The Heartache of Affairs

The Heartache of Affairs.  What kinds of affairs are there?  The impact on the lives of those who practice infidelity is huge. It violates the integrity, trust, and commitment upon which marriage is based. When two people enter into a committed relationship, they make a promise to love and honor each other. This involves making a promise to work through problems that come up within the relationship. Breaking that promise means dishonoring the trust of the person who has agreed to live and build a life with you.

Types of Affairs

The serial affair.  Involves many one-night stands or a series of affairs. This type of affair lacks emotional commitment and intimacy.  The motive is often sexual excitement. These affairs usually occur out of town or away from areas where friends might find out about them.  Sexual addiction may be present in serial affairs. Although a person who engages in serial affairs is not interested in establishing an emotional investment with his or her partners.

The romantic long-term affair.  This is a more serious threat to a primary relationship.  There is an emotional commitment to an outside partner and some of these affairs can last for several years.

Life Transitions.  Relationships go through stages involving losses and gains. These transitions are accompanied by anxiety. The birth of a child, career demands, middle age, and retirement are typical life transitions that have an impact on each partner and on the relationship itself. When we enter into a committed relationship, we bring about idealized images of what our lives will be like and how we will relate to our partner. When these ideals are not met by a life transition, we experience anxiety and sometimes one of the partners will handle the anxiety by finding a different partner so the ideal can be maintained. Rather than facing the anxiety, making the adjustment to the life transition, and giving up old ideals in order to make room for the new realities, a person may find a new love interest, all in a futile attempt to avoid making necessary changes.

Unrealistic Expectations.  Our parents’ marriage serves as our role model for what we expect to find or avoid in our own marriage. Our partners bring their own set of expectations into the marriage.  Often times the two different expectations come into conflict. This conflict may not be apparent initially, but over time it becomes a major focus of the relationship. It is at this point that we may try to change the behavior of our partner so that it conforms to our own expectations. Trying to change your partner’s way of living usually brings more conflict into the relationship. The better option is to examine our own expectations and to make adjustments in our own behavior. But this may be difficult and some people choose to go outside of the relationship in order to find someone who meets their own expectations.

The Cry for Help.  Some people who find themselves blocked in dealing with an unbearable situation have no intention of leaving their relationship. They may feel that they have exhausted all other options in trying to correct the problem, and they finally play their strongest card, which is to have an affair, and then let their partner know about the affair – as if to say, “See, I’ve been trying to tell you all along how much I hurt. Now do you hear me?” Rather than place the relationship in jeopardy through the acting out of frustrations, the better option is to work with a Marriage and Couples Therapist to learn how to deal with frustration in a more productive way.

A Breakdown in Communication.  During the course of a relationship, there are often times when the two partners stop communicating. This could be because one partner feels that he or she has outgrown the other in terms of social activities, career advancement, emotional growth, or intellectual pursuits. Or it could be because one of the partners is geographically removed, ill, or otherwise unavailable. Or there might be a sexual dysfunction, which could be due to a physical problem or lack of communication. Rather than working on ways to enhance communication or correct the problem, one of the partners may turn outside the relationship to find another partner.

The Exit Strategy.  Some people have made a decision to leave their relationship and having an affair is their strategy for making the break. They have an affair in order to make their partner angry enough to initiate the breakup. Or some may see the affair as a way of getting into Marriage Counseling or Couples Therapy so that the therapist can ease the transition into the dissolution of the relationship. And then there are those who may have an affair so that they have a source of support from their new partner as they go through the break-up of their relationship.

If you have been impacted by the sudden news of an affair please contact me at (858) 735-1139 for affair recovery.


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