The aftermath of a betrayal can be devastating. So many questions, heartache and challenges that come when there is an affair in a relationship. Could you, should you try to rebuild the relationship?
In today's episode, clinical psychologist, Ruth Ann Harpur who specializes in relationships, discusses the delicate work of rebuilding the relationship after a betrayal.
Dr. Harpur says often the offender will "drip" information to the offended causing additional trauma with each unveiling of a new detail.
She warns being too eager to ask for all the details of the affair but instead focusing on the details of what the affair meant to the offender and what it means to you.
This episode is not intended as therapy and could contain potentially distressing material.
Free Compassion Focused Meditation from Dr. Harpur: https://ruth-ann-harpur.mykajabi.com/pl/2147603458
Connect with Dr. Harpur on IG and TikTok @drruthannharpur
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[00:00:00] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
I wanna highlight this episode as potentially triggering for some of you. I will say that any episode of Jealousy Junkie could be a bit triggering and just ask that you use some self-care and if you start to feel too emotional, too triggered nd that you maybe can't handle today, the conversation, press pause and come back to it later if you feel like it.
[00:00:28] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
I won't say that in front of every episode, but I did wanna call particular attention to this episode as it certainly could be a triggering conversation for you. However, it’s a very juicy conversation we're gonna dive into could you, should you, would you rebuild a relationship after infidelity. Dr. Ruth Harper coming up.
[00:01:05] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
So, this podcast is really on struggling with jealousy in relationships when there's no evidence that there was any type of affair or betrayal, but unfortunately some of us have been in past relationships where we have experienced some betrayal, or we may be in a current relationship that we're trying to work through that.
[00:01:31] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
So here to talk all about building relationships after betrayal is clinical psychologist, Dr. Ruth Ann Harper. Welcome.
[00:01:40] Ruth Harpur:
Oh, thank you for having me. It's a pleasure.
[00:01:43] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
So glad you're here. And I know that there are many questions around this topic. And I know there are a lot of people that are trying to make things work.
[00:01:56] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
What's maybe the number one question that you get from the person who was done wrong?
[00:02:04] Ruth Harpur:
Oh gosh. There are so many questions. Will I ever be able to trust again? How can I know that he or she is not betraying me again? Those big ones.
[00:02:19] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
I think the biggest question I would have is like, why, you know, I would wanna know why.
[00:02:24] Ruth Harpur:
Oh yeah. Why?
[00:02:26] Ruth Harpur:
Yeah. How could he, or she, uh, I think it can be, it, it's more of a, just a shock. Particularly if it's something that's gone on for a while that they've had no idea about and they found out their partner's been living almost two lives. It's really overwhelming and it's a big shock and it affects people in different ways, depending, maybe on their own background and history and expectations and what the infidelity or the affair meant to them.
[00:02:58] Ruth Harpur:
And often what it means to them is not what it meant to their partner. There's often a big discrepancy between those two stories. So it's, it's, it's really difficult. It's really challenging. But I think, yeah, the number one question is, will I ever be able to trust this person?
[00:03:13] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
I know that you have worked with a lot of couples or individuals who have experienced this. Do you see, in some cases that people can actually rebuild their relationship afterwards?
[00:03:26] Ruth Harpur:
Yes, but not always. So, if I meet a couple and there's been infidelity, one of the things that would make me hopeful that this is a couple who might be able to rebuild a relationship. It's a post affair relationship. You're not gonna rebuild what you had before. You might build something different. It could be something better, but it's something different.
[00:03:54] Ruth Harpur:
Where I feel hopeful is where the person who's had the affair, or been in some way, unfaithful to the relationship. If they are taking responsibility for it, if they're able to tolerate having empathy for their partner and really owning... I hurt my partner. My actions have caused untold damage. My partner's hurt. And in no way, blame the partner. Really taking full responsibility and being really honest about what happened. Being able to articulate maybe what it meant to them. Cuz very often the affair has not a lot to do with the relationship that they're in.
[00:04:37] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
And that was going to be a question that I had because just in conversations that I've had with people who have experienced this and in my own experience, I think the first thing we wanna do is sort of go inward and go " what was wrong?", you know, "what did I do?" "What did I not do?"
[00:04:54] Ruth Harpur:
Why am I not enough?
[00:04:56] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
[00:04:57] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Like why would they do that? And even conversations where people were surprised maybe at, at the, who the person chose to have an affair with. You know, they do that comparison thing and really take it inward of what was wrong with them or what could they have done differently?
[00:05:18] Ruth Harpur:
I mean, that is such a big issue.
[00:05:19] Ruth Harpur:
I can't believe, I didn't say that. It's the number one thing. Can I trust again? And what did I do wrong? Yeah. And you know, the answer is quite possibly nothing. You know, all relationships have challenges, they all have issues. And it's one of the things I think, understanding the affair and the function of the affair for the person who was unfaithful is really critical because you need to understand it so that the offended party can really understand that it wasn't their fault.
[00:05:50] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
And I've heard that, you know, maybe some of the natural thing for the person who did have the affair is to say, well, it's because this, we had a baby and you haven't been interested in me for however long or, you know, you're always too busy. You know, those kinds of things where the person that had the affair in a lot of ways blaming the other person.
[00:06:16] Ruth Harpur:
Yeah. Those are the couples I maybe have more concerns about. If the partner's saying, well, you gained weight. Well, you had a baby. Well, you got obsessed with the baby. You haven't been paying me attention. You haven't been interested in me. Um, those are things that would concern me.
[00:06:34] Ruth Harpur:
And I guess what I would often say to the person who's done it would be. I get all those things and we need to understand that you were maybe feeling lonely, or you were feeling abandoned or you were feeling unimportant and that the affair was a way for you to get that need met elsewhere. But ultimately was that your only option?
[00:06:56] Ruth Harpur:
You know, it's a reason and it's a way of understanding, but it doesn't excuse it. That was not the only option available to you.
[00:07:06] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Right. What a great question. Was that your only option? Yeah.
[00:07:12] Ruth Harpur:
And it's about taking some responsibility for, okay. I felt isolated. I felt abandoned. Well did you take that to your partner?
[00:07:21] Ruth Harpur:
Did you seek some help for that? Did you look at how you could address some of those needs together? Those would be the questions I'd be really asking.
[00:07:31] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
mm-hmm . So you mentioned you have hope for those who have taken responsibility or are taking responsibility. They're not placing the blame on the other person. And they're being upfront.
[00:07:45] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Um, I think the other piece that, that I hear often is, you know, well for how long? Like how long?
[00:07:54] Ruth Harpur:
Oh yeah. Right.
[00:07:56] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Because you don't know how long it's going to take you to get through that. And then the other one who committed the affair starts to get frustrated because it could be three months, six months, a year, three years, I mean, who knows for some people.
[00:08:17] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
And so how does someone handle that? Or is that something that you discuss in your sessions?
[00:08:23] Ruth Harpur:
The first thing I will say to couples, if they come to me early on in this process where the affair has just been identified, is we actually need to stop the disclosure process temporarily, because one of the worst things that you can do in the aftermath of an affair is a kind of drip, drip, drip disclosure.
[00:08:47] Ruth Harpur:
So if you're like, well, there was this, well, there has been an affair. Actually, it's been going on for two years. Actually, there was another one before that. I’ve also been watching pornography compulsively. Actually I also have all of these fantasies that you don't know about. That becomes just a repeated trauma. After trauma, after trauma. Hit after hit after hit.
[00:09:10] Ruth Harpur:
What's much more helpful is if the partner who's had the affair maybe gets some of their own therapy just for them. And puts together a narrative of this is the kind of full disclosure.
[00:09:26] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Okay. So we want them to come fully clean. Tell every there is to tell.
[00:09:32] Ruth Harpur:
[00:09:33] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
But we don't want it in pieces.
[00:09:36] Ruth Harpur:
No, because it's just every day it's like, here's another one. Here's another one. Here's another one. And then very often the offended party at that point turns into a detective and they're going through bank statements and they're going through phone messages and they're going through emails and they're asking everybody in their social network. Did you know? Do you know anything? Do you know anything?
[00:09:57] Ruth Harpur:
You really want that disclosure. To handle it well you need to have a full story. And ideally with some explanation about these are the factors that contributed not the excuses, but the contributing factors.
[00:10:13] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Well, and I would imagine when this happens, I, think what you just said is really valuable for anyone listening that's going through this because I would guess when this happens, it's a question that we ask, right?
[00:10:27] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Like tell me everything and probably, maybe in most cases, are not getting everything. And then like you said, then it becomes where, oh my gosh, well, I didn't even know this was a thing. And now I find out this other thing. And so I'm researching that and digging into that. And how long did that also go on and what other things are there that I don't know about.
[00:10:52] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Is the recommendation if they can't get in right away, that that person is saying, I'm gonna give you time? You need to come back and then tell me full story of everything.
[00:11:03] Ruth Harpur:
If this is gonna be done really well, that the person who's had the affair, or if an affair's been identified, that there is an acknowledgement that something has happened and that they ASAP get themselves into therapy and explains to the partner.
[00:11:18] Ruth Harpur:
I wanna tell you, I wanna put this together to tell you in a way that is as gentle and compassionate towards you as I can. That takes care of your needs. Both parties. I would really be recommending to be in their own individual therapy at that point. And then the disclosure comes. There will be some disclosure before that, there always is.
[00:11:42] Ruth Harpur:
But it's kind of having a plan that there will be a point at which the story is told, and that can take maybe several sessions, but this is the story. And then the offended party has questions. What about this? What about this? What about this? And it's important that their questions are answered.
[00:12:03] Ruth Harpur:
And it's also looking at what's behind those questions. Cause in some ways the, the little details may not be the most important thing. How many times did you have sex with that person? That's maybe how strong was your emotional connection? Did you take risks sexually? Are you using protection?
[00:12:24] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
I guess, you know, as difficult as it may be because you're going to have all those questions. If your partner is willing, hey, I'm gonna go to therapy and I am going to give you these, you know, I'm gonna give you the rundown of everything that happened. As difficult as it may be, it sounds like it's best for both parties. Give that, that little bit of time yeah. For that person to go to therapy, kind of get it together of working through. Okay. I know that I need to be front and honest because there's a better chance that way instead of that, as you said, drip.
[00:13:01] Ruth Harpur:
Yeah. And I think some, it's also helpful to understand why that drip, drip, drip effect exists. It's very often that the person who's had the affair is deeply ashamed.
[00:13:13] Ruth Harpur:
And to try to put together that story and tell that story to the person who's been the most hurt by it. Both partners are getting really triggered. You know, they both probably have a lot of shame. There's a lot of betrayal. There's a lot of anger. And it is very hard to construct your story when you're also having to deal with your partner who's in despair and distressed and furious and devastated and wanting to know, do you still love me? And what was wrong with me?
[00:13:47] Ruth Harpur:
You can't put together the story with that person. That therapy space actually provides a really non-judgmental space where there's empathy to put the story together in a way that can be shared that's as coherent and wise and compassionate as it can possibly be. It's a brutal process. It's still a tough process, but that is as gentle and as compassionate as it can possibly be.
[00:14:14] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
So then knowing that we're going to have, you know, a ton of these questions. You said we wanna lay it all out there, but then how far into the details is healthy for us to know, or is it situational?
[00:14:32] Ruth Harpur:
That is situational. Like, it is not helpful necessarily to know. Also, because that gives you images in your head to imagine what your partner did. So, I think it is a bit situational. I think it's, it's on a case-by-case basis. It's also understanding what's the question behind the questions.
[00:14:54] Ruth Harpur:
So, someone who's like, what exactly did you do with this person? Did you dress up? Did you have sex toys? What they're asking maybe is, am I sexually attractive to you? Am I sexually exciting to you? Am I unattractive to you? Do you still love me? Do you still care about me? Did you share with this person, the things and the places that are special to us?
[00:15:19] Ruth Harpur:
Did you take her to that restaurant? That may well be, did you take her to the place that I see as our place where we've had so many intimate, special times, right.
[00:15:30] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
So, it's trying to figure out, like, what do we really wanna know when we're asking those detailed questions.
[00:15:36] Ruth Harpur:
And the level of detail... you don't wanna start painting stark images of things in your mind for you to imagine. You really want to address what is it you need to know to make sense of this.
[00:15:52] Ruth Harpur:
To make sense of how you feel about it, to make sense of what it means to you.
[00:15:56] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
You've worked with, a, a lot of people. Is there a theme? Is there things that happen to people that then this usually shows in an affair?
[00:16:11] Ruth Harpur:
All kinds of people have affairs for all kinds of reasons? There's not one thing.
[00:16:16] Ruth Harpur:
And that's really important as well, to understand the person who has an affair because they're desperately lonely and feeling deeply neglected is a different psychology. It's a different relationship pattern than the person who has an affair because they feel entitled to, you know. There is a difference between I felt so deeply lonely and this person I met paid me attention and really made me feel special again, in a way I haven't for years in our relationship.
[00:16:46] Ruth Harpur:
And I did it and I got caught in it and I regret the hurt that's caused you. And my need is for connection with you is a very different explanation than ...
[00:17:00] Ruth Harpur:
you neglected me and this person gave me some attention. And why the hell shouldn't I? Why the hell shouldn't I? You aren't giving it to me. It's a different explanation. It's a different motivation behind it. It's a different driver.
[00:17:15] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Is there a way for us to maybe tell, even from the beginning, if it's someone who really just, you know, they made a mistake or someone who, as you said, felt entitled to? Are there things that we can look for, or that are signs?
[00:17:35] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
You know, again, it's difficult cuz in the very early stages, when someone's caught, as it were. It's natural for any of us when we get caught to come up with excuses and be defensive. So in a way you kind of need the dust to settle a little bit to see. Is my partner now saying... are they apologetic?
[00:17:56] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
And I mean, properly apologetic, not I'm sorry, but really are they apologetic? Are they really willing to look at themselves? And what drove that for them? Are they willing to accept the hurt that's caused you? Are they willing also to be accommodating of you, particularly in the early stages of being willing, for example, to let you know where they are .Being willing to call you a bit more frequently when they're away from home. Being willing to show you the bank statements, being willing to check in with you more often
[00:18:30] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
mm-hmm and you bring up a good point, because I think that is something else that people question like, well now, I mean, I'm gonna be checking on this person all the time, and I want them to call me when they're doing X or I want to, as you said, I might now worry a little bit if they are going somewhere on the weekend. They used to go fishing with their friends and now I'm not comfortable with that.
[00:18:55] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
And they really question the boundaries or the quote unquote new rules, I guess, of the relationship that they're setting.
[00:19:04] Ruth Harpur:
You know, again, this is a little bit, I think this varies as well, someone in the first six months after an affair, I think those behaviors and there really is a big need for the person who's had the affair to go the extra mile. To really prove to their partner that they're doing what they can to demonstrate that they're trustworthy.
[00:19:28] Ruth Harpur:
If years after the affair, the partner wants a tracker on the phone. They want called every hour on the hour and they're not happy for their partner to go out on their own ever that's a big problem, cuz there's no relationship, their stifling. So there's a balance I think, and couples need to negotiate it with a lot of empathy and compassion for each other, between I the offender or the person who's had the affair needs to take care of the offended party. They need to go the extra mile to demonstrate their trustworthiness.
[00:20:02] Ruth Harpur:
They need to check in more often. They may need to think about situations that might be particularly difficult, like overnight trips and that kind of thing. But there also comes a point where trust is also being comfortable with what you don't know. You have to trust it because you can't ever know for sure.
[00:20:24] Ruth Harpur:
So at some point to have any kind of relationship, there also needs to be the freedom for both parties to come and go, to do their own things, to live their own lives. And there's ways you can give a healthy level of reassurance. It's a balance between giving the reassurance, but also building the trust, which is also tolerating the person not being there and not always knowing with 100% certainty what they're doing.
[00:20:52] Ruth Harpur:
Cause you can't know.
[00:20:54] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Right. And so then I would imagine the idea is you get to the root of why that person had an affair. And I assume that's why you mentioned we're not trying to go back to the relationship that we had because
[00:21:11] Ruth Harpur:
[00:21:12] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
So we're trying to build this new relationship, hopefully taking care of those things that may have led to the infidelity and then trusting from there.
[00:21:25] Ruth Harpur: Y
eah. And it's not an easy process and it's not always successful.
[00:21:31] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Yeah. So, what advice would you give someone that if they've had this happen in the past and I, cuz I think this happens quite a bit where we're in a relationship with somebody. They've cheated on us. We break it off.
[00:21:45] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
So maybe we're not married yet, or maybe we were, but we break it off with them. Now we're in a new relationship at some point afterwards. There's no, there's no evidence. There's no, you know, I don't have any evidence of them or my new partner doing anything. But I have that in the back of my mind because instead of trying to work it out with that person going to therapy, it was a breakup, you know, that was just kind of their deal breaker.
[00:22:12] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
That's it? That happened and now I'm in a new relationship. How do we avoid bringing that that happened into the new relationship?
[00:22:23] Ruth Harpur:
Well, this is where I think you need to make sense of what the affair or the infidelity meant to you. So really getting in touch with how you felt. Did it make you think I'm not important?
[00:22:42] Ruth Harpur:
I'm not worthy. I'm not exciting enough for someone. I'm not attractive enough for someone. What's the underlying staff that's triggered for you to really help you get in touch with that. The risk, if you don't do that is you get paranoid about the partner. So, you find out you're checking their phone.
[00:23:01] Ruth Harpur:
You're not comfortable with them having time on their own, you limit you say, yeah, I don't want you to go out with your friends or I don't want you to go out of the weekends with people. I don't want you to ever work late. Um, which becomes quite controlling in some cases. Very stifling of the relationship. But really understanding, I have a vulnerability to not feeling attractive.
[00:23:24] Ruth Harpur:
I have a vulnerability to not feeling like I'm enough for someone. I have a vulnerability to feeling like I've been abandoned. And if you can tell that story to a partner in a way that owns your side of it, I have a vulnerability to feeling a bit abandoned so it would really help me if you could check in with me when you're out.
[00:23:48] Ruth Harpur:
It's very different statement than I don't want you to go out. And if you are going out, I need you to text me while you're out and I need you to, right. Yeah. So it's a, it's a way of telling the story in a very soft way that when you own it, you own your side of that story and you ask your partner to meet your needs and your partner's response to that is very telling about what kind of partner they're gonna be.
[00:24:16] Ruth Harpur:
Because if their response is well, that's your stuff, you deal with it on your own. Why should I have to reassure you? If you are feeling abandoned, if you've got abandonment issues, get to therapy. I don't think that's gonna go anywhere or it's not gonna go anywhere good.
[00:24:32] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Uh, I just read that almost verbatim in a comment on social media, to someone's post, who was talking about, their partner and, um, them not understanding. Some of the things that they had going on and having that conversation and one of the comments was, well, you know, it's not for them, you need to go get therapy.
[00:24:59] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
And it was just such a strong comment back. But I think, you know, there are people that yes, if, that person isn't willing to work with you, if you are working on something and you're upfront about something and really setting that stage for that, to let them know, Hey, I have this because we all have things we all have things.
[00:25:24] Ruth Harpur:
Yeah. We all have stuff. And so someone else's stuff might be I'm vulnerable to feeling trapped. I'm vulnerable to feeling like I don't have enough freedom. And when I feel like that, I get resentful, and I don't want that to happen in our relationship. So. That person's really saying, I need you to nurture my freedom and my autonomy and my independence.
[00:25:47] Ruth Harpur:
And you'll often find that one person in the couple has that want for autonomy and independence and the other has that want for connection and knowing they're there. And that can be a bit of a dance to navigate.
[00:25:59] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Yeah. Yeah. That can make for a, um, some challenges in the relationship. For sure. Yeah. Mm-hmm
[00:26:06] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Well, I like the idea of really setting the stage for the relationship. I talk about, you know, setting your relationship culture. And I think that's what you're getting at is just being upfront from the beginning and saying, I have this. And if they're willing to be there and support you while you're working through it, that's probably a good sign. And if not,
[00:26:27] Ruth Harpur:
Good to know early on. Yeah.
[00:26:30] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Yeah. Is there ever a time where you would tell someone, I don't think you should keep trying to rebuild this relationship after an affair? I think that has to be the individual's choice. You know, I don't think it's for me to say to someone. I think when you're in that situation, you really need to nurture your own autonomy and it needs to be your decision.
[00:26:52] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
I think after an affair people often feel helpless, really powerless. And it's actually really common for friends, family... why are you staying? You should leave. This person's good for nothing. They're not good for you. They're unfaithful. Once a cheater, always a cheater. They're a cheat and there's all kinds of other words that start getting used to psychopath, sociopath, narcissist.
[00:27:17] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
They all come out and you can end up feeling really, really deeply confused and wanting someone else to come along and say, Yes, you should, or no, you shouldn't. But ultimately that decision has to be yours. So I don't think I would ever say you ought to leave but I might be direct and say, we have to look seriously at what we're seeing, which is a partner who isn't able to acknowledge the hurt they've caused you.
[00:27:49] Ruth Harpur:
Isn't able to give, you know, particularly if you've done that disclosure process and then you start finding out, there are big things that were kept from you. So they've betrayed you repeatedly. There are questions here.
[00:28:01] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Kind of going back to the, the drip piece of it, because I think that that is really eye-opening, but it could be just that they did it all in one swoop right. But them only telling you the pieces feels like just another betrayal, even though it was all at the same time. Like it could have been with the same person. They just didn't know that you were communicating through Snapchat because you hadn't disclosed that that's how you were talking with them.
[00:28:37] Ruth Harpur:
It's like the details.
[00:28:39] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
[00:28:46] Ruth Harpur:
Yeah. It it's, again, it's understanding, not disclosing a detail that's kind of incidental. Snapchat, WhatsApp messenger, whatever, that's incidental. The question would be, was it deliberately kept? Was there a reason this was kept? Was this a deliberate withholding of something because they thought they would get in more trouble for that, or they thought it would be particularly hurtful to you or they didn't want you to know that so you couldn't go and check in their Snapchat. You know, so it's kind of understanding a little bit. Is it the detail that you didn't know or is there an overall picture that you didn't know?
[00:29:25] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie: S
o, um, really, if we're trying to rebuild a relationship after a betrayal, we're looking for things like, are they committed to the process? Agreeing to go to therapy if that's what you all are choosing. They're being upfront and honest with all of the details.
[00:29:48] Ruth Harpur:
Well, all of the meaning, all of the meaning, all of the importance that, I mean, I think the other detail I would suggest not sharing if the person or people, the person has been unfaithful with are known to you, you probably need to know who they are.
[00:30:06] Ruth Harpur:
But you do not need to know if they're not known to you. If they're strangers to you, you probably don't need to know their names. Cause if you find out your partner's been cheating with someone called Sarah, every time you meet a Sarah, it burns. Was that Sarah? Was it you? So those kind of details, sometimes you are best off not knowing because it's also incidental.
[00:30:26] Ruth Harpur:
Who cares if it was Sarah or Sally or Jane, but I had one affair over five years versus I had many acquaintances with women I was meeting for sex, or I met someone at work and we had really exciting times together versus we formed a relationship that you had no idea about that was really intimate and close and he knows things about me that you'll never know.
[00:30:54] Ruth Harpur:
So that's the quality that you need. It's the quality of the affair that you need to know about and what it meant to your partner. Was it excitement? Was it a way of coping with difficult feelings? Was it a way of not feeling abandoned? Was it a way of getting revenge on you cause they were angry at you.
[00:31:11] Ruth Harpur:
And if they don't wanna share those types of things. That's a problem because you don't understand what's happened. .
[00:31:20] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Yeah. Uh, and I would imagine it's so hard to not ask those questions. Like, I wanna know if it was Sarah or Kim or, you know, what was her name and what did she look like and how tall was she and what does she do for a living?
[00:31:32] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
I feel like I'd wanna know all of those things. So it's good to know that thinking about it from the stance of protecting ourself. Yeah. By not asking those types of things versus well I'm letting them off the hook that they don't have to tell me.
[00:31:53] Ruth Harpur:
Yeah. And also those are the easy details to tell. She's five foot five. She works as a receptionist. He's six foot, well, way to make your partner have a complex about their height. Those are they're, they're irrelevant in a way. They're details, but they're not relevant to you really. They're not relevant to what the affair meant. They're not relevant to what it means to you or what it means to your partner.
[00:32:18] Ruth Harpur:
Does that make sense?
[00:32:20] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Yeah. And I had not thought about that before of, you know, how much of this is really good to know, and what's healthier for me to not know.
[00:32:31] Ruth Harpur:
Yeah. And this is why I think it's helpful for both partners to be in their own individual therapy, because you need to know what's important to you.
[00:32:41] Ruth Harpur:
You need to know what's important for you to know and having someone help you think through that is invaluable. And if the two therapists can speak to each other, so much the better. I like in these kind of situations, I dont have to know everything about the other person's therapy or disclose everything about the person I'm seeing therapy but to kind of have a sense from each other of how you understand each of the individuals, what might be difficult for them. And then the disclosure process done well can actually involve both therapists in the room at the same time, because it really helps to navigate that process and make sure that no one gets forgotten.
[00:33:28] Ruth Harpur:
You know? So, if I'm there with a person who's had the affair, for example, and I really understand things. I can prompt them to make sure they disclose those things. So, it's kind of like the therapist can be looking out for the things that the other one might be missing and it can be just so helpful to navigate that process if the two therapists are speaking to each other,
[00:33:55] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Thank you so much for this conversation. I know that it may be, you know, difficult for people to kind of wrap their head around not asking a ton of questions and giving the person who had the affair a little bit of time to come with the full story.
[00:34:13] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
It sounds like it's so key to having success and trying to build a new relationship after that. So thank you for sharing those.
[00:34:22] Ruth Harpur:
Oh, you're so welcome. I hope it's helpful to people.
[00:34:26] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
Dr. Ruth Ann Harper. Thank you for being on Jealousy Junkie.
[00:34:30] Ruth Harpur:
Thank you so much for having me.
[00:34:31] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
If you're feeling alone in your jealousy, join the group of amazing women inside the Jealousy Junkie Facebook group.
[00:34:38] Shanenn Bryant- Jealousy Junkie:
It's such a great place to just share your sanity check questions and be able to connect with other women, without judgment, who think the way that you do, feel the way that you do, behave the way that you do and get support to help overcome your jealousy. Join us inside the Jealousy Junkie Facebook group today. And remember, you're not alone.
Ruth Ann is a clinical psychologist who specializes in relationships and issues of narcissism. She works in private practice with individuals and couples and is currently developing online resources so more people can benefit from the compassionate and pragmatic approach she takes to working with such challenges in the therapy room.
Doctorate in clinical psychology; Qualified clinical psychologist; Trained in CBT and schema therapy.