Red Flag #6: Denial
There are two forms of denial: internal and external. Here’s how they play out.
YOU: You’ve seen the clues. Warning bells are going off left and right. Red flags are all over the place. You don’t have “hard proof” of an affair. But something isn’t adding up and so you finally confront them.
THEY: Deny everything (external denial). They have an excuse or alibi for everything. They argue and rationalize a “reason” for every one of your suspicions. They may even go so far as to tell you “It’s all in your head.” Or accuse you of being “paranoid”, “insecure” or “crazy”.
THEY: Point out other situations/things you have overreacted to in the past, or state how you’ve always been prone to jealousy. This kind of denial (emotional, reactive and heated) is often just another red flag.
Why? Because this is one of the most common “defense” tactics a cheating spouse will use to make their partner back off, back down or even feel guilty for insinuating they’re doing something wrong.
And if the tactic works … YOU go into the second type of denial (internal).
YOU: Doubt yourself. You question your sanity. Maybe it IS all in your head. Of course he had a 5-hour dinner meeting on Thanksgiving. You convince yourself your husband isn't cheating with another woman. YOU tell yourself it’s your fault and concede … maybe you are overreacting.
When it comes to infidelity…
…YOU CAN BOTH GET CAUGHT IN THE GAME OF DENIAL.
What is denial? It’s an “automatic” (i.e. unconscious) mental tactic employed to protect or defend us from the “threat” of some emotional pain.
CLASSIC FORMS OF DENIAL
- DON'T ASK/DON'T TELL: In other words, burying your head in the sand or turning a blind eye. This is where internal denial helps to protect us from the pain of confronting a loved one’s betrayal caused by an extramarital affair.
- RATIONALIZATION: You spend time trying to convince yourself YOUR partner would never have an affair (they're a “good” person, an upright citizen, etc.).
- EXCUSE-MAKING: They spend a lot of time explaining why they aren’t having an affair (often coming up with outrageous alibis).
- HIGHLY SELECTIVE MEMORY: When asked specifics like “Who was that on the phone?”, a husband or wife who's having a love affair or cheating … may play dumb. Or when asked to account for specific time away from home, they're oblivious or “act like” they don't remember.
What is the first rule in the game of dishonesty? Read page 7 of 8