Last night I hosted a free online presentation about how partners moving beyond betrayal can use specific skills and tools to manage the inevitable triggers that go hand-in-hand with the discovery or disclosure of sexual betrayal.

There were more than 70 partners in attendance, and when we got to the Q&A portion of the presentation, there were a number of questions and concerns about body image or “attractiveness” that impact triggers—such as:

  • How can I not be triggered if my spouse prefers a body type different than mine?
  • I’ve gained some weight and I’m not as attractive as I used to be. How can I not feel bad about that?
  • My husband acted out with (or is attracted to) women who are more attractive than I am. I don’t see how I can not feel triggered about that.

On the one hand, I understand. If the mindset is that attractiveness or beauty is a universal, objective, or static phenomena, then everyone would have an easy “measuring stick” with which to evaluate and judge their—or other’s—relative attractiveness.

But that’s not how beauty—or attraction—works.

And even more important, is attractiveness the measure with which you want to evaluate yourself? Or how you want to evaluate your daughter, your sister, or your best friend?

Betrayed partners often try to get inside the mind of their unfaithful spouse to see the world as he (or she) sees it. They want to know who their spouse finds attractive, or what did his/her affair partners look like. Again, while I can completely understand your being curious, or wanting to know, the bottom line is that the focus is on the wrong thing.

No one has an affair, is unfaithful, or acts out sexually because of the attractiveness of another person. In fact, some spouses will tell you that their partner—the one they betrayed—is the most attractive person (to them) that they have ever been with sexually.

The problem with focusing on the appearance of a porn star, sex worker, or affair partner is that you will 1) compare yourself to the other person and create pain and shame, and/or 2) you will reduce yourself to a collection of body parts.

In other words, you will self-objectify.

Objectification is “the action of degrading someone to the status of a mere object.” Please don’t do that to yourself.

In my post 5 Steps to Restoring a Body Image Wounded by Addiction, I talk about the hits partners’ body image takes when confronted with sexual betrayal.

If your esteem and body image have suffered because of addiction, make a decision now to reclaim your right to feel acceptance, love, and even delight about your one, unique body.

Beauty originates from the inside-out, rather than the outside-in. You can spend hours and days perfecting your appearance. You can spend tens of thousands of dollars on “improving” your body and appearance, yet be completely devoid of beauty.

Your most gorgeous self is likely found more often in completely unscripted moments like when you first wake up in the morning, after a workout when you’re make-up free and your hair is a mess, or when you’re feeling vulnerable and unsure of yourself.

Reject self-objectification, and declare your authentic beauty.

betrayed partners body image


© Victoria Priya, LCSW [formerly Vicki Tidwell Palmer] (2017)

Radiant Threefold Path articles are protected by U.S. copyright laws, and may not be reproduced, distributed, or re-published without written permission of the author.
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I want to support you to Return to the authentic truth of who you are, Reclaim what is yours, and Receive everything that is meant for you. So that you can Regenerate your life, your relationships, community, and the world.

13 Comments

  1. Teresa on October 26, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    I am truely sorry I missed this presentation. I am no different with self evaluation issues. Even when my hearts not in it to look my best. But with that said, I am finding a light within that says I’m ok. Thank you

    • Vicki Tidwell Palmer on October 26, 2017 at 3:12 pm

      Hi Teresa, you are very welcome!

      If you would like to listen to the presentation, we can send you a replay you can have access to until October 30. If you’d like to hear it, please send a note to my assistant, Erin (Erin at vickitidwellpalmer.com).

      You look your best right now! I see your light from here 🙂

  2. Rosie on October 27, 2017 at 1:30 am

    This blog post seems meant for me! My husband betrayed me again this week. I was crushed, and couldn’t help going to “what’s wrong with the way I look?” place. I’m an older woman , and I know I look really great for my age, and take good care of myself. When betrayal hits, it’s so difficult not to go to that place. Thank you for this post, I needed the reminder!

    • Vicki Tidwell Palmer on October 27, 2017 at 9:26 am

      Hi Rosie, I’m so sorry to hear about your recent betrayal. It IS difficult to not “go to that place,” and at the same time so important to protect your confidence and your inner knowing that you’re enough, right now.

      Take good care.

  3. Rae on November 1, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    Hi- I just happened to notice a typo on your Ictober 25th blog.

    “By that’s not how beauty—or attraction—works.”

    Did you mean But instead of By?

    Thx

    • Vicki Tidwell Palmer on November 1, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      Hi Rae, you’ve caught yet another typo on my blog—thanks for the heads up! Corrected as noted.

      p.s. if you’re not engaged in this line of work already, I think you have a bright, successful future as a copy editor 🙂

      • Rae on September 1, 2018 at 2:52 pm

        I know. I’m really annoying! Should have been born with a red pen in one hand. I always hesitate mentioning seeing typos – I think it’d tick me off if I were on the receiving end! I like it better when there’s a “contact the webmaster” link at the bottom of the page, and you can notify them without feeling like you’re insulting someone. If you know what I mean….

  4. Marie on September 11, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Thank you for the insightful information. I’m glad I found your blog. Last week I found out my husband relapsed again. The woman he had an affair with over 20 years ago sent me a notice on my instant messenger stating for me to tell my husband to stay away from her. That is my husband’s problem not mine. I did not respond. The last thing I wanted to know is what she looked like. I am in a support group for families of sex addiction. For about 24 hours after that message, I compared myself, but realized how unhealthy that is for me. I’m glad to read your blogs. It helps me in my recovery from these effects of sex addiction.

    • Vicki Tidwell Palmer on September 11, 2018 at 4:44 pm

      Oh Marie, I’m so sorry for your painful experience. You are absolutely right, when someone else creates a mess it’s their job to clean it up.

      I’m glad you’re in a support group and that you understand how unhealthy it is to compare yourself to anyone.

      Keep up the good work — you’re doing great!

  5. Fighting for sanity.. on May 18, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    Hi Vicki,
    I am looking for something to help my partner understand that his continued beliefs that sexual objectification is ok. He claims to have stopped acting out within his addiction, but the continued YEARS of being in non-recovery are litterly killing me. It’s seriously devistating on my auto immune system, to the extent that my doctor’s will actually yell at me over it. I thought that you might have something on it.
    Thank you

    • Vicki Tidwell Palmer on May 20, 2019 at 11:05 am

      Dear Fighting, the simple answer to this question is that there is nothing any of us can do to change another person’s mind, and this is one of the most challenging parts of self-care and boundary work.

      I recommend working a 5-Step Boundary Solution process on this issue using the Clarifier which you can download here. If you’d like more direct guidance from me, you are welcome to (re)join my online community here 🙂

  6. Dying slowly inside on June 17, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    Well when my husband says I’m not attractive and he’s not interested in me sexually and doesn’t love me because I’m unattractive it’s hard to come back from that. Of course now that he’s caught he wants to save the marriage. But he doesn’t want to do anything other than make empty promises and be mildly nice. He’s just staying so his finances don’t get rocked I realize I’m not anyone he wants to be with. He even paid for me to get plastic surgery after I found out so obviously he just wants someone with big breasts and a flat stomach. I’m nothing more than an appliance.

    • Vicki Tidwell Palmer on June 19, 2019 at 12:18 pm

      Dear Dying, you are a precious human being.

      You deserve healing, and I recommend that if you don’t already, please find a therapist to work with — today. You can go to the International Institute for Trauma & Addiction Professional website (www.iitap.com) or the Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists (www.apsats.org) to find a therapist who understands betrayal trauma.

      If you’d like to work directly with me to get questions answered in more detail, please join my online community or get a copy of my book, Moving Beyond Betrayal.

      Take good care.

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