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Trauma Bonding

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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 1:30 AM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

I mean, yes and no. I judge Timothy McVeigh pretty much by the sum of his worst choices and actions. Just saying. Yes, I'm using an extreme example, but I'm using it to make a point. We could also say that the author of "Amazing Grace" could not be judged by the sum of his worst actions (he was a slaver) because he repented and undertook the complete process of metanoia, and the song is an outgrowth of that.

Ha, fair point. Agreed.

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

posts: 4643   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8688885
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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 1:41 AM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

You have edited your original post significantly.

Bigger, to be fair, I edit EVERYTHING significantly. I tend to post and then not be happy with what I've written almost immediately and then go back and tweak, and tweak. And tweak some more. "oh that's not a good way of putting that" "oh I thought of something else." It's a weakness, I guess, or maybe it isn't. It's really just me writing out loud. most of what I write is me writing out loud and puzzling things out.

"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."

BH: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

posts: 4390   ·   registered: Feb. 5th, 2019   ·   location: UNITED STATES
id 8688887
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ChamomileTea ( member #53574) posted at 2:13 AM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

There was NO WAY that I could have guessed what kind of damage this experience does, the immensity of it, how it triggers our innate fear of abandonment, how it breaks open all our old scars and amplifies the pain, how it makes us question everything from the meaning of love and commitment to our own existence and place in the universe.

But CT, doesn't the above statement undercut your own point later that "What we're talking about here is a couple of people fucking on the sly, and our response to that is... it's worse than death. That's outsized, don't you think?"

I don't think it undercuts my point.. I think it proves it. That reaction is nearly ubiquitous. Almost all of us have this "outsized", "BFD" reaction. But achieving that reaction is NOT the intended goal of the cheater. It's a byproduct. WS's cheat for their own reasons and it's NOT about us. And if you think about it, two idiots out fucking in the bushes shouldn't be enough to cause anyone an existential crisis, years of anguish, depression, and anxiety. It shouldn't be a "BFD" in comparison to the deaths of loved ones. I mean, seriously... death. Death is dead. Done. Over. The fact that we so often find intimate betrayal to be worse than death means it's about what's going on inside us, not what's happening with the perpetrator. And the healing for that is also going to be inside us, and not what's happening with the perpetrator.

Now for me personally, I'm one of those for whom this would have been a dealbreaker no matter what. My XWH could become a fantastic man that I'd be lucky to have and I'd not so much as glance in his direction. I hope he does become a wonderful caring human being, the guy I thought I had married (maybe I did, who knows?). I hope that he becomes that man and finds someone equally wonderful to love and spend his life with. The reason I have no interest in it is that what he did killed what we had and there's no getting that back no matter what. I'd never see him the same way. I'd never love him the same way.

There's no reason why people can't have a dealbreaker when it comes to infidelity. In fact, I APPLAUD your self-assurance, Dee. You knew what was right for you and you went for it. I think there are lots of people who would do well to learn from your example on that. The bottom line is that cheaters do deserve to get dumped when that's what we want. When we want something different though, when we want R... we're CHOOSING a situation in which we will need to find empathy for our WS. Without empathy, R cannot succeed. We don't get our cake and to eat it too. Infidelity as a dealbreaker can't coexist with R.

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Buck ( member #72012) posted at 4:32 AM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

Thumos, I think if we are waiting for a person to change, and that person is not willing to change, at some point we have to realize that we too are not willing to change. The trauma bond thing in my mind is being in love with the "what could have been" instead of the "what is". I think that's what kept me stuck for so long.

CT, your notion of intent is really odd. The cheater intends to not get caught having some fun at your expense, i.e. willfully fucking you over. Every single cheater knows what they are doing is wrong and that there will be consequences. They lie to avoid those consequences and to maintain control over the situation. Some, maybe most, get off on the pulling one over on you aspect. At some point they all decide the risk of losing you, or at a minimum, hurting you is worth the reward of the A. The other option is the cheater just doesn't give a fuck about the BS and they are a meal ticket\security blanket, or some sort of wife appliance that doles out meals, clean laundry, and sex. I also think most cheaters vilify the BS to ease their guilt or to sooth their conscience. It's better\easier\more fun to cheat on some POS that doesn't appreciate them, right? Also, I can't quite figure out your agenda. You seem to be selling R, yet you fail to realize that R, and I mean true R not a marriage of convenience R, by any measure is fucking rare. And how exactly do you find empathy for a husband that's willing to risk his marriage, reputation, his family's financial well being, the impact to his (your) children, his\your health, the family home, etc., just to see if he can still fuck other women? Really? You twist yourself up and have a existential crisis over that gem? Therapy, books, and thousands of posts to deal with the aftermath. Again, really? In the end, you do you boo. I hope you eventually convince yourself of what you're shilling too.

posts: 338   ·   registered: Nov. 4th, 2019   ·   location: Texas
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ChamomileTea ( member #53574) posted at 5:17 AM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

CT, your notion of intent is really odd.

Perhaps to you, since your intent actually was to cause pain and anguish to your WW. Oh, but I forget... we're still splitting hairs on that, huh? It's not cheating if you tell your spouse to her face that you'll be fucking other people from now on... or if you tell her after the fact that you've been seeing someone else for years while she thinks she's in R. rolleyes

posts: 4689   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016
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steadychevy ( member #42608) posted at 2:06 PM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

Thumos, I didn't know about trauma bonding until you started this thread. Perhaps it has been around here but didn't register with me. Things make more sense to me now that I've been exposed to the concept. Thank you for raising the topic.

You've been accused of stating only one side of what a BS can do and it's been labeled as creating a victim mentality. I strongly disagree with that. You, like I've done, have tried to help new BS's (JFO) not make the same mistakes you made or, in my case, the multitude of the ones I've made. In my view, those that have just found out need some keys or thoughts of how to make it to the next day and the day after and to get out of adultery.

At the same time you've indicated, like I have for years, that people need to take care of themselves, advised them that what they did or did not do didn't caused the adultery. I've discussed sunk costs in the past as you have.

I find the accusations off base.

There is a premise that the WS doesn't intend to abuse the BS. The premise is based on the thought that if the are never caught no harm is done. Ridiculous. Looking in the eye and lying is done with intent. Secrets harm. Secrets and intimacy are incompatible. Gaslighting is done with intent to harm. The WS intentionally uses these tactics to throw the BS off base, question their sanity, question their intellect in order to keep doing what they are doing.

I think most adults are aware of STDs or STIs (I don't know the difference between them and don't care). How many WSs had unprotected sex? Condoms are such a pain and mood destroyer especially if you don't have much time. A conscious decision is made to take the risk that their cheating partner isn't carrying. It's Russian roulette with their spouses health. The argument could be that they didn't do that with intent. Carelessness or thoughtlessness doesn't negate intent the same way a lie by omission is still a lie.

In my XWW's case with an LTA she didn't know how many other women he was screwing while screwing her (but he wouldn't do that, would he whose wife left him after my XWW and he started "dating" because she caught him screwing a different woman because that was before they started "dating"). I think most cheaters wouldn't like to be cheated on but they do it anyway.

BH(me)70; XWW 64; M 42 yrs
DDay1-01/09/13;DDay2-26/10/13;DDay3-19/12/13;DDay4-21/01/14
LTA-09/02-06/06? OM - COW
"dates" w/3 lovers post engagement;ONS w/stranger post commitment, lies, lies, lies
Separated 23/09/2017; D 16/03/2020

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GrayShades ( member #59967) posted at 3:57 PM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

Once again, I haven't read all of the responses in depth so take this with a grain of salt. I do think that Thumos' first post was very prescriptive -- those of us who don't immediately kick our WS out experience trauma bonding, and our needs and impulses in the aftermath of Dday are thus not to be trusted; separation is the way to break that inevitable response to allow for a healther resolution. I think the concept of trauma bonding can be useful for many, but there was a tone in some of the dialogue that resulted that those who thought themselves in R were simply deluded by trauma bonding. In my view, however, the task for those of us pursuing R is quite different from those who are not or who are unsure, and it DOES require that we find empathy for someone who has hurt us terribly. That's a difficult hill to climb, believe me. For me, an abuse paradigm is not the best lens through which to view things after Dday (though an abuse perspective can be useful for parsing what happened during the A), so the question of intent is moot. Instead, our WS' actions after Dday are the key. Do they continue to hurt us, or do they begin the hard work that they need to do by definition to be the kind of person who doesn't cheat, lie, act selfishly, etc.? I have no problem with anyone who chooses divorce, and I've been on the brink of that many times over the past 4+ years. Who knows where I'll end up in the future? But there are those of us who are R or working towards it, even in the face of repeated Ddays, for example (though I don't understand that degree of forbearance, but I digress), who are working towards a more balanced and mature version of ourselves so that we have some resilience no matter where our path leads us. And the same can be said of those pursuing D.

The path to a healthier existence for most of us as betrayed, irrespective of R or D, requires learning to have faith in ourselves and our ability to survive and thrive no matter what happens to our marriage -- letting go of the outcome. The path to get there is not so clear cut, though separation may very well be a part of it. If R is on the table with a remorseful WS and a willing BS, however, separation is likely to further erode the relationship rather than lead to healthy R if we can believe the research (though I take it with a grain of salt since there are methodological issues with what I've looked at). We can't just view any of this atomistically; an entire family unit is at play.

Edited because I can never post without typos or mangled verbiage.

[This message edited by GrayShades at 4:00 PM, Friday, September 17th]

Me: 50 on Dday
WH: Turned 48 the day before Dday
Dday: 05/16/17
One teenage son

posts: 239   ·   registered: Aug. 2nd, 2017   ·   location: CO
id 8689013
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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 4:47 PM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

I think the concept of trauma bonding can be useful for many, but there was a tone in some of the dialogue that resulted that those who thought themselves in R were simply deluded by trauma bonding.

This is a fair point and I myself could have phrased things better. I was trying to be short and to the point, but in doing so I probably lended to that dynamic.

[This message edited by Thumos at 4:48 PM, Friday, September 17th]

"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."

BH: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

posts: 4390   ·   registered: Feb. 5th, 2019   ·   location: UNITED STATES
id 8689039
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HardKnocks ( member #70957) posted at 5:38 PM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

Thumos, I think the post you made recently to someone in JFO strikes just the right tone; asking the poster to "consider" the concepts or recommendations and avoiding prescribing, over-generalizing, judging or shaming.

I think that's what we aim to do when we attempt to support the folks who come here looking for answers. Providing opportunities for healing, letting the members decide what is applicable and what is not.

Cheers!

BW 30-year marriage.
DDay2 2/20 5 month EA/PA
Recovering

posts: 335   ·   registered: Jul. 7th, 2019
id 8689053
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GrayShades ( member #59967) posted at 5:56 PM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

More reflection after my last post. I guess part of my reaction is because so much of the prevailing narrative out in the ether is the only solution is to dump his/her/their ass. I'm not opposed to that option, I just dislike how the other option, R, is often derided. I'm a child of divorce and my father was a narcissistic serial philanderer. My mom did the absolute right thing by ending things with him. He went on to marry my stepmom (one of his APs). This second marriage lasted 40 years, the rest of both of their lives, so they were an exception though it's debatable that their marriage was a healthy one. Regardless, my mom did exactly the right thing, yet the consequences of my parent's divorce have been lifelong for me, my siblings, and my stepsiblings, which undoubtedly influenced my own calculus.

I don't think all cheaters are the same. My own WH is no narcissist, though he can be (and certainly was in his A) extraordinarily selfish. Regardless, I was crushed when I discovered his A. It was with a 'friend' at a time when I really wanted and needed friends as well, a double-betrayal when I was already at my very lowest. I lost both my mom and my stepmom (who I was as close to as my parents) in the 3 years before Dday, and I had just told my father goodbye on my last visit to see him about 48 hours before I found condoms in our trash. My H had taken advantage of my absence to host our friend in our bed instead of sprining for an Airbnb. barf

As someone who has always struggled with low self-esteem, I was at my absolute nadir on Dday. My WH did a lot wrong at the beginning, trying to protect himself from his shame rather than focusing on the transparency, honesty and comfort that I needed. In the first 24 hours, he was more worried about the POSOW than my distress. At that time, I definitely could have established an unhealthy recommitment to him. I was traumatized, already at the end of my rope after several hard years that also included working full-time, raising a kid, and flying across the country every few weeks to spell my siblings in caring for my funny but selfish and difficult father as he was dying. I was a mess. I had an epiphany, though, on a solo drive to the grocery store a few days after Dday, to approach things differently. It was the only way I survived those first few days. This was so terrible and unfair that I KNEW I had no blame in the A. Sure, I was aging, gaining weight, and was sometimes hard to be around, but all of that was completely understandable given what I was going through. I also knew that I was a generous lover and loyal spouse, a loving parent and hardworking partner, and that my WH was damn lucky to have me. If he couldn't recognize that and respond accordingly, he was a damned fool. I wasn't going to stand for anything less than being treated with the integrity and respect I knew I deserved. I didn't find SI for a few more months, but I realized I had stumbled onto something right. My H got his head out of his ass within a day or two and, though it's been a huge struggle (still is), I am now someone who has far less room in my head for taking on other people's bullshit. Regardless of what happens down the road, I now know my strength, and it is mighty. I'm not perfect -- I still struggle with self-doubt, etc. -- but at the end of my endless ruminations and self-reflections, I now know that I'm someone who deserves to be valued and treated accordingly.

The impulse for trauma bonding didn't get me to this place, just the opposite -- when I felt that desperation, I felt powerless and vulnerable. My son's begging us to work it out didn't get me here either, though it did help push my willingness to R (remember, I'm a child of divorce where it WAS clearly the right choice, but I had no illusions about what it would mean for my son, no matter how justified). It is only from the position of strength that I found within, that I didn't even know was there, that R has been possible. It's a damn hard row to hoe, and D would have been personally much easier. Staying means being triggered for years, maybe forever. I'll never, ever again be that romantic fool that I was, and I miss that more than I can admit. I will never fully trust my WH again, no matter how much we've rebuilt since Dday. At the same time, I do truly love my husband. He's a good person in many ways and a great fit for me in terms of shared values and interests other than those that led him to be unfaithful, obviously. I was briefly married previously decades ago and I did not behave well, nor did my X, so maybe I'm more willing to accept that growth and change are possible in a person; I certainly know the experience of getting onto that slippery slope even in my current marriage though I've been completely faithful in it. This has allowed me to have some empathy while also being resolute in not allowing for any excuses or backtracking, I think. I KNOW things now that I didn't realize before, about myself, about my husband, and about enduring marriages. I don't post often and I rarely offer advice when I do. Maybe I'm a unicorn, though I suspect a lot more of us are out there but don't engage with SI anymore. It's gotten a lot more cynical, perhaps rightly so, than when I joined. Maybe I shouldn't push back since so many do accept BS for too long in the hopes of R. But this is where I'm coming from, and I think that newfound strength and self-worth for me is worthwhile for any of us here, whether ending in R or D.

Always edited for typos. Always.

[This message edited by GrayShades at 6:00 PM, Friday, September 17th]

Me: 50 on Dday
WH: Turned 48 the day before Dday
Dday: 05/16/17
One teenage son

posts: 239   ·   registered: Aug. 2nd, 2017   ·   location: CO
id 8689056
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elKAPPYtan ( member #72085) posted at 11:06 PM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

Oh. The price I had to pay because I don't understand human psychology. Stuck. Scared. Broken AF

You know it would be cool if they taught this sort of thing in school. Not like a general psychology class, but real things. It doesn't help to be a touch autistic and not understand human connection, like a normal person does. She also ran off all my friends over the years, try making new ones being socially awkward at 36.

She is all I have. Thankfully I'm growing to the idea of spending the rest of my life alone. At least I can do what I want, when I want and answer to no one. Suspect no one.

[This message edited by elKAPPYtan at 11:43 PM, Friday, September 17th]

Me: 36 STBXWW: 36 DDay: Oct 3rd 2019

"You keep it in between the pages of the books you burn so no one gets to read" -Corey MF Taylor

posts: 160   ·   registered: Nov. 14th, 2019   ·   location: MI
id 8689100
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99problems ( member #59373) posted at 3:10 AM on Saturday, September 18th, 2021

I feel heard in this thread.

I consider myself,now, to have trauma bonded with my ex-WW. That is why i tried to R even though the multiple A's were always a deal-breaker for me.

It was always going to fail, even if she had done the "right things".

I still believe that people can R. I wanted that to be me so badly.

I am so happy that I am divorced, however. I never even took the first baby-step toward healing until I filed for D. Everything before that, the tear-filled overnight confessions, the marriage counseling, the letters to each other, were just a prolonging of my own personal hell.

I am relieved to be past all that.

Got me a new forum name!<BR />Formerly Idiotmcstupid.<BR />I am divorced, so not as much of an idiot now- 4/15/21,

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Womaninpain ( new member #79173) posted at 12:50 PM on Monday, September 20th, 2021

I’ve come to the conclusion that people are misunderstanding because they want to misunderstand.

If that misunderstanding offends your decision to R then that doesn’t mean that the initial post did not make sense. It did.

It’s very simple. Trauma bonding can and does occur, when the WS attempts to bond with their BS knowing FULL well that they are continuing their abuse.

Trauma bonding does NOT require previous abuse before the betrayal or DDay. That’s like saying it’s not abusive for a husband to hit his wife, until he does it more than once because then there would be a pattern. Abuse does not require a pattern so neither does trauma bonding.

Cheating IS abusive. The lies, manipulation, and deliberate risk to sexual health is abusive. How is it not abusive to make it necessary for your spouse to get tested for STDs. What do we tell new BS’? Don’t believe your WS, even if he tells you they didn’t have sex and you don’t need an STD test. Don’t trust them with intimate images of you. Why? Because this is NOT a safe person. They are ABUSERS and they do not CARE for your mental or physical health.

So when they lie and tell you it’s over and we all tell new BS that’s a lie. It’s because they are trying to placate the BS so they can continue the abuse. They are trying to create trauma bonds. They can even manipulate the BS into changing, making them think THAT will stop the abuse.

They give the BS a false sense of SECURITY. They want the BS to believe the abuse is over and that the cheating will result in a positive change to the marriage - that it will make them CLOSER. So what do they do?

They BOND. They placate you with gifts and lovebombing, attentiveness. And it works too.

Sometimes the BS never even finds out. Until maybe they get STD symptoms - but the that’s not abusive right? And we shouldn’t look at it that way right? If we want to R. Because you know, we have to suspend belief in order to forgive someone. It’s not like we can acknowledge the abuse and call it what it is.

That IS abuse and it IS trauma bonding. If it’s hurtful to think of it that way then, sorry. But the vast majority of WS do the same things. We all know that. They also think the same on DDay and the goal is set preservation.

So let’s stop pretending that it’s far-fetched to believe that they would deliberately create trauma bonds. And while we’re at it, let’s not pretend that it’s so much better that they might not know the terminology to call it a trauma bond, because they still working towards the same goal with the same cruelty. To make the BS feel like they have/will stop the abuse. But they continue as soon as they can. All the while make the BS feel bonded to them.

I’ve even seen it on the cheating subreddit- on an advice post for what to do when you’re caught. Advice includes refusing to leave the house and trying to sleep in the same bed as the BS, because, and I quote "because even touching toes is bonding."

They know exactly what they’re doing. The sooner we acknowledge that, the better.

This is not a comment on R and the value of it. It’s about acknowledging reality. The reality is that WS are not good people when they cheat, UNTIL they stop and stop the abuse. And it’s up to the BS the decide if they want to wait to see if that will happens and if that’s enough for them. But that doesn’t mean it’s not abusive or trauma bonding.

Nor does it mean that a BS ONLY wants to R because of said trauma bond. That’s not even relevant to the trauma bonding. It’s possible that a WS would be remorseful and not attempt to further abuse their BS. But you don’t advise new BS to give their the WS the benefit of the doubt when they say the same old lies. Because we have to be sensible and say that MOST WS lie. Well most attempt to create trauma bonds so we’ll have to excuse the generalisation here as well.

And RE whoever posted about betrayal being worse than death being about the BS and not the perpetrator. Well the perpetrator has abused them so they’re entitled to feel how they feel about said abuse and it’s not some kind of character deficiency to feel worse about being deliberately abused than it is for someone to die- which is natural. Really not hard to understand why someone would feel that way. And yes, it does say something about the perpetrator- it says that they’re a bad person who needs to stop abusing the person they claim to love, so much that that person would feel less pain mourning them than they would suffering from their abuse.

And it’s offensive that abuse keeps getting downplayed because some BS think it makes them sound like victims. By definition of the word, those that suffer from abuse are victims. Sorry if you don’t like that fact, but I’m not trying to suggest that BS are powerless or can’t overcome the pain of the abuse. But abuse is abuse. And the word for the victims of that is ‘victim.’ We don’t tell the victims of crime not to use that word because it will keep them stuck in a victim mentality.

And we don’t need to crime analogy to point out that victim is the correct use of the word for abuse but let’s use this example.
If the WS had given their BS HIV while knowing they had it, that would be a crime. Well, the WS knows that HIV is always a risk so they’re still risking their partner’s health. Did they ask their wife/husband if they don’t mind getting HIV? No. What about other STDs?

The law doesn’t recognise this as a crime but it’s not that far from the one instance where it is. And it’s not far from abuse. Where is the consent to catching STDs? It’s immoral. Actually it is a crime in some places. As it should be.

What kind of spouse that ‘did a bad thing but isn’t a bad person’ let’s the person they love get an STD? An abusive one.

And while their spouse is going for STD tests do Ws always stop sleeping with the OW/OM and then sleeping with their BS? Nope. Cause that would stop their fun AND because they’re trying to maintain that trauma bond. They’re enjoying the extra sex from their freshly traumatised BS, they love that it’s creating a trauma bond. They will keep cheating. And they don’t care. Because they’re abusive.

WS who stop doing that (AFTER being caught of course, not because it’s a cruel thing to do) and become the best spouses ever still did that. No perfect behaviour will change that they did that.

No amount of wonderful R stories changes that they attempt to trauma bond or that cheating is abusive so the potential for said wonderful R doesn’t change the fact that divorce/separation from an abuser is a perfectly valid decision.

I’ve never seen a domestic abuse victim being told it’s valid to stay with their spouse but when the abuse is infidelity, suddenly we’re all supposed to be very accepting of giving an abuser another chance. Giving your spouse an STD is not better than hitting them. Abuse is abuse.

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id 8689342
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 1:38 PM on Monday, September 20th, 2021

My lord, Womaninpain. Every word is spot on. You said it better than I did.

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

posts: 4643   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8689347
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sisoon ( Guide #31240) posted at 5:45 PM on Monday, September 20th, 2021

** Posting as a member, by which I mean I'd post the same thing if I were not a guide. Also, below I state my personal opinions, and other guides and mods may very well disagree. **

I’ve come to the conclusion that people are misunderstanding because they want to misunderstand.

It's more likely that people misunderstand things that challenge their most deeply ingrained beliefs or trigger hidden pain.

If that misunderstanding offends your decision to R then that doesn’t mean that the initial post did not make sense. It did.

The initial post was edited significantly. At first, if you analyzed the sentences, it very easily could be read to say that R was pretty much always a result of trauma bonding. That proposition is simply not true.

Being offended by someone thrashing around in pain is par for the course on SI. But newbies read these threads, and I considered the proposition to be both wrong and misleading, so I confronted it, as did others.

And it’s offensive that abuse keeps getting downplayed because some BS think it makes them sound like victims.

That's a misreading.

Let me be clear: Some people focus on the abuse, not on getting out of the abuse, not on the feelings that come with being abuse, not on something that will heal them. That's taking on the Victim role in a Drama Triangle.

Sure, that's probably a phase the vast majority of BSes go through, but focusing on the abuse keeps one in the abuse.

Games People Play is in the public domain. You can find a no-charge downloadable PDF all over the web. I suggest you download it. In fact, it may be enough just to search the web on 'ain't it awful eric berne' (no quotes) - but reading the whole book will give you a better sense of what Berne learned from his clients.

I’ve never seen a domestic abuse victim being told it’s valid to stay with their spouse but when the abuse is infidelity, suddenly we’re all supposed to be very accepting of giving an abuser another chance.

Well, yes, ideally all members will accept another member's decision to R. I think we are here primarily to get support for our own path to surviving and thriving and secondarily to support others in finding their own path to surviving and thriving, whether their way is like ours or not. Someone who states they’ve chosen R should get support.

You generalize about WSes in ways that simply do not apply to a large number of WSes. You probably imply generalizations about BSes that do not apply to all BSes. (Note that I wrote ‘a large number’. I have no idea of the proportion of WSes your generalizations do not apply to, but remember that even a small percentage of a large number is also a large number.)

If you mean that people here tell others to R whether they want to or not, show us the posts.

If you mean that people here tell others that they have to give WSes the benefit of any doubt, show us the posts.

Womaninpain, I understand that you're in pain, by your posts and by the name you chose. You haven't posted about yourself, so there's really no way for me to post something supportive.

But I think there's a good chance you're misreading SI. When you're ready, post your story. See what support you receive. I think you may be pleasantly surprised. I know I was, and I know others have been, too, because they've said so.

*****

It's true that most people counsel an abuse victim to get away from the abuser.

What I don't understand is BSes who complain about abuse and don't get away from their WSes. Virtually every one here sees D as a valid outcome of betrayal. A WS can lose their M just because of cheating, no matter what else may be going on that militates for R. (I'm not sure of that construction; I hope my meaning is clear.)

If a BS posts something like, 'My WS abused me by cheating, so I'm dumping them,' I'll nod my head and think, 'That makes good sense. I'm glad that BS reached a conclusion.'

But that's not what we read from the OP and some others. We read, 'Infidelity is abuse,' and the implication has to be that all BSes should leave their WSes.

Again, I think adopting the Victim role in a Drama Triangle is just about unavoidable for BSes - but BSes don't have to stay in that role.

I'm good with 'I was abused and left.' I'm not good with, 'I was abused. You're being abused. And I'll imply that you should leave, even though I haven't.'

For many of us, the WS's behavior after d-day is no longer clearly abusive. Advice to those folks to leave immediately is not appropriate.

*****

Perhaps part of my thinking is this.

1) We have a LOT to say to each other to share our experience - thoughts that went through our heads, feelings, what worked for us, what didn't work for us. Our experiences are valid, and it's almost always going to help the poster and some readers to share one’s experiences.

2) Advice probably says more about the adviser than the person to whom the advice is given.

3) Advice about how to solve a problem can be very useful.

4) Advice to choose one outcome or another is probably marginally appropriate at best.

- Hell, even when my son was going through some infidelity I didn't think I could tell him whether to D or to R.
- I know my W better than I know any other human being, and I didn't know if she'd stay the course for R.
- I know myself better than any other human being, and it took me 3 months to decide I'd start R.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 26272   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8689380
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crazyblindsided ( member #35215) posted at 7:44 PM on Monday, September 20th, 2021

What I don't understand is BSes who complain about abuse and don't get away from their WSes.

That is because of the Trauma Bond.

fBS/fWS(me):48 Mad-hattered after DD1
XWS:51 Serial Cheater, NPD tendencies
Together 25 years, Married 19
DD(18) DS(15)
DD1 (2008) COW, DD2 (2012) MOW, False R (2014) Same MOW. DD3 (2019) Webcam girl

posts: 8080   ·   registered: Apr. 2nd, 2012   ·   location: California
id 8689400
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leafields ( member #63517) posted at 8:43 PM on Monday, September 20th, 2021

Dr.Ramani has a short YouTube video on trauma bond versus codependence, and how they may seem very similar.

Lea
Me: BW
Married 34 years, 3 DS
DDay #1: March 26, 2018, DDay #2 8/26/2019
Filed for D: 11/16/2020
D Final: 2/25/2021

posts: 705   ·   registered: Apr. 21st, 2018   ·   location: Washington State
id 8689408
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sisoon ( Guide #31240) posted at 8:50 PM on Monday, September 20th, 2021

Thanks, cbs. I can understand that being true in some cases. I forgot that being in the middle of something sometimes makes it impossible to deal with anything more than the urgent problem that is right in front of one's face.

As one of my questions above implied, I think this thread would have been much different if it had started with something like, 'I've been thinking about the concept of trauma-bonding. I wonder if that's what keeping me here. Thoughts? Feedback?'

Also, I suggest that some people complain without taking action because


- they've been beaten down by their WS
- they don't realize it's a problem
- they don't think the problem can be fixed
- they don't think they have the resources/strength to solve their specific problem
- they're paralyzed by fear
- they like the payoff they get from doing so
- etc., etc. etc.

My heart goes out to fellow BSes who are stuck. I wish I or someone else here could say something to stuck SIers that they can use to get unstuck.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 26272   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8689410
default

DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 9:37 PM on Monday, September 20th, 2021

But that's not what we read from the OP and some others. We read, 'Infidelity is abuse,' and the implication has to be that all BSes should leave their WSes.

In a way, yes. All WSs have earned the consequence of divorce. Not one BS would be in the wrong for divorcing. That is why offering to reconcile with a WS is such a big deal. That's why it is a gift so sacred. No WS deserves R. It is a huge deal for a BS to go through what it takes to R. I am sometimes in awe of those who do. I often sound like I'm anti-R, but I'm not. I'm anti-any idea that R is a default position because it's such a big deal for a BS to do it. I suspect that divorce is usually the easier way out emotionally. Given time and space, you will fall out of love with the WS. You will be able to reboot and not go through what it takes to R, which is not the same as what it takes to heal. Divorce isn't easy and starting over is a massive pain, but I do think it helps speed the healing process. You hear less judgmental bullshit from other people than those who R do. You get a whole new world of possibilities if you take the time to heal. I've been on the sidelines of people reconciling and it is no walk in the park. Makes my divorce look like child's play.

I realize that not everyone is able to do what I did and leave, buy my own home, and support myself and my children. It was an easier decision for me in a lot of ways. I don't make a ton of money, but I do make enough that I wasn't going to find myself on the streets if I left. My XWH fell apart and wasn't R material, but as I wasn't either that really didn't impact my ultimate decision that much. Mostly affected the timing. It wasn't ever going to be in the cards because of who I am as much as because of who he is, and by no means am I suggesting that I'm superior to those who can R. Quite the opposite. I'm a lot more selfish and less forgiving than many of you. Maybe I have an outsized ego that couldn't take the hit to my pride. Whatever it is that allows a BS to R is lacking in me. I admire those of you who can be so compassionate and big-hearted. I ache reading about a WS who cannot appreciate the BS who wants to offer R. It's awful to read where a WS is taking his BS for granted. As a divorced person looking in from the outside, those of you who can R absolutely blow me away. Minimizing the abusive nature of infidelity detracts from how serious a gift it is to offer reconciliation as even a possibility. Infidelity really is that bad and really does cause this much damage. There really are trauma bonds, there really is lying and gaslighting and abuse in it. A WS is really not your trusted friend on DDay. A new BS really does need to know these things for their own sake.

Yes, I'm sure there are some WSs who have somehow already turned themselves around by the time DDay hits and are completely honest and open and don't employ any gaslighting, minimizing, lying, etc. Most of those BSs must not find their way here because you don't see that very often. I am a MH and I was completely honest and open about what I did, but I was confessing a singular sexual encounter to a prolific serial cheater and I would have to have had quite the day to top him, so I don't even count in those statistics. Like confessing that you stole a pack of chewing gum to Bernie Madoff. Perhaps I'm minimizing now, how about that? And you know what? Had I been wanting R and he decided to divorce me over what I did on DDay, he would have been well within his rights to do so.

There's nothing wrong whatsoever with wanting R. Period. It just shouldn't ever be taken for granted or taken lightly by either party. A BS should know and understand how huge that gift is. That's coming at R from a position of power and a BS can use all the power they can get after such a hard hit.

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

posts: 4643   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8689420
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forgettableDad ( member #72192) posted at 9:46 PM on Monday, September 20th, 2021

Given time and space, you will fall out of love with the WS. You will be able to reboot and not go through what it takes to R, which is not the same as what it takes to heal. Divorce isn't easy and starting over is a massive pain, but I do think it helps speed the healing process. You hear less judgmental bullshit from other people than those who R do. You get a whole new world of possibilities if you take the time to heal.

Sorry, bit of a threadjack - and feel free not to answer - but I find this really interesting. How come your entire post is properly owned (ie. using your own voice with "I") except this statement?

As far as trauma bonding goes, to keep on the thread, like any medical term, I'd be wary of diagnosing myself over an anonymous internet forum. That's what IC is for.

posts: 275   ·   registered: Dec. 1st, 2019
id 8689423
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