There are many moments during “The Kardashians” this season that highlight the incomparability of the family: cashmere-lined jets, Sports Illustrated covers, Panchakarma cleanses, and sprawling new mansions. But the season finale showed us in part why the Kardashians’ appeal holds, documenting the fallout from Tristan Thompson’s final public episode of infidelity and the ways the sisters grapple with betrayal, trust, and healing. It portrayed universal challenges in the pursuit of healthy relationships.

Healthy Relationships

Khloé and Kim bonded over motherhood, expressing how much effort they put into preserving their relationship with their children. Khloé spoke of trauma, saying she felt publicly and privately humiliated by Thompson’s chronic deceptions but also numb and insensitive. Kim told of growth, presumably referring to the end of her marriage to Kanye West, and stated at a family gathering that she’s come to a place where “if you bring bad energy into my life, it lifts a line.” At the end of the episode, Scott and Khloé discuss whether they can avoid carrying old wounds into new relationships, to which Khloé replies, “I think we can find people we can trust.” Still, past experiences mean they are likely to love “differently”.

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“They operate in a very different economic sphere, a celebrity atmosphere, all this sort of thing far removed from ordinary people. However, I don’t think that makes it unrelated, irrelevant, potentially uninteresting, or not instructive,” said Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse University’s Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture. “I don’t think we would have stopped watching all this time if everything they did was completely unrelated to our experience. It would have become pointless.”

USA TODAY spoke with three mental health experts, Carla Manly, a clinical psychologist and author of “Date Smart: Transform Your Relationships and Love Fearlessly,” Rachel Sussman, a licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert in New York City, and dr. Ramani Durvasula, a narcissist expert, talks about lessons on healthy versus unhealthy relationships in Thursday’s finale.

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‘Repeated infidelity… takes a heavy toll.’

The final episode of “The Kardashians” has been dominated by the family’s reaction to the revelation that Thompson fathered another child while still dating Khloé, who revealed earlier in the season that she and Thompson were working to restore trust. . Cameras capture Khloé’s distraught audio before Kim waves them away.

“Repeated infidelity — whether physical or emotional — takes a heavy toll on mental health,” Manly said. “Since we must be able to trust our partners to feel safe and loved fully, a partner who does not act faithfully and loyally will create a pernicious sense of insecurity in the relationship. … Especially considering that the world At large often feels unsafe and upsetting, it’s especially important that we feel safe within our romantic partnerships.”

After her initial display of emotion, Khloé appears largely stoic and at one point says she is “emotionally exhausted.”

“I’ve done this so many times now,” she says. “There are no more tears to cry.”

Durvasula said repeated infidelity could promote a sense of self-blame, self-doubt, anxiety, rumination, regret, confusion, depression, irritability, distraction, and sleep or eating problems.

“It takes a person out of their life,” she said.

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Sussman said, based on her work in her clinical practice, that she believes a relationship can recover from a single episode of infidelity. However, multiple infidelities can indicate a deep-seated psychological problem. She said a person who chronically cheats needs immediate help, and that may include rehab.

“Even then, it’s complicated whether (the relationship) can continue,” she said.

Boundaries are essential for healthy relationships

At a family gathering to discuss Thompson, Kim says she learned the importance of setting boundaries, which mental health experts say are crucial to a healthy relationship.

“If we don’t have healthy boundaries, those who prefer to meet their own needs — regardless of what’s healthy for others — will often just carry on in whatever way feels most convenient to them,” Manly said.

As hard as it is to set healthy boundaries, Manly said, it’s the only way long-term safe and trusting relationships are formed.

Sussman said setting boundaries can look like saying, “No, we don’t spend all our time together,” or “No, you can’t talk to me this way,” or “No, it’s not okay that you expect that.” mine.”

Sussman says infidelity is “the ultimate boundary crossing.”

Giving second chances is not weak, but it can be risky

“Second Chances” is a prominent theme in the episode. Kourtney says at the family gathering that it is “people who would help Tristan”. Khloé says she is a proponent of giving people multiple opportunities to better themselves.

Durvasula said offering second chances is not weak but can be risky.

“The more toxic a person is, the more times they have committed the same mistakes and betrayals, the more likely they are to do it again,” she said. “Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.”

Experts say it is possible to give people a second chance in a healthy way, but the person committing the offense has to save to change, and the person who wants change needs realistic expectations.

“Once we’re very clear about our needs, it’s important to express the needs and boundaries directly and calmly,” Manly said. “This ensures that others get clarity about what exactly is expected. After that, it is the other person’s choice to honor or ignore the request.”

In the episode, Kim and Khloé discuss how they’ve worked hard on their relationships to keep their families together. Mental health experts say that staying together for the children’s good is only healthy if the parents remain fit role models.

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After repeated betrayal, I am working on healing.

During the episode, Khloé emphasizes that one of the hardest things about Thompson’s infidelity is the accompanying public reaction and judgment.

Everyone has an opinion about what Khloé deserves and has tolerated. The Kardashians have become part of the fabric of American culture, and sharing their lives has sparked scrutiny and criticism. They have been accused multiple times of cultural appropriation, of promoting unrealistic beauty standards, and of being completely out of touch.

Thompson said those opinions might be the price celebrities pay for the wealth and status they’ve achieved. Still, Durvasula says the judgment and vitriol aimed at Khloé for decisions she makes in her romantic relationship are largely unwarranted.

“Each of us has to bottom out in a relationship at our own pace, and we shouldn’t judge that for anyone else,” she said. “It is never the cheater’s fault that the cheater cheated. The cheater could have ended the relationship before having sex with someone else and could have said no to sex. Cheating is a choice.”

Near the end of the episode, Khloé tells Scott that she hopes she can trust another partner again.

“As we turn to our partners for safety, love, and acceptance, it is extremely painful to find that a partner has betrayed your trust,” Manly said. “In order not to carry unprocessed wounds from a betrayal into a new relationship, it is extremely important to do the self-work necessary to heal.”


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