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Reconciliation Post Reply     Print Topic    
User Topic: R for, or with, the empathy-challenged
20WrongsVs1
♀ Member
Member # 39000
What?  Posted: 9:04 AM, July 22nd (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

For those in R, is or was the wayward partner empathy-challenged?

A common characteristic among WS seems to be lack of empathy. Whether temporary or persistent, isn't a detachment from understanding or caring about the potential devastation to our BS, or the OBS, a necessary component of infidelity?

We frequently employ terms such as sociopath, psychopath, or narcissist to describe WS. Even if few meet the clinical standards for such diagnoses, they're convenient shorthand for the psychopathy displayed by many of us who chose infidelity as a solution to our real or imagined problems.

As I often tell new WS here, the first step toward recovery (regardless of the outcome of your partnership) is taking ownership of your A, and admitting that it was a completely wrong and indefensible choice. Pot meet kettle, because on DDay, and for months afterward, I didn't feel guilty. My whole life, I thought I was a borderline sociopath. What other type of person chooses to lie, cheat, and steal, without the burden of guilt? My empathy probably short-circuited due to CSA, and there's plenty of psychological and neurological research to support a direct link between emotional detachment and childhood trauma or neglect.

What I'm asking reconciling partners today is, FWS are/were you empathy-challenged? BS did/does your WS struggle to reach remorse? Have you seen a change since DDay, and if so how was it achieved?


fWW: 42
BH: 52
DDay: April 21, 2013
Sweet DS & fierce DD, under 10
"Between stimulus and response there’s a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom." V. Frankl

Posts: 1237 | Registered: Apr 2013 | From: Redneck land
karmahappens
♀ Member
Member # 35846
Default  Posted: 9:34 AM, July 22nd (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I hope you don't mind my POV here.

The WS's do not corner the market on this one.

The person you are describing here, was me. I think life with me was a challenge. I didn't know, or understand the FOO issues I carried, the road map I was given as a child had completely made me empty.

Empathy? Please, I had none. I was judgmental, overly critical, demanding and completely void of any feeling for another's pain or situation.

My husband spent 20 years trying to get to me, loving me, believing he could be good enough for me....one day.

The funny thing is, the A was his biggest fuck up in life. I, on the other hand spent our first 20 years acting out. My neglect as a child, my feeling unloved, the alcoholic parents, CSA and other various traumas left me feeling lost, unloved and unworthy. I equated it all to karma = bad and I lived my life to prove it.

It breaks my heart now (isn't that wonderful?) to look back and see how I allowed my childhood to dictate my life. The odd thing was I didn't know I was "wrong"....I just figured I was no good and believed I had a bad soul.

Amazing what you can find through IC, years of learning, growing, understanding and hours upon hours of purging pain.

I found myself, I found compassion, empathy, love and a genuine heart beating underneath all that pain.

So no matter what label we carry, many of us are just hurt, broken people. What ultimately defines us is the road we take when we understand there is something awry, something that needs to be healed.

I applaud anyone who is brave enough to step up, look inside and say "I can do better, it can be different".

R'ing with anyone, BS or WS is difficult, but when one was raised with FOO galore the challenge can be that battle, but finding the way through it is the most rewarding, enlightening experience one can go through.

For us, this experience has changed our world. I am grateful we saw the need to find a better me, a better him and the work gave us a better marriage.

(((hugs)))


“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”
Anaïs Nin
Me: 45
Him: 47
Dday 8/2007
We have R'd

Posts: 3846 | Registered: Jun 2012 | From: Massachusetts
tired girl
♀ Member
Member # 28053
Default  Posted: 9:42 AM, July 22nd (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Both Hl and I can struggle with empathy, depending on the situation. I think HL struggles with it more than I do, but if I see no value in being empathetic in a situation, I'm not.

I believe it took me a full year to reach remorse after what I did. I had a lot of regret and felt horrible, but that didn't turn to actions and remorse until a year later. I had trouble seeing past my pain and focusing on his.

Once HL fully saw what he had done he reached remorse fairly quickly and was very empathetic with me. He struggles with it in other areas.

Have you learned to connect with your own feelings yet?


Me45 Him 45 Hardlessons DS 25,23,20
D Day 1/18/10 his 3/8/2012 mine
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Eleanor Roosevelt

Posts: 5079 | Registered: Mar 2010 | From: az
20WrongsVs1
♀ Member
Member # 39000
Default  Posted: 10:56 AM, July 22nd (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Karma, great response, thank you, and of course all POV are welcome. That's why I posted in R.

It breaks my heart now (isn't that wonderful?) to look back and see how I allowed my childhood to dictate my life. The odd thing was I didn't know I was "wrong"....I just figured I was no good and believed I had a bad soul.

ICR. Did you start IC after DDay, or had you already been there?

TG, yes, I have reconnected with my feelings! At least, I think I have, but it may be like going from black-and-white film to color. AFAIK I may only be feeling in standard definition, not 1080p hi-def. Not sure how I'd know, but in any case, color is awesome! Figuring out how to express my feelings, well, that's a work in progress.


fWW: 42
BH: 52
DDay: April 21, 2013
Sweet DS & fierce DD, under 10
"Between stimulus and response there’s a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom." V. Frankl

Posts: 1237 | Registered: Apr 2013 | From: Redneck land
tired girl
♀ Member
Member # 28053
Default  Posted: 11:05 AM, July 22nd (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

So in other words, you are at a place that you have identified that you indeed have them, however voicing them is another matter.

HL has an issue with this as well.

What about needs, do you have a problem voicing what your needs are?


Me45 Him 45 Hardlessons DS 25,23,20
D Day 1/18/10 his 3/8/2012 mine
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Eleanor Roosevelt

Posts: 5079 | Registered: Mar 2010 | From: az
Ascendant
♂ Member
Member # 38303
Default  Posted: 11:11 AM, July 22nd (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I'd say the opposite, in fact. My wife has entirely too much empathy.

She feels everyone's feeling for them, and feels responsible for everyone's feelings as well. It's a double-edged sword, because my wife is probably the most thoughtful person I know (or have ever known), but there is, at times, a complete and utter lack of emotional boundaries with others.


I keep my mind on my future/and my eyes on the sky/I don't really smile much/If you were there you'd know why.

Posts: 2175 | Registered: Jan 2013 | From: City in the Midwest/Best In The Whole Wide World
DixieD
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Member # 33457
Default  Posted: 11:11 AM, July 22nd (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I became empathy challenged. There were times in my life that I had more and other times that I had less. I believe it was linked to my emotional detachment from childhood trauma and neglect. I can emotionally detach with the best of them. After dday my empathy really took a nose-dive. It was scary. I've read that can happen after trauma. I'm pleased that it's starting to return now. I can feel it again.

My in-laws don't have empathy. MIL doesn't even understand the concept of it and FIL, well, he thinks global tragic accidents/actions causing death (including wars) are needed to thin out the herd. They are frightening people really. I use the short-hand labels of sociopath or NPD with them because if the shoe fits, wear it.

My husband didn't experience the childhood trauma or neglect that I did. From the outside, he had an easy life, and as an adult even easier. I think his biggest problem was trying to please people who are PD. He had empathy as a child. For example, his parents were racist, he wasn't. He loved animals and cared about them. They didn't. They are very selfish, entitled people. They raised very selfish and entitled children. Look out for #1 was the family motto. Their 'love' was built on -- What have you done for me lately? Their teachings had more of an effect on him than he realized and the older he got and more self-absorbed he became the less empathy he had. But I think that would be true for anyone.

Once remorse hit him, he had tons of empathy. He broke wide open and felt the pain of strangers. It was quite odd to watch. For a while after dday we could watch a movie about someone's tragedy or death or about an affair and I wouldn't be bothered or triggered. I'd feel almost nothing, yet he would be crying and upset about it. It was like we changed roles. Very odd. I can't explain why that happened for him, other than he hit rock bottom and like the Grinch, his heart grew 3 sizes bigger that day.


Growing forward

Posts: 1767 | Registered: Sep 2011
karmahappens
♀ Member
Member # 35846
Default  Posted: 1:17 PM, July 22nd (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

ICR. Did you start IC after DDay, or had you already been there?

I had started IC a few years before and stopped, I couldn't open up.

After dday I was spilling things left and right, it was like an awakening. I don't know why but my brain suddenly said you better fix this.

Because I believed myself to be "bad" I tried to hide all the shitty feelings and bad things about me. I didn't want others to see inside of me, how lousy I felt.

I never imagined I could be this content, this grateful, this happy. I could talk for days about the amazing results you can get from IC, it has transformed our lives completely.


“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”
Anaïs Nin
Me: 45
Him: 47
Dday 8/2007
We have R'd

Posts: 3846 | Registered: Jun 2012 | From: Massachusetts
lilacs40
♀ Member
Member # 31314
Default  Posted: 1:53 PM, July 22nd (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

WH has little if any empathy. It drives me crazy and it may be the reason why I don't see what I need from him. He says he doesn't understand how to show it. He is like that in a majority of aspects of life though so I don't think it just relates to his EA and I try to keep that in mind when dealing with that.

I'm not sure how it will effect the outcome of our situation though. I'm hoping that since he is in IC he begins to understand it a bit more.



I wish I could just stop I know another moment will break my heart too many tears too many time too many years I've cried over you

Posts: 326 | Registered: Feb 2011 | From: IL
RippedSoul
♀ Member
Member # 40055
Default  Posted: 2:18 PM, July 22nd (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I do believe my SLAWH is empathy-challenged. Truly. I always have. It didn't affect me that much since I've never really needed his sympathy for anything. But, yes, it's no secret to share that he's emotionally stifled. :(


BW: 49; SLAWH: 46; M: 23 yrs
DD#1--11/30/12 (prostitute #1)
DD#2--1/29/13 (AP, escorts #1 & #2)
DD#3--9/13 (trolling MILF site)
DD#4--10/8/13 (EA with AP cont'd)
DD: 20; DD: 18; DS: 16; DS: 14
PS: I've NEVER NOT edited my posts

Posts: 461 | Registered: Jul 2013 | From: California
AML04
♀ Member
Member # 39682
Default  Posted: 2:33 PM, July 22nd (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I had a lot of trauma including CSA as a child. I have started to notice that in times of high stress might empathy level goes way down. I also find myself emotionally detaching when I'm feeling overwhelmed. It's more like suppression than an actual depression. The bad part is I tend to suppress the good emotions along with the bad. I'm currently working on this in IC. Hopefully she can help.

Thank you for sharing.


Me-BS Him-WH DS 5/12
Met 2000, Married 2004
DDay 5/26/13, TT through 8/13
2.5 yr EA w/co-worker, PA 12/12 to 4/13
Hopeful for R

Posts: 875 | Registered: Jun 2013 | From: MA
alphakitte
♀ Member
Member # 33438
Default  Posted: 3:20 PM, July 22nd (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Certainly my WS is empathy challenged, to this day.

I am a CSA and I compensated exactly opposite of you. I felt everyone's pain. I over compensated by trying to meet my WS's every need, and want. So, on Dday, my heart was totally trashed. I doubt that my WS knows that feeling as no one has done to him what he did to me. Even were I to leave him, and divorce, I wouldn't violate our agreements until they were altered cooperatively, or by legal decree. In other words, my loyalty to our vows and agreements would be inviolate until voided.

I don't think my WS has really entered remorse as that requires honest introspection. You say you've experienced remorse, but seriously, how would you know? How do you feel and describe remorse, for you? In order to be truly empathetic you would have to experience the feelings your BS felt upon discovery of your infidelity. How are you empathetic to the feelings and reaction of you BS? Reconciliation involves restitution. what have you done in the way of restitution in order to pave the way for reconciliation?

These may not be questions to answer here, but something to think about.

I'll tell you that my reaction has been to be less empathetic to my WS and less empathetic to his family and friends. I don't intendnto extend myself just because he, or they, need or want something. If they want, or need, it badly enough they'll indicate their eagerness by beginning the process to remedy their issues. I may then choose to assist them, or not, but I won't champion their causes.

If we divorce, or my husband dies, I doubt I'll ever again put myself "out there" like I did for my WS. Not out of revenge, or self protection, but because I don't think it wise to put my faith in any human being. It was euphoria to think we were on the same page in our mutually discussed agreement. It was total devastation to learn that my WS used my loyalty to that agreement, and used my loyalty to him against me. For the rest of my life that place will no loneger exist for us, ever.

I now know that I can choose the depth of my empathy with anyone, and in any situation.


------ Some people are emotional tadpoles. Even if they mature they are just a warty toad. Catt

Posts: 350 | Registered: Sep 2011 | From: 3 klicks north of Ambiguous
20WrongsVs1
♀ Member
Member # 39000
Default  Posted: 4:18 PM, July 22nd (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Thank you so much for all the thoughtful responses, I only have a minute.

AML40 thank you.

The bad part is I tend to suppress the good emotions along with the bad.

Yep, if only we could pick and choose.

In order to be truly empathetic you would have to experience the feelings your BS felt upon discovery of your infidelity.

So I can only be truly empathetic to another human if I've shared the exact same experience?

Honestly, I'm a rookie at the whole empathy thing, is that a widely-held definition of empathy?


fWW: 42
BH: 52
DDay: April 21, 2013
Sweet DS & fierce DD, under 10
"Between stimulus and response there’s a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom." V. Frankl

Posts: 1237 | Registered: Apr 2013 | From: Redneck land
RippedSoul
♀ Member
Member # 40055
Default  Posted: 4:24 PM, July 22nd (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Empathy implies you've experienced the same thing and feel what they're feeling. Madhatters, for instance, can empathize with each other's pain; Waywards can only sympathize with their Betrayeds.

That said, I understood what you meant. Aside from that small--but important--difference, the two words mean the same thing.


BW: 49; SLAWH: 46; M: 23 yrs
DD#1--11/30/12 (prostitute #1)
DD#2--1/29/13 (AP, escorts #1 & #2)
DD#3--9/13 (trolling MILF site)
DD#4--10/8/13 (EA with AP cont'd)
DD: 20; DD: 18; DS: 16; DS: 14
PS: I've NEVER NOT edited my posts

Posts: 461 | Registered: Jul 2013 | From: California
mhca
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Member # 41920
Default  Posted: 4:29 PM, July 22nd (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Empathy implies you've experienced the same thing and feel what they're feeling. Madhatters, for instance, can empathize with each other's pain; Waywards can only sympathize with their Betrayeds.

Hmm, I think this is overstating it. The key to empathy is being able to put yourself in the other's shoes, and that doesn't require identical experience.

From wikipedia:

Empathy refers to the understanding and sharing of a specific emotional state with another person. Sympathy does not require the sharing of the same emotional state. Instead, sympathy is a concern for the well-being of another.

So you can sympathize and still be clueless about what the other person is feeling. Empathy requires that you have a clue -- but it doesn't have to be perfect.


Me: BH 47 STBXWW 47 (Lklb5)
M 19 years, DS 15, DS 11
DD#1: 12/24/2013
TT/Broke NC/False R
DD#2: 4/15/2014
TT 4/23, 4/24, 5/31, 7/19
Divorcing

Sample recovery plan, feedback welcome: http://www.survivinginfidelity.com/forums.asp?tid=539961


Posts: 788 | Registered: Jan 2014 | From: California
alphakitte
♀ Member
Member # 33438
Default  Posted: 10:06 PM, July 22nd (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

In order to be truly empathetic you would have to experience the feelings your BS felt upon discovery of your infidelity.

doesn't necessarily equate to:

So I can only be truly empathetic to another human if I've shared the exact same experience?

unless you're saying that you can not share the feelings that your BS felt without being betrayed as he was betrayed.

Are you able to share, or experience, the feelings another person has without actually experiencing what they did that brought about those feelings?


------ Some people are emotional tadpoles. Even if they mature they are just a warty toad. Catt

Posts: 350 | Registered: Sep 2011 | From: 3 klicks north of Ambiguous
20WrongsVs1
♀ Member
Member # 39000
Default  Posted: 11:17 PM, July 22nd (Tuesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

^^ I've never claimed to empathize with BH WRT my infidelity. So I'm choosing not to engage further on that topic.

TG, at the risk of t/j'ing myself, could you become my life coach? Because when you ask this

What about needs, do you have a problem voicing what your needs are?

I'm like. My needs are food, water, and shelter. I'm not being sarcastic or facetious, I seriously do not comprehend your question. But my needs are not really today's topic.

Ascendant: (my wife) feels responsible for everyone's feelings as well

Thanks for contributing that. My sister says she's like this, and has been a serial cheater. She believes women when they say they're deeply unhappy in their relationship, and their partner (male or female) is distant, abusive, whatever. She wants to help and comfort them, and doesn't question whether they might be lying, or delusional. I'm working on convincing her that it's not her job to make sad people happy, at the expense of morality.

mhca: So you can sympathize and still be clueless about what the other person is feeling. Empathy requires that you have a clue but it doesn't have to be perfect.

We need a hand-clapping icon. Thanks, I really like this.


fWW: 42
BH: 52
DDay: April 21, 2013
Sweet DS & fierce DD, under 10
"Between stimulus and response there’s a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom." V. Frankl

Posts: 1237 | Registered: Apr 2013 | From: Redneck land
Didact
♂ Member
Member # 42867
Default  Posted: 8:44 AM, July 23rd (Wednesday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I assume that you might be able to R with someone that struggles with empathy.

I think it would be much harder to forgive that person, and the fear of a repeat infidelity would seem to be higher.


No matter how painful, life either adapts or it dies.

BH (Me) 49
WW 48
Married 1985
D-Day Mar 19, 2014
1 year passionate EA/PA, ended by me on d-day.
Attempting to R


Posts: 237 | Registered: Mar 2014 | From: United States
Topic Posts: 18

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