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Debunking the myths of infidelity


In both my reading on the topic of infidelity and in my casual polls taken among friends, it seems there are many myths that come with the territory of infidelity.  Some of these myths are held by women, some by men, and some by both.   Some are held by mistresses, some by wives.  I’ve learned a lot this past year, and thought I would go over some of the more popular myths that exist and debunk them.

1. Affairs only happen in unhappy marriages.

While this does tend to be the reason why women cheat, it doesn’t usually apply to men.  Men who live in very happy, sexually fulfilling marriages have affairs.  For women, this is hard to understand because we equate love with sex, and if he is having sex with someone else, he must not love me.  Believe it or not, this isn’t true.  I wouldn’t have believed it a few years ago, if I hadn’t been on this journey myself.  I am sure his affair partner felt that he loved her.  As a woman, her paradigm is to believe that sex=love and so he must love her.  False.  He did, by his own admission, tell her he loved her in the midst of an orgasm, something he immediately regretted as the blood flowed back to the brain that has the higher functions of reasoning and intelligent thought.  Idiot.  I digress…

Women who are unfaithful have usually already fallen out of love with their partners, and have emotionally disconnected.  For many women, then, they feel they can justify their behaviour because to them, the relationship was already over – even if he didn’t know it yet.

Men have the ability to compartmentalize sex and love.  The two can coexist together, as they do when a man loves his wife, but they need not coexist all the time.  Men can have sex with a woman for the sake of the physical release it will bring, and nothing more.  Men don’t have to find her beautiful (although it helps if you have something nice to look at), and they don’t have to find her intelligent.   If you are the mistress, and your relationship isn’t a deep emotional connection, but just sex, then chances are he isn’t looking for you to satisfy his need for intelligent conversation – you fulfill a very basic need- sex.  That’s it.  You might as well wear a t-shirt that reads: “Have Vagina, will travel”.

2. Men cheat more than women.

As a society, men tend to be more outwardly sexual in nature than women, so we have an easier time justifying men’s behaviour when they stray, and assuming that they do it more often.  Men’s brains are very different from women’s, and they are hardwired to sexually pursue QUANTITY, while women look for QUALITY.

While the stats for infidelity may be tipped slightly more in favour of men, it is the REASONS for the infidelity that differ.  Women cheat because they are no longer satisfied in the relationship.  What was once a satisfying relationship has lost its glimmer, and it is safe to say that most women who cheat have already emotionally abandoned their primary relationship.  With men, this is not the case.  Men can be completely satisfied in their relationship, having frequent and great sex at home, and still take the opportunity to get a little more on the side, if the opportunity presents itself, and there is a low likelihood of getting caught.  He may be getting fine dining at home, but a little dessert would also be nice….especially if I won’t gain weight.

One key thing to realize is the different ways in which men and women view sex, and how these views allow them to cheat for different reasons.  More on that in a future post.

3. An affair is about sex.

An affair involves sex, but it is usually never ABOUT sex.  People don’t seek out affairs to get more sex, or to have better sex.  Sex is simply the natural progression that happens when someone seeks out a new relationship with someone of the opposite sex.  For men, sex is like a sport; something you enjoy that invigorates you, makes you feel energized, potent, alive.  For men, there need be no emotional connection whatsoever, and it has very little, if anything to do with love or emotion.  We’ve all heard someone say “He’ll have sex with anything that has a pusle”, and for many men, this may very well be accurate.  Men simply need an outlet, and who it is, or what she looks like has little bearing on why she was chosen.   Men don’t need love for sex, or sex for love – they need sex for sex.  Whether you are beautiful or smart won’t really matter….whether you are sexually available at the time will have much more of an impact.

So, if affairs aren’t about sex, what are they about, and what purpose do they serve?

Often times, men report that it wasn’t the sex that made them stray.  It wasn’t the beauty, intelligence, warmth, compassion, or personality of the woman he strayed with.  It was something about how he was FEELING while he cheated, and how the other woman made him FEEL when they are together.  The rush and the exhileration of knowing that they are doing something forbidden causes an endorphin rush, which amplifies and creates a rosy glow (can you say rose-coloured-glasses?) over the entire relationship.  She probably showers him with compliments, boosts his ego, tells him how smart he is, how powerful he is, how strong, fit, and capable he is…something that perhaps his wife doesn’t do as much as she used to now that their relationship has settled into a comfortable pattern.  Just like women need and want continuous feedback that they are valued, men also need this, although most won’t admit it.  They want to be told they are attractive, sexy, a great lover.  In marriages, however, we settle into a pattern of comfort and security and no longer shower each other with these compliments, even if we DO feel them. I guess the difference is that when women need to hear it, we find ways of encouraging our lovers to tell us, while men feel foolish doing so.  So, if a man is feeling needy for that kind of attention, he may never provide any clues.  So keep the compliments flowing…that is even more important than being sexually available – it tells him he’s important to you, that you love him, and that he still ignites that spark for you.

4. If a man is having an affair, it is due to a deficiency in the wife, aesthetically or sexually, and the mistress is seen as superior in these areas.

While this will always be the case for SOMEONE, it isn’t the case most of the time.  As per the above answers, men aren’t looking to improve upon anything, and having sex with the mistress didn’t mean there was a competition in his mind between the two.  Just like sex and love are mutually exclusive, so are the wife and the mistress.  So, if your husband cheated on you, it doesn’t mean he didn’t and doesn’t love you.  If you are a mistress to a married man, just because he is having sex with you does NOT mean that he loves you or wants to be with you long term.  You’re scratching a temporary itch, and yes he is having sex with his wife and enjoying it, which brings us to the next myth:

5. A married man engaged in an affair isn’t having sex with his wife.

This is completely false, although I am sure most mistresses would like to believe it.  Most affair partners are shocked to discover that the man they thought they were ‘stealing’ and ‘one-upping’ from the wife is actually engaging in regular sexual activity with her.  In some cases, he may be having more sex with his wife than with the mistress – she just doesn’t know it.  Married men sleep with their mistresses and return home to their marital bed every night.  They snuggle in with their spouse, they say “I love you” before rolling over, they hold each other in their sleep.   In fact, because an affair boosts a man’s self esteem so much, many have reported returning home from their rendez-vous with invigorated, excited, and ready to make LOVE to their wife.  Therein lies another main difference….he fucks the mistress, he makes love to his wife.  It makes sense because that is what each relationship is based on – casual meaningless sex vs sex for love.

Now that isn’t the case in ALL extra-marital relationships.  Some marital relationships may very well be on the rocks, and a man MAY turn to a mistress to satisfy the sexual needs that aren’t being met at home.  But, this isn’t ALWAYS the case, and certainly wasn’t the case for us.  We are very much “in love”, exchange kisses each morning before we part ways for work, affectionately greet each other when we return at the end of the day, find reasons to tell each other that we love one another, exchange playful sexual advances like we did when we were dating. But, I would wager a bet that his mistress wouldn’t believe it if he told her.  In fact, he DID tell her, and she didn’t believe it.  She accused him of being delusional, and then painted her own story that matched what she wanted to believe.

My husband made every attempt to paint a very clear picture for her about what this was for him.  “This is only about sex for me”, he’d said.  I was shocked to hear him say that because this isn’t something that I ever would have imagined him saying.  My husband is one of the most emotionally sensitive men that I know, and he very much equates love and sex….when it is between US.  “I love my wife”, “I love my children”, “I love and want my family”, “I don’t love you”.  All of these comments were met with resistance.  Resistance to believe that it could be true, when all of the signs she was seeing were pointing to the opposite.  I can’t blame her for thinking that – she is a woman and we equate sex with love…and that belief gets both the mistress and the affair partner into trouble inside their own minds when evaluating the affair and what it really meant.

In Shirley Glass’ book, “Not just friends”, she writes: “A distraught wife said to her husband, “How could you do this to me? You always looked down on those men who had affairs and broke up their family.”  The husband replied…”I was always committed to you.  I never once intended to leave you.”  She was enraged. “What do you mean you were committed?  How could you be committed when you had sex with another woman?”. He answered, “It never meant anything” (Emphasis added)

6. If a married man is having sex with his mistress, he must love her.  If he isn’t having sex with his wife, he must not love his wife.  He has chosen the mistress over the wife.

If I have learned any ONE great truth out of this whole year of discovery, it is that the differences between men and women are staggering.  We are so vastly different, and the ways in which we see and evaluate relationships is remarkably different.  We can’t evaluate a relationship with a man through OUR eyes, because our eyes are female.  The opposite is true for men.  We simply aren’t hard-wired to understand it from their perspective. Sometimes it takes a crisis to propel you to a place where you are forced to look at it, examine it, and understand it, and for that I am thankful to have had that opportunity – it has been life-changing.

When I first learned that my husband had had an affair, my initial thought was “he doesn’t love me anymore”.  For women, sex and love go hand in hand.  Women want to feel love in order to have sex (prostitutes and manipulative mistresses are the exception…but even then, deep inside they long for a loving connection too).  If we feel love, we will have sex, so if a man has sex with us, it means he loves us – right?  Wrong.  Men have sex for sex. It has nothing to do with love or emotion.  Men have the ability to compartmentalize sex into its own category, and love and emotion are not required.  A man can have sex with you without feeling an ounce of love.  A man feels no guilt about engaging in loveless sex because the two are mutually exclusive.  This is why he can have sex with the mistress and still LOVE HIS WIFE.

Once I learned and understood that he was capable of separating the two, it became much easier to understand his perspective and regain the faith that he may still love me.  There was a chance for us after all.

7. The mistress must be more attractive/smarter/more fit/more beautiful than the wife.

This is rarely the case.  In all of the reading that I have done, rarely is the mistress more beautiful than the wife.  Sometimes she is younger, but usually not prettier.  Because women fret about their appearance, and because we know men are visual creatures, our first fear is “he found someone prettier than me”.  This is rarely ever the case.

When my husband first made mention of this woman at work who was now working closely with him, my first comment was “oh a blonde woman working with my husband, should I be worried?”, said with a smile.  He replied with: “Oh goodness no, absolutely not, she isn’t even slightly attractive to me”.  Now, of course you are thinking “well he told you that at the time because he was DECEIVING you”, and I would agree, except that he still says it now.   When we talk about what led him to being with her sexually, he is stunned that he ever strayed towards her.  He doesn’t find her physically attractive or sexually attractive, he has no memory of what she looked like naked except for the fact that she had breast enlargement surgery and corrective surgery for inverted nipples.  He remembers these things because he found them odd, and yes, my husband prefers natural breasts thank you. The sex was “nothing special”, “not very good”, and he doesn’t remember any details about the actual sexual interactions they had together.

According to Shirley Glass, in her book “Not Just Friends”, she states that “outside observers will speculate unfairly and ignorantly that the betrayed wife must have been inadequate in the bedroom.

8. Once a cheater, always a cheater

This is one where there is no absolute answer. Heck, there isn’t an absolute answer to ANYTHING, but this one is truly variable.  Because men cheat for various reasons, the things that keep them cheating or not also vary.  If a man is incapable of fidelity, and has an inability to commit, then yes, he will likely re-offend.  When the infidelity is the result of a deeply seeded problem within him, it will take time and commitment to reversing it.  If it was an unfortunate set of circumstances that led him to make choices he normally would never make, or if he was in some way coerced or assisted by the affair partner into starting a relationship, that’s different.

When a man makes a pledge towards honesty, confesses the affair, and lays all of his cards on the table for scrutiny and examination, he has taken the first step towards earning back your trust.  Instead of more lies and covering up, he has chosen to tell you, and that is a good start.  When he chooses to enter therapy in order to better understand himself, you, your relationship and why the relationship was vulnerable to an affair, he is showing an interest in identifying and fighting the demons that led him down the affair path.  When he listens, when he cries with you, when he takes responsibility for what he has caused and feels true remorse, and when he puts himself into your shoes to feel what you are feeling, and to grasp the intensity of the pain that he has caused, you can now say that he truly GETS IT.  I would venture to guess that someone who knows the pain of infidelity from the other side, and who respects and loves the person to whom he is married, will not want to hurt her that way again…especially if he wasn’t aware, at the time, of the impact his actions were having.

Men can cheat once and never again.  Some men are serial cheaters.  Not all men.

9. Men initiate almost all affairs

Obviously in cases where the wife is the cheater, this doesn’t apply.  This response will be directed to married men having affairs. I think it can be true that men will seek out an affair, but I don’t believe that a man wakes up one morning, and says “Today, I am going to seek out a woman whom I can engage in an extramarital affair”.  It isn’t as much a CHOICE as it is a CIRCUMSTANCE they find themselves in.  Men who find themselves in affairs, sometimes do, not because they were actively seeking it out, but rather a set of circumstances presented themselves in such a way, at such a time when a man was vulnerable to an affair.

In our case, my husband did not seek out his affair.  He was ‘befriended’ by a woman at work, who soon became privy to the emotional turmoil he was going through.  Casting herself as his “friend”, and as his “ativan”, she justified her overly-caring behaviour as part of her ‘loving, caring, compassionate nature’.  Looking back at it now, my husband sees her approaches disguised as ‘friendly banter’ through a more informed lens, and feels conned.   Interesting when the betrrayer also feels betrayed.

My husband’s mistress set her sights on him early, and he was a target.  We are convinced that if it hadn’t been him, it would be some other high-earning professional in his office.  She set her sights on him, knew what she wanted, and made it happen.  She knew men love sex, so she outwardly professed to “never getting enough to be satisifed”, and how she would have sex “8-10 times a day if possible”. She catered to his male side, and painted herself as “every man’s dream”; sexually available, sexually interested, and no strings attached.  Unless you define a purposeful pregnancy which resulted in a baby, an attempted collapse of your family, manipulative threats toward your family and professional mobility, and a monthly child-support payment “no strings”, you’re right on.  Women who see what they want and go after it are very easily capable of igniting an affair with a man, as long he is in the right place from a ‘vunerability’ standpoint.

10. Infidelity means the end of a marriage.

I, and countless other women are proof that this is not the case.  Don’t get me wrong, this is the hardest road I have ever traveled, and I’ve logged many miles soaked in tears, but I will survive this, and our marriage will be better because we’ve been through it.  A compassionate and understanding husband who takes responsibility for his actions, open and honest communication, marital therapy to assist couples in communicating effectively and filling the potholes which made their marriage vulnerable – all of these things assist a couple in rebuilding the trust and intimacy of their marriage.  I am sure at one point, or maybe even at many points, I considered our marriage to be “over”, unsalvageable, irreparable.  With time I am starting to see that this affair, his infidelity and this crisis may simply be a catalyst for a new beginning.

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Comments

  1. I like this post because I hope someone somewhere will read it and understand. You’re trying to communicate something that could really, really help someone. I have’n’t ever cheated(yet, I hope never) and I don’t think that my wife will ever cheat on me. The stuff you are talking about is so right on, a man having an affair thinks that can have sex and love with both women, that’s because he may be the most confused of all. Letting our guard down, giving way to impulse, or just plain not caring can carry a lot of pain and difficulty. Keep on writing, Keep on posting.

    • informationforager, it is great to get a male perspective. Until this happened in my life, I had not idea how men can compartmentalized sex in this way. If he cheated on me, how can he also say that he loves me? The hardest thing for me to wrap my head around was the fact that he would say “I never stopped loving you”. Hearing that tore me apart. It wasn’t until I illustrated to him how it felt from my perspective that he realized how something that was supposed to make me feel better was making me feel worse. I illustrated to him that while he may LOVE me, that in those moments of passion with another woman, and in the split second that it took him to agree to go to a hotel that he was not loving me. As his hands were running up her body, he was NOT loving me. As the key to the room unlocked the door, he was NOT loving me. As they undressed one another, he was NOT loving me. His act of betrayal was NOT an act of love. So, while he was still IN LOVE with me, he was most certainly not being LOVING toward me. He had temporarily shut off the love in order to do what he did. It hurts to know that. I truly hope that you are able to remain faithful to your partner. It is the greatest gift you will ever give, without either of you ever realizing it 🙂

  2. I’m sorry if I conjured up a bunch of that stuff. Marriage is never perfect. I have a on occasion thought to chuck it all and ride my Harley to St. Augustine, Fl and never look back. But I know that after two weeks I would be bored. I still wouldn’t hook up with anyone cause that’s not me. I would miss my wife(No matter how badly we fought) and I would miss my kids. It might be escape but it wouldn’t be freedom. We will stay together. Again Thankds for your stuff. Keep on writing, keep on posting. Others will see it too and hopefully understand.

    • Informationforager, you didn’t conjure up any of what I wrote. Those feelings are there all the time, and run through my mind like a movie on constant replay. In thinking of how men compartmentalize, it simply led me to the sex vs love question and how he was able to feel love and still cheat. Men just think about sex and love differently than women do. I know that now – I guess I was naive. You are right….it would be an escape, but never freedom. But, hopefully you also don’t feel ‘trapped’ and needing to escape. If I have any regrets, it is that we didn’t engage in marital therapy sooner.

  3. This must be very difficult for you, and I hope that you are able to maintain your strength. I am wondering how someone can spend all this time stalking you and have time to care for a child. And being that your husband is this childs father, it must be very conflicting for him. I am curious as to why you don’t have a restraining order against her? Maybe she suffers from some kind of disorder that would cause such unstable behavior. The whole situation sounds rather dangerous and with children of your own, who knows what this person is capable of. She uses this child as a pawn in a game and the fact that your husband allows it is disheartening. I hope you are able to find peace and comfort in difficult times. Be strong. 🙂

    • thepowerofwoobie, thank you for your comments. We too often ponder how she can devote so much time to us with a little one to care for. We are quite certain she isn’t raising the child without help fro family. She would be incapable and is simply to selfish to put anything or anyone above her. We had contemplated a restraining order, but there are no legal consequences to her if she violates one. She is a very explosive person, so we tread lightly knowing that if we got a restraining order against her, she would up the ante and turn on the heat in other ways. For her, given her desire to know that her actions have caused pain and suffering, we choose to do what she most despises and feign not noticing. We have three lawyers working on our case at the moment, an employment lawyer, a family lawyer for the paternity issue, and a criminal lawyer for her harassment. Needless to say that we have spent over $30K in legal bills while her lawyer provides his services to her for free as a family friend. Nice. We have to be very careful with what we choose to fight as engaging her in trivial matters just keeps her around, while ignoring it makes it go away – for the time being. My husband isn’t allowing her behaviour. He has sought three lawyers to help us fight it. We just have to be very careful with how we tread. With regards to the child, he isn’t conflicted. This pregnancy was planned as a means to extort money from him, and he made it clear he did not want a child, and would not be in its life. She continued on. He describes feelings as though his DNA has been stolen, and used against him for financial gain. He had no say in its conception, and no say in whether the pregnancy would continue. He has just been strung along as a meal ticket. He is not conflicted – he is sad, angry and disappointed. Thank you for your words of support – they are so appreciated 🙂

      • “He had no say in its conception”–but, he did. He chose to sleep with her, she didn’t hold a gun to his head to make him. He also chose to not use protection. He DID have a say in the baby’s conception–he chose to be irresponsible and have unprotected sex. She might be a complete nutball—but choices have consequences.

      • Aveda2003 says:

        The good news: I don’t feel alone anymore. The bad news: omg this is happening to too many of us. Thank you for creating this blog. It’s been 3 months since I learnt the details of what happened with the OW. Q1-My question is about retraining orders / peace bonds. We are in Ontario. Police say we don’t have enough evidence for criminal harassment. She’s a nutcase. Did you get a peace bond and did it help you protect you from the harassment? Was the process worth it? Q2- The OW in my case lives near and is married. I also debate telling her husband. Any thoughts? He has no idea what’s she did and how crazy her behaviour has become since my hubby ended things. She continues to taunt us with details of the affair while we are out in public with our kids.
        Q3- Also, I debate moving. We’ve built our dream home and my support system is here yet I’m taunted and intimidated by this truly crazy OW enjoying ever time she harasses us.

        Hoping others will comment! Thanks.

  4. Thank you for sharing and debunking the myths surrounding infidelity. I agree that once a person cheats, he is always a cheater.

    • I don’t agree with the comment “once a cheater always a cheater”. I actually don’t think my husband will ever cheat again. He has been traumatized by this whole situation, and wants to crawl out of his own skin, he is so repulsed by what he did. I think people who are serial cheaters and who cannot commit will stray because it is who they are…this was not at all who he is. He wanted out from early on, but was trapped in a blackmail situation because he wanted to save his family. Odd, I know.

      • Oh I am so sorry to read that and you are right that it’s serial cheaters are the who carry on cheating. I can tell that your husband has learnt his lesson the hard way and as a blogger, I am not here to judge him. But it is good to see he is doing everything to salvage what was nearly destroyed. Stay strong.

  5. Apologyaccepted says:

    In both this post and another post, you paint the other woman as being completely malicious. This in itself is a faliscy.
    I’ve been pursued, over several months by a man who I turned down for sex initially because he was married. He befriended me. He pursued me and after several months (against my inner and better judgement) when he explained he was separated from his spouse and had been, I gave in.
    Yes, it was against my better judgement. But in no way did I seek him out but the very opposite. Instead of being truthful, he played a game with me. A fetch and catch game. One which as I said, i wanted a real relationship (because it was starting to become apparent he was lying to me) and I was going to date elsewhere, the words of “i love you. I need you. I care for you. I can’t end it this way.” started to come out. In the end, he stayed in his marriage, which in my mind there is no doubt they may have not been perfect but it was probably a great marriage. Eitherway, I don’t agree that every woman is malicious or seeks out men who will cheat on them. Quite the opposite, some of us trust and go against our better judgement. Lesson learned, paperwork complete before the first date.

    • Apologyaccepted, I am not sure where I paint mistresses as malicious. What I am writing, in this blog, is based upon OUR scenario, as I know it. I am not writing about “innocent women pursued against their will” and better judgment. I am writing about MY experiences, and the myths as I know them to be from my research into the matter – that certainly doesn’t make it a perfect fit for everyone. If you opted to become involved with a married man who was committed to another woman, that is your decision to make, and was obviously made after several months of deliberating whether it was the right thing to do for you. It sounds like you thought he was separated and divorcing his wife, and that made you feel entitled to pursue something you’d previously known belonged to someone else. I don’t see where I made out all mistresses to be malicious, but my husband’s certainly was, and that is the story I am telling here. I don’t feel that recounting my own experiences can be called fallacy as it isn’t incorrect argumentation.

    • I think if you read about what she has done to me and my family, you will agree that this particular mistress IS malicious.

  6. I have read your blog and I feel very sorry for you and your family; I wish you happiness and fully recovery from this terrible experience. However, this particular post, as a man myself, puzzles me a little bit. You are countering these myths with other myths. “For men, sex is like a sport; something you enjoy that invigorates you, makes you feel energized, potent, alive. For men, there need be no emotional connection whatsoever, and it has very little, if anything to do with love or emotion” […] “Men don’t need love for sex, or sex for love – they need sex for sex” […] “Men have sex for sex. It has nothing to do with love or emotion. Men have the ability to compartmentalize sex into its own category, and love and emotion are not required. A man can have sex with you without feeling an ounce of love. A man feels no guilt about engaging in loveless sex because the two are mutually exclusive”. Many men don’t behave this way and feel that this is a disgusting. Conversely, many women are capable of behaving this way. It’s not a general rule. True, men are in general better in compartmentalize, but mostly because of cultural conditioning: the whole “boys don’t cry” conception that prevents many men to be fully in touch with their emotions (i guess is the case of your husband, for what I read).
    Relating the WHYS of cheating to gender is very limited: we are fist of all persons, each one with a personal backgroud that shape our ways to interact with the world.
    Some women are like Samantha Jones of Sex and the City and are able to have “sex for sex” and don’t need “emotional connection whatsoever”; some men are, on the contrary, incapable of doing that, with any woman.
    I think that only the one-night stands are solely sexual in their nature; any longer kind of affair always involved a bit of emotional attachment (as in your husband case, the texting, sexting and kissing lead to sex). Emotional attachment, not love. Your husband probably is telling you that it was only sex to subside his remorse and spare you further pain.
    By the way, i don’t mean to upset you in any way with this post. You are indeed a strong and resourceful woman and your family is lucky to have you. Wish you all the best.

  7. Wow I could have written the exact same things about my husbands affair. Thank you for posting this, it’s so helpful and so very insightful. This is the kind of stuff I need to be reading, the gentle reminders that men and women are different. Kudos to you… I love this post.

    • That post was written a year after discovery for me. It was one of the first blog posts here and I thought it might help the wife of the other reader, and is always a good reminder. I’m glad you found it helpful 🙂

  8. So many good points here. My AP stroked my ego in a way that no one had ever done before. She took care of me, dealing with little things that I never seemed to get around to. After a while, I began to resent my wife for not doing those things. But then my AP didn’t have kids to take care of, to feed, to take to school, to do homework with, to arrange after school activities for them etc etc. It’s so easy to lose sight of what your wife is really doing for you when you’re in the midst of having an affair.

    • An affair is a complete fantasy. The affair partner holds up a mirror for you, reflecting back to you all of the positive things you want to see about yourself. How strong you are. How smart you are. How capable you are. She takes the time because she has it. She has made room for it, sacrificing things in her life that you don’t see. She takes from there to give to you. Your wife, usually as a result of time and comfort, doesn’t offer as much ego stroking to you when she is also cooking your meals, driving your children to and from school, ballet, baseball, etc., tidying up, acting as social convenor, enrolling Kia in activities, doing laundry, grocery shopping, and perchance also maintaining her own career. We all do it. We get comfortable with our spouse and we don’t put in the same work to maintain that we did to gain them. We get lazy. Along comes someone else who does, and wham.

      The affair bubble is a fantasy space where all each of you sees is the positives in each other and yourselves. In some cases, like mine, the other woman knows you are married and will plant subtle comments which pit her an your wife in direct competition, designed to illustrate the differences between them in the OW’s favour. How can the wife win at a competition she doesn’t know she is in? If she knew you needed stroking and someone else was willing, would she have, or would she have remained lazy and accepted the risk?

      A great book that I love is “not just friends” by Shirley glass. She describes perfectly this phenomenon.

      As she says in her book: “a compelling aspect of affairs is the positive mirroring that occurs. We like how we see ourselves reflected in the other person’s eyes. By contrast, in our long-term relationships, our reflection is like a 5x makeup mirror in which our flaws are magnified. In a new romance, our reflection is like the Rosy glow of an illuminated vanity mirror. It is also important to note, however, that the magnetism public forbidden love gives the affair partner and intrinsic advantage when comparing the two relationships. It isn’t that spouses are dull and troublesome and affair partners are brilliant and beautiful. Frank Pittman observed that the choice of an affair partner appears to be based on how that person differs from the spouse rather than any perceived superiority to the spouse… At least in the beginning, affairs are great ego-boosters. Through them you can inhabit an enlarged version of yourself and enjoy the feedback that tells you that you are special and infinitely valuable. All you have to do is look into your lover’s eyes to remind yourself that you have never been more worthy or more lovable. Idealization is a potent short-term remedy for low self-esteem… Affair partners are generally no more attractive than the spouses they rival. What makes them irresistible is their gratification of an unquenchable thirst for approval. It’s hard for an impoverished ego to resist a cornucopia of flattery and admiration.”

      • So true. This nails it. The affair starts, in my case caused by minor frustrations in my marriage combined with a glamorous location, opportunity and a willing AP. Then she holds up the mirror that you describe and over time seems to devote her life to me at the expense of any life outside of me even though she only saw me for 4-5 days every 6 weeks or so. She absolutely planted comments about my wife, particularly towards the end. And I was foolish enough to start believing some of it. Although I have to say, I did ask her at some point to stop making negative comments about my wife. Maybe you could post this on your blog to show other betrayed spouses what happens because everything you say here is 100% true of my situation?

      • Dear ishappinesspossible
        I really feel you should write an article or something on the net describing your experience so that the cheating husbands may see this. The AP partner doesn’t have to make a budget, she just has to spend. she doesn’t have to worry about the future, no kids , no responsibilities
        and I don’t blame those who fall for it because it is very easy to take for granted what you have but this also true that for most people, this phase doesn’t last long. Soon they realize their mistake like you.
        If you don’t mind me asking, have you left the affair?

  9. I know men may have the ability to do it. we all have the ability to kill, cheat, rape and commit other disasters. BUT DO WE DO IT? NO what is that makes us different from criminals?
    It is our choice.
    Our choices not our ability, make us who we are.
    This is to all men, if you really made it as a mistake, its ok but DON’T PURSUE IT WILLINGLY. just because you can separate it, you do not have the freedom to do it.
    Some meaningless moments can destroy meaningful years.
    Cheating is never about WHO you cheat with but about WHOM you cheat on. No amount of explanations then will work. So please DON’T DO IT WILLINGLY.
    Remember that many lives depend on your actions. Some seconds may destroy what you have build in years and then there will be nothing but regret…..

  10. My husband was very much in love with the OW (it took him months to get rid of those feelings 😦 ). He didn’t develop a love that you get after years of being married, but it/she did mean something to him. He also told me he still loved me, during the affair, which I found really strange.

    I’ve been amazed of how he was able to compartmentalize his OW, me, his family, work. That wouldn’t work that way at all for me. It’s so true that men and women are different.

  11. Kay Ann Smith says:

    I understand how you feel. One time I caught my husband registered on an online dating website while I was 6-month pregnant, even I’ve never had anyone come to me with child support request, I found myself can’t forgive him. Our child now is 7-year-old, and all the evidence I had was a couple of correspondence via the fake email account he created.

    I thought about it many times, what if I catch my husband cheating, what would i do? I have a job, which will be sufficient to cover myself and my child, so I guess I will just leave him and all of my belongs behind. Because even knowing having sex with other woman will destroy this family, he still does it; that alone is not forgivable, not justifiable. It doesn’t matter who initiated the contact, nor how men compartmentalize sex and love. He knows me as my husband, my one time best friend, he knows the consequences before he acts on it, yet he still goes for it. What does that make me for him? It has nothing to do with whether he loves the mistress or me, it has EVERYTHING to do with the fact he disrespects me, in so many levels. I understand that the mistress is not forgivable, but ultimately it is the husband who reacted to the other woman. She didn’t gun pointed at him to have sex.

    I hope you find a good therapist and peace after this traumatic experience. After the aforementioned “minor” betrayal, we tried therapy but to no avail. I haven’t left him because my son told me not to leave and he has been a good dad, but god forbid, if one day I catch him red-handed with hard evidence, nothing is going to turn me around.

    • This post is almost 4 years old. I would encourage you to keep reading and see where the story ends up! Thanks for commenting. Betrayal is the worst pain because it’s pain on purpose. I’m sorry you’ve had this happen to you also.

Trackbacks

  1. […] right?  He’d had sex with her, so it meant he loved her, right? This falls in line with the Myths of Infidelity I wrote about earlier. In her mind, the feelings were mutual, and then suddenly, they […]

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