Surviving an Emotional Affair – Surreal Love vs Real Love

surviving an emotional affairYesterday, I blogged about rediscovering myself in order to help in surviving an emotional affair.  I’d like to share just a part of what I discovered along the way to perhaps help some of you in the process.

Well, about three months ago, I was concerned about the emptiness that I had been feeling.  I was afraid the emptiness was a result of the emotional affair and that too much had been taken away from me.  I was concerned that as a result, that maybe I didn’t really love Doug or that I didn’t want to be married anymore. It was very confusing to me because our marriage appeared to be on the right track and we were closer than we had been in a long time.  But something was missing.

This summer I set out on a private quest to find the answer to what was missing.  I did a lot of thinking, reading and researching and I believe that I am getting to the root of my emptiness.  I have discovered that the feeling is within me and that I need to somehow become whole again. 

Over the years of our marriage I have lost my true self, my power, confidence and internal happiness.  In order to fill the emptiness within me, I need to get all of those components back.

I began reading books about happiness which helped me move in the right direction. They allowed me to understand that remaining in the pain and hurt was counterproductive.  The only person I was hurting was me.  I also learned that I was forgiving the emotional affair for me – not for Doug – which is a good thing.

Just recently I discovered that my behavior in my marriage was counterproductive from what I really wanted and needed.  I also learned that my behavior caused me to take all the responsibility for everything in our lives, but at the same time made me lose my power in our relationship.

In the book “The Commitment Chronicles” Cheryl McClary, Ph.D,  talks about the difference between real love and surreal love. 

Surreal love is more like infatuation.  It is selfish, tries to be perfect, meeting ego needs and validates self worth.

Real love has the strength to see and forgive faults and has boundaries. Real love is being able to make another person feel that you love them more than you love yourself.  Only a person who has real love for herself is able to give this gift to another. 

As complicated as it sounds I believe the main point is that we have to completely love ourselves in order to fully love another person.

Basically, I discovered that I was living in surreal love.  I was over-accommodating, passive, uncomplaining and had a low opinion of myself.  I also thought I didn’t have the right to be angry, and hoped that if I could be the person others wanted me to be, then they would love me. 

I felt more exhausted then empowered.  I realized that I was living in fear. I was afraid that if I didn’t act in a certain way that Doug would not love me.  These feelings have been a part of me since childhood. I guess I can blame my parents for that.

By making these self-discoveries, I have been able to make a shift in my thinking, and as a result, I have become a stronger, more powerful, self-assured person, who knows that she can survive anything that is thrown at her.

Don’t get me wrong though, as I still have my bad days when the emotional affair really gets to me, but the issue  is usually more about Doug’s betrayal than it is about me and my perceived short-comings.

 

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7 Responses to Surviving an Emotional Affair – Surreal Love vs Real Love

  1. Jennifer September 10, 2010 at 5:54 pm #

    Yep. This is me to a tee. Ever since I got married and shortly later had kids, I’ve felt like I lost myself. I didn’t really notice how badly until the EA – when I felt like I was on my own again. My path to rediscovery has started reminiscing about high school (right before we married), reconnecting with friends, and taking the time and concentration to remember what it was I was interested in back then. Back before bills and diapers and carpools. It IS rather empowering. And the tiny ways I have tried to assert that power with my husband have been well received and not scoffed at like I expected. It turns out, he is more responsive and engaging when I’m not curled up into myself sitting silent on the opposite end of the room. If I project confidence and enthusiasm (whether I actually feel that way or not) things go so much better between us. Whaddayaknow?! ;)

  2. stunnedwife September 10, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

    THANK YOU LINDA!! Reading about how you are feeling is me to a tee. I am sorry on you having to self discover but you in some ways could be me. Thank you! Looks like I have some soul searching reading to do!!

  3. melissa September 13, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

    So true of me too – why is it that we, women, try to be all things to all men (or at least to ONE man)? I’ve strived for perfection, for a perfect marriage, a relationship based on trust and honesty but I’ve just found out that after ten months of silence, my husband has been in touch with the OW. It doesn’t matter who made the first call, what matters is that he did not have the honesty to tell me that she had called, nor to tell me that they had arranged to meet. I don’t know what to do anymore, I’m back to square one and being ‘perfect’ has got me nowhere.

  4. Donna September 13, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    Oh Melissa, I just want to reach throught hte screen and give you a big squeezy hug. I am sorry that your husband has slipped and not been honest with you. How did you find out that he was in contact and they were going to meet? if you don’t mind me asking?

    Let me just say one thing… you are fine as you are. You don’t need to be perfect for your husband at all. You are just fine as you are.. it is your husband that needs to change his way of thinking and come back to you. Through the journey, no doubt you are changing as well, how could you not. Sing, laugh, smile and stay positive… easy to say I know. I am doing all those things and it is making me feel better about me. Keep us posted to how it all goes.

  5. Alecia May 28, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    Great post. I agree completely. However, the problem is that many people don’t understand that there is a difference between “loving yourself completely” and being selfish. You do need to love yourself before you can adequately love someone else. But this involves being whole and healthy in your mindset about yourself. It doesn’t mean doing what you want when you want to ensure your own happiness.

  6. John November 26, 2011 at 12:03 am #

    My wife had an emotional affair that stopped right before sex because I caught her. Now she’s agreed to couples counseling, and that is good because I love her very much, but I have no appetite and I’m afraid that I might not be very healthy because I just cannot stomach food.

  7. BonnieH August 31, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

    John, I was the same way. What started out as a diet that he & I were both on (he & the OW were on it too) became starvation because, after D-day, I couldn’t swallow for weeks because of the anxiety. Luckily, I only dropped 14 pounds before I could swallow again. It’s been a long road to travel over the last 15 months and he’s lost all rights to privacy. I am finding, however, although I don’t completely trust him, I’m beginning to become bored with researching the subject. I guess that’s a good sign. He has done a complete turn around, but – like I said – a part of me still doesn’t trust him.

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