For me, the constitutive element of an affair is the secrecy. It is the secrecy that leads to the lying, to the deception, to the duplicity. It is the structure of an affair – not the sexual or emotional behavior or what people actually are doing.
One of the opinions I hear repeatedly and casually tossed about by non-betrayers is if the betrayers aren’t happy and feel a desire to fuck someone else they should just leave. “If you aren’t happy,” they say, “be truthful and honest, pack your shit and get out.”
This is of course, moralistically ideal, ethically rigid, and practical nonsense. There are many reasons people have affairs, keep secrets, and tell lies. There are many reasons they don’t simply leave.
Amongst the reasons they don’t leave is they know where and to whom they belong.
For example, I belonged to C from the day I submitted to her.
Others may not think so, but they can fuck off. I know what I did. I know who I am. I even have an excellent sense of why. I also know why I worked so hard for so long to keep it all a lie and a secret.
Lack of happiness was never the issue. Wanting more sex was never the issue.
The tendency, I think, is we lump the betrayal, secret-keeping and escalating series of lies all into one act when in fact it is three separate acts. People sexually betray people for incredibly diverse and uniquely personal reasons. The emotional or physical infidelity is only one form of betrayal.
We like to believe lying and secret keeping is a behavior unique to the betrayer or a bad person.
Dr. Bella DePaulo studied lying for two decades and writes an excellent overview, describing the reasons people lie to you in Psychology Today. National Geographic has an in-depth article entitled Why We Lie: The Science Behind Our Deceptive Ways.
Lying is the nature of being human and social. It is not unique to sexual infidelity.
Gillian Mohney outlines the four primary types of lies in her article, The Science Behind When and Why Children Learn to Lie. She breaks them down as:
- lying to protect the feelings of others
- lying to protect yourself
- lying to yourself
- lying to hurt others
SIDEBAR: Not Your Average Girl writes an excellent summary of her perspective on the topic of lying as related to infidelity.
As such, assuming the secret keeping and lies is personal punitive and simply an attempt to keep some mythological good time happening is nonsense. All my lies were built around lying to protect the feelings of others and to protect myself…and to protect my self I also lied to myself. These are the root of all my lies.
Speaking only for myself, the idea that an affair of any sort is a good time is bullshit. It may be hedonistically pleasurable in the moment but at the end of the day, it is a miserable experience.
I was never so lonely as when I was betraying and keeping secrets from C. I never felt so isolated. Nothing feels good or exciting when perpetuating lies or keeping secrets.
“There is no refuge from memory and remorse in this world. The spirits of our foolish deeds haunt us, with or without repentance,” wrote Canadian author Gilbert Parker. The longterm secret keeping and lying required to maintain an ongoing betrayal feeds a negative feedback loop.
It’s why so many betrayers (not all) act like cold, distant, angry and miserable asses. We feel cold, distant, angry, and miserable and know we are selfish asses. I knew discover was inevitable and the behavior non-sustainable.
I didn’t want my loved ones to get too close because I knew I was going to hurt them and I was trying to keep them at arm’s length as I tried to save face, avoid foreseeable consequences, keep them safe, and avoid discovery. That doesn’t make me a monster, it makes me human.
Up until six months before Discovery Day I refused to ask for help because of pride, shame and fear. Something clicked and I finally recognized I was never going to find a solution that didn’t involve telling C. In June or July of 2017, I Facebooked Messaged a note to C, and an experienced and knowledgeable family counselor, stating I had betrayed C and we were looking for help. Because of our shared circle of friends she referred us to another doctor.
Unfortunately, because of C’s art show season, an attempt to purchase a business together, and my work travel schedule we never got that far. Life happens while you make your plans.
People judge the betrayers because they have preconceived notions about why people – and what kind of people – cheat, keep secrets, and lie. I’ve been accused by people of simply wanting more “pussy” and it has been suggested I had stashes of women all over the midwest I was banging. What a stupid accusation without merit. I suppose judging other people and making up stories is easier than talking with them.
However, if you think lying and secret keeping is simply a game you lack understanding of people and their motivations. If you think it is all one thing you lack imagination. People lie and keep secrets specifically because of a complex tar-like soup of emotional and intellectual feelings, thinking, and experiences spilling out and sticking to everything.
In no way does this make the behavior acceptable or excusable. In no way did I ever think it was ever right or fun or justifiable or noble. However, it is human. Until I embrace this truth about how my lying was a tool to avoid vulnerability I am going to continue struggling with forgiveness of self.
I wanted better for my life with C.
I want better for myself and whatever comes next.