After being hurt, we naturally adopt protective behaviors; no one wants more trauma. We are on guard, protecting our soul, implementing both healthy and unhealthy measures. We cautiously move forward, avoiding unnecessary risks. After disloyalty, whether we choose to move towards reconciliation or separation, we step cautiously with extra care to protect the heart. We are prepared to defend against any ill minded intruders threatening our tender souls, but the intense fear blinds objectivity.
We integrate protections that shield more than pain—also interfering with healing. Many over protective defenses also impede joys and growth, preventing the establishment of healthy attachments that can change our lives.
"Part of the healing process is sharing with other people who care."
Healing Takes Time
Healing takes time. An immediately jumping onto a new relationship often interferes with necessary grief and restorative integration of experience. Eventually new connections are an important step, but quick movement from one relationship to another often is more distracting than curative. Ache avoided remains buried in the psyche and typically doesn’t dissolve without reflection and grief.
Completely ignoring a partner’s infidelity by jumping to a new relationship disrupts healing and effective reconciliation of the past with the present.
When we choose to stay, we also encounter many difficult obstacles that also interfere with moving forward. Often before we can forgive, we need an apology—recognition of wrong doing. Without an apology, there is no security from continued emotional punches from an uncommitted mate. However, an apology shouldn’t be gifted with immediate forgiveness and gracious amnesia. A partner expecting a quick return to intimacy after expressing regret exposes their lack of compassion for the heavy impact of their actions.
Honesty, confessing betrayals, is important, but honesty doesn’t erase the disloyalty. The revealed secrets deliver a heavy blow, requiring significant healing. Recovery takes time; unhealed wounds will impact present and future relationships. Sometimes love dies and leaving is the only path back to joy.
The true damage sustained by disloyalty continues to seep into the present. If the past continues to hinder intimacy in the present, we must purposely attend to the wounds. New relationships haunted by the past limit our willingness to commit. When we only step part way into a relationship, never fully committing, and quick to run with any threat, we can never enjoy the beauties of intimacy. As frightening as openness can be after a betrayal, we must step into the dark again; intimacy demands vulnerability.
See Commitment Issues for more on this topic
"Honesty, confessing betrayals, is important, but honesty doesn’t erase the disloyalty."
Fear of Vulnerability
By inhibiting a return to vulnerability inherent to deeper connection, we suffer, allowing the bitterness from the past to continue to live. We can’t expect to live as if the hurt never occurred, but we deserve more than a life of limitations. We must improve our integration of the devastation. This may require guided healing with a skilled professional, supportive family and friends—and time.
See Vulnerability in Relationships for more on this topic
Our next go around may not last forever, we may be hurt again. But if we protect through only partially committing and constantly look for signs of trouble, we will miss the greater opportunities for joy. We have a right to be protective but too much caution destroys developing relationships. So carefully expand, willing to expose your vulnerabilities again. Refuse to give up on love; keep trying; keep exploring.
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