Overcoming the guilt of infidelity

This week we had a listener who wanted to look at cheating from the other side. How do you cope when you are the cheater?

Well, there will be an amount of people, male and female, who are really serial philanderers, who can’t keep their zippers or their knickers up. Those people who, no matter what, will be on the look out for a chance encounter, a chance to play away, whenever, wherever.

Before we look at the normal sexual affair I would like us to start with the idea that it may not just be sex that is an affair. It is possible to have a platonic affair that can be as damaging, if not more damaging, than a sexual affair. I do get some smug clients who will tell me that it was not really an affair because they did not have sex. In Buddhism the thought is said to the same as the act because an action is preceded by a thought, em…? Food for thought.

Reasons for cheating
In previous podcasts we have looked at the other side of the coin, from the point of view of the person who has been cheated on. What is it like to be a cheater? How do we deal with the levels of guilt? How do we rebuild our relationship? Do we need to be honest and fess up or is it better to keep it quiet?

My resource for this week is – Marina Pearson worth a visit.

Does honesty help?
When people come to see me after an affair they are often at a loss as to know what to do next. The first question is, do I tell my partner? This is a mixed bag and the decision has to be around “what will it achieve if you tell?” For many couples it is the honesty that leads to the relationship breakdown not the affair. I leave the client to make this decision, but whichever way you go will create what is likely to happen next.

Why did you do it?
This next question is often related to the first and the answer to the first may be affected by the answer to the second. Often people will talk about feeling empty or dead, that life had become boring and pointless. Sometimes people felt neglected and uncared for or maybe the communication had broken down and the couple had stopped talking.

I guess if you do not fall into the philanderer category then there will be a reason. Understanding the reason will help you understand the situation and yourself a bit better. If you can understand ‘why’ then you have a chance of sorting stuff so that it doesn’t happen again.

If you have taken the route of honesty and confession there will be a lot of repair work to do between the pair of you that will probably require some psychotherapy and couples work. If you have decided not to confess then there will be a need for some individual psychotherapy and a good look inside yourself to understand why you did what you did and then to go through the process of self-forgiveness and personal rebuild.

If you are going to sort yourself out there are a few things that you need to address. The first is that your contract has been broken.

A New Contract
It could be that you entered into an open relationship but then you would not have been having an affair. So if it was an affair then whatever agreement you previously made is over, broken and done. Even if you do not tell your partner about your infidelity you will need to complete the internal process of letting go of what was and affirming within yourself a new contract for your behaviour in the future.

Self Forgiveness
Many people beat themselves into a pit of depression. This does not help. People will visit church or even attend therapy seeking absolution and forgiveness. The strange thing is that even if you are given forgiveness from an external source it will be of little help to you if you do not forgive yourself, charity begins at home, so does forgiveness. Beating your self up will only create depression. You might find step one useful at this point where you can write the letters that you never send. To get beyond this depressive state you need to evoke the law of allowing.

The Law of Allowing
In the steps, the law of allowing tends to be focussed on looking at other people and allowing them to be what they need to be without judgement. Being able to accept who you are and what have done involves both self-love and tolerance. If your affair has become public then you might need to seek forgiveness and acceptance from other people who also might have been hurt by what you have done.

Allowing yourself to be who and what you are, to accept yourself for what you are and what you have done and even those that you might have hurt is crucial to being able to move on.

What is the lesson?
If the universe works with intelligence, and I believe that it does, then the things that happen to us do so with purpose. Throughout life the question to ask yourself is “what am I supposed to learn from this?” When you find yourself feeling shame or guilt these feelings can be debilitating, they can stop you growing. When you change your mindset why? And what is there to learn? Then you begin to move forward. When you wallow in the pit of guilt and self-disgust you are getting in your own way this is the monkey business of your ego at work. Let it go, learn and move on.

What was the benefit?
Once you get beyond beating yourself up ask yourself, what are the benefits of you doing what you did both to you and to the person that you did it with? There will have been good things and experiences that you had, including the lessons that you learned. There would have been things that you enjoyed or you would not have invested your time in doing it. There may also be benefits for the relationship that you have cheated on. Perhaps you have learned to be a better person from here on in. Over all take the positive things you have learned from the experience and move on.

When we learn we have no need to repeat the same lessons. When we fail to learn we get the same lessons over and over again. It doesn’t have to be…

“Once a cheater, always a cheater”

…at least not if you work on yourself and get the support you need to shift what has not been working for you thus far. (yourTango.com)

Take care and be happy

Sean x

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