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Betrayal of trust in a committed relationship can be considered an evil deed. What do these choices say about us psychologically? Or keep the family together for the sake of finances or the children?
Not necessarily violent, but destructive and hurtful, no doubt. About who we really are, and about how we really feel about ourselves? How much are we really willing to put up with and forgive just so that we can avoid being alone? These are the tough questions so-called victims of infidelity (men and women) must be willing to honestly ask themselves before they finally decide whether or not to give serial (or even first-time) cheaters yet another opportunity to re-victimize them.
Communication skills must be evaluated, improved, and regularly practiced between the couple with a therapist's assistance. It should be the injured or betrayed party that dictates what will be required for him or her to ever fully trust the offender again. But we can also learn from our mistakes, so as to avoid repeating them. As with domestic violence, the victim may be bamboozled and confused by the offender's apparent heartfelt contrition and proclamations of love and dedication.
The most difficult thing to do in psychotherapy and in life is to look at ourselves and consider our own complicity in contributing to our troubles. Which part of the personality played the more prominent role in making this momentous choice: the mature adult or naive, needy inner child? Self-blame is frequently the prime reason betrayed partners remain in such relationships. But we all have blind spots, complexes, especially when it comes to romantic love and choosing a partner.Remember the Greek youth Narcissus, who was so riveted by his own reflection in a pond that he rejected Echo's love and eventually withered away from lack of sustenance.Narcissists constantly fantasize about obtaining more success, power, superiority and idealized love. Or were they unconsciously attracted to certain types of men?Trust cannot--and should not-- just be freely given again. And deliver, consistently, willingly and unequivocally. Ultimately, the victimized or offended party will have to reach a point (frequently requiring individual therapy in addition to couples counseling) where they can get past their hurt, humiliation and anger to a place of forgiveness and compassion. In certain cases, say of severe bipolar disorder, substance abuse or compulsive sexual behavior, it may make sense to compassionately support and stand by the offender during his or her treatment or rehabilitation.After all, that is part of what true commitment is all about: In sickness and in health. But the key is that commitment is a two way street. One chooses not to cheat not necessarily because one doesn't desire to.