“Rori, I discovered my man of 1.5 years was also on a dating website after he proposed to me on Christmas Day. He was checking out profiles, checking a secret acct for email and had emailed a women back in August saying he liked her profile and wanted to get to know her more. This all happened 6 weeks ago and he just wants me to “forget it” as it didn’t mean anything – he was just doing it for the “rush.” I feel as if it really damaged our relationship. I want to walk but don’t. Trying to figure out why. I now have the Toxic Men Cd’s……He’s now doing all the right things (sometimes) but it feels empty. So frustrating. And so much more to the story. I love these posts. I read them every day. Any suggestions on how to use feeling messages 6 weeks later? I’ve let it go but it’s still there and I’m very very angry about. Not sure I trust myself to be calm and use feeling messages. Thanks.
Here’s my answer:
Pam, This is different from porn, which is something you can deal with. This is actually contacting other women. This is a minefield. This is a serious red flag.
The way out of this is to TALK.
You need to sit down with him and ASK him (without being upset, without accusing him, without disrespect – you have to put all that aside in order to FIND OUT what you need to FIND OUT) the questions you need to ask him so you can experience how you feel about him.
You need to ask things like this: What does he want. Why he needed the “rush.” Does he want to marry you. WHY did he propose to you. Ask him if he thinks it’s a guy thing, or if he thinks you could do that too? (Don’t ask this in a revenge sort of way – you just want to find out what kind of man he is – which is turning out to be a big surprise.)
Let him know that he’s entitled to do whatever he wants – and you do not judge him (work really hard on this, because your anger and grief is going to trigger judgment), even though it feels painful for you – but that you’re trying to figure out how to best take care of yourself from here on. You’re trying to figure out whether you should marry him or not.
You’re not out to punish him. You’re out to discover if you want to be here…
You may discover that this was something he was doing BEFORE he proposed to you, while he was trying to figure out what he wanted to do – and that he stopped doing it as soon as he proposed. If that’s the case – you should be fine, but you need to know if that’s the case.
Ask him if he thinks you should get counseling together, or just work this out together. Let him know this is not a little thing for you, because if this is something he wants to do – you don’t want his marriage to you to feel like a prison for him. If this is something a single man does, he won’t be able to do it when you’re married. Really, really get as honest and deep as you can by creating a safe space for him to talk.
Now – here’s the truly mind-blowing, important part of all this:
Pam, you said: He’s now doing all the right things (sometimes) but it feels empty.
What happens to us when we’re in shock (and this is a shock) is we go to trauma, and we go to grief, and we go through all the ways of dealing with those that we know.
We go through the 7 Stages of Grief – grief being you are grieving the innocence and security of thinking things were one way, and they weren’t. You’re grieving a genuine betrayal (not as serious as an actual, in-person affair, but a betrayal of trust nonetheless.
We go through “denial” and we go through “numbness,” and we either fight and attack, or flee and disappear if we can, or we just go numb. We stop feeling altogether, because the feelings are too intense and painful, and because we don’t know how to stop them from keeping rolling on and on and getting more and more painful.
We also don’t know the outcome of the situation. We’ve discovered we’re truly not in control of what he does – only what WE do.
We feel helpless – and this is what trauma is: – being in a painful situation that is beyond our control.
Now, I want to show you the difference between that kind of trauma reaction – which, if you can become aware of how it’s working in you, can change your life immeasurably for the better – and the other possibility, a possibility that can give you so much amazing hope for yourself and faith in yourself: We just see a man for who is is (even in a shocking way) and something in us that really loves us stops wanting to be with this man. We actually LOSE FEELING for HIM. This is very different from going numb.
If you watch TV – this is playing out in “The Good Wife.” She’s a magnificent character, brutally betrayed by her “loving” and “wonderful” husband – working her way through it, and finding that her feelings for her husband have just turned to kindness and perhaps a friendship based on family and their children, and the old, good, memories – but that she’s LOSING her bonded, romantic, marriage feelings for him.
She’s now discovering she’s feeling a strong attraction to and bond with another man – who’s perhaps more honorable and deserving. She’s discovering that forgiveness doesn’t mean she really, truly wants to go back to married life with her husband. She has instincts to move past that and move on to something new, that doesn’t have all those painful memories and doubts. She’s discovering she doesn’t HAVE to get all that back. It’s not required.
And this has nothing to do with anger, or revenge, or drama of any kind. Her feelings have simply changed.
If a man stops treating us, or never did treat us, beautifully as we deserve – we can get bored with him. The co-dependent, pining, waffling, insecure part of us that was throwing ourselves at the feet of a man who didn’t deserve us all of a sudden – when you do the Tools and start to love yourself more intensely than you’ve loved any man – starts to fade.
And what appears in your mind, heart, body and spirit is a Siren, a Diva, a woman who knows her worth and KNOWS that a good man will make her feel GOOD, not BAD. and instead of feeling pain and grief – you’ll feel disinterest. It’s sort of – you won’t want to be bothered.
So – Pam, if you can get THIS attitude going, you’ll know what to do. In other words, ask him what I’ve asked you to consider asking – just to get the information you need to make a good decision for yourself based on your feelings – and then amp up your life that’s not about him and see how you feel about him.
If this were a movie – it would be “Boy meets girl, boy LOSES girl by doing something really stupid and jerky….” And this is where he’s at. He’s about to lose you because of something really stupid and jerky that he did. Your job is to find out what that means for your future, and if he really is “all that” for you – or if you can do way better.
Please give yourself time to process this. Be gentle and loving with yourself. Observe him, without feeling you HAVE to do anything.
The power now belongs to you. Accept it. Use it. Love it.