April 05, 2013

Masochistic Collusion or Maturation Collision? Why People Hate Psychologists and other Rants

Your unconscious approves of your partner's infidelity.........

Your unconscious colludes in the upcoming ambush of your partner's infidelity........

Your unconscious sees all but tells you very little, like a spy on a masochistic mission. Here. Hit yourself in the face.........

This shit is why people hate psychologists 

Madeleine posted Tammy Nelson's article titled Why Did the Affair Happen? which immediately set my fingers typing. When my keyboard exploded in flames, a bucket of water cooled it down which wasn't a good idea but who's thinking clearly when a world-renown expert suggests you colluded in your husband's affair? Is this true? Is our psyche psychic? To me, that's like being told that even if you didn't know he was cheating, you actually knew he was cheating which grants your APPROVAL even if you didn't say it was okay directly, which all-and-all makes me feel like I'm BACK in the narcissistic marriage being blamed for the look on my face. In fairness to the author, she did not say "all" people colluded in their partner's infidelity. I still and nonetheless question the degree of unconscious collusion suggested in the research statistics Tammy Nelson reported in her HuffingtonPost article:
"Many couples, if they are honest with themselves, may find that the partner who was cheated on colluded with the infidelity even if he or she didn't participate directly in the affair. That means that on some level, there was some type of cooperation, even if unconscious, to make the affair happen. 
This secret cooperation may mean the betrayed partner is doing something in the relationship to collude with his or her partner's behavior, even if he or she doesn't realize it. To be unconsciously aware means that on some level, the betrayed partner had an idea that their spouse was cheating."
Oh come on now. Is infidelity a Masochistic Collusion, or a Maturation Collision? Something I have noticed in my long-term relationships with people who've been betrayed is the difference between who we are in the thick of the crisis, and who we become once we've stabilized.  I can't explain sufficiently, how disorienting betrayal is to those who've invested time, money, family connections, emotional investments, concern and caring and trust in a marriage partner. You aren't just losing your partner. You are losing your 'life', decades of joint relationships and accrued assets. I know it's tempting for people to assume we're pining away for the man we couldn't keep, but that's a shallow, albeit popular perception. A stay-at-home-mother like myself, loses her security in old age and I'm not merely talking about the steadfast love-of-her-man. She is lucky to get half his retirement at the time of divorce (writing "his retirement" makes me wanna close my eyes and weep 'cuz you all had best know I worked equally if not harder in our partnership). What we are facing as older women is disenfranchisement from a system that would rather not acknowledge our contributions to the GDP. So when we're sitting in the therapist's office crying our eyes out, let's not over-focus on his acrobatic penis. Let's think about the  numerous losses she's facing.  Social disregard. Limited career options. Even heading for the social security office makes her insignificance clear. She devotes herself to "their" career too, yet she is only entitled to a portion of his social security. I guess society believes old women should eat like a bird and live in a shoe like the old lady Mother Goose warned us about when we were little. I hope I don't have to do day care in my shoe. 

Nelson's article was based on a psychology study. As you can read for yourself, the collusion Tammy Nelson reported was in "the judgments of therapists". Another reason why people hate psychologists who insist they know more about your experience than you do (then you find out the therapist ran off with her client's husband. True story. This really did happen in my circle of friends and that's another reason why people hate psychologists): 
"The judgments of the therapists reporting the cases were that fully 89% of the betrayed spouses either were consciously aware of the infidelity or, even if not acknowledgzng, really knew, and that even the majority of the betrayed spouses who claimed consciously that they opposed their spouses' behavior were unconsciously in collusion with them." ~Article needing spellcheck by Israel W. Charnya & Snan Parnass
I had to respond to the allegation about a partner's collusion because until we get away from the pathological relationship, we might believe we CAUSED our partner to have an affair. That it was our fault. Partners of narcissists have been groomed to take responsibility and one reason could be that we're pragmatic. We know from past experience that the only way to move on with life is to say, "Yea, I put that sofa there just so you would trip on it. Now can we do our taxes?"

We might also believe emotionally, that we're at fault after the affair has trampled our self-worth and raised our anxiety. While the affair has super-inflated his confidence, her self-esteem has plummeted. That's the effect an affair has on the betrayed partner (children too, though few people write about THAT do they?!!??$#%!) If you don't think a narcissist knows infidelity will reduce his wife to a crybaby, ThInK flipping AgAiN. Infidelity is just another tactic in the narcissist's arsenal of weapons maintaining his status. Consider his infidelity a bazooka rocket launcher. And that is why concepts like unconscious  collusion are dangerous to women's mental health. Psychologists might as well go back fifty years and say women are masochistic by nature 'cuz even though they're dependent on his income to feed their kids, they like getting hit in the face. 
"Maybe I was hoping that [he] would cheat..." ~excerpted from Nelson's article
I've been in marriage counseling with a philandering spouse and let me inform everyone who hasn't been through that grueling shitshow, you'll say almost anything you're so confused. So desperate. So hurt. You'll admit to causing hurricanes, economic collapse, and even shingles if it it'll ease the cognitive dissonance. You'll say things you don't really mean and believe me, the narcissist is listening---waiting for you to admit you MADE him do it! You MADE his penis drop clean out of his britches and the therapist is thinking, "Amazing how my insight about her unconscious collusion has both of them talking! Now we're getting somewhere." Another reason why people hate psychologists.

But the problem is that she's lying and doesn't know it and the therapist should.  The therapist should be seeing narcissistic abuse instead--that slow and steady drip of projected blame. After the shock of infidelity and the threat of being replaced, the betrayed partner hardly knows what's hers to claim and his to blame. It's that bad by the time you show up in counseling.  A year later, maybe five if she stays friends with the bazooka-armed narcissist, she'll get angry over being mistreated by her X and by the therapist, too. 

Let me add how easy it is for a narcissist to coerce a Collusion Confession from his/her spouse. All that has to happen is for the authority figure (i.e.: the therapist) to suggest that p-e-r-h-a-p-s the betrayed partner was aware of the infidelity on some eesny weensy level. The narcissist glances tenderly at his wife, tears roll gently down his face. She catches the sadness in his eyes and builds on it, believing there's hope that if she admits to moving the sofa, they'll file joint returns that year. "Thank you doc for making me a more responsible woman today. I thought HE was the one that was clueless. Now I know it's ME."

One more excerpt from a man in the article, whose wife didn't pay him enough attention boohoo: 
"Eventually I started a relationship with this woman who advertised on adult websites. She never let me down, and whenever I was lonely, she was there for me."
Instead of examining his wife's collusion, how about examining the Maturation Collision exhibited in his narcissistic need to be enmeshed, coddled, pampered---while maintaining his dominance. Please read that sentence again. His narcissistic need to be enmeshed, coddled and pampered while maintaining his dominance. She was no threat to his superiority, unlike his wife. (I hope that insight gleaned from my experience can help someone who's walking in my shoes today.) The pay-by-the-minute-cyber-sex woman just might be low enough on the female totem pole to protect his desperate-to-maintain superiority. It's a good way to put a wife in her proper place---"Hey honey. You've been with me through disasters and financial failures and we've kept each other going when times were tough but did ya know the local strip club dancer is a better partner than you?"

I've known women who once they recognized their rightful space on the planet and in their home, were replaced by sex workers whose adoration was effusive---while his pocketbook was open.  I will admit that if my husband had offered me five bucks a minute to talk to him on the phone, I'd have told him whatever he wanted to hear while dancing the hoochie coochie AND serving his favorite meatloaf on the side. Pray tell me, what kind of guy can't tell the difference between woman-as-dispensing-machine and woman-as-human-being? Oh, that's right. The Infidelity Collusion Guy. Once the idea of unconscious collusion spreads to the general public, it'll be the automatic WRONG answer for a society that's struggling to adapt to women's increasing autonomy. Personally, I believe the more differentiated a woman becomes, the more likely her marriage will fall apart if her partner is unable to mature with her. 

And one last thing that bothers me about that guy on the adult website is the stoopid suggestion that a cyber-sex worker could meet his needs in a way his wife could not. No doubt his wife expected him to meet his own needs in a responsible way and be her adult partner, not her child for gawd's sakes I'm gonna hafta stop typing or choke on the throat bile. I cannot stand this "meeting each other's needs" bullshit that has exploded in the media like green diarrhea when your baby eats ground spinach.  That's an apt metaphor for the crap I've read lately---grown up people meeting each other's needs as if we're emotional vending machines! When you run out of Compassion Kit-Kats, find another vending machine instead of taking responsibility for having run out of Common Sense Cracker Jacks yourself.

I can hear it all now---"I hated to do it. I'm against infidelity but the thing is doc, she wanted me to have the affair. She didn't know that she did but I knew that she did; and so I did what she wanted  me to do even though she didn't know she wanted me to do it." And then the therapist asks each of them to sign a contract admitting fault and reconciling their marriage until she runs out of Sympathy Snack Packs and he looks for another vending machine. 



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. mOrning CZ--sorry, I decided I had to delete my first comment. I realized this morning that if the friend in question ever came upon your website and read the comment, it would be game over for them and our friendship and I'd be the one blamed. So I hope you had a chance to read it by now, and know that I agree with EVERYTHING you've written. I'll be back (not said like The Terminator). love CS

    2. HI CS. I understand the desire to talk openly but this is the Internet and we know from sad experience that people CAN and DO find us. Never worry about deleting anything that makes you uncomfortable.

      In this 'bit of a rant', I made several points countering our 'normalized infidelity' culture. After my X's affair, people came out of the woodwork to talk about infidelity with me. I carry Kleenex in my purse, just in case the grocer needs to talk. I can hardly go anywhere that someone doesn't tell me about their affair (no matter which side they were on).

      No one has told me what a GREAT IDEA it was and wow, they're so GLAD they did it. ;-P AND YET, affairs are promoted as "victimless crimes."

      I can recall a period of time on talk shows when infidelity was discussed as a means for self-actualization. Lordie. I suppose in a naval-gazing and self-infatuated way, there are lessons to be learned. But it's odd to me how people focus on each partner's "Needs" without concern for the kids. I always ask people, "Well, how did your children handle it?" Maybe that's an odd question. People look at me like "Huh? What do our kids have to do with my affair?"

      Like duh man. If you can't understand it without an explanation, you can't understand it with an explanation.

      I get the sense that infidelity has been poo-poo'ed by society because we allowed men to act this way since they passed the laws and preached the sermons. Now that women are catching up with men in betraying their spouse (as far as statistics can prove), we're examining societal impact. People still argue that men are biologically hard-wired to spread their seed but that argument is losing sway with theories about the naturally monogamous human being. See what happens when you let women in the laboratory?

      I think people get confused. Nobody wants to be seen as judgmental because that's a bad thing. Being non-judgmental does not mean throwing out your values and common sense. We must make judgments. We must discern what is right and what is wrong. An anything goes society is a mess and nobody would wanna live in it. There seems to be an erosion of conscience in the rush to be enlightened and "nonjudgmental."

      You can't help but notice the CRAZINESS of refusing to take a stand as if that were more righteous and more evolved...argh!

      I haven't even responded to the "Meeting His Needs" part of my essay. I am grossly sick of pampering each other in marriage, though. I didn't do that and I didn't expect to be pampered either and that may be why my marriage fell apart.

      After discovering his affair, I tried "meeting his needs" during marriage counseling and ended up in a far WORSE place than my immediate reactions, if that makes sense. You can LOSE yourself in the pop-psyche babble and 'attachment theory' and 'mirroring' and 'making him feel safe'. It was the absolutely WRONG approach to my situation but NOBODY wanted to judge the Rat Bazturd 'cuz of course, we wouldn't wanna label their pathology. gggrrrrr


    3. Hi--I'm with you on this. In the realm of affairs, "experts" seem tilted to the side of finding "blame on both sides." This may be true in some cases, but I think that lying and cheating and sneaking around is exactly what it is, and it cannot be compared with your "failure," say, to adequately baby a GROWN man. What gets me is how many adults are actually great big babies. Think about the way that women are taught that men have these "needs" that we (women) aren't supposed to have, or at least not to the same degree. Your post was not a rant, it was a corrective to a culture of "we can only talk about culpability if we all share the blame." It's sick. I just know that the older I get, the less I want my life to be ruled by the whims of male desire. Every man I know, just about, is a liar and a cheat. Honestly, I find out every month or so that someone I thought had a good marriage was in fact cheating. Almost always it's the man,, in my experience. Women cheat too, absolutely--but the extent of the normalizing of male betrayal does call for some straight talk now and then. Psychologists are pandering around these issues.

  2. This kind of "Logic" is insane. Your subconscious knew so you knew? Someone is trying to justify bad behavior. My answer for them is "So, my subconscious is telling me you're lying to me."


    1. ha! Well Judy...I'm sure there are "some" people who collude with a partner's infidelity but certainly not the majority. And certainly not those who have enough evidence of a partner's trustworthiness, to give them the benefit of the doubt if they worked late. The more differentiated a partner becomes, the less likely she'll be to question her partner's veracity. It's the enmeshed couples that clock and track and schedule each other's time to make sure there's no chance of infidelity.

      It is important (which is why I blog) to point out what happens in narcissistic marriages. Narcissists are "masters of disguise" so the more trusting she may be (based on viable evidence of trustworthiness), the easier it will be for him to hide his infidelity. I think we have to make a distinction between narcissistic relationships and dysfunctional relationships because you won't be seeing any shifty eyes, or signs of guilt you can "pick up on" or "deny." That's because the person with a narcissistic personality doesn't experience guilt the way other people do. In their minds, they have fully justified their nasty behavior by devaluing and blaming their partner. If they don't "feel guilty" about what they're doing, you certainly won't be ignoring red flags because there won't be any.

      Conscience has a big part to play in how well the betraying partner manipulates reality.

      I also think it strange that psychologists (and other people, too) ASSUME there were signs the betrayed partner didn't want to see. We don't say such things about other betrayals, such as treason for example. But I think with infidelity, people want to put "distance" between themselves and the victim and the easiest way to do that is to blame her for colluding. (cuz they never would, of course).

      Thanks for responding. It's been a long time since I've written about infidelity. We've been talking about anti-psychiatry on Kitty's blog and I just finished a course about discussing people's reactions to the psychiatric profession and pharmaceutical industry. It got me thinking about 'why' people hate psychiatrists so much (since I'm very PRO psychiatry).

      As a matter of fact, I really liked our marriage counselor (behavioral psychologist) but he was completely bamboozled by my X, even apologizing to me later for not being able to "see it." My X had been lying through the whole time and not I, nor the therapist, was able to "see it."

      I am not angry with our therapist but I do think they need a check on their narcissism. Just like all the rest of us.


  3. Hi CZ,
    I concur with Judy. That's the same thought that came to my mind: that they're trying to justify bad behaviour. It is very unjust. Made me think of the -very fitting here- Spanish expression: "Encima de cornudo, apaleado" which roughly translated means not only you've been cheated on but you've been beaten up on top of it as if you were the guilty party. I think the corresponding English expression is "to add insult to injury". This "pathologising" the victim, this "it must be something you've done", it's what we're up against. I can only think that the people writing this nonsense are sociopaths who have no empathy at all, or that they're very naive and have no first hand experience of the suffering that betrayed mates go through. Anyone who has suffered this or has a close friend or relative going through this would never dream of saying anything remotely along those lines.
    I'm really sorry you had to read such rubbish, it's painful to hear these ideas perpetuated.
    Kara xx

    1. "This "pathologising" the victim, this "it must be something you've done", it's what we're up against."

      Yes, absolutely, Kara. Children of narcissists are up against hurtful judgments just like partners of narcissists. People make sweeping generalizations because MOST people don't understand Pathology. They assume everyone feels guilty; everyone wants to be good and kind and loving; everyone empathizes and everyone who hurts someone, doesn't really mean it. They don't know any better or they wouldn't do it. They assume that everyone admits infidelity is wrong.

      The truth is: Not every spouse "means well." Not every mother "means well." Or father. Where the division point is between dysfunctional and pathological, I don't know. You just know it when you see it and by then it's too late. You'v become their enemy.

      I had hoped by writing this "response", that therapists would consider the state of mind a partner might be in when she resorts to marriage counseling. I've noticed this on forums when people started talking about "the affair" (unfortunately, most narcissistic relationships end up there). They finally have access to information about narcissism and in hindsight, re-interpret their partner's behaviors and usually (as they've done for years) BLAME themselves for not knowing, for being stuupid.

      Reading about and receiving therapy for "infidelity" destabilized me, though. Made me uncertain and more vulnerable to further abuse because I was sincere and trying so hard. That's another post, I suppose but what I've come to realize is the important distinction between dysfunctional (relationships in trouble) and relationships hindered by one/both partner's psychological pathology. There's delayed maturation that might be ameliorated over time; but lemme tell people that there's also pathological aggression and if that's what underlies your relationship, get help and get out and get happy again.


  4. Hi CZ,
    I love your rant! This is a really important topic, and it is always a good reminder that just because somebody has credentials doesn't mean they're infallible, or even right. Or kind. Or rational. Or sane.

    What this made me think of is the whole LOA mentality: blame the victim. This happens with serious illness as well, as Susan Sontag wrote about in Illness as Metaphor. She discovered all kinds of subtle messages from the medical establishment that if you're sick, it's because you somehow deserved it.

    This "collusion" thing about infidelity has the same whiff to it. The payoff, I think, is that if you can blame the victim of the infidelity for somehow evoking it, then that means that you're safe from it, because of course, you would never do that. They don't pause to ponder the obvious shortage of logic in that position because, well, because they don't want to.

    I think "blame the victim" is almost always about people's own exoneration, motivated by fear, a way to find false comforting and assurance that it can't happen to you. It's way more common that it should be in our culture, and to see it perpetuated by therapists is sad beyond measure.

    1. Glad you enjoyed my rant, Kitty! Some of the funniest things I've ever written were 'reactionary' rants. That's about as aggressive as I get---whipping out the keyboard and letting off steam while hopefully revealing "why" an article triggered a reaction.

      I was thinking about something that might skew research statistics suggesting 89% of people collude unconsciously. I believe a lot of couples get through the crisis without using psychiatric services. In my circle, people rely/relied first-and-foremost on religious counseling. Like everyone else, many of my friends and acquaintances have had affairs but the vast majority did NOT seek psychiatric therapy. It seems this is changing.

      So perhaps psychologists are seeing the 'worst cases' that can't be resolved with self-help books and sessions with a Pastor. If that's the case, then perhaps psychologists are measuring a larger percentage of people who might lack insight, lack awareness (for whatever reason) because they can't be helped by layperson resources. I've met some folks who were thick-as-bricks; they were SO incredibly unconscious and unaware, their psyche needed glasses.

      It was your blog that inspired the "Why People Hate Psychologists" line. ha! Out here in the mainstream, people share psychiatry-horror stories during coffee breaks. We need to think critically about everything---question everything and think outside the research box. When a profession has as much power as the psychiatric profession has to diagnose and define a person's life, critical thinking is absolutely mandatory. I've appreciated the heated debates over the DSM-5, for example.

      I think also that one reason people continue to believe the 'betrayed' partner was aware (or participatory) is because people like myself haven't spoken up. Even today, women "whisper" about their partner's affair. We are encouraged to keep everything private while we work out whatever 'created' the possibility of infidelity. Nobody talks (especially those who are able to work through it as i mentioned before). In this way, people aren't challenged to question their assumptions.

      Being able to write a post like this and say "No. I did not collude in my husband's affair" is a GREAT privilege and I'm happy to live in a day and age when I can participate in defining my reality by speaking up. So thank you for being here and listening to me. ;-)

      p.s. I've not read Sontag's book (she's a tough read!). Guess that'll be another item to add to my ever-expanding Amazon wish list.


    2. I will say now an edited version of my first comment, which I deleted before. I know someone who is cheating on his wife. He had me thinking for awhile that she is just paranoid, spying into his life and being jealous for no reason. Turns out there is a reason. I'm friends with both of them. I'm furious at him, because in addition to lying to her, he's been lying to me, and now I'm in a rotten position vis-a-vis both of them. I will tell you categorically, his wife has NOT "colluded," she's done nothing to bring on the affair; furthermore, she does sense that something's been going on, and she's confronted him on it, only to be gaslighted by, it turns out, a master liar. It sucks.

    3. More and more people are in your shoes, CS. One of the women in my former neighborhood was having an affair and told me about her lover reaffirming her sex goddess fantasy. I sat there in shock-mode because of her indifference towards her children and husband. All that mattered was that SHE had found her soulmate, despite her hell-mate status on earth. I didn't know what to do either. Tell her husband? Her kids? Smash her face in with one of my potter's wheel spun vessels?

      The positive thing is that my conscience hadn't been dulled by pop-culture's narcissistic moral relativity. (As long as you don't get caught, who cares? As long as they aren't cheating on me, who cares?) I had an immediate and visceral reaction to her unconscionable behavior and didn't hesitate telling her what she was doing was wrong. I was very sensitive in delivering my message but we didn't have lunch anymore, her choice! I hope the sex was worth it since their eventual divorce ruined their children's "trust" and put each of them in almost as low a tax-bracket as my fall from grace. There's always a price to pay in standing up for our values and living on 10% of my usual income was the price I paid. It was worth it.

      How the mighty fall when narcissism inflates their sense of entitlement to meet their needs and wants by exploiting others!

      Thank you for backing me up on collusion. That 'she' was aware of 'his' infidelity on some level, is an ugly concept to spread in our society even though most people believe it already. I say this from my (and other people's) personal experiences Post-Affair. One guy said to me, "It can be hard on a man when his older wife doesn't want sex anymore." Then when he saw my facial expression, he backtracked, "Not that I justify it. It's just what men do!"

      He made me laugh out loud (yes, I did!) because the problem women like myself have when our husbands seeks sex elsewhere, is not frigidity on our part---if you get my drift. But of course the narcissistic man will pin his impotence problems on his wife because society readily accepts his "version of reality." That's another reason why it is a TRUE privilege to DEFINE my REALITY instead of men having the right to do that for me.

      There's lots of changes afoot now that women are talking and being listened to as valid interpreters of their own experience. We still have a long way to go before women really know what they think or feel as individuals. Our gender programming renders us vulnerable to accepting other people's interpretations, especially authority figures like psychologists.

      Terrible situation you're in, CS. Sometimes we 'understand' why someone might have an affair but we must never condone it. Not based on blind obedience to social rules and commandments but because of the wisdom of those rules and commandments. Affairs harm innocent victims (especially the children) by eroding their ability to TRUST future partners. This lack of trust erodes intimacy and bonding several generations forward.

      I always take the long view--it's a blessing and a curse. It's another reason why someone who couldn't bear "delayed gratification" didn't enjoy partnering with me. hahaha I definitely would have waited for the researcher to come back in order to get TWO marshmallows!!And then I would have taken them home and shared them with my siblings.

      (for those who might be unfamiliar with this experiment, here's an updated version on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yo4WF3cSd9Q )


    4. I enjoy a good rant, seriously. There's so much emotional energy, it just vibrates off the page. And it feels so...authentic. I love that about your writing in general and your rants in particular.

      Sure, it could be that the psychologists are seeing mostly the worst case scenarios. Or that people seek counseling only after there's so much anger and bitterness that they can't deal with it on their own (and I suppose if you work at it enough, you could frame that as some sort of "collusion" if you wanted to, but I don't know why you would). I'm sure that's a large part of it. I also think that there are just bad psychologists out there, like the one who wrote that article. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's just a wee bit of misogyny in that article, don't you think? Or am I imagining it? After all, most people go into that field to work on their own issues; I'm sure some get further than others. And some are better at setting their issues aside with clients than others. As you say, it's so important to think critically about this stuff and not just hand over our power to the almighty therapist: there ain't no such thing.

      So you speaking up is a great privilege, as you say, but it is also a great service to do for others.

      Truthfully, I have not read Sontag's book cover to cover either, and I'm not sure it's necessary. Understanding its message--that we have to be aware of the blame-the-victim mentality--is probably enough.


    5. Hi Kitty! Thanks for coming back to this discussion.

      You wrote: "we have to be aware of the blame-the-victim mentality"

      Understanding our "blame the victim" mentality has stopped me short in my tracks. Accepting that people are predisposed towards blaming-the-victim might abate a very unhealthy/destructive process.

      Am I Blaming the Victim? That's a good question to ask ourselves, something I was less inclined to do before being on the receiving end of people's comments, assumptions, and even "gendered" beliefs about infidelity!

      Some people have been extremely open to listening to my experience. Some people aren't. They are highly resistant to my views. When someone is DEFENDING themselves, they counter "your truth". This relational experience has taught me to stop trying to reason with someone who is not in Wise Mind Mode (to put it kindly). And, my deep dive into infidelity has highlighted male privilege in a way that's been kinda miserable and liberating.

      You also wrote: "So you speaking up is a great privilege, as you say, but it is also a great service to do for others. "

      I learned to speak up for myself and others too, from the same philosophy as yourself: 12-step. We might feel as though our story is unimportant (and seriously, my experience is relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things); but when we take that view, there aren't any voices countering the Loudest Voices who believe their oh-so-important-story speaks for everyone else.


    6. Lovely thoughts, all. Yes, it's good to be aware of our own unconscious tendencies to blame the victim. I suppose we all have some of that, much as I hate to think I EVER do that.

      It doesn't surprise me that some people don't want to hear about your experiences with infidelity. It's a touchy subject that I'm sure many people would rather avoid thinking about. And as for male privilege, well, who wants to talk about that? I've been thinking for a long time about how the media and how many women themselves collude with the subtle (or maybe not-so-subtle) misogyny we're bombarded with every day. To me, there is something incredibly creepy about plastic surgery--altering your physical appearance solely for the sake of admiration by the opposite sex. It seems a gross distortion of what feminine beauty is really supposed to be: internal goodness, wholeness, generosity of spirit, all the things that make us truly "attractive." And I think women being so obsessed with physical appearance have bought into the male privilege and left their real beauty hanging out to dry.

      Or something along those lines.

      Also, re CS's situation: One of Jim's friends has always had a creepy, overly-sexualized, objectified view of women. I used to ask Jim repeatedly if he's ever cheated on his wife. Jim always says "not as far as I know." But he says it in an unconvincing way. After a while, I quit asking because I realized that I don't really want to know. What a terrible position to be in! I can't imagine how hard that must be.


  5. HI CZ,
    I spoke to my friend, I told him I thought he was self-sabotaging, that he was lucky to have this woman for his wife, that I felt fear for him and for her becauseof what he was doing. That I didn't want to feel like I was keeping secrets from his wife, but that he'd put me in a really bad position. He kind of dismissed my concerns with his tone of voice, very paternalistic --"I'll sort it out I'm sure, with love and respect for wife" blah blah. It's despicable and I don't understand why he's shooting himself in the foot like this. He's going to cause her extreme pain, reinforce her worst fears, and end up with nothing, because this affair isn't going to go anywhere.

    1. The thought that comes to mind is how much narcissistic people like 'triangulation'. Pitting women against each other is a game and they're the voyeurs (or puppet masters). He must in some sick way, enjoy watching you squirm a little...why else would he tell you about his infidelity? It put some distance between yourself and his wife, too no doubt.

      Just pondering this guy's "angle" in sharing his shenanigans. Unless he was hoping you'd enter the competition? ha...AS IF!! I wish and hope more women would react like yourself and stop pandering to these men and their mental illness. Being an empathic person like you are, he may have been watching just to see your reaction.

      Their lack of regard or concern for their partner's well-being is impossible to understand, isn't it?

    2. This has thrown a serious wrench into what was an important friendship. With both of them. I learned about what he was doing by accident, he let something slip and I pressed him. He told me. I was horrified. This is not how I want to feel about my friend, who has been there for me through some pretty tough times. He doesn't want me in the triangle (I'm not romantically interested in him, and he likes MUCH younger women); but I can't just act like I don't know what he's doing. And I really like his wife, and she's very concerned about their relationship. He's gaslighting her, telling her she'd paranoid. Short of telling him that I think he's a pig, I don't know what to say. I've withdrawn regular contact with him. I just don't want to know any more about it. Let them sort it out. But it really really depressed the hell out of me, I must admit, CZ. One of those "the scales fall off your eyes" kind of thing. I thought they were a great couple except he was always carping on how paranoid she was. I sympathized with him because I NEVER thought he'd cheat on her. It disgusts me.

    3. CS,

      People do the oddest things, the strangest and cruelest things to each other and you can't help but wonder why. Why would you hurt the person you claim to love more than anyone else? Why would a man deceive his wife rather than divorce her???? There must be some pay-off for the deception, the manipulation. He must find some sort of 'sadistic' pleasure in gaslighting her.

      There is a huge difference between affairs that are "mistakes" and affairs that are "intentional" because this guy shows no remorse so you know what that means. He's a Rat Bazturd.

      Even rat bazturds can be nice, supportive and good guys the majority of the time. He probably was an important friend for you, someone you respected and admired. But now the 'scales have fallen' and you see a man behind his facade that you don't like OR respect. That you did not feed into his fantasy is remarkable. It's very hard to do that when there's an emotional connection (fondness) for someone. It's hard to stand by your principles and values when you're putting an important relationship at risk.

      It creeps me out that he was "carping on her paranoia" and telling you about her crazy behavior to garner your sympathy. And it's creepy that he continued playing games with her without feeling guilty or remorseful. He sounds like an arrogant maN who is abusing his wife because it gives him pleasure and it makes him feel superior. Of course, I can't know that for sure, but I can speculate.

      Each 'Other Woman' I've met, was told by the married man that his wife was crazy. That his wife was abusive and nasty. I was supposedly, an emotionally abusive woman who took advantage of her husband's generous good will. hahaha That someone would believe a story like that surprises me a little. I'm sure he tried it out on several women before finding one who did.

  6. Collusion and unknowing/unwitting desires and behaviors occur in intimate relationships all the time. Seriously, this isn't some crazy Freudian psychoanalytical gas lighting.

    1. Hi Mark,

      The difference between two people in a relationship is that of "good will" or maybe the ability to "trust" beyond the internal fears either person might not be aware of.

      Narcissists lack awareness and insight. This means they will ACT on (your words) "unknowing/unwitting desires and behaviors" without understanding their perception of reality is wrong. They honestly believe the inner demons creating their perceptions (and feelings) are "real".

      For people who are not afflicted with a narcissistic personality, they will eventually REALIZE they are acting on unconscious drives, in ways that conflict with their personality and values. This creates a stop-point for most people who will then take responsibility and gain insight into themselves (and what haunts them!) rather than attacking other people.

      I hope this better explains what I was trying to convey in my article.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


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