re: ask steph- emotional cheating… who is getting hurt?

Home » friendship, schemas, shades of perspective, veterns of the game » re: ask steph- emotional cheating…...

i don’t wanna see the same pictures all over, and i’ve been standing in the same spot now since its been over, could someone promise me a new chance, i don’t wanna wake up knowing i don’t have a future…

this post was inspired by one of my more thought provoking ask steph submissions.

there is this relational theory that i love… ok i won’t get geeky, but it basically states that when you are not not getting your needs met in a relationship, you begin to search for and explore other options. now this option seeking is done while said relational partner is still in the relationship that is not meeting needs. basically, we explore our options, and make sure there is something better, before we actually break up with someone. because, who knows, maybe there is not anyone out there who could meet those needs, no need dumping the currently relationship then…

this is, very often, where cheating comes in. cheating being defined as physical or emotional (usually in the aspect of the relationship where needs are not being met) intimacy with someone other than your relational partner. unfortunately for us romantics, cheating does actually serve a purpose. cheating provides us an outside perspective of what we could have in the scary dating world outside our current safe relationship. if we like our options outside the relationship enough, usually we decide to break up with our current relationship partner. if we realize that our options are not really any better than what we are involved in then we will stay in the relationship (a whole nother relational theory).

so either cheating leads to breaking up, or cheating leads to staying with your current partner. this is why it is possible for couples to stay together, heal, and get past infidelity. because cheating can make you realize that what you have in front of you is exactly what you want/need.

but here is the thing. this process of exploring options, if we’re lucky, doesn’t happen alone. usually we have friends that help give us even more outside perspective. we discuss our unmet needs, hopes, and dreams- and our friends tell us what they see in our relationship. therefore, friends are usually as influential on if we break up or stay with current relational parter as the person we may be cheating with. and though our friends have our very best interest in mind, their perspective can be detrimentally rational.

those friends did not have an intimate connection with our current relational partner. they did not experience everything we did in our relationship. and, again unfortunately, since they are our friends, they are usually the ones that hear all the bad things about the relationship. this is because as humans, we focus so hard on the negatives. the relationship could be 80% positive, but those aren’t the things our friends hear about. no no, they hear about the negatives- because we need to vent and feel like we are heard. and our friends hear us and validate that the negatives in our relationship are real and affecting.

so here we are, feeling unmet in our needs of the relationship, but confused by emotions (connection, caring, love for the other, frustration, anger, sadness). we turn to our friends and there they are to give us exactly what we need- a rational perspective. but their perspective a) is informed by the negative things we tell them, and b) lacking the emotional connection we feel to our current partner.

but they are our friends, and we know they have our best interests in heart. so we often listen to them. but unconsciously we get resentful that they are so adamant about, say, leaving our partner. because hearing their rational thoughts makes us realize that we do/did care about the person they are telling us to leave. and that makes us feel bad about leaving them.

i mean, i am not trying to justify cheating, or even ’side’ with a cheater- physical or emotional. but theoretically…its natural to explore your options before entering and exiting a relationship. i guess this all leads back to an old post of mine which explains that obviously we don’t get into relationships expecting them to end. so no matter what our intentions at the end of the relationship, and what factors or perspectives helped us come to the end of the relationship – breaking up is emotionally difficult for both parties involved. even if there is emotional/physical cheating. and breaking up is an emotional process that sometimes our rationally involved friends just cannot genuinely experience with us.

and i wanna change
change the way we always had
and to make different plans
and try not to make this sad
and i always choose another way

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