Hi all, nice to see this thread continues to be active. I'm not ignoring it but just was quite busy with some weekend activities with my oldest. Here are some thoughts/reactions in no particular order.....
1. About this thread overall. This is actually starting to remind me a bit of the "Adultery as Abuse" thread I launched last year: https://www.survivinginfidelity.com/topics/648928/adultery-as-abuse/
A lot of people seemed to find that discussion helpful, but there was a vocal minority who seemed upset by the analysis (there was even an extended and somewhat tiresome discussion about my word choice of "adultery"). I found that odd at the time, and still do. I and others strove to keep that discussion dispassionate and analytical. I think we mostly succeeded. That discussion took a bizarre turn when some folks showed up in the thread and started trying to talk betrayed women out of their authentic, lived experience that betrayal trauma was worse for them than rape. People actually argued with them that they were wrong, and I was rather appalled by that.
Then I realized that perhaps what was really happening is a "who moved my cheese?" moment. If you have an ossified way of viewing certain things and someone comes along to shake up your preconceptions, it can be an uncomfortable process. Actually I've had that happen here all the time. Two wonderful people I can point to who have successfully challenged my own thinking and helped me evolve are Brave Sir Robin and Hiking Out. I've argued with them a lot, but they've challenged some of my own notions and I've found myself thinking more deeply as a result. Not a comfortable process but a necessary one. Iron sharpens iron.
In any case, with that thread last year and apparently now with this thread, it may be that I had inadvertently stumbled on something that shepherds a paradigm shift for some. Adultery as abuse and trauma bonds have been pointed out before. But I've noticed over the past year since that original post, more SI'ers seem to refer to infidelity/adultery as a form of abuse. I find this a salutary awakening. It seems to me that something similar might be happening here. I can't say for sure. Lots of people seem to find it helpful, and a few vocal and articulate voices seem to find it some kind of threat. Sisoon has even said as much, that he's fearful people coming to SI will get the wrong impression being dazzled by my brilliant and persuasive writing, or something. Personally, I think I can be too wordy, but whatever. I find it dubious that my little ol' post about trauma bonds is going to upset the apple cart here. People that show up on SI are generally curious, seeking, intelligent and articulate. They can draw their own conclusions.
I'm reminded of Solzhenitsyn's exhortation to "live not by lies." If trauma bonds are real, and I think they are, then we should be open to discussing them. Moreover I think a strong case can be made that trauma bonds happen in pretty much every infidelity situation to some degree. That doesn't make me or you permanent victims. But it does throw some harsh light on the daily dynamics between a BS and WS -- even when a WS is trying to do everything they can to atone.
Take hysterical bonding, as an example. That's an example of a trauma bond. It meets the textbook definition. Why is asserting the commonality of trauma bonds so controversial here when we all know exactly how common hysterical bonding is?
I can think of very few infidelity situations I've read about here on SI where hysterical bonding has not happened (unless it was an exit affair, or a BS immediately separated from the WS). And as most of us have observed and experienced (me included) hysterical bonding can make things more difficult down the road once the good feelz wear off and toxic memories of the betrayal resurface (and this seems to almost happen to some degree to almost every betrayed spouse). Hysterical bonding is triggered by a betrayed spouse's need to feel wanted. It is driven, incidentally, by feelings taking precedence. I can think of very few examples in which I've read about hysterical bonding in which a betrayed spouse didn't feel terribly conflicted about it, essentially torn asunder by the passionate sex they were having with their unfaithful spouse at the same time as mind movies were popping up in their heads. Or how they felt afterwards, even in the warm glow of post-orgasmic brain highs. The commonality of hysterical bonding to me at least suggests trauma bonds are not imaginary in infidelity situations, but rather somewhat commonplace.
1a. Some here seem to think that analyzing and discussing these things somehow traps one in a victim mindset. As I've already said, I find this to be a form of superstitious and magical thinking, an attempt to whistle past the graveyard, if you will. I've likened this to characters in Harry Potter being fearful to name Voldemort. Naming and analyzing the very real things we're dealing with here is not going to invoke some dark magic permanently trapping us in victim status. It's not wrong and completely right to acknowledge that we were/are (if gaslighting is ongoing) victims. That's not the same as remaining a victim. In fact we had a similar discussion last year in the "Adultery as Abuse" thread. I hadn't yet put my finger on the Voldemort analogy back then, but now that I have, I think it's spot on.
2. As DevastatedDee points out, "Thumos can be analytical without it being an escape from anything personal about himself. It probably helps him heal to learn and think about infidelity this way. It has helped me to do the same. So no, this isn't a debate forum, but this exchanging of ideas and perspectives is actually a healing thing for a lot of people. Seeking to understand trauma isn't an escape from feeling it." This is exactly right, and I appreciate her putting it this way. That's exactly what I'm doing, and I've pointed that out several times.
3. Am I anti-R? No. I'm pro whatever will help a betrayed spouse survive an infidelity attack, the betrayal trauma and PTSD that results, and heal. We know from research that infidelity causes betrayal trauma, and that betrayal trauma causes more physical illness, even years later, than other kinds of trauma. So I want to see people overcome that. Full stop. I've been pretty open about being something of an R skeptic, meaning it seems to me on balance that deeply self-aware WS's who own it, achieve metanoia, and help a BS heal in an authentic reconciliation seem somewhat rare. Heck, those WS stand out glaringly here on SI.
But being more skeptical about the long-term prospects for reconciliation isn't the same as being against reconciliation. That isn't a distinction without a difference. They really are two different things. In fact, it's really just from my standpoint about looking for a higher standard for reconciliation than what I've seen.
I've made the point in the past, and most folks here on SI have agreed with me that many claims of "stronger, better" after reconciliation really amount to a level-set of a new marriage that provides a betrayed spouse with the very things they should have been getting from a wayward spouse in the first place. I have contended and continue to contend that most affairs happen inside of what most people would agree were good marriages. After D-Day they are not good marriages anymore, but before D-Day they probably were. 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. It's a dubious prospect that half of all marriages are bad marriages, so it's probably a safe bet a good portion of divorces are ending what were good marriages. A good portion of divorces (at least a third of all divorces) are also caused by infidelity. I think it's a safe bet that "bad marriages" are in the distinct minority of infidelity cases (Esther Perel, of all people, agrees with this and so do more and more in her field).
So does reconciliation achieve better new marriages than the majority of the good marriages in which infidelity happens? I don't know. It's a good question to ask, don't you all think?
All we really have to go on is anecdotal evidence, and research showing short term success with reconciliation attempts. From what I've seen, an authentic reconciliation in which a betrayed spouse feels they are in a better situation than before and with a truly remorseful spouse seems somewhat rare. Yes, I read the success stories in the Reconciliation forum. I say bravo for them. We also have more longitudinal analysis now suggesting that after the 5 year mark, many reconciliation attempts fail and the rates of successful reconciliation seem to recede. This seems to coincide with the 3-5 healing timeline by which a betrayed spouse begins to achieve some equilibrium. Could it be that a betrayed spouse has been trauma bonded to a WS during this time period, becomes more self aware around the 5 year mark, sheds the stupor of POLF and the like, and decides to move forward with a different life? Could be. We're still finding out.
I've also continually pointed to Desmond Tutu's profound writings about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and the sharp distinction he makes between authentic vs superficial reconciliation. Anyway, I'm not against reconciliation. I will say I'm finding out more and more for myself that reconciliation as it is generally defined means that in my own situation I have to consume a massive shit sandwich, and it may be that I'm just really not up to horking that thing down.
4. About this idea that I can't be angry on someone else's behalf. Well, sure I can. I can do whatever I want, within reason. Saying I'm angry on someone's behalf is just another way of expressing solidarity with them -- no different from a lot of BW's who express solidarity who say "I'm so angry for you" or "This makes me so angry" about another's situation. There's nothing wrong with it, everything right with it, and I find a WH trying to cast aspersions on it just silly. I don't see anyone calling anyone out when they say something like "I'm so angry about this for you." So why the sudden selective outrage when I say it? I think CT is a very articulate, intelligent lady. If she was offended by me being angry on her behalf, she probably would have said so.
5. About this editing thing. And? So? I edit ALL THE TIME, and I'll continue to do so. I tend to write out loud, I have the ability to crank out many words in a short period of time, and I am constantly refining my thoughts. If I don't like the way I've stated something because I find it inartful, well, sorry not sorry: I'm going to edit it. I find the obsession with this by some to be downright weird. It's like a game of gotcha in which you've caught me doing something I openly acknowledge doing that hurts no one and only brings clarity. So stuff it as far as this is concerned.
6. About emotions. I've got plenty. I'm not a robot. I've discussed my own feelings at length. If you need to read more about that, you can do so in these threads:
Thumos stated that he’s done this multiple times and there will be no more conversation about it. However, has Thumos’ conversations with his WW been as analytical snd theoretical as we see here? If yes, is it possible that his WW doesn’t really get what’s at stake. Does it sound too theoretical to her?
No, brother, the conversations have been long and painful and filled with emotion. Not analysis.
In this thread, however, I've mostly tried to stick with analysis because as DevastatedDee observed, I'm learning and hoping others can learn. Emotions and feelings have their place. So does analysis of one's own situation, as well as theories about infidelity and psychology that can be applied. Philosophy. Literature. Therapy. And so on. All of it. Any of it. If every discussion becomes focused on feelings, I feel it can drift apart, lose focus and can be less helpful. Talking about feelings is helpful, no doubt. So is being analytical. I think the odd tendency to try to force every single discussion to somehow be corralled only into a discussion about one's personal situation or one's interior life is not helpful. That's just my opinion.
Again, feelings are important. They are also not everything. Avoiding analysis only in favor of feelings leads to subjectivity, relativism, and probably some level of irrationality. That's why not long ago I posted a list of logical fallacies most WS's use at one time or another. I did this in order to help BS's penetrate through the white noise and wall of words their WS's throw at them. Feelings were not a part of that discussion, but it was vitally important and a lot of folks seemed to agree:
People got a lot from that thread. It was helpful.
Predictably along came some voices to try to steer the conversation into emotions and to try to derail folks sharing examples of logical fallacies. Weird, that. It's almost like some are trying to thought police and control people's conversations.
7. About my motives. My motives are out there for all to see. They are the same as everyone else here. I think anyone claiming to somehow have achieved a Zen-like state with this stuff is probably being inauthentic, like those people on Facebook who curate happy lives like a Potemkin village. I have not achieved Zen-like status, and I doubt I ever will. The betrayal trauma is tramautic. It is life-altering. It leaves lasting scars that hurt when you turn the wrong way, just like physical scars. So my motives are to find my way through this shit storm. That's it. I don't have an agenda. And I sure as shit am not rooting for continued or more misery for others. That's ridiculous. And that I actually do take offense to.
The CYA paragraph that followed was just that ... CYA.
That's JMO, but my perceptions tend to be pretty accurate.
Sisoon, these two statements jammed against one another are fairly jolting. For one thing, it wasn't CYA, it was important context to the "yes." You're just disregarding all of that, for what? To then assert you're always right? I'm wrong about a lot of things. I've seen you be wrong about a hell of a lot of things. You were flat wrong recently about the entire purpose and origin of the 180. If you really feel that your perceptions are always accurate, we probably are just talking past each other at this stage.
Thanks for bringing "trauma bonding" to the table, Thumos. It's real, IMO, and it's important that people have some awareness of it, also IMO.
You're welcome. I'm glad it's helpful. And in spite of the ad hominem we've seen, and always trying to turn these topical threads into odd debates and detours into subjective emotional discussions, I'm gratified that I was able to help folks.
[This message edited by Thumos at 8:51 PM, Tuesday, September 28th]