Recently I have been reflecting on my relationship with my husband and how far we have travelled together as a couple. There have been awesome times as there have been challenging times, and then there have been those times where we have been at a crossroads, contemplating whether to stay together or not.
One of these crossroads happened well before we got married, when we had been together for quite a few years already, and one could say we got to the crossroad of infidelity.
Before I share this with you, let’s get some definitions out of the way. I suppose there are varying definitions of infidelity (what different people perceive as being unfaithful) and we could say varying degrees of it.
There is the blatantly obvious one of ‘sleeping with another’, then there is oral sex with another, which some don’t classify as having being unfaithful because they have not ‘gone all the way’. Then there are the unfaithful thoughts that we might entertain about another, or the fantasies we might have of another, whilst in the throes of passionate sex with our current partner.
What these have in common is the feeling of a hook, of excitement being offered and of being pulled away from what we have.
My Experience of Attraction vs Connection
I can say that I have experienced this hook during my current relationship. About 4 years into my relationship I met another man whom I was very much attracted to. I could not explain this attraction – I could somewhat rationalise it as he was attractive/good looking, but I could not understand it. It was sudden and almost obsessive and I felt myself going almost stir-crazy trying to not think about this person and I began questioning whether I should be with him or my partner.
It felt like there was so much turmoil in me: I knew that my relationship with my partner was not perfect, but also knew and appreciated the solidness that we held together – I could feel that what we brought to each other was special. This was what confused me – if we were so solid together, why then was I suddenly attracted to this other man?
The tension in me grew to a point where I had to do something about the situation – I was not willing to give up on what I shared with my partner and yet I could not get this other man ‘out of my head’.
I knew deep within me that there was only one thing for me to do to free myself from this obsession and it scared me to do it. But I did it anyway – I bared myself to my partner and told him everything, knowing full well that this could potentially end our relationship, or at best, would rock the boat tremendously. Deep within, I knew without a doubt that I had to do this – I knew this was the only chance I had of holding onto myself and possibly saving my relationship with my partner.
It is important to understand that although I was not unfaithful in the classic sense (as I did nothing other than have a normal conversation with this other man), to me this was still infidelity, as it was entertaining thoughts of another, of allowing myself to be pulled towards another in the way that I was.
I felt the hook and allowed myself to be pulled by it, only for a fraction, but enough to feel how much it took me away from myself, as well as my partner. I came to realise that although I thought our relationship was fine, I actually felt loneliness and a lack of intimacy (in the sense of deep sharing with each other) in our relationship.
Understandably, my partner was deeply hurt by my sharing and I got to feel how much this distraction that I had entertained with another for a week could breach and slice into the trust that we had built up with each other.
I was devastated to feel that this could be the end of our relationship because of how much hurt this brought up for us both, but I also knew once again that this was simply what was needed for me to break the ‘spell’ that I had been under.
In reality, the spell was released because I allowed the intimacy to begin to unfold the moment I bared my soul to my partner at the risk of losing him. In so doing, I let go of the barriers that I did not even realise I had put in place to keep him out and that made me feel lonely.
Though I was horrified by how much I had hurt my partner, I also felt the hook being released the moment I expressed with that level of honesty. It was like I was free – free of the obsessive thoughts and free of the pull and the addictive attraction, free to make a choice between the two men and now this choice was so easy – there was no doubt in any cell of my body that I was already with an amazing man – I already had my pot of Gold.
In retrospect, I now realise that I was offered a crossroad – one direction was an opportunity to deepen my relationship and commitment with my partner whilst the other was to leave my partner and begin a new exciting relationship that did not ask of me to go deeper nor develop further.
After this I was still left to feel my own hurt, a feeling of having been fooled into such distraction, and also left to feel how hurt my partner was because of this addictive distraction that I had fallen for. But I was free and I knew the Gold I held now was no fool’s gold. My partner chose to stay with me and not long after this I asked him to marry me, and our relationship has continued to deepen endlessly.
I am sharing this experience not because I feel that others should do as I did, but simply because I now realise how much these situations (like being attracted to another whilst in a relationship) can act as distractions from an already potentially amazing relationship; to see how committed we are to developing honesty in the relationship with ourselves and with our loved one.
Published with permission of my partner.
By Henrietta Chang, Naturopath BaBiol, MApplSci, BaNat