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User Topic: Empathy from WS?
MandMs
♀ 41740
Member # 41740
Default  Posted: 7:28 PM, June 16th (Monday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Is it possible for the WS to have genuine empathy for the BS?

There have been so many discussions lately that leave me feeling unheard, misunderstood, and alone. It doesn't seem like my H is able to get past his own feelings of shame and fear to feel true empathy for me.

I've told him all I want is a hug and a pat on the back, maybe a "there, there, it's going to be ok" He agrees to do this next time but when there is a next time he can't bring himself to do it. The best he's been able to do is just shut up and not try to talk me into feeling better.

When we talk about it after he's failed, yet again, to comfort me, it becomes apparent that he's so wrapped up in his feelings in that moment that he can't bring himself to do the simple thing I ask for. Even as we talk about it I can hear by the things he says that he's thinking mostly about himself and trying to imagine how I'm feeling isn't even on his radar. It's like empathy isn't something he's capable of in this situation.

I feel like I've worked so hard to understand his whys and how he was feeling when he was acting out in his SA. I've been successful at putting my feelings aside to really understand and empathize where he was at that time in his life and the feelings that led him to cheating. I've actually been able to get to a place where I've actually felt sad for him and all he's been through with his addiction (substance abuse is a big part of his story as well as SA…)
Of course this is a place I can visit but I don't live there by any means. I am human after all!

I'm not sure exactly what I'm trying to say here but…

Do you think that empathy can be a learned skill if it is something that does not come naturally?

WS please chime in. Thank you!


BS 37
fWH 36
DDs 17,14,10

2011 started 2.5years of TT
Full disclosure in OCT.2013,


Posts: 78 | Registered: Dec 2013
blindsided14
♂ 43266
Member # 43266
Default  Posted: 8:05 PM, June 16th (Monday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

BS here. I think empathy can be a learned behavior. For my WW it is very much a work in progress. They are so used to thinking about me me me that, until the light goes on, you'll get nowhere. From what you've written, it sounds like your WH hasn't had that ah-ha moment. Is he in IC for his addiction issues and are you in MC? What happens in MC when he shows a lack of empathy? Does your C call him on it?


I guess it's game on . . .

Posts: 58 | Registered: Apr 2014
lostmylight55
♂ 33517
Member # 33517
Default  Posted: 8:17 PM, June 16th (Monday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

It's not an easy question to answer but here goes.

My mother has no empathy. Never had it and doesn't understand the concept. I've had conversations about it with her and it's just not there. I believe she's not capable of it.

Not coming naturally to someone is different from not having/understanding it at all.

I believe that I had empathy as a child – not through my primary caregivers but it was there somehow. I seemed to have lost it or buried it the more self centered and egotistical I became growing up and into adulthood and especially prior to and during my A.

I had to fall pretty hard and get to humility and humbleness first before I was able to open up enough to let the feelings of empathy in. There needs to be a willingness for it but I believe it can grow with time.

If toxic shame overwhelms you it will keep you focused on yourself.

I'm sorry you are having to deal with this.


My Boundaries are firm: Trespassers will be shot on sight.

Posts: 91 | Registered: Oct 2011
sunvalley
♀ 42952
Member # 42952
Default  Posted: 2:47 AM, June 17th (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I see it starting recently. I'm not sure if it is that it is learned or new. I think his empathy was suppressed during the As. I think he always had it in him, but he allowed himself to rationalize and blame shift during the As so that he didn't feel so guilty and ashamed. He went through a long time of guilt and shame overriding his ability to help me after Dday. He was still too needy and insecure to be emotionally available to me. He was defensive because he couldn't handle seeing my pain. It's only been recently that he's figured out ways to help me. Before it was by trying to get me to 'see the positives', focus on the good and moving forward instead of letting me just grieve my pain. Finally recently he gets it. He holds me when I get upset instead of trying to talk me out of it...that's compassion, that's empathy...talking me out of the tears by focusing on the positives and not letting myself get upset served him a purpose...it helped him not feel his emotions and guilt. Of course he wasn't empathetic when he was still dealing with things that way. But just holding me through the tears or doing something nice for me when I am angry, that is true empathy. It is coming back slowly as he moves out of self loathing and his own neediness, but I think they have to do their own inner healing before they can really show that they're emotionally ready to be there for anyone else.


Dday July 2013
Me: BW mid 30s
Him: WH mid 30s
4PAs, multiple online As

Posts: 767 | Registered: Mar 2014
mozzchops
♂ 42896
Member # 42896
Default  Posted: 3:46 AM, June 17th (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage


I'm in the same boat here.
I have given her loads of advice over the last few months. She agrees with it but then never does it.

I have a feeling this is not remorseful behaviour...


The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.

Posts: 119 | Registered: Mar 2014
somethingremorse
♂ 42047
Member # 42047
Default  Posted: 9:41 AM, June 17th (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

WH here. I think empathy is something that can be learned. Maybe your WS has something in his way that his work will fix.

Maybe it requires small steps -- have him make an "appointment" to listen to you and try to think about how you are feeling. Maybe have a set time every day to go through that.

I think that a lot of thinking is kind of brain wiring. To think differently, we have to create new paths for the wiring. For some people it comes easy. For others, it takes conscious repetition to establish that path.


Me: WH (40s)
DDay 11/03/13
In MC and IC

Posts: 831 | Registered: Jan 2014 | From: Pennsylvania
Chinadoll30
♀ 43131
Member # 43131
Default  Posted: 10:11 AM, June 17th (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I think a lot of addicts lack empathy. Especially if the addictive behavior started in adolescence. The area of the brain responsible for empathy just shuts down. MC has helped us a lot with this. And I do think it can be developed over time.


"We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means 'I survived'." -Chris Cleave

Posts: 343 | Registered: Apr 2014 | From: Philadelphia
MandMs
♀ 41740
Member # 41740
Default  Posted: 8:13 PM, June 17th (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Thank you to everyone who chimed in. I don't know what I would do with out you all…

We've had a few good talks since and he agrees, we've spent the past three years talking about how he is feeling when he was active in his SA and what he's doing to change and his struggles and his character defects and on and on and on… now it's time to focus on me.

At least now, I think he is at the point where he can try to learn about what i've been feeling and experiencing since the avalanche of OW began.

We've started reading Living & Loving after Betrayal together which I think does a wonderful job explaining the physiological effects intimate betrayal has on a BS. I have another book coming about empathy that we will read together as well.

I think a lot of addicts lack empathy. Especially if the addictive behavior started in adolescence.

I think they have to do their own inner healing before they can really show that they're emotionally ready to be there for anyone else.

I think this is so true in my WH's case. He has always been so completely self absorbed and self centered he never got the chance to learn empathy for others. I hope he is reaching that point in his own recovery where he is capable of really learning how to be compassionate.

He has been in recovery for substance abuse for about three years and in recovery for SA for about a year. I don't think he has ever been able to really take a good look at the pain he has caused me and the lasting effects his betrayal has had on me. He has worked very hard and changed so much over the past 3+ years but this seems to be the final frontier for him.


BS 37
fWH 36
DDs 17,14,10

2011 started 2.5years of TT
Full disclosure in OCT.2013,


Posts: 78 | Registered: Dec 2013
Ibelieveinme
♀ 11363
Member # 11363
Default  Posted: 12:18 AM, June 18th (Wednesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I have learned through this process to embrace the OW and be thankful for the OW because she taught me a lot in life. She taught me to start thinking about "me" to love "me". I no longer hate the OW nor do I want to hunt her down and make her die kind of thing.

Once we recognize that we are here on earth to learn lessons so that we don't have to come back, we have this "gig" licked. This takes a lot of soul searching and stop blaming the people who are directing this at us. Bottom line, forgiveness of someone's weakness will help you through this, whether you stay with the person or nor.




Posts: 1842 | Registered: Jul 2006
rachelc
♀ 30314
Member # 30314
Default  Posted: 8:01 AM, June 18th (Wednesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Once we recognize that we are here on earth to learn lessons so that we don't have to come back, we have this "gig" licked. This takes a lot of soul searching and stop blaming the people who are directing this at us. Bottom line, forgiveness of someone's weakness will help you through this, whether you stay with the person or nor.

oh my... how long did it take you to get here? I just can't fathom it. What the heck is the lesson?


his Dday: 2/10 but TT until 7/11
my Ddays: 1/12, 4/12 broken NC 12/12

me (WW/BS): 48
him: (BS/WH)52
4 kiddos in mid 20's

“Follow your intuition. Be smart, be brave. Tell the truth and don’t take any shit.”


Posts: 5789 | Registered: Dec 2010 | From: Midwest
MandMs
♀ 41740
Member # 41740
Default  Posted: 4:47 PM, June 18th (Wednesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I have learned through this process to embrace the OW and be thankful for the OW because she taught me a lot in life.

I think this was accidentally posted on this thread since it doesn't really have anything to do with the topic but…

oh my... how long did it take you to get here? I just can't fathom it. What the heck is the lesson?

I agree!! Seriously? I cannot imagine being so spiritually evolved that this could ever be my truth… if this is your truth then I'm very happy for you and in awe...


BS 37
fWH 36
DDs 17,14,10

2011 started 2.5years of TT
Full disclosure in OCT.2013,


Posts: 78 | Registered: Dec 2013
Topic Posts: 11

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