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Straight Talk Recovery – Episode 10: Infidelity in Relationships

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Transcription of Episode 10: Infidelity in Relationships

Adam Kostiw: Hello and welcome to another episode of Straight Talk Recovery. I’m Adam Kostiw and I’m joined with my co-host Raymond Moore. Today’s topic is going to be infidelity in relationships. As we know this is a topic we see in social media, mainstream media too, and shows and stuff like this. We see all kinds of different aspects of infidelity. And so we wanted to touch on this topic today.

So infidelity happens for many different reasons. We hear so often about something that they’re missing in their lives, that a client comes to us all the time and says, you know, it happened. I wasn’t communicating with my wife. I wasn’t getting what I used to be. Things had changed and this other person was listening to me. This person was giving me attention. They were seeing me for who I was.

So we hear things like this but this is not the only thing that in therapy and when we work with people that we do here. The other part that is because we work in addiction, we also hear about what attracts people to through the revolving door of infidelity, where it’s they go and have a relationship, another outside relationship in a relationship.

They may even say that they love this person, yet they can’t stop chasing these other relationships. And when we delve down into it again, it’s from the addictive behaviour. It’s about what they get out of the actual process itself. They actually receive whether it’s the adrenaline spike, whether it’s those feelings of the chase that they describe so often that the excitement about it and then all of a sudden they’ll be in that relationship outside the relationship and it lasts for a little while and it loses that excitement and all of a sudden it’s moving on. And so these are a couple of different aspects that we’re going to look at.

Raymond Moore: Talk about a great opening. I absolutely love it. So we’re again talking about, I love how you brought up initially. It’s something you see all over social media and it’s something you hear very often from people. It’s kind of another one of those taboo things, right?

We talked about porn addiction. I think it was the last one we did or our conversation on porn addiction. But it’s often very taboo to talk about infidelity and relationships for many different reasons and infidelity essentially is the disconnection between people in one way or another, right?

So I think as we go on through this, we’ll look kind of more in-depth at what it actually means. But essentially it’s a disconnection from the person that you’re with. I know Adam is going to definitely focus on kind of the thrill and the rush that some people seem to experience and it takes flight in many different ways.

Some people do it for the rush and then other people do it simply because they’re feeling disconnected in a relationship and try to get their needs met in different ways without fully being open and direct to the people that they’re with.

So I think today’s topic is a pretty challenging topic for some people to hear. I guarantee you there are people tuning in to this, whether they are currently in this situation have been in this situation, but it certainly is a tough place to be in but hopefully we can provide some insight and some direction on how to handle it.

It often is a very difficult thing. I know a lot of the population of people I worked with specifically in addictions a lot of people do come forward and talk about times within the relationships that they have not been very committed to the person that they’re with.

Whether that be due to substance use or simply due to issues that are happening in that relationship. And one of the hardships and most challenging questions I think I get from a lot of people is do I tell the person? Which I think is going to be an interesting one. And I’ll definitely let you chime in on that one. But I know that there is a large number of people I worked with where that’s always kind of the biggest fear.

So as they’re now, you know, putting down the substance or not engaging in the behaviour anymore, and they’re trying to get honest, having to deal with the fact of being honest could potentially hurt somebody else. So do I say something or do I not? How do I communicate specifically what we’re saying here, how do I try to fix things if I know for certain, this may actually fully break things?

So there’s no right or wrong answer for this. I know I always feel I don’t want to say stumped, but it is very for me personally it’s always the honesty is the best and wherever it rolls from there, it rolls from there. But getting honest with yourself and getting honest with the person is probably the best thing you can do if you’ve been not faithful within a relationship.

Adam Kostiw: Exactly. It’s about in a relationship so often when we deal with couples therapy, we talk about open and honest communication and it has to start somewhere. But one of the hurdles that sometimes happens is that a person tries to jump the gun and they talk about wanting to be open and honest with the relationship. But they haven’t been open and honest with themselves first about what their problem is.

Again, it’s difficult. So all of a sudden you have someone who is actively engaging in infidelity or the person specifically who’s chasing the thrill part, right? And we’ll talk about that one first.

Well, they’re still doing it and they want to be honest and open. Well, now we’re talking, you’re going up and opening up about something that’s active, right? Which can again, you talk about being hurtful for the other person. Even more so it’s saying that you know, this is actively going on right, which is very different than saying, you know what, this has happened in the past. I’m trying to deal with it. I’m working. I’m getting help. I’m already here.

There may still be consequences to the truth. There are always consequences whether that person is ready or not. We as a person can’t dictate what another person feels or is going to react to, and it has a lot to do with their core beliefs.

Me and Ray have had this conversation before is what’s that line in the sand that ourselves we won’t cross? or if someone else crosses that, that’s that unforgivable for us? Right?

Raymond Moore: Yeah.

Adam Kostiw: We don’t know what it is for that other person and so there could be consequences.

Raymond Moore: And this brings up an interesting thing, and I know I was talking to you about this before. Every now and then, I like to throw at some hot topics in our workplace just to kind of gauge where we are.

I mean, a lot of times our responses are going to be ultimately what’s best for the client. But we do have our own personal opinions and you talk about the line in the sand. I mean, for me, it’s a mountain, right? For me I struggle with the idea that if unfaithfulness were to happen in a personal relationship with me, it is a mountain I would be able to climb over. And I really don’t see that as being an option for me.

One of the things that comes up and you talked about was the idea of the thrill. It always brings me back to the well, why are they in the relationship in the first place? Like, I mean, essentially, if the thrill is to go out and, you know, keep reconnecting and the relationships, get that thrill, get that nice little dopamine rush from the beginning. New, fresh, exciting, you know, whatever it is that may be driving that thrill. What is the point or purpose of being in the relationship in the first place?

And I know one of the things that I’ve kind of noticed is it’s all about something. There’s something that’s still there. And I personally and I definitely want your two cents on this one. It’s always about safety. There’s some element of safety that lies within that relationship, despite the fact that I’m being unfaithful in that relationship. There is still something.

And I know with a lot of the population I deal with that usually boils down to financial security that there’s something that is there, and it could be kids as well. Let’s not forget kids the kind of moral idea that you know, I’d be leaving my kids or so on and so on. But what ultimately Adam, keeps people in that situation in knowing because essentially that’s being single, right? Like that’s playing the field or whatever the expression is these days.

So why do people hold on to something that clearly is causing guilt and shame for the person actively engaging while also, hurting the other person that’s involved in the relationship as well?

Adam Kostiw: Right. And that’s a good point. And that’s a very important question is when we speak with clients, we encourage them to look deep inside to figure out what that reason is. For some of them, it’s fear, the fear of ending a relationship. It’s one thing for them to end their relationship outside that they don’t put much stock into that. It’s not that. But as you said, that keyword safety, right?

That’s their safe place. It’s what they know, right? The unknown is the part that, for some is terrifying, for some, the financial unknown, what’s going to happen, the start over for, the kids.

But fear plays such a big part, and yet they’re still driven to the outside, and they’re able to put aside that fear for a moment. But they still have fear or sorry, shame, guilt at times that comes over them and then it’s a distraction. Right?

So instead of working on the relationship because we hear it all the time. You know, I’m doing this and all this, but I love my partner. I love my family, and It’s about looking well, what does your family represent? What do you get from them if you’re spending so much time and effort and energy somewhere else? What are you giving back? And then you see the disconnect.

Well, they’re actually not connected with the family. In a lot of the cases, they’re not spending time there. And again, as you said, it’s almost like dating. It’s almost like being a single person but having that deal fall back. It’s a safety net.

Raymond Moore: And yeah, and I think I think we’re crossing the line of sex addiction as well, too, right? Like the entire time you’re saying that, about I mean, the addiction counsellor in me is going to, you know, very normal behaviour for a sex addict. Right?

I want to flip the script a little bit for just the second because there are clearly those that are unfaithful in those relationships or create or sorry, there’s infidelity in those relationships. I often see though, too, and you hit on it a few times is within that relationship the communication breaks down there. And I think I opened up with talk about that disconnection within the relationship and a lot of times and maybe touch on this a little bit, but a lot of times couples start to drift further and further apart.

So we’ve talked in other, I think in our first relationships podcast, we spoke about kind of how people connect in the first place. But you know, with this often comes some sort of disconnection, right? So what is it that people can do? Because perhaps there are even people that are thinking of being unfaithful in their relationship or maybe in a position where perhaps they haven’t engaged in an act, but perhaps there’s something inside of them that’s actually pushing them away?

What is something we can suggest to our listeners that will actually help them kind of bring that connection back before it gets too far pulled apart?

Adam Kostiw: Right. And this is the other side that I mentioned in the very beginning is this is the part where and I like how you said that because this is what we hear all the time, we drifted apart.

What they’re actually saying is we’ve stopped communicating. Right? You know what we can say to others who are struggling and all this is with honest communication is about being intentional, right?

It is life gets busy. When we delve into these relationships and start talking, well, you know, I’m running with the kids to hockey practice and doing this and doing that. They’re doing this. Well, there’s a disconnection in time and energy that they’re actually focusing on the relationship itself, and that’s usually one of the largest components when it comes to this drifting apart.

What I can say to couples that I work with is you have to become intentional, you actually have to plan, you know, those people who are struggling, they start making plans to spend time together, make an intentional effort to have conversations, set time aside for yourselves as a couple.

Right. We hear it all the time is oh, we haven’t been on a date in years since the kids were born or you know or you know, life is so busy between work and this. I come home. I’m exhausted. Well, absolutely. I can relate to that. Life is busy at times. But if we do not prioritize the relationship as we prioritize other things in our lives, all we’re doing is letting it go to the side.

And so we all play a part in this, you know, drifting apart that we keep easily going back and calling it that right. It’s, you know, we’re just not putting as much effort in as we did because as a relationship originally starts, you know, you have to think back on what it was when it first started.

We were thinking about our partner all the time. We couldn’t wait to see our partner, to talk to them, to let them know what was going on with us, right? And then all of a sudden the conversations become cursory on the outside.

Oh, honey, did you get the milk? Or, Oh, you need to take Johnny to the appointment. Well, but it’s not about each other, right? We hear the cursory. How was your day? Ok? Right. There’s no doubt we need to get to the depth again. We need to be open and honest and one thing that I find and I’m guilty of this myself in relationships, with my own wife at times is I forget to tell her what I need, right?

There’s a difference, and we have to always remember going back between want and need. There’s stuff we need and the stuff we want, right? What we need to get to is where they combine, where they overlap. And there are things that we want and need at the same time. We may need car, but we want the Ferrari. Well, that doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing in a relationship. The same thing, right? We may want a, you know, exciting sex life.

What we need is a connection, which can include a physical relationship. I speak to a lot of females or even males who may be the ones who may see themselves as the more emotional in the relationship. And they say, you know their love life is best when they’re feeling it emotionally when they feel connected when it’s not just the act, there’s more to it. Where they feel vulnerable or they feel like they’ve had those conversations and it’s stemmed from there.

Raymond Moore: Yeah. And you know, I want to go back on something you said about going back to the beginning. I mean, the connection happens exactly with what you said, that open communication, the very clear, assertive. This is who I am. This is what I need. This is what I want.

But I think the problem is for many people in relationships, we get it backwards. We believe the longer that we know somebody, the more we know them, right? Which is absolutely incorrect, right?

In the beginning, when we didn’t know them, we were actually getting to know them better because we’re listening, we’re receptive, we’re honest, we’re direct. As time goes on, we fall away. And I love your example of how you’re doing good, right? And that’s where it gets to because the idea in our head is that we kind of already know and it’s the same thing every day and so on and so on.

When you were talking, I was thinking that you know, it’s interesting that we’re not specifically just focusing on or focusing on sex here, right? Is a lot of people think of infidelity as simply being, I’m going to physically cheat with somebody, but you’re hitting on the emotional piece as well.

And I think if we did this podcast say twenty-five years ago, we probably are more specifically focusing on the sexual aspect of the physical. Physical needs not being met. But these days, you see a lot of that. It’s not just about the physical act anymore, it’s about the emotional absence or that emotional connection absence within a relationship.

And this is why you’re seeing people on chat lines or on video chats and all of this stuff now where they’re trying to get those particular needs met in different ways.

And I think the key to really looking at reconnecting is again. And I find, like we say this, a lot is going back to the basics of the relationship and actually opening up. If it’s a physical need that you’re missing in your relationship, talk about it. Don’t avoid it. Don’t be like, well, you know, we’re married now.

And like all those things we say to soothe ourselves, specifically, talk to the person and say, you know, I feel like I’m lacking intimacy in this relationship or be direct to what you’re saying. Otherwise, it’s going to manifest in behaviour that could potentially hurt you, right? or hurt the other person.

And even emotionally speaking, if you’re not feeling loved or you’re not feeling this again, avoid the whole you don’t love me the way you used to, or you are no longer- avoid all of that and simply say what it is that you’re missing.

I feel like the romance in our relationship has not been prioritized to your point earlier, where we’re prioritizing things ahead of ourselves and we need to kind of come back to us and spend some time loving each other so that everything else that we often prioritize ahead of that becomes that much easier.

Adam Kostiw: Mm-hmm. Yeah, absolutely. That makes perfect sense. And again, you said something really important I need to go back to is the part about the difference between twenty-five years ago and now how we would have spoken about it. And you’re right, we would have spoken strictly from the majority of the couples I’ve worked with and I’ve spoken to both sides will say that being on a chat line, talking, having communications with another person that is intimate, emotional is cheating.

Raymond Moore: Mm-hmm.

Adam Kostiw: Right. And that is where the other person will argue, well, I never slept with a person. I never did anything with ever, but to the other person from their perspective. They have cheated, right, the trust and boils down to that trust in the relationship that it’s been broken.

And that and that’s the part that is difficult to heal at times afterwards. Not everyone is able to forgive and we see that right when we talk about the line in the sand.

For some, it’s more difficult than others. We also, I think, need to talk about that other piece. Or in some cases, why do people stay together when stuff happens or whatever? Or is that a co-dependency piece? Is that the fear that people will have?

I’ve spoken to people and why’d you stay with this person if they continually do this to you? And all that and a lot of times it goes down to self-esteem, the fear. Can I get another relationship? This is all I know. And it keeps them in that. Can it be healed if both people are willing and able to do the work and change the way they’ve been communicating?

Well, there’s always a possibility there are. There is always hope, but it takes two. A relationship is not a singular person, it’s two people who come together and form that relationship.

Raymond Moore: And I think, you know if I’m a listener to this particular topic and I’m scrolling through Spotify or I’m Looking at the topics and this one really reaches out to me and I have some thoughts and questions and kind of going back to what I said earlier, do I tell them? Do I not?

I think again, like you said, with the work of two people, potentially there’s healing there.

Adam Kostiw: Mm hmm.

Raymond Moore: It may be instinctual to not say anything, just be a better person and not, but you run the risk of sitting with that guilt and shame that will project into that relationship. So I mean, the work is there if you choose to do it. But at the end of the day, more from the perspective of if you feel like you’re kind of being pushed out of your relationship, I’d highly suggest that you take note of this particular podcast and start reconnecting and talking about what’s happening because a lot of times it’s that simple.

It’s that simple. And I know with a lot of time with people cheating, it just happens like that is like it just happened. I don’t know what happened. We were there and it happened. Well, no, it didn’t just happen. The reality was is there is a series of events that happened prior to that, that all involved the emotions that allowed you to look for something that was going to meet that need.

And although it was a mistake, and although you may regret it, ultimately at the end of the day, we have to come back to that initial absence in your life that’s pulling you away from the other person.

Adam Kostiw: Mm-hmm.

Raymond Moore: If that makes any sense.

Adam Kostiw: Yeah. And when we hear that it just happened right again, it’s that’s the part about not taking ownership and not taking responsibility for your part in this right? And it’s, you know, I hear all the blame game a lot of times, well, I didn’t get this, I didn’t do this well. What was your part of it? A relationship, as we said, it’s two people. Both people are part of a relationship means both people have something that has happened. Some they’ve done a portion of it. There’s something there.

The one thing I ask people to ask, you know, when they come to me and I love going, throwing questions back at people and they ask me a question in therapy. So they’ll say, you know, should I tell my partner or whatever that this happened? And I’ll put it back. Ok, so you need to ask yourself, is it going to hurt them more now? or if, yeah, you behave yourself and you’ve stopped this, but yet five to ten years down the ramp, down the road, it comes out. Which one’s going to be more harmful to the relationship then. Right. I can’t answer that question for them, only they can answer that for themselves.

Raymond Moore: Which is very frustrating for them, right?

Adam Kostiw: It is.

Raymond Moore: Because you want to know that really in any area that we’re talking about, we’re always talking about getting on as being open and direct. And that’s the one area where you really take a risk at hurting someone else. So it’s a great question. Do I actually say something or do I not? But my question always, for a lot of people, falls back to how. How do you think that’s going to make you feel in knowing that you have been unfaithful or things have happened?

How do you think you’re going to feel inside? Regardless of whether it hurts the other person? Is it going to hurt you moving forward with your ability to connect with that person?

Adam Kostiw: Mm hmm.

Raymond Moore: So it’s one of those things where if you tuned in for a very simple answer, you’re not going to get it right. But those are some suggestions to to really look at.

Adam Kostiw: Yeah, exactly. So, you know, and that’s what we can end this episode on is the fact that there are a lot of internal questions that you need to answer for yourselves and dig deep. So that’s what we recommend.

Adam Kostiw: So on behalf of Adam and Ray here, I just want to say thank you for listening and watching us on our first video session of Straight Talk Recovery.

Raymond Moore: We look fabulous, by the way. We look fabulous.

Adam Kostiw: Absolutely. And we remind you one last time. Keep talking.

Raymond Moore: Bye, everybody.

Other Episodes

Episode 1: Introduction

Episode 2: Anger

Episode 3: Relationships

Episode 4: Co-dependency

Episode 5: Self-Compassion

Episode 6: Virtual Addiction and Mental Health Treatment

Episode 7: Mindfulness

Episode 8: Grief

Episode 9: Porn Addiction

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