Renelle E Nelson on Infidelity & Betrayal – Smart Sex, Smart Love

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On this episode Joe is chatting about Infidelity with licensed marriage & family therapist, and certified sex therapist, Renelle E Nelson. 

Relationships are sometimes complicated and finding out your partner is cheating on you can be devastating.  It can feel like the relationship is over and nothing can be done to save it. The truth is, current studies show that recovery from infidelity can happen successfully, and your relationship will be better than ever on the other side. 

Renelle, who works in Arizona, is an infidelity/intimacy recovery strategist, and believes we need to take responsibility for our feelings. “Often we want the person that hurt us, to heal us,” she says. “But you’re hiding in your righteousness. Couples don’t grow apart, they stop communicating. You can’t assume monogamy. Couples need to discuss what they want in their relationship, because infidelity breeds in darkness. Cheating is a choice. Never assume. Discuss!”

So, how do you deal with, and recover from infidelity? Let’s find out….

Find Renelle at:
Instagram | Affair Aftercare Instagram | Website

Speaker 2 (00:25):

Welcome back to smart sex. Smart love with me, dr. Joe court. We’re talking about sex goes beyond the taboo and talking about love goes beyond the honeymoon. Today. I’m talking with infidelity and licensed marriage and family therapist and certified Asex sex therapist. Rinell E Nelson relationships are sometimes complicated and finding out your partner is cheating on. You can be devastating. It can feel like the relationship is over and nothing can be done to save it. The truth is that current studies show that recovery from infidelity can happen successfully, and your relationship will be better than ever. On the other side, Rinell who works in Arizona is an infidelity intimacy recovery strategist. She assists, committed individuals with reconnecting back to themselves, their life and their relationships after betrayal. So how do you deal with and recover from infidelity infidelity? Let’s find out welcome. Rinell thank you for having me. 

Speaker 2 (01:23):

Yeah, it’s so nice. I just feel like there’s gotta be more and more voices. Uh, you know, the main voice today in infidelity is that stair Parral. We all know her, the public knows her, but I mean, there’s so many other role model. Oh yeah. I know. I think she’s all of our role model, you know, but today it’s your voice and you’re going to be the role model to our listeners because it’s such a, it’s such a, uh, a different thing for every couple, for every individual. And I’m so glad to have you here. 

Speaker 3 (01:51):

Thank you for having me and for shining light on this topic. 

Speaker 2 (01:55):

Yeah, for sure. Because you’re, you are shining the light on this and sort of leading the way can you start with, what, how do you define betrayal? 

Speaker 3 (02:03):

Betrayal is, um, the break or like a assumed contract. And I’m gonna say assumed, assumed contract where one party is like, um, is not going with what we signed up for. And I, I I’m, I’m a highlight that word assumed, cause I’m going to go back to that. Oh, betrayal to me is assume contract. Um, that was broken by two individuals. Um, betrayal can be with individuals and betrayals can be with yourself. 

Speaker 2 (02:34):

Well, let’s, let’s go to that word is so am I like that? You’re using it. And I want the listeners to hear what you mean by it. I want to know what you mean by it. 

Speaker 3 (02:40):

Okay. Assumed is as, um, I do a lot of studies about infidelity and I’m a couples therapist. A lot of our relationships are based on assumptions. Um, I have my favorite hashtag communicate before coming because we are not communicating. We are not communicating effectively. A lot of us are in our head and we are goal in life as you all to know. So just for the word betrayal, you asked me what that mean to me. But if you ask individual, it means different things to different people. It may seem, you know, hurting pain, but the form of betrayals would change. And that’s why I always tell my couples never assume, but discuss what betrayal means to you. Monogamy infidelity, everything 

Speaker 2 (03:27):

That’s so important because what one person thinks is infidelity or, or breaking the relationship agreement. The other person may think very differently and they don’t talk about that. 

Speaker 3 (03:36):

They never talk about they assume. And then what happened is they don’t communicate in the, for confirms into, um, our resentment and then judgment and what those are one of the two things that can break up a relationship quicker than an affair. 

Speaker 2 (03:51):

Can you say more about that? 

Speaker 3 (03:53):

So I had was again, because I’m a couples therapist, I was just researching a lot with my couples. And even if, you know, infidelity didn’t happen is some form of betrayal in a relationship, you know? And they felt betrayed. And some of it is the assumption that you thought you knew me, you didn’t, you was judging me. Right. And the resentment you never told me about. And I’m fine as an infidelity expert is that those same things can break up a relationship. Just like an affair can CA going outside the relationship. 

Speaker 2 (04:29):

Right. So it can be infidelity can mean anything. It doesn’t have to just mean a relationship cheating. It can be financial betrayal. Uh, 

Speaker 3 (04:37):

Yeah. So betrayal infidelity is a form of betrayal. Yep. So that’s right. 

Speaker 2 (04:44):

Like that infidelity is a form of betrayal. Yes. Now, did you ever hear Marty Klein? He’s a sex therapist too. And he says that that famous line of his couples often fight over contracts. They’ve never made assumptions. Right? Sometimes that’s exactly what you’re saying. 

Speaker 3 (05:00):

Yes. Yeah. It’s deep. 

Speaker 2 (05:03):

It is deep. And um, I like what you’re saying too, that th that things change. Right? So what you like, even if couples come to me, I always say this and they say, they’re monogamous. I ask them, have you negotiated your monogamy? Because what monogamy? It looks like for one, it doesn’t look like the other. What would you say to that? 

Speaker 3 (05:18):

I would say that after you say your boss, I have all different kinds of set ups. I’ll say sexy. I’ll go with sex on different kinds of couples. So what I always ask too, is you can’t end from Esther, Pearl, you can’t, or even Sue everybody. You can’t assume monogamy. You assume monogamy. You think that if we get in this relationship that we’re going to be together, you think we’re on the same page. And we don’t, we don’t discuss monogamy. And we don’t discuss non-monogamy. We don’t discuss annual things. We assume we on the right page, we are so reactive. We’re not proactive. So it all my education, I get couples to be proactive. We need to have these discussions. And the discussions that we’re talking about today are not just done after I do. Or when stuff blows up, these conversations have to be made into the relationship. We have to have check-ins with each other to make sure we want to pay same page. 

Speaker 2 (06:15):

I read something where it said, you know, you send it for a membership. And, um, it’s at a lifetime membership. You have to keep renewing your membership. And the same thing is true with relationship. Yes. And as we we’ve all right, right. Who you are at 30, I was feeling this way. I’ve been married to my husband 27 years, who Joe court was at 30 is a completely different guy at 57. I’m not the same guy. 

Speaker 3 (06:38):

And how do you know? And I say that couples don’t grow apart. They stop communicating. 

Speaker 2 (06:44):

I love that. Yeah. 

Speaker 3 (06:45):

I don’t know which way I’m going. If I don’t let you know. Yes. One might be more advanced, but if you educate me and share with me, I can grow with you or choose not to. But the point is, we’re talking, 

Speaker 2 (06:56):

Let me ask you this, because this just came up. I just had a session with a client and he was saying, um, he has same sex attraction. Okay. And his, uh, uh, fiance doesn’t know. And he does, he’s working with me on it, but it’s not, it’s not anything more. We’ve identified it as just, it’s an erotic sexual interest. It’s not part of his orientation. And he’s choosing not to tell her how. And he’s saying, is that right? Is that wrong? Which of course I can’t tell him I’m, I’m not him. But how do you help people decide what’s private versus what’s secret? 

Speaker 3 (07:24):

Because I asked him, well, you know, we know private and we know secret, secret to me is keeping it away. If it’s going to help or harm your relationship, I feel like your partner should know. But we also have to think about, um, the environment of relationships are, and relationships, environmental factors are not suitable for such deaths, um, conversations. And you know that. So he might feel like at this time, through the other betrayals, in the relationship, this is a big one that he doesn’t might not feel safe to disclose. And that’s when we come out and talk about before we disclosed, we need to discuss what’s going on environmental, because it’s other things that make you feel like you can not talk to you. 

Speaker 2 (08:05):

Right. Right. And then some people feel like I want to get clear about it within myself before I tell my partner. Right. Yeah. 

Speaker 3 (08:10):

I totally agree with that because sounds like we know fantasy. Sometimes we’ll just fantasies. But if you are constantly think about it, what a better intimate moment is to share that with your partner, because you letting them in on something, especially if you preoccupied with it, especially if it goes to watching it on porn, especially like this is what is so intimate to share. But again, the environment has to be right 

Speaker 2 (08:36):

Now. This, I love to ask everybody who works with infidelity. This question, because I noticed it in my office. Why is every person, male, female, every race, every socioeconomic has a completely different response. Some people are like, are you back? Are you done? And can we move on with our relationship? Other people are so devastated. They can’t get past it. They w they need to move on. They need to like all the relationship and everything in between. Have you found any kind of, I don’t know, formula about why everybody has a different reaction? 

Speaker 3 (09:06):

Um, I would just say the formula is, uh, what you, uh, what you learn from your caregivers, what you learn from your environment, and then what you witnessed yourself. Because as we know how we deal with infidelity is in pre instilled in us. Even before we get into a romantic relationship, we watch it play out in our own families or with parents or caregivers, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Remember the first betrayals is probably from your parents, right. That they didn’t do this. They didn’t do that. Or you witnessed mom or dad going outside each other, how it is. So you already had that in you, then you add your own betrayals, and then you surround yourself with other environmental factors. So that’s why it’s so different because some people are taught how to stay. And some people are taught one and done. 

Speaker 2 (10:00):

That’s right. That’s a very good point. So it’s really what you’ve been taught from childhood. How betrayals have been managed in your childhood? Is that what you’re saying? 

Speaker 3 (10:08):

I’ll just say it stems from there. And then once you grow up with that makes it a bigger motive or value. And then when it happened to you, that’s why sometimes when people want it done, they dealt with a lot of betrayals in their life and they’re tired of it. It didn’t just start with that relationship. Sometimes, sometimes they gave that person enough chance, you know? And they, I seen people break up for the simplest thing because they can’t deal with betrayals and they want to protect yourself. So again, it has everything to do with that person and the developmental stages. 

Speaker 2 (10:42):

Now, what do you think about, um, some people they just can’t, they, they can’t, why can’t they get past it? Like, what would be some of the reasons you’ve seen that they’re like, this is a, this is like you said a one-time 

Speaker 3 (10:54):

One thing I learned that people can’t get past it is because what did the betrayal do to me? What did it do to me? How it respected me, it’s more so a self than their partner. Right. And again, if I’ve been constantly betrayal and it has a lot to do with self-esteem right. And then trust. So it’s like, what all I’m doing with, and now this, a lot of it is self intimacy. I feel a lot that, that, right. I can’t get biased. 

Speaker 2 (11:26):

I totally agree with you now. And what a fits you were just talking about their own trauma or their own situation, their own family history. What if they are refusing? Like I’ve seen this, I I’ll see the person who has been injured. Right? The one who’s had been betrayed will, will, um, will only look at the issue with their partner and not look at their own reactivity. They won’t address it. How do you, how do you help them do that? 

Speaker 3 (11:49):

Because I always go into a couple situation because part one part of any program is personal healing. And I liked the thing to just because you was in the car, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go get help because people think fix them, not me. And I was like, you know what? You’re still affected. What did this affair mean to you? So what I always do is give individual sessions or just, um, again, one-on-one, or just give him paperwork for them to look at by how am I affected what the betrayal and just seeing how other betrayals happen to their life. What I do is have them separate from each other and just the personal healing and what they need, because I have to know what I need. So I can share with my partner, because so many times he wanted the person that hurt us to heal us. 

Speaker 3 (12:35):

And they can’t. And one key component is you, what do you need to heal? Because here go, this person is assuming they know what you need, and it’s not. So these things you’re not getting healed, you’re not getting what you need. So again, we’re going to go right back to communication. But first me, before we, I have to know what I need to heal. Well, I need to trust how I’m going to need to feel safe. So I have to know myself. So I’ll be able to share it with you to make this reconnection, uh, better. 

Speaker 2 (13:05):

You just said a golden nugget that I’m probably going to repeat forever and give you credit. You want that they want the person that hurt them to heal them. Can you say more about, 

Speaker 3 (13:14):

It’s a hard to heal because we know as couples therapists that we project a lot of unmet need and unrealistic goals onto our partner and it’s so, um, it’s just astounding do cause I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist. So this is in our training that, you know, we can’t keep expecting our partner to hold so much because our partner is just man, meaning human, right? And a lot of the healing and happiness and stuff is a personal journey. So we put all this on this person. We don’t take any responsibility. So we want them to make us laugh, make us arrives, make us do everything with no expectations on us, all expectations on NM. So it fails. And then depending on self fulfilling prophecy, I might want it to fail because nobody can deal with me. Nobody can do this. And I know you see that too, that I fulfill my granddad. I didn’t need to be in a relationship. You didn’t really love me. We do these silent texts. So that’s why I’m saying the expectation is for the person who hurts you to kill you. 

Speaker 2 (14:16):

Well, I have a couple right now that I’m seeing and it’s like that for one of the partners and it’s self-fulfilling and no matter what the involved partner did, no matter how they try to recover, no matter what they do, it’s never good enough because the other, the injured party is feeling like that sheet. They have that they have this belief and no matter what I do, I can’t get them to see that. 

Speaker 3 (14:38):

And it’s righteousness. It’s power. You say, I don’t trust you. I’m mad at you. That’s power. And it’s both. And you hide in that power, even though it’s toxic for you to hold on to right at that point, when you feel like you lost everything is power. 

Speaker 2 (14:54):

Yeah. And it’s like a protest against vulnerability. Wouldn’t you say 

Speaker 3 (14:57):

Barrier, affirm. Mission, protest. Mission. Yes. Because I’m your right and you’re wrong and I’m right. 

Speaker 2 (15:04):

Yeah. Right. It’s a top-down. And I don’t work with couples like that. I’ll say to them, that’s what I’m seeing here. And I can tell you right now that this is not going to be good for the relationship. And I don’t want to support top down. You had a bad, a bad situation. One of you, um, broke the agreement. You’re two adults. We need to work with this equally. Not one is better than the other. Do you do the same? 

Speaker 3 (15:23):

Yeah. I always do that. I said, I don’t talk about who’s right. I talk about what’s right for the relationship, 

Speaker 2 (15:30):

Right? Oh my God. That’s another way. Wait, that’s so good. I don’t talk about who’s right. I talk about what’s right for the relationship. That’s awesome. 

Speaker 3 (15:37):

Because they want us, they pay us to be a, what do you call empires or whatever it is the thing that people who just judge stuffer. I didn’t come here to why y’all could’ve fought at home. Why did you want me to Manasseh with you to watch you fight is this. Then we got to exit some kind of excitement. You want people to watch you do that. Then I’m like, cause sometimes you got to get control of the situation. Sometimes it’s good. We know in some theories is good to see how they work, but then it’s not what you have to put a stop to it. It takes five minutes to see how it work. And then you had to grab control of the, um, session because we know they would do it and come back and continue to do it. If you don’t say, Hey, why are we here? What is your goal? What is your mission? 

Speaker 2 (16:21):

I love that. I always say, you can do this at home for free. You can do it on the car, ride back and forth in front of me. You’re paying a lot of money, plus I don’t want to watch it. I’m so uninterested in watching a little bit to understand, like you said, but not to continue to watch. I can go to my family gatherings and watch that. And I can do that for free. What do you think about the idea? Um, I learned this from Terrence real, um, a therapist. He said, uh, that sometimes partners oppress from the victim position so that you did this to me. So now I get to duty you worse because you hurt me. So now I’m going to hurt you. Do you see that? 

Speaker 3 (16:58):

Oh yes, because we live in that and again, that’s what we got to go back to the developmental stages and see how was revenge embedded into their lives. Right. We have this, we have to talk about that. I see that you’re doing this. Where did you learn this from? And when it happened, did anybody win? Right. And because we had to get to the point, because we know as a pro the con prone to kind of every behavior, we want to see where the pro is that you feel good, but what’s the, what’s the negative effect. So a lot of times, um, I tell people I’m very petty with words because I believe words have a lot of meaning, but it don’t mean you got the same thing. So when we say it, I’m like why? And then I go into my whole thing. Like nobody wins with a family feuds, you know, what’s the point of being a team? You know, we know one, if people are so tit for tat, they keeping score. I’m like, well, how’s it going? What are you going to win? And then they love it because why? Because they saw somebody in their family do it. They saw this do it. And so they carry on. I said, when are you going to think for yourself? What’s good for your relationship. I like that. They have to stop and think because they just mimicking stuff. Right. And they don’t know it. 

Speaker 2 (18:12):

Right. So your job and my job as therapists is to help them 

Speaker 3 (18:15):

We’ll reveal that. Yep. And that’s the whole thing about with infidelity. I have to tell them when people come to me, well, it’s so crazy that people come to me, call me, well, how long it’s going to take. I’m like, what? Oh, because it’s on tape. I’m like, well, isn’t it funny? Why would you put a timeline on your healing? And I lost, and I’m not saying I’m very direct to my clients and I want to be very real to them. And I’m like, you know what? I can tell you that. And a lot of people probably went on to other therapists. And I said, you know what, ethically I can tell you. And whoever can tell you a timeline is not good. Of course, scientific facts. We can give them, but everything, you know, you can’t effect each affairs different. And each approach is different. It’s not a cookie cutter and so many elements. So when I go in, I have to evaluate the couple and remember our relations ships can’t or should be solved. Sometimes it is time to call it the end. Right. And that sometime you gotta be real about that. 

Speaker 2 (19:14):

Yeah, no, I like that. Then you just said another golden nugget. Um, how would you put a timeline on your healing? Um, you know, I’ve been doing this almost 36 years. I still can’t tell how long it’s going to take. I don’t know. I don’t know your situation. Even when I get to know you, I don’t know your, your perseverance. I don’t know your resilience. I don’t know what you’re capable of or even as a couple. So you just validated me. I really appreciate that. 

Speaker 3 (19:37):

They just call you right away. How long it’s going to take them. Like, and your name is 

Speaker 2 (19:45):

It’s so true. Why do you think, I mean, I have my own thoughts and I’ve read things, but I’d like to hear from you. Why do relationships on the other side of infidelity healing are better and get better than they were. 

Speaker 3 (19:58):

Oh, because when we commit to make it work, we add that hypervigilant stage from betrayal, trauma that we notice everything we see and everything we can hear better, we can do everything better. So, and that’s what I tell people. I don’t tell you to go out and have an affair. Well, you know, we can talk about a fair approval, but afterwards you alert because it’s just like a watchdog. You are not going to let something slip up again. What’d you say, baby? You one more step. What is it? Okay, what did we do? Because we’re communicating better than ever now, because we commit, right. A key word is committed to make this relationship work. We are going to be hypervigilant with everything. The smallest thing, we going to know emotions. Non-verbals everything because before, and this is why it’s good to talk to somebody, your program, you going to be alert to how, what opened the window for the affair. So go on the other side, y’all going to lock it and the lock it. You’re going to know what it is. So you know where the lock is, the bolts, the nails, the hammer, because this is not going to happen to us again. Well, and that’s, 

Speaker 2 (21:07):

It should have happened in before the infidelity and they weren’t doing that. So this, uh, this, um, prompts them to do that to be more, 

Speaker 3 (21:15):

But then I’d also want to just, um, disclaim what I just said, just because something’s going on in the relationships. Don’t, don’t, doesn’t always mean a affair. And what I dealt with studying about affairs, um, affairs have everything to do because no matter what you do, can’t nobody push or pull you into one. A lot of times I’m studying more about affairs that has to do with self-interest. You know, that person finding themselves in somewhere else. I have a lot of people who sit on my couch or in video with me who loved their partner. It has nothing to do with their partner. And those are the ones that go really deep. And that you got to do more one-on-ones with, so of course, yes. Sometimes it’s the relationship, but sometimes it’s that person. And I tell the hurt partner that because they want to know answers and I have to tell them they might not know. Right? 

Speaker 2 (22:04):

I like that in that stair Parral, you know, says, sometimes you’re not looking for another person you’re looking for another self that’s. So healing and so helpful to the injured party. Who’s like, why did you do this to me? It’s they didn’t do it to you. It happened to you, but it has nothing to do with you. 

Speaker 3 (22:19):

Yup. But you know what, but as we know from Esther Perel and everybody else who says that is still, if I own it, I can control it. Right. It doesn’t have anything to do with me. You would think that make people feel better. And it doesn’t. Oh my God. Cause they want to control it. Oh my God. They’ll has to be me. No, Nope. It was me. Right? Because then I want to control it because if you, I can’t control you, I can control what’s going on in you. So here I go again, lose and taking the L in an uncontrollable sutric situation. And those are the people who can’t get over it. 

Speaker 2 (22:56):

That is so profound and so true. It’s making me emotional. I don’t know why, but it’s, it’s true. I maybe, because I’ve never had the words for it. If I can’t own it, then I can’t control it. And so if you think you’re right, you think, cause I always think it’s not about you. That should make you feel better. It does not 

Speaker 3 (23:12):

Make you feel better. And that’s why I tell my couples that, that, um, the infidel or the betrayer, it can’t, it’s not going to tell you anything. That’s going to suit with you. So if you looking for, this is the reason why I hurt you. This is the reason why I broke up our family and you’re gonna feel better. You’re not. So don’t set up yourself a failure. I keep asking all these questions, thinking that one magical question, going to be like, ah, that’s why you did it. You’re not going to do it. So I have to reel him back in and say, what do you need to know to grow? Yeah. Yeah. What do you need? What do you need to know to heal? 

Speaker 2 (23:53):

Right? Because even when you say that, have you ever had this? I have it all the time where they’re like, ah, I still have to know. I got to know all the details, all the records, all the tweets, all the social media, DMS. 

Speaker 3 (24:03):

Yeah. We run a, um, betrayal group and I’m in there. And I cringe at some of the things tracker’s going on Facebook. And I’m like saying, when you’re done with all of this, what are you going to get out of it? But it’s control. Yeah. I can control this. So I’m doing this, I’m getting them back. I’m doing this to them. I’m doing that because I feel vintages as mine. But at the end of the day, I say, what’s the pro and con of that behavior. 

Speaker 2 (24:30):

You said something earlier. We have about five minutes left. I’d love to kind of wrap up with this. And you said something about being a fair proof. How do you make your relationship? Affair-proof 

Speaker 3 (24:40):

A fair proof is talking about the discussions that you don’t affair proof is not. I’m assuming and discuss monogamy betrayal, boundaries, attraction to others, social media sex, talking about these conversations all the time, because infidelity breeds in the darkness, get it out in the light. Talk about attraction. Other, talk about fetishes and desires. Make your environment safe. That I can tell you, babe. I really don’t like what you did to me license last night, or babe, I wish you do this more to me, you know, at least then. So if the person remember cheating is a choice, but remember you’re not responsible for the fair, but you are responsible for your role in the relationship. And if somebody cheat on you and you know, you did the best is better after healing because Hey, it wasn’t me. 

Speaker 2 (25:39):

So it was true. And when you say monogamy, you mean talking about whether they want monogamy or non-monogamy right. 

Speaker 3 (25:44):

All the time, five years in the relationship, how do you feel about this? Are we still on the same page? Never assume discuss 

Speaker 2 (25:52):

Of all my podcasts. I have to tell you, this has gone the fastest and been one of the most enjoyable, informative, and I’m not lying to you. This is like I could go another half hour with you if we can, but I really, really could. How can people find you on the internet? 

Speaker 3 (26:07):

So I’m right now, I’m on Renelle E nelson.com. Um, if you, on social media, you can go to Instagram. If you want to, we’ll help. We held it. I work with committed couples and you will see all these tips at affair, aftercare on Instagram. If you just want to get connected to your sexual self, I’m adding new are sex therapists, um, on Instagram. And also I just launched something else that I’m so excited about is the orgasmic wife, because, um, it’s to keep you coming after I do. I love that the orgasmic wife is to keep 

Speaker 2 (26:44):

You coming after I do. That is awesome. Thank you. I just want to thank you Ronelle for being my guest today. I really mean it. And if those of you that were listening in and enjoyed the show, please don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe, and also follow me on Instagram and on Twitter at dr. Joe Kort. I’ll see you next time. Take care and be safe. 

Speaker 1 (27:08):

Thanks for listening to this episode of smart sex, smart love. I’m dr. Joe court, and you can find me on Joe kort.com. That’s J O E K O R t.com. See you next time.

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