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Coping with Triggers AFTER an Infidelity

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Coping with Triggers AFTER an Infidelity

Postby Monstergirl » Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:21 pm

Your partner has cheated. :cry: You have forgiven them and decided to stay. I did.

So now what?

I can say from experience the injured spouse or partner will most assuredly have "triggers". I've heard some research stating as many as 80 to 120 a day in the beginning, lessening with time. I'm not sure if I experienced that many, but it is something I struggle with a lot, depending on the situation. Is this a form of PTSD?

I liken it to walking in a field of landmines. The daily navigations can cause tremendous anxiety, and, you'll most likely wind up in a game of comparisons. Your self esteem plummets. Your mind conjures the worst images. Every intrusive thought turn into an internal battle. It's been hellish to say the least, but he's been VERY supportive and COMPLETELY transparent with everything. That's the ONLY thing that's made this easier.

Sometimes I find myself avoiding activities or places in order to minimize the fresh hell I have experienced. Something on TV can even activate me, so I get up and leave the room. But is that constructive or am I supposed to face it?

I'm 8 months past his confession. While my triggers have lessened greatly, they are still there. I long for the day to be free of them and return to how I was. Is this ever possible? I'd like to think so.

If we are out in public, and I see someone that's the type he was unfaithful with, I am triggered, and more so if I see him stealing a few glances at them. Whereas this never bothered me before the cheating, it does now, and I can feel the anger/fear/anxiety/ bubbling up as my own self confidence takes a nose dive. While I do not explode, I may call him out on it in a constructive way.

We recently discussed these feelings I was having as of late, and I was surprised to find out he did not realize just how many triggers I was experiencing, or how his infidelity extended into other arenas. He thought my triggers were specific and reserved to a few select things. In therapy, he's not yet discussed how the betrayed party processes infidelity, but I am sure he will bring this up in his next session, especially since his Psychologist is also an Infidelity specialist.

My partner was diagnosed as HPD and Bi-polar, both mild, but the HPD diagnosis does pre-dispose some people who have it, (he is appeasing with very low self esteem) to find ways to soothe themselves with attention from others. And that self soothing behavior can lead to infidelities. He's past that and now in therapy, but since his confession I am left carrying the weight of his behavior on my shoulders.

My partner did not physically cheat (it was online) so I am spared the indignity of these triggers during intercourse or intimacy. Had the cheating been physical I could NOT have stayed. I am not minimizing his infidelities or the damage they had caused me, but they never crossed into the physical realm. Again, I could have never stayed if they had. Are there times during intimacy that I worry he's thinking of the people he was with online, sure. Does that happen often, thankfully no.

My question is, what are some coping mechanisms I can employ to help minimize my trigger reactions? Am I supposed to? What has been successful for you, the injured spouse, and what hasn't?


I know everyone is different and that time heals all wounds. I should be patient, but I also do not want this to be an endless cycle for me. There may be better ways to cope by learning through the experiences of others.

Thank you for your time.
I'm a Non-pwHPD happily engaged to a diagnosed HPD man, looking for support and enlightenment.
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Re: Coping with Triggers AFTER an Infidelity

Postby mark1958 » Tue Oct 17, 2017 12:32 pm

Hi Monstergirl,

My initial thoughts here..... have you considered couples therapy? I am familiar with your story and your relationship has several unique and challenging circumstances. Couples therapy can assist in sorting through some of this.

Trust, once broken, is difficult to regain. From my understanding, in couples therapy, your fiance would be the one to make a commitment to re-establish trust through behavior and deed. In other words, he needs to prove he can be trustworthy. And hopefully over time, you can feel assured that this will not be repeated. However, he has a PD and that will create difficult situations, so I think you need to understand this fully, which I know you do.

As for yourself, his behavior may have opened up a deep wound that is not easily repaired. And what you are experiencing are the effects of that wounding. Considering what you wrote, I do not think there is an easy way around that issue. Perhaps talking with someone yourself may help. Such as the couples therapist privately. Getting to the root of your hurt and then reconciling it may be the answer.

Overcoming infidelity is not easy. I know for myself it is a major boundary violation. And I would have a hard time in over coming it. I think sorting out the reason for the infidelity can help. Was it a one time mistake? Was it due to selfish reasons? Was it due to a lack of empathy? Or was it because of a PD? The PD may be the cause, but I think anyone would feel insecure about it and be very uncertain about the future.
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Resistance leads to suffering, acceptance leads to peace
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Re: Coping with Triggers AFTER an Infidelity

Postby Monstergirl » Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:58 pm

Thanks for the advise, Mark. You are correct. The hurt was so deep. The wound is cavernous, but I'm healing every day. I have to rebuild my own self esteem, which was decimated. This has left a lot of scars. But unlike a suffering pwHPD who may make unhealthy choices, I will find healthy ways to heal my wounded ego.

He cheated because that's what he always did; this online soothing. He knew it was wrong. I had even known of some websites he had active profiles on. I asked him to remove them when we got serious, and he said he did and yes, he did dismantle some of them. But he just hid the others or stopped visiting as often. So that's the selfish tell, isn't it? He hid it. Right there is the culpability. But he also is bi-polar, HPD and OCD so there's that aspect to contend with. He was impulsive, overly needy and driven by fear, intrusive thoughts that we would not last, and shame with no conception of my feelings or even his own.

Surprisingly, and I may just be naïve here, but I don't think he'll repeat any of this behavior. I really think he's the kind of guy who can make effective and lasting change. He was able to do that once before in his life and stuck to it for over a decade. I am suffering through the aftershocks of what he did. The enormity of it. But I do not fear it will repeat.

Couples therapy is defiantly on the discussion table. I want to continue to heal and grow. The irony of it is the one who hurt me the most is also the one who can help me heal best. Go figure. Good new is, he has been proving every day that he is trustworthy, through action, communication, full disclosure and deed.

But DAMN, those triggers. You know the history here, the wide range of people who he cheated with. Sometimes it just knocks the hell out of me, Mark.

I have always enjoyed a healthy self esteem. I never really based it on my looks, because people age, looks fade. So I based it from my core attributes (empathy, humor, intelligence, passion etc). I am what most people would consider attractive. I am in great physical shape. I look eight to ten years younger than I am (he's 9 years younger and most people think he's older than me) I am a successful woman, accomplished, I love animals, horror movies and blah blah blah.

And none of that mattered. All of it went out of the window when he was unfaithful, especially when I saw WHO he was messing with. If he had cheated with ONE type, it might have made things a bit easier. But due to his PD it was literally anyone who paid attention to him, with NO care of weight, looks, gender, age etc. Anyone. And none of what makes me ME mattered. Like I said, I now find myself in this #######5 game of comparison with literally everyone.

So I agree with you wholeheartedly. Rebuilding trust is an exhaustive exercise, but it is very possible if both parties are willing to see it through. And throw in the PD. Now we have more challenges than most.

I have to heal. I bear the burden of how deeply he hurt me.

And he bears all of the shame.
I'm a Non-pwHPD happily engaged to a diagnosed HPD man, looking for support and enlightenment.
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