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Discussion Starter #1
After my husband's EA last year, one of the things we worked on in counselling was boundaries. His EA was a series of small steps over the line, a little at a time. He had very poor boundaries.

We discussed this a lot with our counsellor, who was very good. We discussed our boundaries. I was very specific and clear and my husband said he agreed with the boundaries I outlined for himself also.

A lot of the work on trust was hinged on him telling me he understood more about what happened and HOW it happened because of counselling and the talk on boundaries, and that now he knew and understood, he was using his personal boundaries and being more aware not just of what he was and wasn't doing but the perception of how he acted and how that can be interpreted by others.

He's really pushed this home to me. FWIW I do trust him and genuinely believed he was on board with being in check with his behaviour because he was so earnest about it.

Sooooo...

We were talking earlier. He's recently started a new job which he really enjoys. It's quite a close knit, small company he works for and we were talking about it.

He got a bit weird and uncomfortable, then told me he'd given the woman he works with a lift home the other day. Said he was being helpful as she had some heavy stuff she was going to store at work until she could get it home.

Hubz is one of those guys who likes to help people out so he offered her a lift home. He said he didn't think anything of it at the time, but today had been thinking about it and realised that if I inadvertently found out about it, it could look REALLY dodgy, so was telling me.

Now, I do appreciate he shared this. He is good at being open about potential problem areas.

However. We talked about it and it is clear that he doesn't "get it" about boundaries like I thought he did.

As many WSs do in the thick of things, during his EA, he was all about them "being friends." That he was just being friendly. He had NO perception at the time that his behaviour was way inappropriate, and also had never considered employing boundaries.

He is running with this same train of thought again. He is not thinking how his actions may look BEFORE he carries them out, but after. He genuinely paid no mind to the fact one of the boundaries we have specifically discussed is not being alone with the opposite sex.

He said that counselling was a year ago now, and time has passed and things have faded and changed. He just didn't think about it. As far as he was concerned, he was being helpful. He was upset that I didn't consider the reasons behind his actions and he says he is permanently anxious having to police his actions and interactions with other females to make sure he doesn't do or say anything he shouldn't.

I am really surprised and disappointed at him. He says all the right things but this has shown me that in fact, policing his actions is NOT at the forefront of his mind. He is not in fact thinking about it all the time or remembering something as important as a very pertinent boundary like he says he has been. And he is clearly resentful - it oozes out when he speaks about having to police himself.

I asked him how he would like things to be different. He said he would like it if it had never happened. He speaks a lot about feeling bad but his talk is centred around HIM and how bad he feels about himself. He does not really relate any guilt to how I feel or have felt and when he tells me instances like above.

I feel really distant at the moment. I am worried the rest of our marriage will consist of these blips, of a smaller or larger degree, with him saying how he "didn't think" beforehand or he "didn't mean anything by it." I don't know what to do about the fact he's violated a boundary of mine, which btw he made it clear he thought was over the top anyway.

Any advice on what I do now?
 

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I'm very curious to read the responses to this thread because I've very much been in the same situation. In the beginning, right after D-Day, we put a lot of rules in place (such as NC). We had to have the rules because my husband was in the fog and he couldn't really see things correctly to make his own decisions.

As we progressed through counseling, however, our marriage counselor cautioned against me laying out rules. Her basic argument was that my husband had to figure out how to address issues without me telling him or laying out a list. If I just gave him a list, how could he truly learn the underlying issues? And if I always told him what to do, how could I trust him to do what was right on his own?

I think of it like when I trained as an EMT. They taught us what to do if someone had a cut that was bleeding (apply pressure, raise above the head) but there was one girl who kept asking: what if the cut is on their arm? Their shoulder? Their wrist? Their leg? Their foot? She couldn't take a general principal and apply it -- she needed the very specific rules. Which at the end of the day meant if she was confronted with a novel situation, she didn't have the skill to figure out the best approach. If the behaviour wasn't on the list, she didn't know what to do.

I'm not saying there's not a place for rules -- rules are important *especially* in the aftermath of an EA. But I also think there's a place for principals as well -- when it's not the rules that are the driving force, but the underlying reason for them. When you transition from rules to principals, I have no idea.

It sounds to me you're in a position where the principal is how to establish and maintain boundaries. I completely understand your anger/concern that your husband broke a rule you'd established and I also think that if he didn't feel the rule was fair he shouldn't have agreed to it. I also think it's good that he told you about it afterward -- it's frustrating he didn't think about it beforehand, but it's good that he's aware of his actions.

Honestly, my advice would probably to go to counseling. Not that you're in the same place you were before, but I've found it useful when my husband and I "check in" with our counselor every few months. It helps us make sure we're still on track, lets address anything that's come up, and deal with transitioning from the "crisis mode" of post D-day to the "healthy marriage" mode. You and your husband have a differing opinion on which rules are okay going forward and which aren't -- it would probably be useful to have a counselor help y'all through that determination. Also, if he doesn't get it about boundaries, the counseling should help with that.
 

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I will be clear - the "not spending time with the opposite sex alone" thing was stated as a boundary rather than a "rule."

That is, I stated that a boundary of mine was that I could not tolerate him spending time alone with another woman. So rather that it is something for me. Knowing my limits. It just so happened that I went first in outlining boundaries, then he agreed with the ones I stated for himself. The understanding there was that we then both were aware of each other's boundaries and so he has been working with these in mind but also his OWN moral structure if you like, his own ideas of what is and isn't acceptable for him to be doing/saying.

I think the trouble is that he has gone completely strict with himself and mentally given himself no leeway. From what he has said, he is having difficulty when he converses with any woman, which is through work, to know what he can and cannot say or do. It appears he thinks he shouldn't be having any contact with other women, but because he HAS to for work, he is floundering with knowing how to interact.

I will also clarify that I have not nagged or hounded him. Quite the opposite; he was so insistent that he'd learned from the counselling and the discussion of boundaries that I really felt he'd taken it on board and didn't need to worry about it. In retrospect I think this was his self-image talking; he was so disappointed in himself for how he acted that he desperately wanted me to believe he was the guy he was BEFORE this all happened.
 

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Well, things are really weird, last night and this morning.

He is very quiet. I know from what he's said and how he's acting that he is worried I am going to say enough is enough and I can't live like this.

I have been pretty quiet too. We talked a lot yesterday about things and now I'm reflecting. I'm weighing up the situation. there were instances not too long after his EA happened where he completely violated my boundaries with no regard for my feelings. We got past that (IMO I was really lax about enforcing those boundaries but we got through it) but I'm not sure what I want to do now he's violated this boundary. It is a really important one to me because in his EA, the woman engineered a situation whereby they could be alone and they ended up kissing. Then, at no point did he think what was happening was inappropriate until she went in for the kiss.

I am sure he has learned BUT I'm not sure what he has learned. It's not like he didn't know this boundary of mine. I mean, this is a woman he works with, as it was before. You'd think he'd be super alert. But he says all that boundary stuff was discussed last year and it has faded.

I can see he thought about it and in hindsight realised it was not good... But. He needs to be realising this BEFORE! It's been a year and a half now FGS. He's not stupid.
 

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Have you been really, really, explicit in telling him that your boundary about this is not something that is "just for now" or "just for a while" but rather will continue to exist for you - and therefore for him, within his marriage to you -forever?

I ask because my husband really seemed a bit startled to discover that "no opposite sex friendships" was something I needed forever, rather just until I "got over" his EA. Some part of him had it in mind that the boundaries I needed were temporary until things got back to normal. He expected that all these "rules" would eventually go away after he'd been good for a while. :rolleyes:
 

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What you're seeing is that there are 2 types of boundary pushers.

There are "one time" boundary pushers, and there are people who are drawn, compulsively, to boundary pushing.

Now some people (like chumplady--and I don't mean to speak for her, so if she reads this, forgive me if I misspeak), believe that really ALL cheaters are compulsive boundary pushers; the "one-timers" just haven't been caught a second time.

I don't believe that. I do agree that SOME one-timers are going to do it again. Obviously. But the rest of the one-timers, the "true" one-timers, do not "seek out" boundary pushing opportunities and they learn their lesson after their affair. What they learn is that even though they thought they were the type of person who would "never" get into an emotional affair, when the cards were down, they would and did. These men (and women) have then chosen to proactively guard their hearts and avoid future dangers leading up to crossing the line.

But other people are not built like that. These people crave, crave, crave attention from sexually attractive people. They lap up validation, affirmation, and compliments like candy. Their biggest issue is they can never get enough. One person cannot fill them up and they are always running on low to empty.

Your situations (WW's as well) could have easily been written by another woman on the forum, vi_bride04. Her husband paid lots of "lip service" to boundaries, but in the end he was drawn to improper emotional intimacy with other women like a moth to a flame. Just like an alcoholic who can love you plenty but loves liquor just a little bit more.

Someone like this, if they've been through marriage counseling and are STILL exhibiting these behaviors--they really need individual counseling. At some point this stuff is simply self-destructive. They are either narcissists (people who believe at their core that they're special and entitled to do this, despite the opinions of others) or else they believe they are unloveable. The "unloveable" ones can hardly believe anyone would love them--in fact they really don't think YOU love them, either. They might even disrespect you for loving them because they are "unloveable".

Does any of that ring a bell? Would you roughly categorize your H's as one or the other (narcissist vs. unloveable)?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Have you been really, really, explicit in telling him that your boundary about this is not something that is "just for now" or "just for a while" but rather will continue to exist for you - and therefore for him, within his marriage to you -forever?

I ask because my husband really seemed a bit startled to discover that "no opposite sex friendships" was something I needed forever, rather just until I "got over" his EA. Some part of him had it in mind that the boundaries I needed were temporary until things got back to normal. He expected that all these "rules" would eventually go away after he'd been good for a while. :rolleyes:
Good point.

When we had this discussion, it was within counselling. We spent a lot of time on it as he had never really considered what boundaries were or used them really. He was very much of the mind that he knew his intentions with stuff, so that was that. Pretty black and white. Unfortunately he didn't factor in the myriad other factors. Things like, how not being clear to other women who appear to be making the moves on him, that he is taken, and not interested. How the absence of a "no" to flirty behaviour can be taken as a green light in certain situations. How even innocent things (such as him giving a helpful lift home to his work colleague) could be misinterpreted, either by me, or by others who may see him and her alone together. Etc.

I never said the boundaries were until I felt better. I don't know if he has thought this. I don't THINK so. I think it is more that when we talk about stuff like this, it is up there, in our minds as a current issue. When time passes, and other things take up his mindspace, the stuff that is still important gets pushed to the back. To me, it is still important. I am aware all of the time how I conduct myself around the opposite sex. He is obviously AWARE of the issue, but maybe not so much the specific boundaries we discussed back then. I just thought that as it was such an important issue given how things happened in his EA, that he'd have really thought about it and still think about being careful.
 

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Sounds like he's trying to walk on eggshells.

I'm curious why you don't simply give him enough rope to either prove himself or hang himyself.

Rather than focussing on what he remembers or has internalized, just be true to you. That's what a boundary is about. Crossing one of your boundaries means you do something as a result.

Sounds like he interprets your boundary as, 'no interaction with the opposite sex.' based on what you described. Seems like he doesn't want to disappoint you ... or anyone else.

In the scheme of things, sounds like you are correct, he doesn't really get it, or he doesn't want to get it. What are any of his boundaries?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
What you're seeing is that there are 2 types of boundary pushers.

There are "one time" boundary pushers, and there are people who are drawn, compulsively, to boundary pushing.

Now some people (like chumplady--and I don't mean to speak for her, so if she reads this, forgive me if I misspeak), believe that really ALL cheaters are compulsive boundary pushers; the "one-timers" just haven't been caught a second time.

I don't believe that. I do agree that SOME one-timers are going to do it again. Obviously. But the rest of the one-timers, the "true" one-timers, do not "seek out" boundary pushing opportunities and they learn their lesson after their affair. What they learn is that even though they thought they were the type of person who would "never" get into an emotional affair, when the cards were down, they would and did. These men (and women) have then chosen to proactively guard their hearts and avoid future dangers leading up to crossing the line.

But other people are not built like that. These people crave, crave, crave attention from sexually attractive people. They lap up validation, affirmation, and compliments like candy. Their biggest issue is they can never get enough. One person cannot fill them up and they are always running on low to empty.

Your situations (WW's as well) could have easily been written by another woman on the forum, vi_bride04. Her husband paid lots of "lip service" to boundaries, but in the end he was drawn to improper emotional intimacy with other women like a moth to a flame. Just like an alcoholic who can love you plenty but loves liquor just a little bit more.

Someone like this, if they've been through marriage counseling and are STILL exhibiting these behaviors--they really need individual counseling. At some point this stuff is simply self-destructive. They are either narcissists (people who believe at their core that they're special and entitled to do this, despite the opinions of others) or else they believe they are unloveable. The "unloveable" ones can hardly believe anyone would love them--in fact they really don't think YOU love them, either. They might even disrespect you for loving them because they are "unloveable".

Does any of that ring a bell? Would you roughly categorize your H's as one or the other (narcissist vs. unloveable)?
Yep. Hubz is DEFINITELY the "unloveable" you describe.

His EA was ego-driven. I was always very complimentary (always genuine and heartfelt.) He couldn't believe it sometimes and often got embarrassed or thought I was "just saying that."

He says I built him up and made him feel good about himself. Then this OW came along who was so incredibly brazen and open about how great she thought he was... and he loved it. It was what he'd been getting from me... but from someone else AS WELL. He fed off it.

The puzzling thing is that we'd been together going on four years then and I'd never seen a hint of it before. Yes of course he liked it when women flirted but he never engaged in it to any degree that concerned me.

The thing is - this issue with giving his colleague a lift home. I genuinely think that if I take him at his word, he doesn't find her attractive at all, and thus it makes it less of an issue to him. Thing is, I know he's not going to turn round to me when asked and say, "wow yeah babe, she's smokin' hot!" So I don't know, I've not met her.

But also what hurts is that it appears that he just didn't really think about it. Which was EXACTLY the problem with his EA. He didn't think about what he was doing. I don't even think he thought well, I shouldn't do this, but I'll do it anyway. I think he just thought he'd offer a lift, then AFTERWARDS thought, hang on, this could look bad if tobio finds out about it.

I am fed up. I don't want to be his mother. I am frustrated that a year and a half down the line he appears to have not actually learned despite his protestations that he understood how he got into his EA. He clearly does not grasp it.
 

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Yep. Hubz is DEFINITELY the "unloveable" you describe.

His EA was ego-driven. I was always very complimentary (always genuine and heartfelt.) He couldn't believe it sometimes and often got embarrassed or thought I was "just saying that."
Bingo.

Each time I type up this dichotomy (narcissist vs. unloveable) I keep waiting for someone to say, "my H is neither" but unfortunately that has not happened yet.

Here is the issue: somone like this may actively look down on you because you love them. If they're unloveable, and you love them...then there must be a problem with you. Some people go so far as to actively disrespect their spouse for loving them back. It is very twisted logic.

It is interesting that it didn't rise to the surface at the start of the relationship, but no matter. It is there.

The larger issue is that the unloveable believe deep down that eventually you're going to leave them. So they tend to act out self-destructively by engaging in attractive people outside the marriage--to beat you to the punch.

Again--individual counseling to gain some understanding of this very serious problem. You already tried loving them with everything you've got. That is not enough for these folks--they consume that love, swallow it whole, and are still hungry for more.
 

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Sounds like he's trying to walk on eggshells.

I'm curious why you don't simply give him enough rope to either prove himself or hang himyself.

Rather than focussing on what he remembers or has internalized, just be true to you. That's what a boundary is about. Crossing one of your boundaries means you do something as a result.

Sounds like he interprets your boundary as, 'no interaction with the opposite sex.' based on what you described. Seems like he doesn't want to disappoint you ... or anyone else.

In the scheme of things, sounds like you are correct, he doesn't really get it, or he doesn't want to get it. What are any of his boundaries?
To be brief...

We discussed boundaries and we were very specific. There were a handful of relevant ones. I did not at any time say NO interaction with the opposite sex. I was realistic.

Yes, part of it WAS that he didn't want to appear rude, impolite, or upset the OW. He had (has) difficulty being direct for fear of hurting people's feelings. He turns this round onto me by asking what he should say to "excuse" himself out of awkward situations, says he'll have to explain the inner dynamics of our situation to they can understand why he's saying no... Er, just say, I can't, sorry :rolleyes: I don't know why that's so difficult for him or why he makes me feel like it's my fault he can't be flirting and doing the stuff he did before...

His boundaries? I'm a bit confused on this tbh, last week I would have reeled off a few but today I'm not entirely sure. I know one is no physical contact with the opposite sex beyond necessities like a handshake at work. So no hugging, kissing or more. Even this, after having made it clear I wouldn't be happy as it is my boundary too, he still did with a friend he has a history with and who constantly flirts whenever we see her. He blew up about that and made resentful remarks. The gist is that he wants to be able to do what he wants without having to consider my boundaries that cramp his style, or bring up the possibility that he may have to explain WHY he doesn't do or say whatever, to another person.
 

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I think my spouse also belongs in the "Unlovable" section. Of course he has a host of other issues (net addiction, neglectful parents).

During our most recent counseling sessions our MC probed him on "what story was told that hooked you into the EA"....he responded that he felt great empathy for her in her situation. She is a college girl who lives in Iran and she shared that she was anti-muslim and how she had to shave her head due to almost being raped and the general repression of women in that country. MY spouse played the white knight and their big _plan_ was for her to escape Iran and somehow finish a PHD degree in the US....... He was caught in the exotic stories, the excitement and the whole saving "story".

Our MC says there is always a *hook* that gets you starting down that slippery slope. Boundaries get crossed and in some cases it starts so gradually that the people involved ignore the danger.

The _unlovable_ category scares me the most because it sounds like years of therapy......no telling what is going to be uncovered.
 

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You may find vi_bride04's last major thread instructive--her H just NEVER got it, unfortunately. Even when he saw that she was going to leave him over his perpetual "want" (not need) to go out to lunches with a woman at work and discuss his marital problems, give her rides, etc. etc. He lied about it to the ends of the earth because he knew vi didn't like it, but he didn't fundamentally think it was wrong.

No doubt that this attitude is a tragedy. It isn't as if most other women are going to tolerate this behavior if he were to get together with someone else. It is extremely immature, and it gives off this sense of arrested development, which means that it usually can be traced back to their childhood.

The trouble is, people who are broken this way have to WANT to fix the problem. As their partner, you have to step back and acknowledge that you cannot control them, you cannot fix them. It is both beyond your expertise and power. It is within the expertise of a good individual counselor, but it is also beyond their power as well.

Like many a compulsion / addiction, the person who struggles with this may have to reach a "rock bottom" before they truly understand that it's an either / or proposition. If you want to stay married, you reserve your loyalty and emotional intimacy 100% for your spouse. If you don't, then feel free to liberally distribute it to others at will.
 

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One of the books I read was Intimacy and Desire by Dr. Schnarch. In it he talks about the healthy sense of self and how a lot of people instead have a reflected sense of self -- they look to others to reflect back what they want to see. So you telling your husband how great he was made him feel good: he couldn't see it for himself and needed to instead see it reflected from you.

The issue is that this is unsustainable. You could keep telling him he's great until the end of time but eventually it will stop working. He'll beging to resent you for not giving him what he needs (i.e. reflecting back awesomeness) and you'll resent him for needing you to do it.

So when he finds another woman who can reflect back on him what he wants (how awesome he is), he'll take it. That's a simplification of what Dr. Schnarch talks about, but it makes a lot of sense to me. This was a lot of what happened in my case: I thought my husband was great, told him all the time, and after a while it wasn't enough. He stopped believing me and so when the OW showed up and was reflecting back how awesome he was, he turned to her. He's also a rescuer and he liked the ego-boost he got from having her see him as a hero.

The solution for my husband is that he's had to boost his own self esteem and stop looking to others to reflect back who he is. That way, he's not as vulnerable to some woman down the road telling him how great he is -- he doesn't need the ego boost anymore.
 

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WWife, I completely agree with what you've just said.

I just want to point out, that there isn't anything wrong with telling your partner they're terrific, when the compliments and praise are valid. That is an important component to a loving marriage, sharing 'words of affirmation' in the lingo of the book, The 5 Love Languages.

But with a person who is a validation-seeker, the point is, as you say, that it's NEVER ENOUGH. They are yawning maws of blackholes inside, if you could take a peek in there. The compliments go in but they pass through and are never absorbed.

Frequently this goes back to childhood, and how they were raised. Again, it's a serious issue to address, and not for amateurs. What is scary is that even experts may not be able to help them overcome it.

I want to also point out that it's not unusual for people with "issues" to marry someone who is a "rescuer." So if you are a spouse married to a validation-seeker, I strongly recommend that YOU get individual counseling for yourself. You need to also look inside and see, why do I put so much effort into validating someone and trying to fix them when clearly they can only do that for themselves? It's one thing to know they can only fix themselves. It's another thing to stop TRYING to fix them. Some people need expert advice to reach that point.
 

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I find that term 'unlovable' fascinating. If you could provide more details, I'd like to read about it.

I think overall, that concept that you make quite clear is what I was trying to convey in this thread I created a long time ago:

http://talkaboutmarriage.com/mens-clubhouse/20584-destructive-fitness-tests.html

And tobio, you believe your husband falls into this category? So basically he looks for validation (why he seeks approval from other women) but your validation doesn't mean much because there is something obviously wrong with you ... because you love him?

I may be over-reaching, but wow, iheartlife's really struck me.
 

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***Frequently this goes back to childhood, and how they were raised. Again, it's a serious issue to address, and not for amateurs. What is scary is that even experts may not be able to help them overcome it.

I want to also point out that it's not unusual for people with "issues" to marry someone who is a "rescuer." So if you are a spouse married to a validation-seeker, I strongly recommend that YOU get individual counseling for yourself. You need to also look inside and see, why do I put so much effort into validating someone and trying to fix them when clearly they can only do that for themselves? It's one thing to know they can only fix themselves. It's another thing to stop TRYING to fix them. Some people need expert advice to reach that point. ******


<----the above is exactly what I talked about last week in our session. In a less eloquent way said this to our MC and said that working on marriage issues is all well and good but there is this huge issue here that really needs to be focused on and the marital stuff is just the fluff now.

In a nutshell, I'm prefect so fix him !!! ;)

I was starting to get into that mindset of "fixing" him and propping him up because he said that was _one_ of the things that felt good in his EA. Flattery. But as we have gone through our sessions and our childhood issues have come out.... well it's overwhelming the amount of neglect this man was raised with. One of oddest being he wasn't allowed to call his mother "mom" he had to address her by her first name.

anyhow.... basically the focus is now between the MC and him in working on those personal issues, while the marriage issues take a bit of a back seat but it will all get looped back together at some point. Meanwhile I keep working on being *perfect* :)

****Iheartlife, *****<--- thanks for that post, you really have a knack for explaining things in such a relateable way. Anyone who uses "yawning maws of black holes.....well that's top shelf imagery right there.".....
 

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I find that term 'unlovable' fascinating. If you could provide more details, I'd like to read about it.
I wish I could give you literature, but I haven't found that yet. Primarily because it is not an issue I have in my life (this was not my husband's problem, despite his long emotional affair). If I do see something, I will be sure to share it.

I've talked about it in a few other threads, because it's a recurring theme around here (unfortunately). I first made note of this "category" of disloyal spouse while listening to a talk radio show. A husband was calling in, asking the therapist why it was that he was drawn to superficial flirtations via facebook. He knew it was wrong, he knew it was hurtful, but he still couldn't stop. The therapist is the type who hits people with ten tons of bricks, but with this man they rather gently pulled out how he felt he didn't deserve his wife. That she was wonderful in every way. But basically, he didn't like himself very much. He was very puzzled why she stayed with him, when he did so many silly things. And the more they talked, the more I realized that this was far and away the most logical explanation for this kind of behavior.

Of course it's selfish, and people making these choices are being very selfish. But unlike the narcissist, who believes that they are fabulous, and of course everyone likes them, and they're too terrific not to share with the world, these people seem very unhappy. I was struck by the perfect understanding of it being wrong and yet the compulsive need to engage in this very immature, childish behavior.

I also noted that there was some underlying hostility for the spouse. I found that paradox interesting. They are saying their spouse is perfect, but they also resent them at the same time. What was up with that? And at least for me, the explanation that fits the best is that when you don't believe you deserve to be loved, then you are always going to question someone extending love to you. That despite their "perfection," they do have a flaw, and this is it.

Mentally healthy people can sort of see how this thinking works, but really, it's very alien. That's because when you were a child, whether through your parents or some other loving adult figure, somehow you learned that you are worthy of love and respect.

I've also said this before--loving yourself and having high self-esteem are not the same. Narcissists have the highest self-esteem of anyone, and that translates into always putting themselves first. But is that true self-love? I would argue not. True self-love involves understanding that you aren't #1--while you are entitled to "self-actualize," you cannot do that at the harmful expense of other human beings. True self-love includes self-control, to avoid hurting others while still asserting yourself. Damaged people have a very hard time getting that right.
 

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****Iheartlife, *****<--- thanks for that post, you really have a knack for explaining things in such a relateable way. Anyone who uses "yawning maws of black holes.....well that's top shelf imagery right there.".....
You are kind to say that, but when I say they are blackholes, I mean it literally.

A black hole is a region of spacetime where gravity prevents anything, including light, from escaping
When you picture a validation-seeking person, imagine someone who sucks in compliments, affirmation, and attention as if they were starving. You quickly see why one person is never enough.

What's sad is if you think about how much energy they divert toward this hopeless task. Like starving people who are wasting away, but they have a parasite inside that eats all the nutrients, leaving none for the host.

It might not be fair to describe these people that way, but it's highly useful for co-dependent "fixer" types of spouses to see them that way. Because those spouses need to "get" that giving more validation is a hopeless task. Fixer types are always beating themselves up, because they're sure that if they just tried a little harder, they would achieve success. They want to overcome the hurdles of what's typically childhood abuse. For someone who has no training, and who is emotionally invested in this crippled person, that is not a wise use of your time and energy.
 

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Amen Iheartlife. That's my struggle and realizing that fact has resulted in less exhaustion. Trying to balance how to be supportive as he goes through this therapy and yet have a line drawn...supportive, not fixer. Remembering to focus on ourselves (BS) as opposed to be so obsessed over what goes on in their minds.
 
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