There are worse things than cheating.
Infidelity is the betrayal our society focuses on, but it’s the subtle, unnoticed betrayals that really ruin relationships.
When partners don’t choose each other day after day, trust and commitment diminish.
Partners may be aware of this disloyalty to one another, but dismiss it because “it’s not as bad as having an affair.”
This is fake.
Anything that violates the mutual trust, respect, and protection contract of a committed relationship can be disastrous.
Betrayals are based on two basic elements: cheating and hiding (not revealing your true needs to avoid conflict) and a desire for emotional connection outside of the relationship.
Below are three betrayals that destroy relationships, and only by facing and taking responsibility for these betrayals can couples restore trust in each other:
1. Emotional Betrayal
It’s all too easy for platonic friends to get closer and closer in the trenches of work, day after day.
Sometimes we call this person our “work wife” or “work husband”.
Even friendships made at the gym or the local coffee shop can threaten the bond at home.
This is not an infidelity-type betrayal.
What makes it a betrayal is this: if your partner would be upset about the things you told them or would be uncomfortable watching the interaction.
Pedro discovered his wife’s affair when they hosted a Christmas party.
Mariana never mentioned Cristiano, the new manager of her department.
At the party, Cristiano seems to know about Mariana’s entire life.
He even brought her son a Transformer Bumblebee, his favorite.
Pedro looks at Mariana with a shocked expression.
Mariana’s different look was enough to break Pedro’s heart.
When he confronts her after the party, Mariana argues about her friendship with Cristiano.
She tells Pedro it’s “nothing” because they’re “just friends”.
She then turns on Pedro and defends Cristiano.
She accuses Pedro of being unreasonably jealous and tells him that his own jealousy is the reason he didn’t know about Cristiano in the first place.
Peter feels that there is nothing irrational in his jealousy.
Whether he admits it or not, his wife is cheating.
The evidence is in her secrecy.
These are signs that your partner’s friendship is not an innocent friendship:
Was the friendship hidden?
- Have your friendship questions been answered with “don’t worry” or dismay?
- Did you ask to end this friendship, only to have your partner say no?
- Have your boundaries been violated?
- Is the friend the target of fantasies or comments during difficult times in the relationship?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, the friendship may be too intimate.
Use Dr. John Gottman in his book What Makes Love Last? to help talk to your partner about this issue.
2. Conditional Love
Couples don’t feel supported when one partner keeps one foot out of the relationship.
They don’t feel that their partner has their best interests at heart, that they have their partner’s or partner’s support.
When this happens, it’s not uncommon for the cheated partner to blame a trigger as the real problem, when in fact it’s a lack of commitment.
As Kristina reflects on her first marriage, she knows she started to feel betrayed when her husband started talking about not wanting to have children.
At first, she thought he was eager to become a father, but in couples therapy, it became clear that he was hesitant to deepen his commitment to her.
Like an anxious lover, she clung to him in desperation, fearful of losing her marriage… until she realized she’d never really had one.
Sometimes one partner may pressure the other to marry or move, believing that the “next level” will deepen the connection, but it is difficult for a marriage to succeed if it is built on a promise to create a strong bond, and not in the outcome of a marriage.
1. The superficiality of the bond will eventually bleed the connection.
Steps to Creating Unconditional Love: When couples ignore or stop talking about difficult topics, they are left with a superficial commitment.
By using conflict as a catalyst for closeness, couples can intentionally use issues as an opportunity to discuss their goals, fears, and dreams.
Couples who love each other unconditionally live by the motto “Darling, when you get hurt, the world stops and I listen”.
3. Emotional Withdrawal
Emotional withdrawal can be a big thing, like choosing a work meeting in the middle of a family funeral, or it can be as small as pulling away when your partner needs emotional support.
A committed relationship requires both partners to be there for each other through life-altering trauma and day-to-day discomfort.
This means celebrating joys and successes with your partner as well.
Everyone has different ways of expressing themselves.
In a committed relationship, it is the responsibility of both partners to discover and disclose these preferences in order to understand what the other requires in order to feel loved, protected, and supported.
Think of the five love languages.
In his research laboratory, Dr. Gottman found that happy couples turned to each other 86% of the time, while unhappy couples turned to each other just 33%.
That means unhappy couples withdraw 67% of the time!
Emotional withdrawal occurs when bids are ignored.
The solution to Improve Your Emotional Connection:
Focus on rebuilding and updating your Love Maps, cultivating a culture of admiration and affection, and turning to them more often. That means listening when the other has a problem, showing empathy, and helping when the other needs it.
Do any of the items listed above look familiar or bother you?
If so, you may be facing betrayal.
Maybe it’s as serious as finding uncomfortable text messages between your partner and someone else.
This list is not about who is right or wrong.
These betrayals can be overcome if you recognize the problem and repair the relationship together.