By Elly Prior (About)
Counsellor, Founder and Author of Professional-counselling.com
How to deal with infidelity
This page is part of a series of articles on how to deal with infidelity. So, if the search engine has landed you on this one first, do also visit Dealing With Infidelity Page 1.
If you're having an affair, you may not necessarily be caught cheating now. However, the skeleton could potentially roll out of the cupboard at any time - if it hasn't already.
Needless to say - there is never a good time! If you and/or your partner have been having relationship problems, identifying the issues in your relationship or marriage is a much better plan for long-term gain. If you can face up to the problems and - if necessary - ask for help, you'll be in a much better position to move forward happily.
There is a chance that you've met your soul-mate (see further down). But - I'd still strongly advise you to read the next section about the potential fall-out of your cheating on your current relationship.
I've listed some potential problems with having an extra-marital affair. Do consider the following...
10 Potential dangers of having an extramarital affair
- Having an affair may help you to meet your Essential Emotional Needs at least in the short-term, but is it actually just a temporary 'plaster'?
- Your lover is probably not going to leave his/her partner, particularly if they have children. Occasionally it happens, but more often than not the waiting is in vain.
- If your lover is willing to have an extramarital affair with you, he or she may well be willing to have an affair with someone else later down the line. What is that going to do for your sense of security, if this relationship becomes more permanent?
- How would you feel and respond if you were challenged by an angry and hurt partner? And what if he or she reported your cheating at your place of work? (It certainly has happened in an organisation I worked for!)
- Your emotional and mental well-being is to a large degree dependent on the health of the relationships with people you feel closest to. How would your family and/or friends respond? How important is that to you?
- Are you cheating on your partner at work? How would it affect your job/promotion prospects and your relationship with your colleagues if your infidelity was discovered? What if the relationship goes sour? Could you still work in that place/department/position?
- What if you/the other woman fell pregnant? Can you truly be sure that's not going to happen?
- If you're normally considerate of other people's feelings, you may end up feeling unbearably guilty for a long time about all the pain caused (often described as a physical pain!), like so many of my past clients.
- What is the effect of the lies and dishonesty on your self-esteem, your sense of 'self', your belief in who you are and what you stand for?
- What about your sexual health? It may be worth having yourself checked out. If there is a problem it may come to it that you also have to tell your partner(s) to have themselves checked.
When you're drawn into an affair, it's unlikely that you'll want to be confronted by any of these uncomfortable facts. However, I'm hopeful that - since you're looking for information - this will help you to think about your next step, and be considerate of other people.
What if it is really 'serious'?
There is of course a chance that you've met the love of your life, despite you already being married or in a relationship. However, unless you really understand and face up to the potential impact of your infidelity, it's very likely to all go horribly wrong.
If you're both really serious about this relationship, then you need to invest time and energy in creating a 'good' ending to your existing relationship. Your present, primary relationship or marriage needs all your attention in bringing it to an end. That may well take months!
Want to start improving your relationship or marriage right now? Then I can do no better than to recommend: Save my Marriage/Relationship. Lee Baucom, PhD - the author of this marriage repair blueprint - would rather you don't attend counselling with a badly trained couples counsellor.
Alternatively, take my Relationship Test if you're unsure whether to stay or go. You'll find out if and when you should be thinking about ending your marriage or relationship.
Are there children involved in your affair?
Complications increase when you're dealing with infidelity and either one of you is a parent (or indeed you are both parents).
Here are some of the issues you need to consider before you decide on whether or not to pursue this affair. The following will have an impact on you:
- Your and/or your lover's children may find out. How would you explain what's been happening - without blaming your partner?
- Your lover may have children from one or more partners. Have you considered the potential impact of the other parent(s') wishes, demands, involvement and judgments on your new relationship? This may or may not be important to you, but depending on the make-up of your family it can be a very big factor in your continuing relationship with those children.
- It's very likely that your spouse won't want the children introduced to your new partner for a long time. So, if you're anticipating a future with this man or woman, your children may not be allowed to spend time with the two of you. This is particularly important if your marriage or relationship has really come to an end and you are keen to 'move on'.
- The ending of the primary relationship, if it comes to this, it will be complicated with regard to the children at the very least.
- Older children are very likely to judge you and you may find it very hard to recover their trust, love and respect. Imagine for a moment how you would tell your children that you have cheated on their mum/dad.
- Adult children's reactions too can have quite an impact! You may argue that it has nothing to do with them - they're adults and this is your life. However, your life is forever connected to theirs - their hurt and anger can have a real impact on how you feel. You may end up feeling hugely guilty about all the pain caused.
Many of my clients who were having an affair ended up feeling terribly caught up between two partners - for whatever reason. You may too. I can't tell you what a relief it can be to be able to discuss this in confidence.
I get that you can become totally absorbed by a love-affair. I also totally understand that you may feel trapped between all the 'wants' and 'shoulds'. If you feel torn and don't know what to do - talk to a relationship expert - you can, right now.
Other Helpful Links
Review of the research findings of infidelity in committed relationships
Go right ahead and comment (please keep it short)!
I'll do my best to offer a few words of comfort.