Affairs: Love Styles: Who Is Vulnerable To An Affair And Why?
Who is vulnerable to an affair? We are all vulnerable. The minute you let you guard down and believe you are incapable of such behavior, you are even more vulnerable.
In addition Milan and I see other danger signs in a marriage.
- Unresolved core pattern that causes conflict, blocks intimacy and prevents emotional connection.
- Blame, disgust, and revulsion for your spouse. (Loss of all compassion)
- Sense of entitlement: It’s my right to be happy. (God wants me to be happy)
- Lack of gratefulness and appreciation. (Focus is more on what is wrong than what is right.)
In terms of love styles each different style is vulnerable in different ways to committing adultery. Remember, each love style has behaviors that injure relationship. Growth means asking God to help you change specific behaviors and attitudes. While there are exceptions, we find the following common patterns:
Avoiders: Usually have one night stands, use pornography or have sex outside marriage in ways that don’t involve on-going emotional connection. Avoiders are vulnerable to this kind of behavior because they don’t know how to relieve stress through relationship. As a result, addictive behaviors are the solution for stress. For an avoider, illicit sex provides distraction, alters one’s mood and produces an adrenalin rush which may serve as an anti-depressant. Sexual addictions are common in this group. The solution? Learn to achieve emotional intimacy. This is a prerequisite to sexual intimacy. How? Read the book, How we Love, and do the workbook!
Pleasers: Usually are too fearful to have an affair early on. Over time, pleasers get resentful because they are givers, but not good receivers. Resentment builds and often remains unresolved since pleasers avoid conflict. At this point, pleasers are vulnerable to an affair. Because pleaser lack boundaries and have trouble saying , “No,” they can have difficulty dealing with people who are assertive sexually. Solution: Are you resentful? Do you feel unappreciated? Pleasers need to learn to deal with the underlying anxiety that drives their decisions and behaviors. If you are mad about always being the giver learn to ask for what you want and need.
Vacillators: Vacillators idealize new relationships and devalue a person once they are disappointed. Vacillators like intense connection they can FEEL and once the honeymoon is over in a marriage they are vulnerable to flirting enjoying the attention of someone with whom everything is “all good”. Emotional connection results in physical connection and they often convince themselves they married the wrong person failing to realize the pattern will repeat once this new person disappoints them. Vacillators can actually be addicted to affairs. Every bad feeling drives the vacillator to seek relief through an adulterous relationship where everything is exciting, intense and free of problems. The solution? Vacillators must learn that the grass is greener where you water it, not on the other side of the fence. Integrating good and bad and living in reality will help prevent poor choices. Vacillators mistake intensity for intimacy and want attention without having to be vulnerable. Learn to accept connection when your spouse is able rather than being too mad to accept their attempts to reach out. If you feel the need to flirt, ask yourself what underlying feelings drive this behavior.
Controllers: Sexually, controllers are often use to having their way. Since they find fault with just about anyone with whom they relate, it is easy for a controller to justify an affair by reviewing a list of complaints about their spouse. Since blaming is central to the controller’s style, it is always the spouses fault when a controller has an affair. Any questioning by a suspicious spouse will be met with intimidating, angry, denial even in the face of hard core evidence. The solution? Controllers are in desperate need of tenderness and nurturing but would rather avoid vulnerability necessary for deep satisfying sex. Instead of demanding sex or reaching for the addictive behaviors try and discern what vulnerable feelings you are trying so hard to avoid.
Victim: Victims are often kept on a short leash by their spouses but secrets abound in marriages between victims and controllers. Victims often get their revenge in quiet, passive ways which may include an affair. In more extreme cases their controlling spouse may push for more extreme sexual encounters insisting the victim participate. I’ve heard some very sad stories in my work with incarcerated women in prison. Solutions for victims are to learn determine what is unsafe, degrading and dangerous (sexually or otherwise) build enough self respect to say, “No.” Remember as kids victims learned to tolerate the intolerable. Growth is stopping that pattern. You cannot do it alone. You will need help.
The best way to affair proof your marriage is to be willing to prayerfully tend your relationship and be willing to grow. Growth is central to our lives as Christian. We are called to reflect more and more the image of Christ. This means owning your sin, faults and weaknesses and showing your spouse change is possible by CHANGING!!! Identify and own your part of the destructive dance you do in your marriage that perpetuates your core pattern. The workbook in, How We Love, is designed to guide you through a process of growth. Don’t wait for your spouse. Do your part regardless of what your spouse does.
Develop an attitude of gratefulness and appreciation. This is more important as the years go on and we begin to take one another for granted. When is the last time you verbalized appreciation or gratefulness for specific things and positive character traits in your spouse? Are you proactive and preventative or are you lazy and unmotivated? If an affair occurs in the future will you wish you would have made more of an effort?
Thanks and blessings,
Milan & Kay
Next week: What if an affair has already happened? How do you recover? Next week we will look at some ideas on this subject.