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The Art of Relating

The Art of Relating
with Christine Kniffen, MSW, LCSW,
Therapist & Relationship Coach

Their Cheating Isn’t About You!

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People cheat. We may not like it, but it’s a reality. Plenty of people have felt the pain and anguish of an affair. We often feel betrayed, abandoned and many people seem to get stuck on the notion that they were somehow not enough. However, I want to be perfectly clear when I say that the affair has nothing to do with your worthiness. The affair is not about you…..it happened to you. The affair in actuality has much to do with the other person’s deficit of self. As a result, they need someone or something to provide attention, excitement or they may simply take the cowardly way out of the relationship due to their inability to speak the truth about their unhappiness.

Contrary to what people may think, an affair also is not caused by a lack of sex at home. Rather, it is about a need for excessive attention, admiration or the like. What is lacking in someone’s self esteem that they need all the extra attention? What is lacking in someone’s self-esteem that they need constant admiration? After many years together you may not be saying, “Wow, you are so great”. Perhaps he or she isn’t so great. And, since you’re not tooting their horn they need to get that from another source, as they are unable to feel that about themselves.

Some people crave continual excitement. They are junkies for needing to create drama and distraction from an unfulfilling life. One of the big adult life skills we need to achieve involves learning to create our own challenges and excitement in a positive, forward moving manor. Having an affair is really a pretty lazy way to get excitement in an otherwise dull life filled with unrealized personal potential. The distraction angle for what causes one to have an affair is quite prevalent as well. If you are sneaking around, doing something you are not supposed to, it takes up quite a bit of one’s mental space in one’s head. Then, these distractions keep you from thinking about all of the things you are not accomplishing in life.

Finally, some people simply have not developed the emotional evolvement necessary to openly and honestly confront their feelings and their current situation. It is very understandable that someone comes to realize they are not happy in a particular relationship and that they no longer want to be in it. It is everyone’s right to pursue happiness. However, people feel too afraid to have this discussion with the other person and end things on a more adult, dignified level. You often hear, “I didn’t want to hurt the other person”, as if having an affair was going to somehow hurt less. The reasoning is simply ridiculous. And, let’s not forget a potential final excuse as uttered by Tiger Woods who honestly stated something to the effect of , “I had worked hard and I thought I was entitled”. Plenty of people think they can have their cake and eat it too. But as I always say, “I don’t give cake!”

So, if you find you are in this place in life having been cheated on and wondering if you were somehow not enough, then think again. Someone else’s behavior rarely, if ever, really has anything to do with you. If you find yourself struggling with how to proceed then you may need to talk with someone to sort it all out. Relationships can survive infidelity, but it takes work and professional help to regain the trust that has been shattered.

Christine Kniffen, LCSW is a Relationship Coach and Therapist in private practice. For a free consultation call 314-374-8396.

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