An essay in the New York Times on Sunday offered an excellent analysis of the destructive power of lies, of secret activities and identities within relationships. It all rang true, and much of it I’ve already written myself.
What struck me most was the assertion by the author, a psychiatrist named Anna Fels, that it is much less common for the victims of such betrayals – the wife, for example, who discovers her husband’s secret relationship, secret expenditures, secret drinking – to receive communal sympathy and support than it is for the perpetrator of these acts. She notes that people will often try to distance themselves from feeling sympathy for victims by dismissing the idea that they are truly devastated by the revelation, saying that they must have really known all along. Meanwhile, the perpetrator is celebrated for throwing over the old life (of deception) and starting over.
I thought it was the element of knee-jerk political correctness in my situation that led to the perpetrator-as-hero result. The notion that this is far more common than supposed is interesting – and very sad – food for thought.