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Recently I posted a letter to Cheating men. I touched on some of the illusions around affairs, but mostly on what an illusion affair sex really is. I feel after posting it, that it’s unfair to specifically target men. Women cheat too. For some of the same reasons, as well as some different reasons. Thinking about that, I felt it was only right to leave a note for Cheating Women as well. Like I said in the previous letter/ post, I know that every affair and every individual is different. I’m not trying to define “every man and woman” through these posts. I’m addressing some prevalent factors that statistically are common in matters of infidelity and my thoughts regarding those. Some will be able to read it for what it is and own the truth they find in it, while others will reject my thoughts and deny any similarity to themselve’s. I’m ok with that. I’m not interested in forcing my thoughts, only in sharing what they are.
I have to be honest. It is much harder to write this letter. I’ve read countless accounts from betrayed husbands/males and I’ve come to realize that most of them experience the same stages, emotions and pain that women experience when cheated on by their male loves. They often react or respond differently than we do, but below the surface appearance they are experiencing almost identical grief and shock. Based on that it wouldn’t seem like this letter should be any harder than the one addressed to men. But it is. Maybe I’m honest enough with myself to realize that I can relate to the reasons women cheat more than I can relate to the reasons men cheat. It doesn’t change the fact that I believe it’s the wrong choice to make, but it does make it easier to sympathize with the actions of a cheating woman.
I have to remember and own the knowledge that many years ago after separating from my first marriage I chose to enter a relationship while still married and I justified that conveniently with the fact that we were “separated” believing that I had not really cheated on anyone. I ignored the reality that he wanted to save our marriage. I was wrong to do so. The marriage was not meant to be saved, but I did n’t honor him enough to wait until the divorce was legally final and thus complicated things so much more and caused hurt that I never should have caused. I also have to remember that through my past 7 years of dealing with repeated infidelity from my current partner I have often, VERY OFTEN, fantasized about turning the tables and letting him feel the weight of betrayal and the ways it eats away at your soul. But also because he had damaged my self-worth and my inner spirit and I had a deep growing hunger to feel loved and desired for the woman I am and to escape the woman he made me feel like. Still, I resisted the urge. Today more than 6 months after our final d day and with both of us committed to working this out, I still fantasize about allowing myself the freedom and lack of responsibility to go out and experience sex for the sake of sex and to level the playing ground as we start over. Mainly out of the need to know that I did not forsake all others out of respect for him while he’s spent 7 years living the thrill with no respect for me. The temptation is real and it’s powerful, but it’s not what I want.
What good is it going to do me in my process of healing if I’m not completely honest with myself and anyone who happens to stumble upon my posts and read them? When I evaluate some of the key reasons men cheat I can’t relate as easily to the sense of entitlement, the need for the chase, the motive of sex just for the sake of sex, keeping pace with cheating friends, boosting ego, sex as an escape from their responsibilities etc. But it’s more difficult for me to deny that I can relate to some of the key reasons women cheat, which are primarily (though not always) emotion based. The truth is not pretty, but it is what it is and because of it I somehow hold my moral conviction that cheating on your spouse is wrong, and yet relate to the emotional reasons a woman would choose to cheat.
To the ladies out there who have strayed…If you want to believe that I’m judging you, or that I’m ranting out of a jealousy that associates every cheating woman with the heap of other women that litter my man’s life, you’re wrong. As I said in the letter to men. I’m not here to prosecute, just to address some of the realities that get overlooked or ignored. The mistruths and the illusions as I understand them.
Dear Cheating Woman, Beware the Illusion of Sex and the Promise of Fantasy.
So, you’ve found yourself in a relationship that is not fulfilling you. The odds are high that it’s an unhealthy relationship on some level, but that doesn’t always mean that it’s an irreparable relationship. If it’s truly unhealthy or abusive, I hope you’re seeking help or counseling. If you’re not in danger of physical or emotional abuse yet simply feel unsatisfied or hurt and you haven’t actively pursued ways to fix it with an open heart and good intentions then this letter is probably for you.
Lately your husband or partner feels like a different person to you than the one you first fell in love with. He is less exciting, more annoying, too preoccupied with his work, hobbies or friends. Maybe he doesn’t help around the house enough, rarely initiates anything romantic, believes parenting is the role of the mother. Perhaps he’s the type of husband that doesn’t show affection easily, never compliments you, appears uninterested in your life, thoughts or dreams. He no longer pursues you. Some days he barely acknowledges you. It could be that you have one of those husbands who is carrying his own set of emotional baggage making him either emotionally unavailable to you or causing him to tear you down to build himself up. Maybe he’s cheated on you in the past. Maybe he hasn’t cheated but he lacks that oh so desired passion, strength, sensual tension, and exotic tenderness that we want in bed. He doesn’t do it for you anymore. He doesn’t seem to care. Or he is oblivious to it no matter how hard you try to gently guide him or share your needs. Maybe he’s shut you out completely. Maybe you are fed up with his self pre-occupation and his ego and his wam bam thank you mam love techniques. Or maybe your husband is a nice enough guy but you wish he depended on you less for his happiness because his suffocating and depressive nature and insecurities are holding you back from living what you desire most, a vibrant joy filled life. Maybe you want to feel that you are experiencing life, not watching it slip away from you. The feeling that there is energy inside of you, pulsating. And you are now left with the nagging somewhat hollow sense that there must be something more….
There are dozens upon dozens of reasons why a woman believes that she has fallen out of love with her partner and/or experiences she has with her partner that make her feel that she is alone, not truly seen, not truly living, desired or appreciated. It’s impossible to list all the combinations but the point is simple. You fell in love, and now you are looking outside of that love to fill some need.
That need is most likely emotional. It’s very rarely purely sexual. Some women believe they have affairs because they simply love sex and that like men are entitled to as much as they can obtain and to experience it from as many as they can possibly entice. On the surface their reasons may truly be that simple. Honestly, I’m not going to deny there have been many times in my life when the appeal of sex has been my primary focus. I may not have acted out on it in ways other women have, but it was there and it was deep and very real. But, it’s a very, very small percentage of women who stray from their relationship without a clearly emotional need being the true motivator. To put it simply, the objective of filling whatever empty black hole has developed inside of them.
Men often justify their affairs by creating negative feed loops about their partners by exaggerating their flaws or faults or perceiving we have disappointed them in some way. They justify affairs with simple logic such as “all men do it” or “ no one will get hurt because I will never get caught”. It’s my opinion from both my own temptations and from the research I’ve been doing these many years, that a woman usually justifies her affairs somewhat differently. First, she sets a standard for what her life and relationship will be, a vision of what she hopes for in her heart. Next she becomes emotionally wounded when that life/relationship disappoints her. It disappoints her because we as women buy into the fantasy we are fed. That if we’re worthy enough, beautiful enough, charming enough and do all the right things… all the right ways, that a white knight or in some cases a sexy ass bad boy miraculously converted to a savior through his wild and undying passion and love for us, will come along and we’ll experience happiness and fulfillment. We’ll live the dream!! (Thank you so much Snow White, Cinderella, fiction romance writers and Hollywood.) Maybe your dream’s exotic, maybe your dream’s a house in the burbs with 2.5 kids. Whatever it may be, when the vision/hopes we had for our relationship don’t materialize in our lives, we feel that something must be wrong with us. If we were all the things we should be why would our men take us for granted. Why would they not ravish us and savor us sexually in bed, why would they not place our needs equal to theirs the way we prioritize our lives to include and nurture them?
Yes, I know. It sounds simplistic, and outdated. Women are stronger than this right? Yes we are. We truly are. But some things are so subtle and so deep within us that we don’t recognize them, we simply follow along blind to our own fantasies. No matter how independent, strong, successful we may be. They’re in there. And yes, every woman IS different and these descriptions are WAY over simplified because I’ve already written half a novel here : )
At this point, when we become wounded, we begin to constantly compare our lives with the hopes we held. It’s a dangerous slope. The more we find lacking the more wounded we feel, and more desire we have for the fantasy. And thus, the black hole starts to grow in side of us. The sense that there MUST be something more, that we MUST be worth something more. Sometimes we reach out to our partners and sometimes they respond. Sometimes they can’t understand and they pull away, fail to hear our hearts, rebel against us. Sometimes we skip the step of turning to our partners completely. At any rate, I believe this is the point that women stray. They have rejected turning to their partner to help fix things or were unsuccessful when they tried and whether aware of it or not, we as women will relentlessly pursue that internal vision we have of happiness and what life should feel like, because finding it is for many of us, the only thing we believe will tell us that we are everything we should be. . That we’re everything we hoped we’d be. Just as being betrayed by her man completely shatters this fragile hope for a woman, the pursuit of that confirmation will also lead her on some very wild chases. This is the point where something else comes along and we convince ourselves that the fantasy is still out there waiting for us.
I won’t take up more space talking about the fog and illusion of the affair or affair sex, because it’s already been discussed in the men’s letter on this blog. I’d like to instead get to the real message of this letter. That unless we become aware of what drives us, what inner needs we are trying to fill, we’ll continue on in our pursuit of the fantasy and continue to fool ourselves into believing that each new fantasy potential is everything we imagine it to be only to wake up realizing we were blinded by illusions. The man in your office that makes you feel smart and desired. He’s a fantasy. Not because you can’t find that from a man or that you are not those things. But because you DO NOT see that man through the eyes of reality. You see him strictly through the eyes of the fantasy you hope to reach. The man that makes you feel sexy and hot, who danced with you till the wee hours of the morning and reminded you how incredible it felt to feel alive, to feel energy, and then rocked your world into the next day with mind blowing lovemaking? He’s a fantasy too. A great dancer, MAYBE even a decent lover when all the fog has lifted. But you’re not reacting to the man himself, you are reacting to what he represents and the emotions you hope to fill that big black hole with. Excitement, freedom, energy, vitality, the rush of new sexual experience. When it all passes you will very likely find yourself wounded and disappointed again, you may even find yourself ashamed or revolted by the person you chose. What happened to MR Wonderful?? At the very least you will discover he’s human and not the Greek god of seductive passion you originally thought you experienced and that he’s not the answer to what you need or dreamed of in life. It’s amazing how strong the illusion can be.
Perhaps you have gone to every extreme to save your marriage and your partner truly is too selfish to try making the same effort. If that’s the case and every high road has been traveled and you have thought it through from every angle and reached out for guidance.. then by all means it is within each of our rights to decide whether a relationship is healthy or toxic to us. But if you are not in a dangerous relationship and have not sincerely pursued improvements between the two of you…if you are just feeling wounded or neglected or needing to fill that inner emptiness…then please consider the effects that your actions may have on your mate, your family, and ultimately on yourself. Ask yourself if you’re so focused on the life vision you hold for yourself that you are failing to see the reality of the mistake you are about to or already making. It could save you a lot of time, and a lot of trouble, and a lot of heartache…….
Sincerely, A woman who feels what she feels