“Most of us have a false idea that a relationship’s purpose is to somehow fulfill our needs and desires. We look to see what we can get out of the relationship instead of what we can put in. Looked at like this, relationships are little more than a needs exchange. We need this (safety, love, intimacy); a man needs that (security, companionship, sex). When we come across a good fit, both parties tacitly agree to do a trade and call it love. This transaction-based relationship model is why so many relationships feel empty and dead. They are completely devoid of anything real and intimate. After the initial rush of excitement is over, they’re more like business contracts than sacred unions.”
“Let’s face it. We’ve all been conditioned to use relationships for the wrong reasons: to end loneliness, relieve depression, recover from a previous breakup, or find security. The problem is that this is not what relationships are for.”
Make Every Man Want You-Marie Forleo
Sadly, that is perhaps the best description of MOST relationships that I have EVER read!
When you are married or in a long-term relationship and you discover you have been cheated on, your first inclination (after rage, pain, and sorrow) is to try and fix it. You immediately want to know “Why?” and you want it to be the simple answer. That the love you had was real and that the two of you just somehow took your hands off the wheel. That if you put your hands back on the wheel and put in some real effort, the two of you can stay together and be more in love than you ever were before.
As I said, that is the hope. The reality, at least for most of the people I work with, is that the relationship was never whole, soul-enriching or deeply loving to begin with. Hence, the infidelity. And…..you can’t fix it if it was broken from the get-go. You can’t create connection, admiration, trust, and support in a relationship that never had it. You can’t create genuine, abiding and deep love if it was never in existence, to begin with. It’s hard enough to heal a genuinely loving relationship after an infidelity has occurred. It’s impossible to heal it if there was no solid and authentically loving foundation, to begin with.
No one wants to hear that. Because facing those facts means facing the end of your relationship. It means major life changes. It means processing loss, grief, loneliness, and sadness. Emotions that most of us were not taught how to process. So, instead, we fight like hell to save our shitty relationship if only to avoid pain. We fight to stay in it if only to feel that false sense of security. We fight to stay in relationships that we know (and always did know on some level) do not serve us.
Or, one person is unhappy enough that they finally leave and the one who was left chooses to live in a never-ending self-inflicted purgatory. Believing that the relationship was something more than it ever was. Forever lamenting the end of it. Angry at the partner who left because if they would have stayed and worked it out, everything would be ok. If your partner just wouldn’t have cheated, everything would have been wonderful. Never forgiving, never moving on, repelling genuine love from anyone else with their bitterness and victimization.
It takes a lot of courage to face the fact that you chose a partner for the wrong reasons. Particularly if you married them, had kids and spent a significant portion of your life with them. That after all of those years, in the end, your choice was based on need, rather than want. It takes intense self-reflection about your own weaknesses, your dysfunction and what boils down to a lack of love for yourself. It takes courage. Lots of courage. Courage, that, unfortunately, is often not found, but rather, forced. Forced AFTER an infidelity has occurred. Infidelities that in my opinion, are most often caused by what Marie describes in that first paragraph.
However, if you are one of the rare few who musters that courage, dig deep and find insight in the mirror you will be greatly rewarded. Facing your weaknesses helps you own your strengths. Owning your poor decisions helps you make better ones in the future. Being willing to leave an unfulfilling relationship makes a space for a new one that could be. Learning to love yourself inevitably attracts genuine love from someone else.