Explore the journey of ‘Living & Loving after Betrayal’ in our latest article, where we delve into the book by Steven Stosny, PhD, and share insights from his webinars on healing from emotional abuse and infidelity.

living &  loving after betrayalBy Linda & Doug

Recently a book had been brought to our attention that is authored by Steven Stosny, PhD.  It’s called Living & Loving after Betrayal: How to Heal from Emotional Abuse, Deceit, Infidelity, and Chronic Resentment .  The title alone made us think it might be useful for you guys so we were very motivated to check it out further.

As a result, we were searching on the internet to purchase the book, which we did, but also found a couple of nice videos of a 2-part webinar that he created to support the book.

One of the interesting points Dr. Stosny makes in the book is that the natural defenses following betrayal can actually help you, rather than keep you from recovering.

He says that you really have to understand that the natural defenses at first are putting up protective walls, not only to keep out hurt (he says that actually, they’re not that good at keeping out hurt), and they keep out other people’s anger and resentment.  But they also keep out compassion, kindness, caring, and love –  all the things that help you heal, correct and improve.

Now moving on to the videos…

Here are just some quick notes that we gleaned from Video 1:

What is betrayal?  There are more types of betrayal than just infidelity.  Why it hurts so bad and it’s effects on you.  Why it’s hard to be yourself after betrayal. He also talks about triggers and emotional reactivity as a result.

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All forms of intimate betrayal have in common: A violation of the implicit promise that gives us the courage to love in the first place… That implicit promise is – “No matter what happens the person you love and trust will: Care about your well being and never intentionally hurt you.”

It’s not the real you.  The person you’ve become after the betrayal is not the real you – it’s your defenses taking over.

Heal first.  Repair second.  Only when you’re well on the way to personal healing can you adequately evaluate your relationship and decide whether you truly want to repair it.

Pain can help you heal, improve and repair. For instance, if you have a pain in your foot it tells you to take the rock off it, get more comfortable shoes, soak it in a tub of warm water, or visit a podiatrist.

We tend to get stuck in pain and ignore it’s action signal when we focus too much on what caused it – and not enough on what will heal it.

The cause of pain is rarely the same thing that sustains it.  For instance, a stab wound causes pain, but inflamed nerve endings sustain it…Thinking of why or how you were stabbed or how unfair it was will not heal the wound.  

So…Your partner lying to you, cheating on you, or abusing you caused your pain…But dwelling on why or how or how unfair it was prevents healing and growth…

The pain tells you to restore self-value now, through your own positive actions, and that is the only thing that will eliminate it. (And then he provides some exercises to help)

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You – and you alone – control the meaning of your experience.  You have the power to give your pain any meaning you choose. So choose the meaning that offers the most healing, growth, and empowerment.

Establishing a Healing Identity is crucial. It is the opposite of a victim identity.   You  must identify your strengths, resilience, and desire to improve your life, and then he provides you with the 5 steps to do this.

Here it is…


Living & Loving After Betrayal – Notes for Video 2:

After a brief recap of video one, he gets into…

The neurological secrets/principles to healing and growth – That is, changing your life  by choosing to focus on certain things.

Wiping the footprints of betrayal from your heart and soul.  The footprints he talks about are:

  • Memories laced with painful feelings
  • Defenses against painful feelings of the past
  • Rigid walls to prevent future hurt

These keep the injury fresh and ever present, and likely to dominate the future. It’s normal, but we must try to overcome them.  They make you into someone you’re not…You are greater than memories of things that happened to you.

We must focus less on how bad we feel and more on our Deeper Values – Those beliefs and qualities that are most important to you.  (honesty, gratitude, responsibility, ability to love, etc.)  And believe it or not,  he says values are more important than feelings and he explains why that is.  He then talks a bit about anger and resentment and whether they are best for you.

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Building the immune system of the self.  Although most emotional injury has a specific cause, the effects of the injury are very general and the cure must be equally general. It’s the same with healing after intimate betrayal – it must restore the psychological immune system.  It’s your ability to create value, meaning and purpose in your life.

Developing your core value.  Dr. Stosny then explains what getting in touch with core values is and how to develop it (along with exercises).  Again, his thinking is that developing these core values is vital to healing.

Here is video 2…

After watching, we’d love to hear any comments, thoughts, experiences, etc. that might relate to what Dr. Stosny talks about.  Thanks!

living and loving after betrayalSteven Stosny, PhD, is founder of CompassionPower, a successful anger-regulation program that he has directed for more than twenty years. In addition to authoring Living & Loving after Betrayal: How to Heal from Emotional Abuse, Deceit, Infidelity, and Chronic Resentment (and several other books),  he has treated more than six thousand people through his organization. He has appeared on many major media programs, including several appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show. He has taught at the University of Maryland and at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.  Steven currently has a blog on www.psychologytoday.com.



    6 replies to "Steven Stosny, PhD on Living & Loving After Betrayal"

    • TheFirstWife

      I watched the first video. Good information.

      The points are well taken and hopeful.

      However it is hard to know how to feel some days. When you are forced to listen to mean and hateful things being said about you (both directly to you and/or you read it in an email or text) it is hard to know how to deal with it sometimes.

      When something brings up that period of time it can be challenging to manage your emotions.

      I am positive for the most part. But I sometimes feel myself starting to doubt things.

      And it makes me sad I am left feeling shattered by it all. Picking up the pieces for 2 years is difficult. To say the least.

      • Scott

        So I’m 2+ years out since the divorce and 3+ since Dday. There are whole days, even multiple days when normally I don’t think about it anymore. Took a long time. However, when the anniversary comes I still slide back, just a little. That said, I just stopped caring about what she was telling other people. I had friends of hers stop by and tell me what she was saying, and I vigorously defended myself. Now I wave at it and say, “she’s crazy’.

        Read this on another site today, “stop arguing with the drunk guy at the end of the bar.” People who cheat are screwed up. Not people who are faithful. They’re the drunk guy at the end of the bar, raging at the wind, telling the world to stop spinning, yelling at the world while people just laugh. That’s what they are. If they made sense, people wouldn’t judge them harshly, walk away from them as friends, fire them from jobs, or otherwise impose constraints and boundaries on their access to their normalcy.

        Are all faithful spouses perfect, no. But their ethics are intact and they didn’t make the choice to hurt others for their own selfish wants and desires. Which is why our hurt, our pain, is so internal. We look inside to fix, we ask normal rational questions, we follow a pattern of logic to problem solve, while the cheater spouse sounds like a lunatic or emotional terrorist. And some of them NEVER stop being that way. My ex, for example, to this day, I CANNOT say anything to face to face without her blowing up and raging. She’s a friggin mess. So I just smile and wave, walk away, and when I MUST talk to her, it’s in text form, so when she goes off the deep end I can save it to email for the attorney, if needed. At this point I have so many great and cool things in my personal life, she’s nothing but a bad memory.

        You will get there too.

    • Shifting Impressions

      This is a very timely post (as usual), gotta love how that happens. About a month ago I felt something shift inside of me. It’s been two years since d-day….and we had a really good day and I was surprised that I actually felt happy. As I sat by myself pondering over the day, I came to the realization that I needed to give myself permission to be happy again. This happiness is not contingent on my husband’s behavior….this is about me.

      Shortly after that light bulb moment….the daily crying stopped. Then as I was reading some older posts I saw that Linda recommended the book HAPPY FOR NO REASON. THANKYOU, LINDA for that.Such a worthwhile read. Of course this newfound “happiness” was tested almost immediately. A huge fight….all him and I can honestly say that. I was able to a stay calm and not buy into the drama. Amazing how that changed his actions as well….He came to me the next morning with a heartfelt apology saying it was all him….how wonderful that he took ownership of his actions.

      But back to this post. I listened to both talks and ordered the book immediately. I am only on page 11 but can relate to every word. Perhaps I am in the right place in this journey to take in what he is saying. I can’t change that the betrayal happened but I can seek healing for myself. Once again I am thankful for this site, Linda and Doug.

    • Fragments of Hope

      I recently read about ACT therapy and this book and videos seem to be coming from the same tack that incorporating difficult events into a coherent value system – and being clear about what’s important to you and how you want to be can really boost and help. I have been stuck for so long, although almost 2 years from d-day 1 and ten months from d-day 2, adrift in the depressive feelings and emotional numbing. So many things in these videos struck a chord with me. I can really see how focussing on healing first is vital. Despite my husband doing all the right things, I found it so difficult to know if I wanted to repair, I hated what I had become, couldn’t be loving or loved. These sound like truly practical steps to move forward. Thanks for the information and book link.

    • bor

      Really like this book it allowed me to see my life as i wrote out my core values and backed them up with examples of my successes way before i even knew my wife. I look back at my life with other people who i could have taken advantage of emotionally and sexually in their times of distress or loneliness or even inebriation and instead gave them compassion and nurturing or a place to safely stay and then sent them on their way to have the life they deserved instead of having to deal with the baggage of an “unfortunate event” in their life that they would have resented me for manipulating them for my own benefit. I see now my wifes affair was all about her decisions and not me being a monster. We had an incredible bad string of events that lead to to much stress for her to take and I turned away instead of toward due to resentments that i felt disrespected in my ability to influence her in stopping to give my son medicine that was not doing him any good. It really let me see that i have value to myself and others and if i live with my core values then I can find that i don’t have the stress and anxiety that was so pervasive before.

    • Christy

      I started reading your blogs a couple months ago. I have slowly been working through some of the older ones. Discovering this and the Brene Brown vulnerability blog have breathed hope back into me and the chance of surviving my husbands EA. It’s been 9 months and MANY counseling sessions. These two blogs and their content have finally spoken to the roadblocks I haven’t been able to surpass. I so wish I would have encountered them sooner (but maybe my heart wasn’t ready for them yet and God knew that). If I could suggest cycling them to the forefront every so often for newbies to your site. They are so powerful! Thanks for all you do

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