After infidelity, it can be really easy to feel like your spouse owes you something. He needs to make it up to you, right? It makes sense that one might feel this way, but in this episode you’ll learn how this attitude can keep you from the very things you want most – peace, calm, and healing.
Entitlement is also what can set some people up to cheat in the first place and keep them stuck after infidelity. This episode will be useful for both the one who strayed and the one who was betrayed.
I’m Andrea Giles and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast,
episode number 97, Entitlement.
Hello and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast, where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal but to become the
boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves ever.
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Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hey everybody. Welcome to the podcast. I’m so glad you’re here with me
today. Today, I’m going to be talking all about entitlement and how it
shows up and the part that it plays in infidelity. Please listen to the
whole thing. I think that there will be things in here that are
enlightening and useful and that I hope that you can take and put to
practice right away. I am going to give you some examples as I usually do
of what it looks like for both the person who had the affair and the person
who did not and how it can create problems for both. Okay? And, then of
course what to do about it.
All right. What is entitlement? Entitlement is the thinking that you have a
right to have something. You have a right to it. When we are acting
entitled, we are lacking empathy. We’re seeing through a self-focused lens
rather than seeing what is best for the whole. Okay. So, let’s look at
entitlement from the lens of the one who was betrayed. Okay? Your spouse or
partner stepped out of the marriage. You feel really hurt, naturally.
Right? What can happen though is because of the hurt, because of the pain,
an attitude can be adopted of you owe me. You need to do what I want you to
do. This is where they can be quite a list, quite a checklist of things
that you need to do. All the passwords, everywhere you go, track the
locations, no taking the phone in the bathroom. All of these things. It’s
kind of like taking the upper hand in the relationship.
This role can feel very punitive, like a parent-child relationship. You
might say, the person who is betrayed, that you need certain things from
them to feel safe. If you felt less than or like he had more authority than
you before the infidelity, it may feel good to be in a position that feels
a bit more powerful. But, what you do with that power really matters. Okay?
It really matters. Right now, it seems normal and like probably like you’re
doing the right thing to make demands to say you really screwed up and this
is what you owe me. Okay? Keep that in mind, this phrase, you owe me. Okay?
You may also feel entitled to them sitting there and listening over and
over and over again. Okay. For the men or for the person who had the
affair, okay? If it’s male or female. It is often entitlement that leads
them to an affair in the first place. One I see a lot is you don’t give me
sex enough and so I had to go get those needs met elsewhere. These are
needs. I have to have them and if you’re not going to do them, then I need
to go get my needs met elsewhere. Okay?
Another interesting thing is after infidelity occurs, the person who had
the affair might feel extra entitled to sympathy. It’s interesting. Right?
They have created a narrative in their mind where, on one hand, they have
their marriage and their partnership and on the other hand they have this
validating indulgent thing going on on the side. This is before they’re
found out. For most people, in their minds, because of entitlement, because
they feel entitled, like if you’re not going to give me this or that, if
you’re going to be cold to me, whatever it is, then I need to have this
thing over here. And, in their mind, they totally justify it, make it okay.
They feel separate. They don’t think about the hurt that it would cause.
They don’t think about the possibility of losing their marriage. It’s like,
well, I’m just getting my needs met. This thing feels good over here.
It’s not until the moment that the wife or partner knows everything and
those two worlds collide that the weight of it all is felt, sometimes.
Sometimes, it takes longer than that. It was, we all know, never two
separate things. That was a lie, a convenient lie to tell yourself so that
you don’t have to feel the weight of it, don’t have to deal with guilt,
things like that. One always deeply affects the other, though. So, for many
people in this moment when the two worlds collide and they see the hurt
that they have caused, this can be really crushing. It’s crushing to see
what they are capable of. So, it’s one thing to feel sad, to feel
remorseful, and it’s another thing to feel self-pity, to feel like I’m such
a loser and I need you to tell me that I’m not a terrible person. I need
you to tell me that I’m not just the worst and don’t deserve to live. Okay?
Can you hear the difference there?
They may feel entitled to extra attention, pity and sympathy. As you can
imagine, or maybe as you have experienced, this can feel really repulsive
to the spouse. Like, you did this and now I’m supposed to comfort you? I’m
supposed to feel sorry for you? This generally does not go well. Okay? It
generally doesn’t go well, but it’s something that happens. They might also
want praise for their efforts. They might want to be told how good they’re
doing at checking in and how good they’re doing at being around and
listening and things like that. They might want encouragement. Okay. Fair
enough. We all like to be encouraged. We all like to know that we’re doing
okay. But, again, when this is coming from a place of I want you to give me
the attention here, it’s coming from a place of entitlement. If it’s a
place of [inaudible 00:06:47] that same self-pity, look at me, look at me,
look how good I’m doing, look how hard I’m trying. Okay? That’s a very
self-focused lens again.
Now, when this is expected and demanded, again, it can be really repulsive.
Okay? It could be a repulsive. It could be a total turnoff, like I don’t
want to give you anything. This becomes less about the personal growth of
both individuals and less about the healing of the individuals and becomes
more about trying to monitor and manage each other’s feelings. I try to
comfort you. You comfort me. Right? And, generally this does not end very
A lot of the time before infidelity, there’s a dynamic in the relationship
that’s one up, one down. Okay? This means that one person might think that
they’re a little bit wiser, a little more knowing, whatever, and somebody
that feels a little inferior. Now, after infidelity, you might easily take
that one up position and know I would not make the same choice. It goes
against my own values, my own integrity, and so therefore I am morally
superior because I would never do this. Okay. This though will not help
you. While I understand it, while it feels very natural, it’s not going to
help you. Why? Because, this is what happens. The man feels it. He may
sincerely… Or, the partner who had the affair. Okay? Not just men. They
might really want to make it right, but very much feel like they’re
checking the boxes and some of it may feel inauthentic. It may feel kind of
Now, he might not want to have to report every single thing or exactly why
he was five minutes late and start to feel resentful. Okay? While it’s so
easy to say he brought this on himself, this is a consequence, when we
become punitive in this role it’s not going to go the way that we want it
to go. Okay? Here’s the truth. None of us want to feel like we are in a
relationship with somebody who doesn’t want to be with us. And, when we
step into these punitive roles, it’s like I need you to do these things so
that I feel okay. But, does it really make you feel okay? It might be short
term relief, but what about long term relief? What about knowing that the
person that you are with is choosing you, actively choosing you? You’re not
going to know that because they reported everything that they did on their
way home from work. Okay? This is the long game. You’re going to feel this
over the long game in countless interactions.
I know for me that I would much rather be with somebody who, in broad
daylight, when they know exactly who I am and exactly who they are in the
relationship, chooses to be with me, not because it’s the easiest choice,
not because it would rock the boat too much to leave, not because they feel
guilty or pressured. I want somebody to be with me because they want to be
with me. And, infidelity aside, that’s what we all want. So, when
entitlement creeps in, it’s this attitude of you owe me. You need to do
these things for me to be here. And, if we are acting out of entitlement,
we’re not being chosen. We’re not making room to be chosen. Okay?
So, what is the remedy? The remedy is exposure. Exposure to what? Exposure
to growth. Marriage is a wonderful place to expose ourselves to grow, to
open ourselves up to grow. I am going to read you a little bit from a
therapist that I follow. His name is Corey Allen. About this concept. Okay.
I’m going to back up to what he says about entitlement. “An attitude of
entitlement leads to an expectation of reciprocity. I gave to you so now
you owe me something in return. Or, I’ll tell you about me but only if you
tell me about you. If you don’t, I won’t either. But, I want to, so you
have to. I’ll go first and then you are obligated to disclose too. It is
only fair. If I go first, you have to make me feel secure because I need to
be able to trust you. Okay? This attitude can be very frustrating.”
Okay. So, then he goes on and talks about the attitude of exposure. “The
attitude of exposure is I choose you because my relationship with you is
one that will expose my personality quirks, character defects, and my
immature ways of relating to others. This exposure is not the result of
anything malicious by you. Instead, it’s a natural result of our committed
relationship and in this relationship I will have the opportunity to see
myself in a light that I seldom do and or have spent most of my life
running from. But, if I am willing to look at and address what our
relationship exposes about me, I can grow up and mature into more love and
passion than ever before.”
Okay? Corey goes on to say this is not a natural response or view. Okay?
It’s hard but it is the best way to grow up. It’s the best way to… It’s
the best way to heal. It’s when we both address ourselves, where we show up
the way that we want to show up, where we say who do I want to be in this
interaction. What will I be proud of when I walk away? Will I be proud of
being demanding? Will I be proud of being unkind? Will I be proud of
saying, “Well, you did this so you owe me.”? Will we be proud of that?
Probably not. Okay? Probably not.
Okay. So, how do you expose yourself? You expose yourself by being more
honest, by being more truthful, by letting your fear be seen, by offering
each other grace, by making space for you both to grow, by slowing things
down in your mind, slowing the space between something that happens and
your response to it. That tiny little space gives you time to really choose
how you want to respond. That is growing up. That is acting from a place of
integrity rather than you need to just sit here and take this because you
owe me. Right? I’m going to berate you and you’re just going to have to
take it because you owe me.
At the end of the day, does it feel good to you to be that person that is
berating, that is insulting? Right? And, while I understand it, while I
have been that person at times and I understand it and don’t judge it, what
we’re here for is to learn how to make things better. Right? We’re learning
how to heal after infidelity and if we are carrying around an attitude of
entitlement, it is going to stall out our own healing. It will slow you
down because it will never be enough and even when the things are there
that you think you’re entitled to, you will wonder if they’re sincere or if
they’re doing them just to make you feel better. It feels very natural to
act this way after infidelity. Very much. But, in the end, I can guarantee
it will end up slowing you down at best, sabotaging the whole thing at
worst, sabotaging the effort of restoration and pushing each other further
and further away.
My friends, have courage. Look at where you are feeling entitled. Look at
where you think that you’re owed. Look at the expectations you’re putting
on your spouse. What are they? Is it fair? How can you give that to
yourself? What would giving it to yourself do for you? What would you have
to do differently? How would you grow? Have the courage to lean in. Okay?
All right. Thank you, friends. Appreciate you being here with me and I will
see you next time. Bye bye.
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