Article Summary By Michael Estlack, Director of Connectivity
According to Michelle Mays, betrayal-trauma specialist, many partners, whose significant others have problematic sexual behaviors, claim that they had no idea of what was going on with their significant other. Mays hears their stories and their shock and bewilderment, but at the same time she claims they might have actually known what was going on after all. This is where denial comes into play. Signs of condoms, pornography, and earlier infidelity are often evidence over-looked.
“Today, thanks to an enormous amount of research on attachment, affect regulation, and the mind-body connection, we have new models that help us dig deeper and better understand the function and purpose of these knowing-but-not-knowing behaviors,” says Mays.
Where does denial come from?
Attachment. When forming a meaningful relationship, partners experience a deep connection that intertwines their lives. This is very healthy and does not indicate codependency. These relationships provide comfort, security and other physical and psychological benefits. When a partner acts out sexually, this can easily cause fear and a threat to these benefits.
When we respond to this threat, we have three options. We fight and confront the situation, we flee from the situation, or we freeze. When we freeze, we go numb and witness the situation unfolding without much fight. This allows the partner to stay in the perceived comfort zone of the relationship. This is refereed to as “betrayal blindness” and thought to be an unconscious process meant to protect us from these traumatic events.
We understand that discovering your partner, spouse, or loved one is a sex addict or has betrayed you is traumatic, overwhelming, and shocking. Many partners report feeling betrayed, alone, angry, broken, embarrassed, ashamed, sadness, disgust, afraid, and confused. Please know that you are not alone. We are here to help support you through this incredibly traumatic experience.
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