When we find out that we have a little competition, we so often react with intense feelings of rage and anger. Our first reaction is “how could you do this to me?” This is followed by blaming the other man/woman. The third stage is trying to pull out all stops to end the new relationship.
We put pressure, ask questions, over dramatize the situation, call in our social networks for support, beg, cajole, insult and degrade him/her, monitor his/her actions — sometimes hourly.
All these actions seem reasonable in the moment, but these same actions may actually end up forcing him/her to make a decision in favour of the other person. With your rage, anger, desperation and neediness dripping all over, you don’t stand a very good chance of coming out on top.
So what should you do instead?
1. Stop over dramatizing the situation
Many of us like to deceive ourselves and pretend that if it wasn’t for that other person there would be no “affair”. Truth is, there would be, it just would have been a different other man/other woman.
Most men and women — I used to be one of them — who date outside the “dating relationship” do so not because the other person is really better but because they are trying to “compare” what they are giving up with what they’ll gain if they continued in the relationship with you.
By asking too questions about the other person and over dramatizing the situation, you are making the other person more important, attractive and desirable than they really are. The reality is that they are nothing special. They are not superior to you. They may just have happened to be in the right spot at the right time– and offer something a little different. Not better just different.
And trying to contact the other man/woman is just you, your low self-esteem and insecurities beating yourself up. The other man/woman will never give you any deeper insights that will fill in the gaps and put the issue to rest. This is between you and your man/woman, keep it between the two of you.
2. Stop putting pressure
As crazy as it may sound, the last thing someone divided between to people needs is you trying to wiggle out some assurance. Do you still love me? Do you love him/her more than me?
Think of the “Romeo and Julie effect” ( some of us growing up at some point or other experienced this or know someone who did). When our parents tried to hinder the relationship, the other person became more critical to our happiness and even sense of identity and belonging. The most common reaction is rebellion and wanting our “beloved” more. This may be so even if we initially didn’t really like the person that much. Most people experience more passion, love and romance in these times, more than at any other time in the relationship.
If you take away something, you are increasing its scarcity and thereby increasing the desire for that thing. The more you intervene and try to stop him/her from seeing the other man/woman the more you will increase the love and romance in the relationship. Suddenly, he or she gains more pleasure from the relationship because it’s kind of “forbidden love”.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to stop increasing his/her desire for the other man/woman. This will take some effort. It might even take some coaching or therapy in the beginning, but it will become easier as you learn to incorporate another “True Love” principle into your relationships and life.
If this is a person who gets his/her validation from how much he/she can mess with someone’s else’ emotions to feel wanted, your attitude says he/she isn’t as “hot” as he/she thought he or she was. It also says you are one man/woman whose emotions can’t be messed with.
3. Make him/her earn back your love and trust
Personally, I do not believe in trying to find “closure’ because some things in life do not have logical explanations and therefore no logic can bring a soul-filling “resolution”. Instead I believe in the power of “forgiveness”. You must find it somewhere within you the desire to forgive the other person — if he/she is genuinely sorry. This is not the same thing as “let’s pretend nothing happened” but rather about second chances — not punishment but second chances.
Make sure to discuss ways he/she can earn back your trust. It’s his/her job to recreate that trust.
4. Give him/her good reason to believe that you’re the person he/she wants
His/her dating someone else doesn’t have to signal the end of a relationship, that is if you really love the person and want to spend the rest of your lives together. In fact, an “affair” can be the means for drawing the two of you closer together.
Get to the bottom of what makes him/her feel that he/she needs someone else outside the relationship. From experience, my own and those of my clients, we never grow out of that desire to fall in love again and again and again. Even when we’re in a happy, stable, loving relationship, we still want to feel that feeling and passion of “falling in love” with someone new. Learn ways to make your man/woman fall in love again and again.
It takes your courage and your abiding love for you to love someone enough to say “I deserve better” and make it stick and to hold the line. This can be an opportunity for you to move the relationship the direction you want it to go, if you know how and what to do.