Tag Archives: cheating

Contempt, Lying & Outside Relationships

“Song of Maui” by Mimi Stuart ©

My boyfriend is texting, calling, and attempting to meet up with his ex or another new girl every time we have a (terrible) fight and he lies about them. I know he’s sick and tired of our constant fights and we have issues such as contempt/disrespect from my side and communication/withdrawal/leadership issues from his side.

Should I just be a big girl and ignore these behaviors as there is no physical cheating yet? Are these behaviors harmless?


Dear M,

The behaviors you are each engaged in are very destructive to the relationship.

Contempt and disrespect

You say you treat your boyfriend with contempt and disrespect. No relationship can withstand contempt for long. Often people are disrespectful because they blame their frustrations on their partner and don’t know how to effectively express those frustrations.

Let’s focus on you. You obviously do not feel good about yourself and your behavior in this relationship. Consider John Gottman’s research that shows that if 80% of communication is not positive between a couple, that relationship will disintegrate. As you really only have control over your own conduct, eliminate your disrespectful behavior and your life will improve whether or not you stay with your boyfriend.

To sustain a good relationship, you need to clearly and respectfully communicate your needs and expectations, while actively listening to your partner’s point of view. You need to learn to communicate effectively and respectfully, through counseling or effective communication classes, such as Marshall Rosenberg’s “nonviolent communication,” where you learn to express your desires without putting the other person on the defensive. It is very self-empowering to be able to clearly express yourself without judgment, contempt, or manipulation.

Seeking outside relationships and lying

I can see why your boyfriend would want to seek validation from others if you are treating him with contempt. But pursuing others without breaking up first and then lying to you afterwards shows that he is willing to deceive you and deny you your own life choices for the sake of his convenience.

You cannot trust someone who wants to continue a relationship while secretly exploring new ones. You cannot enjoy a committed relationship with someone who does not have the courage to be honest with you.

Thus, I suggest leaving this relationship to the realm of life experience and learning, and instead focus on the way you handle yourself in future relationships.

What now?

If I were in your situation, I would start by taking responsibility for my own behavior. If you find yourself treating anyone with contempt, apologize immediately and show a willingness to stop that harmful behavior. Find a positive way to express your needs and desires.

In the future, the main thing is that both partners learn to listen to one another without judgment and argument. You should be able to discuss anything, including hurt feelings and even breaking up while treating the other person humanely. Focus on speaking candidly in a compassionate way in order to make the relationship work.

Good luck.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

A 3-Step Routine For Processing Betrayal (And Walking Away Happier) by Guest Author Dr. Jennifer Freed

"Strength and Wisdom" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Strength and Wisdom” by Mimi Stuart ©

“I’ve been cheated, been mistreated
When will I be loved
I’ve been put down, I’ve been pushed ’round
When will I be loved?”

~ Linda Ronstadt

Guest Author Dr. Jennifer Freed writes:

Sad to say, many of us have sung a version of this tune in the face of adultery and betrayal. Most people are shocked and utterly shaken by this type of betrayal because they “never saw it coming.” It’s like a meteor of misery hurling from outer space that bursts our life apart.

Reconstituting our life after deep betrayal is an arduous task but, if done well, it can be extraordinarily transformational and empowering.

So now that the inconceivable has happened, what can you do to mop yourself off the floor and heal magnificently? This three-step process is a great place to start.

1. Feel everything.

Every emotion in the book will come up during the aftermath of the betrayal: rage, grief, terror, jealousy, revenge, etc. It is essential that you have space to fully experience the intense variety of feelings in a safe context.

Pushing down this emotion or burying it with numbing substances will prolong the wound. Find friends and professionals who will support you to feel without adding any more emotional kerosene to the bonfire. Get enough support to go deep, express fully, and emerge much lighter. You know you are done with this phase when you are not obsessed with the betrayer or what they did anymore. You are ready to actually think about you, your life, and what you want now.

2. Use your new free time wisely.

After you have collapsed for a while and experienced an enormous amount of catharsis, you can begin to see the emptiness that exists where there once was the presence of your person. Emptiness is at first terrifying for most of us because we are afraid we will dissolve into nothingness and never return. The beauty of this black hole is you have the opportunity to create whatever you desire in this nascent period of vast choices.

What have you been longing to do but have been avoiding? What hobby, interest, class, can you now devote some precious time to? The vacuum inside you is really not a problem if you commit to filling it with things that will enhance your life and fill you with inspiration. There is nothing better than looking back at the period of heartbreak and betrayal and saying “That was when I really found my passion for …”

3. Forgive yourself.

The final stage of recovery is about forgiveness. Now, I’m not telling you to absolve the betrayer of their sins—they need to do their own forgiveness work and you really do not need to be any part of it. This is when you must absolutely forgive yourself for and learn from the following:

• Not seeing it coming.

• What could you have seen if you were looking more closely?

• Seeing signs of something wrong but not wanting to confront it for whatever your reasons.

• Where did you back down from real issues that were simmering? What skills do you need to not do that again?

• Any ways you contributed to the distance that ultimately led to this tortuous level of disconnection.

• How did you check out in some critical ways or put up with behaviors that were unhealthy?

Forgiving yourself is the final frontier of transformational recovery. It is the utter acceptance that we have no control over others whatsoever, yet we can always learn to be more whole and complete ourselves. Betrayal creates an undeniable break in our self-image. However, if we use that rupture to reformulate ourselves into more present, awake, connected, and fully expressed people, we will not only walk tall, but we could, one day, actually have gratitude for the brutal wake-up call.

by Guest Author Dr. Jennifer Freed, PhD, child behavioral expert, co-founder of AHA! (Attitude.Harmony.Achievement.) http://ahasb.org

“Can I trust you?”

"Burning Love" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Burning Love” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Trust is developed over time by observing a person’s behavior. A good indicator of trustworthiness is a person’s ability to resist immediate impulses. Take note of the following:

• Does she have impulse control?

• Is he able to resist short-term gratification in order to pursue long-term fulfillment?

• Does she flake out on promises because something more fun, lucrative, or interesting popped up?

• Did he fail to follow through because he just didn’t feel like it?

Generally, people who can control their immediate impulses in one area can control them in most other areas, an exception being for vastly different spheres of enticement. For example, some people care much more about their own physical sensations than the feelings of other people, or vice versa. So someone who might never succumb to an extramarital affair might give in to her weakness for indulging in chocolate, and vice versa.

Being trustworthy in a relationship means that we keep the trust of others sacred, knowing they are vulnerable if we betray them.

So rather than asking someone “Can I trust you?”, take note of their behavior. If you see that someone is impulsive, has cheated before, or tends to be dishonest in order to gratify their immediate desires, then it’s very likely that that person won’t be able to resist a similar set of temptations in the future.

Distrust should prevent you from counting on someone to behave differently from their past. Distrust should not lead you to live in a state of suspicious and fearful wishful thinking. So if someone’s behavior doesn’t lead you to trust them, avoid getting into a relationship with them where you need to trust them. Otherwise, you’ll live in a constant state of naïveté and disappointment, or fear and anger.

Unfortunately, sometimes people who are trustworthy can deviate from their norm. There are no guarantees in life. We have to be ready to handle whatever comes our way as best we can.

Yet, if someone’s past conduct indicates trustworthiness, don’t waste time living in a state of suspicion and fear. Give them your trust, while remaining aware. If someone has been trustworthy, enjoy the fact that you can trust him or her.

I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Creating Trust: ‘Don’t you trust me? Despite my faults, you know I love you.’”

Read “After multiple affairs, he promised he’d never cheat on me again. Can I trust him this time?”

“After multiple affairs, he promised he’d never cheat on me again. Can I trust him this time?”

"Shh!" Tiger Woods by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

No. Sorry to say, someone who repeatedly cheats on his or her partner is unlikely to stop.

Repeated cheating often involves a ravenous craving for both psychological validation and the dopamine high that are briefly produced in the affair. Having multiple liaisons allows a person to escape his anxieties, feel pleasure, and feel validated by being desired.

A vicious cycle of release, shame, and desire to fend off unwanted emotions by seeking release has probably been wired into his brain—it has become an addiction.

If his behavior is that of a sex addict, it has probably caused his self-esteem and average dopamine levels to be lowered. This will likely drive him to an even more desperate pursuit of the temporary high that affairs provide.

Novelty heightens the senses and intensifies passion. For someone who has affairs, the novelty lies in being with a new person.

Novelty with the same partner means having the courage to bring new meaning and depth to that relationship—to let oneself be known on a deeper level, to bring freshness to the relationship. To do these things, one must risk rejection.

It takes courage and a sense of adventure to go beyond the routine of a committed relationship, and bring the BEST of oneself to the same partner. It would be far more challenging, and ultimately rewarding, for your partner to face his fears and risk invalidation with someone who really knows him—you, OR at least to approach you honestly in discussing the troubles in your relationship.

As for any addict, it takes a great deal of motivation and courage to learn to resist seeking the quick high that the addict has found so compelling. To rewire a neurological highway requires tremendous determination to be willing to face emotional anxieties and resist physical cravings, and will likely require getting counseling and/or going to Sex Addicts Anonymous.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Attractions outside the Marriage.”

Read “Sustaining Desire: ‘It doesn’t matter. Let’s just watch TV.’”

Watch “Seven Keys To A Fantastic Relationship.”