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Unsafe People

Posted by on Oct 1, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

We have often advised straight spouses to follow the ten steps for distancing, and to establish safety away from unsafe people.  Unsafe people might include their LGBT ex, or the ex’s new love interest.  But unsafe people may also be found among our social and family connections too.

We can only begin to heal, and even forgive if we choose to, when we are safe.  If we are not safe, then healing and forgiveness can seem to be ways to be more vulnerable.

Here are some ways to identify unsafe people.  We thank the American Psychological Association for these.

Unsafe people are:
1.  Unwilling to admit their weaknesses.  They focus on YOUR weaknesses instead
2.  Religious instead of spiritual. They’re big on using religion as a hammer against others, or cling to an organization and its rules to avoid their own issues. (Many devout churchgoers are also spiritual and prayerful)
3.  Defensive.  Unsafe people are not open to criticism or feedback
4.  Self righteous instead of humble.  These folks set themselves above others, often projecting their faults onto other people
5.  They apologize without changing their behavior. Its easy enough to apologize, but not recognize that the actions need to change.
6.  Unsafe people avoid facing their own issues.  They blame others for their problems, and dont have empathy for someone else’s troubles. They often fail to forgive others for their mistakes
7.  Flatter you instead of talking to you.  If someone truly cares about you, they share concerns about you with you.  Someone who does not care will just try to keep you liking them.
8.  Demand trust instead of earning it.  Trust must be earned.  Unsafe people want you to trust them right away and often belittle you or pressure you if you don’t.
9.  Unsafe people lie.  For us, often the fact that we have lived someone else’s lie to us and to themselves is the most damaging aspect of being a straight spouse.  Rebuilding our lives in truth becomes a challenge, as many are not confident in their ability to see what the truth actually is.  Everyone lies sometimes, but with unsafe people, it is a pattern.
10. Unsafe people don’t grow.  Everyone has areas that need improvement.  Safe people are open to acknowledging these areas and working to develop them.  Unsafe people shut off growth through patterns of deception, blame, projection, and avoidance of the truth.

It’s very important that when we are vulnerable and hurting, we don’t trade one unsafe relationship for another.  This happens when people marry to leave abusive parents, or leave an abusive spouse and connect with another abusive person as a lover.  Recognizing safe people can help us be safe people ourselves, and build solid boundaries that allow us to heal and grow stronger.

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Sometimes, We Just Get It All Wrong

Posted by on May 24, 2014 in Blog | 13 comments

By Ron

Sometimes, we just get it all wrong.

Acid-Be-CarefulI was there. Angry that my ex-wife was gay and left me. Early in the process it was tough to separate the reality that she was homosexual from the hurtful behaviors. It is easy to mix up – she’s gay, she’s pissing me off, therefore it must be the gay thing that’s the problem.

Except it’s not.

I now can see clearly that what hurt me was her behavior. The deception. The lack of communication. The unrealistic expectations. The pretzel logic. The rejection.

But we often focus on the homosexuality and blame that. We focus on their changed looks. We focus on their new partners. We focus on where they go and what they do. We exude vitriol at their gay lifestyles as if that is the reason for our personal agonies.

As a straight spouse, I see a lot of energetic, passionate, sometimes even eloquent communications about our gay partners – how they look, who they are with, where they go, what they do – oftentimes with strong tones of disapproval or outright obvious disgust.

That’s all wrong.

Because the fact that they are gay is not why we hurt. We hurt because somehow, somewhere in the process of their coming out, they hurt us. The pain is real and we want to blame something. Since the homosexuality is often central to our breakups, it is the obvious target.

Yet we know that many couples amicably break up after one spouse comes out. We see that many of the gay spouses remain good parents to their children. Some straight spouses even remain friends with their gay exes.

As straight spouses we need to be careful – careful to avoid gay bashing. Careful to not blame the homosexuality when the real cause of the pain is the other person treating us wrongly. Careful to not focus so much on what the gay spouse is doing that reflects them being gay.

Why? We can never recover from the hurt of learning they are gay when we focus on what gay thing the ex-spouse is doing now. We can never recover from the rejection when we reject them simply because they are gay. We can never communicate with them effectively when our language about them is filled with shame or hate.

So sometimes, we just get it all wrong. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s think about what we are saying, writing, and doing. Each of us has our imperfections, things others may not agree with, appearances others may not prefer. Healing, in my view, requires acceptance. Not agreement necessarily, but acceptance. Without acceptance we remain mired in the anger, unhappiness, dislocation, and regret.

How can we live this change? Stop focusing on the appearance of the gay spouse. Stop focusing on what parades they go to or bars they frequent. Think about what you say or write before spewing it out there – is it hurtful, shaming, blaming, or bashing? If so, think about how you might feel if your ex were to say such things about you.

Why not focus on making ourselves better by doing what we like, spending more time with the people we love, and embracing causes that matter to us? We’ll all be better off if we spend our limited energies wisely, towards positive change.

The Straight Spouse Network wants to thank Ron for sharing his perspective and experience.

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Ten Steps for Distancing

Posted by on Sep 29, 2010 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

We don’t know who the original author is of these steps, but this advice is often quoted at our meetings and on our forums.

Ten Steps for Distancing

Stop asking new personal things of your partner about him/herself.

Don’t give out personal things about yourself to them.

Don’t bend over backward to celebrate any occasions that involve
Don’t bend over backward to help them more than is necessary

Don’t help them if they or someone else can.

Avoid discussions that involve their lives, re: old topics.

Start to develop new activities that don’t involve them.

Try to make new friends, acquaintances, anything.
Make small changes in your life: rearrange furniture, change decorations, try new soaps, ride your bike in a different route, eat at a different restaurant, eat different foods, cook them a different way, shop at different stores, rearrange the landscaping, change some of your habits, change the style of clothing you wear, etc.

If they ask favors of you, tell them you want time to think about it.

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