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Absence of guilt for APs partner's feelings

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theseseatsRtaken posted 6/23/2014 07:32 AM

So im writing this literally within 2 minutes of having the conversation with BW, while it is still fresh and my immediate feelings still raw. I am feeling very confronted, on edge and suddenly frustrated that I havent already dealt with this. Im hoping you all can offer some constructive advice, 2x4s are fine, I have an awareness that this isnt healthy and need a push in the right direction.

BW just asked me about feeling guilt for my AP's partner, a man who himself had a 4 yr old daughter to a previous partnership. This little girl appears on AP's facebook page photo, sitting on her lap. She was a part of her life and would have no doubt been a sort of mother figure to her. I was instantly uncomfortable because I knew I hadnt reflected on this yet, and then even moreso as I slowly realised my guilt about how I actively sought to inflict the pain of a BS on him AND sought to destabilise an already destabilised home life for a defenseless little girl - was minor at best.

Whats wrong with me? Why arent I connecting with that side of it? When I think about the pain I have caused MY BW or my DS, I am filled to the absolute brim with pain and nausea and self loathing. My thoughts about the people that were hurt because of my role as an OM, are largely indifferent.

I should note that looking back over every significant female relationship I have ever had, I have been an OM more often than I havent. That's scary.

Looking for some ideas on why I might be thinking and feeling this way & some advice on how to go about fixing it. Clearly this isnt ok and I want to know why it doesnt tear at me the same way as my actions toward my own family does.

Bracing myself for your replies!

lovemywife4ever posted 6/23/2014 07:54 AM

I don't know what to say other than maybe two things. Maybe your guilt isn't there because you are focusing on your own situation at home or maybe because you didn't know the other family you haven't felt it. Maybe it will come in time. I don't know but wanted to say something to you to know you aren't by yourself.

sunnyrain posted 6/23/2014 08:44 AM

What excuses did you tell yourself about your AP's life in order to make it OK in your mind to involve her in your A? (ie: her boyfriend is obviously not taking care of her the right way if she is interested in me, OR she has no children of her own so she's more like a "single" woman, OR not my responsibility to be her conscience, etc.)

Not saying those aren't flawed thinking patterns bc they are, just pointing out that if you can identify what you were telling yourself at the time, it might help you figure out how you allowed it not to be an issue for you then.

As to why you haven't thought about it since, I'm guessing your family crisis took priority over your AP's crisis. In my opinion, that is how it should be, NO FOCUS ON AP, unless as in your case your BS asks you to take a look at a certain aspect of the A.

Rooting for your M. Keep going!

Brandon808 posted 6/23/2014 08:50 AM

These are good questions to ask in IC if you aren't already doing so. The fact that you now recognize this and it bothers you is a good sign. Keep pursuing the answers.

somethingremorse posted 6/23/2014 10:05 AM

I agree with sunnyrain.

If you were like me, you made all sorts of justifications about the AP and OBS. You probably compartmentalized any impact to AP's family at all. Heck, my AP was my SIL, and I never allowed it to register with me. You are probably normal with your thinking -- I mean within the range of us screwed up waywards.

I agree that apathy towards the AP and her family is generally a good thing. Your AP made the same decisions that you did. The fallout from those decisions belongs to each of you individually. Maybe your AP is handling them far differently than you -- maybe D or maybe rugsweeping. You have no more impact on that situation.

StrongerOne posted 6/23/2014 10:38 AM

It's good that you are thinking about this now, and it's really good that is shaking you up. While I think it is normal to be focused on your own BS and kids, I don't agree that NO thoughts about AP is right in this respect. That is, you do need to think about the consequences of your actions on others due to your wayward behavior. What is the effect on the OBS? on their children? on your friends and your BS's friends? on other people who might now feel caught up in "choosing sides" or just having to deal with the aftermath of the affair?

Being able to think about how your actions have affected or could in the future affect other people, and to care about and act on this understanding, is how one is able to choose ethically, to do the right thing. If you had been able to do this before, would you have had the affair?

This is something my H and I discussed a couple months after DDay. H sees himself as a good person (it's really important to his identity to "be a good person"), but obviously did not act like a good person when he had an A. And a lot of that is because he doesn't consciously think about his behaviors -- he's going on the (unexamined) assumption that because he IS a good person, his actions are good. Most of the time he is right. But not always.

So, what are you going to do with this new awareness? Are you going to beat yourself up over it (guilt is highly underrated, I do think it's good to feel guilty for our own bad behavior) but not do anything else? Or are you going to use this awareness to help guide your thinking and your actions in the future?

You're doing good work here, theseseats -- keep it up.

hopefull77 posted 6/23/2014 11:17 AM

My H's AP divorced her own BS in the middle of the A he did feel bad but his IC told him that was HER a BS I am happy my H is focusing on OUR relationship...
My IC told me the thing about a (love) triangle is someone gets left behind....she chose to leave her H behind ....on dday she got left behind....
This is the nuclear fallout of an illicit relationship
I wish you peace

theseseatsRtaken posted 6/23/2014 22:03 PM

Thanks for these responses. The things I told myself during the affair all stem from my own inability to let go of my self image as this 'good person' and also I justified by telling myself he must be a shit BF. I think I dealt with his DD by basically shutting her out or creating a false reality in which there was no way she could be hurt. What an idiot.

But this deals with why I didnt care then, so why dont I care more now? Should I care more? Is that the message im gleaning here that the ramifications on his life are APs problem and I need to centre my guilt at home? Or is there something to look more closely at here in the sense of a potentially wayward mindset that attempts to exhonerate me of the guilt I should feel for the role I played in possibly ruining the life of a stranger and his child?

I dont want to run from this, but im also still open to some of these ideas that maybe my lack of guilt isnt all that unusual/unhealthy. I just want to be the best possible version of myself for my wife, my son and for me.

bionicgal posted 6/24/2014 07:52 AM

You probably haven't allowed yourself to think about it much, and your AP likely helped you see him as not worth considering.

I mean, my H had an affair with a friend, and crazily, her husband was one of his better friends. So, it is normal for a wayward to compartmentalize and shut the OBS out during the affair. My H's AP did it to me (I don't even know what kind of mental gymnastics she had to do to so thoroughly discount me), and my H did it to.

But yes, you should try to humanize him now, and realize he was just a victim here.

[This message edited by bionicgal at 7:52 AM, June 24th (Tuesday)]

Owl6118 posted 6/24/2014 07:52 AM

Not a BS here, or a WS. I'm here because during a years long major depression, I committed a kind of emotional abandonment of my wife. When I sought help I found that the strategies some people used to recover from an affair help me understand how I might help heal my marriage from the break in trust that came with emotional abandonment. But I want to be clear I haven't really walked in your shoes, so take my thoughts for what they are worth.

BW just asked me about feeling guilt for my AP's partner, a man who himself had a 4 yr old daughter to a previous partnership. ....

Whats wrong with me? Why arent I connecting with that side of it? ...

I should note that looking back over every significant female relationship I have ever had, I have been an OM more often than I havent. That's scary.

I singled these parts of your post out because I think they offer a key to reframing the question.

I said to someone the other day that thinking about what I have been learning, it seems that "The say in war the first casualty is truth. In an affair, the first casualty is empathy, and it dies long before the affair begins."

I think what you are struggling with, and what your wife is groping to help you focus on, is not lack of guilt, so much as an impaired capacity for empathy.

For people who do not engage in affairs, even when things in their relationship are not good, one reason is a healthy sense of empathy. They reflexively think how their spouse would feel should the prospective disloyalty be discovered, and they flinch from the anticipated pain they know their loved one would feel. That anticipation of future pain given to the loved one is part of the "animating force" that helps make boundaries stick and helps you make good choices in the beginning, and sty off the path of rationalization that leads into an affair.

The fact that you have often positioned yourself as a third party to your partners' relationships suggests that this healthy mechanism is impaired for you.

The good news is this awareness is something you can work on. I do believe people come with different degrees of natural capacity for empathy. But even if your capacity is lower out of the box, as it were, you can choose, as a matter of active work and self-improvement, to cultivate it. Monitor yourself for red flag thoughts, like "what they don't know won't hurt them," or, "his/her relationships are her responsibility, not mine." When faced with a choice, action, or temptation, ask yourself, will this choice build happiness for everyone affected by it, or will it help me at the direct expense of others? And this is not limited to marriage and romantic relationships--it applies to business, to civic life, to your choices as a man in the world in general.

So I would set aside guilt per se. I would reflect on the fact that your pattern of relationships, and your difficulty even now in getting an emotional response from yourself when you think of the risk of pain your choices exposed the AP's innocent stepchild to, reveal that your boundaries around yourself are very tight, and your capability to use imagination to project yourself into the feelings of others, and feel their feelings as being as real and valid and morally worthy of your consideration as your own, is underdeveloped.

So come up with your own strategies, with your IC or on your own. But develop a set of exercises or a list of questions you can use to check your decisions and behavior, and test them to see whether you are taking them having actually considered their impact on others in the world.

Unagie posted 6/24/2014 07:53 AM

It took me a little while to feel the impact of guilt and shame for AP's girlfriend. It wasnt that I didn't feel some of it before or acknowledge how fucked up I was to her for doing these things but rather I was focused on my BS. One day the shame hit me full on, I posted about it here and it was rough. Took me months to come to terms with it and there's a part of me that will always feel shame for what I did go another person. It is good youre examining this but my suggestion sometimes healing must come in steps as we can only handle so much. Your mind may not be ready for more yet, remember its a marathon to becoming a healed and healthy person not a sprint.

cdnmommy posted 6/24/2014 08:11 AM

Clearly this isnt ok and I want to know why it doesnt tear at me the same way as my actions toward my own family does.

I think you are still early in the process. It is possible these feelings will come as you work through things.

Our situation was a little different, because we were all friends. But as a BS in R, it was important for me to know that my H felt remorse toward the OBS also. In fact, his desire to apologize and try and make amends was a significant step forward for us. After posting the question for him here on SI, where the majority of BHs said no, they would not want to hear from their WW's AP, he decided not to send a letter. But I saw it as a sign of his growth. Living with me was a constant reminder for him, but to feel remorse toward someone whose pain he didn't need to witness was different.

theseseatsRtaken posted 6/25/2014 16:58 PM

Thank you to all for your advice. Its really appreciated. Every day is a new challenge in being a new person and making great choices when i have spent over 10 years making terrible ones.

Alyssamd24 posted 6/25/2014 19:11 PM

My self identity as the OW came a few months after attention was focused first on what I did to my BH and DD.

Once the realization really hit that I was an OW and could have destroyed another family it hit me hard and continues to do so. At first I wanted to contact her and try to apologize once again for my actions but with the help of others realized that would make it even harder and worse for her.

She and I had one phone conversation where I tried to confess everything. ended with her telling me to stay away from her husband and her family, and I have done so...its the least I can do.

Trying2LoveAgain posted 6/26/2014 21:43 PM

My FWH A was with my brother's wife (25 years ago..however I've only known about it for 10 months) but my H has told me that when it was found out by my brother (and some other family members)he apologized to my brother then and also one other time, some years later. (My brother had also had A's, and his wife had had feelings for my H ever since she met us...So I obviously have continued issues with ALL of them). Anyway, my H said that at the time of the A, he had NO sympathy/empathy for his AP, my brother, their children, me, our children, or anyone else~! But afterward, he said he did go through a period where he actually had hate in his heart for AP, and had to work on forgiving her as well as himself. Now, years later, he does have remorse/ sympathy for what he did to me, our boys, and my brother's children. He still has a hard time having empathy for my brother, his wife (my H's AP) because SHE has NO remorse for having done this and my brother has admitted that he enjoys/enjoyed having A's and they both have continued in much of this lifestyle. My H has not and he said this makes it very difficult! My H and I both have work to do on forgiving both my brother and his wife! I know that each person's situation is different and unique to them, but I know ultimately it IS beneficial to the WS AND BS when forgiveness and sympathy/empathy can be considered.

Dare2Trust posted 7/7/2014 03:36 AM


BS here - I don't see a stop sign.

Your stated:

I should note that looking back over every significant female relationship I have ever had, I have been an OM more often than I havent. That's scary.

I've read most of your posts and the posts of your BS.

From your posts - I believe you may have felt "an absence of guilt for the Affair Partner's feelings" up until this point - for the following reason:
Your posts indicate: That you believe the Other Women you have had "relationships" with actually pursued you ...and YOU more-or-less got caught up in the relationships and weren't really responsible for the affairs. You appear to shift THE BLAME to the Other Women.

Here's a couple of your posts:

Because I was seduced by that dark world of selfish self gratification and chose not to let it go once it came knocking

i do not refer to a pro-active seeking out of these relations, but rather a complete and utter refusal to dismiss them when they came knocking and a strong desire to keep them alive once i let them in.

You consistently refer to The Other Women "coming knocking" if these women are actively pursuing you; and you simply cannot say "NO" to them.
Since you seemed to have this mindset: Blaming the could also have been easy for you to simply BLAME THE OW for the Affair Partner's feelings being damaged, too.

BUT - if you are now accepting ACCOUNTABILITY AND RESPONSIBILITY for making your own CHOICES to engage in infidelity (affairs) -- it's understandable that you will begin to "feel guilt for the damage you have contributed to the Affair Partner and any children involved."

This isn't any form of criticism - I'm just stating an observation; and hopefully it's a sign of your healing: that you recognize the damage infidelity causes all innocent OW's partner and his child.

manticore posted 7/12/2014 00:39 AM

I see that nobody is willing to give you an honest answer so I will give it to you

you are a narcissist, while your actions are not evil by nature, they are focused in your own satisfaction and your own world view.

peeple now days use the word narcissist as an insult but really isn't one, is just a personality trait, in your world view your feelings an your interest is the only things that matters, that is why you focus in the pain of your wife and daughter that are the focus of your interest.

people with narcisist sindrome lack of emphaty towards other people circumstances unless it affect them directly

watersofavalon posted 7/12/2014 01:55 AM

I'm a bs and yesterday, after 2 yrs I got a apology from the ow h had an EA with. I guess she got there eventually!

Hisbunnyonly posted 7/12/2014 14:09 PM

Sorry if i missed this..... but does the AP's BBF know about the A?

theseseatsRtaken posted 7/14/2014 09:36 AM

No, the BBF does not know. Since this post the BBF actually turned up where i work. Outwardly he didnt seem to have any idea who i was, he was there for the same reason any other customer is. But it shook me up big time. I trembled the whole time and i actually did consider letting him know. I was in touch with BW the whole time and it really kicked up some dust. That night BW suggested we make a NC phone call because we hadnt done that yet. SO we did. I mentioned to OW on that phone call that i had considered telling her BBF and she freaked right out... while at the same time refusing to concede she had ever done anything wrong because she was supposedly single at the time she fooled around with me. Im definitely calling bullshit on that.

Anyway, the guilt is not fully developed yet by a long shot but there has been a big step made. He is real in my world now. I had never seen or met him before. And it affected me alot. Im hoping that is the start of some good progress in that part of my healing.

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