Looking at attachment shame helps us understand more about the dynamics of attachment ambivalence and the all-too-common dance of connection and disconnection. But it does not help us answer the core question that betrayed partners wrestle with: What does the betrayal say about me?
In June we held the first Sex After Betrayal: Reclaiming Your Sexual Self therapy intensive at the Center for Relational Recovery. It was a transformative five days of learning, growing, stretching, hoping and risking. As we wrapped up our time together and I reflected on all that had happened, there were several things that struck me. Below are some of my musings as a result of spending time with the amazing group of women who participated.
We have spent the past several weeks looking at how sexual betrayal impacts the betrayed partner’s sexuality. I hope these posts have been helpful and that as you have read through them you have recognized yourself in some of the topics and felt both validated and supported in your exploration of this issue. This week, rather than focusing on the problem, I want to discuss what you can do about it.
This week, we continue our discussion by focusing on the impact of betrayal on sexual self-esteem (especially body image issues). As women, we are socialized to be dissatisfied with how we look and to wage a war of dissatisfaction on our bodies from a very early age. When you pile sexual betrayal on top of this, the self-doubt or body-insecurity that already exists is put on steroids.
Last week we started looking at how sexual betrayal impacts a betrayed partner’s sexuality. We discussed the loss of sexual desire, the loss of one’s sexual voice and power, and using sex to emotionally caretake one’s partner. This week we are going to look at falling into the trap of using sex as a form of control – as a way of managing the cheating partner’s behavior.