After the interview by my friend, people lined up to tell me that no one loves them as they are. A teenager told me his friends only want what he can do for them and no one seems to care that he hurts, and that he feels lonely. As long as he does what the group wants, he’s accepted. Rather than feeling a close bond with them, he felt rejected and alone. A wife told me a similar story about her relationship with her husband. A husband’s story was eerily similar, though he had no connection to the woman who had just talked with me.
As each passed in turn, I knew three things were alike for each of them:
1. They were lonely.
2. They wanted someone to love them without making them pretend to be someone or something else. They craved another person to see into them and accept and care about the person they are, even when flawed or imperfect.
3. They each were vulnerable to abandoning their values if they could feel loved and accepted as they are.
Could a predatory person prey on them? Yes. However, they were much more likely to find another hurting person and engage in a relationship with him or her that could lead them both to personal misery or destruction.
When lonely hurting people find each other, it can be a wonderful thing if they develop a relationship based on mutual trust, openness, and understanding. It can be a tragic thing if they come to feel that they are “two against the world” and no one else could ever understand or love them the way they do each other.
Allow me to illustrate. At LovePath International we work a great deal with marriages in crisis. Quite a few of those involve infidelity. Sometimes the infidelity is primarily an affair of opportunity; being in the wrong place at the right time. As bad as that is – and it is very bad – those are usually the less troublesome to overcome. Those that are far more difficult involve two people, feeling lonely and craving love, who come into contact with each other, but one or both of them are married to someone else.
Can you imagine how difficult it is to convince a person to leave a relationship where they feel accepted and loved for who they are, and go back into a marital relationship where they feel the other person controls or coerces them to be as that spouse wants them to be?
It can only be done if there is a restructuring of the existing marriage to a relationship of unconditional love. That, of course, is very hard to accomplish when the unfaithful mate compares the love and acceptance he or she feels from the lover to the experiences of feeling unloved by their spouse. If the spouse being abandoned isn’t willing to see his or her part in what happened, and isn't open to changing the relationship to one much healthier, it’s relatively impossible.
We have an amazing success record of saving three out of four troubled marriages, even when this situation exists, but only occasionally can we help when the abandoned spouse refuses to see what must be done, refuses to take any responsibility for what has occurred, or mostly just wants to hurt the unfaithful spouse.