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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 6000
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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Hi there, I met my boyfriend 2 and a half years ago. He

Resolved Question:

Hi there,

I met my boyfriend 2 and a half years ago. He was previously married and had an affair which destroyed his marriage. Unbeknownst to me, he was still involved with this woman when we met and he continued the affair for another year. Our first year together. I discovered the affair and left.

He begged me to come back, and I started therapy with him, which I thought was very productive. He was very supportive of the emotions I was cycling through and would promise he would never lapse again.

Apart from the lying and cheating, our relationship was very good.

Once I had recovered mostly about 13 months later, he started acting slightly distant, and blamed this on his work. High pressure environment, lots of travel/stress. I was also stressed as I have a high pressure job and was also running a charity ball on behalf of his family.

During this time I discovered that he had restarted the affair without my knowledege for 5 months. He says that she chased him for a whole year, he never picked up the phone and then one day she called him from a private number, this reignited feelings and then things became sexualised again.

He has been on and off with this woman for 6 years, through his previous marriage and now with me. She is married to someone else, and has a child as well.

He wants to try again, and is saying he was caught in a shame cycle even though the therapist we worked with said they had worked on this for 13 months. He claims there are no other issues in our relationship to work through.

I'm struggling to understand this, and it seems to me he could have some type of addiction issues or avoidant issues.

I am 32 and we are not married, although were planning on getting engaged.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

DoctorZ :

Hello I believe I can help you with your concern

DoctorZ :

I am sorry that this man had an affair while dating you, I can imagine how hurtful that must make you feel

DoctorZ :

It is possible that he has an addiction, but I do not believe so or else he would have multiple affairs and would actually be the one that is doing the chasing

Customer:

Hi there, yes it has been very painful. so if it is no addictive behaviour, what would it be then?

DoctorZ :

May I ask you is he a very confident person or is he someone that seeks validation or reassurance constantly?

Customer:

he is not that confident, although he should be, he has everything going for him

Customer:

he has suffered from depression before and takes medication for it

DoctorZ :

I think his troubles lie with his self-esteem. I think his self-esteem is so low that when someone else shows interest in him he becomes flattered by it to the point where this is validating to him and he enjoys it

Customer:

I think this woman validates him completely as I was very upset about the impacts from the affair and laid that out for him, and also made him realise what he did to his ex wife

DoctorZ :

May I ask you when he took the phone call from this woman and thinks started to sexualize from there, were you two having problems at all?

Customer:

I was very supportive of him, and generally I think a pretty good partner, although not perfect. Can someone like this change? Technically this affair has been going on and off for 6 years.

Customer:

A few problems yes, I had a big trigger about the affair and a bit of a meltdown

Customer:

We were discussing marriage, and I said I was scared and wanted to make sure he wouldnt hurt me again

DoctorZ :

So most likely that made him feel inferior, guilty, and self-conscious so he sought relief of that by being with this other woman, again his self-confidence got hit and he did not know how to cope with that.

DoctorZ :

Yes he can change, but it would take him some time in therapy to change his self-negative thought process. I recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Customer:

right, so any time he percieved me to be making him feel inferior he reached out to someone else?

DoctorZ :

I believe so. I think that he did not know how to cope with these feelings or talk to you, so he went to someone else that showed him "love."

Customer:

Okay, I understand that, but if everytime there is a slight in a relationship and he needs to go and get validation from someone, is that likely to change? On the whole our relationship was very good, and very easy. No other issues at all. If stress like family, children, jobs, money came along, would that also lead to acting out? Also he confessed last week to gambling during the week in his lunch break, which I did not know about

DoctorZ :

Because this has happened before and with the same woman, then there is a greater likelihood that it can happen again. Now if he takes a stronger approach to helping himself and his self-confidence issues, then he can change for the better and will not act out in this way again.

Customer:

Okay, he seems to be blameshifting a little now, and saying that he realises he was really in love with the other woman and never let her go, and he also says that he has never been open or vulnerable to love before either. Could this all be true. I will recommend CBT to him

Customer:

I was also very positive with him all the time, and would be grateful daily for our recovery, I don't think I could have done much more from my part to reconcile. Except for keeping my angry and resentful feelings to myself when they cropped up, but our therapist told us this was necessary for me to heal

DoctorZ :

I think he believes that he was in love, but this was not love. This woman was an escape from the realities of a what a relationship actually is. Relationships are hard work, but I think he has an idea that relationships should be easier than they really are

DoctorZ :

Anger is a natural emotion that we all have and it is important to let it out, but in an assertive and positive way because if we let it fester than it will eventually build up so much that will explode and cause more problems. If you let it out in an assertive and calm way, then it actually can be productive and lead to change. Here is an example worksheet of what I mean

Customer:

okay thank you. Do you think that I may have driven him to this behaviour because of these random outbursts? I had about 4 over a 6 month period. I would feel guilty for this, and would always apologise afterwards.

DoctorZ :

No, you cannot blame yourself for this. This was his choice, he could have talked to you about this or ask to go back to therapy and discuss any issues you both were having.

Customer:

I've never dealt with betrayal like that before, it was anger like I had never felt before

DoctorZ :

I think his internal issues of self-confidence, or lack there of, has caused this behavior in him

Customer:

okay thank you, XXXXX XXXXX just questioning whether it could be personality disorder or other issues, but perhaps it is just poor self esteem

DoctorZ :

Betrayal can cause a lot of anger in someone, but it is to be expected and natural. I am sorry that you had to go through this

DoctorZ :

The only personality disorder that I can think of would be Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but so far you have not told anything that jumps out at me to suspect this. But here is the criteria for NPD

Customer:

thank you, XXXXX XXXXX that his denial about the situation and that he was really in love means, he may not be able to go and do the work on his self esteem issues, but I will suggest it to him

Customer:

no I dont think he has NPD

Customer:

unless it is covert

DoctorZ :

Yeah I do not think so either, I just wanted to mention it for you and give you the most comprehensive analysis

DoctorZ :

I am happy that I was able to help you today

Customer:

thankyou. I appreciate it

DoctorZ :

Anytime, if you have any other questions or concerns please feel free to contact me at anytime

Customer:

thank you

DoctorZ :

I hope I provided you with excellent service

Customer:

yes thank you

Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 6000
Experience: Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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Dr. Z
Dr. Z
Psychologist
5389 Satisfied Customers
Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.