The Rational Basis® of Happiness Podcast

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I no longer trust anyone since my wife cheated with my best friend.


I no longer trust anyone since my wife cheated with my best friend.

(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)

Dr. Kenner: David, you're having some difficulty getting over some past issues?

David: Yeah, I am actually.

Dr. Kenner: What's going on?

David: Well, I went through a period of time where - it sounds terrible - my wife had an affair with my best friend. And ever since that happened to me, it's been about seven years ago, it's come to my attention that I don't trust anyone at all and I've been very weary of becoming involved in any kind of intimate relationships whatsoever. I know it's something I need to let go of.

Dr. Kenner: Are you still married? Okay, you need to let go of the pain, you mean, that you went through? Or the premise, the idea that you can't trust people because here you have - 

David: I would say that's it, part B there.

Dr. Kenner: That is one of the most damaging things that can happen. I mean, there are other things that can happen to you obviously - the death of a loved one - but to be betrayed by people who you've chosen, you have chosen your best friend. You weren't stuck with a best friend. And you've chosen your soul mate, your wife. And to feel betrayed by both of them is exquisitely painful. So are you still married to her or did you move on?

David: No. We divorced.

Dr. Kenner: Did she marry the friend, the best friend?

David: No, not at all. It pretty much ended when our relationship ended, pretty much. I guess it kind of came to her, what she had done, and then it was like she wanted to try and fix it but there was no way we could fix it.

Dr. Kenner: It was a one-time affair or going on for - how long was the betrayal going on?

David: It was going on for just a couple of months actually.

Dr. Kenner: But a couple of months seems like an eternity.

David: It was very short lived, but it lived with me forever so far. 

Dr. Kenner: One of the things I need to tell you is that you can't completely erase that. I mean, that's an experience in your life that is encoded very deeply in your brain. It was so painful, so shocking, it had all the elements that make us retain those moments, hopefully to guide us to prevent such a thing from happening again. And that's where you're stuck, right? You want to be able to move on

David: Well, that plus as far as prevention goes, I see it happening to so many people just over and over again. I realize fully that it's not just me, that it happens. Not necessarily with their best friend or whatever, but infidelity and trust issues, friendships and relationships, it just happens so often, so many times over and over again. I guess it's just gotten to the point where I pretty much lost faith in any kind of a relationship with anybody, whether it be a relationship with a woman or a friendship with people or business relationships even. Any kind of relationship. It's like somewhere in the back of my mind, I know that at some point that person is going to betray my trust. And I've just come to realize that.

Dr. Kenner: That is the premise that is eating at you. You just named it. When I say premise, I mean a strong idea, that at some point, even your best friend will sting you, will hurt you, will bite you. So how does anyone counter that? If you were a young child who was abused, you're in the same type of situation. I was a therapist for many, for several years, for many abused children. I used to go to court and speak for the children. They would come into the office and meet me for the first time and man, I'll tell you, they looked at me as if I was the evil enemy. And I look very friendly. I'm youthful looking, I'm playful, my office is filled with inviting toys and it's not overwhelming, but it's just so lovely for them. And yet I was in the category of tall - meaning adult - and what do adults do to abused kids? They hurt them, right? So how do you change a very strong idea, what I'm calling a premise? There is work in cognitive therapy called changing your core premises, core ideas. You need to name it first. Man, you named it right away. You had no problem with that, David, saying that it's a trust issue. It's a relationship issue. I'm afraid I won't be able to trust people

There are several things you can do. One of them is to search for examples in your own databanks, in your own history, of friends that didn't betray you. Even if you find one. I don't mean just a small betrayal - they said they'd go to the movie and backed out at the last minute, but the type of betrayal we're talking about, think of friends that didn't do that to you. Your subconscious needs data flushed out, thought about, in the relationship area of people who never hurt you. And then you need example of people who have never been betrayed. I'll give you one example. I have been married for, how many years? I have to ask my husband, isn't that embarrassing? We're happily married and we haven't betrayed each other. Here's one example for that file folder, that romance is possible. Lasting romance. 

And then you need to be able to put it into perspective, to understand what actually happened with your friend and your wife. What went on in the relationship and how did you contribute to it? You may not have contributed to it at all. People also have a premise about themselves and sometimes they feel like, "I'm unlovable or unworthy or there's something wrong with me that I don't get and people will see it in me." I don't know if you had any of those thoughts?

David: I have yes. As far as I guess I've wondered about it. At some point you eventually have to. That was the worst betrayal that's ever happened to me, but it's not the only betrayal that's happened to me. Obviously I've had friends that hurt me in the past as well.

Dr. Kenner: So you need to collect examples, counter-examples, of friends that didn't betray you. You need to know that it's normal, that anyone who has been betrayed has been hurt like that. There's a fabulous book, After the Affair, by Janice Abrams Spring, on my website. It's not that you're looking to rebuild the trust, because she's already out of your life, but it'll help you see the type of damage that's done, and you want to be able to repair, number one, yourself. You are lovable. But you need to show yourself that you're lovable. And number two, that trust can be built between two people. You want to work on those two premises. You can also get the book Mind Over Mood. That has premise work at the end of that book, core premise work. That's also at my website, Thank you very much for your call, David. 

David: Thank you.

Dr. Kenner: You're welcome. I'm Dr. Ellen Kenner.

Movie clip

Male 1: I suppose we could share a table. A couple of seats available there.

Male 2: Good lord. We can't sit with strange women.

Male 1: Why not?

Male 2: Really, I'm not in the mood.

Male 1: Just try to relax.

Male 2: I wouldn't know what to say.

Male 1: Niles, please. Hello ladies, excuse me. Would you mind terribly if we joined you until another table opens up?

Woman: Please, do. 

Male 1: Thank you. Oh, look, a table opened up.

Woman: Oh no, don't go. Stay.

Male 1: Yes. How about I go get us some coffees?

Male 2: You know, I, uh, I, uh, I'll help. 

Male 1: I knew you'd panic.

Male 2: I'm sorry. This is still a little new for me, and besides, those two are coming on to us. 

Male 1: I know, they are very attractive Niles. Maybe we should ask them out?

Male 2: On a date? We just met!

Male 1: Good point Niles. Perhaps we should go out with them a few more times before we ask them on a date.

Dr. Kenner: And that's from Fraiser. We've all been in situations where we just get tongue-tied. We feel shy and that confidence that we've had in many other situations just seems to evaporate. Of course dating is ripe with those type of situations. If you're in a dating situation and you are trying to figure out how to meet a woman or meet a man and you're feeling anxious or if you just tend to be on the shy side, how do you get over that?