Is all the trouble and sacrifices of maintaining an emotional affair really worth it?

was the emotional affair worth it

By Linda

We have written so much about the intoxicating feelings received during an emotional affair.  Not to mention, the pain and recovery of the betrayed spouse.  However one area we have neglected to touch on is the effort involved in maintaining an affair.

We’re talking here about the time, the sacrifices and the work that is required to keep the affair going.

We know that in the beginning of the affair the partners agree that the benefits outweigh the risk.  But when the newness and infatuation decline is all worth it?

The Hidden Costs of Maintaining an Affair

As you have heard so many times when someone becomes involved in an emotional affair (or any affair), they claim that they didn’t see it coming, that it just sort of happened.  In some ways that is easy to understand because the contact is spontaneous.  It may begin with a random text during the day, or a phone call on the way home from work just to catch up or an occasional lunch.

Your time with that person is fun and lighthearted–a severe contrast to your time at home which is full of responsibilities and conflict. There is no talk of commitment or expectations, but just how great it is being with someone that finally understands and appreciates you for who you really are.

Escalating Commitments and the Effort to Conceal

As time progresses and those “loving feelings” increase, there becomes a need for additional contact because you want to keep experiencing that high. Unfortunately this takes more time and effort. As busy as your life is now you wonder how you can possibly fit this all in.

In the beginning you made sacrifices. You stole time from work to meet your partner and extended your lunch breaks. Phone chats happened in the office parking lot. You may have texted when you were supposed to work on paperwork. To keep your secret, you always acted professional and disinterested at the office. However, it likely seemed obvious to everyone that you were involved in an affair.

At home you begin to neglect your obligations by spending more time running “important” errands, working longer  hours (so you can catch up on work that you missed while conducting your affair) or are too tired or busy to do things with your family.

Keeping the Emotional Affair Details Straight Can Be Tricky

In addition, there are a lot of logistical issues that need attending to while trying to maintain the affair. Remembering to delete all calls and messages and keeping your phone with you at all times.  Taking a shower was complicated.  Planning times when it was OK to call.  What night is your wife at soccer?  What time does your husband get home from work?  Who did I tell my wife I had lunch with? Trying to keep straight what lies and what information you told your spouse and your affair partner for fear of repeating a story twice.

What is so astounding is this occurred before your spouse even had a clue that something was going on.  Once your spouse became suspicious you really needed to step up your game because not only is your spouse on high alert, your affair partner is feeling threatened by the recent discovery and is demanding more of your time and attention.

A Betrayed Spouse Needs to Know the Details of the Affair

The Rising Stakes: Jealousy and Risk of Exposure

Your affair partner begins calling and texting at inopportune times which makes you very uneasy.  They become extremely jealous and begin to question how you are spending your time away from them. There is more talk of a commitment and you worry that they may spill the beans or do something really stupid like leave their marriage.

When you are at home, your spouse is constantly asking to see your cell phone usage.  However, you have run out of excuses of why that isn’t possible. You begin to wonder if you are being followed every time you leave the house.  Your spouse is texting you the same time as your affair partner and you think that you just sent your spouse the wrong text.  You avoid eye contact every time you speak to your spouse for fear they will know you are lying.  You are experiencing anxiety, stress, headaches and guilt. Your life is spinning out of control and you do not know whether you are coming or going.

Is All the Trouble of an Emotional Affair Worth It?

You begin to ask yourself is all of this worth it?  Were the moments of infatuation, admiration, newness, and excitement worth all this effort and stress?  You thought being in a marriage was hard work, but compared to this it was a walk in the park.  Perhaps you long for the normal, uncomplicated life you were living before you started this roller coaster ride. You secretly wish that you could have all these wonderful feelings with your spouse, without all the sneaking around and the secrets and lies. You realize you have made a terrible mistake and want it all to go back to the way it was.  Unfortunately you know that will never happen.  Evidently you will be required to take responsibility for your mistakes which will require a lot of work and effort on your part.

You know that your life and marriage after your emotional affair will never be the same again.  However, if you are lucky and have the love, understanding and forgiveness of an extraordinary spouse, your life and marriage will not be the same.  It will be better than you ever anticipated.

So, was the emotional affair worth it?  Let us know in the comments section.


    14 replies to "The Emotional Affair: Is it Worth it?"

    • Guilty

      I guess the question of whether it was worth it is rather moot. The thing is that it did happen. I did conduct the affair. I went through all the craziness of maintaining secret communications channels like a prepaid cell phone, a secret email address, setting specific times to call. The OW in this case lived several time zones over, so I’d arrange to go work out early in the AM to catch her before she went to bed. The notion that my relationship with my wife will never be the same pretty much says that the EA wasn’t worth it. The memory of the feelings of love, friendship and lust are not near enough to overcome and compensate for the depression, the shame and the anxiety that comes with this process. My wife will never fully trust me again. She is now less secure in her home life. Because of this, a constant sense of suspicion, fear and anger hovers in varying degrees over everything we do. I’m sure it will lessen, but I just don’t know if it will ever go away. That’s the “reward” for my EA.

    • Michael

      Was it worth it?
      It did take a lot to cover up on her part.
      Did take it its toll on her emotionally?
      Did she learn anything from it?
      Does she feel worse about herself now then she did before the affair?
      Does she feel alone in trying to get passed it?

      Today I need words of encouragement. In a few days the OM and his wife will be celebrating an anniversary. I think its five or six years. And I am feeling cheated out of my last anniversary. And I blame him mostly for that.
      Their texting and talking was a lot at the time. And she gave me very little for it. And in turn I gave her next to nothing for it. And the day after she skipped work and went to see him. Spent hours with him. And hid it until my discovery about three weeks ago.
      She lied about it when asked a direct question. Even when I told her I knew something new. She lied to my face. Looking me in the eyes when she did it. That’s a painful memory. And it leaves so much more doubt in my mind.
      So, for a few days I’ve wanted to call his wife. Inflict pain into his life on the eve of the day in his marriage that he destroyed for mine. I’ve told myself every reason not to do it. And I’ve convinced myself of every reason to do it. And I want revenge for what he did to my life.
      If you all could help me today with this I would appreciate it. I’m looking for pros and cons. I’m looking for encouraging words. And I’m looking for help in my healing that I know my wife isn’t ready to give me.
      I don’t know if this site helps me get passed this or re ignites my lonely feelings but I can’t just leave this site when the one at home is unwilling to talk about the pain with me. She isn’t ready to heal her feelings yet.
      It isn’t worth the discomfort that it will take to heal.

      • admin

        Michael, I know that it might seem like revenge is necessary, but could backfire on you if your wife were to find out. Keep in mind that she has ended the affair and has chosen to be with YOU. Based on your comments over time it appears that she may be “mourning” the end of her affair. Be supportive and help her through it as best that you can. YOU are a kind passionate man with many great qualities and deep down I’m sure she realizes that, and if you continue to give her the opportunity she will come back to YOU emotionally as well.

    • ruth

      Michael, I know exactly how you feel. I want the ow to feel the pain and hurt that I feel only more so.I want her life ruined. I just found out she just got her 3rd DWI and will be going to trial for that. Do you want to know how bad I want to call the distrcit attorneys office and tell them she is still driving and drinking OMG!!! But when I really think about it I am a bigger person than that because I would never stoop to her level.As I can see her life is ruined without me doing anything. My husband has had no contact with her that I know of, but I would love to show him the police blotter, but I dont want to stir a hornets nest. He told me it was over and she moved out of state and he had no idea where she is, he LIED right to my face when I asked him over and over again if she still live in the same town which is 60 miles from us. The police blotter is my proof that she never moved. So I face a decision on wheather to show him the news article and see how he would try to get out of that lie. I hope she goes to prison.Then for sure he wont be in contact with her and maybe for just a little while I can sleep in peace. You see, I am like you still very very angry becuase my spouse is not respecting me enough to tell me the truth which makes me think he still is hiding something. All I want is the truth no matter how it hurts until he comes clean with me I dont think he is trying to put our marriage on the right track, all it says to me is that he is still protecting her from me. I want to be first and I want to feel protected from the pain and hurt. Most of all I want him to be remorseful and mean it. Thanks for letting me express my feelings, somedays I feel like I have no one to talk to so I come here.

    • Jennifer

      Of course to the betrayed it doesn’t seem worth it. Sometimes I wonder though if my marriage would have gone further down the tubes (mental instability, violence, etc) had H not had this “release” of sorts via the affair. Whether our marriage survives or not, this has been an experience for us both and an eye-opener that we BOTH need to make some changes in the way we live our lives daily.

    • Rushan

      Ruth I have the same feelings as you have. My hubby looks into my eyes and lie. But he chose me, said he wants to heal our marraige and loves me more than anything else in the world. I do not know if it is true, but I am going to try to accept it although it is very difficult. The ow is in another town, he says there is no more contact, I do not believe it but I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe we can make it to our next anniversary, maybe not. I pray and hope for the best.

    • ppl

      i agree not knowing details is difficult. how can you believe any of the story. a liar is telling you he or she is being honest now? how can you tell a liar is telling a new lie–his or her lips are moving. they left partner for you? isnt that what other partner is telling their significant other. who ever knows who dumped who. we were second choice back then and maybe even now. help them through mourning process? i am sorry but my first inclination is mourn my own marriage. it will never be the same. my future relationships will always be affected as well. i am letting marriage heal so i can then dump her and use all the same lines. we are not only victimized by affairs but then made to feel crazy for suspecting them and if not enough later blamed for the affair…you didnt meet my needs or you didnt listen etc. all from same cheaters script.

    • Broken

      I think the spouse who cheats, obviously feels the affair is worth it. Otherwise why do it? They only say that it wasn’t worth it once they are caught. I still believe that if my husband could have had this EA without me finding out he would never feel guilty or remorseful. I often believe that even now, he probably thinks to himself that it was worth it. In the end he didn’t lose anything, I’m still here.
      He once told me that he thought I would never find out. That he would just continue the EA as long as he could. So something is obviously worth it. That right there shows me that he thought it was worth it, and that I was never a thought in his mind.
      This question of whether or not it is worth it should be asked during the affair not after. He should of said to himself, is this worth losing my marriage over? Maybe the question did come to his mind at one point in time, and obviously his answer was yes, because he never attempted to end it until after I found it. It’s the worst kind of selfishness.

    • Broken

      I also wanted to add, that I’m tired of hearing the “infatuation” excuse. Your an ADULT. Act like one. Don’t use any excuse at all. Be a man and say, I did this because I wanted to, because it felt good, because at the time I was selfish and didn’t care about my marriage or my spouse. Don’t blame the affair on “infatuation” or say that “it just happened.” When you get hit by a car, or fall down the steps, those things “just happen” and you never see it coming. But you know the relationship is crossing lines the whole time and you continue, you know its wrong and you continue, you know your spouse wouldn’t approve and you continue. The whole time you know what your doing, and your enjoying it. Your hand doesn’t “just happen” to pick up the phone or send an email… the brain has to think to do that. So please all you cheaters, stop with the excuses. I’m tired of hearing about it. I would rather hear, I got bored of you and our marriage, your not as new and exciting as my affair partner, I need and want something better. Our marriage is not enough for me, and that’s what made me do it. I would rather hear that. Because that would be the TRUTH.

    • Guilty

      Broken, you’re right, it is the worst kind of selfishness, but in my opinion, just because the EA happened doesn’t necessarily mean that the cheating spouse thought it was worth it. There is nothing rational about the situation I, as a cheating spouse, put myself and my family in. I can tell you that I’m inordinately lucky that my wife is willing to give me a chance to heal our marriage. You say that your H didn’t lose anything, you’re still there. In my case, losing my wife’s trust and conceivably never getting it back is a tremendous loss. I don’t doubt that I should have asked the question of the EA’s worthiness during its occurrence. Our lives would have been so much better if I’d objectively asked and answered the question BEFORE I started down that road. But there’s nothing objective or sane with an infatuation. The aftermath tells me that it was not worth the pain that I caused and now all I can do is try to pick up the pieces. I can tell you that I prefer things the way they were pre-EA than I do now. My only question to you is does your H think it was worth it? There is no obvious answer, in my opinion.

    • Broken

      I’m not sure what to think anymore. My mind goes blank when I think of the EA and the amount of effort and feelings that are put into it. I miss the marriage I once had, because our marriage now is full of resentment, hate and anger. I think my H thinks it was worth it, that’s just my opinion, and I will never know how he truly feels, because I have absolutely no trust in any word that comes out of his mouth anymore. How can the feelings you have for another woman and the feelings for me be real, when you lied to us both. I suffer everyday. I don’t believe that you suffer as much as the hurt spouse. This pain is unbearable and it corrupts the mind. My marriage will never ever be the same, no matter how hard we try, the memories of the EA will always linger in my mind, it will always outshine even the happiest times we had or will have in the future. I believe when you truly love someone with all your heart and soul that you will never do this, period. Before the EA, the love I had for my husband was overwhelming and consumed my heart, even in our most heated arguments I loved him with all my heart. Now… the love is tainted. His heart is not solely mine anymore, for a period of time, it belonged to someone else. I hate this, every morning I wake up thinking I will feel better, but actually everyday I wake up feeling worse. Affairs rock your marriage to the core, picking up the pieces is hard when you know you’ve been betrayed and lied to. Why should I put my H and our marriage first and foremost in my mind and heart, when he put me and our family on the bottom of the list while he was enjoying the EA? I can’t do it. Whatever pieces have to be picked up should be done by him, I’m not to blame for his mistake.

    • Alecia

      I think initially people in affairs think that it feels worth it, but as they go along and it goes deeper and becomes more complicated they begin to realize how not worth it it really is. The destruction of everything you’ve created up until that point – marriage, reputation, licenses for a job that could get lost, job loss, marital conflict, ruined relationships with children, church and community – is not ever worth the initial feelings of infatuation and appreciation that they think they are getting from their affair partner. As a friend once wrote in their blog “visualize the destruction.” I wish more people would just stop and think and “visualize the destruction”, or think logically about the actual consequences of their choices, before jumping into an affair. That really speaks to how selfish affairs really are. Its almost as if when you are at the beginning of starting an affair you are incapable of seeing the consequences to your choices. It is too bad that so many people have to live through their choices and experience the pain in order to lear the lesson.

    • Melvin


      I totally agree – affairs are a selfish act. CS’s think only of themselves, their needs, their desires and the way they feel. Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead. And yes, a CS does not recognize the consequences while partaking in the affair.

      I have seen 2 marriages whereby the H cheated on his W with an OW, the marriage ended, the H/OW got married and the W went on to re-marry also. Kids were involved. In the end, it really was for the best for all parties. However, many friendships were destroyed in the process, three was short-term damage to the kids and it became quite ugly. Some of those friendships are still broken today as hard feelings exist. I would say, if a marriage truly needs to end, it should on its own terms before cheating occurs.

      Best Always

    • Alecia


      I do not know the people you gave as examples so I would not want to speak directly about those situations but it worries me when people say “it was the best for all” but then we qualify that with “friendships were destroyed” “damage to the kids” and “quite ugly.” Doesn’t sound “best” for anybody. The marriages may have been in bad places to begin with and that attributed to the affairs taking place. However, the fact that these two couples even ended up getting married to their affair partners is astounding. Around 95% of relationships that begin as affairs don’t last beyond 6 months as a “real” relationship. When affair partners choose to get married they have a much higher rate for divorce than other couples. I believe the last study I reviewed said around 75%. I know statistics are hard to apply to real people that we are in relationship with but truly those “relationships” that began as affairs aren’t any better for the most part than the marriages that those people were in. They’ve just chosen to focus their time and energy on someone other than their spouse. Most importantly, they took the biggest part of the problem in their marriage with them into their new marriage – themselves. And those poor kids just get to go along for the ride while their parents try out different people when they feel their needs aren’t getting met. The chances that the couples that started out as an affair will have one or both of them cheat again is very very high. I agree with you that there may be times when a marriage needs to end. And wouldn’t it be nice if people would be smart, caring and selfless enough to communicate their concerns and needs with their spouse instead of just getting needs met behind their back. I have a theory – people don’t communicate that they’re thinking of leaving because they don’t want their spouse to talk them out of it. It almost, in their twisted minds, seems easier at the outset to find someone else, have the affair and THEN say “I’m leaving.” If they were honest from the get go then the marriage might be salvageable but these people have already decided “I’m not in love anymore” or “you’re not meeting my needs” without communicating with their spouse at all. Its one of the worst communication breakdowns there is. I still say its never worth it – even if the first marriage seems like its too broken it can still be repaired if the two people involved are willing to do the hard work necessary.

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