We’re on day 4 of our vacation, so while we’re away we have a post for you that was originally posted in March 2011.  This post deals with the many lessons that myself and others have learned after an emotional affair.

47 Lessons Learned From the Emotional Affair

emotional affair
When something as traumatic as an emotional affair occurs, there are typically lessons that are learned by all involved.

I know that we all are at different stages in the healing process from either an emotional affair or a sexual affair. A common thread that we hear regardless of what stage one is in, is the fear that things will never be the same again in the marriage or relationship.  The fact is that things will indeed never be the same again, no matter how great the recovery.  The affair happened. It is there and always will be.

That being said, when something as traumatic as an emotional affair occurs, there are typically lessons that are learned by all parties involved.   These lessons are not necessarily from books, websites or counselors, but from deep within ourselves. These lessons can be used as our relationships evolve into something different than what they once were.

A while back we discussed some of those lessons and we want to list some of those that were mentioned.  I counted 47.  These are the words of many who walk in the same shoes as you.  Feel free to add your own lessons learned in the comment section.

As a Result of the Emotional affair…

  • I have learned that I need to be more aware of how cruel and manipulating people really can be.
  • I have learned that we can never really know someone. There is always going to be something that we keep to ourselves.
  • I have learned that I let so many things get in the way of living my life to the fullest and enjoying what I had and who I was.
  • I have learned that you can never let anyone, your spouse or your children, define who you are or who you are being.
  • I have learned the only way to find true happiness with yourself or anyone else, is to be the real you.
  • I have learned that you must communicate your feelings no matter how valid you or anyone else feels they are.
  • I have learned that I will no longer play second fiddle to a second class person.
  • I have learned that I really thought he/she was a better person than she/he is turning out to be.
  • I have learned I am a better person than he/she obviously believes me to be and I do not have to stand for what he/she is doing to me.
  • I have learned that life isn’t fair.
  • I have learned that wake up calls provide an opportunity for reflection and improvement.
  • I have learned that marriage is hard work.
  • I have learned that forgiveness is ever harder.
  • I have learned not to settle for a mediocre marriage and life, as now I want the best of everything.
  • I have learned that love does not conquer all.
  • I have learned that our negative behaviors have painful consequences.
  • I have learned that I am very strong and resilient.
  • I have learned how to ask for what I want and need.
  • I have learned that I am responsible for my own happiness.
  • I have learned not to take anything or anyone for granted.
  • I have learned that everything happens for a reason; you need to feel the pain of the past, learn from it then move on to a brighter future.
  • I have learned that the love I feel for my husband is so much greater than the pain, the lies and the insecurities.
  • I have learned that our past may have been was clouded with doubt, but our future is clear and hopeful.
  • I have learned not to believe what my husband says because I find he is still lying.
  • I have learned to trust my instincts because they are always right.
  • I have learned that if you really love someone you will do anything to make them happy.
  • I have learned not to be afraid.
  • I have learned not to put someone on a pedestal, as everyone have feet of clay and can fail.
  • I have learned that I really can stand on my own two feet, can do things alone and that I must take care of myself and not wait for other people to do that.
  • I have learned not to trust anyone anymore until they show me they are trustworthy.
  • I have learned that although I thought I was a good listener, I wasn’t and am since much more alert to everything that is said or done by anyone.
  • I have learned to voice appreciation more actively and find small ways of affirmation to reinforce my commitment to our marriage.
  • I have learned that my perfect life is not at all as it appeared.
  • I have learned the difference between forgiveness and forgetfulness.
  • I have learned to be thankful for those things in my life that are good.
  • I have learned to expect less so I won’t be disappointed.
  • I have learned that the lack of quality communication of emotional needs is a road to an affair or break-up, or both.
  • I have learned to be honest with myself, my wife and our relationship.
  • I have learned to let go of my fear of confrontation within our relationship.
  • I have learned to be more in tune with my husband and his feelings and needs–as well as my own.
  • I have learned that everything that I’ve ever wanted and needed was right under my nose all along. The grass truly isn’t greener on the other side.
  • I have learned that I am much stronger than I ever imagined.
  • I have learned that I love my husband and he loves me more than I ever imagined.
  • I have learned that I have to be okay with not trusting as much as I did before.
  • I have learned what my husband really needs from me and how to give that to him.
  • I have learned that I can and will survive this!
See also  8 Key Aspects in an Emotional Affair

What does happen to couples that have healed is they find that their relationship is truly different.   Since Doug and I have been through hell and back after his emotional affair, our relationship has taken on a whole new character.  After forgiving each other, it is easier to remember the past without reliving the pain, but that doesn’t mean that we have forgotten the lessons that we have learned along the way.


    14 replies to "Lessons Learned from the Emotional Affair"

    • Recovering

      I have learned that I am stronger than I ever thought I was, and that he is weaker than I could have ever imagined. I have learned that though now I will always put US first, I will never put HIM ahead of me again. I gave him everything, and I sacrificed my life and my happiness to make him happy, and in the end, I was the one who was crushed while he was being sick and selfish. I will NEVER again give someone that power over me, including my husband. I have learned that I can survive without him if it comes to that, and I will be totally fine with that if that is what happens. I don’t NEED him in that way, but I want to be with him. I have learned that people are not inherently good, but are inherently selfish… this last one is the hardest for me. I never thought I was an optimist before the cheating, but I guess I always did look for the good in people and tried not to dwell on the bad… but in reality, most people really are more bad than good, and THAT is a hard pill for me to swallow. When more than half of the population is cheating on the rest of us, it really demonstrates to me who people really are… selfish and cruel… I sincerely hope that our partners are REALLY learning from the devastation that they wrought and are becoming one of of the few people left who are more good than bad… Here’s to hopin…

    • Gizfield

      I guess the major thing I’ve learned from this us that my definition of “love” has been wrong for my entire life and I never even knew. I bought into the Hollywood, fictional version that idealises lust, jealous, emotions, etc, so if my relationships were “boring” instead of an f’d up mess I wanted no part of it. also, I came to understand that even though we are very similar in personality, intelligence, values, etc. we have VERY different experiences in regard to family background. His parents fought constantly and divorced when he was sixteen. Both his brothers and his sister were divorced, so he had no positive marriage role models. I dont think he ever even had a serious long term relationship before me! He had a miserable childhood that I would classify as abusive. My parents were married 42 years til my fathers death. My grandparents, aunts and uncles, brother, etc. all had long term marriages, and I was married to my first husband for 15 years, til he died. My husband was a “military brat” and moved constantly, I lived in the same house til I left for college. We had completely opposite views of marriage and commitment and I never even realized. I loved my childhood and he hated his, which I find to be very sad now that I know about it.

    • livingonafence

      Simple – the only person I can depend on no matter what is me.

      • tsd

        And the friends who will always have your back!!!!!

        • livingonafence

          You got that right!:)

          • csb

            Unfortunately, at a time when I felt most alone after discovering my h of almost 30 years had an EA for 1.5 years….my best friend treated me like I had the plague and wouldn’t even talk to me about it. I learned that ultimately, we are on our own and must rely on ourselves.

    • KelBelly

      I have learned that no matter how right you think you are in your marriage, your spouse will always see things in another way that may not always see you right in their eyes or mind. I am learning to listen not only with my ears but my heart as well. I have learned that every marriage can be broken no matter how good it is. I have learned that two people can love each other completely and still lose sight of that. I have learned that I am stronger than I gave myself credit for and I have the power over my marriage either working or failing. I am still early into the EA thing with my Husband so I am sure I will learn more along the way.

    • Hopeful

      I have learned:

      to trust my gut and instincts.

      to call out being bullied and stonewalled.

      to be strong enough to walk away if this happens again.

      to voice my needs as an adult and expect incredible respect, devotion, and love everyday of my relationship through ups and downs.

      to let go of pain and anger and fear in order to move on and be joyous again with a man who failed me.

      to forgive and to grow and to help someone else truly grow.

    • gracefortoday

      I have learned:

      To never doubt my instincts. If I feel that something is wrong, or “off” I will pursue it and confirm it. I will never again talk myself out of it. I will use whatever means are at my disposal.

      I will never again let someone bully me and back me down when I call bullcrap on their bullcrap.

      I will trust again, but always with limits. I will never again hand my good nature and personal assurance to someone to use against me.

      I will communicate my needs clearly and effectively. I will not expect my spouse to read my mind, and I refuse to even try to read his. I will ask questions about his needs and it is up to him to respond appropriately to that caring question.

      I will put my marriage first. The house won’t fall apart and the kids won’t need therapy if we have a regular date night or even conversations they are not allowed to interrupt (with the exception of fire or bones protruding through skin).

      I will make myself more of a priority. It isn’t “selfish” if I want to dress nicely, get highlights put in my hair and ditch the mom jeans for something more stylish. I deserve to carry a cute handbag, have some cute shoes, wear some coordinating jewelry and ditch the Hanes grannies for some Victoria’s Secret.

      I have learned that affairs can happen even in “good” marriages. None of us are immune. it doesn’t matter if you have been married twenty years or two days. Doesn’t matter if you are having sex three times a day and sending lovey texts, etc, etc. EVERY relationship is vulnerable. Knowledge is power. Know your individual weaknesses and guard against them.

      I have learned that I am much stronger than I ever thought possible. When I first suspected the affair, I thought I couldn’t live without him, didn’t know what i would do if he left me and the kids. Now, i know that while I would be crushed, I would ultimately be ok. It wouldn’t be easy, but I AM a good person and I COULD be a whole person on my own.

      I have learned that forgiving (five months out from d day) is so much harder than I ever imagined. I have learned that it is a process and it is a DAILY decision.

      I have learned that I am capable of more anger and lashing out than i would have ever guessed. I have learned to forgive myself. I have learned that he will either be patient in this process or he won’t.

      I have learned I will be ok

    • Recovering

      I have learned that his cheating is NOT MY FAULT! That HE is the one with the twisted morality, and not me. I have learned to stop blaming myself for HIS actions. Yes, I may do things that he reacts to, but ultimately, those decisions are his to make. I have learned that I am only in control of me!

      I have learned that I am less of a coward than I thought I was. That I have an inner strength that I didn’t realize was there.

      I have learned that I can truly HATE, which actually surprised me, but in a way I think it is a good thing, because it now allows me to not give so much credit and leeway to those who do not really deserve it. I am now able to walk away from these people without the guilt I used to have from not giving them one more shot with me.

      I have learned that maybe people really CAN change, but they REALLY have to WANT to!

      I have learned that not all adults are grown-ups, and that people see what they want to see until they can’t hide from the truth anymore.

      I have learned that my opnion counts in my marriage, and that guilt is a waste of time. If I don’t think he should go out with the boys, now I say so, whereas before I wouldn’t because I would feel guilty… and so these outtings with the “boys” is where the cheating started! I will not be manipulated anymore! He will do ultimately what he wants, but now at least my REAL thoughts are out there.

      I’ve learned that though I gave him and us a second chance, that there will NOT be a third. I always said I would leave if he cheated, but I didn’t KNOW. Now I do, and I WON’T stay again. I’ve learned that I am worth more!!

      I’ve learned that we have to be a team in everything, and that a little resentment can breed evil, so I will no longer do something that I am uncomfortable with.

      I have learned to TRUST MYSELF above all others. I guess I always did, it just took me too long to find the proof I knew existed so I started to doubt…

      I have learned that you can’t take back some things that you say, no matter how sorry you may be or that you “didn’t mean it”.

      I have learned that I am teaching him what real love is because he didn’t really know before…

    • chiffchaff

      1. I have learned that my husband’s affair was about him and his problems and not caused by me. This took me some time.
      2. I’ve learned that because of 1. above, only my husband can address his problems and ways of thinking.
      3. I am stronger than I thought I was.
      4. I should not hold in resentments as they grow into uglier things over time.
      5. I am quite determined and capable of challenging myself and my ways of thinking.
      6. That you should never say never about anything or anyone. I thought my husband would never have an affair, never. I never thought I could love him again like I do now or be so happy together again. I never thought I’d see his eyes happy again.
      7. That I need to always look after myself.

    • Anita

      Lessons I have learned from all this is that my faith only gets stronger. I have learned that God works everything together for our own good. I have learned that trials produces endurance.
      I have received the results of what I have waited for, now
      that I have received my answer, I can put this all to rest.
      The biggest lesson I have learned was to give God
      Glory and give God thanks for everything in our lives,
      and to trust Him.

    • e-wreck73

      i cant seem to turn it off ,the hate i have for him for betraying me,i think about this everyday .im screwed up i have to finally see a therapist and he wants to put me on some zoloft because of what my husband and the dirty skank at work did behind closed doors.im so angry still i have anxiety,he still works with the bitch,and to top it of we are both recovering alcoholics and he fell off the wagon with this individual,shes married with kids ,my husband is on probation for d.u.i ….i threaten to kick her ass if i catch her texting him again cuzz thats how i really found out what was going on.ive been sober even through what happend to me with my husband but everyday i have this anxiety that he will fall for her crap and leave to drink with her during lunch,there bs went on for about 9 months till i finally caught him,i love him and i hate what he did to us and my kids,i hate that he is weak,when he always told me i was.i was fine now im a mess ,im going to try homeopathic meds ,cuzz this thing where i cant forget is really ruining my mental wellness ………..how can i just put it behind me?i think it has alot to do with the fact that he is still there working with her.and he only stopped because his co-workers told on him and her ,and her husband was onto her……but he never would stop when i was asking him too ,and the thing with the alcohol involved leads me to think that it may have been more than an E.A maybe something more serious?and that makes me sick,how these two pigs without morals ,so selfish could conduct themselves on the job disgusting.

    • Ann

      I’ve learned that people you love, trust, and respect, can and may lie to you…even though they never have before….it can still happen – even at 61 years of age!

      My husband had an E.A. but it was just as devastating as if it had been physical. He lost all credibility with me; respect and trust. What made all of this worse, is he asked me to leave – knowing I had nowhere to go. He threw me out like a bag of garbage, betrayed and abandoned me. He will never totally regain those things mentioned above, and I told him so. After someone you love lies to you – you can never trust them completely again. Before this EA, I was very careful not to hurt his feelings and if something bothered me, I just held it in…no more! I say what I think, although not lashing out…but I finally figured out that what I think, and have to say is just as important as what he feels.

      I’ve learned to have a back-up plan and never be that vulnerable or dependent on anyone! I’ve also learned that I deserve to be treated with dignity and integrity and I will demand it, now!…or he can leave.

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