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BS agency during the infidelity...

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DIFM posted 12/4/2019 05:34 AM

Agency. It has become the word de jour. Hear it a lot these days. I generally loath the rotating buzzword craze, but this word.......it's a powerful infidelity word. It speaks so directly to probably the most enduring source of anger and some lingering level of contempt that I feel for my fWW and the whole A shitstorm.

In my own words, agency represents the power one has to intervene in life impacting forces, pressures, or influences. No matter what choices one makes as a part of the personal intervention, it is through one's agency that change of mind or choice of options is made. Taking all there is to know into account, using it to make a choice that would intervene in some decision or decisions on the path of life.

I don't know about other BS's, but my fWW's manipulation of everything about our relationship and everything related to life in general during her 1.5 year A, could not have come at a worse time, in terms of life changing decision making. Some of the greatest post dday pain was directed at the choices made that were heavily burdensome, costly, and lifelong commitments in which I was foolishly using totally useless information and was deprived of what would have been the most useful information as those serious and life impacting choices were made. The kind of choices you can't undue.

The almost sinister deprivation of one's "agency" as a result of the cheaters lies and manipulations can linger even after all the sex and emotional betrayal shitfest has been reasonably managed. There were many costly (financially and personally) choices made without the benefit of being able to "intervene" on my own behalf. The degree to which a BS is not even aware that an intervention is needed. Life choices with huge long term impacts such as moving, starting a business, spending money, taking on a large commitment, having or adopting a child, all these done under the lies and manipulations of a wayward's affair steal a BS's agency from them. It lingers for me because some of those decisions made under the black cover of the lies and manipulations would never have been made had my agency not been usurped by her all consuming selfishness.

Infidelity is a complex ugly beast. It is not just about sex, love, emotional betrayal, lies of the heart....in a bigger picture, it is about subjecting others to the cost of choices they may never have entertained had they known all that needed to be known to make a well informed decision. Agency. Not even a word one thinks about until it is stolen.

cocoplus5nuts posted 12/4/2019 06:07 AM

I have never quite understood the use of this term in this context. Agency is, basically, autonomy, free will, the ability to make our own decisions.

I kind of get what people mean when they say that being a BP takes away one's agency. The idea is that we don't have all the facts at hand in order to make an informed decision. However, that does not mean our ability to make a decision and act on it is taken away. Cheaters certainly commit fraud.

Maybe I don't relate to this because I didn't make any big life decisions during my fch's A. I didn't even make any small, daily life decisions (like whether or not to have sex with him) during my fch's A.

We were not living together at the time because of my fch's work. We were not separated. We were still very much married, but our daily lives were not intertwined. I found out about the A almost immediately after he came home.

DIFM posted 12/4/2019 08:31 AM

Agency is, basically, autonomy, free will, the ability to make our own decisions.

That is a very good way to define agency. But it is not only the ability to make our own decisions, it is to be able to make our own decisions unconstrained by manipulation. Keep in mind that "free will", and thus agency, is thwarted when the facts that inform the decisions are intentionally manipulated. In those cases, only the WS has free will. The BS is making life decisions, not freely, rather under the constraints of a false narrative.

It is the "free" in free will that relies on a mutually shared honesty about the facts. During an A, the BS has free will only as it relates to those things known, not to those not known.

For some, this may be moot. But for those whose choices during their WS's A involved things like moving, sacrificing for the better of the marriage, taking on large debt, agreeing to have children during that time, etc, would all have been made under states of manipulation, not free will.

[This message edited by DIFM at 8:31 AM, December 4th (Wednesday)]

Cheatee posted 12/4/2019 08:49 AM

My XWW sought to monopolize agency in terms of the family and decisions about its future.

While she was cheating, she declared that the marriage had gone stale and that she was contemplating divorce, but that she would wait until our then 15 year old went off to college. She announced this rather blithely, declaring that my input into my own future was of no consequence to her. She justified all this to herself by putting me down repeatedly and contrasting how she was on a healing journey (through her addiction recovery) and how I was "broken."

I resented this weird power play, but hung in there to see how things might evolve. I found out she was cheating on me with a fellow addict (only he was actively using) and she immediately was remorseful.

This didn't last as she began to backslide into vilification and acrimony.

Once I determined that she was irredeemably untrustworthy, I had enough and exercised my own agency. I told her to get the fuck out of the house and ended up paying her $200,000 to do so.

So, yes, her usurpation of agency was part of her broader plan to convince herself of her own power, while painting me as a wretch. It was part of a broader campaign of emerging narcissism, after decades together.

Now, four years out, I am grateful for her revealing just how callous and craven she had become and doing so in such a clear fashion as to open my eyes to the damage done before giving her a 3rd, 4th, 5th... chance.

She has since worked diligently to convince our daughter that I am the bad guy, that I kicked her out of the house and destroyed the family, even though our daughter found out (before I knew) that her mother was having an affair with an opiate junkie.

[This message edited by Cheatee at 8:52 AM, December 4th (Wednesday)]

landclark posted 12/4/2019 09:18 AM

This is a great post.

I know that had I found out about his cheating early on, there are several things that would be different right now. Though I don't necessarily regret the decisions (I love my house and child, for instance), I do feel like I made decisions based on what I thought I knew. Had I known about the cheating, I likely wouldn't have bought my house. I certainly wouldn't have run up my credit in an effort to cover his financial issues. We probably wouldn't still be married. I would have pursued a child or even a second child on my own (through egg and/or sperm donation if need be). I certainly put up with a lot of behavior I wouldn't have even entertained for a second had I known (which sure, is partly on me).

I will forever be glad to have my son, and I know my WHs genetics contributed to him being the person he is, but I did believe I was having a child with somebody who loved and adored me, and wanted it as much as I did. Then I find out by reading things he wrote that he wasn't that happy about it, and was only doing it to appease me.

I do feel manipulated. I feel like our whole relationship was one big manipulation. I guess this is where lies by omission are still damaging.

BraveSirRobin posted 12/4/2019 09:29 AM

I hear what you are saying, DIFM. It's something I will live with forever, having stolen agency from my BH. I confessed the A, including the sex, but I minimized many other aspects of the EA/PA. We had been first and onlies, and to this day, I remain his only serious relationship. If he had known how emotionally involved I was with OM, and the length and sexual details of the A, he could have decided whether to walk away totally unencumbered and build a different life. Now, even if he decides the full truth is a deal breaker, he can't hit a reset button and be 21 again. He can't have his kids with someone else or make retroactive financial plans with her. Even if he found the perfect woman tomorrow, he has half a life left to offer her, tied inextricably to me in many ways. I did that. I didn't face it at the time, but now both of us have to live with the consequences of my arrogance and cowardice. The enormity of it takes my breath away.

I'm sorry this happened to you. I would give anything for a time machine so that I could go back and give my BH the informed choice that he deserved.

Justsomeguy posted 12/4/2019 09:50 AM

DIFM. Yup, I think you nailed agency in your post.

DIFM posted 12/4/2019 09:54 AM

I didn't face it at the time, but now both of us have to live with the consequences of my arrogance and cowardice. The enormity of it takes my breath away.
I'm sorry this happened to you. I would give anything for a time machine so that I could go back and give my BH the informed choice that he deserved.

I appreciate your courage to own it and face it. I am curious, have you tried to offer some form of contrition as an outward reflection of the depth of remorse you feel over the stolen agency?

demolishedinside posted 12/4/2019 10:36 AM

Yes. This is where I sit in it. Its hard to get past the injustice. I think I was taught that things tend to work out and that good people win in the end. I work hard to get past my anger that this is simply untrue.

If Id really known, Id never have dated him. But the worst is that after my initial dday and 3 1/2 years of counseling, he let me quit my job, knowing hed physically cheated. Im not sure Ill ever get past that.

cocoplus5nuts posted 12/4/2019 12:24 PM

I get what you're saying, DIFM. I read a bunch about agency before posting because I wanted to make sure I knew what it meant. Nothing I read said that it is tied to the information used to make the decision. It's only about the ability to make a decision. Once coercion or force comes in, you no longer have agency. But, I'm not sure that manipulation takes away that agency.

We all can only ever make decisions based on the knowledge, information, and experience we have at the time. None of us can ever know everything about anything. If you make a decision based on false information, you are being defrauded. However, you still have the agency to say yes or no.

EllieKMAS posted 12/4/2019 12:31 PM

Coco I think everyone knows you can't know everything about everything and that is not the issue.

The issue with agency as relates to infidelity is a little different IMHO. If you are married and making decisions (whether they are lifelong-type or day to day type) that are made for yourself and your spouse, but your spouse is cheating and knows that and is hiding it from you... Well in that case, how do you know that the decision you made was the one you would have made if you'd had the additional info of their infidelity?

BraveSirRobin posted 12/4/2019 12:41 PM

I am curious, have you tried to offer some form of contrition as an outward reflection of the depth of remorse you feel over the stolen agency?
I would be willing to, if that was something my BH wanted and if either of us could imagine what form it would take that would be helpful to his healing. That's the heart of the problem, though. Nothing I do can mitigate it or make up for it. I understand that some BS feel that a tangible penance could help them partially rebalance their internal scales of justice and/or serve as additional proof that their WS "gets it," but that's not true in his case.

WornDown posted 12/4/2019 12:49 PM

I have never quite understood the use of this term in this context. Agency is, basically, autonomy, free will, the ability to make our own decisions.

Yes...This^^^^

Not:

That is a very good way to define agency. But it is not only the ability to make our own decisions, it is to be able to make our own decisions unconstrained by manipulation. Keep in mind that "free will", and thus agency, is thwarted when the facts that inform the decisions are intentionally manipulated. In those cases, only the WS has free will. The BS is making life decisions, not freely, rather under the constraints of a false narrative.

ARGH! Why do people want to change definitions to fit what they want? (See also: people calling a kid who shoots up a school a terrorist)

Agency is the ability to act on your own. Period.

It has nothing to do with whether you were lied to or not.

If you want to say your ex manipulated you and lied to you to make a wrong choice, that is fine. But you still had "agency" - the free will to make that choice. No one put you in chains, put a gun to your head and said you must be (stay) married to this person.

What you are saying is that just because you did not have every single piece of knowledge about your spouse, you were FORCED (aka, loss of agency) into marrying (or staying married to) them.

This is a fallacy.

You have agency to invest in any stock you want. If tomorrow, said stock shoots up through the roof because of previously unknown (to the public) development, would you say you lost agency in picking investments? Of course, not.

But your argument is that if the stock went down because of a new discovery (aka, your WS is having an affair), you lost agency.

Being duped is not losing agency. It's called being duped, taken advantage of, manipulated, scammed. But not loss of agency.

[This message edited by WornDown at 12:53 PM, December 4th (Wednesday)]

Oldwounds posted 12/4/2019 13:27 PM

quick t/j:

That's the heart of the problem, though. Nothing I do can mitigate it or make up for it.

True BSR. But I do appreciate that my wife tries to make up for it anyway. It's created an environment of kindness from her and inspires me to respond in kind.

end t/j

Agency is the ability to act on your own. Period.

And my son who is a high school debate coach would agree with you to the letter of the law for purest form of meaning, but I do appreciate DIFM's intent here.

If our ability to act on our own is maligned in some way, sans the truth, I can see how someone could see how the ability to act on our own (as our actions are based on acting with the truth we think we have) being taken from us.


[This message edited by Oldwounds at 1:29 PM, December 4th (Wednesday)]

WornDown posted 12/4/2019 13:34 PM

If our ability to act on our own is maligned in some way, sans the truth, I can see how someone could see how the ability to act on our own (as our actions are based on acting with the truth we think we have) being taken from us.

No.

Your ability to act is not taken away from you.

You are working with bad information.

Big difference.

Your ability to act has nothing to do with WHY you acted (big debate in philosophy about TYPES of agency based on why one acts, but not that you are no longer free to act)

HopefulTelephone posted 12/4/2019 13:35 PM

How strange to be arguing the semantics of agency.

Agency is a concept in psychology, sociology, and philosophy. As such, it doesn't have one single end all be all definition.

Agency in philosophy is pretty strictly defined as an actors ability to to take an action. All social and moral considerations fall into different categories.

On the other hand, sociology concerns itself not only with agency on an individual level, but also how social structures limit agency. Social structure and agency are often at odds with one another. This can include things like convincing your rep to support a piece of legislation, calling in sick to work, or even talking with someone that has a bad habit of dominating the conversation. That includes manipulation and dishonesty as well.

This can also go into sense of ownership vs sense of agency. A betrayed spouse likely feels a strong sense of ownership to their marriage, but likely feels they lack a sense of agency because they were deprived of necessary information to make a practical evaluation of the situation they were committing to.

Which is to say, I don't think arguing the semantics of the word is very productive at all.

DIFM posted 12/4/2019 13:38 PM

If you want to say your ex manipulated you and lied to you to make a wrong choice, that is fine. But you still had "agency" - the free will to make that choice. No one put you in chains, put a gun to your head and said you must be (stay) married to this person.

You cannot exercise agency about a thing that you are not aware of.

Agency is the power to intervene or act on your own behalf. When your spouse is cheating on you, you can't choose or not choose to do anything because you have no knowledge that it exists. You cannot or would not exercise your agency because your WS has successfully and fraudulently kept you disconnected from that reality. There is a thing you would otherwise exercise agency over, but you can't because you are unaware it exists.

What you are saying is that just because you did not have every single piece of knowledge about your spouse, you were FORCED (aka, loss of agency) into marrying (or staying married to) them.

That is nothing like what I am saying. This is not about not knowing some bits and pieces of truth, it is about being fraudulently and purposefully unaware, leaving you unable to act. All ability to intervene on your own behalf to thwart the deception has been taken from you through the fraud. I'm not talking about after the fact and trickle truth, I am talking about as the fraud is taking place.

You have agency to invest in any stock you want. If tomorrow, said stock shoots up through the roof because of previously unknown (to the public) development, would you say you lost agency in picking investments? Of course, not.

But your argument is that if the stock went down because of a new discovery (aka, your WS is having an affair), you lost agency.

Not quite. To be analogous to my position, the company executives are knowingly manipulating and falsifying the company reports in order to make the company profits or growth appear to be what they are not....on purpose, with intent to cheat people you of your money. In this case, it is not a normal risk you took when you bought the stock because the reasonable assumption is that the company will not be engaging in fraudulent activity. Obviously, if you knew they were doing that, you would not have bought the stock. It is the fraud that takes away your ability to make choices you otherwise would have made.

How can you have the power of intervention or action taking over things that you are unaware of?


DIFM posted 12/4/2019 13:50 PM

However, you still have the agency to say yes or no.

But you cannot exercise agency - make free choices - over a thing that you are unaware exists. There is no agency without knowledge of a thing. There would be no need to say yes or no to something that does exist, but for which you have no idea it exists. That is not a philosophical or semantic position.

You can make no choice about thing that you do not know exists, further, you would have no need to.

Cheatee posted 12/4/2019 14:06 PM

The idea that a BS has compromised agency is very real.

Of course, unless we are physically coerced, we can make decisions for ourselves, but the WS has big leverage when the BS cares about keeping things together more than the WS. That need to balance multiple priorities means agency is more nuanced for the BS than the WS who puts everything but their own ego first.

WornDown posted 12/4/2019 14:19 PM

Which is to say, I don't think arguing the semantics of the word is very productive at all.

No, ignoring known and well-accepted definitions to make yourself feel better is what is not productive.

People play these games with meaning on here all the time - they change definitions to make themselves look more sympathetic as BS. As if any more sympathy is needed.

By your definition, since I don't know every fact about every decision I make, I have no agency. "If I had just known..."

I can try to get a project off the ground at work, but if someone is conspiring against my project - that I don't know about - I have no agency.

It's a cop out to play the victim - I lost agency because that person lied.


As to social structures, that is far different than being lied to. If the social structure is that women can't work outside of the home, then yes, they have lost agency (to work, be independent, etc). But just because their husband lied and said he was a millionaire and therefore she didn't have to work, and then she chooses not to work, isn't a loss of agency.

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