Wanting to be Wanted: Ambivalence Part 2

Often times the betrayed spouse is infuriated by the ambivalence of the unfaithful spouse. The very fact that they do not know who they want to be with, their affair partner or their spouse, is enough to incite feelings of rejection which eventually spill over into rage, hopelessness and eventually deep despair. My question for the betrayed is, “Why wouldn’t your spouse feel ambivalent?”

It requires a bit of an exploration into the mind of the unfaithful to understand the ambivalence. Remember, the unfaithful has been living in a bit of a fantasy world. Affairs create the possibility for an unfaithful spouse to construct a new reality: sex as often as you want, no responsibility to care for the mood and desires of the other, no rejection or hard work to connect, non-stop affection and applause, no bills, no kids to care for, and no baggage full of unresolved anger, issues, resentment or frustration. More and more, the unfaithful describe “finding their soul mate” in their affair partner, when 5, 10, or 20 some odd years earlier they married their very soul mate then.  

It’s just not real. They’ve deceived themselves into thinking that this affair is the answer to all of life’s issues. All this to say, there are reasons they are ambivalent. They’ve genuinely deceived themselves. They don’t know which way is up or down and do not realize at all there are other people living in this soap opera they have created. Their hearts have grown hard, and a hard heart always caters towards personal and moral blindness. It’s no wonder they are so ambivalent.  

It’s along this path that the betrayed spouse has a choice to make. They want to be wanted like any human being. They automatically revert many times to “If he/she doesn’t want me, then I have no interest in saving the marriage.” They ‘want to be wanted’ and rightly so. However, my submission to the betrayed is, the unfaithful don’t know what they want and they are far too unhealthy to make any decisions right now. You could be making a decision far too early in the process, too. It’s not about a competition with the affair partner, although some unhealthy unfaithful spouses will ultimately make it just that: who wants me more and is willing to woo me back to them. In many cases, the ambivalence is an attempt to control both the spouse and the affair partner, and it’s usually the spouse who realizes the game and puts an end to it. The betrayed spouse wants to be wanted, but to decide prematurely to close the door to any possibility of restoration out of rejection or anger, I think is a mistake. It’s a process to recovery and it’s a process to the unfaithful coming up for air and finding clarity. We all want to be wanted and it’s probably that very desire which has allowed vulnerability in the mind and heart of the unfaithful spouse and made room for the affair. It’s not right, it just is.

I would encourage the betrayed spouse to give room to the idea that we cannot die on the cross of “if you don’t want me like I deserve to be wanted, we’re done.” It’s not that simple. Waiting for them to want you may seem like an eternity, but it doesn’t have to be. The full court press I suggest is using any and all leverage to get expert quality help. If they are not willing to get help, quite honestly they will usually not sober up on their own and return home filled with new found desire for their spouse, nor will you be able to simply suck up the feelings and anger you’ve been processing. It will take support to help the unfaithful to sober up and find clarity. The pull of the illicit affair and fantasy world will be too much to overcome more times than not. Push instead for expert help, and if they are not willing to get the kind of help they need, perhaps that may be more of a defining moment for your own ambivalence than anything. For more help on how to approach the ambivalent about taking action this article may be of some support: https://www.affairrecovery.com/dealing-infidelity-how-get-your-mate-cooperate-without-being-controlling

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Thank you for all your posts,

Thank you for all your posts, 'Samuel'. They have been so helpful. I have read all of them and thought I should at least say thank you.

thank you Jana

Jana, you're kind. thanks so much for the compliment and for your thoughts. sometimes you wonder if they mean much but comments like yours help me keep going. thanks again for taking the time to post. have a wonderful day my friend.

Thank you Samuel!

Samuel, I can't thank you enough for your valuable insight, education and encouragement. Your honesty and integrity shine through each word you write and has shed much light and provided support and a sense of calm amidst chaos. Do you have any addt'l suggestions for the betrayed during the unfaithful's time of ambivalence? Prayer is constant. Looking back was there anything that stands out for you during this time?


you're very kind Hobbley. I would suggest 1. not chasing him. 2. do as much self care as you can for YOU. like seeing a good therapist, taking harboring hope on the site which is exceptional https://www.affairrecovery.com/product/harboring-hope 3. make sure you stay clear of telling people who will not understand and who will give you advice when they have never had to go through the horror you are living through. 4. find some kind of outlet. running, walking, journaling, praying. 4. probably most important is grieving. finding a place and a time to sit and simply grieve for what's gone on and what's been lost due to the affair. grieving is what paves the way towards forgiveness and healing for YOU. i would do what you need to do to grieve. one woman sat in the same place each night, at 8pm and just cried and grieved and listened to music that touched her and then took a hot bath or shower and went to bed and started fresh each day. it is really situational but i hope these suggestions help my friend. feel free to give me feedback on these and we'll talk again. Take care my friend.


My unfaithful husband has been our of the home for 5 weeks and the first 2 weeks he was still meeting with his AP. We had full disclosure 4 days ago and he seems to want to work things out and has agreed to go to the EMS weekend in January. I have mentioned that I will want him to come home soon so I can actually see his behavior in real time, not just texting, and he has stated he is not sure he is ready. I am feeling the pain of yet continued rejection and am realizing that I was "expecting" him to be happy to come home. I swing between weakness and strength, working on the marriage or filing for divorce. Five years ago I found out he had been in a 9 year emotional and physical affair and when that ended went immediately into a fling type affair. We started a recovery process and therapy but since then he has had several emotional affairs, was still in email and phone contact with previous APs, and now the 3rd physical affair. The years of lies have worn me down. After all this I am willing to give it one last chance and then to be told he doesn't want to come home is almost a tipping point. This article has really helped me look at my faulty thinking. The damage may be too great.

faulty thinking

walkworthy thank you for posting. for starters, what a wonderful show of grace and mercy to be wiling to give it another shot. that's huge and that's a testament to your character. it takes far more courage to be open to restoration than it does to just cut ties, divorce and move on. I don't think the damage is too much, but you don't know till you get the right expert to help. rick, and john, and leslie at the ems weekend are experts and will be able to help tremendously. they know what they are doing and will be able to navigate through the reasons for the affair and the ambivalence of it all. unfortunately, you cant fix him: if you could, you would have already. he also can't fix himself or you and he's going to have to realize that. that's where the ems weekend comes in. i would caution you though to have him come home just yet . maybe he needs to stay out a while and realize how great he had it at the house with you. maybe coming home is a sign of commitment to you unilaterally and he's just not there yet. maybe he doesnt want to string you along. i would be willing to bet he may not want to come home as he realizes it's going to be chaos and not going to work without expert help. also, it may not be a good idea for him to come home if he feels he has to prove himself and show you that he's willing to get healthy. he just doesn't know what to do right now and won't know what to do till the ems weekend and will most likely just make things worse for both of you if I'm being honest. i think space may be a good thing right now, but then use the ems weekend as a stake in the ground of whether or not he comes home or stays out. i'm pretty confident you'll want him back and he'll want to come home AFTER the weekend, but its typical to see this action from an unfaithful spouse at this stage of the game. after all, this is what the weekend is for: expert help to get to the bottom of things in him and in you and get help to know what to do. its why you're coming in the first place. i would 'keep the attorney on speed dial' as they say, but wouldn't file till after the ems weekend. that way you know exactly what is going on inside his brain and heart and you also have had the time to heal and get perspective as well. i hope this helps. feel free to keep posting and i'll answer as soon as i'm able. thank you again for posting.

Looking for Part 1 of this topic?

Thank you for this really insightful article. Can you kindly provide the link to Part 1?

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