A great advantage of a year of confinement and social distancing is that, for the first time in my relationship, I have not cheated on my partner for more than a year. Women find me attractive and often flirt with me, but I have never accepted an invitation to start an affair. Having been deceived in the past, I am painfully aware of how the lies and deception of an affair can make the betrayed person feel like they are going insane, and the massive pain that is caused when a long-term affair is discovered. .
Instead, when I get drunk at a party or a night out, I start to respond to these flirtatious behaviors and end up going home with a stranger, colleague, or partner. It is always a one night stand and even if the other person wants it to continue, I never do. Afterwards I feel terrible, I stop drinking for a while and try strategies to prevent it from happening again (for example, mentioning my wife in a minute of conversation, not drinking at festivals, imposing a curfew, etc.)
What is so stupid is that I love my partner immensely; She is a perfect partner, great sense of humor, intelligent, very beautiful, we have a satisfying sex life and I know that if she found out she would lose everything. But for the eight years that we’ve been together (except last year), I have these one-night stands three or four times a year and I worry that now that things have opened up, it will happen again.
How can I prevent this cheating pattern from happening again? Will you never drink again? Do you avoid the kinds of events that people get hooked on? Are there any psychological strategies I can employ to train myself to automatically deflect flirtatious behavior?
Eleanor says: I’ll start with the obvious: you will need more than my help to figure this out. You are representing patterns that confuse you and endanger what matters to you, you want to stop but you don’t know how: that combination is a hallmark of the need for a therapist. The thought “my wife deserves better” seems to become motivationally inert for you when you are drunk and flattered, but can Use that thought throughout the day to make and keep appointments with a professional.
You asked me how you can stop doing this. You didn’t ask if you should be sincere or if you end things so that your wife has the opportunity to have a relationship that is only with her, so I am not going to comment on that. But deciding against those ways of doing the right thing on her part makes it even more important that you can finally stop, and your own level of understanding here has shown that it’s not enough. You know this is misleading; selfish; Which means that more than 20 people know more about your marriage than your wife. There is no amount of “that’s wrong!” Booming will tell you anything new.
And that not you know? It amazes me how he describes himself as second in this causal chain, after “flirtatious behavior” he can “respond” or “deviate.” I wonder if you know that when flirting is really nasty, it doesn’t even feel flirtatious. It feels annoying, too familiar, dirty, and embarrassing to the person doing it. The fact that you record this as a temptation, that is, as something worth resisting, tells you that it is not entirely unpleasant. But as long as you stay on the level of shame and evaluation, you won’t be able to get close enough to the fact. that this attracts you to seriously wonder why.
Is it vanity, plain and simple, does it make you feel attractive or powerful in a way that you don’t elsewhere? Is it self-sabotage? Are you afraid enough of being in a good relationship and working to make sure you don’t? Is it about responsibility free sex? Are these non-repeated trivial encounters a way to buy a moment without providing or caring? These are outright guesses, I don’t know.
But you I need to know. You can keep trying things in and out, like not drinking or staying away from festivals, but you say they haven’t been successful many times before.
Until you understand this more deeply, the mystery will just repeat itself: You will break those rules, along with the rule of being faithful, and then you will have your fingerprints on two things you regret. Also, even if you could do some magic by clenching your teeth and enforce the rules, that would not be a sufficient service to your wife. No one wants a husband so insecure in his devotion that he has to lean on like a teenager. She wants a husband who doesn’t see alternatives to her as temptations.
You will also need something else: time. Make and keep appointments, schedule a space to read Y hear, keep an honest record with yourself of how much time you spent thinking about this. Resolutions and intentions don’t change anything if they don’t appear somewhere in the week.
Stop grinding your wheels yelling at yourself to stop doing this, start wondering why you do it.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism