The long-term love of a married man was once the guarantee of an unhappy and hidden life. If, today, reproach and shame are no more, frustration and sorrow remain. Why persist and remain the mistress? What is the unconscious interest in prolonging these clandestine loves?
back street, a melodrama by the American writer Fanny Hurst, was a smash hit in the 1930s. It depicted the tragic fate of a married man’s hidden mistress. No revolt, no attempt at emancipation. Only the pain, the frustration and the sad acceptance of a second place. Depressing. Today the secondary streets They have changed in nature. No more women kept, prisoners of male good will.
The lovers assume their life and fully live their love. They do not suffer less. It is this paradox that begs the question: how can these women, independent heirs to feminists, accept life in the shadows, waiting, lying?
We know well, since Freud, that no human being accepts suffering for the sake of suffering. If we do it, it is because our history, our psychic construction leads us to repeat, without realizing it, painful behaviors. But not only. We can also, always unconsciously, find in these situations of repetition what psychoanalysis calls a “secondary benefit”. Ghislaine Paris, sexologist and psychotherapist, and Saverio Tomasella, psychoanalyst, help us to better understand the choice of these women.
The desire for independence
In contrast to the secondary streets Of our mothers, most of the “lovers” claim to have chosen their position, “which guarantees them independence, fleeing from the patriarchal model, without the need to fight as a couple to acquire it”, emphasizes Ghislaine Paris. Several of my patients even claim this status, as some of them claim the denial of motherhood”.
For Saverio Tomasella, they are part of what he calls the “omnijouisseurs”, “those children filled with joy, who have never been denied anything, and therefore cannot give it up. So they go from one relationship to another, they accumulate them.” Clara, 28, has chained clandestine love affairs, without the relationship ever lasting more than a few months. “If he is a married man, I don’t care. He’s the one cheating on his wife, not me. But, when it gets too complicated, I stop. And I keep going, with a married man or not. I need someone, I can’t stand being alone. »
The secrecy brings immediate pleasure, but “they are distressing, devouring, inextricable loves, the psychoanalyst specifies. When we are faced with the inextricable it is because it was present in childhood. That is what must be questioned, to avoid repetitions”. “In the love triangle, we are faced with a situation that refers to the oedipal triangle badly lived, analyzes Ghislaine Paris. The lover sees in the legitimate woman her rival, who unconsciously takes the place of her mother. »
From then on, the challenge is to separate the lover from his wife, as she wanted to separate her mother from her father. “From this poorly resolved childhood situation, in which the child had to attract the attention of the other behind the back of the rival father, something remains that cannot be lived in frankness, Saverio Tomasella deepens. The initial rivalry could not be elaborated or verbalized, it remains entrenched. »
Lucie, 48, recognizes herself in this setting. At the age of 22, she met a married man with whom she had a devouring passion for four years. “One day, at his house, I saw his wife’s nightgown. She instantly reminded me of my mother. At the time, he was devastated and strangely quite happy. I felt that he was the strongest, but he never broke their relationship. At the time, I didn’t realize what that meant to me. After a few years of therapy, I now know. In this story, I wanted both to find my missing father and to eliminate my mother. »
In other cases, not being the “first” refers to the position occupied during childhood and adolescence, referring to the rivalry between siblings and family. For Saverio Tomasella, “the devaluation suffered by a brother or sister or even the preference of parents for one of the children can permanently undermine their self-confidence and lead these women to the unconscious belief that they can only live a life secondary or unhappy”. love affair”.
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Anne, 54, went through stormy romantic relationships for four years, right after her divorce. “I started three different stories with men engaged in other places. The three of them reproduced an abusive, frustrating, and intolerable relationship that I now know stemmed in large part from my mother’s inability to love us. She herself had experienced the lack of love and attention from her parents. »
The increase in pleasure
This involuntary inheritance does not surprise Saverio Tomasella: “Transmission between generations occurs unconsciously. The child is imbued with the maternal posture, with the paternal representation. »A mother who does not love her children or does not love her children can hardly allow them, symbolically, to live fulfilled loves… There are also families of hidden lovers, like Lucie’s, who discovered that her grandfather had lived of long relationships. of her, from which her grandmother and her own mother had suffered. She also brought out a family secret, in which her godmother had remained the hidden lover of a cousin.
The place of the second eternal hurts. All the women we met evoke the expectation, the anguish, the depression when a lonely vacation is approaching or the desire to start a family. Why stay?
Mathilde, 31, has long been satisfied with her position as mistress: “I never wanted him to leave his wife. Her children were young and she didn’t want to blow up her family. I knew, having lived through my parents’ divorce, that you can’t quickly build a story on the ruins of another. Which didn’t stop the pain, the frustration, the jealousy.
“Between us, he was passionate, we spent all the time together, he knew his friends, but he suffered knowing that he had sex with his wife. He was leaving, he called me back. Our relationship lasted three and a half years. I couldn’t leave him, knowing that there was no solution. One day he came to my house with his bags, it was the beginning of the end. Faced with reality, he couldn’t go any further. I no longer had the security thread of adultery…”
A not so surprising attitude. For Ghislaine Paris, “adulterous relationships are also a way of escaping from everyday life. It is also more frequently about loves inflamed by transgression, by secrecy, which maintain an intense sexuality.
And Saverio Tomasella evokes “the ‘rescue fantasy’, that of the child who wants to save a failed father, unhappy with his partner. Loving a man whose legitimate partner wavers is an attempt at reparation. This is the path these women have chosen to prove to themselves their superiority over the other, the wife, who she does not know how to love as well as they do”.
“I liked being his ‘wife’ just for a few hours a day or a week, because during these four years, desire, need, lack and desire manifested every time we met.” frou frou
“I don’t think you can get any benefit from dating a married man, because you only see him sporadically, secretly.” Michelle
“The truth is that we are two cowards: he, for not leaving his wife when she does not make him happy (if not, why a second wife?), and I, for telling me that it does not matter, I love her even if it is like this, when I know that I deserve to be the only wife of a man”. Matilde83
men suffer less
There are no statistics on the subject*, but the stereotype of the mistress who hopes for the lover’s good will has a hard life. That said, psychiatrists see it in their consultations: the complaint, the pain linked to concealment, is on the female side. How is this inequality in the face of adultery explained?
For the psychoanalyst Saverio Tomasella, “many men still see themselves as hunters, conquerors, on the side of power, of power.” There is no room for sacrificial expectation. “Mistresses, the sexologist Ghislaine Paris annoys, are still assimilated to “sluts”, “thieves”. Having two wives, on the other hand, is proof of manhood. Also, men were not educated in devotion, sacrifice. Most of the time, the woman asks, the man grants her favors. »
An endless pattern? “Not at all,” Ghislaine Paris replies. Centuries of guilt and formatting cannot be erased in forty years. But it is moving in the younger generations. The model of the bourgeois trio of the 19th century tends to disappear, replaced by egalitarian couples where female identity is affirmed. »
*However, you can read Guillaume Chérel’s novel, Men are lovers like everyone else. (Plon).
Breath play or erotic suffocation, a dangerous sexual practice
It is sexual behavior that is controversial. the breathing game which literally means “breath play”, is a form of erotic asphyxiation practiced during sexual intercourse. But its dangerousness is often overlooked.
What is the breathing game?
ends sexual arousal”, defines the English version of Wikipedia. In practice, “erotic asphyxia” consists ofchoking your partner in the middle of a sexual act. However, playing with your breath can be very dangerous, even deadly. “May result in accidental death by suffocation,” the definition says.
However, despite the risk of injury or fainting, this practice has many adherents. A study conducted in 2021 among 4,000 American students indicates that 26.5% of those surveyed had drowned during their last sexual encounter. Another study carried out the same year on other students reveals more worrying figures: 58% of them have already been suffocated by a partner.
Navel play: What is this sexual practice that raises the temperature under the duvet? https://t.co/IsFNfa7plx
— Psychologies (@Psychologies_) September 20, 2022
L’suffocation erotic it is also very popular in BSDM circles. A french website dedicated to this type of sexual practices, explains that this restriction of breathing is “practiced in different ways: hanging, suffocation, placing the head in a plastic bag or strangulation,” reports an article in female earth.
A sexual practice that can be deadly
Very risky, the breathing game was popularized by the porn industry, making it an act in its own right, especially in sexual relations marked by domination. But in reality, the consequences of this sexual practice can be fatal. Too much pressure on the larynx can cause death.
Although there are no official figures on the number of deaths caused by this practice, Grace Millane, a 22-year-old woman, died from it in 2018. Police found traces of strangulation that could correspond to a “four to five minute” suffocation. His partner, Jesse Kempton, was convicted of femicide and sentenced to life in prison. The defense had confided “that the young woman had accidentally died at the end of a sexual game that had gone wrong, a version that had been categorically rejected by the jury,” he recalls. paris party.
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Couple: what your position on the sofa says about your relationship
the posture adopted by couples when they sit on a sofait’s a window into your relationship status. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by Georgina Barnett, a British psychologist, on 2,000 cohabiting couples. “Tell me how you’re sitting, I’ll tell you if everything is fine in your relationship,” says the specialist in an interview with Stylish Maternity.
Sitting next to each other: a sign of imbalance?
While most couples tend to sit on the couch together, there are some pretty subtle signs that it can be signs of relationship problems. When the partners occupy only one corner of the bench and are too close together, this is synonymous with imbalance in your relationship. “The comfortable person in the corner takes up the space, is confident, and has power in the relationship. The other, on the other hand, seems less confident. He is looking for contact and reassurance, ”explains Georgina Barnett.
Couple: How to solidify your relationship with romantic nostalgia https://t.co/cFsJD1IBCT
— Psychologies (@Psychologies_) November 10, 2022
However, there is a nuance when they sit more in the center of the sofa, maintaining physical contact, such as a hand on the thigh or another. “Couples established in this way have trust your relationship and therefore can afford personal space. It is a mixture of intimacy and freedom”, analyzes the psychologist. But although in love, the latter no longer experience the passion of the first days, according to the expert.
When the position on the sofa heralds a crisis
According to the psychologist, time is serious in the event that the two partners are sitting at two different ends. “It’s even worse if her legs are crossed in opposite directions,” she says. This posture is generally a sign of a Tension in the couple. It can also be a sign that something was left unsaid or resentment, according to Georgina Barnett.
And contrary to what one might think, if the partners are based on different bases, distanced from each other, it does not necessarily mean that they are in crisis. can only be couples comfortable enough with each other to have their own space. Although this study is based on a fairly large sample, its conclusions must be taken with caution.
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The Relationship Escalator: Are You Following This Conventional Love Pattern?
Dating, formalizing your relationship, living together, getting married and having children. Many people perceive this life path map as the ultimate blueprint. This diagram has a name: the relationship escalator. The goal of those who take it is to peak by aging together, after checking a certain number of boxes.
What is a “relationship escalator”?
This expression designates a love pattern widespread, but increasingly questioned within society. The Urban DictionaryThe bible of slang and popular expressions defines the relationship ladder as “the societal expectation that a romantic relationship should automatically follow a set of stages and lead to marriage, parenthood, and home ownership.”
A somewhat bland relationship, a love story that is running out of steam? This is how scientists have determined it as a solution for your partner to last healthy pic.twitter.com/hMspC6TyEE
— Psychologies (@Psychologies_) November 9, 2022
Amy Gahran, author of Off the Relationship Escalator, Uncommon Love and Life, was the first to mention this concept. She explains that this notion is “a standard by which most people assess whether an intimate relationship that develops is meaningful, serious, good, healthy, committed, or worth pursuing or maintaining.” In other words, the escalator of the relationship denotes ME’set of beliefs that perceive the most conventional pattern of love as the most rewarding and valued. This concept is made up of several steps that can vary depending on the culture. But they generally follow this timeline:
• Flirt for a few weeks/months
• Becoming sexually and emotionally exclusive
• Introduce your partner to loved ones
• Live together
• Get married or settle down
• Acquire real estate
• Have children
• Get old together
A satisfactory relational schema if it is not imposed
There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking this kind of path of love if it makes us happy. Instead, what can be problematic is imposing it on others as an absolute norm and the only valid model. Pointing fingers at this practice is also a way of denouncing the constant pressure on singles and couples who do not formalize their civil unions.
Gabrielle Smith, an author and poet who is very sensitive to issues related to sexuality and romantic relationships, analyzes this practice in an article by granist “The relationship escalator is designed for heterosexual relationships between singles and preferably for relationships within a two-income middle-class household. Many people are not part of this demographic, and those who are still feel the pressure it brings. »
If this mandate can affect all genders, it is particularly intense when it comes to heterosexual women. “Society makes you think it’s easy to get married, have children, or combine finances. But the reality for many is that it is neither possible nor smart”, concludes Gabrielle Smith.
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