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When your partner cheats on you and you become even more attracted to them, it can be a weird feeling. It’s referred to as hysterical bonding, and it’s not uncommon.
You have confusing feelings for your partner after the affair, but besides anger, there is a new found lust. You feel the need to hold onto them, in both the metaphorical and physical sense. So, you sleep with them and improve your sex life in order to make them stay.
However, if you didn’t want it to be that way, you’re still angry at your partner, and you feel mad at yourself for feeling aroused, this is not a healthy choice, and it’s time to take a step back.
Hysterical bonding may actually come from grief, and more specifically the bargaining stage of it. This is when you sleep with your partner to keep them around. You work on improving your sex life so they stay with you despite the fact you’re not okay with the affair and are still angry at them.
In fact, you are not even sure that you still want to be with them, but you feel this weird attraction that forces you to desperately hold on and make them stay with you.
It’s okay if you want to forgive your partner for betraying you and work on building the trust again, but is this really what you are trying to achieve right now? Or are you clinging to them as a reaction to the betrayal?
The big question is: do you want to stay in a relationship with your partner? Don’t let hysterical bonding trap you into thinking only about how to make them stay with you. Give yourself time to process your feelings and see if you want to be with them after what they did.
11 Signs Of Hysterical Bonding
1. You wonder about the specifics of the affair.
A natural reaction to cheating is that you find yourself thinking about the affair and wanting to know the details of the infidelity. This is also how hysterical bonding can start.
Do you really want to know though? It is much more important to know whether you are willing to forgive your partner or not. Will finding out the details affect your decision? In which way? Are you sure that’s what you want?
For your own peace of mind, if you want to put this whole thing behind you with or without a partner in your future, it would be best to picture the affair less vividly. You can’t really forget what has happened, but do you really want to know exactly how it happened?
By knowing all the specifics of the affair, it will actually be more difficult to forget it and move forward in your relationship if that’s what you desire.
2. You are full of self-doubt regarding your worth.
You didn’t do anything to deserve to be cheated on, but the affair can make you doubt your self-worth. Your partner chose someone else, and you want to know why. What do they have that you don’t?
Don’t torture yourself with this type of question.
Your partner chose someone else because they felt attracted to them; the way you feel about them now. There is no rule that says when and how this can and can’t happen. There’s only a rule that says you shouldn’t act upon these feelings if you are already in a relationship with someone else.
Your partner decided to break that rule, but it says nothing about your worth. You deserve better than to be treated that way, and you can improve any shortcomings while your partner can’t undo what they have done.
3. You are torn between wanting your partner and needing to let them go.
Hysterical bonding makes you want your partner badly, but you still wish you could let them go and end things. Which feeling do you act upon?
The best way to decide this is to think about what will give you long-term happiness. Having sex with your partner can bring you short-term satisfaction, but how will you feel afterward, and what is it that you want in the long run?
If you’re upset about the affair and you want your partner to be aware of that, you are not sending the right message by having incredible sex with them. Sure, this will reassure you that your partner didn’t look for someone else because there’s something wrong in the bedroom, but what about the other aspects of your relationship?
Having a purely sexual connection can’t form a healthy relationship, and you shouldn’t confuse sex with intimacy and connection. What’s more, your partner probably didn’t look only for sex when they cheated on you. Even if it was just the thrill and excitement of being with someone new, it wasn’t purely physical.
4. You are willing to forgive everything just to keep them around.
It would be okay if you want to forgive your partner for everything, but there would have to be something in it for you too. Your partner should make an effort to gain your trust, apologize, and work toward your forgiveness, not just have it handed to them.
If they aren’t willing to put effort into the relationship, why would you be, especially after they’ve cheated on you? Forgiving someone for an affair can be a good decision, and the relationship can become even stronger after the experience.
With hysterical bonding, though, you are the one who is fighting for the relationship even though it should be your partner.
5. You want to win them back.
If you want to win your partner back, you should ask yourself whether they want to win back your trust.
Your partner is the one who put your relationship at risk, so they should now be willing to work on fixing things and gaining your trust again. If you’re practically forcing them to stay with you, you are not doing yourself any favors.
You should be with someone who wants to be with you, and if you force your partner into staying, they are likely to cheat on you again if not leave you. Give them a chance again if you want to but only if they deserve it and your relationship has a chance of succeeding.
6. You feel the need to sleep with them.
You might feel weirdly attracted to your partner after they have cheated on you and want to sleep with them.
This might be your urge to keep them around, prove yourself as better than the person they cheated with, or because they seem more desirable now that someone else was interested in them.
7. You feel desperate.
You most likely won’t be overflowing with confidence when your partner cheats on you. It can damage your self-worth and make you feel a little desperate.
You might doubt yourself, your attractiveness, your potential as a partner. You might feel low and hope for things to go back to how they were before the infidelity.
You might feel more attracted to your partner as an unconscious way to avoid having to end the relationship and potentially meet a new partner at a later date. You just can’t imagine anyone wanting to be with you and so you try to hold on to the person who already is with you.
8. You use sex to get them back or feel like they’re yours.
Don’t use sex to get your partner back or “claim them” in some way after the affair. Even if it’s what you want to do now, think about things in the long run. Don’t sacrifice your long term happiness for short term pleasure.
You don’t need to prove yourself in the bedroom. If they have hurt you and you have negative and confusing feelings toward them, it might be best to wait a bit before getting intimate with them again.
9. You initiate sex more often and try new things in the bedroom.
When you try to improve your sex life, you will initiate intercourse more often and experiment in the bedroom. In a healthy relationship, there’s nothing wrong with this. But when it’s a way of getting your partner back or plotting some sort of revenge, it’s definitely not good for you.
You don’t have to put so much effort into keeping them around; they are supposed to be the one putting more effort into gaining your trust again. Don’t let them take you for granted by making their life a fairytale after they have cheated on you.
Why wouldn’t they do it again if you are going to reward them with amazing sex when they do? Remind yourself that the affair is not just about sex and that there are probably other aspects of your relationship that need improvement.
10. The sex is better than it was.
Obviously, when you are more attracted to your partner than usual, the sex will be better, especially if you make an effort to improve your sex life. This could make it seem like everything is right and well with the world again, but the feeling won’t last for long.
In addition, it will influence you, and your already confused feelings will become even more confusing. This is why it’s best to take some time to process your feelings before sleeping with your partner after the affair. You should be clear about whether you want to pursue the relationship further or not before sleeping with them.
11. You are reminded of the infidelity afterward.
Even though the sex can be great, the feeling after it can be terrible if you’re tortured by guilt and you don’t think it was the right decision to have sex in the first place.
A sign of hysterical bonding is when you sleep with your partner even though it doesn’t feel right, and you feel bad afterward because you’re reminded of the affair.
Even if you want to put this behind you, it’s not going to be easy, and it can’t happen so fast.
6 Causes Of Hysterical Bonding
1. You are still processing the infidelity.
Don’t rush yourself. Being cheated on hurts, and it’s okay if you need time to heal. You don’t have to jump back into your partner’s arms and hold them tightly so that they won’t escape again. In fact, you shouldn’t do that.
When they cheated on you, they risked losing you, and now you should risk losing them by giving it some time. If you haven’t yet processed the infidelity and your feelings toward it, you are just going to get into a more confusing and messy situation.
Whilst your end goal should be forgiveness, that forgiveness is for you, not them. Forgiving them is your way of not allowing their actions to continue to hurt you.
Forgiving them does not have to mean that you trust them again. And it does not mean that you have to continue the relationship. You get to decide how you wish to proceed, but forgiveness is something you should try to find regardless.
2. You are blaming yourself for the infidelity.
If you blame yourself for your partner’s affair, you will put a lot of effort into making them stay. But you shouldn’t accept responsibility for their actions. You have no reason to blame yourself for what your partner did. It was solely their decision, and they made a conscious choice to betray your trust.
Nothing you did caused this to happen. Even if your relationship wasn’t all that happy or healthy, there is nothing that can justify betraying your trust in that way.
3. You think that only a better sex life can keep you together.
You might be thinking that your partner cheated on you because of sex. But that’s rarely the only reason people cheat. Even if they did cheat purely to have sex with a different person, it has little to do with your sex life, unless you were already aware of the problems.
If there were problems in your sex life, it doesn’t give your partner an excuse to cheat on you. What’s more, fixing them isn’t going to fix your relationship.
4. Your partner seems more desirable to you.
The fact that your partner cheated means that someone else wanted to sleep with them. This can make them seem more desirable to you. If you were in a relationship for a long time, you might have forgotten that your partner is still desirable in the eyes of other people, not just you.
An affair is a terrible way to be reminded of it, but it still makes you think that your partner is more attractive, this time more than they truly are.
5. You want to “claim back” your partner.
Maybe you think that by sleeping with your partner you will somehow claim them back, and they’ll be yours again after being someone else’s for a little while.
That’s just not how things work.
There’s plenty of time for them to truly become yours again once you’ve processed the affair and your feelings toward it.
You can’t mark your territory by sleeping with your partner, and something like that shouldn’t be your motive for sex. Wait until you are ready.
6. You think sex is the same as intimacy and connection.
Intimacy and connection in a relationship include sex, but sex on its own can’t replace intimacy and connection. So, even though it can feel like putting a patch on your broken relationship, you aren’t really fixing it by having sex. You can’t quickly reconnect like that.
So, don’t use sex for anything other than an enjoyment and celebration of love, once you’re ready for it. If you try to use it as some sort of means to an end or a manipulation technique, you aren’t going to get what you really want.
Learn to build intimacy in more ways besides physical affection. Reconnect with your partner once you’re ready to give them another chance, if you ever are.
11 Ways To Deal With Hysterical Bonding
1. Don’t bury your emotions, give yourself time to process your feelings.
You are feeling a lot of emotions, and it can be confusing. Give yourself time to process these feelings on your own. If you try to bury your emotions and act like nothing happened, not only will they come out at some point, but you’ll risk getting cheated on again.
Think about the way cheating made you feel, how you found out about it, and how your partner reacted when confronted with the truth. Acknowledge your hurt feelings and give yourself the right to feel them. The affair probably involved lying, so it’s not like they only had sex with another person, they betrayed your trust AND lied to you.
2. Don’t blame yourself for the affair.
Again, you didn’t deserve to be cheated on, and it’s not your fault that it happened. So don’t blame yourself for it.
Think about everything good that you’ve been bringing to the relationship. Someone else would have appreciated you and wouldn’t have looked elsewhere.
Acknowledge this, because it’s important that you understand cheating was your partner’s decision, not something you’ve caused. If you start convincing yourself that you’re not sexy enough, not pretty, rich, or witty enough, you are just going to cause more needless damage to your self-esteem.
3. Think about what your relationship was like before the affair.
Think about your relationship separately from the affair for a while. Were you both unhappy? Did your partner lie to you even before the affair started? Are there bigger problems in your relationship aside from the affair?
Sometimes people cheat when they actually want to end the relationship, and that’s why they aren’t scared of the risk. While nothing you did caused them to cheat, the state of your relationship is important in understanding whether it’s now worth fighting for.
Can you improve your relationship? Is your partner willing to put in the effort? Will your partner do the necessary things to improve your relationship?
Think about what your experience with them has taught you so far, and rely on your instincts.
4. Consider whether you can forgive your partner.
Whilst you should always seek to forgive your partner (even if that doesn’t mean giving them a second chance), you have to be realistic about when and how that will happen.
If you think it will take a long time to truly forgive them, will you realistically be able to maintain the relationship until that point. Or will the relationship go further downhill because of the ill-feeling you have toward them?
And do you think you’ll be able to find forgiveness with them in your life? Perhaps your best hope of being able to forgive them is to let them go and process the events and your emotions outside of any romantic relationship.
5. Think about whether you can trust them again.
Forgiving them is one thing, but can you trust them again after what they did? How can you know that they’re not going to do it again?
This is why it’s important to let them regain your trust instead of rushing to get back together with them. You don’t want to be in a relationship where you’ll constantly wonder where your partner is or who they are with.
If you are going to be together again, you will have to learn to trust them again. Whether you’ll be able to doesn’t depend solely on you. It depends on what they do and how they try to mend the relationship.
6. Consider your options.
Whether you’ll give them another chance or not, it’s good to remind yourself of your options. They’re not the only person out there whom you could have a happy and healthy future with.
We’re not saying that you should end your relationship and immediately jump into another one with someone else. That won’t end well. You need to work through your feelings, decide whether you want to fight for your current relationship, or, ultimately, reach a place where you feel ready for another relationship.
Don’t allow yourself to believe that you need to stay with your partner because no one else would want you. That’s simply not true.
7. Take some time apart.
Get some time away from your partner, so you can process your feelings on your own. This will help you see things more objectively and prevent the attraction you feel for them from clouding your judgment.
While you don’t have to break up with someone who cheated on you, taking a small break might be the best idea. It will give you time to decide whether you want them back, and they will learn to accept the consequences of their actions.
Most importantly, unlike with hysterical bonding, you will show them that what they did is serious, it affected you, and they can’t do it to you again.
8. Focus on yourself.
While you take some time away from your partner, focus on making yourself happy. Do the things that you love doing and take care of yourself.
Meet new people and spend time thinking about your needs, not the affair. Find a new hobby, join a club, go out with your friends, and learn new skills.
If there is something about yourself that you don’t like, work on improving it! Dedicate this time to self-improvement, and it will boost your self-esteem – which could use a boost after what happened.
9. Get support from your loved ones.
You probably have a friend or a family member that you can confide in, so let them give you their advice and support to help you through this. It might be best not to tell all your loved ones since they probably won’t be too fond of your partner if you get back together with them, but be sure to tell someone and share your feelings.
If you don’t think you can trust anyone that you know with this information, you can always talk to a therapist.
10. Talk to a therapist.
A good relationship counselor will have experience helping people through hysterical bonding. They can help you overcome this, whether it’s by sticking by your partner or letting them go, depending on your wants and exact situation.
It can be even better to confide in a professional than a trusted friend because your loved ones probably can’t be as objective, especially when someone has hurt you. A therapist can help you decide whether to stay in the relationship or not, but, ultimately, this is a decision that you will have to make on your own.
We recommend the online service from Relationship Hero to get the help and advice you need. You can chat via video, phone, or instant message from anywhere in the world at a time that suits you.
Click here to learn more about how it all works.
11. Decide whether you want to work on the relationship or end it.
Should you give your relationship another chance? In the case of hysterical bonding, you will desperately try to make your partner stay with you. But don’t forget to ask yourself whether you want them to.
While the answer might seem easy now, give yourself time to really think about things and decide what’s best for you. Maybe you can go back to the way things were and come out of this even stronger, but that’s not something you can assume based on what happened.
Take some time to assess everything that happened and consider whether your relationship is worth saving.
Remember, there are no guarantees in love and relationships. Risk is a part of being with someone and sharing your life with them. Pain isn’t inevitable, but it is possible and you need to be aware of that. Who you take that risk with is up to you.
If you want to make a go of the relationship, take your time and allow the trust to come back naturally rather than trying to force the process. It’s okay to keep your guard up just a little bit whilst you’re learning to trust them again, but sooner or later you will have to make the decision to give your heart fully again. Otherwise, the relationship will not be able to flourish to its fullest potential.
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