POSA™ Blog

PoSARC or The Partners of Sex Addicts Resource Center educates, nurtures and helps partners work with the challenges of being coupled with a sexually deceptive, chronic cheater.

Positive Illusions Allow Partners to Miss or Overlook Dishonesty

Because almost all of us were so blindsided by Discovery, we spend weeks, months, even years trying to piece together the "hows, whens and why's" of the deceptions generated by our chronic cheaters. 

In attempting to create an orderly narrative out of the chaos that our mate's betrayals brought into our lives, we swing between trying to stabilize ourselves— and—trying to fathom how we missed their deceptions playing out right under our noses, usually for years. 

Often, our sense of ourselves as formerly perceptive and/or intuitive can evaporate as we survey the breadth and depth of what are often incredibly elaborate deceptions unfolding in our relationship, unbeknownst to us.

A just-published article in Psychology Today sheds some light on why partners can be easy to dupe, as well as why we often downplay nascent feelings of suspicion or negativity towards our mates when it seems they might be lying to us, typically, before Discovery. 

Written by an attorney who is both a career prosecutor and a behavioral expert, as well as an author on a book about deception, we quote here a particularly chilling excerpt from Dr. Wendy L. Patrick's article (hyperlinked, below) :

"Deceivers are thus able to improve their craft by practicing deception within close relationships, and monitoring reaction for signs of distrust.

Burgoon et al. (2015) observed that deceivers capitalize on familiarity to craft lies that are consistent with a receiver´s knowledge base, and watch carefully for signs of disbelief.[v] 
They note that liars can thereby improve their performance over time when interacting within familiar relationships. They explain that this improvement is presumably due in part to a reduction in cognitive stress while lying, based on the ability to more easily manage self-presentation with practice."

It can be unnerving to consider that generally only those who experience a reduction in stress when lying to a loved one tend to have significant underlying psychopathology at work. Similarly with the ability of deceivers to use lying "to more easily manage self-presentation with practice". 

To anyone studying the personality disorders (especially those listed under the DSM's Axis 2, Cluster B) of narcissism, borderline, antisocial, etc., these "image management" or "impression management" tactics, as well as the chronic lying referenced in the article's research study will be easily recognizable as characteristics of these personality disorders. 

We will be writing more about these problematic characteristics in connection with chronic infidelity soon, including helpful resources for you. 

After reading Dr. Wendy L. Patrick's short article Why Bad Looks Good- Love Blinds Why We Miss Dishonesty in Close Relationships, ask yourself this: 

Do you notice any correlations between the liars in the research study and your own mate (or ex)? What forms did it take? What effect did it have on you?

Then, please share your findings with us and our readers in the Comment section below. Our shared stories, reflections and wonderings are how we all learn from one another! And yes, you can post anonymously. 
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Comments 3

Guest - Louise Deal on Thursday, 13 July 2017 09:49

I was glad to read this article. I was just asking myself the question, "How could I have been so naive?". He lied to me for twenty-five years. TWENTY FIVE YEARS!!! I discovered my husbands twenty-five year betrayal 2 and 1/2 years ago. I have had this question for this whole 2 and 1/2 years. I used to think of myself as quite a discerning individual. The discovery rocked my world in more ways than one. One thing his dishonesty did to me was, I felt that I could no longer trust myself or my judgment. What an AWFUL place to be!

I did always try to see him positively, give him the benefit of the doubt, build him up - I purposely wore rose-colored glasses. After reading the article I know that these tendencies exist, especially in intimate relationships. It is common. I can trust myself to make accurate observations and decisions about others. I will be aware and proceed with caution.

Thank you for posting this information - it has made a real difference to me. Please continue your work in this area. I am grateful.

I was glad to read this article. I was just asking myself the question, "How could I have been so naive?". He lied to me for twenty-five years. TWENTY FIVE YEARS!!! I discovered my husbands twenty-five year betrayal 2 and 1/2 years ago. I have had this question for this whole 2 and 1/2 years. I used to think of myself as quite a discerning individual. The discovery rocked my world in more ways than one. One thing his dishonesty did to me was, I felt that I could no longer trust myself or my judgment. What an AWFUL place to be! I did always try to see him positively, give him the benefit of the doubt, build him up - I purposely wore rose-colored glasses. After reading the article I know that these tendencies exist, especially in intimate relationships. It is common. I can trust myself to make accurate observations and decisions about others. I will be aware and proceed with caution. Thank you for posting this information - it has made a real difference to me. Please continue your work in this area. I am grateful.
Guest - cva on Tuesday, 11 July 2017 11:55

Yes, Lili and Kat,

I feel exactly the same.

As I reflect, I realize I was never all that secure in our relationship. He always seemed to have a secret.

At first, it was things like hiding his drinking, hiding the pot. Then facebook came along. I found him flirting and he said he just wanted to know he was still desirable. I knew he had a self image problem, so I forgave him.

We always got along well, but in the last few years, he was extremely attentive and kind. I thought that FINALLY the crap was over and we would start the next chapter happy as clams and live the dream we worked so hard for.

Again, the uneasy feelings came back and I started to snoop. Oh Lord, what I found!

So, in response to this article...yes, deceivers are great at what they do to us and we are so forgiving, hoping things will change. I see myself in this article and wish I had this information years ago.

Thank you Lili, and all of you-your understanding and support is priceless!

Yes, Lili and Kat, I feel exactly the same. As I reflect, I realize I was never all that secure in our relationship. He always seemed to have a secret. At first, it was things like hiding his drinking, hiding the pot. Then facebook came along. I found him flirting and he said he just wanted to know he was still desirable. I knew he had a self image problem, so I forgave him. We always got along well, but in the last few years, he was extremely attentive and kind. I thought that FINALLY the crap was over and we would start the next chapter happy as clams and live the dream we worked so hard for. Again, the uneasy feelings came back and I started to snoop. Oh Lord, what I found! So, in response to this article...yes, deceivers are great at what they do to us and we are so forgiving, hoping things will change. I see myself in this article and wish I had this information years ago. Thank you Lili, and all of you-your understanding and support is priceless!
Guest - Kat on Sunday, 09 July 2017 15:13

Lili, your depth of understanding of this pernicious disorder, and its effects on the partner, never ceases to amaze me. Nowhere else have I found this, except when I spoke to Dr. Minwalla, by phone, two years ago.

My husband played sports, on an amateur level most of our 38-year marriage. After each game, he would go to the bar with his fellow players. Even though I attended every game, he NEVER wanted me to go to the bar afterwards, even though many of the other wives and girlfriends went. In retrospect, I cannot believe how naive I was not to challenge this.

While my husband was very honest in all other areas of his life, he was a master at explaining away all the many deceptions having to do with his chronic infidelity.

I had caught him in an infidelity, early in our marriage, and suffered with severe anxiety throughout the rest of the marriage, because I sensed that there were too many things that were suspicious in his behavior. At one point, when I questioned him about his behavior, he angrily told me, "If you're going to keep accusing me, I might as well do it!", turning the onus back on me.

I am so glad I finally got out of that sick relationship, but it caused me so much pain for the 38 years we were together, and then for four years after, until Dr. Minwalla helped me see that there was almost no hope for the addict to change.

Thank you so much for your support and validation!

Lili, your depth of understanding of this pernicious disorder, and its effects on the partner, never ceases to amaze me. Nowhere else have I found this, except when I spoke to Dr. Minwalla, by phone, two years ago. My husband played sports, on an amateur level most of our 38-year marriage. After each game, he would go to the bar with his fellow players. Even though I attended every game, he NEVER wanted me to go to the bar afterwards, even though many of the other wives and girlfriends went. In retrospect, I cannot believe how naive I was not to challenge this. While my husband was very honest in all other areas of his life, he was a master at explaining away all the many deceptions having to do with his chronic infidelity. I had caught him in an infidelity, early in our marriage, and suffered with severe anxiety throughout the rest of the marriage, because I sensed that there were too many things that were suspicious in his behavior. At one point, when I questioned him about his behavior, he angrily told me, "If you're going to keep accusing me, I might as well do it!", turning the onus back on me. I am so glad I finally got out of that sick relationship, but it caused me so much pain for the 38 years we were together, and then for four years after, until Dr. Minwalla helped me see that there was almost no hope for the addict to change. Thank you so much for your support and validation!
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