How Much Do I Need to Know?
This is a very important and challenging question for people who are betrayed. The betrayed spouse is usually blindsided, confused and devastated. The question- “Who is this person I am supposedly committed to?” is both understandable and painful. How much detail should the betrayed person know?
Most of my clients who have discovered infidelity want to know everything. There is such a feeling of vulnerability that knowing everything would seemingly be a way to feel more in control again. My experience is that even knowing all of it does not take away the feeling of loss of control entirely. However, once the person who cheated tells about the number of partners, frequency and some of the other information the partner wants to know, the betrayed person seems to feel that on some intuitive level that he or she knows “enough” In my clinical experience this has helped the betrayed person begin the process of regaining trust (of course assuming that both partners are working on the relationship and creating healthier patterns).
There is no exact science to this. Every couple is different and how much truth telling is optimal is different for each couple. The betrayed person should be the one who answers the question that is in the title of this article. How much detail the betrayed person wants to know is up to him or her but I will say three rules that the betrayed person probably should follow:
1) Think about what you really need to know so that you have some sense of awareness about what really went on. Most people who are betrayed need to know some details.
2) Avoid learning explicit sexual details. The problem was the act itself and the important question is what was the motivation. Getting too many explicit details can lead to unnecessary trauma as pictures fill the betrayed person’s mind.
3) No matter what details you learn, do not blame yourself. The choice to cheat was your partner’s, not yours. Be willing to learn and discover things about yourself through this difficult experience, but do not judge or diminish yourself in any way.
The problem with not knowing enough is that the betrayed person is continually wondering, guessing and doubting. Sometimes the vacuum of information can lead to worse images and beliefs than what actually happened. Look at some of my other resources on this topic of infidelity on my resource page on my website and know that I have an excellent self-help program coming out soon that addresses this topic and many more on how to heal from infidelity.