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revenge affairs

(78 Posts)
batterylow Mon 07-Oct-13 11:48:23

Has anyone else done this?

My dh told me he had had a brief affair with a colleague a few months back. It was over at the time he told me but he had slept with her twice unprotected. It was devastating, we have a young baby and an older child with sn. We are now going to relate and I have had some cbt but still finding it really hard to live with.

My immediate reaction was that our relationship would never improve and in a state of confusion and feeling really low I joined a dating site (I told him this) and had a brief fling with someone followed by an emotional affair which turned physical as a one off. Not seen or heard from him since, not contacted anyone else but the aftermath is obviously very complicated as we have both cheated, we are both liars. I think I thought it would help me with the crippling jealousy which tbh it has a little but I still obsess over the other woman every day and have lost all confidence.

Anyone else? The relate counsellor said our situation is unusual, not the affair but my reaction. To me it was the only thing I felt I could do to distract me though, surely I can't be the only one?

Justconfused Mon 07-Oct-13 13:28:06

OP I found out 6 months ago - I felt terrible at first (that's when I had the affair) - then I felt better and now I am not feeling so great again. I hope that I will feel better about it eventually - I just feel so massively let down by him. It was a complete shock when I found out and it was the last thing I expected to be honest. I have read that revenge affairs are quite typical btw and that is one of the main reason for women cheating on their partners. I find it staggering that your counsellor found it so unusual

Charbon Mon 07-Oct-13 13:29:39

I'm sure you are right about the dating site angle OP. I very rarely post about my own experiences but I will share this:

I was once talking to a group of Relate counsellors about dating sites for people in committed relationships, social networking and the ease with which men could purchase sex on the internet. To my bemusement, there was incredulity that this 'phenomenon' existed - and in a few cases, complete disbelief. Make of that what you will. Plus in fairness, I've come across a few Relate counsellors who are far more switched on - mainly the ones who don't practise exclusively for them.

This isn't unusual or even surprising. I think your actions were probably about shock, but I've known others who've wanted to experience the feelings of having an affair in an attempt to understand their partners' former actions better. This is also often no more complicated than the old fashioned advice about the best way to get over a man is to get under another one.

The people I've known who've coped better in the aftermath were those who still had some rules: transparency with those involved, the new partners had to be single and not cheating on anyone. Because it's not ethical to use other people as props and it often damages people if they visit the pain they've experienced themselves, on another unsuspecting partner.

My advice is to stop Relate and go to independent therapy as individuals. Take your time with the decisions you need to make and don't pressurise yourselves into staying together or indeed, parting.

Many couples create a new relationship after infidelity, but the ones who tend to be happy as individuals and as a couple are those who genuinely understand why the affair(s) happened and have traced the link between the infidelity and individual character and personality traits, setting out to change those which facilitated the infidelity occurring.

batterylow Mon 07-Oct-13 13:30:23

Meant to say, that is dreadful that relate made you feel to blame in those circumstances too!

I feel really, really sad today, very alone and he is texting to see if I am ok. Oh yeah I'm great!

batterylow Mon 07-Oct-13 13:35:03

Thank you charbon. I think we really do need individual therapy. And internet dating is frighteningly easy. I had so much attention online by being a woman after dating/no commitment rather than a relationship but so many men were married! In my situation I wanted to be really careful about not destroying anyone elses lives so I completely get what you mean.

justconfused I can relate (ha ha) to so much of what you say. I think I feel worse now than in the middle bit too and similar time frame to you as well.

Charbon Mon 07-Oct-13 13:47:58

A therapist might be curious about the choices you made and the beliefs, attitudes and personality traits that influenced those choices and caused you to make those and not others, but that's a very different (and very useful) enquiry that could help you to understand yourself better in the future.

Evidently, the same applies to the husbands in these situations. What was it about them as individuals that caused them to make those choices?

This is an essential aspect of helping people cope with infidelity. The dynamics of the relationship might be a factor too, to greater and lesser degrees. But the relationship wasn't unfaithful; the individuals in it were.

Focusing on the relationship dynamics to the exclusion of individual autonomy of actions is always a mistake.

Justconfused Mon 07-Oct-13 13:48:47

Op how are you coping with the obsessive thoughts about the ow - does she still work with your husband ? Like you I struggled with the fact in my case that she knew he was married with kids and his wife had cancer - what a bitch !

batterylow Mon 07-Oct-13 13:49:59

I feel like lots of time was spent on me as I was so unrepentant! Wheras he was and is better at talking about feelings than me.

The whole thing has left me so down though that I get paranoid about everyone so I could have been imagining some it her attitude tbh.

ownbrand Mon 07-Oct-13 13:51:14

I think its very common to feel like this . I too am recovering from infidelity and id be lying if i said i didnt feel like doing the same back. I havent and wouldnt because im sure i would feel worse for it , but i understand the feeling.

Justconfused Mon 07-Oct-13 13:52:24

Op do you still feel unrepentant ?

batterylow Mon 07-Oct-13 13:54:56

That is shocking justconfused, have you spoken to her? I sent one email but have left it since then and glad I did but I get scared I will bump into her and she will know who I am from when she was on his facebook but I wont know her. I also really don't want to know what she looks like.

I have good and bad days. I even tried hypnotherapy and cbt but still feel bad a lot of the time, it feels impossible.

Yes they work at the same place but not directly so he wouldn't see her unless he bumped into her in the car park. I hate the idea it may happen. How about you DH was it a colleaugue?

I just cant imagine doing that to someone elses life. I would be torn apart by guilt thinking about children seeing their mum devastated and having their lives changed by separating parents etc.

batterylow Mon 07-Oct-13 13:57:44

I think I do tbh, at least towards my dh as I think his actions drove me to it.

But I know morally it was wrong, its just that I feel that he broke the vows already so they were broken iyswim. I just worry things are more damaged now. I got a lot of emotional support from the second man and think it saved my sanity at the time to have someone to confide in and to distract me, I think it was too much to take in so I chose to block it out.

batterylow Mon 07-Oct-13 14:01:28

ownbrand it was a very strong drive for me. I felt I couldn't get past it unless I had my own bit of freedom first but I am not sure what it will do long term. Looking back I was so vulnerable anything could have happened and as the relate counsellor pointed out, it wasn't doing much for the stability for our children.

I think the person who said it wasn't a revenge affair really was right as I basically turned to other people when I felt low. If they hadn't been nice people it could have been even worse all round.

batterylow Mon 07-Oct-13 14:01:51

justconfused do you ever want to contact the person you met?

Justconfused Mon 07-Oct-13 14:04:55

I did phone the Ow and tell her what a bitch I thought she was - yes. I'm not sure it registered with her to be honest as she gave me some spiel about affairs being normal and that her father had had them - good grief !
I am unrepentant for what I did - and it did make me feel better at the time.
Feeling pretty low now though and have started taking anti depressants which I hope will help me

Charbon Mon 07-Oct-13 14:07:03

Did the Relate counsellor discuss your husband's responsibility for the stability of his children, when he had his affair OP?

Justconfused Mon 07-Oct-13 14:08:06

No op I don't feel the need to contact him - he was a shoulder to cry on when I needed it and someone who made me feel attractive ( again when I needed it ) I wouldn't want to get back in contact with him as I want to save my marriage (if I can) and he would be a distraction. How about you ? Do you miss the man you met ?

pantsonbackwards Mon 07-Oct-13 14:08:40

Ok, I'm now completely convinced that Relate is shit.

batterylow Mon 07-Oct-13 14:15:47

Not much tbh charbon! I think because it was still ongoing for me when we started relate (not affir but was on the dating site and made no secret of it) she concentrated on that as she said it was a dangerous situation. I met my dh online so I think it can be done safely but I did see what she meant as I was in no fit state to be making decisions. Also my dh was so emotional and sorry and desperate for us to be ok I think she said something like it wouldn't hurt him to feel bad for a while but that we had to start rebuilding etc etc.

I find it so hard to get past just that precise thing though, he put us all at risk and it has seriously affected me so it will affect them, its like he just did not think!

justconfused the ow just didn't reply to me. I guess if they were able to do it they cant have felt any moral responsibility eh? I just find it so disgusting and even more so when I think how many single men I came across online, why not one of them!

fourbythree Mon 07-Oct-13 14:17:14

I had a retaliation affair ... My partner didn't 'cheat' but he lied compulsively ... And after I found out about a huge lie I reignited an old flame... For me it was a way of signifying the end of my relationship with my partner and I did leave him... Had some time alone which was very painful but after coming out of the other side I'm actually grateful for the affair as it gave me the confidence, self esteem and perspective to see quite how abusive my exes behaviour was.

Justconfused Mon 07-Oct-13 14:17:15

What I really struggled with with the Relate counsellor was that she kept going on about the affair being a symptom of problems within the marriage. She tried to get me to accept some blame for his actions ( I just won't do this - ever ). My 'fault' was getting cancer and the attention being switched to me for a while. My DH has narcissistic tendencies and I just don't think he could deal with it

batterylow Mon 07-Oct-13 14:19:29

yes I do sometimes but maybe more because he was distraction and he was good at talking and listening (he had had a lot of counselling himself!) but its not that I want a relationship with him or ever did. A shoulder to cry on too I guess.

Haha pantsonbackwards I think they could have really helped us pre affair but are not enough now! So I sort of agree for some things, ie depression because it felt a lot like I had to swallow my feelings and at one session I actually felt frighteningly out of control.

justconfused I may yet go on ads , I am on st johns wort and it helps but I feel very anxious still.

batterylow Mon 07-Oct-13 14:23:35

I think our relate sessions are very similar! I kept saying well if the past doesn't matter then I can sleep with whoever I want then it will be in the past next week! And I also think my dh couldn't handle the lack of attention because I was so tired and caught up with the childrens problems. But he also felt unattractive bla bla bla because I was very critical. Which I really was, but due to how stressed I was.

In your situation I completely agree you cannot accept any blame. I actually think it is very dangerous all this convincing vulnerable people into blame for something which has already torn their life apart, its scary!

batterylow Mon 07-Oct-13 14:25:06

sil is here so need to go, she would be so shocked if she knew any of this, I feel we have a double life! I will be back later thank you everyone so much for the moral support and chat it has really helped.

fourbythree hello! I am also very relieved nit to be the only one I was worried she was right for a minute!

pantsonbackwards Mon 07-Oct-13 14:28:52

I actually think it is very dangerous all this convincing vulnerable people into blame for something which has already torn their life apart, its scary!

I agree!

Charbon Mon 07-Oct-13 14:56:23

One of the things I find odd about Relate is that their material on their website is very good on affairs, but their books on the subject are awful and (it appears) quite a lot of their counsellors are hopelessly out of date about infidelity and especially, modern facilitators of it, such as the internet. So their authors and some of their practitioners are completely out of step with what their own website suggests.

It is Infidelity 101 to make the critical distinction between the joint responsibility for the success of a relationship and the individual responsibility for acts of harm to it.

Another myth is that people in a relationship are 50% responsible for their half, when the reality is that someone who is coping with a life-threatening illness cannot give anything like 50% at that point. Life's crises inevitably mean that at various time markers, the partners will not be able to focus their attentions on their marriages as much as at other points along the road.

In any case, I'm always curious about how much the unfaithful party had been investing in the relationship prior to an affair. This is often a more insightful and fruitful enquiry than finding out about the faithful partner's prior investment, although that enquiry often reveals that the faithful person was the one who organised babysitters for couple nights out, initiated conversations about the relationship, made huge efforts with personal presents etc. and that those activities weren't absorbed by the other when the usual 'giver' was incapacitated or otherwise engaged.

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