Extramarital affairs are very seductive. They appear to offer better, more intense passion than the marriage. Hide and seek will do this, spawning the kind of relationship we wished was possible with a spouse. It’s amazing how “attractive” someone can sound, look and feel when you add large amounts of adrenalin. The secrecy idealizes the other, not love or truth. Deception, the “ducking and diving” past family can give vitality to the stolen hour.
What is so ridiculously seductive (and hurts so badly when the truth comes out) is the belief that affair is about you. Actually, it is about who you are not. It about what you do not represent. You are not the wife or husband; the “routine.” Yours is not the other name on the mortgage, you are not one who owns the other car in the garage. You are not the one whom the children sound like when they are at their worst (and best). It’s not your beauty. It is not your charm (although you might be both beautiful and charming). It is the difference from, the contrast with, what your affair knows. In his or her boredom and selfishness, you become so very appealing in the heat of it all. It’s the contrast he or she “loves.” The secrecy, the chase, the conniving makes it all so surreal and convincing and such a turn on. It is not you. It is not he or she who has met you here in this rendezvous, but the secret itself, the fact that you will share this secret, that’s lighting your fire.
The seductive thing is that for a period of time one or both of you actually believe in the affair as if it is a real and enduring relationship, able to offer you each something you really want. For a time you will give so unreservedly, so wildly, and be sucked in by passion. Every meeting will feel like you were meant for each other and that it is a cruel world forcing you apart. The really sad thing is that even your children will feel, to you, as if they are in the way, obstacles to your freedom, hindrances to your finding true love. When you are with your lover the first hours will slip past feeling like heaven. The approaching absences and those times when you are apart, will begin to fill with suspicion, heaviness and demands that come with cheating. You will think your love is cheating on you (even when with his or her spouse) every time the cell-phone is off, a call is not returned or a weekend happens without you. The moment the clandestine activity began with you, the scene was set for it to occur around you and to you. He or she who cheats on a spouse will most certainly think nothing of doing the same to you.
The affair itself, born in secrecy and lies, itself begins to lie, making the participants believe they have been short-changed, deceived in marriage and that a fling can offer what’s really wanted. It is not so. Affairs seduce the participants from what is real, what is important, what is enduring and significant. If I cannot talk to my wife, talking with someone who is not my wife (or who is someone’s wife) doesn’t help anything one iota. Learning to talk with my wife is where the real action is, it is not in talking with some other lost person looking for a temporary shelter from her own storm.
Affairs are always a poor substitute for a relationship. No matter how intense, how willing each person is, inevitable pain and suffering lies ahead for each person in the seductive cycle. If this is your dilemma break it off today. Go cold turkey. See a professional. Change locks. Change phone numbers. Quit your job if you have to. Run home to your parents! Get out of it. No, you do not owe him or her an explanation or closure. Everyone you love, or thought you loved, will be better off for it.
Copyright 2002, Rod Smith, MSMFT