Sometimes it takes making a mistake – like having an emotional affair – on our part to learn important things about ourselves and how to change so that we don’t make the same mistakes in the future.

learn from an emotional affair

By Linda

We have a son who is in his first year of college, and we found out a couple of days ago that he had recently taken an ethics seminar at school.  We found this out because we had just received the $200 bill for it and had questioned this added expense. 

When we confronted him about it he confessed to a mistake that he made that caused him to have to take the seminar.  He ended up learning much about himself as a result, quite like Doug has learned so much about himself as a result of his emotional affair.

Our son has a good friend in one of his classes that he has known for years.  They had a homework assignment that was due, and our son’s friend did not have it finished, and asked for one of the answers to complete the assignment.  Our son gave him the answer and really never thought too much more about it.

It turns out that the friend used the answer alright—almost word for word.  Though just a homework assignment, the professor discovered this and summoned the two of them to his office to discuss it.  They both quickly admitted to the wrong doing and thought that was the end of it.  Several weeks later, they were ordered to take the seminar on ethics.

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When we questioned our son about it, we were quite surprised that he said that the seminar was actually very good, very difficult and very enlightening.  He told us that he had learned a lot about himself as a result of the seminar.

Now this might not sound like a big deal, but when it’s your 19 year-old son telling you this, it actually made us quite proud.  He has become quite wise for his age.

You may be asking yourself, “OK, nice story, but how does this all relate to our normal discussions about emotional and other types of affairs?”

Learning From the Emotional Affair

When you’ve been through what we have, you tend to relate regular everyday occurrences to our situation.  This was no different.  Not only did our son learn a lot about himself through his mistakes (much like Doug), he decided to make some changes in how he did some things, and how he carries himself in his everyday life. 

For example, he decided to stop sitting by many of his friends that tended to exhibit bad habits at school, and didn’t take school quite so seriously.  In other words, he was putting up barriers between himself and those that were causing him to do things he really shouldn’t have been doing.

The seminar also made him explore his inner feelings about the differences between happiness and pleasure.  He determined that things that bring you pleasure are more materialistic or self serving in nature, whereas happiness comes as a result of being true to yourself and others.

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These two lessons can be applied to those who are involved in affairs.  After an affair, you must truly look at yourself, and as a couple, from within to discover why you had the affair, and then make the appropriate changes to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.  You must determine whether the affair was worth the selfish pleasure it produced, compared to the happiness that can exist with your current spouse or partner.

As a result of Doug’s emotional affair and through the work I’ve done on this blog, and all the conversations with Doug and the blog readers, I’ve (we’ve) come to realize why it happened and what we need to do to continue to strengthen and build our love and marriage.  It has not been an easy thing to do, but certainly necessary and quite worth it.

Along with this self-exploration and change, there needs to be barriers and rules put into place so as to minimize the temptation of an affair in the future.  For the betrayer, these barriers may seem unrealistic or even harsh, but are necessary for building trust and eliminating temptation.

It’s kind of funny the curve balls that life can throw at you, and if you would have told us that we would learn a lesson from our son, we would have laughed at you.  Unfortunately, it often takes making a mistake on our part to learn important things about ourselves and how to change so that we don’t make the same mistakes in the future.  In our case it was an emotional affair.

See also  7 Tips For Backing Off After the Affair

We will leave you today with this excellent quote from Barbara De Angelis:

“Each time you choose to change, to grow, to improve, or to learn, you are acting from that inner core of passion.  It is that passion for truth, for happiness, for freedom that compels you to dig deep within yourself for wisdom, to ask the difficult questions, and to hear the often painful but necessary answers.”

Please share in the comment section what you and/or your spouse have learned as a result of your experiences.


    3 replies to "How to Learn From an Emotional Affair"

    • Starting Over

      I am so glad to finally see a post like this. No matter what happens, whether a couple stay together, or fall apart because of the EA, if you do not LEARN something from it, then it will happen again and again in your life. This has taught me so much about my husband, myself and my marraige. Not to mention relationships in general. There is a give and take that most people take for granted and turn into a take and take. We take what you give and forget to give back. While I am the victim of the EA, I have learned some important things that I could have done to prevent it.

      First and formost was just being me. The real me. The one I lost. Now I can make excuses about kids and work and life getting in the way, but that would mean I did not learn anything. Kids, life, work, relationships, should NEVER change who you are. It only does because you allow it.

      The second was just accepting my husband for who he was or is. We always tend to get with someone because we are attracted to them, then once we fall in love we feel we can mold them to what we want them to be. That is not love, it is not a marraige, but so many of us do it without a second thought. I was guilty. I learned that if I am to love my husband, truly love him, then I must accept him. I do now. Every bit. Even his decision to leave our marraige. I accept all of him. A little late. But better late than never.

      I learned that kids are not an excuse, and they are not the center of your universe and it is actually detrimental to them for you to make them that way. Nothing in life is certain no matter what you may believe, and when they believe that it is then the fall is that much harder for them.

      I learned that I am ok to be by myself. And while I used to dread it and have panic attacks, now I can walk in the dark. I no longer run down the hall to my bedroom when everyone is asleep. I am secure in my solitude and revel in it most of the time. Especially at the end of the day when the kids go to bed and the demands on my life stop.

      I have learned who I truly am, and who my husband truly is. While my marraige seems to be over at this point, I know that if it ever does heal and return, or the next relationship I enter, will be so much better and so much more glorious than in the past. I have learned what I need to do to be happy with myself which means that I will be able to be happy with someone else.

      • admin

        Starting Over, One of the best comments made to date on this site! I believe I have seen you grow tremendously in just the short time you have been visiting. It’s a shame that it takes something so terrible for us to finally learn life’s lessons. One more thing…Have you thought about showing your husband this comment?

    • Starting Over

      My husband and I are opening up some lines of communication now. I have told him all of this. He is able to hear it without so much anger. For a long time he was more angry than anything that it took this for me to learn. But at the same time he didn’t agree with me about some of it because he was to angry. Now that the anger is subsiding and life isn’t going as he planned but is going good for me he is reflecting more.
      Taking those long walks by himself that I recommended for the longest time. Doing a lot of reflection aparently.
      We are able to talk more openly. If nothing else, I still have my friend. And he still calls me first with problems he is having.
      I actually have been on here since right before christmas…almost right after you guys started….I posted under my name once….then got scared because all of this is a big secret still our closest friends and family know but no one say on the board or our little league teams or anything know. But then I was “giving up” lol I believe Linda suggested the new name change and it seems to be fitting!

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