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 (more…)

Continue ReadingWhat Type of Affair is This?

“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 (more…)

Continue Reading“Mad Men” in Affairs

Forgiving an Affair

You’re all over the place emotionally; enraged, hurt, humiliated, terrified and very confused.  How could this have happened?  It couldn’t have.  But it did!  But it couldn’t have.  This can’t be real.  It happens to other people.  But it did happen.  It happened to us!  But it couldn’t have…

You might start to wonder what you did to cause this.  The answer is you didn’t cause it.  But still…  (more…)

Continue ReadingForgiving an Affair

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…)

Continue ReadingCan Relationships That Start as Affairs Succeed…Revisited

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…)

Continue ReadingThe Other Woman (or Man) – A Paradoxical Experience

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…)

Continue ReadingCan Relationships That Start as Affairs Succeed?