Dealing with infidelity or extra-marital affair

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

If you're dealing with infidelity or an extramarital affair, you could have landed on this page for four reasons (excluding professional interest). Just before we get to those - you've landed on the second of a three-part article, so do have a look at parts 1 and 3 as well. 

I hope to be able to help you, whatever your reason for searching for advice:

  1. Your partner is having or has had an (extra marital) affair and you need help and support. For more help with this, have a look at Surviving Infidelity - I'll be here when you come back.
  2. You're tempted to have an affair and are looking at dating sites for married individuals.
  3. You're looking for help because you are having an affair. Maybe you can't quite believe that you're doing it. Perhaps you'd never have thought you ever would. Maybe you're wondering what 'caused' you to become the 'other woman' or 'other man', and to cheat on your partner.
  4. You've been having an affair for a while - maybe it was just a bit of fun, but now you've found yourself knee-deep in trouble and you don't know what to do. You either never thought you'd do 'something like this' or you're trying to find out how you can begin to get yourself out of trouble. You're aware, or are beginning to become aware, of how you are/have been putting your or your lover's marriage or relationship in jeopardy (see video further down).

Just before we go on...

Whether you're feeling hurt by your partner's affair or you've fallen for someone else - if you're considering ending your relationship or marriage, then be sure to take stock by taking my Relationship Test.

If you suspect that your partner is going to leave you, do visit my page on How to Get Your Ex Back so that you know what to do should you be confronted with that situation. If, that is, you do actually want him or her back.

Counselling couples after an extramarital affair

As a couple counsellor with 24 years' experience, I'm talking with you here about what may be involved. It is not my place to judge. I'm hoping to help you think through what you need to be saying and doing, and how you can recover - either on your own or as a couple.

I've written about what I've learned from working with hundreds of couples dealing with the drama following the disclosure or discovery of a marital affair (or extramarital affair).

However, you'll find that my first consideration is for the primary relationship - the existing committed relationship or marriage.

Do you feel desperate to sort out your marriage or relationship right now? If so, I'd really recommend you hop straight over to my page, Save Your Marriage/Relationship.  

It's a super programme and gives you the best possible chance of saving your relationship - even if your partner seems to have given up.  The author, Lee Baucom PhD, doesn't like couple counsellors... so you won't have to worry about him suggesting you should be seeing one if that's not what you want.

15 'causes' of - or excuses for - infidelity

Why do people -– men and women - have affairs? Well, as a couple counsellor, I've heard a whole host of 'causes' of - or 'reasons' for - infidelity. I've listed below the main ones I've come across in my practice.

I really urge you to keep in mind, though, that it won't help the situation at home if you attempt to use any of these as an excuse.

You, like many others, may have ‘found’ yourself dealing with infidelity for one or a number of the following:

  1. Someone paid you attention - you badly needed it, or at least you thought you did, and it made you feel fantastic.
  2. For no ‘apparent’ reason you feel (or felt) hopelessly attracted to someone and you can't put that person out of your mind - he/she is 'the love of your life'.
  3. Your partner has had an affair and now you're out for adventure as revenge... almost anyone will do - you'd love to be dealing with infidelity.
  4. Your marriage or relationship is dead - both you and your partner know it, and you feel that the affair is giving you something you otherwise wouldn't have had. Of course, there are plenty of people who would claim their marriage is dead without their spouse knowing about it!
  5. You haven't been in a committed relationship to know how precious it can be, and therefore haven't given the other partner any thought at all.
  6. You feel this is your chance for a ‘bit of happiness -– for whatever reason. Your happiness is very likely to be short-lived - for you, an affair is not the answer. Avoiding dealing with what really makes you unhappy is just going to prolong the agony long-term.
  7. You're young and feel privileged to be the 'chosen one' of someone older and/or in a position of power. You may not realise the total devastation your dealing with infidelity may cause.
  8. You feel the 'chosen one' of someone in a position of power -– the affair appears to do wonders for your low-self esteem and/or lack of confidence.
  9. Your partner suffers from a long-term illness, taking up all your attention, time and other resources. There's no space for you and this affair is meeting your needs - emotional and/or physical.
  10. You have a long-distance relationship; you're missing having someone close and you want some fun. 
  11. You don't care about your relationship or your lover's primary relationship –- you're having (or you had) an affair out of bravado and contempt, and for any perceived ‘kudos’ - adultery is the name of the game.
  12. You have a greater need for a physical relationship and your partner has never been that interested, has lost interest or just can'’t ‘provide’ for whatever reason.
  13. You're feeling invincible and see no problem in doing just what you like. You have a list of reasons as to why you're entitled to have an affair, but you're beginning to have niggles about it.
  14. You're in touch again with an old flame and despite being married or in a relationship, you feel driven to be close to this person.
  15. You had absolutely no idea that your ‘lover’ was/is already married or in a relationship. This is a really painful one, if you truly didn't know. You were lied to and now you're having to cope with the shock of that discovery and, quite likely, the end of that relationship.

Whatever your reason for being unfaithful, the above are only factors that may have led up to you having a marital affair. They aren't excuses - you made choices.

If you're dealing with infidelity or an extramarital affair, I'm afraid to say it will end in tears for at least one of the parties - if it hasn'’t already.

The brain in love

Have a look at this short video clip to learn what happens in the brain with regards to lust, romantic love and attachment. This video is particularly interesting when you're dealing with infidelity...

Read on to discover the dangers of being unfaithful, and things to consider if there are children involved... (Part 3)

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

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How to Get over Someone You Love
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