Today I came across the most wonderfully well-written post from a wayward about what love is – and isn’t. He addressed a line that I heard from my husband after his acting out and affair. It’s the infamous “… but I still loved you.” You can put anything you want in front of that “but” like: “I did the wrong thing,” “I screwed up,” “I know that I betrayed you, ” or even “I never thought about how this could hurt you.” It’s something that I could never understand then – how can love go hand in hand with lies and broken trust?
The short answer is that it doesn’t! Love is selfless. It is giving. It is putting another person before yourself. That’s not what an affair is. In fact, it’s the opposite. Even though sex addiction played a part with my husband’s behavior, it doesn’t take away the selfishness of what he did. It doesn’t take away the fact that he wasn’t considering my feelings or the ramifications that his actions would have on me. That is why it is hard to reconcile the idea of him still “loving” me in the midst of his hurtful acts. While I know that his addiction wasn’t about me, wasn’t aimed at me, and most of the time no thought of me entered his mind – I can’t help but think that if he really loved me during that time he would have considered me!
That’s why today when I read floridaredman’s post on Surviving Infidelity something just clicked. I got his permission to post his comments here on my blog, so here is what he had to say:
How many of us WS’s have said this. “Even though I had the affair I still loved you, even in the midst of it”
To a BS they are wondering how could this be possible. How could you say you loved me and still betray me?
The answer is the WS’s misconception of what love truly means. Love does not seek to be selfish… on the contrary… it is quite selfless. Loving who you are and being content with being you is a key factor to loving someone else.
If you do not love who you are and have no respect for yourself… then how can you truly give love to someone else?
An affair is a totally selfish act. It’s Based on getting needs met that you feel your partner cannot or you will not let them meet.
True love for your partner will let you communicate this, EFFECTIVELY. If you were to say to your spouse…” I feel my needs are not being met and I am on the cusp of having an affair to get them met” How do you think your spouse would respond?
A BS will look at all the avenues you could have taken before having an affair. They would most likely believe that if you loved them you would have been more forceful in proving your point.
To go out and have an affair is no proof of any kind of love toward anyone.
Not even yourself. It is a great show of disrespect toward everyone involved, including the AP.
It is a proverbial slap in the face to a BS for a WS to say, “But ..I still loved/love you”
The response could be…”Where was that love when you met your AP?” “Where was that love when you texted them all day and would only text me sporadically?” “Where was that love when you were being intimate with them and giving me the cold shoulder?”
Even if you say… “I never wanted to leave you.” This becomes a selfish statement because what you are really saying is… I wanted to have both.
I wanted to have my AP for my fantasy and you for my domestic support.
Misconception comes in when you think love is only suppose to make you feel good all the time. Love can hurt. Love can hurt when you want your spouse to be one way and they are not. However the true love for them will help you overlook those faults while still communicating about them. Love does not give up, but it is willing to give in to a certain degree. I say to a certain degree because if you truly love who you are… you will know when to throw in the towel if the love you are giving is not respected.
If I took a gun and said… “I don’t want to hurt you.” Yet I unloaded the clip on you after I said it… the outcome shows my full intention.
Yes I said love can hurt, but not an intentional hurt. Having an an affair is not a mistake. It is a choice. A series of them. When you choose to have one… you are not choosing to love them… you are choosing to intentionally hurt them.
I thought about this for myself. Did I love my wife when I chose to stray?
I can say that I had feelings for her, but the true love I should have had was overtaken by my own selfishness. Had I truly loved her at that time… I would have never ventured out. I would have fought to communicate better.
I didn’t truly love myself. I really had no confidence in me. I really was insecure about me. So how could I give love that I didn’t have for myself to give?
When I found out my “why’s” and when I began doing the work… I found reasons to love myself. In loving myself… I was able to truly love my wife. Before I do anything to hurt her… I check myself because I don’t want to put her through any kind of pain intentionally.
I know a lot of people may not agree to this, but it was this type of thinking that led to my own self-awareness.
The thought came when I asked myself…
If you love someone… how can you give yourself to another? It is not to say that the love cannot be there somewhere… just needs to be resurrected and matured.
It is one of the reasons I came up with when your BS looks at you with unbelief when you say
“But…I still loved you”
When I read that I felt validated. My husband has acknowledged some of those things before. He has said that he was being completely selfish. He has said that he sees now he should have reached out for help with his sex addiction. He just never said it quite like that.
Some of that is so powerful to me that I just have to post it again.
“An affair is a totally selfish act. It’s Based on getting needs met that you feel your partner cannot or you will not let them meet.” Again, this was incredibly true for us. He would not let me meet his needs. He wouldn’t even express them to me. How can I give him something he refused to let me even know about? I guess I never could have – since I’m a real woman who actually cared about him, not some flat picture or video on a screen or a random, nothing whore in a chat room.
True love for your partner will let you communicate this, EFFECTIVELY. If you were to say to your spouse… ‘I feel my needs are not being met and I am on the cusp of having an affair to get them met’ How do you think your spouse would respond? A BS will look at all the avenues you could have taken before having an affair.” Exactly! True love involves being vulnerable and open, expressing yourself, and sharing with your partner. It doesn’t involve hiding your feelings and going outside of your relationship for self-gratification.
“To go out and have an affair is no proof of any kind of love toward anyone. Not even yourself. It is a great show of disrespect toward everyone involved, including the AP.” Disrespect. That is a great word. That’s exactly what it was. It certainly wasn’t love. In our case my husband even openly admits that he had no respect for the OW in the least.
“Where was that love when you texted them all day and would only text me sporadically?” Ouch! That hit close to home! That is almost exactly what was happening. He would text the OW 60+ times a day and barely have 2 minutes to chat with me or send me a text during the day. Sure sounds like love, right?
“I wanted to have both. I wanted to have my AP for my fantasy and you for my domestic support.” Very true… He wanted to have his fantasy world and his real life girlfriend/wife to comfort him, support him, and take care of him. Lucky me!
“Misconception comes in when you think love is only suppose to make you feel good all the time.” I want to comment on two things here. First, this is a really deep concept that is hard for many to comprehend. Secondly, to those who blame the BS for your affair because they weren’t doing everything possible to meet all of your needs, refer back to this statement. Love isn’t about making you feel good all of the time. It’s not even possible because real, true love entails real, messy emotions. You have to love yourself. You have to meet some of your own needs. And if you need your spouse to do more, you should refer to the statement a few lines above because love entailing honest communication of those needs. Remember, this is from the mouth of another WS – these are not my words even though I completely agree with them.
“Yes I said love can hurt, but not an intentional hurt. Having an an affair is not a mistake. It is a choice. A series of them. When you choose to have one… you are not choosing to love them… you are choosing to intentionally hurt them.” Amen.
“I thought about this for myself. Did I love my wife when I chose to stray? I can say that I had feelings for her, but the true love I should have had was overtaken by my own selfishness. Had I truly loved her at that time… I would have never ventured out. I would have fought to communicate better.” This is something that my husband has realized in the last few months. It’s one of the most profound thing in this entire post. Read it a few more times.
I think the end part about having to truly love yourself before you can love someone else is borderline life-changing. It is something that I need to work on as well. I like myself. I even like myself a whole lot most of the time. Some days I love who I am. I love how I feel. There are days when I am harder on myself than I would be on anyone else that I love, though. On those days it is hard to accept my husband’s love and love him fully in return. On those days I am holding myself back.