A Raleigh Therapist's Blog

Thoughts on counseling, healing, and creating the life you want

For the Fellas: Women, Affairs and how to Safegaurd your Relationship

I am developing an area of expertise I hadn’t really planned on pursuing. I mean, in every other subject matter in which I would claim some sort of knowledge, there were trainings and certifications to be deliberately chased. There was no stumbling by accident into the kind of qualifications I have earned. But, this particular body of knowledge has been gifted to me in the trenches of couples therapy, and I am sometimes surprised by it myself. Here it is folks: I am becoming an expert on female infidelity.

Now, when I tell people that I am a couples therapist who works with couples struggling with affairs, they make some assumptions. You can imagine what those assumptions look like. They’re envisioning some philandering jerk and his sexpot coworker, or an unassuming chap who fell for the wiles of a skanky ex-girlfriend. Nope. That’s not the constituency of my practice. The vast majority of the clients I see for infidelities are there because of a cheating female partner.

I’ll let you take in that counter-intuitive bit of information for a moment. Are you scared yet fellas?

Over the past decade, I have seen lots of couples for infidelity. And, true to stereotype, it used to be mostly males who were doing the dirty. But, over the past five years or so, I have noticed a shift. Women are discovering that two can play at that game. Husbands, gather around the camp fire and I’ll tell you a spooky story…you might want to take notes.

Don’t misunderstand; every situation is different and complex. I don’t mean to make light of the fact that affairs feel like terrible tragedies to the couples suffering through them. However, there are some common threads that run through most of the stories I hear. I would like to share them with you so that if you recognize some echo of these in your own life, you can start now–today–working on it. In that spirit, here are the top 3 reasons the ladies are giving for stepping out on their mates.

1) Dude, where’s my adulthood: Girls tell me that the boys they loved in their early and mid-20’s were so cute with their frat boy antics and ne’er-do-well attitudes. However, playing Call of Duty for 6 hours in a row in your underwear just isn’t as charming when you’re in your late 20’s and 30’s. The girls you loved have become women with real lives, real careers and real kids. They don’t want boys. They want men. They want men who are interested in having grownup conversations about the future that incude financial planning, travel and retirement. They want to be your partner, not your mommy or your housekeeper. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, you need to articulate appreciation for the stuff she contributes to your life. If you want to keep your chick, you must check that extended adolesence stuff at the door.

2) Talking Heads: Any guy who has been through couples therapy bootcamp with me can very handily illustrate how to ask your girl about her feelings. This stuff is important because women are tempted to cheat when they don’t feel emotionally intimate with their partners. The guys who want to make off with your ladies know this, even if you don’t. One of the reasons women often struggle more intensely to decide if they should end their affairs is because they may feel understood by their affair partners in ways that they don’t feel accepted by their primary partners. In fact, they may feel that their affair partners are just generally more interested in them altogether.

It’s impossible to really “get” your wife or girlfriend without taking the occasional joyride through her emotional landscape. Besides that, girls are just like you. They want strong friendships complete with common interests and inside jokes. They like to have conversations for the sake of having conversations. The process of being asked about one’s life and telling an interested partner about your hopes and fears is a goal in and of itself. Guys, you don’t have to solve the problem in order for the conversation to be considered a win.

3) Let’s Talk about Sex Baby: I am surprised at the number of men who think women won’t cheat for physical intimacy. Just in case you didn’t get the memo, girls like touching, kissing and yes, orgasms. Most human beings have some desire to connect through touch. In the past, men have not been encouraged to talk about the fact that they, too, sometimes struggle to make sense of issues of desire and performance. I think this is to some degree still true, and it is a great tragedy to suffer in silence. Though it is possible that something is awry physically, (and you can always go see your MD to be certain) emotional difficulties cause sexual problems for men too. If you feel disconnected from your partner, it can be difficult to be sensual with one another. This is something that can be talked about sensitively and resolved successfully.

So, there you have it–a quick introduction to some of the more common reasons why women cheat. Though there are more, and nuances to each of the ones I have listed, this should get you thinking. Are you worried about the state of your union? Would you like to learn more about how you can make your relationship as strong as it can be? Why don’t you come on in so that we can talk about it.

Your Partner in Healing,

Holly

Are you looking for compassionate individual, couples or group therapy in Raleigh? Call me today to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation to learn how counseling can help you. Please contact me at (919) 714-7455 or email me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com. Visit me on the web at www.lotustherapycenter.com or:

Twitter: HollyCoxLMFT

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Imposter Syndrome, Anxiety and You

I used to work in community mental health. That is to say, I spent long hours attempting to help folks with poor resources, intractable mental illness and life circumstances that would knock most of us down for the count. Though I loved being on the front lines in that way (and think absolutely every therapist should do it before entering private practice) I often felt ground down by the hopelessness my clients articulated. Even if I viewed them as capable, vibrant individuals with lots to give the world, many of them didn’t view themselves that way. I found it maddening. How could I convince them that they were worthy and intelligent?

This was a problem I thought I would not be facing any longer when I moved exclusively to private practice. I mean, my clientele now consisted of NASA scientists, my elected officials, lawyers and professional performers and athletes just to name a few. If we gathered all these folks in one place, they truly represent the creme de la creme of their disciplines.  Yet, the story in my therapy room was much the same. No matter what professional heights they had reached, they were terrified that at any moment, the world would pull back the curtain and see that they were not all that great after all. It wasn’t that they were awesome, they told me. Nope, it was that they had tricked everyone into simply thinking that they were. Pretty soon, they reasoned, we would all figure out that underneath the degrees, muscles or charisma there was an empty shell where the intelligence and virtuosity should be. And boy, would the rest of us all be ticked that we had fallen for it. (Well, that or we would be smugly satisfied and get a good laugh out of it.)

Therapists call this particular phenomenon Imposter Syndrome. Though it’s not an officially recognized disorder (and personally, I don’t view it as a disorder–just an unhelpful way of thinking) it is a growing trend as far as I can tell. It used to be mostly thought of as something to which high-achieving women, minorities and folks in academia fell prey. But, more recent studies have demonstrated that it is increasingly wide-spread. Imposter Syndrome is associated with personality traits of perfectionism, thus making it pretty ironic that the folks most of us would evaluate as most capable are the ones who suffer intensely.

So, what can you do about it?

1) Be Present: I’m not saying this in a new-agey kind of way. Like, really, take stock of this moment and what is actually going on right now. When we have anxiety, worry is the activity we engage in to bind it up and do something with it. But, if we think about it, the whole point of worry (even when it’s warranted) is to project what could happen and attempt to avoid the bad outcomes. That sounds logical until you realize that you are a super-duper creative individual when it comes to worry. We all are. We can come up millions of things that could happen. And, when we do that, we are off in theory land. We can’t process the now, which is usually a far nicer place than our projections if we’re constantly somewhere else.  Even if it isn’t much nicer, it’s all we can control at this moment.

2) Mind your mental coin purse: I’ve mentioned in other blogs that thoughts are like taxis in NYC. Another one will come along any second if you don’t jump in this one. Be selective about which rides you’re willing to take. You’re paying for it if you take it both metaphorically and literally. You are offering mental/emotional/spiritual resources to that thought if you entertain it. Also, if you are constantly entertaining very negative, panic-provoking thoughts you are paying for it physically as well. Be a good steward of your resources.

3) Help Others: In all honestly, I remember more about how great of a therapist I am when I mentor other therapists than when I am with clients. If you have a skill set that you can share, you can hone it further by articulating it to your colleagues or those just coming up in your field. If you have to explain it rather than just doing it, the details become clearer.

Are you worried that the world will soon figure out your charade? Do you need help reminding yourself that you deserve the fruits of your labor? Why don’t you come on in so that we can talk about it?

Your Partner in Healing,

Holly

Are you looking for compassionate individual, couples or group therapy in Raleigh? Call me today to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation to learn how counseling can help you. Please contact me at (919) 714-7455 or email me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com. Visit me on the web at www.lotustherapycenter.com or:

Twitter: HollyCoxLMFT

Pinterest:DrHollyCox

Facebook: Lotus Therapy Center

Google +: Lotus Therapy Center

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