Let me first start off by saying I am not in any way, shape, manner or form promoting, approving or condoning having an affair. The purpose of this article is to explore the anatomy of an affair, the trap that makes it seem so enticing, and how to create the emotional experience people seek in an affair with your spouse or partner. If people understood the anatomy of an affair, they can work towards affair-proofing their relationships and marriages.
Inside An Affair: Some things you may not know...
Sex is not the only kind of affair. That's right. There is more than one way to cheat on a person and sexually is only one way. Many people engage in emotional affairs which is usually what really causes the most pain to the person being cheated on. An emotional affair is the most common type of affair because most people think they're engaging in innocent behavior. This is why having an isolated friendship with someone of the opposite sex is a huge NO NO. Many affairs begin with an "innocent" friendship. How? Because as soon as needs aren't being met in your marriage, you start seeking it from your friend without even recognizing it. Many times it just starts out as approval, attention, someone to talk to who you feel listens without bias or judgment. When you find yourself running to this other person and not your spouse, you've just began an emotional affair. When you find yourself telling your friend thing you do not share with your spouse, you've just began an emotional affair.
You see, most people who end up having a sexual affair, begin with an emotional affair. The logical progression when you've emotionally connected with someone of the opposite sex in today's society is sex. Many people don't even intend on having sex outside of their marriage, but somehow find themselves not being able to put the breaks on when it happens. What they don't realize is that an affair is just a band-aid over the issues they're not addressing in their relationship and usually affairs cause worse damage than the original issues.
So What Is It Your Spouse Is Truly Seeking By Having An Affair?
Usually it's emotional. Usually it's connection. As I said above, maybe it's being able to talk with someone about life in general, about your dreams or interests without judgment, condemnation, unsolicited advice, with an encouraging ear. Sometimes people direly feel the need to be heard, understood and validated.
Sometimes it's attention. Maybe your spouse doesn't call you beautiful anymore. Maybe he never notices when you buy a new outfit or change your hairstyle. But you're sitting here reading thinking, can it really be that simple? Noticing my wife's new hair or her wardrobe? Yes. Why? Because it's not that simple; it's not noticing the dress or the hair, it's noticing her. It's noticing that she's beautiful and alive. It's noticing that your husband has a pulse and is sexy and a gentlemen. Do you know how deep that feeling runs? Deep enough that people have affairs to get it. What happens is someone comes along who does notice these things. They don't say "you look nice"; they say "Wow, you look stunning". They use adjectives! And what does this accomplish? It makes them feel noticed, valued, and wanted.
Sometimes, it really is sex. I do find that sex is usually just a byproduct of the emotional connection people are seeking in an affair. But there are those who have a high demand for sex, or just can not get it from their spouse for whatever reason. Their spouse has shut them down and won't open for business and a partner feels like they have no other choice. This is not an excuse to have an affair. I'm just saying, this is why some people go outside of their marriages.
So Why Don't People Just Get Out Instead Of Cheating?
The Trap. Many people think having an affair is an easy way to get what they want without having to experience the pain of going through a divorce. Yet when you ask most people, they would say cheating is wrong and that you should divorce or breakup before cheating on your mate. While in theory this is true, it is much more complicated than that. This is the trap many people fall into. Usually their marriage has been in a rut for sometime, they are complacent, maybe they've tried to voice their unhappiness to no avail. For whatever reason they feel their spouse is unresponsive to their needs.
In some cases, people don't even know their needs aren't being met until someone new comes along and flaunts a new flavor that upsets the apple cart. I still believe that in 99% of these cases, there still has been some attempt or the feeling of having attempted to voice feelings of unhappiness. Ending one's marriage is an extremely complicated endeavor. Even if you know that divorce is ultimately the right decision, it's still incredibly painful and difficult. Many people just aren't sure they're willing to go that far and break apart their life from someone, because that's ultimately what it is: it's breaking apart a life from someone that you've been running the same path with for years, maybe even decades. People think maybe if they find a way to bide their time now, happier times are just around the corner. But the problem is they use an affair to bide the time instead of something like marriage counseling. So it seems easier to just dabble in a little something something on the side, what they think is on the down low and will never be discovered, than to actually face the pain and end their dying relationship. Keep reading...
More infidelity advice on YourTango:
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- How to Move On From A Painful Breakup
- Divorce: Expert Advice & Survival Tips