A week into lock down and you notice that your usually shopping averse husband, is jumping at the opportunity to buy essentials at the grocery store. You also become aware that these shopping trips are pretty lengthy. Whilst thanking him for his enthusiasm and helpfulness, you wonder is it just corona virus craziness that has caused this change in his behaviour.
Trusting your gut, you decide to sneak a peak into his phone. He has become very protective of his phone .. funny that you never gave this much attention before you were locked down with him 24/7. But, you silently acknowledge to yourself, you had not given him nor the relationship that much attention over the past few months. Distance had crept in between you two . You were caught up in the demands of caring for your autistic child and he was working long hours to finance the extra health care providers now needed to support your child.
Or so you thought. Until you picked up his phone after one of his essential shopping trips. and to your horror found a stream of whatsapp messages between himself and someone called “Nik “. The last message had you on the floor: ” Went home and masturbated after seeing you in the aisle today. Hearing your voice and seeing you always reminds me of our time together. See you day after tomorrow- same aisle 🙂
Responses to discovery of Infidelity and specifically cyber infidelity, range from wild disbelief to utter shattering gut wrenching feelings. Fight, flight, freeze instincts kick in as all hell breaks loose inside your body. You scream , shout, harangue, hit, slam doors, stay in bed for days on end, stop eating .You want your partner in your bed. You want lots of sex. You can’t stand the sight of him/her/they. You kick this person out the house, you beg a return. Hours upon hours are spent discussing every detail of the encounters, sexts and whatsapp messages. You want to know why did this happen and will this happen again .
In other words, your need for self protection, security and safety is primary to your mental and physical wellbeing. You need to feel you can trust this person again. And this can only be gained by gathering information from the person who injured you.
Now the wife of Nik’s lover- her husband- has a problem. She is locked in with her enemy, this stranger , this betrayer. The usual responses and repair work after discovery of cyber infidelity – or regular infidelity – cannot be processed. There is no privacy , no ability to have time out , you cannot send the kids to the in laws for a few days. You’re locked in with your own pain. And perhaps a perpetrator who will not engage in the much needed process of repair with you. He/she/they go into freeze, flight, fight and silence.
In lock down there is plenty of time to ruminate, to read and re read sext and what’s app messages. The “enemy ” is unknown so you can never confront this person . The enemy could be the porn you’ve caught your partner masturbating to and made you gulp at his hidden now exposed secret sexual life. It may be Grinder or Tinder dates that keep him engaged and connected for hours on his phone. After all there is simply nothing more soothing , other than psychotropic drugs, than the novelty of an online affair. And boy, do we all need soothing mechanisms right now.
Here are some tips on how to manage living with someone who has injured you now or in the past with Infidelity/Cyber Infidelity. Lock down triggers old injuries so don’t be surprised if historic traumas, like infidelity, pop up, much to the surprise and chagrin of the perpetrator.
1. Accept that Cyber infidelity violates basic assumptions about how the world & people in general operate.
2. Feel the pain of the loss of trust and judgment you now have in your partner-and in your self
3. When loss of control , anxiety, depression and physical illness such as loss of appetite, insomnia , diarrhoea, body inflammation sets in , deal with each symptom and put yourself to bed.
4. Immediately establish physical safety for yourself – agree on sleeping arrangements and make a concerted effort not to engage in physical violence towards each other. Call a helpline if this proves difficult
5. Lock down requires rigid routines . Build into this new routines /rituals that will be healing for you alone . Ensure that you eat , swallow down protein shakes , use meditation apps to sleep.
6. Meditation , online yoga classes , join an online community of people who have experienced the pain of infidelity . You need community
7. Forget placing rules on the partner who injured you.Such as no more contact with lover, such as no more porn. I know your fear will drive you there. Rules will be broken and right now, you need to establish safety and security quickly. You cannot absorb more lies, catching your partner secretly online again.
8. Make a set time each day to talk privately to each other. This will be deeply challenging as you will want to harass your partner all day and night , needing answers to feel secure. I suggest you carry around a journal and write down feelings that arise . This is something both of you should be doing. This will allow some emotional regulation so when you meet , you will both be able to talk and not only scream and cry.
9. Make conversations more about how you feel than asking why. Share feelings of fear, loss, vulnerability , sadness
9. Begin setting #Tech agreements . Share what will make you feel safe , such as having access to partner’s phone, sharing what each of you are doing online, and the perpetrator agrees to let you know whenever the lover/s, contacts them online.
10. In this intense atmosphere of lock down , once you feel more emotionally regulated, begin talking about your relationship , and really digging deep into each coming up with a model of relationship that each one would prefer.
11. And finally broach discussing alternative types of relationships such as consensual non-monogamy.
The leading pornography site
Pornhub reported that since early March, as countries imposed quarantine measures in an effort to halt the spread of the virus, its traffic has surged, bringing 10, 20 or even 60 percent more visitors than their usual numbers.
OK Cupid online dating site has seen an increase in activity . But conversations with people on the dating market show that people are still corresponding on the apps, but few of the conversations come to anything.
Loneliness drives people during crises online – seeking relief from anxiety , fear of the unknown. relationships soothe us , and virtual relationships feel more comfortable , from protected place of home and anonymity . Fantasies increase and you can create another reality from your current one.
Be self caring , be compassionate to self and other. Be safe #StayHome and find ways to endure the pain of Cyber Infidelity.
And as a final word of wisdom , I love this piece of information : In China, infidelity used to be the No. 1 reason clients showed up at his office door, says a divorce lawyer, adding that “people have time to have love affairs when they’re not at home.”
Unfortunately that privilege is no longer there for you or me.
For more information on Corona Virus and Intimacy, e mail me and Ill send you information for FREE via e mail , 3x a week: firstname.lastname@example.org