Cheaters & Broken Hearts
Support for those affected by infidelity...
Trust vs. Naiveté
We all know that in order to have a good marriage, we must have trust, right? But how much trust? If we trust 100%, are we naive? And if we are distrustful of someone we love, does that mean we are jealous, or does it mean that we are mindful of clues that are telling us that something just isn't right?
Call me jaded if you like, but it is my opinion that having complete trust is naive. Humans are, by nature, going to let us down. People lie, and according to a survey quoted by Dr. Phil on his show entitled Hurtful Lies and Shattered Trust, men lie six times a day, and women lie three times a day. Those are averages, of course. Some may not lie at all, and some may lie practically from the time they wake until they go to sleep. (I've known a few of the latter.)
I had a therapist tell me once that everyone lies. I have to agree, because even though I make a point of not ever lying, I'm not going to tell my best friend that her new hairstyle makes her look like Sean Hannity, or that my cousin's new jeans make her look like "the broad side of a barn." I also won't go on about how good something looks if I don't like it. I usually don't mention it, but if I'm pressed, I try to be as vague as possible, avoiding an outright lie. But any deception is a lie.
I'm not, however, a fan of "brutal truth." I mean, it's not okay to say something cruel or hurtful to someone just because it's true. The mere fact that it's true doesn't justify being mean. But that's not what I'm talking about here. What I'm talking about are relationship issues.
Unless you're 12 years old, and you're entering your first "relationship," there are going to be things you've experienced in past relationships. It's not necessary, nor is it wise, to share with your current love every intimate detail of what you experienced in a past relationship. Some things are private, and are better kept that way. But other issues from the past are relevant to your current relationship.
For instance, if you've been married before, lived with someone before, if you've had a lot of partners, if you have a history of being unfaithful, if you have or have had STDs, etc., I believe that a current partner has the right to know those kinds of things. Also, if you have children from a previous marriage/relationship, your current partner not only has the right to know about the children, but also about the type of relationship you have with the children's other parent(s).
The way to decide what should be disclosed is to consider whether or not the information would be needed or desired by someone you're with, in order to determine whether or not to develop or continue a relationship with you. Chances are, if you'd like to have that information from him, he'd like to have it from you. If this information is asked of you, it is CRUCIAL that you be HONEST about these, or any other, issues that could impact your current relationship. To be dishonest about these things could doom the relationship right from the beginning.
Remember that once you lie to someone, he probably won't ever completely trust you again. From the moment he realizes you've lied, everything you do or say will be suspect. You've proven that you are not trustworthy, and it's not the fault of the person you lied to, that he doesn't trust you. It's your own fault for not being honest.
So if there have been lies/deception in your relationship, can trust be re-established? That depends upon the person to whom you lied, what you lied about, and how many times you lied. It also depends upon the lengths to which you are willing to go to regain that person's trust. As Dr. Phil says, "Those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing." (Yes, I really like Dr. Phil!) We all feel the need for privacy, but if you're not doing something that would hurt your spouse, why would you care if he reads your email or texts? Why would you mind if he opens your mail?
Some people feel justified in their lies because, they say, the person to whom they are lying "can't handle the truth." Okay, why can't this person handle the truth? Usually, people lie to hide things they are doing that they know will hurt the person they supposedly care for. So instead of modifying their behavior to avoid hurting someone they love, they do whatever they want to do, then lie about it, and justify it by saying they just didn't want to fight. "You were going to be livid about it, so I figured I'd just avoid the fight until you found out, and just deal with it then." They're hoping and praying, of course, that you don't find out.
Okay, lying about whether you picked up the dry cleaning is one thing, but saying you were on a business trip when you were holed up with your "lover" is something else. A lie is a lie, but when you've been unfaithful, you've taken deception to a whole new level. Infidelity is a betrayal that takes much more work to get past than any other kind of deception. It takes counseling, forgiveness, God, and a huge effort on the part of the deceiver/cheater to be completely transparent.
If you're trying to regain a person's trust, you have to be an open book. And if he needs to talk to you 20 times a day to make him feel that you are where you are supposed to be, and that you're being honest and open with him, then go along with that. After a while, he'll get tired of the constant calling. But if he doesn't, just remember that those calls are coming in because of your own deception. You're being unfair if you try to punish the person you deceived for not trusting you. It's the price you have to pay for being dishonest and unfaithful, if you want to hold onto the relationship.
I'd like to warn those who have chosen to stay with someone who has been unfaithful--don't be naive! Don't think the affair/fling is over just because he promises (or swears) it is. Don't think you can trust him again just because he's sending you flowers or bringing you gifts. I know that you want to believe him, but keep your guard up and your eyes open. Check up on him. Make sure he's where he says he is, etc. If he has nothing to hide, and he wants to save your marriage, he shouldn't have a problem with your making sure he's being honest.
I hate to be the relationship Grinch. I'm not saying marriages can't work, even after affairs. I'm just saying that they're hard work, and most people don't want to put in the effort it takes to make a marriage work. Especially when there are blended families, the stress and complications can really take a toll. But regardless of your situation, deception of any kind is like a cancer. It grows, and it destroys the relationship, and if it isn't treated, the marriage won't survive. If deception is or has been an issue in your marriage, take it to a counselor. And remember that relationships suffering from the cancer of deception have a much higher survival rate if caught and treated early. Don't wait...get some help.
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