Stop Trashing the Affair Partner

It’s very common. As a betrayed spouse learns of whom the affair partner was, the lights start to come on a bit. If the affair partner was a good friend or best friend of the betrayed spouse, the whole situation becomes a ‘double betrayal’ for the hurt spouse. They’ve now been betrayed by both their spouse and their friend.  It really is one of the toughest situations to face within the world of infidelity.  

Eventually, the betrayed is faced with raging emotions and a sense of violation. Often times the affair partner will not quit or go away quietly either. It’s at this point that the betrayed many times will start to tear down and trash the affair partner. Don’t get me wrong, they may deserve it, but it’s a no win situation.

In what seems like a knee jerk reaction, the unfaithful spouse will start to defend their affair partner. Even if that affair partner is acting or has acted unreasonably, even hateful, the unfaithful starts to feel as though they almost have to defend their affair partner.  They, the unfaithful, resort to this behavior for a few reasons:

  1. Most times, they feel like they loved or love their affair partner. There is an instinctual defense mechanism that kicks in and they start to defend the affair partner. Usually this happens early on in recovery as the unfaithful is usually still clouded in their feelings, emotions and understanding of the entire situation. Since they have feelings for their affair partner it’s their instinct to defend them out of perceived genuine love or care.
  2. If you’re attacking the affair partner, you’re also attacking the unfaithful spouse. Remember, the unfaithful chose the affair partner. The unfaithful feels as though you are attacking them as you’re tearing apart their ‘choosing behavior or preferences’ if you will. While you may rail and attack the affair partner, the unfaithful begins to take on a personalization of your attack.  They feel as though you’re attacking their preferences and discretion and if they do not at least fight back initially, they probably are internally. You, the betrayed, may feel this is ridiculous, but the fact is, they allowed the affair partner into their lives and while you may feel somewhat cathartic by destroying the affair partner's image, it will usually backfire. We also call this shaming the unfaithful, yet shaming them for the choices they have made. Again, they are personalizing your attacks and it only pushes them farther and farther away.
  3. Frequently, the affair partner had 20% of what the marriage may not have had. You, the betrayed spouse, probably have about 80% of what the unfaithful wanted, needed and desperately desires. So yes, as you have probably correctly assumed, we the unfaithful will trade the much needed 80% for the sought after 20%. That 20% is shiny, attention getting and seems like greener grass. You, the betrayed may have taken care of the kids with incredible skill and prowess. You may be able to pay the bills and manage the check book to the cent. You might be able to whip up a meal that’s incredibly healthy and meets all the necessary criteria.  The affair partner may be able to do none of this, yet she can bat her eyes, or share a few words of praise and it lights up the unfaithful spouse. He/she/we are exchanging the 80% for the 20% and we all know 20% can only last so long. Yet, here’s the rub: you may be attacking the mere 20% in another person which can possibly be a blind spot in your own life. The unfaithful will perceive you as weak in many cases or self-righteous and again, it sets you and the healing process back considerably.

While you may have every right to attack the affair partner, it’s not about rights at this point. It’s about what works and what doesn’t work. It’s about finding a strategy to give you both the best possible chance at healing and I’m sorry, attacking or trashing the affair partner will just not bring healing or closure. 

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Samuel,

Samuel,

I understand what you are saying completely, but what do you suggest otherwise? What are some constructive ways to handle the anger and betrayal of an AP who was friend of the family? How do I, The Betrayed, move past the betrayal knowing there is a strong likelihood that we will see her at community events and neighborhood stores? How do I move past the betrayal when she, herself, will not let go?

My H's AP does not get that the affair is o-v-e-r. How does The Betrayed NOT feel violated? Or at the very least how does The Betrayed overcome that feeling of being violated when the AP is still out there, lingering?

moving forward when violated...

dianaprince, thank you for commenting. the fact is, you've been hurt and violated. you can't push that away or minimize that at all. but we always have a choice how we respond in life. you should feel violated as you have been, but we do have a choice in the way we respond. for starters, 1. grieve. you'll need to grieve before you can ever forgive. as you grieve and study it and understand it, it will help you move towards forgiveness and move towards finding new momentum to in fact forgive. 2. as you grieve, you can then forgive in order to let go of the resentment and bitterness. remember, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. its for you not for anyone else. 3. i think you'll need some very clear boundaries by your spouse and by you. from changing numbers and email addresses to passwords etc, you'll need to create the best barrier you can to keep the ap at bay. the unfaithful needs to be the spearhead if you will to help keep those lines clear and defined. it is incredibly hard to do this if the unfaithful is the one who keeps allowing the ap back in the mix of life and surrounding circles. does this help? I hope I'm speaking to what you've asked. I'm happy to readdress it as well.

moving forward when violated

Samuel,

This does help. Let me say that the boundaries have been set and hedges are in place. My H has kept the lines clear and defined. We have done everything short of moving to create barriers and yet the ap continues with her attempts to re-engage my H. He is over it and her. He sees her attempts as tactics to destroy his family and that is unacceptable to him.

And truly, it is how I am responding to these current attempts by the ap. I feel powerless and victimized in these situations. A big part of me wants to hide in shame. And another part of me wants to protect and defend my H and my children. I don't dare engage the ap. I choose the high road, but I drown in the negative response - the powerlessness, the shame. How do I flip the switch so to speak and respond more positively? How do I convince myself that I am the honorable one without beating my chest and claiming that I am better than she is?

I am (still) in the process of grieving and I do feel that I am finding and offering forgiveness to my spouse....but I struggle to offer this to the AP especially given her recent actions.

forgiveness for the ap

it's not too uncommon that the hardest person to forgive is the ap. it was that way for my wife Samantha. she had to work a bit harder i think to find forgiveness for her. it's not necessarily harder, but it is 'different.' don't beat yourself up about it. it takes time to work through the layers of forgiveness in life and in infidelity and especially with the ap. i think at some level, the way to find healing for you is to realize that it's not about being the better person, but it is about finding the new life that God has for you, despite the pain you are in . as you grieve privately, and then move deeper into forgiveness, you'll find greater healing and depth to your own recovery. it's hard to totally forgive if you haven't been able to grieve extensively. as you continue to do that, it will help for sure. you have to know that both of them are victims. victims of their own illusion. their own selfishness. their own stupidity. i find it helps to be able to forgive when you are able to see the unfaithful as a victim, albeit victim of stupidity, and also the affair partner as a victim of their own unhealthiness. as you can continue to see it that way, it helps. but it takes time to navigate through this and usually at least a year before your stable yourself, sometimes longer. you'll be glad you didn't quit and you'll be glad you forged ahead though.

This is an aera I have to

This is an aera I have to walk a fine line and I know I have stepped over more times then not. Part of the problem is I suspect my wife fell victim to limerance everything I seem to be able to piece together it is the only thing that seem to make sence of my wife's behavior. This is a problem many of the things I have read about over coming it is starting to look back and see just how really he was and to start to to understand that most of what she knew of him is false. While under the spell of limerance the object of your attraction never seems to have any flaws, which is just not the case. So they or her in my wife's case has to start to take the blinders off and get honest with what really happened and who he really is. I know what kind of guy he is but for some reason my wife can not. I know I have gotten frustrated many times and got rather blue t with her as to watch manner of man (and I use that term loosely) he really is. I just wish my wife had someone who would help her see the truth I am sure it would really help with her healing. I think the only reason it has not been a bigger problem is that it usually get's brought after she has done something she should not have. But yes I do see that it tends to give the impression in her eyes that I am attacking her.
David

you are right in your observations David...

we are blinded when we are under the influence, if you will, of a limerent viewpoint of the affair partner. it usually takes a season of time for the affair partner to sober up. for some it can be a month or two, for some it may take over a year to be honest. sometimes, two years. it's highly normal but I hope you're finding your way in this process of healing. has your wife given any thought to hope for healing? it's a great program that will surround her with other women who are in need of healing and accountability? just an idea. thanks for commenting my friend.

I have done this...sadly

Samuel, you are absolutely right. It does not help. I have done this and I am ashamed of it. I am trying to be a better person and feel some compassion for her. Her last ugly text to me just made me shake my head, feel pity, and then pray for God to bless her and forgive her.

But I am still trying to get over my husband trashing ME to the affair partner!

getting over it...

karen thanks for commenting. it's a tough road my friend. i'm very sorry it's hard. but looking upon her with compassion, but yet pity is also key. mercy always triumphs over judgement. getting over your husband trashing you to her is tough for sure. it's where forgiveness comes in for sure. take care.

Trashing and exposing the AP

Trashing and exposing the AP has given me quite a bit of gratification that I so needed as the betrayed spouse. I felt like it was my duty to expose her to the community for the home wrecker that she is. So far it has been my only reward in this bottomless pit of pain.

your only reward

Hannah, I'm very sorry it's been your only reward. you're right in feeling the anger and pain you probably feel, like none other. i get it. vengeance only lasts for so long and usually damages us when we do it. i can't nor won't convince you to see that, but my hope is that somewhere else, there may not be a 'reward' per se, but there may be some healing for you. there is a bottom unless the unfaithful tries to keep it from you, then the bottom seems to get further and further away. i'd caution you though, there isn't enough vengeance in the world to bring healing. it will only cause you to be angrier and angrier with bitterness and resentment being some of your best and only friends.

Realistic?

Samuel, I admire you for your writings so well reflect feeling of a betrayed spouse even though you were the unfaithful one. I'm not sure about this article though. I don't know how one doesn't trash the AP. Unless they truly didn't know your spouse was married, how do you not pass judgment? They know it was dead wrong. They know they were hurting many people in the process. How are their actions not reprehensible? They know your spouse was not theirs to have. But they did it anyway. Do I feel sorry for them? Maybe, because their character was so weak or their situation so desperate they couldn't find a legitimate partner. But if they know about the marriage, they are still every bit as responsible for the affair as the unfaithful partner. They bear equal responsibility in the demise of a marriage and family.

for you untold...

untold, thank you for the comment and compliment on the writing. i don't pretend to know it all, but i certainly can miss it from time to time. however, in this case I'd maintain the position. i think you should judge the situation that it was wrong and the affair partner was wrong. way out of line. their actions ARE reprehensible for sure. they also deserve 100% of their responsibility, so I'm not excusing their behavior or saying in any way, shape fashion or form that they are not on the hook for their actions. but trashing them about it to your spouse, will not prove productive for the reasons I posted in the article. i don't disagree with your opinions at all. i mean, shoot go for a drive and trash them personally to your self and vent all you need to. take a walk and trash them privately. trashing them to your spouse or in front of your spouse will not help and will for many already said reasons, lead to more clutter and difficulty between you too. I think what you'll find is on the journey to healing, as you take the high road as one already alluded too, I think it will create space for you to heal and grow and not create extra drama between you and your spouse. I think you may even see your spouse begin to be the one who says things eventually like 'wow what an idiot i was. i didn't want her/him, i was stupid.' it's at that point I think you'll feel far more reward by letting that happen then trashing the affair partner in front of them. i hope this helps and explains my thoughts on it.

samuel

I wish my wife would take a course any course. We did EMSO she did little to no work, we started Married for Life again no effort I have pretty much given up on that it is not a one person course. Anything to do with her affairs and she shuts down. It takes me a long time to to get any movement in the right direction, I can not fir the life of me get her to open up and have a meaningful discussion about what happened and what has to change.I give her some things to read but I do not know if she gets anything out of it. I know she wants to stay married I have given her many chances to leave if she wants, told her if she wants out I will do what ever I can to make it as smooth as possible, but no she stays. I suspect she is still not come to a real understanding as to what happened and why. I can not answer that for her she has to understand thst for herself, I think I know why and I can make coments but I can not get her to look very deep into what happened. I with the grace of God healed on my own in a very short time but I suspect she is still struggling, I think she is just trying to bury in down inside and move on. I know thst will mot work and have told y hat to her many times. I will keep at it trying to get her to get involved with other women who have fone what she has and made it through. It was a shame we had another couple at the start of EMSO with the wife who was also the unfaithful one but they did not make it and dropped. I did want to thank you for all the blogs you post they are great reads just wish thete was someone blogging who was the betrayed would love to hear from the other side it could be a real help I suspect that most of the readers again not all but I bet most are the betrayed looking for help with the pain.
David

betrayed blogger...

i get it. i wish there was too. there was one who started, but most fade unfortunately. i appreciate the comments for sure. it sounds to me like a heavy form of shame which is operating in her and causing her to shut down, rather than open up and talk. it's sad as it only wounds more and only makes healing that much more difficult. i'm sorry for that my friend. it's not easy at all. she's probably dealing with a ton of shame and won't navigate or push through it. i'm sure you've read the many articles on shame, but just in case you haven't this paralysis of shame article is exceptional to read if she'd ever give it any airtime: https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/infidelity-recovery-understanding-the-paralysis-of-shame have you ever considered getting a session with john at crossroads? he's a male betrayed spouse as well and may be able to help her? just a thought. anything I can do, please let me know.

The biggest part of this that

The biggest part of this that resonates with me, was in the early days of recovery. He cringed when I would rail about "what kind of person DOES this?" Because HE was that kind of person too. Luckily he was able to verbalize that while he felt she deserved my anger, he wanted my love and forgiveness. When I called her names, he balked not because he thought she didn't deserve them but because he hated feeling that he deserved them too.

His affair partner is a true sociopath, who has gone after one married man after another. What we have learned about this woman is horrifying (including a very disturbing psych history). But she hid it well behind he professional job and demeanor at the time. She also lied about having a venereal disease, and I have endured multiple surgeries (including having to have a total hysterectomy) because of this fact. When he ended it, she lawyered up and leveled so many false and outrageous accusations at us, HER OWN attorney warned ours on the down low that she was "disturbed" and we should be very careful. He fired her as quickly as he could. It cost us thousands of dollars. My husband received anonymous death threats. She stalked and harassed me and my two older children on every social media site known to man. She revealed gory details of their affair to our sixteen year old daughter. I could go on and on. Three years later, and she still periodically pulls something off the wall.

Lastly, I will add that I think a lot of it has to do with how the affair ends. In our case, my husband ended it without being caught. I think he did a lot of the processing and detaching before I even knew what was going on. So that made him perhaps better prepared than someone who is caught in the middle of an affair, is forced to end it suddenly and has to process the "whys" in the face of a devastated spouse.

Trashing the AP

You're right about trashing the AP. It does SEEM cathartic at times, but deep down inside It really doesn't do any for MY HEALING. My husband had affairs because of sexual addiction. So, His cheating was NEVER ABOUT HOW SEXY ANY OF THEM WERE ( they weren't).
He said, "I just wanted to feel better about myself." He chose females that were of ill repute, unattractive, drug addicted, obese...it brings tears to my eyes to think of it.
They KNEW HE HAD SOMEONE ELSE, but their low sense of self compelled them to try to "one up" another female! In this case, unfortunately, it just HAPPENED TO BE ME.
The very idea of two desperate, empty people mating like animals, and coming up with less than they had is heartbreaking. I shared this analogy with husband, and he cried. He says that his life, gifts, purity, and love were WASTED trying to get that "love." The shame of being caught, confronted, and cast out drove him to a failed suicide and nervous breakdown.
He found the Lord through a Former Vietnam Vet and a Christian Counselor.
He's also attended EVERY MANS BATTLE sponsored by New Life Ministries and Steve Arterburn.

Samuel thank you for your

Samuel thank you for your reply I would love to try to get my wife into that new weekend seminar that is being put on by beyond affairs for unfaithful unfaithful women in July. I have talked to her about it but I am sure she will point out we do not have the money for it but some how I would love to get her there. I just think at an event like that with face to face contact with other women like her she might open up and start real healing. I fear like EMSO just doing calls once a week it is just real easy to fake it. But that is my hope. Thank you for your offer of help.
David

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