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Having Trouble Being Faithful

Question:

I have trouble being faithful to the person I am in involved with. I am flirtatious and end up kissing other guys especially after drinking a few drinks. Looking back at my life this is a pattern that I have develop, even having relationships, when I was younger, with married men. This is something that I am not proud of. I am in my 40’s now and and divorced, which my problem basically destroyed my marriage and is about to destroy the relationship of the man I love. I don’t set out to intensionally end up kisses another man but it has happened on more than one occasion and actually witnessed my the guy I am(was) dating. I don’t know what causes me to do this. I really love the guy I am(was) seeing and would do anything to get back with him and spend the rest of my life with him but I need to stop destroying my relationships and destroying my reputations. Enough is enough. I don’t want to continue my live like this. I have 2 young children, 7 and 10, and I want to give them what they deserve. My dad died when I was 7 and I lived with my mother and 2 brothers. Is there any way to stop myself from destroying yet another relationship. Please help!!

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  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
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Answer:

Your flirtatious actions would seem to be self-sabotaging and self-destructive, but they also have a sort of attractiveness to them too, don’t they? I mean, it’s very nice when you can flirt with a man and get him to pay attention to you, isn’t it? It is a feeling of power or excitement or something like that, I think. It’s a short lived power, to be sure, but it is certainly something that I can see many people craving. So maybe your ‘problem’ isn’t so much that you’re doing these self-defeating things and don’t know why and more like you have two conflicting desires – to be faithful and committed (and receive the benefits and stability of that path), and to be flirty and powerful (and to receive the benefits of that path). People are complicated and can want both of these things at the same time, even if reality makes it so that they can’t have both. I’m thinking that you maybe need to own your flirtatiousness more so that you recognize yourself and what you are benefiting from it (and losing). It’s hard to fight something when you disown your desire to take part in it in the first place. It occurs to me that your situation is maybe not unlike that of a recovering drug addict – who wants to stay sober, but knows and is powerfully attracted to and craving of being high. What works for drug addicts who want to stay sober is: to commit to getting sober, getting a sober sponsor who you can talk to about their cravings and who can provide advice and encouragement for not getting high, and to learn to recognize signs that you’re about to go down the path towards getting high and nipping that behavior in the bud. Maybe you can do the same sorts of things, substituting a close friend, relative or therapist for the role of sponsor, and working with a therapist to help you recognize how your flirtations begin so that you can cut them off before they become problematic. The devil on your shoulder is not someone else – it is you, and only you will be powerful enough to talk back to that ‘devil’ so as to alter your life course.

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