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… (more…)

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How Does Your Culture Affect Your Beliefs About Affairs?

The following discussion is not meant to imply that all members of a particular culture experience affairs in any particular way.

Extramarital affairs are most frequently experienced as completely traumatic and immoral in the United States. If a public figure strays from their marriage they are frequently disgraced and followers and fans can feel tremendously let down and disillusioned. If this person holds public office, their capacity to lead is frequently questioned, as is their entire character. A spouse who discovers a partner’s affair frequently breaks down emotionally.

In some European countries (more…)

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I Just Found Out My Partner is Having an Affair!

Most likely, you are in shock and 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! (more…)

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What is an Emotional Affair?

Emotional affair? I thought affairs meant extramarital sex!

He tells me they’re just friends. Am I wrong to be concerned?

Can’t I have friends of the opposite sex?

Isn’t it better to give them 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.”  In the U.S., jealousy is frequently seen as a negative character trait.  This leads many to try to deny the experience of jealousy even when there might be good reason. (more…)

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How Do Affairs Affect Children? (Part II): Should We Tell Our Children?

Your Role as Parents

No matter how devastated you are, you are still faced with the task of keeping it together for the children. This can be a double-edged sword. The immediacy and sometimes enormity of children’s’ needs can function as a welcome distraction from the pain you are in on the one hand; on the other, you may be feeling depleted emotionally and physically and not have much to give. With regard to the latter, it is very tempting to then turn to the children for support, which is a role reversal that is, in the end damaging for children. Whatever you end up disclosing to your child, the overall message should be, (more…)

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The Other Woman (or Man) – A Paradoxical Experience

If you are involved with a married person and reading this, chances are that you have already gone through the initial stage of infatuation and blinding bliss.  In this initial stage you have not wanted to think too deeply about the realities you have been 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.  Here are some examples of questions that individuals in this situation find themselves asking.

Would they leave their spouse for you?

Do they really love you?

        Have they had other affairs?

How do they justify the affair in their mind?

Would  they cheat on you also?

Are they really not having sex with their spouse?

The strangeness of the situation cannot help but make you wonder what you really mean to your affair partner. Getting these answers can become more and more important as you become more involved and possibly obsessed with your lover. There is a point where you come to realize that you might not be  as central to them as they are to you.

Rona Subotnik illuminates a list of paradoxical realities that you may find yourself living with as the other person. Here is my version of her findings: (more…)

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Can Relationships That Start as Affairs Succeed?

I came across an interesting statistic recently; 25% of relationships that start as affairs succeed. “Succeed” is defined as the couple staying together, rather than by the quality of the relationship.   I was surprised by the statistic.   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 any particular situation.

Feeling torn between two lovers can be an agonizing experience. Besides the guilt, and fear of discovery, there is usually some degree of awareness that sooner or later one of those relationships will end.  Trying to decide which one would be the most painful to lose  may lead some to wonder what the chances are that a relationship that starts off as an affair will succeed. (more…)

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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, (more…)

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About Affairs

I am setting up this blog because I find myself increasingly moved by the efforts of my clients who chose to work through the devastating effects of affairs, whether individually, or in couples and by the profoundly deepening connections that this work can bring, almost as if the couple is discovering each other for the first time. I would like to create a space where those concerned with extramarital or extra-relationship affairs can learn about them and share their own thoughts and feelings. I will join in with comments also, as well as more extensive entries. However, I cannot provide any advice or analysis for individual situations on this site. I am a psychotherapist in Walnut Creek with 27 years of experience in private practice.

To start, you may wonder how prevalent extramarital affairs are. Unfortunately, there are no good answers, as studies conducted on the frequency of occurrence in marriages show results ranging from 15 – 75%! The data also shows (more…)

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