In the age of divorce aplenty, faithful partners seem to be going extinct. And that is a shame, really, because being faithful to your partner is not very difficult at all. In fact, with a little imagination, it can be both easy and enjoyable.
There is a barrier to breaking up with your partner, but once a couple separates, leaving becomes a viable option for both of them. If the pain of divorce is great, they make the next time easier by not getting married in the first place, saying they are “not ready”. Of course, if separation was done in a mature way without much pain, it makes the next time easier too.
One of my clients, I will call him Carl, is a young man who deals with many people for a living. Naturally, among these people are women and some of these women are in his age group. Occasionally, he likes one of them and finds her attractive.
This creates a dilemma for Carl, because he already lives with a lovely young woman. Sally has been by his side for a good number of years through “thick and thin”. In fact, Carl has made some serious personal growth thanks to her example and encouragement.
In our session, Carl admitted Sally was good for him. “She’s my best friend”, he said, “But I can’t get that other girl out of my mind. It’s making me question whether I want to be with one woman all my life and whether that woman should be Sally. Maybe I’m settling for less than I could get”.
“In all your years together, was she not good for you?” I asked.
“She’s been wonderful, but she’s all I know. Maybe if I looked some more, I’d find someone even better”, Carl said.
“Do you think this quest can ever be achieved? If being happy makes you wonder whether you could be better off, what makes you believe you won’t be in the same situation with your next partner? Couldn’t there always be someone better – taller, richer, nicer, better educated or whatever – even by a little bit? “, I asked him.
“I don’t know”, he said, “But I see your point. It’s just I keep having those thoughts about Monica and I’m afraid to go near her. What if I can’t get over myself and one thing will lead to another?”
So I decided to surprise him.
“OK, Carl”, I said, “Let’s explore this thoroughly right here and now. Please sit comfortably in your chair, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and imagine yourself with Monica”.
“What?!” he nearly jumped out of his skin.
“Well, rationally, your situation is clear to you, but you are uncomfortable with how you feel. It’s only you and me here and I can’t see into your mind, so really, it’s only you. You don’t have to tell me what you imagine, so it’s a totally safe way to experience pursuing another woman ‘in the comfort of your own mind’, so to speak”, I said.
“I… I’m not sure about this”, he hesitated.
“It’s OK, you have full permission to choose the most attractive woman you know, take her wherever you want to go and do with her whatever you feel like doing. No one will know. Just relax and enjoy the ride”, I reassured him.
So Carl sank in his chair, closed his eyes, took a couple of deep breaths and sat quietly for a while. Then, his face looked like he realized something very relaxing and encouraging.
“I see now”, he said to me.
“What do you see?”
“Well, I started to approach Monica and I was going to ‘pick her up’ and have fun with her, but then I realized she doesn’t really know me the way Sally does and, well, I can’t just be myself with her”, he said, “If I go with her, I’ll have to spend a lot of effort just introducing myself to her and I’ll be giving up way more than I’ll be gaining. It was stupid of me to even think about it”.
“Well, it might have been stupid of you to actually do it, but dreaming about it and testing it out in your mind is quite clever, actually. This way, you no longer have to wonder and you can go on living happily with Sally. In fact, she gained from your little dream too. Imagine living with someone who isn’t sure about the relationship with her. Now, you’re sure again, so you can be with her fully. Everybody wins”, I said.
“Except Monica”, Carl laughed, but then added, “No, I could have messed up her life too, so even she wins”.
He paused for a bit and then said, “In a way, it’s like going someplace for a holiday. You break your routine and everything is new and exciting, but if you had to do it all the time, it would have all the challenges of your current life and maybe more, so it’s nice to come home too”.
How to be Faithful
Whether you are a man or a woman, you may have had doubts about being with your partner, particularly if you have gone through rough times together and your relationship was tested. Perhaps you made your commitment to each other when you were young and you wonder what the alternative may feel like.
Why not try the private dreaming technique yourself?
Find a quiet spot where you can be by yourself for a while. Sit in a comfortable chair (if you lie down, you may fall asleep, so stay seated), close your eyes and take a deep breath.
When you are relaxed, think of someone other than your partner you may be (or have been) attracted to (many people have “the one that got away”). Imagine yourself with that person. First, you have to build a relationship with them. Then, you will develop intimacy with them, including exposing yourself physically and emotionally. After that, you will have to deal with various life issues with them, like shopping, decorating, finance, housework, kids, being sick from time to time, spending time with each other’s family and so on.
Trying to imagine undressing in front of another partner for the first time may remind you that is no longer an issue with your current partner. In fact, you are likely to find that wherever you turn, you and your partner share a bond that is deeper and more meaningful than you thought.
That is OK. Human beings are creatures of habit. We get used to good things quickly, just as we stop thinking about pedaling on our bike. We just keep going through the motions and enjoy the view. But relationships need to be shaken (and stirred) occasionally and a little imagining session can be great to regain some perspective, appreciation and enthusiasm about what you already have.
Live long and prosper (together),