Confronting the Other Person is Not Confronting an Adult

An unfortunate assumption is that two adults have affairs.

Actually, this is far from the truth. Infidelity is not about a relationship of two adults.

Adults live their lives with joy, passion, according to internalized standards, with respect and acceptance of others, by the values that give and sustain life, transparent to themselves and others, with predictability and consistency and with an overarching concern for the welfare and well-being of others, as well as themselves.

Infidelity is more about a parent-child relationship bound by deceit, strong unresolved personal needs that are consistently sought after, a confusion about standards and values and a desire to live life in the shadows.

Or, infidelity follows the triangle pattern which states that a person is bound (unconsciously) by strictly held roles of either rescuer, persecutor or victim. Much drama and pain in those roles.

So, when confronting the other person, do not expect adult-like responses.

This case illustrates the point:

1. What was your purpose for confronting the OP and what did you say/do?

10 months after my husband claimed all contact had ended, he gave me access to his business phone bill and saw that they had constant contact during our reconciliation. I wanted to know what they talked about, but he refuses to tell me. I called her cell phone to see if she still had the same number and left a calm message inviting her to call me back. I figured we are all adults who were supposedly hurt and could now talk in a calm manner about the two most devastating years of my life. She was supposedly trying to attain a degree in family counseling and had said all the “right” things during the crazy days of first discovery: “Be kind to yourself and to your wife;” “You obviously love her. Go and make it right with her;” and “I miss you too (to him, in a text I discovered initially) but having been in the same situation I could never inflict the pain on others I experienced in my first marriage.”

2. What happened? What was the outcome?

She did NOT Call me back, but rather tracked my husband to his new office and said flatly, “Your wife called my cell phone. She was also parked in my driveway once.” THAT NEVER happened. So much for my thinking that she was a mature adult who could handle a mature, calm conversation, many, many months after the affair ended and all contact stopped.

3. If you were to do it again, would you do it differently? What did you learn?

No, I don’t think so. It reformed my opinion of her. Initially, I felt only empathy towards her, a lonely single mom. Now, I realize she was an immature drama queen, who spoke a good game whether it be for money, gifts, or weekends away she could not afford on her own. I now have some compassion for my husband. I think in a low time in our lives and our marriage, he was played for the price of admiration and flattery. How sad it all is, not only for me and my children, but for him as well. We still have so much more work to do.


  1. I just read what the writer wrote about her recognizing that the other woman is an immature drama queen! Well I kind of feel the same way. I really thought this thing through and wrote her a letter and I think the letter would be too sophisticated for her. When I first found out about all of this, I called e=-mailed her stating that I was really upset with my husband but that “woman to woman” she should think about what she is doing to someone elses family. Well she wrote back stating that if I “insisted” on contacting her that I should call her phone. Guess she feared her husband would find out. So I called her and right away she wanted to argue with me but when she heard that that was not my style and all I wanted to do was make sense of things she calmed down and talked to me and told me that when I caught them a passionately kissing in a restuarant, that it was the first time and she was a bit drunk and had a bad day–really now!!!!! I was actually apologizing for calling her and asking her questions! At the time I was in shock–30 years with the same man and I was falling to peices. Well 6 months later and 35 pounds lighter I am physically and emotionally stronger. I wrote her a very long letter and wanted to send it through her private Facebook account but when I requested her as a friend–did not want to be her friend–wanted her to know I was still out there—she writes back–“why?” I never responded but really desired to do so. Just want her to know that I am stronger and I will not sit back idly like I did before. Plus to tell her she is not so “fabulous” after all. I did not resort to this yet because I have no proof that they are still contacting each other and fear that this will start things up again. What do I do???? Any suggestions–I feel that the best revenge is to be happy but I really want her to know that if I find out things are going on again, I will make her life as miserable as mine has been for the past 5 months. I feel that she is in a win win situation–had her time with my husband and may still have him–I do not know–he says no but I find it so hard to trust him. I fear losing everything if I send this letter–Who can help me? Any suggestions out there would be so much appreciated.

  2. RedQueen says

    You should live your life. I have been the other woman. I am a strong professional and I am not proud of my actions. At the time I had the affair I was weak. The man I had the affair with came back four and a half years later. He was going through a divorce.

    Once a cheater always a cheater in my mind. He needed two years of therapy and he needed to be free. I wanted to believe that we could have a relationship but the reality was that he was in need of so much. I could never trust him. I told him that during this time I would pray for him and offer him friendship.

    I felt horrible about my actions. Women should unite not tear down other women. Having affairs and listening to men’s lies brings such self-doubt to the women that are at home. It is so wrong. After going through years of counseling myself, I wrote a letter to his wife telling her that I was sorry for my actions while she was going through her divorce. I hoped that she would find true love. I hoped that she would find everything that she needed.

    The letter arrived on or around the same day that they decided to not move forward with the divorce. It was very apparent that the gentlemen had not told the wife the truth about the past and that he had been trying to make amends with her while carrying on with me. He found me to be very hurtful to his wife. My intentions were of kindness. I have nothing to prove. He got caught in a lie.

    Live your life to the fullest. Wish good things for everyone. Stay out of others lives. Be true.

  3. I disagree that I was immature, and I am definitely not a drama queen. I would also hate anyone to feel sorry for me for the part I played (op). Far better for me to gain strength in myself and move on. I too was hurt at the end of our relationship, and I am still coming to terms with it all myself. My intention was never to fall for a married man, and that is a cross I have to bear, emotionally and in my heart.

    I am doubtful the full truth and extent of our relationship has been divulged, and I for one am not about to ‘correct’ any information that is being shared. They too must get on with their lives and rebuild their relationship. I hope their relationship is stronger for what they learn about each other, and that they have a long and happy life together.

    For me, I have moved on. I will ensure I never again get into a relationship with an unavailable person. It isn’t my scene and it isn’t something I feel comfortable thinking about. I shall guard my heart and head against such a thing ever happening again. I deserve more for myself, and for the other people around me.

  4. I confronted the OP mainly because she was my friend and neighbor who intentionally pursued my husband when she saw a weak moment for an opportunity. I simply wanted her to know, as a friend and mother, how I felt about her actions. I hand delivered a letter to her and simply said, when she tried to speak, that I was not there to hear what she had to say yet for me to tell her how I felt about what she did to me and my family. I would definitely do it again; my therapist counseled me on writing over and over, deleting and rewriting until the same words were being repeated – then I was ready to deliver my letter. I wish I would have had the strength to say more to her in person, but I was so emotional and I know she would have been confrontational impeding my complete thoughts. What I don’t know is if she ever read the letter, although if it were me, I would have to.

  5. Thanks so much, Dr. Bob! Yes, my spouse and the OW definitely followed the triangular dynamic in their affair. They were the victim and rescuer of each other, and I and her ex were cast as the role of villians, or persecutors. He had to demonize me so he could put the halo on her head. It was a sad and lonely time for all of us. They created a pity party for two and relished their roles to the hilt, believing no one wanted them but each other. Yeesh!
    On DDAy, I threw him out and told him to go get her. I charged neutral and got busy with myself. The affair limped along for another two months and died.
    In counseling, I have asked him, If it made you happy, why were you so sad and angry all the time? It was a relationship built on anger and both of them telling each other exactly what they each wanted to hear. No, she never returned my phone call. In retrospect, they BOTH acted like adolescents, not adults.
    I think the triangular dynamic is very true in my case, and all the delusional thinking that went along with it to sustain it.

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