minute with you when I was home, wasn’t I actively planning tons of things for us together for our future, wasn’t I clearly wanting to have sex with you, wasn’t I doing things to make you happy etc. The answer to all these is yes.

And as you said the answer to all the second set of questions, no his actions did not reflect genuine care, having my back etc. He owns this and is horrified by his behavior.

Your answer really helps a lot. It feels real because it is based in facts. I guess it even gives me a better understanding of what people mean by love is an action. It is not that love is an action itself but the behaviors reflect the presence of love in the first set of questions and love’s insufficiency in the second set. Essentially you looked out for yourself at the expense of the person you were supposed to love. But we all do that sometimes.

Do you think if you knew the magnitude of the pain you caused your spouse you would have done what you did? I hope this isn’t an offensive question because honestly, everything you have written shows you never would. I guess I am asking to what extent — back when you got into the A - did you have no idea of how much pain you were about to cause?

posts: 391   ·   registered: Nov. 27th, 2022   ·   location: Northeast
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Stillconfused2022 ( member #82457) posted at 4:59 PM on Tuesday, April 4th, 2023

Sorry double post

[This message edited by Stillconfused2022 at 5:00 PM, Tuesday, April 4th]

posts: 391   ·   registered: Nov. 27th, 2022   ·   location: Northeast
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ff4152 ( member #55404) posted at 8:47 PM on Tuesday, April 4th, 2023

Cedarwoods

I don’t think so. I think that knowledge of who she was just confirmed what I had known deep down. When the A started, she was in the process of D her husband. From the way she talked about the guy, you would think he was the biggest POS there was. Well she confided in me that she did something really disgusting to one of his personal items. She also knowingly exposed me to something that could have made me sick. Nothing life threatening but I would have been miserable for a few days had I had a reaction to it.

I had 5 months or so of NC before we started up again for the final time. I spent a good amount of that time reading about infidelity. I happened upon SI and lurked for awhile before I joined. So my eyes were starting to open by the time I ended the A.

All that to say, regardless of what I think of her personally, we both did a terrible thing. The difference is, I don’t think the A bothered her one bit. So I believe she still would cheat given the right set of circumstances. I know I won’t and couldn’t ever again.

I hope that helps. I’m in kind of a rush so if you want me to elaborate on anything, please LMK.

[This message edited by ff4152 at 8:51 PM, Tuesday, April 4th]

Me -FWS

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BraveSirRobin ( member #69242) posted at 4:07 AM on Wednesday, April 5th, 2023

Do you think if you knew the magnitude of the pain you caused your spouse you would have done what you did? I hope this isn’t an offensive question because honestly, everything you have written shows you never would. I guess I am asking to what extent — back when you got into the A - did you have no idea of how much pain you were about to cause?

No, if I could go back in time, I would never, never do what I did. I had no idea of the impact it would have on my BH (who at the time was my BF).

In the early stages of the A, I thought BF wouldn't be all that upset. In fact, it started legitimately. BF and I were in a long term LDR, and he had agreed to me dating the OM casually. BF was the one who first suggested being open to seeing other people, and I thought that meant he had one foot out the door. As I started breaking the boundaries of the "casual" agreement, I did my best not to think about consequences at all. In my mind, this was a little bubble outside of my real life and the future I hoped for with BF. The A had a pre-set expiration date when OM was moving away.

After I broke it off, I had a few weeks before I saw BF again, and in that time, I started to face up to the magnitude of what I had done. I realized I had to tell him before he and I slept together again -- which I knew would be the first day we saw each other. I thought he would be furious; I thought he would dump me. I didn't expect the devastation, and I had no clue how very, very long it would last. I also had no idea, up until far more recently, how damaging lies can be. It took SI to help me understand that a new revelation is a new D-Day that resets a BS's healing clock.

I profoundly wish I had never laid eyes on OM.

[This message edited by BraveSirRobin at 4:11 AM, Wednesday, April 5th]

WW/BW

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cedarwoods ( member #82760) posted at 8:25 PM on Thursday, April 6th, 2023

Ff4152
Thanks again. I hope I am not asking too many questions. It’s just that I find it helpful to hear waywards’ thought process and experiences. It helps me to make sense of what has happened.
You say you won’t and couldn’t ever cheat again. Why is that, especially the "couldn’t" part. "Won’t" implies will power but couldn’t implies something deeper. Thank you

posts: 211   ·   registered: Jan. 20th, 2023   ·   location: USA
id 8785962
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hikingout ( member #59504) posted at 9:17 AM on Saturday, April 8th, 2023

I think for those of us who had been married for decades at the time of the A it is particularly hard to understand how I can possibly have any faith in him loving me now if he suddenly stopped loving me for a period of months after 20 years of marriage.

I am a little late to the party here but this was an interesting point of discussion for me and I wanted to write about it because it helps me to organize my own thoughts.

So, to me love as a feeling is the most breakable thing there could be in a marriage. I believe every long marriage involves ebbs and flow in feelings. We go between being connected and disconnected, maybe not often but with life’s pressures it’s not uncommon.

If someone doesn’t love me today doesn’t mean they are incapable of loving me in the future. That’s where commitment comes in. We make the chiuce to keep going regardless of how we feel.

I don’t know about you but there was a time after my h cheated I felt he didn’t love me. He didn’t feel it because it was buried under a pile of pain. And, I wasn’t sure if I was going to love him again either.

So I suppose to me love is not always the question. Feelings come and go, and they are always based in a narrative we have in our heads about it. it’s whether I am with someone who can cope with life, treat me with respect, and honor the commitments we made.

I wouldn’t want to be with someone who didn’t love me long term. But people sometimes go through things where they feel numb or depressed and they don’t feel anything. This was the case during my affair. The affair actually happened to feel something, but in the end that just sent me to a deeper hole to climb out of.

Infidelity challenges us to ask ourselves about what love is or isn’t.

If we believe love is a mystical thing, soul mates, etc, then reconciliation after infidelity begs we break that standard. We demystify it by saying it’s an action. Actions are the only thing that we can measure one another by.

For me, I thought I wanted out. It was absolutely an exit affair. But, I was wrong. The reason I wanted out was because I didn’t want to make the harder changes in myself. It was easier to blame him for the problems I had created.

Finally, what needed to happen is me seeing I create my happiness, that meant speaking up, having boundaries, and loving myself. Through endeavors to change I came out the other end with more skills and knowledge. We were able start again more intelligently. Love is a connection, and like all connections they can usually be rebuilt under changed circumstance.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to talk you out of the pain you feel over whether or not he stopped loving you. But the question to hold is has he learned what it means to love and is in an intentional path moving forward? Has he learned and grown into coming not just capable of living you but also in honoring his commitments?I am not sure how far out you are but that takes a lot longer to assess than we usually expect. Be patient with yourself too.

7 years of hard work - WS and BS - Reconciled

posts: 7284   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
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hikingout ( member #59504) posted at 9:29 AM on Saturday, April 8th, 2023

WH I have a question.

Did you ever think of your BS in a sexual way while having sex with you Ap?

No, never. I usually only thought of my husband in an abstract way if ap asked a question about him. Most ws are good compartmentalizers.

I didn’t think of AP during sex with H either. That would have been ickier to me. But generally I d
Held them separate as if I was leading two separate lives as far as thought processes go.

7 years of hard work - WS and BS - Reconciled

posts: 7284   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
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hikingout ( member #59504) posted at 9:39 AM on Saturday, April 8th, 2023

What is the most comparable life experience that you know of to an affair? Asked another way, if you were going to try to explain to someone who has never been in an affair what its like in terms they would relate to, what would that sound like?

Addiction.

Addicted make the choice to start something, and they escalate that something to keep getting high as their tolerance goes up.

Normally when an addiction starts, it’s because the addict made a choice to lean into something unhealthy to make themselves feel better. Totally conscious choice.

So, it could be choosing to take that drug or make a bet. In an affair it’s the choice to engage, usually starting in an emotional level. The flirting feels good and it bumps the dopamine during a very low point in your life.

Unfortunately, the amount of drug, the cost of bets, the behavior in an affair has to get riskier to get the same amount of dopamine. So maybe the flirting turns more inappropriate verbally, or someone sends a picture, Then it’s the next thing and the next thing.

All while the amount of justification has to get bigger. Oh, you stole from grandma to get the drugs? Oh well, she’s a bitch anyway. So all this disregard for your spouse is happening the same way. You are looking to justify your behavior to keep it going.

Gambling or shopping is probably the addiction I would compare it to most because in both of those addictions there are no outside chemicals being used, it’s all a matter of brain chemistry.

Now, that has nothing to do with the amount of damage each one causes, or a debate in which of those are worse, nor does it make the behaviors right. But if you want a head to head comparison for the ws side only, it’s addiction.

7 years of hard work - WS and BS - Reconciled

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ff4152 ( member #55404) posted at 12:31 PM on Saturday, April 8th, 2023

Cedarwoods

First off, don’t worry about asking too many questions. It’s certainly not a bother and I’m glad to help if I can.

For me, I don’t really make a distinction between won’t and couldn’t. There is no willpower or white knuckling involved where cheating is concerned. The very idea of stepping out disgusts me. The best way I can describe it is the ff4152 who cheated on his wife no longer exists.

Me -FWS

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cedarwoods ( member #82760) posted at 2:28 PM on Saturday, April 8th, 2023

Hikingout:
My WH’s behavior during the affair definitely looked like an addiction. So thank you for sharing your thoughts.

FF4152:
Thank you for your response. I can’t tell you and other WS here how much I appreciate your taking the time to help a stranger like me. Your honest responses help me more than you will ever know.
How did you get to the point of "ff4152 who cheated on his wife no longer exist?" What type of "work" did you do?

posts: 211   ·   registered: Jan. 20th, 2023   ·   location: USA
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ff4152 ( member #55404) posted at 3:57 PM on Saturday, April 8th, 2023

Hi Cedarwoods

Before the official ending of my A, the AP and I had been NC for a few months. This gave me a small bit of clarity on things. I started perusing the web in the subject of infidelity. That’s when the first real "twinges" of guilt started to set in.

Not long after reconnecting with my AP, my child attempted suicide and we had a death in the family. I had also been reading the posts in SI quite a bit. The trauma in my personal life and the guilt over my A finally pushed me off the fence so I ended things with my AP.

I credit SI and many of the folks here in opening my eyes to who I was and what i had done. In the early years, I posted a lot. The responses were unkind and sometimes downright brutal. But I stayed and kept at it. By far this is one of the worst things I ever went through in my life.

I also did a lot of self reflection. I always thought of myself as a "good guy" and used to sneer at people who cheated. Until I became one. I had to acknowledge the person I was and decided i didn’t like him very much.

Something I learned when I quit smoking really helped me here. Most people know it’s bad for you to smoke. You can read all the statistics and see photos of smoke damaged lungs but it’s never enough to make most folks quit. Heck I remember seeing a guy hooked up to an IV sucking on a cigarette. The only way you’ll stop is by deciding you want to do it. It has to come from within.

The same thing applies to an A. I decided I was going to change. Sure it was hard but as often been said, nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

Me -FWS

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cedarwoods ( member #82760) posted at 2:22 PM on Tuesday, April 11th, 2023

Ff4152
I am so very sorry for your child’s attempted suicide. I hope he/she is doing well. It sounds like it was the perfect storm for you to either fall off the ledge or get your act together. I am glad you chose the latter. Thank you for your contributions on SI. You have helped a lot of people on this journey. Wishing you and your family the best as you move forward in rebuilding and restoring your relationships.

posts: 211   ·   registered: Jan. 20th, 2023   ·   location: USA
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TrayDee ( new member #82906) posted at 11:43 PM on Tuesday, April 11th, 2023

Question for the WWs:

I have learned for women most of the time that an affair starts off as emotional.

My question is can you explain the process of your affair going from emotional to physical?

I mean like expound on what were the thoughts that allowed you to cross that final boundary?
Was it something the AP said or did?
Was it something that happened with your BS?

I guess what I am asking is what was the final straw?

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BraveSirRobin ( member #69242) posted at 11:11 AM on Friday, April 14th, 2023

I have learned for women most of the time that an affair starts off as emotional.

My question is can you explain the process of your affair going from emotional to physical?

I mean like expound on what were the thoughts that allowed you to cross that final boundary?
Was it something the AP said or did?
Was it something that happened with your BS?

I guess what I am asking is what was the final straw?

I can't answer your exact question because my affair started off as sanctioned casual dating (my BF and I were in a LDR), so I was actually within boundaries to kiss the OM. However, it was pretty clear that I wasn't supposed to sleep with him, so I'll try to answer from that perspective. For me, the driving forces were:

1. Power. The OM and I started off with a clear understanding between us that our relationship was temporary. It was his last semester of college, and we lived on opposite coasts. He also was in love with someone else who had rejected him. This theoretically made things "safe" in my mind: both our hearts belonged to someone else, and we had a defined end date, so that would keep a lid on any temptation to overstep.

But there's a common phenomenon where two people in the early dating stage get flooded with bonding hormones, and that's what happened with me and OM. It was new to him, and suddenly, I was his be-all and end-all. I think he really believed he was deeply in love with me (based on how long he kept pursuing me long distance after the A was over), but even if it was just a convincing act to get in my pants, the outcome was the same. I loved seeing myself through that mirror. The more I did for him physically, the more desperately intoxicated he became, especially since I was holding out on actual PIV sex. This wasn't a purposeful tease; I really thought I'd never do it, because that was a bright line in my head. My BF and I were virgins when we got together, but I had done everything else with other guys before we met, so I told myself that those other sex acts were less bad as long as I didn't cross the final line.

2. Guilt. Once it became evident that OM had really fallen for me, I felt guilty about breaking his heart. Before I met my BF, my history was mostly as the dumpee rather than the dumper. This thing with OM was supposed to be a "nobody gets hurt" scenario, and I gradually convinced myself that sleeping with him would be a sort of consolation prize given that my BF was always going to win the competition. I did not want to hurt OM and thereby become aligned with the people who had hurt me. Sex was meant to soften the blow.

The glaringly obvious question is why I was willing to hurt my BF, who was far more invested in me. Part of the answer was total cognitive dissonance; I knew it didn't make sense, so I didn't think about it. But also, I really didn't believe he was going to be as badly hurt as he was. He had broken up with me once before, and dating other people had been his idea, so I thought he was on the path to ending things between us. I didn't have the courage or integrity to address this head on. Instead, I twisted things in my head to fit what I wanted to do. Which brings me to #3...

3. I like sex. I'm never going to pretend that I had to grit my teeth and get through it. I wouldn't have cheated just for sex (although I believe there are some WS who do), but in my mind, sex was a perk, not a duty. It also wasn't the transformative experience that some BS insist it had to have been. It was physically pleasurable and emotionally connected, which understandably makes it plenty horrifying enough in my BH's mind. But it wasn't earth shattering, nor did I expect it to be.

Anyway, predictably and embarrassingly, the "final straw" was OM declaring he was madly in love with me. I could tell for a while that he wanted to say it (how much of that was shrewd calculation and how much was genuine infatuation, I'll never know). In any case, it tipped me into throwing caution to the wind. It had nothing to do with my BF at all, other than the narrative I had projected on him of abandoning me, about which he knew nothing.

WW/BW

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JasonCh ( member #80102) posted at 1:48 PM on Friday, April 14th, 2023

I went back and re-read hikingout's first post from April 8th. What was being replied to was this;

I think for those of us who had been married for decades at the time of the A it is particularly hard to understand how I can possibly have any faith in him loving me now if he suddenly stopped loving me for a period of months after 20 years of marriage.

And after an excellent reply it ended with this;

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to talk you out of the pain you feel over whether or not he stopped loving you. But the question to hold is has he learned what it means to love and is in an intentional path moving forward? Has he learned and grown into coming not just capable of living you but also in honoring his commitments?I am not sure how far out you are but that takes a lot longer to assess than we usually expect. Be patient with yourself too.

@ hikingout

Is what you were saying that for 20 years of marriage you knew what it means to love and then after 20 years of marriage (during the affair) you forgot what it means to love and had to re-learn it?

From what i have gathered the 20 year timeline is not your particular story. However it was part of the question of what you were responding to.

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TrayDee ( new member #82906) posted at 3:38 PM on Friday, April 14th, 2023

Thank you BSR.
You have explained the psychology wonderfully, and have given me insight into the likely path my WW took.

It seems to start out with a flirty relationship that one thinks they have under control and slides into something else that one can't or doesn't want to pull out of.

This quote of yours leads me to a question:


"Anyway, predictably and embarrassingly, the "final straw" was OM declaring he was madly in love with me. I could tell for a while that he wanted to say it (how much of that was shrewd calculation and how much was genuine infatuation, I'll never know). In any case, it tipped me into throwing caution to the wind."

Was it like a "I'm on a high" type of feeling where you happily JUMPED off the cliff?

Or

A "wow I never intended it to go this far but since it has I might as well go all the way" type of feeling?

posts: 45   ·   registered: Feb. 21st, 2023   ·   location: MS
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BraveSirRobin ( member #69242) posted at 10:22 PM on Friday, April 14th, 2023

Was it like a "I'm on a high" type of feeling where you happily JUMPED off the cliff?

Or

A "wow I never intended it to go this far but since it has I might as well go all the way" type of feeling?

More the former, I'm afraid, at least when I finally pulled the trigger.

I was rushing to post earlier, and on a reread, I see that my account isn't quite accurate. I could tell for a while that OM was getting more attached and that things weren't as casual as we planned.I wasn't expecting a declaration of love, which in my mind recharacterized the whole enterprise. In fact, the first words out of my mouth were "You love [name of the girl he'd been pining for]." I tried to convince him that he didn't mean it. And then when I believed he did, I felt a confused jumble of exhilaration, reciprocation, alarm, and guilt (towards both OM and BH, I think, though it's been many years and many mental rewrites in between). He wasn't supposed to feel that way, and I wasn't either. That meant I should end it immediately, but I didn't want to. So I started rationalizing.

In the back of my mind, I knew that agreeing to sleep with him was a terrible idea. Instead of stopping me, that knowledge just contributed to the surreality of the situation. This couldn't be "real," because if it was a real action with real consequences, then I wouldn't be doing it. It was like being very drunk and watching myself from outside. Like watching Nick Wallenda walking a tightrope over Niagara Falls and being half terrified I was going to see him die, but also thinking that if that was really likely to happen, no one would put it on television. I was in control the whole time but acting and feeling like someone else was steering the wheel. So I turned down the volume on my thinking brain and jumped.

WW/BW

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Vocalion ( member #82921) posted at 10:26 PM on Friday, April 14th, 2023

Although I have been sidetracked by an insidious illness which threatens my potential life span, I have been resting, reading a lot,lurking and posting occasionally. Some might recall my posts under the sobriquet of OBO, which is no longer use for some personal reasons. I will soon be 78 as is my fWW.Her somewhat lengthy affair with a doctor, a third year surgical Resident at the hospital where she worked in the ER department occurred many decades ago when she was young very naive and supremely selfish. We are taking it one day at a time as we slowly work towards Reconciliation, and life has returned to some semblance of normalcy, although it will never be what it was pre-A DDay.
We have both been reading the Shirley Glass book " Not just friends " and as I was reading the chapter on workplace vulnerability, I was struck by the data showing women in particular are perhaps influenced by the environment or culture of the workplace, and if other women are having affairs in the office or department, it gives a tacit signal of encouragement for them to do so too. So so asked my wife if other married nurses on the 3-11 shift in the ER were also having affairs with doctors and I was startled by her reply that all four nurses and the admitting a clerk, a really beautiful woman I knew, were having full on PA's with doctors at the hospital, and she proceeded to detail which nurse was coupling with which married doctor in the one call suite of rooms.
I find it difficult to wrap my mind around the idea that such a high degree of promiscuity existed in that profession fifty years ago, or was it the era?? Was it California??
Anyway my question to WW in particular is,as: Were you influenced in any way, by others in your workplace being open, even boastful about their workplace affairs, or outside affairs for that matter?

Propter infidelitatem uxoris meae ,vir amplius quod eram, non sum.

posts: 252   ·   registered: Feb. 22nd, 2023   ·   location: San Diego
id 8786985
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