Today I'm going to talk to you about something you may have never heard of before: The Infidelity Bargaining Trap.
As you know from reading this blog, my mission at Betray No More is to help you overcome infidelity grief after betrayal.
In keeping with this mission, today I'm going to explore the infidelity grief stage, bargaining, and look at some of the potential pitfalls of this stage.
These pitfalls can cause you to remain stuck in grief and also hinder infidelity recovery.
But before we explore The Infidelity Bargaining Trap further, it's important to remember that grief, in all its forms, is a normal part of experiencing betrayal.
The bargaining stage of grief only becomes a problem if you remain stuck there, hence the name, The Infidelity Bargaining Trap.
Grief is nature's way of cleansing and healing the heart after experiencing the painful wounds of infidelity.
You do need to grieve to heal from betrayal.
At the same time, grief after infidelity can be a challenge to overcome.
For some women, grief tends to linger for many years after betrayal.
Being unable to move through the grief process will hinder you from creating the future, the relationship, and the life you truly deserve.
My goal is to help you move through grief and forward.
What is the Infidelity Bargaining Trap?
Bargaining is defined as one of five stages of grief by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a pioneer in the grief field.
While there are other grief models that explore how grief is expressed after loss, I chose to use Kubler-Ross's model for this article because it works well for our exploration of infidelity grief.
According to Kubler-Ross, the five stages of grief are:
- Letting go
As we go through the grief process, we move into the bargaining stage when we truly face what has happened, yet feel unable to let go of trying to control things.
This stage is also defined by a large amount of fear - fear of losing what we value most.
Bargaining is a way we begin making "deals" to get what we want most - for him to come back to us.
Underlying the bargaining stage is this:
"I'll do anything, I'll accept anything, I'll change anything - as long as you don't leave me."
I think by this description, you can see how this stage can be a set up for potential problems.
Bargaining can also be thought of as a stage of pure panic.
We panic when we realize there is a very real possibility we will lose him and so many other things we hold dear to our heart.
And with good reason.
There is no greater threat to the loss of a relationship than having our partner invest their time, attention, and heart in another person.
Once you realize his attention and affection is going somewhere else, you may find yourself doing just about anything to get him to come back to you.
And that's when the "deal-making" begins.
The classic Infidelity Bargaining Trap mantra goes something like this:
If I do x y and z, he will love me and come back to me.
- "If I go on a diet and lose weight, he will find me more attractive and dump her."
- "If I give him more sex or do the stuff he wants in bed, he won't be interested in porn and will give it up."
- "If I set up marriage counseling and force him to go, we can fix our marriage and all will be ok again."
- "If I don't upset him by asking him the questions I want answers to, he won't be so mad at me and will love me."
- "If I work hard and take responsibility for getting him on the right track, setting up all his appointments, and giving him the right books to read, everything will be ok again."
How the infidelity bargaining stage can transform into an unhelpful trap.
As I mentioned before, bargaining is a normal part of grief after facing the possibility of losing a partner.
It can, however, evolve into a trap when you stay stuck there, long-term, and do unhelpful things in response to his infidelity.
Things that prevent recovery.
Infidelity Bargaining Trap examples:
- You stay in the relationship when you might be better off without it. Calming the internal panic of the Bargaining Stage is necessary for you to be able to see the relationship for what it really is.
- You go through false recovery because only one of you is putting in recovery effort. It takes 100% focus, effort, and change from BOTH of you to achieve real recovery after infidelity.
- You are in a constant state of trying to control everything. Control is an illusion. You don't have control over anyone but yourself.
- You take responsibility for pushing your partner into recovery efforts. He doesn't take responsibility for anything, and instead, goes along for the ride. He does things to appease you with the hope that everything will go back to the status quo later.
- You let go of your values and do things you wouldn't normally do - just to win him back.
- You are in such a panic mode that you haven't taken the time to find out what will really help you in this situation.
- Deep down, you believe his infidelity is your fault and therefore, feel it's up to you to fix everything.
These are just some of the ways the Infidelity Bargaining Stage can become a long-term trap.
These strategies are ineffective ways to approach infidelity because they don't reach into the heart and depth of what infidelity recovery requires.
They are actions based on panic and emotional reaction.
You will need to pursue well thought out solutions and determine whether this relationship is actually worthy of repair or not.
Until Next Time . . .
Hope and Healing,