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Emotional Affair Recovery

Emotional Affair Recovery

Emotional Affair Recovery

Heal Your Bond

EMOTIONAL AFFAIR RECOVERY | So often when the word “affair” is used, we assume a sexual affair. However, an emotional affair can be just as (if not more) detrimental to the relationship. 

Why is this? Well, first of all, when your partner is having an emotional affair, it can be highly traumatic. We are created to make decisions that help us survive, so we gravitate towards people who we believe will provide us with not only physical safety, but emotional safety as well.

 When we discover that our emotional connection with our partner is compromised and therefore our emotional safety is compromised, it can be a devastating and highly distressing experience. [How to tell? Read: The Warning Signs of An Emotional Affair]

As a Bentonville, Arkansas marriage counselor who specializes in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT) I know that healing your emotional bond after an emotional affair is challenging, and also possible.

Stages of Emotional Affairs

Emotional affairs typically begin with one partner getting too close with someone outside of the relationship. And not just any someone: Someone they’re attracted to.

The first stages of an emotional affair generally involve feelings of attraction, and increasing feelings of closeness with the emotional affair partner. People in emotional affairs may be flirting and sharing personal details about one’s life and his/her relationship, but it can also look more innocent like confiding in the outside person during times of distress. Emotional affairs can start on social media, or at work — anywhere someone has the privacy to share.

While this may seem relatively harmless, the risk of an emotional affair is that the emotional closeness is being taken away from the primary relationship and given to someone else. Over time, people begin feeling increasingly connected to their emotional affair partner, and less connected to their spouse. From an EFCT marriage counseling perspective, this damage to your feelings of safety, security and attachment is not just jarring, but difficult to get over.

Furthermore, as emotional affairs go on, it’s not uncommon for them to turn into sexual affairs. But even if they don’t go that far, when spouses discover emotional affairs it often leads to feelings of betrayal and damage to their sense of trust and emotional safety. Again, from an EFCT attachment perspective, this “attachment trauma” can lead to many other problems in your relationship. In order to heal your bond, you need to restore your sense of trust and safety.

Ending an emotional affair can be difficult for the person who has come to depend on an outside person to meet their emotional needs. And for people who’s spouses were engaging in an emotional affair, trust can be very hard to rebuild.

After an emotional affair, my clients come to me feeling hopeless, alone, and unsure of how to move forward. The truth is, recovering from an emotional affair is hard work, and almost always requires the help of a trained professional. However, the good news is that many couples who are committed to rebuilding their relationship can… and even go on to establish a stronger, more satisfying relationship than ever before.

As a therapist who works with couples recoving from infidelity, as well as emotional affairs — all from an emotionally focused couples therapy lens — here are some steps that I recommend.

Emotional Affair Recovery: The Path of Healing

Step 1: Recognize The Emotional Affair For What It Is: An Affair

Since we often consider an affair to be sexual, it can be challenging to accept that an emotional affair is as equally valid and detrimental as a sexual affair. Until you are able to do this, it will be very difficult to recover. 

For those of you who have committed the affair, your partner (and your relationship) cannot truly heal until you are able to see how your actions affect him/her. For those of you who are victims of the affair, admitting that you are emotionally betrayed can be the beginning of a truly healing experience. 

Step 2: Commit To Moving Forward After The Affair

Because affairs are so emotionally devastating, it is easy to throw in the towel and assume there is no hope for recovery, however couples who are committed to recovering can actually make it through! 

The key to recovering from an affair is to decide to move forward, and renew your commitment to the relationship. For emotional affair recovery to work, both partners need to be committed to the process of recovery, no matter how hard it may be. 

It is also important to note, however, that if you have experienced emotional or physical abuse, or if the affair is still on-going, there are much bigger barriers to emotional safety and it may not be safe or healthy to pursue affair recovery. 

Step 3: Set Boundaries

Since the hurt partner is feeling betrayed, in the early stages of recovery it is vital that the unfaithful partner shows him/her that they are committed to moving forward. The most helpful way to demonstrate commitment is by setting clear boundaries with the outside partner.

 This means cutting ALL ties with him/her. Doing this will provide the hurt partner with a sense of safety that the affair is less likely to occur again AND it shows him/her that the unfaithful partner is truly wanting to move forward in their partnership.  

Step 4: Work On Reviving Your Relationship

I mean really work on it.

Recovering from an affair is hard work and requires a commitment not only to each other, but to the very process of recovery. Possibly the best thing you can do at this point is to reach out to a trained professional that can help.  

As a couple’s therapist, I try to help couples through this difficult process by providing a space to atone for the affair, attune to each other’s emotional needs, and eventually attach to each other in a deeper more meaningful way than before. 

In addition to participating in couples therapy, you can also do things outside of therapy to help revive your relationship! 

First, nurture your friendship. The very foundation of a healthy relationship is a good friendship, so do things that help build fondness. Go do something you’ll both enjoy together! 

Another thing you can do is find small ways to tune into each other’s emotional needs. Try using an “I feel, I need” statement in order to create an opportunity for connection. 

The Good News

There is hope! Many couples recover from emotional infidelity. It is possible. The process of recovery takes time, so be patient with the process, with your partner, and with yourself. 

Ultimately, you can rebuild a relationship even better than it was before!

NURTURING HEALTHY FAMILIES & HAPPY RELATIONSHIPS | Georgi Chizk, M.S., MFT-C is a warm, compassionate EFCT marriage counselor, individual therapist and family therapist who creates a safe and supportive space for you to find meaning in your struggles, realize your self-worth, and cultivate healthy connections with the most important people in your life.

 

If you’d like Georgi’s help in healing your strong bond, schedule a free consultation to meet with her online or at our Bentonville, Arkansas office location.

Let’s  Talk

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The Problem With Perfectionism

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The Problem With Perfectionism

Keep The First Picture

After a long run in the blistering Texas heat with my friend, she looks at me and says, “Let’s take a picture!” Instinctually I said, “sure!” and smiled for the camera.  Then I saw the photo… After pausing to think about the state of my face (I looked like Sloth from The Goonies), I frantically asked, “Maybe we should take another one?” And then she said something that I found remarkably empowering… She said she was starting a new personal goal to keep the first picture. 

Puzzled, I asked her why. “It seems like everyone takes about ten pictures and funnels through at least five different filters before they’re satisfied with the photo they’ve recreated. Why don’t we just appreciate the raw moment we captured the first time?” she asked. 

Wow, why don’t we?…

The Problem with Perfectionism 

It seems like there is an unspoken expectation that we should always be happy and healthy. We should always be perfect.  Even when we’re going through some of the darkest moments in our lives, there’s an underlying pressure to keep it hidden. “I can’t talk about this. I must appear like I’ve got it all together” we tell ourselves. Whether you’re a single parent, having trouble at work, or dealing with a mental or physical illness, somehow it’s a lot easier to post a photo of you smiling than one that shows what’s really going on… 

The problem with perfectionism is that it’s not only impossible but fleeting. The second we feel like we’ve achieved the slightest perfection in one area of our lives, we’re paranoid about the mess we’re hiding in another corner.  And there we go: around-and-around this cycle of striving, failing (while making the appearance of succeeding), feeling disappointed and ashamed, and then doing it all over again. Even in my own life, this cycle has deceived me into missing out on some pretty great moments, which to me is the most disappointing outcome of perfectionism.

We’re Missing Out on The Moment!

The pressure we feel to be perfect can cause us to miss out on the moment. Perfectionism convinces us that there’s an even better moment to be fabricated and if we believe it enough, then it’s that fabricated moment that actually happened. 

There are two problems with this lie that Perfectionism tells us: First, believing a moment is perfect doesn’t make it so. Second, who says the moment that actually happened wasn’t worth cherishing even if it wasn’t “perfect?!”

Even messy moments have a purpose. It’s the messy moments that have brought you where you are today. These moments should be celebrated! Not hidden. It’s the failing that teaches us the most, gives us the humility to try again, and ultimately allows us to grow. 

Speaking as a chronic perfectionist myself, I know how hard it is to actually flip the switch and just sit in imperfection.  The truth is, there’s a fine line between being okay with imperfection and being apathetic to personal growth. That’s why “keeping the first picture” can be such an empowering tool for us perfectionists! It’s a simple action that creates change little-by-little, picture-by-picture. 

What “Keeping the First Picture” Can Teach You

  1. It teaches you to appreciate the moment for what it is…sweat and all! Looking at that photo can show you exactly what was happening in your life at that moment that eventually led you to this moment. The candid nature of life can be harsh and daunting, but it is also sweet and transformative. When you look back on that first picture, you can use it as a window to reflect and then grow. 

  2. It empowers you to let go of Perfectionism. Keeping the first picture can give you the courage to slowly let go of the “ideas” of perfect moments you’re chained to. To look at your tired face and say “Man, that was a crazy day”, but know that you hold the power to say “No” to Perfectionism. You don’t have to put on a show or a filter just to appease Perfectionism. You can be authentic! One picture at a time. 

As a therapist, I have seen so many clients who struggle with the desire to have the perfect life (perfect relationships, perfect job, the perfect body), or at least seem perfect on the outside… In their search for perfection though, they’ve missed out on the moment! Although it seems simple, keeping the first picture can help you take one step towards appreciating what you have and letting go of what is unachievable and frankly not as perfect as it seems. 

After I kept that first picture I didn’t see how red and sweaty I was, I saw two friends who hadn’t seen each other in months, after a long run, talking about our lives, our future, and our friendship.

What do you see in your first picture?

Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT is a warm, compassionate marriage counselor, individual therapist and family therapist who creates a safe and supportive space for you to find meaning in your struggles, realize your self-worth, and cultivate healthy connections with the most important people in your life.

Let’s  Talk

Georgi Chizk, Happiness, Self Improvement / Personal Growth, Success, GeorgiChizk

The Problem With Perfectionism

Do you ever feel the pressure to ALWAYS be perfect (even when life is everything but perfect)?? To be happy, healthy, and successful are all goals that we want to achieve, but sometimes just acknowledging reality and living true to yourself is really what you need to live a full life. Today on The Love, Happiness and Success blog we are talking about the problem with perfectionism and why you should "keep the first picture." Read More
Bentonville Arkansas Therapist Perfectionism Self Esteem Life Coach Online Arkansas

How To Avoid Unrealistic Expectations

How To Avoid Unrealistic Expectations

How To Avoid Unrealistic Expectations

Always Feeling a Little Dissatisfied With Your Relationship?

Sometimes in couples counseling, I see that my clients’ dissatisfaction can be fueled by disappointment when their partner doesn’t meet their expectations or when they feel like they can’t possibly meet their partner’s expectations either. And sometimes the expectations they put on their relationships are simply unrealistic. These unrealistic expectations can be dangerous to the relationship, however, they can also be used to help strengthen the relationship when we begin to understand what these expectations actually mean and what to do with them!

Where Do Our Expectations Come From?

Expectations can come from previous relationships or couples we’ve looked up to in the past, but often times they can come from what we see in the media. Hollywood seems to be a breeding-ground for relationship expectations: the guy who suddenly appears at your window with a boombox ready to serenade you, the girl who friend-zoned you for years finally declaring her love and commitment for you, the ultimate happily ever after. Even as children, young girls see prince charming coming in for the rescue at exactly the right moment, and boys see a princess willing and ready to be swept off her feet. So, what are these scenes telling us? What are they doing to our relationships? How dangerous are unrealistic expectations, really?

The Danger in Unrealistic Expectations

In my experience as a therapist, I’ve noticed two main dangers in maintaining these unrealistic expectations. First, unrealistic expectations can set the relationship up for failure. The images of perfect relationships in the media can create a romanticized view of romance, leaving couples to expect the perfect fairy tale ending after every conflict. Real-life relationships, however, are much more complicated than a romantic comedy. Until we can appreciate the complexity, we will always be dissatisfied.

 

Second, my clients have expressed how unrealistic expectations can create distance and distrust in the relationship. The emotional rollercoaster of hopeful expectation and disheveling disappointment is taxing. After a while, it can feel like you or your partner may never come through. The worst part is that you both might be working extremely hard to satisfy each other, but the expectations put on yourself or your partner are distracting you from a deeper connection.

 

In the end, it may sound like we should do away with expectations all together, but actually, expectations can be helpful for a healthy relationship.

 

Expectations Aren’t Always a Bad Thing!

Ultimately, there are two things you should know about having unrealistic expectations: First, this is normal.  Even therapists can be unrealistic with what we expect of our partners! And second, these expectations come from a good place, a place that tells us what we need in our relationships: to feel valued, loved and cared for.  So how can we use expectations to help our relationships grow?

 

The Secret to a Real-Life Happily Ever After

  1. Be honest with yourself… what is this expectation really about? When working with my clients on this topic, I encourage them to identify what their primary need is behind the expectation. The truth is, what we expect from our partner can tell us what we need most from them. For example, if I expect my partner to take me on a fancy date once a week, I may actually be telling him that I need to feel valued. It goes much deeper than expecting a nice date night, it’s expecting a gesture that tells me my partner loves and values me.
  2. Don’t settle, communicate! Having unrealistic expectations doesn’t always mean we have to settle for less, it simply means we should evaluate what we need and effectively communicate that need to our partner. I encourage couples to communicate clearly what they expect and need from each other. Sometimes we can re-adjust our expectations so that they are attainable, but sometimes we need only tell our partner the primary need behind an expectation so that they have a fair shot at coming through!
  3. Acknowledge and celebrate the small stuff. So maybe your partner doesn’t defeat a dragon and defend your honor, but helping out with dishes is just as good. Try to appreciate even the smallest gestures and you’ll be surprised how much your partner cares.

 

Having fair expectations that effectively communicate our needs is essential for a satisfying relationship, so maybe it’s time to explore expectations with your partner. After all, you may not be the star of a Cinderella story, but you still deserve a happily ever after.

Here’s to Healthy Expectations!
Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT

Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT is a warm, compassionate marriage counselor, individual therapist and family therapist who creates a safe and supportive space for you to find meaning in your struggles, realize your self-worth, and cultivate healthy connections with the most important people in your life.

Let’s  Talk

Georgi Chizk, Happiness, Self Improvement / Personal Growth, Success, GeorgiChizk

The Problem With Perfectionism

Do you ever feel the pressure to ALWAYS be perfect (even when life is everything but perfect)?? To be happy, healthy, and successful are all goals that we want to achieve, but sometimes just acknowledging reality and living true to yourself is really what you need to live a full life. Today on The Love, Happiness and Success blog we are talking about the problem with perfectionism and why you should "keep the first picture." Read More
Bentonville Arkansas Therapist Perfectionism Self Esteem Life Coach Online Arkansas

How To Fall In Love Again

How To Fall In Love Again

How To Fall In Love Again

Let’s Talk About Date Night

If you’re in a long-term relationship the time will come when that burning flame of romance and passion dims to a comfortable warmth, it’s inevitable. This doesn’t mean that the romance and passion are over, it’s a new era of your relationship. If you welcome this era with an open mind and a willingness to experience this stage with your partner – you will find that this warmth is not only sustaining to your relationship but welcoming.

I know it can feel discouraging to think back on how alive and in love you once were before the chaos of life, work, and family obligations became primary conversations at the dinner table. Maybe you’re even asking yourself “can it ever be like it once was?”

The truth is, if you’re both willing to put in the effort to keep your relationship “lit” then YES you can have those rekindling experiences in your relationship! In fact, research by love gurus Dr. John and Julie Gottman has even shown that couples on the road to separation were able to rekindle the flame in their relationship. So what’s the secret? You guessed it…date night.

How To Get The Most Out Of Date Night

It’s easy enough to go on a date if time and circumstance allow. However, it can feel like there’s just not enough time in the day for dating, and if you are like most of my couples clients you have a lot going on. It can feel like your only conversations together happen in passing after a long day at work or at the dinner table with the kids. This means that you have to be intentional about date night, and you need to get the most out of your time together (yes, I’m talking quality over quantity).

So, How Do You Do This?

First, it’s important to choose a time that works for both of you. It might feel silly scheduling each other in, but I promise if you schedule your date together you’re both more likely to make it work. So sit down, get those phones out (or paper agendas, whatever works for you!) and pick a time where you are either both free or available to move your schedule around. This might mean getting a babysitter, rearranging less important plans, or simply saying “no” to lesser obligations. But remember, you don’t have to force a date for the sake of dating. Sometimes an hour at the nearby coffee shop can be just as fun — do what works best for you!

Next, be deliberate about the activity you choose to do together. Since time is limited, what you do with that time is important. Try to orchestrate a date that is both fun and meaningful for both of you! The more thought you put into the date, the more you’ll get out of it. Before this starts sounding like a chore, I’m not talking about an itinerary that has every little moment planned out. Think about what you both like to do? Where do you like to go? What have you done in the past you’d like to do again? What are some new places, food, or experiences you would like to try?

Number one rule – make this time about the two of you. You don’t have to stick to any version of a date that isn’t appealing to you. However, the more time you spend together, the easier dating becomes. If this means staying home and watching a movie together, sitting on the balcony with a glass of wine, going out to an upscale restaurant, or checking out the “hottest” club – do what’s right for the both of you.

Looking for some great date night suggestions? Take a look at these simple to elaborate ideas you can implement into your new date night routine.

Fun Simple Suggestions:

  1. Pizza & A Movie Marathon— whether you like the DIY method of making your own homemade pizza or you like someone else to do the work for you (aka…ordering delivery), this is a staple date night. You can choose a movie that has a special meaning to the two of you, or maybe even take turns showing your current or childhood favorites.
  2. Build A Fort or “Camp” Indoors—sometimes laying down together in a new place can be exciting and spark some old feelings you thought were lost!
  3. Go On A Long Walk Together—use this time to hold hands, talk about life, or even get to know each other more. Did you know that exercise helps release brain chemicals that can make you feel happier? So by simply doing something active together can create positive feelings between you and your partner.
  4. Desserts and Discovery—make your favorite desserts together and ask one another questions to get to know each other again. There are various apps that supply questions to ask your partner (I recommend the “Gottman Card Decks” app). You could even get creative and use this desserts and discovery date to spark some sexual intimacy as well!

More Elaborate Suggestions:

  1. Surprise Date Night—if you and your partner have similar schedules, surprise your partner with a spontaneous date (to a restaurant, bowling alley, movies, etc). The excitement of the surprise may spark some long-awaited affection.
  2. A Mini-Vacay—find a babysitter and book a hotel room for the night! A night away from home can be especially rejuvenating for a relationship, especially if you have children.
  3. Take A Class Together—some communities offer classes to the public. Register for a local class together such as art, culinary, dancing, or exercise classes. Some classes may even be free!
  4. Recreate Your First Date—think about your very first date together and recreate it.  Reminiscing on the past may help reignite passion in the present. It can also be helpful to talk through all of the obstacles you have overcome as a couple over the years and take time to appreciate how your partner has contributed to the strengths in your relationship.

Date night can be a helpful tool for relationship health. Whether you’re wanting to stick to something simple or splurge on an elaborate night out, there are many exciting ways to get to know your partner and rediscover the excitement in your relationship. Try some of these suggestions and share your experience with me below in the comments section!

Wishing you the best on your date,
Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT

Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT is a warm, compassionate marriage counselor, individual therapist and family therapist who creates a safe and supportive space for you to find meaning in your struggles, realize your self-worth, and cultivate healthy connections with the most important people in your life.

Let’s  Talk

Georgi Chizk, Happiness, Self Improvement / Personal Growth, Success, GeorgiChizk

The Problem With Perfectionism

Do you ever feel the pressure to ALWAYS be perfect (even when life is everything but perfect)?? To be happy, healthy, and successful are all goals that we want to achieve, but sometimes just acknowledging reality and living true to yourself is really what you need to live a full life. Today on The Love, Happiness and Success blog we are talking about the problem with perfectionism and why you should "keep the first picture." Read More
Bentonville Arkansas Therapist Perfectionism Self Esteem Life Coach Online Arkansas

Growing Self Counseling & Coaching
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