Well, it’s finally here.  Our beautiful 18-year-old daughters are graduating from high school tomorrow.  Two hours after the commencement is over, we will be hosting a party at our home for family and friends.

Linda is the ultimate party planner and goes well beyond normal expectations each time we host one.  (The thought of her planning two weddings in the future is already scaring me! )  So, we have been preparing somewhat for the last few weeks but we kicked it into overdrive during the Memorial Day weekend.  We’ve painted, cleaned, repaired, created, and purchased stuff to the point of near exhaustion.  Time is in short supply and the pressure is on!

Therefore, we’re going to run a guest article today by Rick Reynolds about how our behaviors can put us at high risk for an affair.  On Monday we will probably either have another guest post or rerun one of our posts from the past.

Needless to say, once this whole graduation thing is over we will require a vacation (or at least a few days of R&R).  On the plus side, we won’t have to do any work around the house for many months to come!


Grooming Behaviors: Building a Safe Environment

 by Rick Reynolds, LCSW

recovering from betrayalYears ago John, a client, entered my office requesting help for his dilemma: “Women are always coming on to me” he began “and my wife is really upset about it”. “What can I do?” Puzzled, I asked him to give me examples since I didn’t seem to be having the same problem and I assured him I was better looking than him. “Well, one woman came into my office today, kicked off her shoes, came behind my desk and began to give me a back rub.” “Really” I replied, give me another example. “Well at the little league game on Saturday, I was sitting in the stands bending over and I guess my underwear was showing and this woman come up and gave me a wedgie.” “Incredible” I responded, “I’ve been to a lot of little league games and I’ve never had that happen.” “By any chance did you happen to know any of these women?”

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I’ve always been amazed at how naïve people tend to be when it comes to the birds and the bees. It’s as if they have no clue as to how things get started. Of course, John knew these women, but his blindness to his own behaviors continually put him at high risk for an affair. Upon further investigation, I discovered his secret; he was the master of complements. John, it seemed, had a photographic memory. Each day he would go around the office and complement the women on their dress. If they wore a new set of clothes, he noticed. If they changed anything about their hair, he made a comment. If they had a new set of ear rings, he took note. Even if they changed the color of their nail polish, he’d point it out. I suspect that for most of these women there had never been a man so attentive, especially their husbands. For that reason, John had a constant stream of women coming by his office checking to see if he would notice what was new.

Grooming behaviors are those behaviors we use to cause someone to be drawn to us. For men, that behavior is what I call “pimping tenderness.” It is a man’s way of pushing a woman’s buttons and drawing her attention his direction. All a man has to do is feign interest, to pay attention, pay complements, and the game is on. For women grooming behaviors may involve dress, or flirting. “What’s wrong with flirting?” some will ask. And for a single person, there is nothing wrong with the dance of courtship, but the committed man or woman is playing with fire. Even if in the beginning of a playful exchange there is honestly no interest in the other person, the emotions generated by an encounter may well lead to rouge desires that threaten to destroy the lives of many.

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Couples recovering from betrayal need a culture of safety in order for healing and re-engagement to begin. Creating that environment requires effort on the parts of both spouses. Examine how you interact with other people. You may be totally unaware of your high risk grooming behaviors. If you are unsure of whether you do any of these behaviors, then ask your mate, I’m sure he or she will gladly point out any behaviors that he or she perceive as risky.

Most of us tend to get defensive if our mates share what they see as our risky behaviors. That’s because we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions, but others judge us by our actions. While we may not have bad intentions as we interact with others, it doesn’t change the fact that on any given day the attention given with which another responds, if we find them attractive, may catch us by surprise and stir a rouge desire threatening to disrupt our life and those around us. At the very least, our risky behaviors will leave our mate feeling unsafe and uncared for. As one wife once told her husband after he had gawked at another woman, “I wish you would save some of those looks for me.”

Be willing to refuse to exercise some of your freedom for the sake of the relationship and out of respect for those around you. You may feel your mate needs to get over it and that this is just how you are and he/she needs to accept it, but maybe we need to grow in our capacity to love and learn to care about the feelings we may be creating in our mate and the emotions we may be inadvertently awakening in others. Just because it’s “the way you’ve always done things” or “the way you’ve always been,” doesn’t make it a safe and loving act. Continuing your behavior, even if your motives are innocent, can do more harm than your realize. Learn to protect your relationship.

See also  Boundaries After Betrayal - Everything You Need to Know

For more on what the cheater should and shouldn’t do after an affair, check out our newest book, Healing from an Affair: A cheaters guide for helping your spouse heal from your affair.



    19 replies to "Recovering from Betrayal – Building a Safe Environment"

    • Strengthrequired

      Congratulations Linda and Doug for your daughters graduations. Enjoy the celebrations and your well deserved r & r.

      I can see how my h would openly flirt with ow, he always thought he was being nice, but it would always bug me, because I found it inappropriate.
      My h set a friend up with ow one time, and so they could meet he invited them both to our home. Well when alone this ow told me how she was sooooo disappointed when she found out my h was married. She had a crush on him. I couldn’t believe it, but how that could have ended different if she was like cousin it.
      She is now married to his friend and had been for many years now.
      I have now asked my h to watch how he speaks with ow since his ea, I used to tell him before, but he used to say he was just being nice. I would tell him that it just take one to take it differently.
      Well I was right, cousin it definately took things to the next level. Now my h sees that he needs to watch how he speaks with ow, not to be to involved in trying to hel them etc.
      He it amazes ms, it had to take a ea and almost losing his family for him to take notice.

    • Gizfield

      Yes, congratulations on your daughters’s graduation. That is wonderful!

      My husband was like a big poster child for cheating red flags, lol. He’s a nice looking guy, tall, nicely groomed and dressed. He is a SALESMAN and has a very appealing demeanor. Smooth talker, and loves talking. People are always calling him. His cell is his business number. His pattern of talking/texting his Turd was not out of line with others he talks to. people WANT to talk to him, and he really does have trouble saying no. He is also in a band, and that is just horrible. He spends his breaks with me, but these band whores are all over the guys. Unfortunately, some of them eat it up.

      • Strengthrequired

        My h has trouble saying no too, always wanting to be the good guy.

    • Strengthrequired

      Ok I have been thinking about this. How do you think your cs will respond or react , if the ap threw her or himself at your spouse to try and win them back? do you think your spouse would be strong enough to push them

      As for my h I’m nit sure how he would react or respond if cousin it threw herself at him to try and win him back. I would like to think that he would set her straight and tell her ti rack off. I’m not sure my h is strong enough right now, yet I could be under estimating him.

      What’s your thoughts?

    • forcryin'outloud

      Congrats to L and D on the graduation of your daughters. Enjoy the party!!!!

      This post could have been written about my H. He’s attractive in a non-assuming kind of way, much like a teddy bear. And he has an absolutely fabulous personality. People flock to him and he can get about anybody to do what he wants. He’s taken so many different “personality profiles” for work and they all say the same – he’s a born leader and salesmen with high risk and impulsive characteristics. …imagine that… The other crazy thing is he can strongly dislike you or your behavior and you would never know it and if you do catch on you go WAY out of your way to get him to like you. I’m guilty of it and I’ve witnessed it in others time and time again. Infuriating!!!!
      But the strangest thing is he can be so compassionate with others about all sorts of things but he expects me to be a rock on every level. And that really pisses me off!!!!!

      • tryinghard

        Congrats Doug and Linda and have a great celebration with your friends and family.

        I think I’m seeing a pattern here. Your H and mine could be long lost twins separated at birth! I play the bad cop roll too. My sons work with my H. They laugh because they talk about how they can have the most irate customer on the phone and by the time my H is done “sweet talking” them they are placing another order!!! We went to collect a check from a customer that owes us a lot of money. I sat in the car and waited because I didn’t want to look at the creep. He’s owed it to us over TWO FREAKING YEARS and I resent having to act like a beggar to this loser just to get him to pay what he owes us, but my H you would think this guy was his best friend dealing with him. All laughing and joking. UGH I just want to slap the jerk! I do think the “charming” salesman behavior and personality is definitely a contributing factor to cheating. People take their interest and friendship too seriously., My H admitted to that. The OW was flattered that someone like my H was paying attention to her and she went in for the kill and HE LET HER for his own purposes. But I have come to the conclusion that if it hadn’t been her it could have just as easily been someone else. There are millions of women like her in this world. I can’t change him or his personality but I am going to show him this article because I have pointed out his “friendliness” many times and he just blows me off and says he’s just being friendly.

        • forcryinoutloud

          Maybe they are separated twins…my H is adopted. 🙂

          I agree that the charming salesman personality is an attribute and a hindrance. I hear ya with the customer owing you money story.
          Just this past w/e one of our child’s coaches (who we loathe because he plays favorites and politics w/ the kids and parents) came up to my h all chatty as if they are best buds. This guy knows we can’t stand him but for some crazy ass reason he wants friendly chatter with my H. And the kicker is my H will make him feel like a million bucks and I stand there looking like the evil beotch because I’m silent, trying to understand what is happening. Another sports parent he says looks like Darth Vadar without his helmet. Worse part is its a female and she kinda does. But she will chum up to him and he will feed her like a pigeon. It freaks me out sometimes. He’s so skilled at “acting” its spooky. Everybody thinks he’s good time Joe. If they only knew.

          • tryinghard

            LOL seriously. My H is the same. Now do you look at him when he’s “acting” like this with people that you know he hates and wonder if what he’s doing with you is an act too??? But what I have found is he will treat those people he perceives “lower on the social totem pole” that way. He will not show his hand but someone who is on the same socio-economic level as he, he can totally disregard and ignore. It’s like they are a threat to his ego so he really hates them and shows it where someone he sees as beneath him he doesn’t. Same with the OW he knew she was beneath him and me both socially and economically , educationally, you name it, so he could really impress her with his largess and knowledge in all facets of life. The only vacation she had ever been on was to Florida! I’m not even sure she graduated high school. Makes you want to say HHHHMMMMM… very interesting. I swear I’m going back to get a Psychology degree!!

            • Forcryinoutloud

              Oh yeah, I often wonder if I’m getting his Oscar performance. And yes he seems to be ruthless to someone not on his level, but he can really turn it on for his peers and above. That’s when he becomes self deprecating and full of “humility.” He can smooze like it’s second nature.

              My H’s OW had never been anywhere outside of the large metro area she is from/lives in. She had to be seeing greenbacks and feeling like Prince Charming was coming to rescue her miserable life. Like your H’s OW she was far from his or my equal in every aspect. So maybe he felt it was okay to use her because she had such low expectations.

            • Forcryinoutloud

              Oh yeah, I often wonder if I’m getting his Oscar performance. And yes he seems to be ruthless to someone not on his level, but he can really turn it on for his peers and above. That’s when he becomes self deprecating and full of “humility.” He can smooze like it’s second nature.
              My H’s OW had never been anywhere outside of the large metro area she is from/lives in. She had to be seeing greenbacks and feeling like Prince Charming was coming to rescue her miserable life. Like your H’s OW she was far from his or my equal in every aspect. So maybe he felt it was okay to use her because she had such low expectations.

            • Strengthrequired

              My h ow kept telling my h how her h never took her anywhere, so she made out he as her night in shining armor that took her everywhere she wanted to go. She has been more places than I have. Funny that.

    • Strengthrequired

      Fcol, I used to joke around to my h and say how everyone thinks the sun shines out of his ass, because everyone he met loved him.
      He is different in some ways, since his ea.

    • chiffchaff

      Congratulations both of you, and to your daughters! Enjoy the party if you get time.

      My H has an almost desperate need to be liked by women. Not men. We have tried to discuss this a few times but as you write, he gets defensive because he sees this as me ‘stopping him making friends’ or just ‘being friendly’ but he gives lots of eye contact to women, tries to make them laugh or engage with him in some way that must really flatter the women he works with. He’s tall and blond, with alot of hair still (sorry!) – sometimes I wish he’d hurry up and go bald and then it would all stop! I think it’s this behaviour that puts him most at risk of getting into hot water again. He’s also very passive aggressive when he wants to be and will deliberately do something he knows I don’t like, or will do it secretly simply because he knows I hate it. Well, I’m mainly thinking of the time he was caught sexting on scrabble and sending pictures of himself to one of those ‘ladies’. I’ve also seen this behaviour in his dad, his dad is a dreadful misogynist and butt ugly so he delights in lathering attention on some young sales assistant only to turn round and call her ‘thick as two short planks’ within ear shot. horrid.

    • tryinghard

      I just have to add. Here’s what I find interesting. Most women are NOT flattered by the personal attention given by male co-workers especially. I always felt uncomfortable when my male superiors would comment about my personal dress or grooming. I always dressed conservatively at work but always looked nice. I get pedicures and manicures but certainly NOT to impress the men I work with. If they did offer up a compliment it was met with a simple thank you and was NEVER repeated. I NEVER wanted to convey any kind of impression that I would be interested in any of them, I didn’t care how handsome they were. As a matter of fact the handsomer they were the worse it was because they really thought they could manipulate the minion women to their advantage with their charm. I and my co-workers would make fun of them at lunch! They were ridiculed and they as being too full of themselves to even know it. Now if I’m at a party and some guy friend says “hey that’s a really pretty dress” I say “thanks” and that’s it! Maybe a little flirt and wink but for crying out loud they are my friends husbands and I know WAYYYY to much about them to ever want anything to do with them. I think if all these guys who thought they were so charming and in need of so many women’s attention really knew what most women were saying behind their backs they’s be shocked and they would knock it off. Sure there are some pathetic ones who eat it up and those are the ones that end up being the OW and end up dumped and alone and generally either fired from their job or having to quit their jobs. I really believe my H’s OW had some laughs at his expense and he was too dumb not to know it! He’s a great guy and very handsome to me and I adore him, but he’s got plenty of shortcomings! I would have been much more self conscious.

      • chiffchaff

        trying – this bit you wrote ‘Sure there are some pathetic ones who eat it up and those are the ones that end up being the OW and end up dumped and alone and generally either fired from their job or having to quit their jobs’ really describes the current state of the OW in our case almost 2 years after Dday. Her last posting on the blog she writes on was, as usual, on a wedding related board and someone had posted a query asking how and when did people decide to get married. many people had expressed the reasons for getting married to their spouse but the OW chipped in with ‘no one has told me HOW – please answer the question properly’ which apart from being noticeably stroppy also displayed that she’s primarily someone who really doesn’t get marriage if she thinks she can learn ‘how’ to get married to someone from a virtual message board. I increasing see her as a sad, lonely woman who thinks that marriage to anyone is going to solve some problem she has.

        • tryinghard

          There is no doubt in my mind that the OW don’t have some redeeming qualities or can learn from their poor choices. HOWEVER, I believe there are many obstacles to overcome psychologically and emotionally before those changes can take place. I also have doubt that “they” in general have the where withal to figure it out. There self esteem problems run deep. We all know that just from watching our spouses trying to learn from their mistakes by going to individual counseling, marriage counseling, the long, tedious, talks with us, the apparent guilt and shame we see they have etc. Without the force of a spouse and everything that comes with us, family, financially etc. who is “forcing” them or more kindly “helping” them to see they have made bad choices and if they want their lives to continue on the way they know it, they need help! All that being said I can’t imagine this woman giving advice on marriage!!! Seriously that would be like going to someone who eats out all the time for cooking advice. I would imagine what she knows about marriage could be written on the back of a button! She needs to ask the question that should preclude the “How to get married” question which would be “How does one make healthy relationship decisions?”! Sounds like to me all she really wants is a wedding and that is quite different from a marriage. You are lucky that she has a blog that you can look at and evaluate what she is doing. I would make a fake identity and play her like a fiddle! It would be fun. I still believe the OW are pathetic individuals and am actually starting to feel pity for them and their undeniable ignorance. I have really almost totally let go of my hatred and need for revenge against the OW and see her as no more than a desperate dog looking for her next tidbit to feed herself. The sad thing is there are many more women out there with the same problems. We always need to be aware of our surroundings and who is in them. I am way more aware and much less naive than before DDay. I too am coming up on 2 years this August. I have seen it is important to work out EVERY aspect of anything related to the betrayal for as long as it takes to truly move on from this. I know I’m not totally there yet but I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!!!!

    • Strengthrequired

      If anyone thinks that having an affair of any sort is ok, then thunk again. Think of the lives you destroy, think of all you lose, think about all the hard work you have to endure to get yourself back on your feet again, think about the ripple effects from that infidelity and then decide if it was all worth it, or will be worth it.
      I’m watching my h suffer now and it’s heart wrenching, we are on the borderline of losing our business due to the bills piling up. not to mention all the other bills piling up at home. I wonder when this repercussion of my h ea is going to end. Every time you think there is an end in sight, you take some steps back again.
      I know my h is suffering emotionally, he knows why this has happened, I can only imagine how his guilt is making him feel.
      You will see a party here once it does, because what we are going through due ti his weakness that he has never experienced before, we can’t completely be happy yet, it is s not worth ruining your life and your families life for someone that you think is all that in the spur of the moment, look after your family and look at your children’s faces, look deep int your spouses eyes and work on your marriage, don’t give up on your marriage, think very hard first of the consequences when you do.

      • tryinghard

        Amen Strength!

    • Strengthrequired

      Th, I feel like just looking at my h and saying see, see how was this worth it, how was she worth it. But i dont.We are struggling in everyday life.
      You know how hard it is to see your h still depressed and there is nothing you can do except keep being there, and pray that there is an end in sight. It is so hard watching him work so hard everyday, barely seeing him, yet that finish line to happiness is still out of reach for him. I feel useless.
      Talk about paying for mistakes.

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