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I Can Relate :
BS Questions for WS - Part 15

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BraveSirRobin ( member #69242) posted at 1:30 PM on Tuesday, July 4th, 2023

What was the pain/shame you felt subconsciously and consciously throughout your affair? I know compartmentalizing was a big part of it, but deep down, were you interpreting and perceiving the truth at all?

I thought of it as tomorrow's problem. I was in a long distance relationship with my BH (BF at the time), and the affair had a preset expiration date because the OM was moving away. I knew there would be consequences, but I had no idea how severe they would be. In any case, the day of reckoning was not today.

WW/BW

posts: 3625   ·   registered: Dec. 27th, 2018
id 8798075
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BraveSirRobin ( member #69242) posted at 1:51 PM on Tuesday, July 4th, 2023

Did any of you manage to get by without IC? If so, how?

I did. SI was more useful to me personally than counseling. Honestly, one of the reasons I'm such a fan of this thread is that the questions asked by betrayed spouses are so often the questions WS need to be asking themselves. More than once, I have discovered something new about myself by composing my answers.

I'm not opposed to therapy. In fact, I'm looking into it now to deal with some things that are unrelated to infidelity. It's more that my BH and I agreed that I was making good progress with the support here, so we didn't want to risk derailing a process that was working well. He did go to IC, because he had been stuck for a very long time, and it helped him tremendously.

WW/BW

posts: 3625   ·   registered: Dec. 27th, 2018
id 8798078
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DaddyDom ( member #56960) posted at 4:24 PM on Tuesday, July 4th, 2023

What was the pain/shame you felt subconsciously and consciously throughout your affair? I know compartmentalizing was a big part of it, but deep down, were you interpreting and perceiving the truth at all?

Yes and no. It's not that you aren't aware that what you are doing is wrong, but it takes mental gymnastics of heroic proportions to justify your actions... at least, that's how it was for me. I had convinced myself that my marriage was over, that my wife hated me, and that she would probably be relieved if I left. Mix that complete delusion with a half gallon of entitlement and another half gallon of selfishness, and you end up with someone who has managed to justify their affair in their mind. Justification is the tool used to mask the shame.

You may hear people talk about "the fog" on SI. It's a controversial subject to be sure. I can tell you that it was true in my case, and over the years, after getting to know many other WS's, it's certainly not uncommon. Think of it this way. What would it take for you to throw away all sense of integrity, dignity, morality, authenticity, dependability, honesty, responsibility, ownership, and decency that exists in your life? What would it take to get you to live a double life, lying every second of every day, always in fear of being found out, misleading and deceiving your loved ones, friends, and family? It's a life of nonstop paranoia and fear. But it's like a drug. You keep doing it because you think it's going to give you the high you want. You want to feel special. You want to feel important and needed. Both are selfish things to want... love is about giving, not taking. So you end up chasing that which you cannot obtain because you cannot love another when you loathe yourself.

To be honest, I was so wrapped up in my own needs at the time that no... I really repressed the shame. It wasn't until the second that I was found out that all that compartmentalized shame hit like a dam bursting. (I had other issues going on at the time... Complex PTSD, depression, fucked up FOO trauma issues... so the end result wasn't great). My point is, yes, the shame existed on some subconscious level, but it was suppressed as much as humanly possible.

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

posts: 1434   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017
id 8798100
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Tav3n ( member #83401) posted at 5:41 PM on Tuesday, July 4th, 2023

Happy fourth. For those WS who recovered, how long did it take for you to get past the self love issues (or past them enough) that lead to the A so you could be a good partner again?

Or was this something not needed for your R journey?

posts: 88   ·   registered: Jun. 1st, 2023
id 8798117
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DaddyDom ( member #56960) posted at 6:01 PM on Tuesday, July 4th, 2023

Happy fourth. For those WS who recovered, how long did it take for you to get past the self love issues (or past them enough) that lead to the A so you could be a good partner again?

Or was this something not needed for your R journey?

It took me 3-4 years to get out of "the fog" and back into reality enough to accept ownership of what I did. Self-love is still something I am working on, but took me another year or two to really start feeling the effects of actual self-love, as opposed to a desire for it. I can't tell you what made "the switch flip" other than lots of therapy and doing the work as best I could.

In my opinion, self-love is a requirement for R.

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

posts: 1434   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017
id 8798120
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Bulcy ( member #74034) posted at 8:36 PM on Tuesday, July 4th, 2023

What was the pain/shame you felt subconsciously and consciously throughout your affair? I know compartmentalizing was a big part of it, but deep down, were you interpreting and perceiving the truth at all?

There were elements of guilt during my affairs, I was aware of this and aware of what I was doing and that this was infidelity. I lied to myself and to BS, but I knew. Why else would I have compartmentalised? I deleted messages and phone calls from my phone, I ended calls before turning into the street where we live. If, as I lied, I was not aware of the existence of my emotional affair then why do this. It was calculated and planned.

I would tell myself "I'll deal with it if caught". To this day I'm not entirely sure what I meant by this, but I used this to minimise my actions. Trying to minimise the impact on me. I even told myself I was protecting my BS when minimising. Not true, the denials, minimisations, omissions, blatant lies this is all about protecting me and making me feel better.

WH (50's)

Multiple sexual, emotional and online affairs. Financial infidelity and emotional abuse. Physical abuse and intimidation.

D-days 2003, 2017, multiple d-days and TT through 2018 to 2023. 28 years of destructive and health damaging choice

posts: 364   ·   registered: Mar. 12th, 2020   ·   location: UK
id 8798139
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Bulcy ( member #74034) posted at 8:52 PM on Tuesday, July 4th, 2023

Was lying an overall pattern in your life or was it laser focused on and around the affair?

Absolutely 100% a big part of my life. Year of lies about my affairs. Lies of omission, lies through minimisation, lies about every aspect. To this day there are parts of my past that just don't make sense. What I've told myself happened, probably did not. These last few months new lies have come to the surface. Narrative I had told myself, did not make sense. Challenges from BS and some deep thinking are bringing these out. I have previously got angry when challenged, defensive behaviour and resentment of BS for even daring to suggest what I'm saying does not make sense.

In everyday life I lied daily about something. Work, with friends, here on SI, to counsellors, to my parents. Some "little white lies" and a whole lot of huge lies, protecting me and my self perceived integrity. I have a major issue to this day in a need to be liked. I've manipulated people in the past to get my way and have give a different persona to different people so they would like Bulcy. I struggle with this, I hate being seen as a bad guy. Even some of my posts on here have been watered down. Seriously, on an infidelity forum, with people trying to help me, having admitted to multiple counts of physical, emotional, financial infidelity and abuse, I still minimise.

Was lying an overall pattern in your life - Yes Is lying an overall pattern in your life - Sadly yes, maybe less so, but that's not the right way to think on it. Less of a liar is still a liar. A lot of hard work still needed

WH (50's)

Multiple sexual, emotional and online affairs. Financial infidelity and emotional abuse. Physical abuse and intimidation.

D-days 2003, 2017, multiple d-days and TT through 2018 to 2023. 28 years of destructive and health damaging choice

posts: 364   ·   registered: Mar. 12th, 2020   ·   location: UK
id 8798141
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Stillconfused2022 ( member #82457) posted at 5:21 AM on Wednesday, July 5th, 2023

For those that answered the shame question…did you not feel shame for doing this to your kids?

I am not just asking this as an academic point. My father left our home for his AP on my 10th birthday. I’m having a lot of trouble with forgiving both my dad and my husband at the same. Actually I’m failing miserably and my husband and I kind of lost our path to recovery this weekend.

I can live with my husband having cheated. I don’t know if I can live with him not having felt devastated to have ended our 17 year marriage without even telling my. I will never ask my father these questions so basically my husband speaks for both of them. It sounds like the answer is they did not feel terribly sad to have hurt their loved ones so deeply and permanently.

When I hear that the WS didn’t feel sad to have cheated it makes it seem like the BS and betrayed family did not matter at all. How can that be forgiven? So confused and so sad

posts: 354   ·   registered: Nov. 27th, 2022   ·   location: Northeast
id 8798175
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fhtshop ( new member #83337) posted at 3:22 PM on Wednesday, July 5th, 2023

A question for WS’s that have reconciled or had a fairly long time of attempted reconciliation.
Do you think you love your BS more now than before the PA because they gave you the chance at R. Or do you think a little bit less of them on this front because if you yourself had been put in that position with them it would have been a deal breaker right from the start and you would more than likely never give them a chance at R?

posts: 33   ·   registered: May. 12th, 2023   ·   location: New Zealand
id 8798214
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DaddyDom ( member #56960) posted at 5:07 PM on Wednesday, July 5th, 2023

A question for WS’s that have reconciled or had a fairly long time of attempted reconciliation.
Do you think you love your BS more now than before the PA because they gave you the chance at R?

That's a really good question. Yes, I do love my wife more, for two reasons. One of those reasons is what you mentioned above. She honestly has sacrificed a LOT for me, has been my cheerleader throughout this process, has tolerated my slow progress, and helped me grow as a person. All of this she did to her own detriment of course. Most people would have left on Dday. She not only stayed through all the pain and trauma that I continued to heap on her, but she continues to encourage growth both as individuals and as a couple. I'm not sure that means I love her "more", but it cements within my mind the fact that she has lived up to her "for better or worse" even when I failed to, and that says a lot about her as a person and someone worthy of my efforts to make things right with, and how she feels about me and about us. Having that perspective is one of the things that helped me a lot with my own defensiveness. I she can accept me with all my faults, then I need to learn to accept myself and my own misdeeds as well.

Which leads me to the other reason, which is simply that I am now a person that is more capable of actual love in the first place. The person I was during the affair was someone who had no self-love or value. I hustled for my own worth every day, and was only able to feel good about myself by having others praise me, by pleasing others so that they would see me as being worthy of being loved. A person who cannot even value themselves lacks the tools to love or value others. You can't base real love on a co-dependent relationship. Now that I've gone through therapy and done a lot of the work, I am a different person (for better or worse). I have a sense of self. I value my own authenticity. It is important to me that I be the best person I can be, and I now base my worth on my own successes and failures, not on the value I have to others. Having others love me is still important of course, but not because I NEED it. Rather, it is the reward/outcome for being the good person I try to be.

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

posts: 1434   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017
id 8798239
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BraveSirRobin ( member #69242) posted at 7:19 PM on Wednesday, July 5th, 2023

Do you think you love your BS more now than before the PA because they gave you the chance at R. Or do you think a little bit less of them on this front because if you yourself had been put in that position with them it would have been a deal breaker right from the start and you would more than likely never give them a chance at R?

I love him more than ever, but it's not a simple equation of loving him because I got the outcome I wanted. We both worked our asses off for this reconciliation, and in the process, we became more vulnerable to each other than we have ever been. I know exactly what it cost him to stay and forgive, which is something I had no concept of when I originally asked him to do it.

I would respect him equally if he had decided on D. I would also love him if he left, but then it would be my job to learn to let that love go.

WW/BW

posts: 3625   ·   registered: Dec. 27th, 2018
id 8798268
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hikingout ( member #59504) posted at 4:38 AM on Thursday, July 6th, 2023

A question for WS’s that have reconciled or had a fairly long time of attempted reconciliation.
Do you think you love your BS more now than before the PA because they gave you the chance at R. Or do you think a little bit less of them on this front because if you yourself had been put in that position with them it would have been a deal breaker right from the start and you would more than likely never give them a chance at R?

I don’t think of it in precisely those terms.

I feel grateful to him that he hung in there with me after what I did to him. I don’t see that at all in a negative or degrading light. I am the one who is ashamed of my actions.

(He later had his own affair but for simplicity I am trying to leave that to the side as a separate matter)

So to me these things speak to his commitment and tenacity, and those are wonderful things to have. He had those things our entire marriage. I am the one who didn’t choose to focus on them. He is no more or less of a man or a person for trying to work it out with me. Those are decisions I am glad he made.

But when I think about loving him in the way you are asking, that’s to me more about connection and openness and the ways we cherish and protect it. Connection will ebb and flow in any long term marriage, even after reconciliation. And I think what the affair and reconciling taught me is to keep paying attention. Work on it every day. We have a strong love, a strong bond, and a strong marriage. I do love him more but not because of his decision to stay, though I am grateful, it’s because of what we built together in the aftermath.

The question to me points at imbalance, and to what needs healing. If I owed him love for staying, but we fixed nothing else it would eventually not be enough. If I don’t love him despite giving me such a gift, then it speaks of disrespect. To assign value either way would be to miss the point of learning my lessons.

It sounds to me that you should talk with her and ask her perspective. Almost always when I suggest that the person tells me they can’t talk to their spouse and that provides an answer- either reconciliation hasn’t occurred, or it did and didn’t stick. I think lots of times the bs feels they should be over something and they hold it in to keep the peace. But it’s just a slow acting poison, and the bs is the one to continue to suffer. Doesn’t seem fair to me.

7 years of hard work - WS and BS - Reconciled

posts: 6956   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
id 8798339
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hikingout ( member #59504) posted at 9:15 AM on Thursday, July 6th, 2023

What was the pain/shame you felt subconsciously and consciously throughout your affair? I know compartmentalizing was a big part of it, but deep down, were you interpreting and perceiving the truth at all?

Not really, no.

By the time I was jaded enough to cheat, I had told myself a lot of stories. Rather than admitting my part in that, I played the victim in my mind. I unconsciously felt entitled to do whatever I wanted.

The only thing I can point at is each time a boundary was crossed in the beginning, I would cry afterwards. There was little reflection on why because the cycle of needing the attention would begin again. I was on edge a lot during the time leading up to and through the affair.

I think you have to imagine it differently. The focus during the affair is on escapism. Anything that doesn’t fit for that world to exist is inconvenient. So it’s ignored and crammed into a box. The compartment doesn’t contain the affair, it contains the marriage and other parts of your life. Someone asked a follow up about kids, and that also is the same. You can’t think about them too much during the affair because it would ruin the ability to get high from the escapism. It runs your life basically, you’ve largely mentally abandoned anything else.

For me the affair was pure self adulation. I didn’t really know the AP well, and there wasn’t anything particularly great about him. Definitely not as good in most categories as my husband. The only thing he was good with the sugary words. And I knew on some level it was crap, but I needed it to be true. My highs were not from wanting him. My highs were from pretending to be someone else. I wanted to feel more vibrant, interesting, funny, desirable than I actually am. I played at that in my make believe world and he would affirm it, validate it. That was his intrinsic value.

The state of mind I was living in during my affair seemed straight out of a narcissistic personality disorder. Which I do not have by the way, but during that time, there was a lit of tendencies showing. I had allowed myself to be in such deep pain by myself for so long that I was numb. The only time I felt anything was when I was performing my act to the AP. But everything was coming apart at the seams all the same.

I am sure there was shame underneath all of that. But until it ended, shame was kept at bay in order for the affair to be a viable thing to continue. Over time, I began to pick up the pieces of what had happened and why, and then I was consumed in the feelings of shame and and guilt.

7 years of hard work - WS and BS - Reconciled

posts: 6956   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
id 8798348
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fhtshop ( new member #83337) posted at 3:42 PM on Thursday, July 6th, 2023

Question to WS is there any of you that would not have given your BS the chance of R if they had a PA and you where the BS?
I am 99 percent sure that my WW would have dropped me like a hot potato.

posts: 33   ·   registered: May. 12th, 2023   ·   location: New Zealand
id 8798378
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hikingout ( member #59504) posted at 6:44 PM on Thursday, July 6th, 2023

Question to WS is there any of you that would not have given your BS the chance of R if they had a PA and you where the BS?

I am 99 percent sure that my WW would have dropped me like a hot potato.

So, prior to my own affair had he cheated i think it would have depended on the circumstances. But for purely hypothetical, let’s say his affair was the same as mine- 3 encounters and lots of texting over a two month period. Confesses on his own, puts himself in therapy. I think I would have tried to work it out with him. A lot would have depended on his actions moving forward, like anyone else. But I think I would have tried.

When he actually did cheat on me, for 18 months, in my home, multiple times a week, I still gave him that opportunity. I didn’t do it because he gave me a chance. I did it because I understood where a lot of it was likely coming from. He stepped up, did the things I requested and more. And through that messy, bloody, shitty, tunnel we made it through.

But you seem to know what your wife would do, and I believe you. Your options are:
1. to live with that and just keep letting the resentment build
2. you discuss it with her and try and move through said tunnel with no guarantees of getting to the other side, but at least a chance to escape the prison of your mind
3. get a divorce and start fresh.

Given the state of things I don’t think #1 is working, and you haven’t chosen number 3 and are unlikely to do so now. That leaves door number 2. Say it all, bring it into the light. Let go of the outcome and brace yourself that you will be fine if it leads to divorce. You are not going to be fine staying where you are. Just my two cents.

[This message edited by hikingout at 6:47 PM, Thursday, July 6th]

7 years of hard work - WS and BS - Reconciled

posts: 6956   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
id 8798393
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Tav3n ( member #83401) posted at 1:38 PM on Friday, July 7th, 2023

Have a question thats been plaguing me over the last few weeks. We are only a few months post D-Day, but my WW has been a lot more open with me lately and, almost daily, expresses remorse/guilt/shame over the A, tell me she loves me still and that Im her priority.

The guilt and shame I am finally believing, I also believe that she has had NC with the AP since D-Day (both based on her genuine reactions to the affair and looking at her phone several times). What I am struggling with is that she really loves me part.

How possible is it to really have love for your BS so shortly after a LTA? Especially since her big reasons for the A was that she felt I didn't love her anymore, was upset that I withdrew from her so much into video games/drinking and said that a year before the A she stopped liking the person I was.

Is this just the guilt/shame talking or should I believe that she really does feel this way?

[This message edited by Tav3n at 2:00 PM, Friday, July 7th]

posts: 88   ·   registered: Jun. 1st, 2023
id 8798492
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DaddyDom ( member #56960) posted at 2:51 PM on Friday, July 7th, 2023

Is this just the guilt/shame talking or should I believe that she really does feel this way?

I would suggest a "wait and see" attitude. Honestly, you two are still so very fresh and raw from Dday, I'm not sure it is really possible for either of you to know how you feel about yourselves or each other. There is no rush here however.

Love isn't something you say, it is something you do. She can say whatever she likes, but knowing if what she says matches how she feels is something you'll determine over time and through her actions. If she loves you, then she'll do the work. If she loves you, she will be willing to put your needs before hers (when appropriate). If she loves you, you will see her make efforts to change, efforts to communicate, efforts to attempt restoration, and even sacrificial love. It will show in the way she speaks about herself and about you. Does she talk about her needs, or about yours? Does she impose her feelings on you, or ask you about yours as well? Is she willing to be honest with you about the affair even when doing so is to her detriment?

She put time and effort into having an affair and getting what she wanted. You should see a similar amount of time and effort being put into restoring the relationship, if that is what she truly wants.

I'm not sure what difference it makes to you right now, if any? My advice? Trust but verify. I honestly doubt she is in an emotional state to truly love anyone so soon after an affair, but that doesn't mean she's lying either. She's just doing the best she can with what she has right now. It's up to you to decide if that's enough for you right now. Over time, if she truly loves you or not, you'll know.

Set boundaries, for her and for yourself, as needed to keep yourself emotionally safe for now. You can love her without going down an emotional rabbit hole with her. So sit back, wait, watch, and she what she does over time. In our case, it took me a few years to get my head out of my ass and back to 100% reality. During that time, my wife emotionally detached from me. That is to say, while she cared for me, she didn't allow herself to get all wrapped up in my issues because that was too dangerous and too painful for her. Once I proved to be a little safer, she was finally able to put down some of those walls and be more vulnerable. But that only happened because she had watched and waited and seen me do the work and make the effort. This is a "long game" sort of thing.

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

posts: 1434   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017
id 8798511
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Tav3n ( member #83401) posted at 3:28 PM on Friday, July 7th, 2023

Thanks Dom, really appreciate it and that makes sense.

The advice you gave on not getting wrapped up in her emotions makes sense. I've been struggling on the level of support I should be giving in this process because 1) she is tackling a lot of past and current trauma/opening up that struggle to me and 2) She is 3 months pregnant. So your advice makes sense.

And she is definitely putting in the work, including

1) Seeing IC and talking about her personal issues
2) Reading a lot of books on how to deal with her past trauma/support me
3) Working on things I need more from her (i.e. communication, support, intimacy)
4) Paying for our MC ($1100 a month)

So the effort is there and it makes me feel good to know that should be my main barometer right now.

Do you know what signs your wife had that you were safer to invest in more?

posts: 88   ·   registered: Jun. 1st, 2023
id 8798524
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DaddyDom ( member #56960) posted at 4:19 PM on Friday, July 7th, 2023

Do you know what signs your wife had that you were safer to invest in more?

I'm not sure I have concrete examples. In general, my attitude changed. I stopped wallowing in shame. I stopped making everything about me. I wasn't so defensive and reactive. I started to show more genuine concern for her and others. I started conversations instead of just responding to them. I was willing to be sacrificial for her benefit. We made a lot of financial agreements that helped her to feel safer and move forward. At first I pushed back against those, then in time, I insisted on them.

There is a famous quote about porn, "I can't describe it, but I know it when I see it". It is similar here. If you see a child fall and skin their knee, a person with intact empathy will know to walk over and help them up, check on their injuries, maybe kiss their boo-boo. We don't have to be told what to do, our internal empathy and ethics take over. WS's that are still in the fog lack that kind of empathy when it comes to their BS (and maybe others as well). That's what you are looking for. Their humanity. The person you fell in love with, at least, their core self.

I hope that helps.

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

posts: 1434   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017
id 8798574
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JasonCh ( member #80102) posted at 7:27 PM on Friday, July 7th, 2023

DaddyDom -- you said

That's what you are looking for. Their humanity. The person you fell in love with, at least, their core self.

Are you saying that all WS who are not in the fog are at their core are capable of being empathetic? Or that we as BS should be looking for signs of that in order to see if WS is reconciliation material or something else entirely?

posts: 437   ·   registered: Mar. 18th, 2022
id 8798616
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