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Does anyone know if there is a syndrome to describe this

(33 Posts)
Msonamission Mon 13-Jul-20 11:03:15

Over the past couple of months, it has become clear to me that DH has been having a longstanding emotional affair. I'm trying to process this information. What is making it more difficult to process is that it appears that he's been living in two realities, almost. As an example, when I talked to him about his EA, he got all arsey and said 'I suppose you think her baby is mine do you?'. I asked him why he would think that I would think that, when we both know that he had a vasectomy shortly after the birth of our second child over 20 years ago. He said that he 'must've forgotten' (that he'd had a vasectomy) and laughed in an embarrassed way.
Also, during our talk about my concerns about this other woman, he shifted the blame on to me instead for not working for twenty years, despite the fact that I work from home, there's paperwork on my desk to 'prove' this (!) and I actually had second jobs for 6 years of the past twenty. When I pointed this out he apologised and said that he'd 'forgotten some of it'.
It's like the fantasy-reality he lives when he's been in her presence has seeped over to infect our true reality together. However, since he's not seen her during lockdown - he's been with me most of the time - he appears to have gone back to his old self (looking at holidays, and properties where 'we' might live, suggesting he's dreaming about our future together, like he's always done).
It's very strange. I'm very worried about his mental health. Could an EA have this effect? Is there any literature about this?

OP’s posts: |
BertiesLanding Mon 13-Jul-20 11:11:18

Look up "Puer Aeternus" in psychotherapy.

category12 Mon 13-Jul-20 11:11:52

What, you mean he's convinced himself of his own lies and gaslighting?

MMmomDD Mon 13-Jul-20 11:13:32

OP - I think your mind is trying to process something and making up explanations.
However - these two examples most likely have a much simpler explanation.
Comment about the baby - was just a quick defensive response. He probably didn’t even think too deeply about it.
And as to ‘not working’ comment - I am guessing he is the main breadwinner and doesn’t take your wfh as serious.

He probably also doesn’t agree with your classification of whatever has gone on with that woman - as an affair of any sort. Especially as you say it was longstanding and noting physical has happened.

BertiesLanding Mon 13-Jul-20 11:14:43

It sounds like your husband has a tenuous grip on psychological reality, and the EA is both a symptom of this, and it is destabilising him further. Trying to help him see sense or to point out the lack of logic of his thinking won't work either, I'm afraid.

SleepingStandingUp Mon 13-Jul-20 11:16:51

He said that he 'must've forgotten' (that he'd had a vasectomy) and laughed in an embarrassed way. I'd assume they've had sex. Have they net in real life?

he shifted the blame on to me gas lighting.

It is possible he's just convinced himself life is how he imagines it to justify his behaviour. It's akin to women convincing themselves their cheating partner did it because he's ill or the other woman lured him away against his will or because they did something wrong.

HollowTalk Mon 13-Jul-20 11:18:42

Why are you still with him, OP? I'd find that unbearable. I wouldn't care what condition he had - he's putting you through hell.

InkieNecro Mon 13-Jul-20 11:19:01

He's just convincing himself that you're ruining his life so that he doesn't feel guilty for what he's doing, because it is 'your fault'. That's normal for cheaters, it isn't a syndrome.

You can do better.

Msonamission Mon 13-Jul-20 11:22:36

BertiesLanding

It sounds like your husband has a tenuous grip on psychological reality, and the EA is both a symptom of this, and it is destabilising him further. Trying to help him see sense or to point out the lack of logic of his thinking won't work either, I'm afraid.

I have noticed recently that he appears to struggle when I ask him to empathise with me - and I'm a logical thinker - so, is there treatment for available for this, do you know?

OP’s posts: |
ravenmum Mon 13-Jul-20 11:24:10

he got all arsey and said 'I suppose you think her baby is mine do you?'
Translation: You always jump to the worst conclusions about me because you are the horrible one; that's why I had an affair, because you are horrible. Also, yes, presumably he has slept with her.

he shifted the blame on to me instead for not working for twenty years, despite the fact that I work from home,
Translation: My narrative, that I have been telling myself and the other woman, is that I am a poor hard-working schmuck that you are only with because I pay our way, while you sit around doing nothing. After all that hard, hard work with no appreciation, I deserve something nice for myself, like an affair.

Msonamission Mon 13-Jul-20 11:24:13

HollowTalk

Why are you still with him, OP? I'd find that unbearable. I wouldn't care what condition he had - he's putting you through hell.

I know, I need to do something about it. It's definitely affecting my ability to concentrate on work.

OP’s posts: |
category12 Mon 13-Jul-20 11:24:33

It's quite common for midlife crisis adulterers to rewrite history and create a new (startling to their wives) narrative. You're cast as the old ball and chain who nags and accuses and makes him so miserable he's driven to another woman who validates and appreciates him. He's a legend in his own lunchtime and you're a harridan who is getting in the way of his happiness.

ravenmum Mon 13-Jul-20 11:26:02

I would seriously doubt that he has any condition ... this is typical affair talk. He's just panicking and trying to shift blame. Of course he can't be logical. Of course he can't empathise with you, when he's trying to make it out that you are the baddy.

SleepingStandingUp Mon 13-Jul-20 11:27:35

Yes. Divorce.

SleepingStandingUp Mon 13-Jul-20 11:28:34

ravenmum

*he got all arsey and said 'I suppose you think her baby is mine do you?'*
Translation: You always jump to the worst conclusions about me because you are the horrible one; that's why I had an affair, because you are horrible. Also, yes, presumably he has slept with her.

he shifted the blame on to me instead for not working for twenty years, despite the fact that I work from home,
Translation: My narrative, that I have been telling myself and the other woman, is that I am a poor hard-working schmuck that you are only with because I pay our way, while you sit around doing nothing. After all that hard, hard work with no appreciation, I deserve something nice for myself, like an affair.

This. We need an upvote button.

Headandheart Mon 13-Jul-20 11:28:57

Simple denial and rewriting history.

category12 Mon 13-Jul-20 11:33:29

The script - www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/1527705-Midlife-crisis-this-is-the-script

Msonamission Mon 13-Jul-20 11:36:54

category12

It's quite common for midlife crisis adulterers to rewrite history and create a new (startling to their wives) narrative. You're cast as the old ball and chain who nags and accuses and makes him so miserable he's driven to another woman who validates and appreciates him. He's a legend in his own lunchtime and you're a harridan who is getting in the way of his happiness.

I didn't know this, but it makes sense. He told a family member recently when he was questioned about this OW that I'd 'even had a dig' when he'd gone out to a group meal without me. I never 'dig', I'm not that sort of person. To be portrayed in this way was very upsetting and I told him but he maintained that was the way he saw it at the time.
Again, thank you for wising me up to this behaviour. I've never encountered it before and I'm feeling quite confused and shocked by it.

OP’s posts: |
ravenmum Mon 13-Jul-20 11:39:16

www.chumplady.com/ is another source of insight into the fact that their mind games are not original.

BertiesLanding Mon 13-Jul-20 11:39:29

SleepingStandingUp

Yes. Divorce.

I agree. Divorce. Few of those whose behaviour is abusive in one form or another are able to take responsibility enough to get help.

IAintentDead Mon 13-Jul-20 11:41:06

He's just getting confused trying to remember the difference between the truth and the crap narrative he has been giving her and is stupid enough to believe his revised 'memories' are now going to be your truth too.

Fanthorpe Mon 13-Jul-20 11:42:41

Whatever he’s doing it sounds very unkind and challenging to live with. Are you sure he’s worth this?

LessCumbersome Mon 13-Jul-20 11:42:57

Also look at cognitive dissonance,. If he "cheats" on you while believing that you are good, then this makes himself feel bad about himself which he doesn't like. So he changes the narrative that you are bad, ( lazy, always thinks the worst of him etc etc) and this way he is justified in " cheating" and he can carry on without guilt.

In his case it seems to have stuck more than most. I'm sorry.

BertiesLanding Mon 13-Jul-20 11:44:27

Thing is, your asking for treatment is your shouldering the responsibility for something that isn't yours. Your only responsibility is to do what you can - and that involves extracting yourself from the situation and not trying to help a man who doesn't want to be helped.

FianceDog Mon 13-Jul-20 11:52:29

@ravenmum has nailed it completely

His behaviour is textbook.
Get reading the script and chumplady

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