Infidelity and Boundaries

It’s pretty obvious that a boundary has been crossed if infidelity has been an issue within a relationship. But, what next? Do you accept your mate’s profuse promises, apologies, and tears? Or their anger, defenses, and accusatory remarks? Either way, boundaries need to be set, even if you’re the one in the throes of emotional upheaval.

Boundaries aren’t easy to implement solo. They can be quickly misconstrued. It’s best to have a professional guide you through the overwhelming murkiness and help regain equilibrium. So, why are boundaries needed? It’s important to be able to sit with sorrow and resentment without interference from a mate. You need to be allowed to address the myriad of feelings that are bouncing and crashing off walls. A mate must respect and understand that at this time; you can’t have a chat about his/her side of the story, or don’t want to listen to one more apology, or don’t even want to hear the sound of his/her voice. Also, know, quick fixes don’t help. Nor does repression, enabling, and denial.

The boundaries mentioned are specific to the mending of an existing relationship after there’s been a betrayal, although you can adapt this to your circumstance any way you see fit. Creating boundaries is not easy for most. Initially, it’s uncomfortable and may induce anxiety: What if my mate gets angry? Threatens to leave me? What if I’m left alone? Chances are, he/she is not going to like having a boundary placed and will express it in a way that could induce even more anxiety. Believe it or not, it’s a positive learning curve for both.

Boundaries are a good thing, but they have to be reasonable, not vindictive or used as a power play. They should be discussed with your go-to professional person until you’re both comfortable with the concept. I can not stress that enough, otherwise, an already delicate situation could become highly misunderstood and distorted.

What if you create a boundary but don’t stick to it? If you give in too soon, you lose credibility which may be challenged and harder to regain if there’s a next time around. Waiting too long to implement a boundary may create more conflict. Your mate may feel you’re stuck on an issue, accuse you of being self-centered, and say you’re not looking at the big picture. These are broad strokes and speculative, but you get the idea.  Each situation is unique and should be dealt with according to the needs of the couple. It’s rare that two people are at the same level of growth (that part of a relationship tends to make me crazy, but I get it). One size does not fit all. Each individual has to sort through their issues and those of the relationship.

For the record, I’ve done my fair share of boundary making. Gratefully, I was with someone who understood the importance of this. He definitely didn’t like it at first, but he cared and respected me enough to see it through. He also had to draw a couple with me! Contrary to my own popular belief, I do not have all the answers—and never will. Through my experience, I gained so much insight: about myself, him, our relationship and relationships as a whole.

Thankfully, there are no boundaries to learning.

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