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7 divorced women and their advice on what you need to know before marriage is an important one for me. While researching on a topic i stumbled on the most realistic piece i had ever seen on advice given by divorced women on what to consider before getting married. This will truly help you and your partner get the best perspective on where your marriage is or what went wrong. The credits on this piece go to Ms. Ella Quittner.

In pursuit of good advice, I spoke with seven individuals who’ve seen matrimony from all angles: women who got married and then divorced. I asked about life as a legally bound couple, and what they think one should consider before becoming part of one themselves. A few things quickly became clear: honesty and trust are paramount, inorganic personal growth from a partner is non-negotiable and nothing can beat knowing yourself.

Here’s what they had to say.


On the Decision to Get Married—and What They Wish They’d Thought About

“I wish I’d thought about my life 20 years down the road. We both were in a deeply religious lifestyle at the time, and the community we lived in celebrated marriage, so we stepped into it quickly. I had spoken about my hopes and dreams to my future spouse multiple times; I wish I hadn’t assumed he carried those dreams, too. Maybe I interpreted love as an automatic sharing of dreams for one another? My assumption that my dreams would be equally prioritized is something I regret.”
—Beth*, 31, tech operations, New York (married at 20, divorced at 29)

“The relationship was six years long at [the time we decided to get married], it seemed like the logical next step. Graduate school and kids were on the radar next. I wish I would’ve dated more in my 20s, lived life solo longer, and been pickier. I wish I would’ve listened to my gut and not said ‘yes’ (but I didn’t know how to then, and women are often programmed in our society to ignore their gut).”
—Rebecca, 41, full-time mother, Oregon (married at 29, divorced at 40)

“I was 20 when I got engaged to a then 34-year-old, which gave me some kind of dangerously inflated ego. I thought I was so special for being one of the first of my peers to embark on this life event, and mature for my age because I was engaged to a much-older man. I wish I knew then that there are more important and validating things to aspire to than marriage, and the bragging rights I thought I earned as a young bride were overrated.”
—Carrie, 27, illustrator, painter & tattoo apprentice, Amsterdam (married at 23, divorced at 24)

“We had been dating for more than a year, he was 32, and it seemed at the time to be the next logical step in the relationship. Both of us being children of immigrants, World War II survivors, our goal was to please our parents—have successful marriages, careers, and children who would, of course, then repeat this pattern. I wish I’d thought about myself and not about what my parents wanted. I wish I’d felt less obligated to others and I wish I’d cared less about what my larger community thought.”
—Pia, 57, writer & executive director of a non-profit, California (married at 27, divorced at 50)

“I was three months pregnant, and I’d been raised in a strict Catholic family. The idea of anything besides marriage wasn’t fathomable. And I wasn’t thinking past the fairytale of the wedding day—there was a blindness of how hard it would be in real life. I was focused on the fairytale: we can be anyone, do anything, raise a baby.”
—Lauren*, 50, entrepreneur, California (married at 24, divorced at 25)

“It was a semi-arranged marriage. We’d met over the phone and had been introduced by a family contact, and we talked over the phone for a couple of months, but we lived in different countries. And then we basically met and decided. It happened pretty quickly. At the time, I felt like it was the right thing to do. I was thinking about someone who was kind and generous, and who was easy to talk to, and who was interested in me, and someone I thought would be a good parent. Someone who had the same religion or was interested in the same cultural activities as me. But sometimes those similarities you may have—food, culture, religion—may not translate to the way people view the world or more defined roles in a marriage or communication styles, which turned out to be very important.”
—Neesha*, 53, mental health professional, Washington (married in early 20s, divorced in late 20s)

On How Their Relationships Changed After Marriage

“We turned inward. Less reliance on friends and more (too much) time with each other. Our world got smaller and our activities mostly with each other.”
—Rebecca, 41

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“Complacency. He thought our married fate was sealed and subsequently stopped putting in work and I stopped asking him to. I thought silence was easier than fighting, but I was wrong.“
—Carrie, 27

“The level of responsibility we faced and discovering how unprepared we were for it. How we needed to be responsible to each other, then to a business and then to our children. It was stunning. What changed was we didn’t have fun anymore, we didn’t know how—we hadn’t had the example—to step away from work and enjoy life and each other alongside our responsibilities.”
—Pia, 57

“Respect. That changed the quickest and the most. Our marriage kind of fell apart close to the beginning. In that situation, it was related to the fact that we really didn’t know each other, and both of us went in with different expectations. We didn’t spend appreciable time together before getting married.”
—Neesha, 53

“Me, [I changed]. I grew into myself, developed feminist values, and began to feel trapped in a life I chose as a 20 year old. All of a sudden, my status as being half of a ‘power couple’ dynamic felt suffocating and I began to get more and more frustrated with not being truly heard.”
——Tiffany, 33, Innovation Management, Sweden (married at 22, divorced at 33)

On What They Wish They’d Known About Their Partners—and Themselves—Before Getting Married

“That you can change no one except yourself. That the problems before marriage only amplify after marriage, especially kids. I wish I paid attention to my ex not being proactive or interested in self-growth or growth in the relationship. I wish I knew that most relationship problems stem from wounded inner-child problems, and both partners have to be committed to acknowledging and working on them.”
—Rebecca, 41

“Can I say I wish I knew how capable [my partner] was at living a secret life while presenting the personality of the ‘dream man to be married to’? I was married so young, partly for love and partly because of the fear of going through life alone. I wish I could sit with 19-year-old Beth now and let her know that the strength and bravery she is often ‘teased’ for (because in that religious community, women were not meant to be brave and strong) was actually something to celebrate—and it would carry her toward all her dreams if she stepped forward into them. That I don’t need a partner to make sure I am okay along the way.”
—Beth*, 31

“It wasn’t a matter of wishing what I knew—I did know, so it was a matter of knowing and ignoring. Today we call that ‘red flags.’ I know that each time I saw one of these flags, I remember exactly what I told myself in order to convince myself the behavior wasn’t a big deal, or it was related to a specific event that wouldn’t occur again. I wish I knew that I was enough as I was: curious, entrepreneurial, beautiful, funny, intelligent, and insightful. I wish I knew that I could trust myself, and that I was more than my appearance, more than what others thought of me—I was my depth of experience, even just in my mid-to-late twenties.”
—Pia, 57

“I wish I knew I was strong enough at the time. I would have kept that child and done it on my own—I wish I knew I didn’t have to get married. I was strong enough a year and a half later to say this isn’t working and I’m going to stand up and walk away—which was a lot harder, to break up a family.”
—Lauren, 50

On the Most Unexpected Parts of Marriage

“How hard it is to be with that one person day after day, tackling all the obstacles, managing time, money, energy levels, kids’ needs, our own needs. I never knew it would be so hard to work with someone and I never knew that there would be days that I would hate my partner. It is messy to be human and it is messy to do it with another and with kids.”
—Pia, 57

“The ability to lose one’s identity—I became a shell of a human always been known as ‘Beth plus…’ instead of ‘Beth.’ I haven’t ever thought of my career in connection to my relationship status, but in fact, at the beginning of my career life, I was drawn to a career that complimented the marriage I was in. I was heavily accommodating to allow my partner to chase his career dreams and then I would adjust my timeline/career accordingly. Later on in the marriage as I grew older and took steps away from a belief system that taught me ‘to love my spouse was to serve my spouse,’ I was able to dream of a career in business and step outside of my comfort zone.”
—Beth*, 31

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“The extended family dynamic, and how much it impacts your life. To say he had an unhealthy relationship with [his parents] would be an understatement. I knew this going into our marriage, but I didn’t know how much of this burden I would take on.”
—Tiffany, 33

“I think the strangest thing is it’s pretty boring. It’s the mundanity of everyday life. When you make a house together and throw in a baby, you think it’s going to be all picket fences and Christmas trees, but it can become monotonous.”
—Lauren, 50

On the Best Parts of Marriage

“A partnership is beautiful when it’s done well. The joy of being fully ‘known’ by someone doesn’t require marriage, but often sits deep within a marriage.”
—Beth*, 31

“The family moments. Those moments when our kids would do something amazingly quirky and we would look at each other with that, ‘OMG, how did we create this perfect creature?” look. Or when he would play the banjo and the kids would dance while I knitted or wrote, or did something that looked like I was occupied with anything other than sheer joy, pride, and love. I still miss those moments. We both have new partners now, who, I am confident love our kids, but it’s not the same feeling—I can’t explain it and I think I’ll miss our little family in some way, all my life.”
—Tiffany, 33

“Our youthful enthusiasm and delight about this little human we’d created.”
—Lauren, 50

On Sex and Marriage

“I wish I knew how important sexual compatibility is, and that it won’t change after marriage. If partners aren’t on the same page with regard to frequency, what they like, if they enjoy it, that’s not going to change with marriage, kids. So find someone who is aligned with those important needs.”
—Rebecca, 41

“The best drug in the world is new exciting people, new exciting sex, and the beginnings of something new. You can’t match it. Even in the best relationships, it’s going to go away. Once you’re married, and if you choose to have children especially, of course sex is going to change. You’re exhausted, there are kids in the house. You could be married to Brad Pitt. After some years, he’s just your guy. Over time, the companionship aspect, someone you want to snuggle up on the couch with and just eat takeout with, is completely normal and what we’re all craving.”
—Lauren, 50

Advice for Anyone Currently Married

“If you’re fighting for your marriage to survive, don’t be ashamed to go to a professional, and early. Even if your therapy visits are sporadic, it can be so helpful and validating to have a new set of eyes and ears in the room with you and your spouse. Open-mindedness is key, however, and you might hear some things about yourself that you don’t want to. Just trust that your partner and your therapist are well-intentioned.”
—Carrie, 27

“I think that what’s really important is to be true to yourself, and to not feel like your happiness is because of the other person, or that the other person has to make you happy. Everyone has to take their own personal responsibility. Not blaming your partner is also really important—not using that concept of blame, but figuring out ways to work together to achieve your goals. Aligning your goals is the other thing: how to achieve them together. And doing fun things together. Laughing together, being kind to each other.”
—Neesha, 53

Advice for Anyone Considering Marriage

“Pause and ask yourself why are you doing this. Many of us don’t take that moment to ask the why and allow yourself permission to not do it if you don’t want.”
—Beth*, 31

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“Date a lot. Make your list and don’t settle. Your relationship to yourself is most important—you have to make you happy; do your emotional work and take care of you.”
—Rebecca, 41

“First, talk a lot about money, what it means to you. Talk about your parents’ marriages and what you learned from them. Talk about family trauma, secrets, your own trauma—be honest with each other and slowly build a good foundation on which to place your marriage and build from there.”
—Pia, 57

“I have no qualms about the institution of marriage, or the notion of committing oneself to a partner, but always remember that nothing is static. You’re allowed to change your mind, and so are they. The underlying sentiment of marriage, or any other relationship for that matter, should never be rooted in ownership.”
—Carrie, 27

“People should listen to their loved ones more. Oftentimes, in most cases of divorce I see, it’s not uncommon to hear ‘my mom told me…’ or ‘my best friend told me…’ or ‘this person warned me…’ [and regret at not having listened]. It’s helpful to listen to the people who really know us. Judgement can be rather cloudy when you’re dealing with sex and love and desire.”
—Lauren, 50

“Know yourself as much as possible, and be open to discussing the hard conversations. Was it on Man Repeller that I read the idea of renegotiating your relationship every year? I love that. Someone once told me that marriage should feel like a free choice every day, that you’re not bound to the person, but you choose each day to be with him or her.”
—Tiffany, 33

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.
Interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity.

 

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HOW TO

Types of Infidelity and how to protect yourself

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Today we’ll be talking about a topic “Understanding affair types and Learning How to Protect Yourself”.

Having observed many couples and individuals struggle with affairs, the identification of the reason an affair happened and the type of affair your partner may be embroiled in is usually one of the major determinants that show if you or your partner will survive the aftermath of an affair.

I have seen many individuals going through a rough period in their marriages yet affairs were the furthest thing on their mind. However, for many others, having affairs was their way of coping with the kink in their relationship. The point I’m simply trying to bring out is this;

“People have affairs and blame it on the fact that a need wasn’t met in their marriage. This is wrong because affairs are choices (sometimes unconscious) based on life-long patterns”.      – Temple Obike, LMFT.

 

The advancements in the field of psychology are helping us understand the various affair types and how to identify them. The points below are condensed identifications of the various affair types. If you can understand why you cheated or were cheated on, you might just be able to save our relationship.

Types of Infidelity and how to protect yourself

 

AFFAIR TYPES:

Affair Type 1 – Accidental Affair

This affair type is usually the one that blind-sides you. Your partner (or you) are on a business trip, at the office or just going along your merry way. You ventured into somewhere or find yourself in a situation that stirs up some emotional longings that generates erotic heat between you and someone. This is something that usually occurs when an individual decides to give themselves a relaxed time. That massage, catching a few drinks or being somewhere where no one knows you.

This sometimes occurs with someone known but most times it occurs with strangers. It is usually stirred by drinks or the use of recreational drugs. It’s not pre-planned or pre-meditated, has no emotional investment and has a very good chance of recovery.

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Advice: If you find yourself in locations that afford you a measure of anonymity, set up extra layers of boundaries such as getting drinks back to your hotel room rather than drinking in open spaces or simply enjoy video calls with your significant other at times when you personally know you’re succeptible to loneliness or boredom. These video calls can have an unwritten rule that says “whoever falls asleep first can turn off the video”. This is a personal favorite for me as a traveling therapist because it’s a rule that’s been saving my marriage since 1602.

Affair Type 2 – The Avoidance Affairs

This affair type is the majority of what we have out there. You know you are embroiled in this when you find out you’re constantly using these terms. “we don’t have sex always”, “We argue all the time” etc.

This affair type is with people who are generally nice. So nice that they will never have any conflict with you. It’s usually very predictable, lacks structure and most importantly gives you that feeling of being able to be your real self with the affair partner. If growing up you have faced issues such as neglect, shame, abandonment or interfaced with people who are toxic, it may turn you into someone who seeks out or enables this affair type.

Advice: The moment you begin feeling very free with someone of the opposite gender or believe they seem to understand you better than your partner or spouse, It’s the tipping point. Especially if you are married or in a committed relationship. Set up extra boundaries for yourself such as not being alone with the person or simply telling your partner about this person so you have an accountability partner

Affair Type 3 – Philanderer Affair

This is the consummate womanizer whose escapades has nothing to do with their partner. Their affairs look like conquests and have no emotional attachment. They regularly switch partners, have a sexist approach to gender discussions, they lie, they’re insecure and enjoy the concept of seduction. The key determining factor for this type of affair is that when they get caught, they do not feel humiliated but instead are pained by the new power their spouse has with the discovery of the affair.

 

Gay men, lesbians, heterosexuals etc. can all be philanderers. Their sexuality is fueled by ANGER and FEAR. This broad description pretty much points to the fact that everyone can be a victim of this affair type.

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Advice: This affair type is purely voluntary and anyone involved in this needs to first make a deciscion to change, understand the origins of this behavior and then seek out help.

 

Available on Podcast:

 

Affair Type 4 – Entitlement Affairs

This affair type is usually long-term and the partner who strays most times has a measure of success. They are powerful, celebrities, charming and accomplished. It usually occurs in relationships where both partners are accomplished and professionals. When two partners begin to live separate lives, entitlement affairs are not far away.

The 3rd party affair partner is usually attracted to the aura and power of the straying partner and they most times have more things in common with the straying partner than their spouse does. These are the affairs that leave the straying partner feeling like their hard work and peak performing life entitles them to the perks and associated affairs it brings. Most narcissists will have entitlement affairs in their lifetime. These type are usually in a marriage triangle where they do not want to be married but also don’t want to be divorced. They sometimes are not very much into sex and marriage with its conjugal commitments becomes an issue for them.

 

Advice: When you feel you deserve an affair owing to status, the first step is to again understand that this is a highly narcistic trait that stems from an insecurity. This level of understanding introduces the willingness to seek out the help you desire.

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Affair Type 5 – The Split Self Affair

This affair type signals the marriage has very serious problems because the marriage issues aren’t usually the reason the affair happens but instead there is something stopping the cheating spouse from even beginning to work on the marriage. These types usually have affairs with people who give them a lot more than sex but instead provide validation, makes them feel special and needed. Individuals who have these types of affair have a 50% chance of either exiting their marriage or fixing their marriage.

These affairs begin from places of great value. It begins from religious congregations, the office, school, with people paid to exchange value (nannies, prostitutes, personal assistants etc). If your spouses affair partner is a man/woman who is younger than them, a man/woman with a challenging childhood or someone who works under your partner then it’s beyond sex but a need for something that isn’t present in the marriage. Reverse engineering these points is one of the therapists best shots at saving the marriage.

Advice: When you begin to develop feelings for someone who reports to or works for you, that isn’t a bad thing if you aren’t in a relationship or married. However if any of the mentioned scenarios are existing, this signals that your relationship is undergoing a tumultuous period. My advice is that you go back and work on your relationship or seek out help from a therapist or marriage counselor.

Type 6: The Exit Affair

There are many marriages where one of the partners is ready to leave the marriage but are waiting for that one reason to finally make the move. You know this affair types when the marriage being understudied has built up so much resentment over the years, the partners are not willing to to meet each others needs and they got to a numb point where they erroneously believed that no quarrels meant all was well.

 

You can recognize this affair type when the children are now leaving home, active service/retirement from work is initiated or the end of a career has begun. In recent times, I also noticed that partners were secretly gay usually use this period to leave their marriage as they feel their life is almost at it’s twilight and they have just a few years to be truly themselves.

 

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Advice: This is usually one of the most difficult affairs to get back from because clients who are usually at this point may have already decided to move on from their relationship. The affair was simply their motivation or reason for doing this. Therapy can help but like i mentioned, its usually a 50:50.

 

Type 7: The Sex Addict Affair

This is an affair type that emanates from a serious problem where there’s a pattern of risky sexual behavior even if you can see the negative effects it’s having on your life. I will like to spend a little time on this affair type because many are in denial of the hold this affair type has on them.

Like any other addictions, even when you genuinely want to change you still discover that you cannot change. I have quietly watched people argue on the topic ” sex cant be as addictive as alcohol and substance abuse” and their arguments are based on the fact that there are no chemicals being introduced into the body as found in the cases of alcohol or drug addiction.

Unfortunately with sex addiction, it’s far worse because the body produces many hormones and neurotransmitters during sex that produces the same high a drug addict gets. This is the reason most other addictions will always lead to risky sexual behaviour or full-blown sex. Sex addicts are usually individuals who were abused, neglected or have a history of addiction somewhere in their family line. The shame and denial associated with sexual behavior has sometimes tightened the grasp of this addiction on those affected by it.

Individuals battling with sex addiction themed affairs are compulsive masturbators, watch porn, engage in risky sexual behaviour, have multiple sexual partners, frequent massage parlors(with happy endings 🙂) and keep loads of sexual paraphernalia that gives them more intense ways to explore/feed into this addiction.

What causes sexual addiction?

At the core of sex addiction lies tainted family history and associated shame, that mismanaged fear of intimacy and anger. Incest, avoidance of sex education, double-standards, sexual secrets, or sexual acting out by a parent (such as affairs or pornography use) are also other reasons an addiction to sex takes root.

Due to the shame and fear I mentioned earlier, an individual addicted to sex will not seek out help but would rather initiate the dual life fueled by addiction. This speedily onboards other addictive behaviours making the victim feel trapped and hopeless.

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How You Know This May Be Your Battle

1. You have had a pattern of extramarital affairs that were purely sexual in nature.

2. You can see your marriage going to ruins, you want to save it but the inner motivation to do this isn’t there.

3. You thought that getting married was going to help you solve this problem but instead you discovered that you only stopped for a while and the urge came back a few months after marriage. ( note: I have spoken to former sex workers, play boys, escorts who believed that marriage was the antidote only to discover that they had absolutely no control over the habit. If any of the descriptions I used applies to you, opt for therapy and refuse the urge to dose pain with drug use)

4. You tried to stop, succeeded for a whole but somehow its begun again.


Below are a few questions that will help you know if you’re battling with sex addiction. If 3 to 4 of the points seem familiar, you can try and talk to a professional who could help you better understand where you are with this concern being discussed. There is no shame in it.

The following questions below may assist you in identifying possible signs of sex addiction.

1 Have you ever tried to stop a particular sexual behaviour?

2 Is your sexual behaviour making you compromise some good personal values you have?

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3 Does sexual or erotic desires/ thoughts preoccupy your mind at productive times of day?

4 Does your sexual behaviour make you feel bad?

5 Do you neglect important aspects of your life due to a particular sexual behaviour i.e job, family, friends or leisure activities.

6 Do you use erotic, romantic or sexual fantasies as an escape from your problems?

7 Have you ever or recently used the internet for erotic or sexual purposes?

8 Does your sexual behavior cause constant friction into your life?

9 Have you ever participated in sexual activity in exchange for money or gifts?

If you answered YES to three or more of the above questions you may have a problem with sex addiction.

Advice: Simply get help because an addiction to sex is a serious concern that has the ability to damage the individual, their health and their relationship. Get across to a therapist near you, sign a client confidentiality form and enroll for a recovery programme.

This is where I’d love to conclude today’s discussion. I believe we’ve been able to clearly distinguish between the various affair types and hopefully know that there is no shame in seeking help if you are having an affair. Don’t wait until you are caught to get help.

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Written by Temple Obike

A licensed marriage and family therapist, speaker and psychotherapist who has counseled over six hundred clients comprising couples, indikviduals, substance, sexual or physical abuse victims and grief-stricken clients. He runs his private travel psychotherapy & counseling practice in Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt providing mental health solutions.

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Every Cheating Partner MUST be doing 4 of these 13 things. Did i omit anything?

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My topic for today is “Every Cheating Partner MUST be doing 4 of these 13 things”. A topic i’m going to shed some light on because it’s become somewhat of a pressing need. Every Affair has a reason for beginning and in another article i wrote i described types of affairs and how to protect yourself from them

Sometime in 2018 after a workshop in Sandton. A gentleman walked up to me, greeted and asked. “Can you give me a couple of signs that show my partner may be cheating on me”. I was taken aback because back home in Nigeria this was fast becoming a fairly regular question as well.

It’s an amazing thing sitting in a quiet corner during a criminal questioning session and getting paid afterwards for deciphering body language. Talking to an inmate who obviously is telling the truth and deserves nothing about his current circumstances. Infact it’s exciting speaking to people and being able to help them unpack emotions and thoughts. However, the worst tragedy that can befall a human being is being able to read, interpret and predict human intention to an uncomfortable degree. This is simply because you will approach the relational aspect of your personal life with caution. Your most enjoyable moments will come when you drive, fly or simply go to remote places hundreds of miles away from familiar or simply decide to relate with someone without attempting to read them. This is the reason it’s a bit puzzling when humans try to find out the same things that could topple everything else.

In my young career I get asked a lot of questions but nothing as often as this line. “Temple, how can i know if my partner is having an affair?” People need to know this so badly that they are willing to pay for this. Unfortunately, payment collected for advice that has no intention of helping solve an existing problem seems to me “a Judas Fee”. Rather than that, I decided to write about every classic tell-tale sign gathered across years of licensed practice. While these may be my opinion, I would advice you take it with a pinch of salt as we do not want you mislabeling the behavior of a loved one.(that’s my disclaimer). Without wasting time, here are my thoughts and these are for both dating and married couples.

Your Partner Is May be Cheating if,

A) A spike in Sexual interest or A lack of interest: There is an emotional detachment required to cheat. With those detachments the first things that go are those intimate nuances such as solid eye contact and kisses. Like some punishment they give themselves for cheating, they withdraw these from the relationship unconsciously because they have broken the trust that once existed. For others, you will notice that gifts and more sex are being given to you as over-compensation. Once any of these scenarios strike you as odd, then there is most likely an issue. Excuses may follow such as, the stress with the children, I’m so tired, work just got hectic etc. When this triggers a feeling of being alone and rejection, your fears may be real.

B) An Obsession with a Device (phone or laptop): When the work-related emergencies pile-up and business partners are hot buzzing their phones for discussions that need to happen behind closed doors you may need to worry. When having an affair, there is an obsession that tugs both ways. Like high-school teenagers in love, anxiety sets in when they can’t communicate and they can’t wait to contact each other “against all odds”. You “the one being cheated on” are the odds. In extreme cases, affair partners would have their lovers within eye-shot by inviting them to events they would be attending with their spouses. This gets the adrenaline levels spiking and the excitement is like a drug both parties require to keep ticking.

C) Your Partner’s Moral Compass Suddenly Comes Correct: When your partner suddenly starts quoting verses, becomes pious, throws them-self into charitable activities please look really well. If there was no Near Death Experience, a spiritual encounter or a life altering situation to trigger all of this, you may just be right in the middle of a P.R campaign. Imams, pastors, counselors, teachers, parents are not above temptation. The devil quotes the qua ran and bible too. If the partners actions do not match up with the newfound ways you are most likely a support character in a play. A play that’s all about a human’s struggle to attempt living correctly by at least talking like it while hoping their morals catch up.

D) No Ring: Many veteran cheaters no longer fall for this one but some pee-wee ones still forget to slip it back on. If this does happen and you get feedback such as i think i lost weight and it keeps falling off, it’s triggering my allergy etc. you may just have a bigger issue on your hands. You also need to know your partner and their behavioral patterns, spending patterns and what their scale of preference is. e.g. when a wife who thinks you spent much on a new dress spots an expensive necklace you didn’t buy for her, that’s something. Yes’ she could afford it with her own cash but the logic is in the fact that she doesn’t like spending much on frivolities. That’s the focus.

E) Off-guarded Name-drops & Innocent Consistent Banter about Someone: When the clouds are filled with vapor they release rain and in this same manner, when the brain is obsessed with a thing, it spills names, events or places. There’s a twisted form of excitement the cheating partner feels talking about their affair partner or having them around. Many individuals having affairs have their cheating mate right under their partners nose or have them making eye contact right at that event both of you attended. That’s the pull of an affair. Many may not agree right off the cuffs but that’s ok. In your quiet time when it’s just you, the walls and your emotions do give it another thought. When an individual (especially someone who has cheated before) mentions names of new restaurants they’ve been to, a name of a person etc. they just want you to share in their sick excitement. When you hear things like Mr. X’s wife is making life so hard for him or Mrs. P had even mentioned how sweet a person you are, understand that most humans are too deep into themselves to make out time for others. So when this happens, it’s based on a connection and not just random talks. You might be lucky to have that one great friend who is of the opposite sex but 90% of the time, straight heterosexual men and women can’t just be friends.

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F) Money Lies: When your partner is in charge of the finances without you being involved, it could be for a lot of reasons. An article I wrote on Financial Infidelity mentions a lot of these reasons but let’s single out one of it. An affair. When finances becomes a topic not up for discussion, it’s usually followed up with secret accounts, secret debit cards you do not know about and a lot more. It’s never a bad thing asking your partner for clarification as it regards both your finances and no one should make you feel bad for doing so. It’s your right even if they are making more money. Secondly, if you observe payment receipts that do not tally with your partners routine (club, hotels, strip bars, areas near red-light buzz spots etc.), it might be cause for concern especially when they give bogus and almost unbelievable stories on why they had the receipts. 

G) Little Lies & (not-so) Elegant Excuses: Lying is a defense mechanism we learn as children. We know it’s bad and most times rather than tell a lie, most would rather give an excuse. This is a much better moral pill than going all out and lying. When a partner starts cheating, they cannot avoid excuses first and subsequently all out lies. The problem is that there is only a number of lies the human brain can keep up with. A human having an affair will tell lies but watch out for the little lies that don’t add up because the more complicated a lie gets, the weaker it’s base becomes. The little inconsistencies are what you should be concentrating on and not the superfluous yarn. Being called someone elses name, not being called your name too, Word’s like “Are you saying i’m lying”, “Don’t you remember?I already said this to you before” or that laughter/smug smirk that makes you feel like the shittiest emotionally dependent runt are all signs. I’ve seen it all play out before me only to discover she/he were just practicing for their Oscars.

H) Anger and Violence Meant to Distract: The shame and guilt that comes with cheating are always looking for expression.

“Pain that you do NOT transform MUST be transmitted” – Father Richard Rohr

These usually shows up in the most twisted mix of emotions. Rebellious defiance, anger and outright rage. The people on the receiving end are usually the ones who they secretly despise or resent for being committed, stable & trustworthy. Everything they currently aren’t. Most times you know this is the case with you if you are constantly always walking on glass around your own home, spouse or partner. One minute they are so angry, the next they are relaxed, then five minutes later withdrawn. You are only battling something known as the sin cycle. The aggression and fights are simply their ways of justifying the affair. They sell themselves a narrative about the committed partner such as you’re too emotional, uptight, not sexually appealing or anything else that will give them the opportunity to pack a bag and find solace in the arms of their lover where they can complain about you.

N.Bno let’s make it B.S : If you are having an affair, the least you can do is try not to use your committed partner as your reason for straying especially if you know it’s not true. Be man or woman enough to tell yourself the truth as this will firstly, help you negotiate the curve faster and maybe get on the road to recovery and secondly retain your partners dignity in the eyes of your lover. A portion of the lies that the rumour mills are agog with about people come from disgruntled mistresses or gigolos whose love interests have moved on but not without telling stories about their partners.

“Your Affair partners will ALWAYS change BUT the impressions and lies you told about your committed partner will never be corrected. It only gets corrected when you get found out on a public scale…It never ends well.”

For the man or woman cheating with someone’s partner/wife/husband here’s my honest advice to you. “Never Believe A Word”. A woman will say anything to get what she needs from you and a man will eat grass to get between your legs. Those moments with them though intimate are not the best times to gauge honesty as a majority erroneously believe. This is why the most functional courtesans and gigolos such as Madame de Pompadour, Nell Gwynn, Marie DuPlessis, Phaedo of Elis, Febbo di Poggio (Michael Angelo’s Lover) etc were the ones who knew how to separate the erotic from the emotional.

I) Frequent Travel: The “I’m going on a trip” line is one most committed partners have come to dread because it’s one of those scenarios that leaves them clueless on what their partner may be getting up to. Let’s dive into facts… We all know that the more frequently a partner travels the higher their chances of straying because travelling by itself has a momentary feeling of relief and freedom even if it’s work-related. Having established this fact, you may have an issue when your spouse or partner drops off the face of the planet every-time they travel. With all the FREELY available means of communication now within our grasp, there are only a few excuses that can now hold water when you are incommunicado. Here are somethings that may imply foul play especially for individuals who have given you reasons before now to doubt them.

  1. When your partner travels and have to contact you first because you’re unable to reach them when you try calling.
  2. When a partner is at a location different from where they say they are going to. Always take note of the background noises. A Yoruba song playing in the background when your husband is on a trip to Enugu is very possible but what are the chances? I can’t say.
  3. When travel trips suddenly get extended because “some meetings were re-scheduled”, “ad-hoc arrangements were made” etc.
  4. Taking into consideration the time zone your partners location is in, watch if they always call before dinner/nightfall and talk about having an early night. You might actually have have just been “handled” by someone with plans for an evening of debauchery.
  5. When you do not have the vessel number, hotel name or how long a trip may be for, red flags should go up.

J) I’m not a Public/Social/Social Media Person: This is one trait that has sheltered and saved lots of marriages. When one or both partners are not in the habit of displaying their life on social media they become elusive targets. However, when this is mentioned by a partner especially at the onset of a relationship, go the extra mile to find out if this is wholly true. This is simply because anyone who isn’t particularly proud to be associated with you on social media or hides their relationship with you may be prouder to be seen with some other person. It could also be that they aren’t willing to be seen with anyone to give off an impression that they are unattached. Do you know their family members and associates? Do they even have any family members in your opinion? Are most of the dates at home or occur at night in clandestine spots with a table located at the most hidden spots? Then you most likely aren’t number one or run the risk of having number one seeing you with their partner.

K) Oddities that that Stick Out: When it comes to cheating, even the all-time greats slip up and so will a cheating partner over time. When a partner decides to become observant, that is when they start noticing those little oddities that speak loudest. After a quick romp in the car, the seat may be reclined at a rather unusual angle than what your partner ordinarily puts it in. The car A.C vent may be turned off on the passenger side by a side-piece who doesn’t like the cold. Infact the shirt might have a little strand of flashy orange strand of hair different from your natural black. Outings like late-night cinema visits you can’t remember. The list goes on and on but the whole idea is to be observant.

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L) The Mobile Phone: This is the latest addition of how to spot a cheater. Initially it was that odd stammering or that lipstick stain. However with the apps, communication tools etc. available on the mobile device, cheating has never been easier and convenient. Handing over a phone to your partner should never be a problem neither should taking a call or reading a torrent of texts coming in but because a lot of people have erased certain moral lines with their phone habits, it’s a difficult thing to do. A pass worded phone is one that’s suspect (Yes, i believe your phone is yours but if you password your phone so a partner can’t access it then all isn’t well. Please note, emotional, financial, verbal and fantasy are all types of cheating). A partner with a second phone is also a concern and someone who has a previous history of cheating should be looked into when multiple sim-cards start showing up. Other tell-tale signs of a cheating partner are phone calls taken in the car, on the driveway before they come into the house or behind locked doors in any room. Even if a partner takes their call in front of you, observe their body language when you move towards them. 

LET’S TALK. I Become Something Else by Night (Double Lives)

M) Working Late: We understand that sometimes work may pile up and demand extra hours. However, if this becomes highly unpredictable, requires them dropping off a colleague of the opposite gender then you should be on high alert. A sure-fire sign is usually coming home without any interest in dinner. There’s no shame in driving to your spouse or partners office with dinner or just passing by to say hi and then calling them while you are there. If they are having a meal with a potential business associate/ client in the evenings, there is nothing absolutely wrong with that if you are in the know (i.e. if you’re emotionally mature and not work yourself into a jealous rage). Asides from this scenario, no employee should be alone with a colleague of the opposite gender way past office hours (I’m talking 7pm and above). If your company allows that time for reconciliations, that is terrible company policy that could open up an avenue for extra-marital affairs.


 

Now that you confirmed, What next?

Human beings usually get to a point where they change because they simply decided to. Even a partner caught in the very act may not just change. The excitement, fantasy, false validation and feeling on invincibility (false again) that affairs offer are way too strong for most cheaters. Even when they say they are sorry, it may be for a moment and only because they got caught. If you push too hard especially in a relationship, they simply replace you with someone more gullible. For cheaters who are addicted to the thrill and the sex, i can assure you that the repairs required go beyond the infidelity because cheating most times opens up it’s victims to other vices such as spousal abuse, excessive drinking, marital rape and much more. All these other vices gives almost the same false highs derived from cheating. If you are not ready for the work involved in rehabilitating a cheating spouse, it’s best you move on because it involves quite a bit of work. If you have decided to move on, one of the first things you need to do is get an STI test, begin collating evidence required in court and take the bold step of moving on. However if you want to stay and work on the relationship, Click here for my article on how to rebuild trust after an affair.

Well, these are some of the signs I’ve noticed over these past years in my career talking to people who cheated and the ones who were cheated on. As always, i hope this piece on “signs my partner may be cheating on me” helped someone. I feel better dropping it here rather than saying it to one person. It levels out the playing field for everyone. If you are struggling with an affair and would love to talk about it, You know how to reach me. Don’t wait until you get caught, your career crashes, your family life dis-integrates or your squeaky public image gets dented before seeking help.

Answers by Obike Temple

A Counselor, psychotherapist, brand-Sage and entrepreneur who has counseled over three-hundred couples, individuals, substance abuse and grief-stricken clients.

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For more information on related issues and to schedule an appointment with “Temple’s Counsel” visit our counseling page, chat us up via our website or send a whatsapp message to +2348109055475.

International Appointments are scheduled within 24 hours when clients make payments via this link here and then sending an email with the receipt of payment to templescounsel@gmail.com. Thanks to everyone who has supported what we do by giving and for everyone else who’d like to support us, please use this link here.

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HOW TO

Toxic Relationships : The Toxic, The Victim & The Solution

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Today, our topic is “Toxic Relationships : The Toxic, The Victim & The Solution”. Every good relationship takes work and if every toxic person was declined an opportunity to get married or experience a relationship, this would simply mean that 7 out of every 10 people you know will never get the chance to enjoy being in a relationship. Yes, there are that many toxic people around you and for all you care, one of them might just be reading this article. Even with parenting, there are many flaws that we decide to overlook because even our parents aren’t particularly saints. Over time we learn to adapt to their idiosyncrasies, opinions, habits and temperaments as they also learn to do with us.

This adaptation is the same expectation for relationships but this sometimes proves harder because with relationships, it’s two different people from different backgrounds trying to make it work.

Identifying A Toxic Relationship

Various schools of thought believe this is hard to recognize but after years of listening to people talk, it isn’t the hardest thing to recognize. Toxicity in a relationship in most cases is so obvious that friends, family and externals are usually the first ones to pick up on this. This could be because it pulls at something deep within them or the couples involved are usually in denial until someone else points it out. Any behavior that the toxic partner exerts that damages the other party emotionally or physically is what defines a toxic relationship. If you cannot vouch for the presence of mutual respect, care, self-esteem building interactions and positive emotional energy in your relationship then you are most likely in a toxic relationship.

I will also tell you what a toxic relationship is not. Some couples get to that point where they are too lazy to build their relationship upwards and would rather quickly label it toxic than “unattended to”.

– Temple Obike

Here are some other mild signs that you may be in a toxic relationship;

1) You leave the room when your partner comes is there

2) There’s no communication

3) Constant feelings of being drained

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4) There’s always drama in the house

5) You have a heavily jealous or envious partner

6) You can’t talk when your partner is there

7) You lower your standards for your partner

8) Your partner brings out the worst in you

9) You’re always apologizing

It Takes Two …

This may not be the most palatable piece of information for you but it does take two to create a toxic relationship. There is the partner who is toxic and the partner who enables or allows toxicity to continue. The next natural question that comes to mind is “Why stay in a toxic relationship rather than leaving”?.

The most perfect relationships sometimes have a spell of toxicity and because there isn’t any rule book that describes marriage or relationships than the mere act of actually being in it, many couples learn on the move. Once you notice manipulative or controlling behavior from a partner, it’s usually the first sign of toxicity especially if that partner is a saint in the eyes of everyone else. Toxic relationships can be fixed but i’d like to mention that if substance , physical or verbal abuse is already part of your relationship you need intervention or separation.

The Mind of The Toxic

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Week in, week out i see many individuals who sit down and paint their partners pitch black. The thing about this is that they most times do not seem to see anything wrong with themselves, their attitude or a lack of it. With this said, the most prominent factor in the mind of every toxic person is “CONTROL & POWER”. I know that at the beginning of most relationships and marriages, subtle power struggles occur. That is very different from this because in this case, one partner is absolutely obsessed with maintaining and controlling power through any means possible. In most cases, the means of control isn’t obvious at first to the enabling partner within the toxic relationship.

If any of the descriptions used below are familiar to you, then you are either in a toxic relationship, enabling a toxic person or have observed a toxic relationship up close. These signs may occur in everyday platonic friendships, parent-child relationships, a marriage or even in a relationship between two people building up to marriage.

THE TOXIC TYPES I’VE SEEN

A. THE GUILT FARMER

Can you think of anyone right now who makes you feel like you’re constantly in a courtroom. Guilty! Guilty! and more Guilt! is all you can see,think and believe when you are around them. Their power is perfected when you feel guilty. This guilt may come to you directly when they convey their dis-satisfaction or indirectly when someone else communicates their disappointment for something else you did.

A perfect example would be a scenario where a friend calls you out of the blues to find out how you could have done such a terrible thing to another friend of your’s. If a friend can pick up a phone and complain to a third party about you, nothing stops them from calling you directly. The “Guilt Farmer” also uses guilt as a tool when they remove it after they’ve gotten you to carry out their wish. Please take note of this fact. If there is anyone in your life that you feel so relieved after you carry out their instructions especially because you now feel less guilty. You need to become a bit more observant to see if you can establish a pattern of guilt and forgiveness. If this seems true then you are indeed in the presence of what i call a “Guilt Farmer”.

This toxicity type is something i’ve come to notice mostly in parent-child relationships where parents get their older children to do what they want. It also occurs with spouses e.g You have a heartfelt discussion about something you are passionate about with your partner who is 100% in support, you go all out and begin only for them to tell you that there “Ain’t no sunshine now that you’re gone”. “You’re missing out of the children’s life” or “You’ve changed since xyz began”.

B. THE CHOKER

Remember when your boo/bae was so adorable and couldn’t even hide his jealousy when a little baby was checking you out? Awwwnn 💚 (cute). Well, that was then, now that both of you are in a committed relationship or married, you thought it was going to sort that aspect out since they would now be re-assured you were fully their’s right? WRONG.

You just bought a mirage. The more time that passes, the more suspicious and controlling they become. The first thing they do is remove any meaningful friendships around you, then subtly cut you off from family, after this phase comes the bugging of your phones, car and constant interrogations on your whereabouts. If any of these are familiar to you (especially if you haven’t done anything in the past to attract dis-trust), then you are not in a healthy relationship but rather viewed as a possession. Your attempts at constantly trying to validate a “Choker” will suddenly become a full-time job by itself and gets progressively worse. A relationship with this toxic type will strip you of every aspect of your personality.

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It get’s worse if you have actually created room for the toxic partner to dis-trust you in times past because you will eternally work to get back into their good books but to no avail. This relationship after a while mirrors a blackmailer-victim scenario.

C. THE GOLIATH SYNDROME

Have you ever heard of the term “insensitive jokes”? These toxic types are the masters at this because they are naturally prone to the fear of direct confrontation but would mask it with lots of painful jokes targeted at their victims(the enabler). That partner or friend who has a way of cracking jokes that get under your skin could be this type. They are the “Bullies” in your home.

Everyone knows couples where one of the partners belittles the other in public, with friends or family and makes them feel unattractive, less intelligent and every other way not nice. This is a move that is supposed to give them all the decision-making power because the less of everything you feel about you, the more of everything you hand over to them. They feed on your self-esteem and this will worsen once you do not destabilize their centre of control (if you can find it, because they usually go through a lot to hide it).

D. THE LEECH

Have you been privy to see couples where one of the parties looked like they couldn’t lift an arm without the help of the other obviously stronger person? I’m sure we all know a couple or two who fit this narrative. Well, the shocking fact is that the partner who looks weak in this relationship is actually the stronger person.

All decisions are made for them and i need you to understand that not deciding on something by itself is a choice. So when you are saddled with that choice, you are responsible for the outcome of that decision.

This simply implies that choosing the wrong school for the kids or the best supermarket to shop at gives room for passive aggressive behavior such as the silent treatment or tantrums. This is a strong tool when it comes to control because whoever you are always worried about what their perception of you is has you contained.

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E THE OPPORTUNIST

These are the ones who trap you in a one lane relationship where you keep giving and never receiving. They usually start off as charming, warm and nice people. And they are as long as they are on the receiving end of everything they need from you. It could be material, financial, status or more but the opportunist will always drain your energy and leave the moment someone else who can do more for them turns up.

Most of them would sometime provide favors that really dont cost them anything. For the untrained eye these are favors but for the trained, they only just gave you another “Reason”. Another reason why you should keep doing what you do for them. Don’t get trapped in their web because it’s usually a trap that doesn’t ever let you go until what it is you offer them is totally gone. This makes them one of the most dangerous toxic types you could ever come across.

F THE RHINO

Control through intimidation is one of the classic tell-tale signs of a toxic partner. You have arguments that never seem to arrive at a logical conclusion and to make matters worse, you dont even want to argue healthily with them. Why i ask? Simply because they can hold a grudge for the next two weeks when things don’t go their way. You have the enabling partner living under an atmosphere of uncertainty because the toxic partner is unpredictable and prone to outbursts anytime. The sad thing about confronting this type of toxic partner is that they always have a way of turning the tables. You suddenly become the one who makes them rage, curse and yell. This ability to disown their dysfunction would remain the same reason they battle it. That rage is an expression almost like that of a petulant child when they do not get what they ask for.

The dangerous aspect of this toxic type is the draining effect they have on your mental and emotional well-being. Let me explain. Someone who goes into a rage when they cannot get their way know it’s less than desirable so they go through their lives developing a persona that perfectly masks this. For these individuals, they appear to be the angels in their relationships and the abused seem to be the irrational ones that can never be pleased.

G THE SKILLED DODGER

Have you ever gotten to a point where you felt so selfish after you tried having a discussion with your partner. This discussion did not start out with you or anything you’d done but instead was supposed to address something that hurt you. Now you are apologizing and wishing you never mentioned what it was eating you up. This type are evasive in their approach to pertinent life issues.

They are almost never confrontational but will deflect from important topics and make you feel guilty if you try to hold them to commitments of any kind.

H THE LONE RANGER

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This toxic type is a very interesting one because what makes them risky is the same thing that may have attracted you to them. Their lack of COMMITMENT. They have become masters at hiding their true intent. You can have countless sessions with this type and never know what you are up against because they usually turn up for sessions solo with a great narrative of their quest for independent positive change. However, the they are like spiders who spin a web and let you trap yourself because the fact that they do not offer you any form of emotional or physical commitments in relationships.

Are you constantly trying to find out if your partner still loves you, think your beautiful, still finds you sexually attractive and so on? You might just be in the presence of a Lone ranger type. Their approach leaves you out in the cold “emotional wild”. This type will slowly erode your self-confidence.

Now that You’ve met Them All, Let’s Talk.

Every now and then i know partners may try to make their significant other feel guilty, trigger insecurity or simply appear helpless just to achieve some goal. This points to our imperfections as human and shows that every relationship if deeply scrutinized has a measure of toxicity. The real issues start when the toxicity level becomes higher than it ought to be. How do you know when it’s become too high you might ask? my answer to that question is this. “When you and your partner can’t laugh about it even after either one of you discovered the other person tripped them up”.

THE FACT

Toxic people are usually individuals who have an underlying fear that they aren’t lovable. This is also the same issue with people who allow themselves become entangled in toxic relationships. Narcissism also plays a part in this dynamic because most of these toxic types possess inflated egos and an overtly blown-out perception of themselves thereby believing that they are doing a favor for anyone else in their lives. However, i’d like to mention that narcissism is the response the human gives when it has insecurity or esteem issues.

Many clients who have been caught up in toxic relationships are there because of the atmosphere of fear created by the toxic partner. This simply means that lots of people in these types of relationships keep enduring the maltreatment for the fear of loosing the relationship. If you

This brings up the question and the problem of what to do if you’re in a toxic relationship. Many of my clients initially come to me with the hope that I will give them a magical tool that will “fix” their toxic partner, or, at the very least, for me to sympathize with them and agree how bad their partner is. While catharsis may give temporary relief, it isn’t lasting. And while there certainly are things an individual can do to attempt to change the way a toxic partner behaves, most of my clients are often hesitant to do them, fearing their toxic partner may leave the relationship.

Is There a Solution?

Yes there is one solution i employ when it comes to healing clients from a toxic relationship and it is called “Catharsis“. This is simply a psychoanalytic approach that brings emotions associated with trauma to the surface and then forcefully releases them. This best occurs under hypnosis..

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Prior to confronting a toxic partner, ensure that your confidence and esteem levels are in a really good place because you run the risk of ending your relationship as most toxic personalities would either not accept their faults or simply pretend to only to inflict more damage when their partners guard is down. For individuals who are not in a mentally strong place, look for a good counselor near you or online and get some assistance.

The fact that someone else refuses to change does not mean that you cannot change yourself. This is one of the best ways to get feedback from a stubborn partner who wouldn’t accept his own bit of the fault or even go for a psychotherapy session. The moment you understand that you deserve love, compassion, respect and more, that’s the game changer.

PRACTICAL STEPS:

  1. If your partner has a history of physical abuse, write down what you need from them and divide it under three segments such as where we are, the effect on me/us & Where i’d love us to be. This will help you detail everything that you are not cool with in the relationship. Once you are done with this, inform them you have something you wrote that would help your relationship heal and grow.
  2. If your partner isn’t physical, gently ask for a sit down with them and detail every single thing you would like to change. They can ask their questions or make their comments when you are done.
  3. Get ready in some extreme cases of partner abuse for a turn up of the heat you are currently facing. The obsessive controlling behavior may spiral but you are already in a healthy emotional and mental place. When met with this response, i always ask my clients to remain calm and ask for a clean 2 week break that will allow everyone re-assess their emotions. For married couples, you can take a 3 day break from Friday morning to Sunday evening at your parents (if the relationship hasn’t cost you that privilege or at a friends). 3 days is enough for anyone who loves you to initiate something.
  4. After the hiatus, repeat your request again and clearly state that you may not remain in the relationship if the emotional abuse continues.If your partner agrees to work on changing themselves and then relapses again, you can repeat this cycle with them 2 more times.
  5. If this abusive other is a parent, you still need to “respectfully” confront the abusive behavior with the help of a professional psychotherapist around you or with the support of a partner or sibling. If after confronting this behavior it still persists, you will need to take control of the relationship and while you may not be abandoning the parent, you might need to limit contact for some time until this guides them to seeking the help they need.
  6. You did not try to change the toxic partner by threatening them, you meant every word of it and that’s why you did it. So the thing is this. You may have to actually leave if things don’t change especially if there are elements of physical abuse involved.

I understand that months or maybe years of being in a toxic relationship can rob you off the last vestiges of self-esteem. This may make you feel slightly unsure if confronting the toxic partner is a really good idea. Asides from everything i have mentioned here, there are books on the internet that could help you improve your confidence and esteem because i know that once you have fixed those, you would know what your next best steps are.

As always, i hope this piece on “Toxic relationships: the toxic, the victim & the solution” helped someone. If you are struggling with a toxic relationship and would love to talk about it, You know how to reach me. Don’t wait until it affects your career, family life or more before seeking help.

Written by Obike Temple

A Counselor, psychotherapist, brand-Sage and entrepreneur who has counseled over three-hundred couples, individuals, substance abuse and grief-stricken clients.

For more information on related issues and to schedule an appointment with “Temple’s Counsel” visit our counseling page, chat us up via our website or send a whatsapp message to +2348109055475.

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Personal Development

Emotional Affairs & How to Get Yourself Back (The Side Chick/Guy Trauma)

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Emotional Affairs & How to Get Yourself Back (The Side Chick/Guy Trauma)

Emotional Affairs (EA) and how to get yourself back is our topic for today.Remember that one good friend, colleague, classmate of your’s who was of the opposite sex. You guys did everything together, 5&6 to the core but there was never anything intimate because you guys are just buddies.One day your spouse does something really off and you need to speak with them as usual but something strange happens mid-discussion. I really don’t know how faulty this reasoning may be but my mother always said;

“Temple, the fact that you shut your eye’s tightly does not mean you are now blind. A man and a woman can never be best friends without someone catching feelings at some point. That a friendship is so tight does not mean it cannot give birth to emotions.”

– Mama Obike

I struggled for years to fight this seed she planted in my brain but the older i get, the more it tends to be true every time. I see many single and married people struggling with emotional affairs usually for someone who started off as a confidant, friend, work colleague etc. An emotional connection between two people who keep their relationship secret because one or both are in a committed relationship is what i call an Emotional Affair. While i know for sure that over 50% of emotional affairs are not sexual, i also know that over 40% of them end up in full blown “flame extinguisher not working” sex. 30% of couple cases i’ve handled who decided to get a divorce have emotional affairs as the main reason for their split. With WhatsApp, Tinder, social network sites and loads of accessible wireless technology tools available, cheating has never been easier than in these times.

I’d like to discuss some of the things that could lead you to an emotional affair and possibly advice on what you could do to stop this at the stage it currently is on.

Recognizing Emotional Affair Triggers

A. My Input Is Not Recognized

Ladies and gentlemen, there is nothing else that could send your partner down the path of an emotional affair that this feeling of their inputs, efforts and more being recognized. Once an individual struggles with inadequacy they will withdraw emotionally from their spouse or partner. Even in relationships where a partner provides everything, financial, sexual etc. This could also happen because in some really special cases, partners have been known to withdraw and resent the other because they felt their only worth was providing sex and money. So for everything else that required another form of provision such as security, validation etc, they failed at it. When a partner struggles with inadequacy, they usually look for validation elsewhere. This is usually with their friends of the opposite sex because a man will usually not go his male friend to seek validation in a department of his life where his wife is lacking and vice-versa. Once external validation helps you get calm and understood, you just set the stage for emotional intimacy. At this point, i’d like to mention that;

“Every woman or man out there who provides emotional validation,comfort,compliments to someone else’s spouse is doing more harm than good because it’s not your job to do this unless of course you both are well aware of the pieces on your game board”

My Advice: If you have gotten to this point, it simply means that your partner is not adept at reassuring you or listening to what you are verbally or non-verbally saying. I advice you have an honest discussion where you request for a bit more validation. There’s no shame in this.

B. Little or No Time for Intimacy

Unless you are using sex as a tool for inflicting pain on your significant other or have underlying health conditions, Sex isn’t something any partner needs to ask the other for. It’s simply a given in every “healthy” relationship. Unfortunately, most relationships aren’t healthy. Emotional affairs are naturally aphrodisiacs. The flirting makes you feel sexier, for close friends being in the same room with “the worry” and “the wonder” (pardon me i love words) heightens the erotic nature of this affair and during a physical discussion, that eye contact will be over-exaggerated. This makes you come back for more because you suddenly understand that someone actually finds you attractive. For many individuals, you notice that they hit the gym, take more pictures, return to an almost boy-ish/girl-ish mode and become a bit more distant or uninvolved in a lot of things happening at home.

The other person is also at a stage where they are enjoying their newfound power over you. They will heat up the flirting, hint at sex, consume the other partners senses with fragrances etc. The human need to control another humans desire is at play here. This i noticed is usually the case with men or women who have failed at some point in their life to either hold someone else’s attention or be the faithful partner. Your ability to succumb is their victory and validation that they’ve still got it. This is a big thing for these that many in our society will turn to fetish means to get this control and validation.

My Advice: There is no negotiation when it comes to sex and intimacy in a relationship. You and your partner need to work on his. I believe this is the point where you need to remember every good thing about your partner that made you fall in love with them. For busy partners, your schedule has absolutely nothing to do with your matrimonial duties because if you do not make time out for them, someone else will and even if they do not look that way now, someday they will, and when they do and you find out, it will affect the same business and your life somehow. Have an open honest disussion about whats making you stray. If your partner isn’t one to listen to talks or have a discussion, then write this on a note (divided into what i miss,my struggle and what i’d like) and nicely ask them to read it. This does not make you weak but instead makes you the stronger one who decided to work on a failing relationship despite your skeletons.

C. Excitement is Gone

Once someone else asides from your partner gets you all excited, that’s a red flag. No-one else should have all that power. I always advice clients that one of the greatest super powers you can have is the ability to create sexual stories in a very visual way. Engage your spouse, paint pictures of hope, sell him/her a dream when they are down. This one thing may be one of the few tools in your shed you can use to always spice things up. The moment your partners Emotional Affair subject an paint a better visual picture than you can, then you are in real trouble. Be the one to spin the “Arabian Tales” no cowboy or cowgirl should be doing this for you.

The other man or woman understands the power of this tool. This is the reason they will go out of their way to tell you things they know you may not be hearing. In some extreme cases, they will ensure that they invade every space they know you and your partner will be in such as a party, the children’s school,supermarket or even church (spooky but true). They know the more they invade your space, the more excited they get you. The more excited you get, the higher the erotic tension between both of you. This is what they feed on and if not checked this builds up to something stronger.

My Advice: Regardless of how busy your schedules may become, always figure out ways you and your partner can carry out fun activities together. This is one of the most common advice’s out there that’s never taken seriously, yet it’s the one advice that has saved plenty marriages. The world is giving us less reasons to be together but it’s your job to figure out ways to fight this and BOND. Have planned date nights, it helps.

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D. The Control Accusation

The moment you have to check on your partners phone, laptops and devices to enable you re-calibrate your trust levels, then it simply means there’s already a problem. The other issue with this is simply that when you do get caught checking (especially if your partner isn’t cheating or is steps ahead of you in covering their tracks) you will have to bear being called insecure for some time. You would have also pushed them further into their cave and given them more reason to be with the subject of their emotional affair. This is the part where i advice for real caution (on both the part of the one having an emotional affair and the one being cheated on) because things generally tend to move real fast once the one having an affair has one valid reason. This makes them shelve a portion of their restraint and get more involved in the affair. This is also the point they want sex because you (the one being cheated on) have proven you do not trust them and are insecure.

The other person will capitalize on this and pressurize them the more because they can already see the cracks from your significant other. Infact, at this point, i usually ask my clients “Is your EA partner becoming more reckless in the manner they try to call, text, WhatsApp and Zoom you?. The answer 86% of the time is “Yes”. I’ll tell you why. This back and forth between you and the EA subject is like a game of chess, the only difference is that you may not know you are in a game most times. In tactical warfare, there’s a term referred to as “The Rushdown”. This is the haste to take down an opponent once signs of weakness show up. For the EA partner, this could be sex, making financial demands or simply adding new elements to further ensnare you.

My Advice: My first advice to you is to stop giving your affair partner information and I’ll explain why. Based on an in-house research i carried out with partners who were cheating, i discovered that;

Over 70% of the time, they knew their Affair partners were not in love with them but had other love interests (who half of the time were cheating or deeply involved with some other person. This by itself creates a phenomenon called “Unrequited Love” and is usually associated with a rage the rejected one needs to carry out on someone else in a fairly stable relationship).

What this simply means is that what you think is love or an affair could be someone elses revenge on the world for having being rejected. Your information about your marriage or spouse is the tool they use in creating and fashioning a strategy. Stop providing the content and the story will stop. After this, seek out a good therapist first and re-allign yourself (this you need to discuss with your spouse at some point). After this, you can either speak with your partner and tell tem of what you had been struggling with. On the other hand for devouts who do not want to risk exposure, you can pray in whatever manner your religion permits and dedicate yourself to practicing healthy marital practices.

E. Guilt

When you are having an affair, be it physical or emotional one thing is certain. You and the EA subject will dedicate time to the affair.The care, listening ear, sex etc are all investments by the EA subject. Though not written or signed, you both understand this This then brings us to the next part of this whole. You know you are doing something wrong to your spouse and unfortunately cannot apologize for something you have not even owned up to.

The EA partner recognizes this moment of weakness and this is their point to maintain and hold on to control. They also know if they push you too hard, you could return to your spouse emotionally and sexually. This is the point where a bit of manipulation begins. “I think i should stop calling you” could be the next line from the EA subject and this is where the struggle begins. You try to get your life back and concentrate on your partner but it’s not that easy. Your brain over-compensates for their absence making you imagine all sorts of things. They know any random sex(t) on how they miss you will topple you. So this usually comes in next. At this point, they go for the jugular by first sexting, then progressing to actual repeated sex to get you ensnared (either emotionally, with a pregnancy, with pseudo blackmail or with actual love in some rare cases).

My Advice: From this point onwards, it’s free-falling for most individuals caught up in an emotional affair because the guiltier you feel about an EA, the higher your chances of engaging with the affair with your heart (emotion) rather than your head(logic and critical thinking). Once you become emotional any of the following would ensue; you tell the truth to your spouse, you start slipping up with lots of mistakes or in some cases wish that your spouse would catch you as the erotically charged atmosphere is too much.

At this point, if you haven’t been caught already, seek help from a professional psychotherapist or simply decide on what you want to achieve from this relationship because the next and last steps is usually a point where decisions are usually irreversible. If you decide to opt for therapy, you will be assisted in exploring your emotions, look at what morals you infringed on and re-assess your commitment. This is also a point i urge clients to create 1,2,3 layers of boundaries. So when the 3rd boundaries are tripped, you sure up the 2nd and third.

Unfortunately, not everyone is self-willed and committed and many of the people we know struggle with this. Especially when it comes to Emotional Affairs. The last thing that usually transpires in an emotional affair in extreme cases is separation. It’s scary how we went from 0 to 1 million in just 3 minutes. Yes, thats how it usually happens. From needing a little attention to acting all shades of crazy;

7. The Separation

You’ve already experienced the amount of pleasure, companionship and empathy you can receive from this other party. Your affair interest already knows you are far gone and become a bit more assertive. “If you don’t mind” becomes “I insist” and “I’d like some attention at some point” becomes “I don’t like being neglected”. Since you are not divorced, you might just be caught in-between squatting, living in another apartment all by yourself or simply in another state. This gives the EA partner more access to you and thought you enjoy this, you will battle with some guilt after which you will give in fully to the EA partner.

My Advice: Delay making the decision to divorce your spouse for at least 6 months. This is because that’s a lot of time to figure out what this (the affair) truly is evolving into. Some EA partners may still allow you contact with your former spouse but others will vehemently stand against this as they have worked hard to get this and wouldn’t risk the chance of loosing it all. However if you are among the many lucky ones who were targeted because the EA partner wanted to either experience what it felt like having you as a partner or simply because of what they could get from you (financial, sexual etc.) you will be released at some point. This is the point you make the painful deciscion to go back cap-in-hand to your spouse of forge along towards something else.

“With my experience in such matters, it ends in tears 96% of the time. That’s almost like ALWAYS”.

Emotional Affairs, office affairs, revenge affairs and so on are an attempt to describe something humans have struggled with for so long. Regardless of which it is, an affair is what it is. As humans, we are prone to mistakes and can also anticipate these mistakes before they come up if we know how.

As always, i hope this piece on “Emotional Affairs and How to Get Yourself Back” helped someone. If you are struggling with an emotional affair, You know how to reach me. Don’t wait until it affects your career, family life or more before seeking help.

Written by Obike Temple

A Counselor, psychotherapist, brand-Sage and entrepreneur who has counseled over three-hundred couples, individuals, substance abuse and grief-stricken clients.

For more information on related issues and to schedule an appointment with “Temple’s Counsel” visit our counseling page, chat us up via our website or send a whatsapp message to +2348109055475.

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