Emotionally vulnerable people are likely to initiate affairs or be seduced. These common types of emotional vulnerability should be addressed as soon as possible—before an affair takes place.
The Rescue Fantasy:
The person with the rescue fantasy may not be aware of their own emotional problems. The feeling of being needed is empowering to them; it provides emotional validation and self-worth. The affair ends when they feel they have “fixed” the damaged person, or if they find someone with more severe emotional needs. This fantasy is more common with men. They wish to be the knight in shining armor rescuing the damsel in distress. The emotionally unstable women sought are often promiscuous, adding to their appeal. The emotionally unstable people they seek are often victims of abuse.
Sexual abuse victims are especially vulnerable; having been sexualized at an inappropriate age, they are less able to differentiate between affirming comments and/or touch and personal sexual interest. Victims of other types of abuse are susceptible to being seduced as their emotional wounds may remain unhealed. After suffering abuse—especially in the formative years—they are in need of positive attention. They are likely to take measures to secure a constant supply of affection. The “payment” given in exchange for this affection is typically sex.
When the abuse survivor has a fight with the spouse—especially if they are abused by their spouse, they often seek comfort from others. Due to their vulnerable nature, they are eager to please the person who provides comfort—by initiating or not resisting sexual activity. Even if the spouse of the abuse survivor does show affection and provide emotional stability, the abuse survivor may seek affection outside the marriage in an effort to secure additional validation or vent anger.
Stronger-than-Normal Emotional Need for Physical Intimacy:
The desire for physical intimacy (touching, hugging, and caressing) is normal. It has been shown to increase the “feel-good” chemicals such as oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin while decreasing stress-related hormones. When an emotional vulnerability makes this stimulus necessary for validation of worth, one can be inclined to infidelity. When one’s needs for physical closeness are frequently rebuffed by the spouse, or if the intimacy of the relationship has been compromised, the need for touch may be met by a new partner. Those who have this need often are not content with keeping an affair secret.
Sacredness of Sharing:
The person who hides feelings is a ready-made target for an affair. When emotional desires and deep feelings are shared with a kindred spirit, it builds strong feeling similar to the euphoria of falling in love. Logic and guilt are set aside, and an intense desire to protect the pleasant, secret relationship builds. This process consumes a great deal of time and energy. This process will continue until the person grows weary of hiding and maintaining the secret relationship.
One’s conscience or the tedious pressure of maintaining a secret relationship builds until he or she becomes frustrated at the energy consumed by covering their tracks. This hits a breaking point in an average of 3 to 6 months.
When the affair ends, one can break out in random, sporadic fits of anger or rage at the unfairness of life in losing their favorite playmate. At other times the person will express inappropriate feelings to their partner who cannot or will not meet their desires in the manner of their former lover.
For more help with this issue, contact CrossRoads to make an appointment at 317-842-8881 if you are in the Central Indiana area. Click here for the next article in the Affairs series.