Is An Affair Worth The Risk?

As romantic melodies surround you it is easy to feel that responsibilities are all consuming and a chance to be loved is missing. Perhaps your relationship feels tense or platonic and that wonderful “in love” feeling is gone. The idea of meeting someone whose face will light up at the site of you as you rush for passionate kisses stirs your heartbeat. You flirt with the thought of having an affair.

In my years as a marriage and family therapist I have counselled many people who are considering an affair, are in the middle of an indiscretion or trying to heal from the devastation of disclosure.

Affairs are filled with fantasy, secrets and lies. For most people the fact that someone who they trusted implicitly lied directly to their face is the deepest pain.

Monogamous relationships are based on making a deal to be faithful and honest. It is natural for healthy adults to find that they are physically, emotionally and sexually attracted to other people. It is not the feelings that cause problems, it’s the behaviour that results.

Emotional infidelity is when a bond is formed with someone other than the spouse and the attraction is kept a secret. The fantasies of being with the other person, the flirtations and jokes with double meanings are the first steps down the slippery slope of adultery. The signs include;

1. mentioning the person’s name often in conversations,

2. avoiding the behaviour in front of your spouse,

3. keeping your feelings a secret from coworkers, friends and family,

4. feeling guilty yet can’t stop yourself from wishing it would progress further,

5. thinking and fantasizing about a romance when you’re not with the person,

6. redirecting your route to pass by or meet the object of your fantasy.

This stage of infidelity is like a psychotic episode. Responsibilities tend to be forgotten, the imagination runs wild, energy is high and the thought of being discovered is usually dismissed. If confronted by someone who sees your behaviour you tell them they are imagining what they see.

Signs that indicate a cheater include;

1. picking at their spouse about inconsequential issues as a way to justify your behaviour,

2. wearing new clothing, changing hairstyle and taking extra care with makeup,

3. unexplained absences,

4. telephone calls, emails, a purse or briefcase and computer use are suddenly private,

5. daydreaming and a sense of being distracted are evident.

Many more signs can readily be detected that vary depending on the stage of the relationship. Oftentimes sex with a spouse stops when sexual activity in an affair starts.

Some marriages survive adultery, growing stronger by ensuring that there is time to be lovers not just partners in running a home and being parents. Other relationships split with bitterness and conflict over custody and support dragging on for years. Children blame the parent who had the affair even though the cause of an affair can be traced back to a change in the marriage.

A couple who agrees to have an open marriage with other sexual partners an affair may pose no risk. For most married couples an affair is a major crisis.

I advise my clients to recognize their desire for romance and to address their need with their partner to see if the relationship can be rekindled. Some relationships cannot and the couple agree to split.

Affairs turn honest people into liars, trustworthy people into cheats and devastate families. In my view, an affair is never worth the risk.

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