Emotional Affair: Meeting his/her Needs is a Slippery Slope

Your spouse is involved in an emotional affair (I Fell out of Love…and just love being in love.)

I came across this video by a psychologist giving advice on how to cope with an emotional affair.

Her premise: Since you did not meet his/her emotional needs s/he sought to get those needs met with someone else. To “win” him/her back, meet those needs.

I have a real problem with this advice. Need meeting is a slippery slope. His/her needs will NEVER be fully met by you, or by anyone else for that matter. Needs are bottomless. You will NEVER be enough. The OP will NEVER be enough.

And when the bottom of the well is reached, you will be blamed because you were insufficient in meeting them. So, s/he looks elsewhere. Give me a break! Do you understand how crazy this is?

The goal in life is not to scrounge around getting our needs met. My life is to move beyond my neediness, to grow, to mature, to evolve (whatever word you want to use) to live my life with purpose, according to integrated values and standards and set boundaries which protect me from the toxin.

I believe much of “mid-life crisis” is of those who discover that there needs will never be met in the way they magically thought they would. And, when you live your life focused on your needs, and it doesn’t work, what do you have left, if you have not considered your values, standards or purpose for being on this planet? So, those disillusioned by their need meeting efforts, lament, “I don’t know who I am!” are right on target. They haven’t moved or grown into their next phase of evolution or maturity.

Many in the psychological community just don’t get this. They may know how to teach relationship skills, but they lack the fundamental understanding of human nature.

I present this video of a pervasive underlying belief system in the psychological community that will do you more harm than good.

P.S. I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Certified Social Worker with a Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy. I’ve jumped through the hoops with countless hours of clinical supervision.

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13 Responses to Emotional Affair: Meeting his/her Needs is a Slippery Slope

  1. Paul Samuel says:

    Considering the fact that human wants are insatiable,not neccesarily material, financial resources even time as one of the resources to satisfy such want is limited.
    Hence, understanding of such limitation is fundamental in relationship, if both parties are going to maintain their values, standard, and purpose of being on earth. Otherwise, the end will be miserable. Thanks

  2. julie says:

    Bob this is so true!! This is a great topic for me and my husband to discuss as we try to move forward and grow our marriage.. we have to look at ourselves and work on meeting our own needs in order to grow as a couple.

  3. Sue says:

    After 25yrs of marriage, I finally divorced my husband. He’s has had several (confirmed) affairs that I was able to confront him (usually after the fact), but I am sure there were plenty more during times I have no evidence and was clueless. Stupid game he roped me into. I left no stones unturned in making my decision to “D” so I have no regrets about my decision. He tells me he was never going to “D” me…gees lucky me? I don’t believe he will ever stop, just a matter of time till the next time. My kids and me, we’re in therapy and he’s not…what’s wrong with this picture?

  4. Laura says:

    Dr. Huizenga, i agree with you 100%! No one can be such a “super need meeter” (to quote Anne Bercht) that they will be able to prevent someone from straying. It seems that people who have the view of the psychologist in the video fail to look at the most important factor: the cheating spouse has a flaw in their character, in the way they handle conflict or dissatisfaction. (Separate from how their spouse acts) And unless they deal with that and resolve it, they will keep on cheating, very likely, no matter how kind or loving or supportive their spouse is, no?

  5. Julie says:

    I am so very tired of the copout line “I had needs that you weren’t meeting.” What about my needs too? Why is it that when life gets challenging, work, kids, marriage, infidelity becomes somehow the easy solution or justified, vs. growing up, being an adult and working at the relationship you committed to with a vow? I agree, someone who uses that excuse will never have his “needs” met. Or the one he cheats with must want to do nothing more than please someone else without a life of her own.

  6. Sherry says:

    Thanks Bob for your insight into getting needs met. You’ve answered a nagging question in my mind of just why after 35 years of marriage the last 5 did us in. I’m pretty sure he had an affair but none the less he had a “friend”. That was one concession in our marriage that I couldn’t compromise on. He opted for the “friend” although weather she’s still in the picture or not I don’t know. I had asked for a legal separation and he countered with a divorce. You would think by the way he acts and things he is doing to us financially I was the one who cheated on our marriage not him. But your words about needs and mid-life struck a cord – during those last 5 years he was very dissatisfied with his life – I guess things he felt he missed out on – of course I was to blame. He is very narcissistic – but until I started reading everything I could get my hands on these last 5 years did I come to that conclusion. He has no relationship with our 27 yr. old son and his relationship with our daughter is tenuous at best.

    I’ve spent these last 5 years emotionally on a teetertoter feeling guilty on one end and angry on the other. But I knew that for the last 5 years of our marriage I really did try and understand what was going on with him – books – marriage relationship books – and therapy.

    Perhaps 5 years ago or so I came across your site and had my gut suspicions of an affair – your web site on the different types of affairs and the reasons behind them was confirming alot of my fears back then and the reasons behind them.

    Thanks Bob for your continuing support of those of us who find ourselves in the grips of infidelity.

  7. diane says:

    I have a tough time accepting ‘no blame’ for not meeting my husbands needs.
    He claims sex wasn’t often enough and I thought more of the children than I did of him.
    He was so close to the children and gave time to them every day. I had no idea there were any problems between us.
    How could I rectify something if I wasn’t aware of anything being wrong?
    Do we not all deserve a chance to put things right?

  8. diane says:

    You make so much sense in your comments Julie.
    Commitment to the marriage and to any children involved is lifelong. It’s so easy to ‘give up’ and take the easy route when mundane tasks overtake ones life and the children become teenagers, we all know what that means. As committed adults we should work together to iliminate any problems and change towards a healthier relationship – not run away as a child would!!

  9. kathy says:

    I have put up with my husband’s affairs for almost 20 years. He always seems to do it when I am at the lowest part of my life. For example, the deaths of my Mother and Father.
    He was having an affair after the death of my brother,
    but the lowest one, was when my son passed away unexpectly. I guess I have the lowest self esteem possible, others tell me I am too good for him and alot better looking but this does not matter to me. What is wrong with me???

  10. Lisa says:

    How do you recitify something when you have no idea it is a problem? According to my husband, something I did (took out a credit card in my name and had a $400 balance that he did not know about) five years ago is why we are having problems now. Really? I thought it was that he suddenly has a new “friend”. Ha! It is all an excuse…what was perhaps a small problem in the past just becomes the excuse for their current behaviors.

  11. Joyce says:

    I agree with you, Julie (9/3/09)my situation revolves around a fantasy i.e. things that I was not comfortable doing. After 26 years of marriage the man I married decided to pursue another woman for 8 years while I was diagnosed four years earlier with an uncureable disorder, spending $52,000 and infecting me twice claiming my illness caused the STD!!!! All standards and boundaries and character were crossed. Yes, Bob thank you for addressing this topic, I printed this article specifically for the man who I have been married to for 36 years. Thank you

  12. joyce says:

    Thank you, Dr. Huizenga for talking about meeting needs. I’ve always known that it’s up to me to meet my own needs, even if I haven’t done it. But, at the same tiem, I seemed to think I had to faithfully attend to my husbands needs. His need for praise, attention, sex (before his illness), someone to listen endlessly to every subject he wanted to talk about when he couldn’t care less about my dull subjects, affirmation, permission to buy and do whatever he wanted, and on and on were met to my best abilities. But he is insatiable and needs her “friendship” for most of these needs also. He says it’s simply “habit.” Ha! He says he’ll end it but doesn’t want to actually “do” it and thnks that if he just ignores her she’ll go away. Ha! He says he’s afraid she expects more of the affair than he intended. Ha! He says he’s afraid that when he ends it the same thing will “happen” with another woman. Well, I’d bet on that.

  13. Dan says:

    Thank you so much for this post Dr. it’s the first time I read it. This explains my spouses thoughts about her “needs” never being met, so she had to find them elsewhere with numerous different men. I understand what your saying…I just wish my wife did. 🙁

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