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Affairs as abusive relationships, WS particularly welcome

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bionicgal posted 11/13/2013 10:35 AM

I just had a thought, and wondered what others think about it. I had a student write a paper about the song "Love the Way you Lie," which is about being in an abusive relationship and not being able to get out. I know many of us BS identify with the affair as being/feeling abusive to us. However, I am wondering about the extent to which affairs are abusive relationships for the WSes.

Our MC uses the addiction analogy with us a lot in terms of describing what the WS goes through when trying to extricate themselves from an affair. I am sure that not many people in an affair feels in general at the time that they are being abused, but isn't it, by its nature, abusive? It brings out the worst in someone, causes them to go against their ethics and morals, causes them to hurt people they love, causes them to lose self-esteem, and self-control, and generally feel rotten about themselves, and it causes them to lie and deceive. It is so similar to having an abusive relationship with alcohol or drugs.

And then, it is the gift that keeps on giving if you go into R, because then you have to see all of this pain reflected in the eyes of the person you love.

And of course, for those whose waywards professed love for their AP, it is all mixed up with this totally crazy notion that you loved this person who caused you so much pain -- that this person had your back. I guess it is like thinking it is ok to "party" and thinking alcohol is this great thing, and finding yourself a decade later in rehab.

Anyway, I am wondering what others think.

plainpain posted 11/13/2013 11:43 AM

I think definitely there is a swirling of abuser/abused that takes places. My H definitely used the push/pull thing on his AP, and actually got off on treating her badly. She kept coming back. It was power for him. But then she would do the same thing to him - make him think there were other guys in the wings, and he would up his game, buy her more stuff, give her more attention, try to be 'alpha male'. I think in the end it just got exhausting and too much like an actual relationship - all he wanted was validation, not relationship drama. Abusive personalities find each other, as do enablers, I think. Abusers like to be with other abusers, because they don't have to pretend that they're not abusers; it normalizes them. My H said being at his OW's house was familiar - reminded him of his childhood. He said it in a wistful, explanatory way, like I was supposed to understand why that would be a draw. Like, our home of the last 18 years didn't actually feel like 'home' to him. He grew up in a horribly violent, criminally abusive, mind messing home. I don't know why that would be attractive to him, but it was for some reason, at that time. Even his choice of AP is very bizarre to me - why he would feel flattered by her attentions is beyond me. Tired of trying to live up to a standard of a person he didn't feel like he was inside?

I can't say that I feel like my H was 'abused' in the A, or by the A. I don't feel at all that he is/was any kind of victim. The biggest part of his healing has been all about taking personal responsibility for every single choice he made. I do definitely feel that he abused me in it, and by having it. I definitely feel that his FOO played a huge factor in his decisions, and that there are some real adult consequences for him to his childhood abuse. I definitely feel that he took my trust, my faith in him, my unconditional love for him, and he used it against me.

20WrongsVs1 posted 11/13/2013 12:03 PM

Restating your question to see if I understand it. Is the A relationship abusive to the participants? Am I getting that right?

Huh. That's an interesting and bold question. My concern is that as a WS, an affirmative answer could be perceived as casting myself as a victim. I feel sorry for people in abusive relationships in which there's an imbalance of power, because no fault lies with the victim. I feel compassion for alcoholics or meth addicts. So that's where the analogy between a drug/alcohol abuser and a WS falls short for me. I don't feel deserving of anyone's sympathy for my participation in the abusive A relationship.

Like any substance abuser, my As were a means of self-medicating. I'm no expert on addiction, but alcoholics don't drink because they *love alcohol,* they drink to forget, to feel numb, etc....to self-medicate. The solution, I suppose, is the same...no matter what your poison. Figure out what you're medicating, and heal it. In that sense, the addiction analogy absolutely works for me, and it's been very helpful to my recovery.

Softcentre posted 11/13/2013 12:09 PM

It feels more like you're asking if it is a form of self abuse, rather than being sbusive ie, alcohol is not the abuser, it is a form of self abuse that also leads to the manipulation/abuse of others around the self abuser.

If that's what you're asking, the A could be a form of self abuse. But it's also abusive to the spouse and that shouldn't be overlooked.

bionicgal posted 11/13/2013 13:03 PM

Yes, exactly. Mainly self-abuse. However, my H and his OW allowed each other to act so contrary to their own self-interests, that it seems abusive to each other too. For example, my H put his job in potential jeporady, and the OW has limited financial means, and an H she believed would abandon her if he found out.

Their actions were destructive to themselves and to each other. (Not to mention, the rest of us collateral damage.) and, they knew it. But, the 'high' was so compelling.

20 Wrongs, it was like a knife in my heart every time my H said he felt trapped and powerless and like he couldn't get out prior to dday. The addiction analogy is the only thing that has made those sentiments bearable to me. So, the addiction analogy rings true for you as well? He was definitely escaping.

[This message edited by bionicgal at 1:20 PM, November 13th (Wednesday)]

numb&dumb posted 11/13/2013 14:31 PM

I had been abused in my FOO, and I am a BS, so
there are definitely parallels for me. They both involve a lot of intense feelings and memories. They can change you in way nothing else can.

It is interesting you mentioned this because I used to have recurring nightmares about my FOO. Not all the time, but very intense, wake up from a dead sleep kind of nightmares. I did start having fairly regular nightmares about infidelity after Dday. When my W, who had seen the FOO nightmares effects on me, found out that the nightmares I had were about her cheating on me, it crushed her.

Time and many IC sessions later I am better. I see the parallels though. In my experience, I felt the infidelity hurts more because I choose that family member that hurt me. If that makes sense.

rachelc posted 11/13/2013 14:41 PM

not to mention the fact that the affair partners are using and manipulating each other - of course that abuse....
having an affair with a married person, knowing they have responsibilities to someone else - its sick! All for the wayward's own jollies? hard core abuse.

eachdayisvictory posted 11/13/2013 14:48 PM

what is FOO? not in the abbreviations, lots of references to it here. help please!

20WrongsVs1 posted 11/13/2013 14:48 PM

Bionicgal, in last week's IC session we talked about self-medicating. Since neither my C nor I regard me as a clinical SA, I've just recently started looking at my sexual deviancy (including and long predating my As) more through the lens of self-medicating. The addiction analogy works for me, yes, to large degree...but now that I've dug a little deeper I find the self-medicating concept fits me better. It also forces me to be accountable, because self-medicating to me feels more like a deliberate act, while addiction feels more like, "I couldn't help it...I'm a junkie!"

Every WS makes a choice to cheat, and continue cheating. We were never trapped or helpless. We have to own that.

lostcovenants posted 11/13/2013 14:55 PM

Family of origin

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