Part Two: The Highway to an Affair or Abuse: The Slippery Slide

by | Nov 24, 2010

Dr. Wall exposes how affairs and abusive relationships develop as a warning to all of us to guard our hearts.

One of my readers suggested to me that I expand upon my last blog and discuss how an affair develops. You’ll remember in that blog I presented how affairs start, using Proverbs 7 as a template, where Solomon tells a story of how a young, naïve man (who becomes a fool that night) is tempted to succumb to a prostitute. He tempts himself by going near where she hangs out and then in a matter of moments she seduces him by her flattering looks, her flattering words, her touch, her reference to spiritual things (yes, spiritual!), her promise that she will be there for him (you’ve got to be kidding me!) and that everything has happened to prepare for this moment (The spiritual again: Happenstance? No. NO. NOOOO. Providence!!): My Husband just happens to be gone. He took lots of money for a business trip and we have all this time on our hands. The implication is even God wants us to PARTY! Careful about praying about having an affair. God won’t answer that prayer, but you can bet the other guy will happy to oblige!

You’ll note that I also suggested that abusive relationships and affairs use the same behavior patterns. An abusive male or female uses the same technique as a seductress or seducer. The only difference is that in affairs, they are BOTH using each other for their own ends, making each other abusers of the other. In a strictly abusive relationship, one can take advantage of the other, but more often than not, they are both abusing and using the other for their own ends.

You’ll note, also, that instead of discussing a young man I turned the story around and discussed how it would look if it was a young woman being tempted, not just in one day but over a period of time.

That story of Solomon’s gives us the nature of a one-night stand with a woman of the street, but the temptation can happen over time for either gender and it certainly doesn’t have to be prostitute, nor married, to qualify for selling your soul to the devil. That hot co-worker two cubicles across or two classrooms down or two doors down or two pews over will work just fine. No money need change hands. Both parties are trying to get something for nothing and both parties tempt each other. Yeah, yeah, yeah, in the story, she’s the one that seduces him, but she doesn’t have a literal affair that night without a willing partner. What’s he doing out looking? He had no business being there in the first place.

You’ll remember from my story that a seducer or seductress uses words to entice.In the King James Version the verse specifically says, “With her much fair speech she caused him to yield (vs. 21).”That is pretty instructive. It’s the words that entice (curiously, not attraction).Combine that with the look and the touch and the vague references to God and then boom:“all at once he followed her.”

All at once.

Affairs are subtle. The example in Solomon’s story occurs in a few minutes. For most of us, if we’re going to break the 7th Commandment (Thou shalt not commit adultery), we prefer the subtle, slow cooking, frog in a pot method. You put a frog in a pot of cold water and it’s groovin’, swimming around and have a grand old time. Unbeknownst to the frog, we put the pot on the stove and turn on the heat and while the frog is groovin’ and a chillin’ it boils to death and it never knows the difference. Affairs are subtle. If you think you can play with fire and not be burned you are sadly mistaken.

A single person getting into an abusive relationship operates the same way. They may or may not be sexual before marriage (more often than not they ARE). Their emotions got involved before their brain. If they are sexual, this is double blindness (Triple? Sex combines them physically and spiritually, and then add the emotional?). This is why it is so important to go slow in courtship and to meet someone through your loving friends and relatives and coworkers whom you trust. This is why online relationships are fraught with danger. There’s NO ONE vouching for your potential spouse’s veracity. You go into it blind. Wait. Wait. Wait to open up emotionally until you know the other person shares your hopes and dreams and values and is a person of integrity. If you get involved emotionally before you know these things you may get too close to break it off when you discover deal breakers. Your emotions get ahead of your brain. Keep in mind that love is patient and the person you have to be most patient with is yourself! You don’t want to be married at ANY cost. It’s better to remain single than to marry the WRONG person. Don’t frog-in-the-pot yourself.

Cohabiting couples end up with the same risk. They move in together before they’ve learned enough about each other to see if they other really fits in with their respective life goals and aspirations and by getting sexually and emotionally involved BEFORE this information is on the table, they end up deluded and in the zone. Then they find all this crap out about each other that they hate and now they want to change each other and they fight, but now they are pregnant or have bought a house together or who knows what and their lives are filled with chaos. Love is patient. Cohabiting is selfishness on demand. What a mess.

Here’s a true story: A man and women meet each other in the bar while drinking and getting drunk. They have sex the night they meet. She gets pregnant. They get married right away. Their life is a disaster. Marriage isn’t going to fix this mess. Patience people.

Shirley Glass, in her classic study of affairs, calls this “the slippery slope.” In my office I draw a slide from a playground and call it “the slippery slide.” I tell my clients you have to stay off the slide altogether. Every step up the ladder you become more deluded and emotionally fooled and it becomes harder and harder to say no until you get to the top and you are ready to take the plunge and once you let go, you are a goner. Some people dance around on top of this slide on a regular basis and wonder why their lives are in chaos. It’s not a wonder to me. At all.

In answer to my reader’s question: What happens after the affair starts, the point in my story last time, where she opens up her heart and tells this wonderful, interesting and caring serpent, who comes as an angel of light, her problems?What happens then?All at once she follows him.All at once.

There’s a decisive moment in every affair, where a person reaches a point where he crosses the Rubicon. People who work with those who struggle with habitual substance use call this “the zone.” Believe me: affairs and abusive relationships are addictive. When you are in “the zone” you are totally deluded and lose all track of time and reality. If you happen to come see me when you are in the zone and I mention it or try to rattle your cage enough to help you get out of it, most of the time you will chide me (or even yell at me!) for not seeing your wisdom and delight and all the joys of your little zone. I just don’t understand and I’m being so judgmental. You’ll describe it to me in such glowing terms that it sounds like nirvana. It’s enough to make me puke, but you’ll think the vomit is the wellspring of life and there’s no talking you out of it, for most, until the whole delusion comes crashing down and then you’ll be all repentant and everything, but meanwhile you’ll have already destroyed your integrity, reputation, loved ones and oftentimes your career all in one fell swoop. Some of this behavior is downright illegal and you can also get your sorry butt arrested. You won’t be seeing me then. You’ll be visiting with the prison chaplain or social worker. I’m sure he’s a nice guy.

This decisive moment for most is the moment they open up their hearts to this wonderfully kind and generous co-worker. Or that person from church (yes, church!). Or that understanding neighbor. He seemed so genuine! The word here is “seemed.” Every seducer knows if he gets you to open up and the rest is a highway. They can tell you are lonely or hurting or resentful of your husband. You wear it on your sleeve. You talk down about your husband. You make a caustic remark about your wife or fail to compliment her when you have the opportunity. You come across as needy. And here is the vulture, all pretty or handsome and engaging and interesting and kind and loving, asking you all these personal questions (My husband never asks me these questions any more!) and it’s so flattering to be listened to, to be heard. And he doesn’t insult you, or scoff or roll his eyes, and I haven’t felt like this in, who knows how long, and so you open up more and more and then you start to feel a bit sheepish that this relationship is so one sided, with you talking about all your problems all the time, so you start to ask about his relationships and all of a sudden the seduced becomes the seducer and unbeknownst to you, you are now the temptress and he knows he shouldn’t be telling you his problems either, but you are so nice and you laugh at his jokes and you tease him and you don’t roll your eyes at him either and pretty soon the two of you are dancing on the top of the slide and the both of you plunge down it together and you wake up at the bottom and asked, “wa happened?”

But now, it’s not just your emotions that are involved. You had your heart in the mix and your feeeeeelings (you know how important your feelings are!!! Let them lead you all the way to hell.), but now your bodies have intertwined and you’ve dined on each other’s private delights and dang, it’s new and it’s exciting, and it’s dirty and dang, and dang, I’ve never had sex like that………………….EVER, so this is another one of those God leading me to break one of the Ten Commandments kind of spiritual moments where your pleasure just makes some sort of believer out of you (not sure what church that is). Sex was a spiritual experience! (Well, duh!). And now you are really hooked. And you have to lie to cover it up. But it doesn’t seem like lying, because you are in the “zone” and to you your feeeeeeelings are what’s most important. And of course his feeeeelings and as long as your and his feeeeeelings are so wonderful you’ll be in the clouds. Whoopee!!!

But the strange part is: When anyone else finds out about your little cult that you and your affairee have started, they will fail to be converted. You’ll know that what you are doing is WRONG, when your loved ones find out about it, they are appalled, hurt, frustrated, and angry (By the way, this is a good test of whether porn is right or not. If you can’t do it front of your wife or kids, it’s not right. Right? Well, I guess for a child pornographer that wouldn’t be a test. He’d be in the zone and totally deluded that showing a kid porn is cool. But for most of us….). But that won’t matter to you, at least while you are in the zone. You’ll justify it. You’ll explain it away. If you are really crazy, you and your affairee and fellow worshipper will dump your respective spouses and go off together, leaving a trail of tears and never be the wiser. You’ll blame everyone else for not sharing in your delusion and cut off your loved ones. They’re all crazy anyway, you’ll think.

A sad, sad, state of affairs, no pun intended.

“Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chamber of death.” (Proverbs 7: 25-17 KJV)

Dr. Bing Wall

Dr. Bing Wall

Dr. Bing Wall is a marriage therapist with a practice in Ames and Urbandale, Iowa. To set up a time to see Dr. Wall click here or call 888-233-8473.

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