Cheating can do a number on a relationship, but it can really do a number on the one who has been betrayed. The problem is that the effects can last long after the dysfunctional relationship has resolved. I get many partners in my office who have been cheated on more than once or who feel themselves making their current trustworthy partner pay for someone else’s mistakes. They’re distressed that “I just can’t make a relationship work,” “I always pick the wrong one,” or that their needs aren’t being met in some way.
Why is this happening?
Let’s address the first one: Picking the “wrong one.” Almost always there is some sort of abuse in this person’s life. Abuse creates faulty templates. What I mean by this is that when a person is abused early on in life (and sometimes later on in life) they end up reliving that abuse over and over until they figure out what is going on. The abuse becomes their version of “normal” and they don’t end up spotting the red flags that someone who has not experienced abuse will pick up on.
Now for the second person: “I’ve been cheated on and now I can’t make a relationship work.” Often this person KNOWS that what they are doing is irrational: “Facebook stalking,” getting jealous of friends of the opposite sex, keeping tabs, going through the phone, etc. They will tell you that they know they aren’t acting appropriately but they just can’t stop. They end up accidentally driving a perfectly healthy partner away with their behaviors.
What do they both have in common? They’re stuck!
When one is abused or cheated on they get certain unspoken messages: “I’m not worthy of being loved.” “It’s my fault he treated me that way.” “If I didn’t _____ he wouldn’t have done this.” “I’m difficult to love.” “I don’t deserve to be treated well” “This is the best I can do.” “Men aren’t worth trusting” I could go on forever… Believe me, I’ve heard it all.
Here’s the other kicker: “Pathology begets pathology” or “Unhealthy people are attracted to unhealthy people.” I see this a lot and it is something I warn about in therapy. There is a risk that as you get healthy your relationship may not be what you need anymore. The ONLY exception to this is when both partners choose to get healthy and grow together. Insecure women attract insecure men and vice versa. As the unhealthy partner becomes more secure they stop putting up with the bad behaviors. The other partner will then either get healthier or they break up.
This is also the answer to why an insecure person who has been cheated on drives away healthy partners. Healthy partners can recognize unhealthy behavior and will subsequently set boundaries on it. Therefore, a healthy partner doesn’t work with one who is expressing unhealthy behaviors.
This is where counseling can really help. Making you aware of those messages and working through why you feel the way you feel can help resolve the bad template and, in turn, stop the behaviors that are pushing others away. You learn what a healthy template is, how to spot red flags, and how to set limits on bad behaviors. As you heal, you then become much more likely to attract or be attracted to a healthy mate, which in turn will manifest the healthy relationship you’ve been seeking!
If you’re feeling stuck on the relationship merry-go-round and you’ve tried to resolve it yourself, it may be time to call in professional help.
Once you do, you can resolve these issues and find the relationship you’ve been looking for.
If this sounds like you, I’d be happy to help, give me a call at (312) 810-0707 or:
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