About Affairs

14 Mar

Can Relationships That Start as Affairs Succeed…Revisited

I have just come across clarification on a statistic I cited in “Can Relationships That Start as Affairs Succeed?” In that post I stated that 25% of relationships that start as affairs succeed. I always thought that sounded a bit high. Recently this figure has been clarified by Frank Pittman. In the study he is citing, the divorce rate among those who married their lovers was 75%.  Information is not available about the quality of the 25% of marriages that did not end in divorce.  The study did provide information on the reasons that the marriages ended… Continue Reading »

23 May

What is an Emotional Affair?

Emotional affair? I thought affairs meant extramarital sex!

He tells me they’re just friends. Am I being too possessive?

Can’t I have friends of the opposite sex?

Isn’t it better to give him a long leash?

Emotional affairs have become a hot topic in the last several years, resulting in much needed clarity for some and complete confusion for others. Conflicts arise in couples where one person’s friendship with someone else leaves their partner feeling neglected and angry , but also confused and uncertain about how to respond. “After all, they’re just business associates having lunch. I shouldn’t be so possessive.” Continue Reading »

25 Dec

How Do Affairs Affect Children? Part I

In this post I will address how children are effected by their parent’s affairs. In subsequent posts I will discuss the effects on adult children of affairs and offer suggestions for parents involved in affairs on how to best support their children through this difficult time. You may also wish to read about “Children of Affairs”.

Unfortunately, it is frequently true that when caught up in an affair your relationship with your children is altered in the direction of disconnectedness.

In other posts I have talked about the trancelike state of consciousness that one inhabits during an affair. In this altered state links between actions and consequences dissolve; in the euphoric bubble you inhabit you believe you can pursue an illicit relationship and no one will be hurt because you believe that you can control everything and so prevent this from happening. However, this is a grandiose assumption that more and more requires you to lie to, manipulate and avoid intimate contact with your family, sometimes with irrevocable results.

Many couples I see who are trying to work on healing from an affair Continue Reading »

28 Jul

The Other Woman (or Man) – A Paradoxical Experience

If you are a single woman that has been seeing a married man for some time and reading this, chances are that you have already gone through the initial stages of infatuation and blinding bliss. In these initial stages you are not wanting to think too deeply about the realities you are creating in your life by pursuing this relationship. But as things progress and the honeymoon period wears off you start to have questions, you bring them up to you lover, but most likely come away with answers that leave you only partially or not at all satisfied. These questions have to do with what you mean to him, whether or not he will leave his wife for you, how he can justify cheating on his wife, whether or not he has done this before, or is cheating on you now. Getting these answers become more and more important as you become more involved and then obsessed with your lover and realize that you are not as central to him as he is to you. (I am using the term “the other woman” as a literary convenience because statistics show that married men have affairs more frequently than do married women. However, most of the following also applies to men who find themselves in this position.)

Rona Subotnik illuminates a list of paradoxical realities that you may find yourself living with as the other woman. Here is my version of her findings: Continue Reading »

18 Feb

Can Relationships That Start as Affairs Succeed?

I came across an interesting statistic recently; 25% of relationships that start as affairs succeed. Actually, I was surprised, if I had to guess, I would have thought the figure to be much lower. (For an update on this statistic go to “Can Relationships That Start as Affairs Succeed? Revisited”) But a statistic is just that, and doesn’t tell you anything about your own individual situation.

Feeling torn between two lovers can be an agonizing experience. Besides the guilt, and fear of discovery, you also know that sooner or later you will have to lose someone you love or have loved. Thinking about this, you may wonder what the chances are that a relationship that starts as an affair will succeed. Continue Reading »

31 Oct

Should I Tell My Partner About The Affair?

Most likely if you are reading this you have been struggling with whether to tell your partner for a while. It’s natural to feel paralyzed, and unable to think deeply about your options. The issues involved can seem endlessly complicated; any route you take resulting in emotional upheaval for everyone involved. Revealing your affair will undoubtedly alter many important relationships in ways that you cannot predict or control. The situation is less difficult if you are clear that you want to leave your relationship for your new lover, but if you have now realized that in fact, you have made a mistake and want to save your primary relationship, or if you don’t yet know who you really want to be with, Continue Reading »

31 Oct

I Just Found Out My Partner is Having an Affair!

You are probably in shock.   You might feel as if the floor has opened up under you. Suddenly, there is an emergency and a strong need to take some action right away; you may have already left or thrown your partner out, or you may feel on the verge of doing so. But this may not bring you any real relief.

Your sense of safety, of trusting your own experience, of your place in the world, has suddenly been shaken to the core and the person you usually turn to for help is the very person who is the cause! Continue Reading »

03 Sep

Torn Between Two Lovers (or a lover and a partner)

If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, has it made a sound? The intrigue this question provokes is related to a central idea in postmodern philosophy, which is; a phenomena cannot be truly perceived apart from the context in which it is situated. A very obvious example of this would occur in a visit to the zoo, where we watch animals and think we are seeing true animal behavior. But what we are seeing are animals behaving in cages while experiencing being observed by humans. Their behavior is altered in ways that prevent us from knowing their most true nature. What has this got to do with undisclosed affairs? Continue Reading »

08 Nov

Affairs and Ultimatums

Should I give my partner an ultimatum…the other person or me?” This is a question I hear frequently.

Discovering your partner’s affair can be traumatic enough. The best chance for healing the marriage is if the affair is relinquished and all of your partner’s energy turns to you and your relationship. But this doesn’t always happen. Some people in affairs are up front about not being willing to end some kind of involvement with the affair partner. Some do end it and then Continue Reading »

19 Oct

Does an Affair Mean the Marriage is Over?

It’s definitely what most people believe, and tell their spouses early on.  “If you ever have an affair, it’s over!”  There are many reasons some find it important to take this stand at the outset.  But sometimes, once it happens, it all seems more complicated.

For a long time it was commonly believed that affairs were actually the leading cause of divorce.  But now we know that is not true.   The most recent studies show that only about 25% of divorces are attributed to affairs.

So what is causing so many divorces?   Continue Reading »

26 Jul

Sex After the Affair

You are in the aftermath of your partner’s affair, trying to work things out. It’s a time of great emotional upheaval, everything upside down and inside out.  Your relationship feels shattered…you feel shattered, yet somehow something survives and you still hope to work things out. It might be the thing you thought you would never do, stay with someone who has strayed, yet you find that now that you are in the situation, it’s not that simple.  Somehow, amidst  the outrage and devastation there is still love.

Couples in this situation have to rethink their sexual relationship.  In my experience one of three things happen. Continue Reading »

02 Feb

Why Do I Keep Obsessing Over the Affair?

Obsessing over the affair is an absolutely natural and normal response to the trauma you have experienced.

If you find yourself unable to, at times, stop turning over the lies, snippets of conversation, unanswered questions, things that don’t add up, or visualizing the same devastating images over and over, know that although this can be agonizing, it is actually Continue Reading »

25 Jan

How Can I Stop Obsessing Over the Affair?

In order to help yourself when you can’t stop thinking about the affair, it is important to understand the different functions obsessing can serve in your healing process.

My first and most important piece of advice is to try to stop beating yourself up for those times when you can’t stop going over the details, questions, lies, or things that just don’t add up, over and over again. (For more about lying click here.) It is important to understand that  this is a completely natural and normal response to trauma, something that almost everyone in your situation experiences and that it is also Continue Reading »

03 Jan

The Six “R’s” of Healing an Affair

You might be surprised and overwhelmed at how upset your partner is about your affair.    The amount of rage, and hatred directed at you can seem overwhelming, as well as the depression and withdrawal that your partner might also be experiencing.  Though you both might want to work it out, you find yourselves tossed about in  a turbulent sea of emotions.  You may feel desperate about how to fix things, Continue Reading »

22 Dec

“How Can I Believe Him When He Says He’s Not Having an Affair?”

It can be completely crazy-making to feel like you cannot get at the truth. Something doesn’t feel right between the two of you, he’s not around as much as he used to be, not as interested in you. You suspect he might be seeing someone else. You demand he look you straight in the eye and tell you this isn’t so. He does. Can you be certain you now know?

Not according to Continue Reading »

30 Nov

What Type of Affair is This?

During the traumatic throes of the discovery of an affair, finding the right label, and therefore, singular explanation may feel like a life preserver.

As you read through books and web sites, you’ve probably noticed that almost everyone who writes about affairs has some way of categorizing them. Here are some common examples:

 “intimacy avoiding”, “anger avoiding”, “romantic”, “exit,” “split self”   “availability,” “alcoholic,” “retaliation, “revenge,” “sexual,” “culturally enabled,” “emotional,” “sex addiction,” proving you’re still attractive,” “can’t say no,””….

However, in my experience, this is only a good start, rather than the final word. Most affairs do not have a singular motive, or cause, but are multi-determined, frequently one piece in a complex puzzle. Understanding this enables couples to be more interested in the whole picture, and lessens the need for blame/shame dynamics.

Let’s use John as an example. (This story is not representative of any particular client that I have seen. Rather it is a composite based on my experience with hundreds of individuals and couples.)

John’s affair started months after his wedding and continued for years.

John had secretly been Continue Reading »

30 Nov

“Mad Men” in Affairs

Men weren’t really the enemy – – they were fellow victims suffering from an outmoded masculine mystique that made them feel unnecessarily inadequate when there were no bears to kill  Betty Friedan, Christian Science Monitor, April 1974

“Mad Men” portrays this “mystique” … women as subordinate and submissive, housewives, maybe secretaries, always standing behind their men, and only able to derive status from their husbands’ positions. The women who dared to deviate from this arrangement paid dearly (as did the women who submitted to it).

It appeared that men had it all… power, control, status, in general..superiority.

But Don Draper Continue Reading »

02 Sep

Children of Affairs

Some time ago I received a call from the Dr. Phil Show wanting to know if had any information about children of affairs. I did some research and was shocked to find… Continue Reading »

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Susan Berger is a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA and Walnut Creek, CA (lic. # MFC21193) | 121 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118 | 1415 Oakland Blvd, Ste. 100, Walnut Creek, CA 94596
photography by Bethanie Hines