This post discusses a sensitive but important topic, your partner's emotional maturity. Acknowledging that infidelity can stem from a lack of emotional maturity is important. Someone who cheats may deflect blame and avoid facing guilt and shame. However, it's crucial to remember that infidelity is a conscious choice that a lack of intimacy or connection cannot justify.
I want you to know that you deserved better than being cheated on.
Do you remember back to when you were single?
Maybe the days when you and your girlfriends giggled over guys and made silly jokes. Today as I sat down to write, I was reminded of how I laughed with my friends over some guy looking good on our mantlepiece. And I must say that when I met my partner, I thought he would look good on my mantlepiece. As it turns out, he might have been thinking something similar about me! But four children later, I am no longer a giggly teenager.
We all connected with our partners while they were showing us the parts of themselves they wanted us to see. And then, as time went on, we discovered the real them. The same is true with us; we all begin our relationships as hopeful dreamers. But sometimes, the childhood dream of what our partner wanted gets confused with the outcome they believe they are entitled to.
If the dreamer doesn’t mature, then the dream becomes an escape from reality.
We may have fallen into our roles in the relationship after our honeymoon period ended. Maybe we found most of our needs were being met in our relationship’s perceived commitment and stability. But what about our partners? Were they being real with us?
Research shows that men who cheat and those who don’t have about the same level of satisfaction in their relationship. So why did our partners cheat?
It all seems to point towards attachment styles and how we connect. Did they know how to bond with us in healthy ways? Was the connect, disconnect, and reconnect ‘dance’ that all healthy relationships go through too much for them? Was it outside their dream version of what a relationship should look like?
Relationships begin with a fantasy stage.
The high of having sex with someone who doesn’t yet know you or you know them is a part of the fantasy stage of a relationship. No one is yet really known to the other at this time. The connection begins with a high of bonding chemicals.
Were our partners unable to grasp the difference between infatuation and mature love? Did they think love was just about feeling good on brain chemicals? Maybe they had an idealized view of what the relationship would look like, an impossible dream.
So what was this dream life they immaturely thought they were entitled to live doing for them? Did it distract them away from reality, their actual life? And while distracted, did it give them a reason to avoid their real relationship with us? At times I think we can all be guilty of distracting ourselves to avoid what we don’t want to see. But let’s keep it accurate and own it when we distract ourselves, and not blame others, especially our partner, for why we do it.
Dreaming up fantasies is fun except when it becomes our go-to mode.
Fantasies can distract us away from what we need to face. Yet we neither grow from nor heal what we don't face; we remain immature because we don't grow from experience. So avoidance is never a long-term solution if we want a real relationship. Living in 'Poor Me Land' because my youthful expectation wasn't met is a painful escape that doesn't satisfy and sets one up for infidelity.
At the end of the day, infidelity forces us to start asking ourselves hard questions about life and our expectations. Because ultimately, a substitute dream life doesn't support anyone in becoming their best selves? Instead, it keeps one trapped in childish immaturity.
Infidelity is a very paper-thin, flat view of life.
Infidelity is like only seeing one face. I think of it as our partner stepping into a 2D world and thinking this is real life. The fact is, they had an actual 3D life and, for their own immature reasons, found it disagreeable. It did not, however, make us disagreeable. Something prevented them from coping with all the dimensions of 3D life, real life, and it wasn't us. We are not to blame for our partners' choice to cheat.
So they turn to a limited, flat, maybe even black-and-white fantasy life. Infidelity can be likened to a comic book, magazine, or TV screen. And really, it comes down to one fact; our immature partner avoided facing what was real in favor of escaping into the 'Pretend Land' of infidelity.
What was the reality they were too immature to face?
What they should have been facing is the question we want to get answered. For us, as betrayed wives, fear of not being hurt again drives the compulsion to know. And for them, most likely, years of emotional immaturity by avoiding certain feelings moved them into their 2D world, maybe even before we met them.
One of the hardest things for us to do in our recovery journey after infidelity is to wait while our wayward spouses learn to face their demons. They tricked themselves into believing that 2D was a better place than real-life 3D to avoid their issues. Becoming mature and facing this wanting part of themselves is their work, not ours to do for them.
And yes, it may feel like their actions were a steamroller driving over us. Yes, we may feel like they completely flattened us into a 2D version of ourselves. But it is up to us whether we stay flat, broken, and limited by their actions. Deep down, I believe we are realists now. We want to face the hard stuff after being flattened by infidelity because facing it makes us more authentic and 3D again.
Was your partner emotionally immature?
Do you know what your partner was avoiding by turning to infidelity? What were they not emotionally mature enough to face? What attachment wound or brokenness were they attempting to ease the pain by turning to a thin slice of life? Why would they want fake and not the flavorsome, textured, real-life they had with you? What, in their emotional immaturity, did they think infidelity would do for them?
Do you wrongly think they had an affair to punish you for not being 2D? Were you supposed to fit into their limited view of what real life should look like? Are they still trying to live out of a picture they drew, maybe when they were a child, instead of maturing and embracing reality? Did they hold onto the dream that you would sit on their mantlepiece to make them feel good for the rest of their lives? Were you supposed to be flawless in their fantasy 2D life?
How do we survive while they battle their demons?
The shame of their limited capacity keeps them fighting to protect their version of life, the 2D version. And often, we become the victims of immature outbursts while they battle it out.
Not all relationships get repaired after infidelity. The ones that do survive infidelity have a common factor, though. The emotionally immature partner comes to own and accept that they stepped outside the relationship due to their own issues. They recognize that they escaped reality and their partner did not cause them to cheat.
So how do we keep out of harm’s way while that penny drops? And how do we stop ourselves from making our partner’s issues all about us? What do we do while they transition out of their pretend life and wake up from their dream?
Hey, you know I’m going to say it. Self-care. Why? Because it works. It puts our focus on the only person we have control over, ourselves.
We want to walk out of their infidelity, not just whole, but even better.
Self-care supports us in using the most painful thing that has happened to us, infidelity, to create even more 3D sides, more texture, more flavor, and more of our awesome yumminess.
Yes, we will have scars from the wounds inflicted, but it doesn’t have to cripple us. Our wounds can heal, and we can grow more muscle and strength around them. And our scars show us that we are living a real-life, not a fluffy, flat, fake dream.
For us, self-care can be like using a recipe book. We see the yummy cake photo, follow the recipe, and create the cake we want. When we know how to heal from the infidelity pain and follow the steps, we end up with more in our lives, not less. And it is our privilege to create a masterpiece if we so desire.
We can bake our cake and eat it, not just dream about it. I want to engage all my senses and experience life, not just look at pictures of what it could be! Self-care has us living our best, real life, not a dream.
How to Live In Reality.
Get baking! Start looking through recipe books, and inspire yourself. (Analogy for whatever lights your fire.) And if you need help figuring out where to start, ask me. You don't have to sit around waiting for your partner to become less immature, heal, and grow up. Waiting for them to face their demons would be a waste of your today, your tomorrow, and your life.
Life doesn't come with a replay button. It is here to be lived in each moment. Choose a 3D slice of cake, a reality, not a 2D version or a wish. Focus on your healing, growth, and becoming the best 3D version of who you were created to be. You will never be satisfied with fitting into someone else's 2D dream, and nor will I.
Connect with me, a survivor of infidelity and a self-care advocate. Allow me to offer you a complimentary call. I've overcome the pain of being betrayed and have dedicated my life to helping other women heal from similar experiences.
PS - My cakes are sugar-free, guilt-free goodness! What’s a girl gonna do !!?!!! Feel free to ask me for the recipe...
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