Whether you are the other person, the discoverer, or the discovered, virtually all of your relationships have been altered by the affair.

Especially at first, the impulse to keep the affair a secret is usually very strong. Certainly, the person having the affair doesn’t want anyone to know, and the secrecy can even add excitement to the affair relationship. However, if you are feeling conflicted about the affair, it may be painful to have no one to talk to about it.

Once discovered, you and your partner may regard the affair as a shameful secret that must be kept at all costs. Some couples do not disclose the affair to anyone, including extended family. Cultural values play an important role in these decisions. Extended family is more likely to be told in cultures where affairs are more commonplace. Class also plays a similar role. For some, keeping up appearances can feel more important than anything else. And often an affair happens to the “ideal couple” in everyone else’s eyes.

It can be extremely anxiety provoking to imagine the shock, disappointment, criticism, and even rejection that might follow disclosure. You also might be afraid of pressure to make decisions quickly that you don’t feel ready to make. Although enraged and deeply hurt, some discoverers feel they must protect their partner’s reputation. However, you also may be surprised to find that after the initial shock, friends and family are more supportive than you would have imagined.

It is important for you and your partner to evaluate the pros and cons of sharing what has happened with each important person in your lives, weighing the possible benefits and risks. Something to consider is that in general, the more secret something is kept, the more shameful it becomes.

Peggy Vaughn’s survey contained the following question: Was it helpful to talk to friends/family/others? The responses were: 12% – Didn’t talk or not useful. 50% – Helped some, but not as much as I’d like. 38% – Extremely helpful. No one volunteered that it made things worse.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I have been with my wife for 42 years. I recently found out she had several affairs over the years. One was with my best friend. I found out through a Facebook post where he responded to her comment saying he remembers her coming over one afternoon and making it so memorable for him. I lost it and separated immediately. I also had a gut instinct she was doing my friend and then several people approached me and said you should keep an eye on your wife. I could not handle it and left her and now we are living miles apart. I am now on my healing journey and on the way to forgiving myself for the part I played, but I must also forgive her so I can move on. Yes it hurts but time to move on.

  2. Anonymous

    I have a girlfriend who has many exes, which is okay for me. I just want to ask if it is okay to keep our secret affair to her parents. My parents know I have a girlfriend (which is okay for them), while my girlfriend’s parents are somehow strict. My girlfriend said, “lets keep this a secret okay :).” She doesn’t want to tell her friends and I see a lot of men being clingy with her. So it jealousy? I trust her because she gave me something that is proof that we will be forever bound eternally (not sex). I don’t know what to do. Should I keep it this way, having a secret affair with their daughter?

  3. Anonymous

    Your husband is still cheating on you.

  4. Anonymous

    Wife of 23 + years had 2 year affair with a married man (plus a separate one night 8 years before). Day was December 2014. I insisted she tell our 3 teenage children (limited information) to ensure they knew they were not responsible for any deterioration in our marital relationship and she chose to tell her parents. I told my mother and sister. We also told close friends, mutual friends and personal friends. Her bosses at work know. I have wanted to meet with the AP since the early days and am doing so tonight to discuss with him disclosing to his wife. In my view, the more out in the open, the more the APs and spouse(s) have to address the “entire matter” (which not surprisingly they want to keep as hidden as possible) i.e. what we all need/want from each other/spouses, what are the full consequences of the AP’s actions, personal issues that led parties to have affair, etc. Secrecy may be possible when there has been no discovery of an EA but I really firmly now believe even more than before, that following discovery one should be prepared and willing to be upfront and open. Already from the “exposure” we have now had, I have become aware of at least 2 other relationships affected by EAs. For a BS….do not think you are among few in experiencing marital betrayal……

  5. Anonymous

    I have been seeing a wonderful man for 6 months, he is divorced due to his wife having an affair. What I don’t understand is why he hasn’t told anyone as to the reason they separated. He says it was to protect his family as they would have been devastated and didn’t feel that he needed to tell his friends for whatever reason. Is this normal? I would have thought if your wife/husband had an affair you would disclose this information. PS never done this before, hope I have posted in the right section

  6. Anonymous

    When my now ex husband of a 17 year marriage, told me about the other woman, I crumbled. I never suspected or saw it coming.I tried everything i could for 6 months to save our marriage. When he filed divorce & it reached the court docket, I accepted the end for us. I went to facebook and publicly outed him and her for the betrayal. She was married. He was married. I felt like there is no way in hell, after birthing 3 kids together and giving him half my life was he going to quietly tuck me away without accountability for his actions… so I exposed them both to the world….I’m glad i did and I’d do it again.

    This was my 1st and only marriage, his second and the cheater’s 2nd marriage. By the way, he married her 5 days after the divorce finalized.

  7. Anonymous

    I am ashamed to say this but I was fooling around behind my boyfriend’s back. He found out about it and we broke up over it. He thinks that I should tell him all the details (every one of them) and that my kids and parents should know about this as well. He said that IF we are ever to get back together – that I must divulge ALL! This happened almost 1 yr ago and I don’t remember exactly who I told – but I do know that I didn’t give clear details to my kids (who are grown up)

    I don’t think it will help or make any difference if people were to know all that happened.

    And I don’t know if it will help us to get back together or not.

    Honestly, if our relationship was good – I would not have messed around to begin with!
    And this is not an excuse, by any means, to have an affair. I am very ashamed of myself for allowing this to happen and for hurting someone that I cared deeply for.

    But what are everyone’s thoughts…?
    To Tell or Not To Tell, Who To Tell and How Much To Tell?

  8. Anonymous

    my, wife told me about 5 months ago that out of our 13 years of marraige she has had 4 affairs. with alittle thought i told the family on both sides and she was crushed but is doing much better now. the last affair is a guy she works with so i choose not to tell the school but i did tell a few of our friends and i talked to the guy and explianed what i wanted to see happen and choose not to tell his girl friend. i choose not to tell our kids at this point cause i feel they are to young to understand and they need to be kids. some time when they are older i think my wife should be the one to tell them and i will sit next to her quietly. i have choosen to forgive my wife but she is aware that its her job to earn my trust back. i would never wish this on any body, you always think my wife would or could never cheat on me. wow what a shock when the truth is put out there. i know now that there were alot of sings of the affairs, i can recall lots of little things during the time frame of each affair, i know one thing for sure ill never let the little things go unsaid ever again. feeling like such a fool that i didnt know what was going on behind my back, but really when i look back i had lots of evidence i just choose not to believe it. heres to a full happy life lived with no regret and lots of forgivness.

  9. Anonymous

    I know you should be cautious as to who you talk to about your spouse cheating on you. I made the mistake of telling a couple of close relatives, that claim to be marriage experts, have been married for 30 yrs. BUT it is only for appearance sake, her husband makes 6 figures and she wants to keep up the “HAPPY COUPLE”. but she tells me to get rid of my husband. We are talking now, and it is decent, he is remorseful and apologetic. But she constantly tells me to meet someone else.. But we have made progress, He was so depressed and an alcoholic, but he has not had a drink in over 2 years!!! and we can get to the root of the problem,,we really FINALLY started communicating..It has been a rough and rocky road. But I do see a distant light at the end of the tunnel..

    But I say don’t tell anyone and everyone all of your personal business. Because my relatives, husband did cheat on her, but she does not want to say anything about it whatsoever, it was years ago, and they are still together, for appearance sake.. She does not really get the attention she needs, but she stays…It is really a sad marriage, he is just there. She does all of the work! But when it comes to me I am accused of being a pushover, and a doormat, and she has a really bad attitude with me, We were at a family dinner, and she would not even speak, or make eye contact, I went over to speak, and she immediately walked away??!! Because,people cannot tell you how to live your life.. If there is abuse.. I agree wholeheartedly .. get some HELP.. people do demand that you kick him out.. or divorce immediately. That is definitely a PERSONAL COUPLE DECISION…

  10. Anonymous

    I read somewhere that once an affair becomes public. ..it is doomed. I also read that if an affair stays secret that it can’t grow in a normal way…so it’s doomed. Seems either way these are all headed for failure and unhappiness.

  11. Anonymous

    My ex husband was the same way, just a lot of lies, evasive, distant, moody. I asked numerous time, is there someone else? Are you interested in someone else, what is the problem? and he would quickly add, no I do not have anyone else, I am just overworked and tired, I am sleepy, our sex life was down to next to nothing. He was clinging to the edge of the bed, not wanting to touch, acting like I had lice on me? But later I found out, she told him to stop having sex with me and just wait for her she will give him all that he needs!!! How do people get in your brain and heart like that? and he did what ever she told him, so he left me , married her and she treats him like crap, disrepects him, talks to him like he has a tail on. I never ever talked to him like that, But he is still there, accepting the abuse. I do not get it at all…I don’t see that marriage making it at all.. no foundation, no trust, no respect for him.. It would have been so much easier to just tell me, when I asked him about it, instead of lying about it. And she flaunts her pictures everywhere stating she is the new WIFE.. and they are so happy, in love, she wants a relationship based on honesty, no lies, and definitely no confusion from the ex-wife ? but I did not deserve that? She is a complete and total control freak!!!

  12. Anonymous

    My husbands ow thought it was all funny trying to destroy my marriage too. What’s wrong with these girls? Why would men want to be with someone who hates and distespects your wife and mother of your children? If they are annoyed that a wife exists, stop screwing unavailable married men. Strange…

  13. Anonymous

    I totally agree! I felt the exact same thing for years about an affair my wife had over a decade ago. Years ago, before children, she came home one night after being with her little boyfriend. Of course I was furious, but she swore they just went to the movies, had some drinks in his car, and passed out. She swore they never had intercourse. Since I had no proof, I just accepted what she said and kind of moved on the best I could. However, I remained “haunted” over the years by suspiciouns of what I thought she was keeping from me. There never was any closure and/or healing per se, just growing resentment and uncertainty. At various times over the years, especially after seeing movies that reminded me of cheating, or before I would go on business trips, I would ask her about the affair situation and was told I was “crazy, and needed help” for not letting go and just allowing things to be good. She even had the nerve to blame me over the years for most of our problems and conflicts in the marriage, all while knowing she had this dark secret over me. I believe you dupe your partner and disrespect them even worse by not coming clean with them. I believe if there is any chance of healing after an affair, the truths and details need to be admitted. I, like you, can never trust my spouse again, ever. There are so many second and third order effects of an affair which are compounded and made even worse with additional lying and denial. Our marriage ended up failing for additional reasons, but now I at least know why I was disrespected by her so much for the majority of our marriage…in the back of her mind, she knew me as one that she made a fool of. Ms. Berger, do you feel the spouse who cheats owes the other spouse the truth and details of an affair, especially if the other spouse keeps asking for the details?

  14. Anonymous

    I really think that if you are involved in an affair, you should tell your spouse. Just suck it up and tell. Your spouse, more than likely, suspects something anyway. I repeatedly asked my husband if he was involved in an affair. He lied to me, told me I was crazy, tortured me mentally and emotionally, to the point that I really thought I was insane and in need of professional intervention. I did my own research at that point and found out that I wasn’t crazy or imagining things. If he had only disclosed his affair to me, he would have saved us both a lot of heartache. I felt so devalued as a human being. For the OW, it was like a competition. She really enjoyed seeing me tortured. It was a game for her. Bottom line here is that you owe it to your spouse to at least be honest about your deception. The pain of betrayal was only magnified by all of the deception and lies. At this point in time, we are over because I will never be able to trust him or anything he says again. Maybe you are afraid of hurting your spouse by disclosing the affair. Well, you already have…the worst has been done. Your spouse needs to be validated.

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