Hal and Sidra Stone are consciousness teachers who have really applied their teachings to their own relationship, respectively have arrived at what they teach about relationships through their own relationship work. An area which we are most vulnerable in when we are in a relationship is monogamy versus having affairs. We can get very hurt when we are not aware of the dynamics. Hal and Sidra are providing us with another perspective of infidelity.
Usually, the perception is that one person is just too immature or undisciplined or immoral to be loyal and honest. The topic is much more complex than that.
There are two very opposite voices in ALL of us. We all have a monogamous voice which wants the safety and depth which comes with monogamy but we ALL also have a non-monogamous voice, a part which is still attracted to others, even if we are in a committed relationship. When we commit to a relationship the expectation—or choice—usually is to be monogamous, however, that non-monogamous energy in us still exists and goes underground. If we ignore that energy and pretend it does not exist, we are more likely to have an affair.
What are the dynamics of that? Let’s take an example. Cybil is only in touch with her monogamous energy, Bill is only in touch with his non-monogamous energy. After they get married, Cybil becomes the victim. She feels she is the only one who wants to be and is monogamous. She is the one fearing infidelity and is the one trying to make things safe and hold both of them together. She might find herself feeling jealous and insecure. The jealous part of her might accuse Bill of wanting to sleep with another woman or having slept with another person. The little child inside might start to be clingy. The controlling part in her might start to check up on him and try to control how he spends his time.
If the non-monogamous energy is not honestly acknowledged, what is called a child-parent bonding pattern occurs. Bill would become the power parent and sit in judgement over Cybil’s weakness and need for commitment and her dependency. Cybil on the other side would judge Bill for being unstable, immature and a liar or cheater.
If Cybil was in touch with her non-monogamous voice and really knew that she also has both sides, that the potential for infidelity is inside her as well, she would not judge him but be able to address the situation openly. From the place of judgement, anger and resentment grows, which can come out as just suddenly ending the relationship in an explosive way. And Bill might even convince himself that he is glad this happened as he has felt controlled, restricted and deprived of any privacy or alone time.
If he is in touch with both energies in himself he would have to speak up clearly, asking for privacy and explaining to Cybil that he chooses monogamy but still has other impulses. If he feels he can share with her honestly when he feels attracted to another woman, they can find a way to work this out together. He would, however, need to be prepared to initially be met with anger, or irritation, or hurt. Sharing this sort of attraction can activate the insecurities and wounds in our partner. We need to trust that the relationship is strong enough to survive that hurt. We also need to realize that speaking up openly is better than having a secret affair and the betrayal coming out at one point in the future and really hurting our partner.
When Bill speaks up, Cybil would have to understand that the fact that he is attracted to somebody else has absolutely nothing to do with her personally. It is NOT that she is not giving Bill what he needs. It is NOT that she is not attractive anymore. It is NOT that she is lacking in any way. Instead the “other woman” Bill might find himself attracted to represents an energy which is missing in their relationship.
Hal and Sidra have managed to handle this part in us which is attracted to others with consciousness. They have chosen to have a monogamous relationship which they have been able to keep up because the non-monogamous energy is being acknowledged and addressed. They have expressed to each other when they were attracted to somebody else. Sidra, for example, was attracted to a man who was adventurous and travelled the world a lot. Once she shared this with Hal, he was able to embrace his own adventurous nature more. They brought that energy more into their own relationship, travelled more and enjoyed adventures together. Sidra’s attraction to the other man vanished.
What we are attracted to, is not so much the person themselves, but the energy the other person represents. They mirror to us what energy our partner is not in touch with and has disowned. If our partner is more practical and worldly and less spiritual, we might be attracted to somebody spiritual; it means we need to embrace spirituality in our relationship more. If our partner is very responsible, we might be attracted to somebody who is a free spirit; it signifies that we need to bring that energy more into our relationship. If our partner is quite focused on finances, we might be attracted to somebody who cares little about money; it means we might need to bring other values into our relationship. What attracts us to a partner is what they mirror for us.
Sometimes it is not just one partner who has disowned that energy but both of us in our relationship have, for example, disowned the spiritual part, or the free spirited energy, or the voice which does not care much about material things. Each attraction of one or both partners to an energy outside themselves is a gift to find out what is missing in the relationship and what can be brought in.
This is not just about the relationship itself, but it is also a gift for each partner to claim a part of themselves they have so far disowned. It does not mean something is wrong with one partner. It just means there is more in this world that we can try out and embrace.
If Sarah is attracted to an assertive and strong male energy in another man, it is an opportunity for her partner to step more into his own assertive and strong male energy. If David is attracted to a woman who is playful, silly and loves to laugh, it is an incentive for his partner to be more playful and enjoy life more. If Frank is attracted to a woman who is sexual and sensual and his wife is the personified asexual mother type, she can embrace sensuality more and experience it. If Howard is attracted to women who are helpless damsels in distress, his self-sufficient wife might need to realize that self-sufficiency is good but that we all have needs and that she can allow Howard to fulfil her needs. If Elena is drawn to a passionate romantic man, her controlled, rational and down to earth partner can claim his romantic and passionate self.
It requires courage to speak up about our attractions. Why is it worth speaking up?
Having an affair, and that includes an actual physical affair but also confiding in another person of the opposite sex behind the back of our partner and complaining about our marriage or relationship, is greatly damaging. It is not the actual physical act which is the betrayal but the emotional intimacy, coupled with the secrecy. Who gets hurt is the little child inside. In our example, Cybil’s little girl inside would go into hiding if Bill had a physical and/or emotional affair. She would not be able to trust and feel safe right after finding out. That vulnerable trusting child energy, however, is what we need in a relationship to connect deeply with each other. Without our inner children, we cannot experience true intimacy. We have signed the death verdict for the relationship if we do not address the feelings of the inner child and truly heal them.
Affairs can of course be forgiven, and the inner child can learn to trust again, but that requires deep inner work and not everybody finds it easy to rebuild the foundation of trust. It therefore pays to be honest and address the issue consciously rather than responding from an unconscious place and having an affair.
A great recording to listen to is “Affairs and Attractions” by Hall and Sidra Stone