Whether you end your affair in order to re-commit to your marriage, or whether you end it in order to pursue the affair as a primary relationship, here are three important reasons I discuss with my clients about why they should end their affair. I know. Suggesting you end your affair brings up a lot of resistance and fear. Ending an affair often feels like an impossible proposition. But the only way to get your life into alignment and to know who belongs in it is to stop running and start dealing with reality.
You don't actually know your affair partner. If you're not immediately pissed off and shouting at your computer "yes I do!" then check your pulse. I know you'll disagree with my assertion that you and your affair partner don't know each other, and vehemently. You and your affair partner not only feel that you know each other fully, but you feel like you know each other in a way that you have never known anyone or been known by anyone. One of my clients in Vero Beach, Florida, ended his marriage and started a full relationship with his affair partner. He realized that only then did he and his AP begin to experience each other in a variety of other conditions and circumstances. Going through a divorce brought out sides neither of them had to deal with previously and it challenged them to know each other under a new reality. They are still together and much in love, but they both admitted they learned more about each other's 'dark sides' and actual humanity once the affair ended and they were together in a real way. He is only one of.... every client I see who later admits they learned more about their affair partner once it was no longer an affair. It takes time to get to know a person. In many ways we never really know our partners fully. But being in an actual light-of-day relationship takes on a different flavor and allows us to know our partners as the real people they are.
You're not committed to anything: Right now you're not committed to your marriage or to your affair. Staying in your affair ensures that you don't have to choose. Affairs are avoidant. Yet everyone involved is losing time in this one precious life they have. Affairs can stretch on indefinitely because the person in the affair doesn't commit to a path. Actually, they are committed to a path -- a path of having both things they want and value: a recognizable home life and the benefits of a relationship that fills their other wants and needs. What keeps people in affairs is the promise of commitment. But I encourage you to reflect on the act of commitment. Follow through is very different than hopes and dreams, or even intentions. Committing means you are walking the walk of bringing your life into alignment. Committing means fully addressing the issues in your marriage, and setting everyone free, if necessary. Committing means having difficult but necessary conversations. Committing means investing -- time, energy, heart, soul, attention and focus -- to properly attending to what needs attending to.
Committing means you are walking the walk of bringing your life into alignment. Committing means fully addressing the issues in your marriage, and setting everyone free, if necessary. Committing means having difficult but necessary conversations. Committing means investing -- time, energy, heart, soul, attention and focus -- to properly attending to what needs attending to.
Yes, this is what you dread doing. But if your best friend were in this situation, what would you want to tell them? Without all the rationalizations and excuses, at the end of the day an affair allows you to avoid commitment to any one path. This is no life to live.
3. You're unintentionally doing a lot of damage:
Maintaining an affair does more damage than most people realize until there's significant hindsight. What started as all fun and games can instantly go down in a flaming dumpster fire. Yes, I know it's scary to end the affair in order to live a congruent life (whether with your affair partner or with your spouse). But I'm not an infidelity therapist worth crap if I don't share the dangers:
You're gaslighting your spouse. This is a significant trauma. Gaslighting is practically a requirement of being in an affair. You must conceal, make excuses, and explain away your spouse's questions and observations. How else are you gonna manage both successfully? There's no judgment here, only facts. You could be the kindest, most honest person in the world and still find yourself dodging the truth in a way that makes your spouse question their own reality (gaslighting). This does psychological damage that takes years of undoing and healing. You, and your spouse, deserve better.
You're possibly irreparably damaging the chance of your affair relationship to become a real and viable relationship. With every passing day, week, and month, you risk chipping away at the trust with your affair partner. You're also proving to them that you're not capable or courageous enough to fully address what needs to be addressed in your life. Neither of these things lays the groundwork for a durable or healthy relationship moving forward.
What I see in my practice is that affair partners who turn into real-life partners end up needing to resolve a lot of residual shaken faith and mistrust. Often times, the affair relationship actually can't survive because of the very conditions that created it in the first place. Usually this is not what the person having the affair wants. They actually want a durable relationship. But by having an affair at all, they are ruining the chance of a durable relationship with their spouse AND a durable relationship with the affair partner.
If the affair is discovered, you now have a shit-ton of cleanup to do -- with your kids, your family, possibly your community of friends and colleagues, including your own image of yourself and the image others had of you. This is sobering experience to say the least.
In this moment, close your eyes and think about how our affair is going to end, and then work backward. Are you going to live the rest of your life like this? I didn't think so. The affair will either end with discovery, which can be traumatic for everyone, or it dies a painful death by the people involved, or it is handled in a forthright manner that allows everyone to move forward in a new way.
You may tell yourself you have an ideal timeline or date you're going to end your marriage or end the affair. I'm here to tell you it's horseshit. Sorry! All that happens in that time is that the odds of the affair being discovered increase. And everyone keeps living a painful lie in the meantime. Oof. It happens every day, but its not pretty.
It may be time to set aside the justifications and rationalizations and ask yourself whether you're ready to take one small step at a time toward addressing the situation at hand. I implore you to take matters into your own hands before the option is taken from you. Your affair is a calling for you to heal yourself and your own life. Will you answer?
Lauren provides boots-on-the-ground lived experience combined with invaluable professional expertise working with infidelity. She is committed to helping individuals and couples deal with and heal from marital affairs in a highly effective, yet warm and judgment-free style.
Lauren's articles help share much-needed information, and reduce the stigma and shame around the common experience of infidelity. Contact Lauren at email@example.com to learn more about working together.