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Puddle Coach Column ~ Q&A / Relationships: Guilty Over an Affair

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Puddle Coach Column, by Patrice Swenson                                                                                                                     Have a question for the Puddle Coach? Submit here

 

Dear Puddle Coach,                                                                                                                                                                                        Patrice Swenson, Puddle CoachDescription: Description: Description: http://www.rainbowinthepuddle.com/sites/default/files/images/Life%20Coach%20Pic%20for%20Business%20Card_2.jpg

I have been in a relationship with the same person for the past 10 years. We have been living together but are not married. I have always felt like we had a pretty good relationship and although I am away for work quite often, I have never felt tempted to stray so to speak, however, last year I met someone at a conference that I seemed to click well with and we ended up talking for hours. One thing led to another and things happened that I never intended to have happen. I'm not saying it's no big deal; I'm actually dying inside over the guilt I have now. I have messaged this person a few times but we haven't seen each other since. I am struggling because on one hand I want to tell my partner but on the other I feel like it will hurt her so much, I don't know if it's the right thing to do. At the same time, I also wonder to myself why this happened and if I'm happy in my relationship, what made this so available and easy? Is there something more, is there a reason this happened? I'm so confused and so distraught about all of this. I've been suffering with this inside me, but I can't seem to bring myself to say anything. I feel like I will be judged and there is no one I want to share this with so I decided to write. I'm not sure what to do next.

Guilty and Confused ~

Dear Guilty and Confused,

It's understandable that you feel guilty and confused. You seem to care but wonder how you could do this at the same time. That can't be an easy feeling to have. When our feelings, thoughts and behaviors don't match, we enter the state of cognitive dissonance, which is usually difficult until we get aligned by either reassessing our values or changing our behaviors, so that things line up again. The struggle comes because you are evolving and growing from the situation inside you. You mentioned being judged; I'm curious if you are more troubled by telling your partner the truth or feeling the judgments. Quite often, the biggest judge is the person in the mirror. Just like you can love someone but not everything they do, you can love yourself but not everything you've done. That might be a starting point. 

People often judge others for actions that they deem inappropriate or breaking moral codes that don't align with their personal value system or the value systems of communities, families and so on. Everyone has their own value system and maybe it's a good time to evaluate your own. Behaviors are deeper rooted and until you examine what that is for you, it may be unclear as to not only why this happened but what you want to do next. 

Is being completely honest a value that each of you hold high? Have you ever discussed what each of you would want if such an indiscretion ever took place, prior to this happening? Do you want to stay in the current relationship? Are you interested in maintaining contact with the other person? I'm curious if you are contemplating being completely honest to cleanse your soul or to be true to your partner? If this situation were reversed, would you want her to keep it to herself or share the truth with you?

Most often it seems that an affair is more of a symptom of something than a cause of something. Ask yourself what you want and need and how you've been serving yourself and if you are whole. Is this about your partner or is this about you? Are you whole to yourself? We often rely on those closest to us, to fulfill us, when what we really are missing is learning how to fulfill ourselves. Are your actions with this other person reflecting a void that you haven't filled with yourself?

No matter whether you share the truth with your partner or not; be honest with yourself! When you figure out what is missing inside you; the answer to what you do next will come. 

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