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I have long since been skeptical of “affair fog”, and I believe that the fog of an affair doesn’t apply to just everyone, that habitual and serial cheaters don’t experience it, at least not in the same way someone that had just one emotional/physical affair does.
While I still believe the latter to a point, I’ve been curious about the “affair fog”, and how it pertains to and affects the OW/OM.
As an OW, I think there is a fair amount of justification, lying and self betrayal that comes along with the role. As well as misinterpretation and mental history re-writing.
Something as simple as “my child will gain nothing, and in fact, lose everything should I choose to leave” can easily be interpreted as “I am only staying for the sake of my child” to someone who is actively playing the role of the Other Person. Likewise, the statement “I don’t currently feel any kind of passionate love for my wife, but we share a history and I still see her as a close friend” can be interpreted as simply “I don’t love my wife”. These micro misinterpretations can wreak havoc on your emotional health, this is especially true when you are an Other Person who desperately wants your role to transition to that of a stable and public partner.
Its easy to justify every less than honorable action your affair partner takes, because you’re so caught up in how they make you feel. From someone that has learned, and is still learning, from my experience as the OW, I would urge all Other People out there seeking some sort of help or insight to listen only to the actions your affair partner is taking, NOT their words. There are dozens of resources out there for couples who experience infidelity, there are hardly any resources available for those who played the role of the Other.
The words “I love you” are powerful, but if your affair partner says them to you, how are they
that to you? Do you truly believe that someone that loves you would want to keep your relationship a secret? That someone that cared about you would ask you to sacrifice your morals to stay with them? And do you truly believe that if they did choose you in the end, that you would be able to have a healthy and loving relationship, when your relationship came at the cost of another persons feelings, stability and sanity? Someone they also arguably loved at some point. The number of people truly “stuck” in their current relationship is small, the only case where leaving is impossible is usually with DV, where the well-being of the the person considering leaving is at stake. Otherwise, no matter what your AP says, they always have a choice to leave, if things were really that “bad”, that “dead”, that “unloving” they would have made the decision to leave before they met you. It doesn’t matter what your interpretation of their relationship is, the chance that you as the Other Person have the whole story is slim to none.
For someone like me, who believed the choice to stay for my affair partner came down to duty, obligation and guilt, what reasonable person would stay in a situation like that when they’ve found “true love” somewhere else? They wouldn’t. Again, taking a look at the actions taken by my AP versus the words I was given would have saved me months of heartache. If you really are the minority, if you are this persons soul mate and you’ve just happened upon each other at inopportune times, would this person continue to hurt two two people in order to keep you around? What makes you think your soul mate would treat two people so poorly? Why do you think you deserve to be with someone who has no regard for anyone’s happiness but their own? Undoubtedly, the actions of the single and unattached AP can be selfish, can be unhonorable, and can be cruel, however it’s easy to see yourself as sacrificial, loving and accommodating when presented with the request to wait in the wings until your AP “decides” what he’s doing. It’s not until the dust settles, the fog fades, and worst possible outcome becomes your reality that you realize just how much you played yourself.
These thoughts and more have plagued my brain since last week, this might be a bit incoherent, but so many APs (myself included) seek help and don’t get it. My hope is that this little bit of insight post affair from someone who was the Other Woman might help an AP out there who is distraught and confused about what just happened to his/her life. It took my former AP literally threatening me with potential physical harm (not at his hand, but at the hand of my ex husband by means of riling him up and hoping he’d respond unfavorably) for me to finally gain some clarity and sanity. Someone who is willing to threaten me with actions that would undoubtedly put me at risk of physical harm just to blackmail me into keeping his secrets is not someone that loves me now, or loved me ever.
If you’re an OW reading this desperately looking for some clarity, please remember that you aren’t the sum of the mistake you’ve made. You are worth more than what you’re getting, and you have the opportunity now to be better and do better.
Very true words. My question to the OW right after was “How could you let yourself be used so?” She didn’t answer. The truth is we were both used selfishly by the WS but in our case the OW truly prostituted herself.
I didn’t know where else to post this because I didn’t want to start a new thread, so this will have to do.
I had a therapy appointment last night where I told my therapist that I was disappointed in myself for spending the last year focused mostly on the affair I was a part of, instead of focusing on building and repairing meaningful relationships. That despite feeling some relief that this affair was over and done with, I still couldn’t help but continue to feel alone and isolated, mostly at my own doing. I have consistently felt alone and abandoned my whole life, my birth mother was uninvolved in my life, my father kicked me out right after I turned 18, my mom (technically my step mom, but she raised me) spent years at an arms distance while she was trying to find herself after leaving my dad, my friends are mostly acquaintances these days.
Then after I got home, we had a bit of a family emergency, my cat was very ill, but I was home alone with my kids with no way to get him the help he needed. My mom dropped everything she was doing to drive to my house (35 ish minutes from her house) at 10pm to sit with my kids while I took my cat to the emergency vet. My dad called while I was there and offered to come pick me up if I felt like I couldn’t drive myself home. My mom stayed at my house with my kids until nearly 2am while I stayed with my cat, who sadly didn’t survive. She even paid for the vet bill for me.
It was a sad situation, but I couldn’t help but feel a little relieved that I’m really not as alone as I thought I was. It was a bit of an epiphany, and helped me to realize that the isolation I have been feeling is probably partly imagined, because when it matters, I still have people looking out for me.
Hopefully this realization is one more step in the right direction toward finally living a happy and fulfilled life.
My kids and I are pretty devastated at the loss of our cat though, it’s amazing how emotionally attached we can get to our pets.
So sorry that you lost your kitty. I have had animals all my life and love them dearly. The little yorkie that my mom got after my dad looked after us as we grieved his loss. I always feel my pets deaths deeply.
But I am glad that you realized that you have more people around you that love you and show up for you. Often the isolation we feel is as much about our inability to reach out to others as it is the lack of strong relationships or people who want to be there for is.
This was an important step in your healing and I am glad you recognize it as such.
BS - Female
Married 27 years, one adult child
DD May 2016
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - V Frankl
So sorry to hear of the passing of your beloved pet. The grief we feel for these little creatures is real. Hugs to you. XO
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