Four observations that I’ve made over the last several weeks about the driving forces of an affair

the driving forces of an affair

By Linda

For the last several weeks I have been observing the comments on this blog made by the betrayed spouses as well as the cheating spouses.  I have learned so much from everyone’s insight and felt I should add some observations from my own point of view.

I have both read and written many articles about the differences between “affair love” ( infatuation) and real lasting love, and we all know that there is a strong chemical element present during infatuation which can be very addictive in nature. 

Certainly when Doug and I first met, a strong driving force of our relationship was infatuation.  But I have learned so much about affairs over the last couple of years that I feel it is not only infatuation that is the driving force that makes affairs so “special.” There are many other elements that are not usually present during a “traditional” relationship that add to the excitement of an affair as well. Here a just a few:

Competition.  The exhilarating feeling the cheating spouse receives knowing that their affair partner is choosing them rather than their own spouse, partner or significant other.  The affair partners are winning and they believe they possess all the special qualities needed to be a perfect mate. 

They are better than the betrayed spouse since they are more fun, they’re sexier, they’re a good listener, etc.  Think how flattering it must be to receive a call from your affair partner because they are bored at home and they need for you to brighten their day.  I imagine this is one of the reasons affair partners appear so confident during the initial stages of their affairs.

See also  Can the Cheater Do What's Necessary to Heal From the Affair?

Deprivation.  Wanting what you can’t have.  I remember when our children were young and it had been a long time since Doug and I had any alone time. We would play this cat and mouse game, teasing each other, sneaking a passionate kiss here and there.  Anticipating the time when we could be alone together.  The same is true for the affair partners.  They play this game… “We really shouldn’t be together.  It isn’t the right thing to do, but we can’t help ourselves.  We are being so good, but I wish we could be physical.  It would be so wonderful if only we could….”

Every glance or touch is supercharged with emotion. They create this fantasy in their heads about how special and perfect it could be if only they could be together forever.  This kind of thinking only makes the affair partners believe that their union it much more special than it really is.  If they truly looked at their actions they would feel the guilt of the betrayal and destruction they are creating for their families.

Polarization of partners.  Focusing on everything  the affair partner is doing right, as well as everything the spouse is doing wrong.  The cheaters begin to devalue everything their spouses do and believe that their affair partners are perfect.  It is very easy to do when you are involved in a relationship that is conducted in a bubble and free from the stress of living day to day with the affair partner.

The  excitement of sneaking around.  Knowing that together, the cheater and the affair partner are in on a secret and no one else knows can be exciting.  The secret meeting places, texts and phone calls add to the excitement of the relationship.  I imagine that once the cat is out of the bag the level of excitement quickly diminishes because guilt and the constant looking over their shoulders will take over.

See also  Facts You Need to Know About Infidelity

These are just four observations that I’ve made over the last several weeks about the driving forces of an affair, and I’m sure that there are more that I’ve omitted.  Feel free to add any other “driving forces” for affairs in the comment section below.


    62 replies to "The Driving Forces of an Affair"

    • monalisa

      The one thing that my H admitted was that he got a thrill out of the sneaking around. Having a secret that I was not in on. I suppose it made him feel in control. Of course the other W also had a secret that he wasn’t in on….she failed to tell him that she was as big as a barn, and looked years older than she actually was. To watch his face when he saw a current picture of her…..PRICELESS!

      • ifeelsodumb

        ROFLOL!!! THAT made my day, Monalisa!! Thanks! 😀

        • monalisa

          You are welcome! We sure need to laugh every once in a while, in the mist of this nightmare!

          • ifeelsodumb

            Would you mind telling me quickly the background of your H’s EA? I don’t remember reading it…so I’m assuming it was an online EA since her picture shocked him?

            • monalisa

              This was the classic facebook affair. As a police officer he had worked in a city where she was a waitress at a local restaurant. He had not seen or spoken to her in 20 + years. I was not married to him then. She sent a friend request through fb. I had no problem with it at the time. I intercepted an email that ended with “Love you, hugs and kisses” about 1 month into his “friendship”. He assured me that he had only emailed her a couple of times, didn’t even have her phone number, and just wasn’t sure why I was so upset. NOW, for the rest of the story…. I am also retired law enforcement SO, after my investigation I found that he had her phone number hidden under another contact on his phone, had talked to her via cell for over 9.5 hours, a total of 630 texts messages between them, and because of his stupidity he had forgotten to delete his sent files on his fb messages, so I got those too. He then told me that he was just talking to her to catch up on what was going on since he left that city? DUH, it took 9 hours of talking to somebody that he says he hardly knew to “catch up”. I called bullshit on that story!!
              I called her husband first, then I called her, and I also called her employer to let them know that she was spending most of her “at work” time to send emails and texts to MY husband. Hell, if they were going to have a party, I wanted EVERYONE to know about it. To add to his dillusion, he had only seen the photos that she posted on her page, which happen to be about 15 years old. So, when I found some of her other family members had posted current pictures of the COW, I was quick to let him see what his “friend” really looked like. If there was one thing funny about this nightmare, that had to be it! Since they had already talked about where they would meet, I just wonder how she was going to lose that 100 pounds before the “date night”.
              I had actually thought about driving the three hours to her house just to whoop her ass but, I have to remember that she is not the one that stood before God and family and made a promise to me.
              It has been 19 months and NO I am not over it and there is a good possibility that I never will be.

    • InTrouble

      I think driving forces are different for everyone, and while that list certainly covers many possibilities I think not all of those are present in every affair.

      For me Competition was never a factor, at all. I am ashamed to say that I never really thought much about his wife at all. We did not discuss our spouses with each other.

      Deprivation, yes. But deprivation on both ends of things, including my marriage.

      Polarization of Partners, no not at all. My OM doesn’t hold a candle to my husband.

      Excitement of Sneaking Around, I don’t know. Frankly it sort of wears me out instead of feeling fun.

      There is one basic element that I see in our relationship – we like each other and we are a comfort to each other. Sad, but true.

      • Elizabeth

        hello InTrouble,on your last remark”we like each other and we are a comfort” Did you know your EA before?

    • Elizabeth

      Great page,i am new to this and your insight and honesty has helped me a great deal,along with the other comments and feedback from all who share.My dilemma is this,now that i know it wasnt me(you cant blame getting stuck in a rut, Family life with young children) and i know that as soon as you put compution we become compeditive regardless,Do i ask, what he said to the ow and how he Associated his life onto hers,did he bad mouth me,was that the driving force behind the ow?.Can i ask this really can i,will this us?

    • Elizabeth

      Sorry not will this us,i ment will this help us?

    • C.

      As the cheating spouse, “polarization” is the only one I find applicable to me. My marriage was, to put it simply, a mess at that time. Both my husband and I were treating each other shabbily. So when a new guy appeared to be infatuated with me, it felt like a light turned on inside me. I *was* desirable. I *wasn’t* the worthless woman I felt I was at home.

      So then I started a cycle of comparing the OM’s best qualities to my husband’s worst. I didn’t THINK this is what I was doing, naturally, but of course the OM was only showing off his good sides (I didn’t have to live with him, see him picking his nose while not helping with dinner, or whatever else his flaws would have been), and then I tended to only compare them in my head during my worst moments with my husband (when my husband and I were happy, I was just in the moment with him), so I ended up putting together the most unfair comparison possible.

      My husband is a million times better than the OM. But when you compare the best man’s worst qualities to an average man’s best — and probably exaggerated — qualities, things start to look very different from the way they really are.

    • Norwegian woman

      I believe you are spot on, at least for my H reasons for the affairs.
      Competition: To be wanted by TWO women is intoxicating. He felt like a king. A loving wife, nice children, nice home, and ON TOP OF THAT: Another woman dying to be with him because he is so wonderful, exciting and fun. Can you imagine the boost of his ego?
      Deprivation: Texts, pictures, secret phonecalls expressing how much they wanted to be together etc. added to the thrill of the competition. I made it even more exciting. Unfortunately, my H admits that it was best in his head. The real thing did not meet his expectations.
      Polarization. If there ever were a drop of guilt in the affairs, he justified it by blowing up my faults, and ignoring obvious facts about the AP. This is the most puzzling point for me.
      Sneaking around: Very exciting, but exhausting, my H told me. There were allways a chance of being seen or caught and it wore him out after a while.
      In addition I would add : Boredom. After 22 years together, things were pretty predictable, and neither him nor me got chills down our spines when the other walked by. Maybe combined with an unrealistic wiew about what love is. Is it security, respect and bonds. Or is it the level of excitement going on in your pants.

    • Paula

      Good post, Linda, I agree, I know competition was a driving factor for the OW, and also for me, when I discovered it, it fuelled 6 months of high intensity sex and passion, and pseudo-forgiveness, I thought I had forgiven him, because, you see, look how passionate we are, see, he still loves, wants and desires ME, see, I UNDERSTAND, see, we really are the perfect couple, see, it was really just a nightmare deviation for us, it wouldn’t affect who we are. Not real forgiveness, and as time wore on, I realised I didn’t forgive him, I was still angry, hurt and confused as to why he didn’t talk to me instead of whoring off with her. I’ve asked him about the adreneline of the sneaking around (she came on holidays with us, to parties with us, etc) and he says, yes, there was a high that went with that, but that the crash afterwards was appalling, he says that the brief high of driving up there, or waiting for her to drive here (2 and a half hours apart) would be quickly flattened with unbelieveably low feelings, and he would ask himself why he was doing it, that his health was suffering, that she so wasn’t worth it. I don’t understand why you would continue on if it felt that bad, but he said the drug addict analogy hits it on the head, you know it’s bad for you, but you do it anyway, and you feel even worse the next time afterwards. He even asked himself what it was about her, as he wasn’t even getting sexually satisfied, as she is a lazy and selfish lover, so the reality was so far below the anticipation, he would shake his head and drive home thinking, what am I doing, she doesn’t even really turn me on, it should be a hot and sexy thing, but it’s really just fairly mechanical, yes, with a sexual release, but not even that half the time (he suffered from ED with her up to about 50% of the time – an issue that he has never even looked close to having with me!)

      • monalisa

        ED while with affair partner=Poetic justice!

        • ifeelsodumb

          You’re on a roll!! Another good laugh for me today!! LOL!!

        • Paula

          Agreed, monalisa, guilt is a powerful emotion, just not quite powerful enough to make him stop it, lol!

          • ifeelsodumb

            I wish my H would admit to feeling some guilt…but he says during the EA he never did…in fact, as of last night, he’s still insisting that they really WERE just friends…and that all they talked about was home life… I was to busy for him and how her H didn’t help her at all with the kids,or around the house and about their jobs, etc…
            He’s still insisting that there NEVERwas any romance, that yes, he was infatuated with her because she made him feel good about himself, but he didn’t feel guilty because at the time, he didn’t think what he was doing was so wrong since there WASN’T any talk of leaving their spouses and families, no talk of plans for the future, no sex talk, etc…I guess it IS possible…He seems SO sincere, looks me directly in the eye…I WANT to believe him, I really do…but I keep thinking of that old saying “Fool me once shame on you, Fool me twice, shame on me!

      • ifeelsodumb

        Pauls, it was the same with me…I can’t believe 3 days after D day, I was making mad, passionate love to him…when just the day before I had screamed for him to get out of my house and life….he had told my mom, earlier in the day, that I had been ignoring him and going out with my GF’s and he “felt” neglected… so totally untrue!! I was LIVID!!
        I know now that it was just the fog talking, he had been doing that the whole time he was talking to the OW…telling her lies about me, that I wasn’t affectionate with him, left him home alone at night while I went to see a movie w/ a friend…one movie, one time, I might add, AND he was invited to come along…but he declined! Well, of course he did… it gave him more time to call HER!
        But I can totally agree with what you said…I did look at it as a competition….to show him what he’d lose if he let me go.

        • ifeelsodumb

          Good Grief!! Sorry,PAULA…yea, I can spell :/

      • D

        My wife says the same things. She kept expecting the “movie moment” where they meet at fall into each other’s arms and the music swells, fireworks explode. Instead it was shameful, dark and secret. She would feel awful and yet strangely responsible for not disappointing him. As if she took on an obligation and couldn’t let it go, even when she tried to.

    • Atwitsend

      got one better, my husband had been out of work (surgery) I thought we were taking this time to reconnect. Little did I know that not an hr after being with me, for a hot and passionate time. He was leaving the house to call or text her.
      I think those things eat at me more than anything, the idea that I thought we were reconnecting then and he was still so drawn to her that he couldn’t let go. Now I can’t get it out of my mind that if things weren’t good enough then to be all about me, why in the H-LL would now be any different. Other than she out of the picture…..not by his choice, just because he got caught

      • ifeelsodumb

        I understand completely! How my dear H could justify stopping in the parking lot of the local Walmart, INSTEAD of coming home, so he could finish talking to her…and not feel immensely guilty is so beyond my understanding! Yes, he said he knew it was “wrong” and I’d be hurt if I knew…but since it was JUST conversation…it wasn’t that “bad”…Right….I’ve just gotta remember that… :/

    • ifeelsodumb

      Forgot to mention, my H says admiration and his selfish pride was the driving factor for him…he’d gone home for quick visit, and the OW (old GF) was at a family event…they talked and several days later she asked a family member for his cell # and like a fool, he responded when asked if it would be OK to give it to her…so selfish, not thinking of me or his family…she is married, with kids, so they both knew this would be going no where, just a little fun on the side…when the OW H found out and demanded they stop, she agreed, but 3 days later started texting my H again…going through her home computer…I so wish I could tell him she is a pathetic liar! But he’ll find out eventually…karma has a way of getting back around to those that deserve it!

    • Atwitsend

      Sorry forgot to mention, my H said she stroked his ego and we were so distant. He wanted someone to have his back….
      We were distant because he wasnt sharing with me but with her, then would say I never listened to him or had time for him. He would think he told me something that went on in his day or whatever and then get mad cause I didn’t remember.
      Come to find out it wasn’t me he told after all, but her. So of course we were distant, he couldn’t keep up with who he told what…. Well I guess it got difficult after a year and half

      • melissa

        I can rely to that totally. It’s easy to be told by your H that you’re ‘distant’ when he’s the one who’s not talking to you at all.

    • D

      You’ve forgotten the all controlling EGO.

      My wife felt unaccomplished, overwhelmed and in a professional rut when the OM made his advances. When one is feeling so down on oneself it doesn’t take much to respond to such attention. I was there for her too in that way, but understandably it’s different when it comes from someone else. I was supposed to be supportive, yet here was someone she hardly knew who was important (an executive director of a non-profit). If he liked her then she must be important too. I call this “Dating the Quarterback.”

      It’s rather pathetic and embarrassing to see – especially when they’re in the “fog.” If only we could stop time at DDay long enough to recover so we could respond with the appropriate amount of gut-busting laughter when they say things like, “… but I love him.” You know, like the way you react when a 13 year old girl pines over her teacher. Blech.

      • Doug

        D, not only stop time at Dday, but go back to Dday knowing what we know now. My responses and reactions would have been totally different. They would have been sane, logical unlike the way I reacted three years ago. I think I was as crazy and sucked into the fantasy as much as he was. I shutter when I think about some of the things I said and did during that time. Linda

        • Irish Kate

          If I could go back knowing what I know now, I’m not so sure that I would have taken this journey…

          • Paula

            Me too, Irish Kate

            • Irish Kate

              I wonder sometimes do they realize just how lucky they are…

        • D

          My wife also. There were things that cut me to the quick that she now has no recollection of saying. It was a tragically weird time in our lives.

        • SamIam

          I keep saying: if I had know this was going to happen I would have had the bookshelf stocked ~ but we didn’t even start reading until 6 months post DDay. I did not handle this with grace and charm. In fact I was crude and rude just to try and shock him into reality. Nothing pretty~ let me tell you. But he was in a fog and doesn’t seem to remember :0

    • Roller coaster rider

      I think you have really brought out some important elements of affairs, Linda. I know the competition thing really blew my mind. When my daughter and I tried to meet the AP after D-Day 1 and went to her apartment, she had written a bunch of construction paper signs and taped them up all over the place. Most of them said, “He chose her!” (which of course wasn’t entirely true) I was shocked at my own feelings of somehow being morphed back into adolescence, and that I somehow was just another ‘steady girlfriend’ trying to beat out another female. But D really has hit the nail on the head when he brought out the ego, because I can think of nothing more egocentric than turning your back on those who truly love you to have a few moments of guilt-inducing feelings and risking everything including your own self-respect.

    • Lostmyway

      I can identify with most of this for sure. It was a fantasy, an emotional high- and I was addicted to my drug..the OM. He made me feel like I was floating on air- like I was the sexiest, smartest, funniest woman on the planet. He made me laugh in ways my H never ever did, and listened to me as my H never did….I was a gonner.

      I had a 2 year EA with a co-worker that loved giving me attention. I finally started to develop feelings for him- which I denied and resisted for a very long while- until I couldn’t deny it anymore. When I started to not want to come home from work because I would be away from the OM, and all I could think about was the OM when I was at home, and counting the minutes when we would be together again- I knew there was a problem. I had no idea that there is an “emotional affair” until I Googled “married and have feelings for co-worker” then I was smacked in the face with the reality I was definitely in an affair- and have realized since then that I have a history of a series of EA’s while I have been in commited relationships.
      It has been a year this month since I last saw the OM and a year in Jan since I slipped up and called him- it has been a very long and painful road. I have almost left my H on several occasions because the pain was too unbearable. The love felt gone and I was left an empty shell of a woman with no idea how to move through the deep pain I was in.
      I am happy to say today though, that we are doing well in our marriage, and despite all we have been through I can say our marriage feels more solid than it ever has in our entire 10 years together.
      I am still struggling however with lingering feelings for my ex AP even though he has moved on with someone else and has moved out of town. I can’t figure this out, why I still think of him daily- many many times over. I am triggered so easily, and I feel sad and miss him at times- and I feel bad because I shouldn’t. Well, that is probably what I needed- to vent! Sometimes so much gets built up in my busy mind- I feel I might explode..maybe I will explore this with my counselor this week- maybe I am not as over it as I would like to think……

      • Sue85

        My heart sank as I read your post because it has so many similiar aspects to my situation! It is very hard to ‘get over’ an EA….and if you read more on this site, you will see that ending an EA is a process, that you can’t just turn off your feelings…because you need to mourn the loss of someone who means/meant a lot to you. It is a huge feeling of loss….and yes, the triggers are everywhere!

        And you are soooo right…’s an addiction. I describe it as a ‘high’ feeling and his text or email was like a ‘hit.’ If I ever started feeling ‘down,’ all I needed was a ‘hit’ from him and I would feel high again. A vicious cylce… that drug addicts describe.

        So hang in there….and keep thinking of the healing as a process. That’s what keeps me going. I can’t turn on and off my feelings….and I have to grieve something that I cared deeply for that I no longer have.

        • ifeelsodumb

          Sue85….I never saw my H mourn over cutting off the EA, never saw any depression on his part, never found him trying to make “secret” contact…I found out, demanded he send her an email cutting it off and he did..I’ve checked up on him for months now…as best I can see, there has been no contact…after four mos of almost daily contact between the two of them!
          He say’s he was never attracted to her sexually, she’s a large women, but just liked her admiring him for being such a ” GREAT” husband…cough, cough…and a good provider…she REALLY knew how to lay it on thick!
          Is it possible that IT WAS just a ego boosting “friendship”? They never had direct contact, after the initial meeting when he was home for the wkend…she’s several states away, so I know this can and does make a difference…I’m still just trying to figure this out!!

          • Sue85

            Hmmm….good question. Having never met your husband, I have no idea how good he is at ‘masking’ his emotions and/or feelings. I just can tell you from my point-of-view that it’s been a period of sadness and mourning….but you know us women….much more emotional than men!!!! But is it possible he wasn’t ‘in love’ with her and it was more of a ‘friendship?’ Sure…it’s possible. In my opinion (from a women) if you ‘lost’ something you loved…then you’d experience some sort of grieving….and that it would tend to be a process to get over the loss as opposed to it ‘just being over.’ My husband doesn’t show much emotion….for example….when our beloved cat died (he was my H’s cat when we got married)…I bawled for days….and H didn’t even show that he cared!! So I guess it all depends on the individuals involved.

            That probably didn’t answer your question….but hopefully it helped.

            • ifeelsodumb

              He shows really shows very little emotion! But he DID change while in the EA, very moody, would snap at me over little things…So yea, that does answer my question somewhat…I just never saw him really moody, sitting and staring into space…so I was just wondering how the CS act when they are in the “mourning” process…he says he doesn’t miss her at all…that he really was getting tired of hearing about all her problems…I think the fact that they never saw each other, it was all over the phone, plays a factor in it also…you can connect through texting or phone calls…but you can REALLY connect when you see them on a day by day basis…

    • Dol

      I can second D’s point: for us, it was a very specific moment, where my partner was at her lowest. I’d been very needy – finishing PhD, and she’d been incredibly supportive. We’d been great together, considering, but it was still very hard. I’d been a gollum-like creature hunched over a computer, attention very much elsewhere for months. Then, a fallout with a dear friend, followed by job going completely wrong, followed by maybe having to move… At precisely that point the EA began, and very intensely.

      So if we’re talking about ‘driving forces’: what seems can happen is that some set of circumstances – in our case pretty much a perfect storm – can let the genie out of the bottle. Once it’s out, though, it appears to be incredibly difficult / impossible to stop. The addiction itself appears to be almost impossible to fight alone: the reward of feeling alive/adored is (as has been mentioned on this site) only made more intense by bouts of ‘cold turkey’. It’s a horrible cycle.

      The only way to start stopping (!) is to tell the partner what has happened, and obviously the motivation is there to hide it.

    • Atwitsend

      Great post, and so true how the circumstances in the moment are so important to remember.
      Thank you for a reminder.

    • Atwitsend

      So true. Getting caught with pay as you go phone while texting her. Paula
      So true. Guess the first time caught text from the pay as you go phone wasnt enough.
      Then 4 months later me calling the phone and him answering it.
      Guess the promises and guilt the first time wasn’t enough had to have four more months of seeing her and hearing her voice

    • InTrouble

      Lostmyway — {{{hugs}}} I know how hard it is. You’re so lucky he’s moved out of town. Thinking about him is bad, but seeing him, or him still contacting you, it’s worse. You’re going to be ok.

    • Irish Kate

      My husband tells me is was the fact that she was there to listen to him, that she was someone to talk to. Which I do not like to hear as most nights I ate alone at home while he ‘had to work late’… he could have come home to eat and chat with me, thinking back I remember feeling very lonely at times.

      I guess its a case of ‘shoulda, woulda coulda’… I’ll never really know the whys or why nots, perhaps he’ll never be able to figure them out either. We are where we are.

      Thank you to those that replied to my comment on another post, I’ve been away and not logging in, until today that is.

      • Notoverit

        Me too Irish Kate. Many lonely nights eating a meal I prepared and with only myself as company while he worked late and talked to her. My one thing this last year since D-day is that I refuse to cook unless he helps (meaning you have to be home). If he’s late, we go out. Silly I know but it’s a trigger. I avoid those triggers when I can (plus I don’t have to cook – grin).

        • RecoveringMommy

          I think it’s fascinating how we as the BS can “sense” things when the EA is at its peak. Y’alls stories (yes I’m sourthern) sound a lot like mine. When my H’s EA was at its most intense point, I was spending lots of time alone with my 4 year old daughter at home, in my last trimester of a difficult pregnancy, and under an enormous amount of stress due to work and dealing with his crazy family (but that’s a topic for a blog of its own lol). I remember just feeling so sad during the birth of my son because my H didn’t seem excited at all. Shortly after coming home from the hospital with the baby, I remember wondering why my H seemed so withdrawn. There were many nights that I just starred at the wall and cried. And it was all so frustrating because I didn’t understand any of it.

        • Irish Kate

          Notoverit & DJ… I thought I was the only one that stopped cooking 🙂

          I totally gave up cooking for him, I cook with him which is very different or he now cooks if he gets home first (which is 99% of the time now, how times have changed)… or we order out…

          I also don’t iron for him anymore, he now has to struggle with his own shirts. Cleaning was also something I would do Friday evenings so that he/we could have the weekend free to do as we wished, but now that I know he used this free time to chat to her on the phone cleaning has become a joint venture on Saturday morning… where he has befriended the hoover and mop…

          This has freed up so much time for me also, time which I can spend on myself.

          • Doug

            Irish Kate, that is so funny! I also gave up cleaning, wash, etc on week nights so we/he could have free weekends. It is also a joint venture for us on Saturday mornings. I realized that couldn’t be the wife he needed me to be if I was trying to do it all. Now I am awake, available, and less stressed. It has been one of the many changes we have made since his affair. I am sure it is not one his most popular changes. lol. Linda

    • DJ

      Me, too. I was often home alone at night and all weekend. And I no longer cook alone, either! Ha!

      My husband said that the ego boost was the biggest part of it for him. She had dumped him in college and he felt vindicated by taking her back from the guy she left him for – her husband. But then he really fell for her and wanted to leave me for her, but he stayed for the kids. And now he says he realizes it was just a fantasy and that he has everything he ever wanted right here.

      I don’t believe him. Fantasy or not, he fell in love/had strong feelings for/was addicted to someone else. Whatever the terminology, he wanted someone else and wanted to leave me. The CS’s on this site all talk about how hard it is to leave and how hard it remains for a long time afterward. There have been BS’s who have told their stories about CS’s leaving after years of reconciliation. So they never got over their feelings.

      I know there are also wonderful examples of marriages that have made it, like Doug and Linda. But I am still struggling with whether or not I should stay after his affair. I do not trust that he is not still lying to me. The CS’s admit that they lie to their spouses. They don’t tell them that they still have feelings for their affair partners or the extent of their feelings for them. I don’t know if I can live with that doubt, and my husband does little to rebuild trust.
      He does wonderful acts of service for me, but not much to rebuild trust.

      • ifeelsodumb

        DJ..You said “He does wonderful acts of service for me, but not much to rebuild trust.”
        THIS is my problem!!! He does all kinds of nice things for me so I really feel bad when I don’t appreciate it! But I feel like he’s trying to put a band aid on a gaping wound…and it’s not working!!

      • Holding On

        I have issue with the H being wonderful and doing wonderful things of service, too. And I’ve told him…Breakfasts are wonderful, flowers are wonderful, but they are not healing me. Those things are not building up my trust in you. They are not making me feel safe.

        But when I really think about it, what would be the “healing things” I want? Do I just want him to mention how he knows I am hurting? Do I want him to bring it up and talk about it? Apologize more for specific things? Talk about his realizations and what he has come to know and wants to change? Is it reassurances that he never will hurt me like this again? And he love me and only me? That he realizes what a huge mistake it was? I think for me it is probably reassurances. Verbal words. Acknowledging how wrong the past was and how hard he is going to work and fight to make it better.

        I’m a bit confused on what I want and need rather than the service…I just know I feel a little empty when he is trying and trying but it’s not the things I need, and I feel horrible if I don’t appreciate that he is trying SOMETHING.

        What are your things you are needing and wanting that aren’t the typical nice husband things?

        Or maybe I will just feel a little empty inside until that hurt and pain dissipates and I come to total and true forgiveness and time is able to heal more of my wounds?

        • ifeelsodumb

          Holding On…that’s why we have connected…We are so on the same page!! I could have written this! My thoughts exactly!

    • ClearEyes

      DJ, I understand completely. It’s be just over a year since D-day and what with all that’s happened since then, I’m still trying to decide if I’m staying or not.
      OW has been out of the picture (I think) for several months and my H is basically a good man, but he’s an alcoholic (in recovery for the moment) and fairly “self” centered and he doesn’t really understand the difference between “repairing” our marriage and rebuilding trust vs. just stopping the damage (ending the EA). He figured that since he chose me over OW, I should be happy. He has no concept whatsoever that there might be a chance that I wouldn’t want to stay with him after all this.
      We do get along in other areas, but he is very reactive when it comes to discussing OW or the EA. He doesn’t like to talk about stuff that makes him feel bad.
      He’s trying hard to stay sober and that’s really about all he can do right now – it’s overwhelming to him to think about staying sober, keep up with a demanding job,and repair a marriage all at the same time.
      We’ve been together over 30 years…’d think we could get this figured out. Part of me hopes we can – part of me thinks it’s gone too far.

      I loved the post today, Linda – 3 of the 4 of the components Linda talked about were part of H’s EA. Competition – OW was having PA with another man in their office until she set my H as her goal. H felt “one-up” on this other man by being able to attract her from him and her husband.
      Excitement about sneaking around…self explanatory. And deprivation – while H & I were on a 2 week camping vacation, they were in contact by cell over 70 times and email 23 times. They couldn’t wait to see each other again at the office.

    • DJ

      I actually made lists of my needs and wants some time ago and presented them to him. He refuses to do them. He says it would be fake because he would be just following my “orders.” I said it would only be fake if he didn’t feel them. And he could just use them as a guide and come up with stuff of his own. He got mad and said he didn’t feel them, so there. I have not brought it up again. I probably will sometime soon.

      My needs:
      -to have my feelings validated. for him to stop telling me I’m not in pain and I’m only torturing him.
      -to be reassured when I am triggered or have a flashback. Just hold me and say he loves me and will never hurt me again until the anxiety subsides. His usual response is to get angry and walk away.
      -for him to stop doing things that take me back to Day 1. We’ve had several huge fights over things like getting too involved with his sister-in-law’s problems, staying out without calling, trying to hide his computer and cell phone from me.
      -to have every last reminder of her removed. He still has those emails on his computer. I can’t remove them because they are on his company server. He has to do it from work.

      My wants:
      -to have a marriage of passion and romance intermixed with the comfort and security of faithful commitment.

      Maybe I’m idealistic, but I do believe it’s possible. Maybe not from him, but it is possible. At this point, he has to prove to me that I can have my needs and wants.

      I also sometimes feel like I should just be grateful for the wonderful acts of service I get. But then he told me two weeks ago that I should just always speak his love language – acts of service, of course – and then he wouldn’t need to change his style. That got me all riled up and unwilling to bend on it.

      I usually try to keep an open mind and be accepting of his attempts to make up. But they come across as shallow and self-serving when he refuses to acknowledge that I have needs that aren’t being met by acts of service.

      • ifeelsodumb

        My heart ached when I read your posting….I’m amazed that you are still in the marriage…I don’t think I could do it to be honest with you…

    • DJ

      I guess we all have things that we can live with and things we cannot.

      My husband and I actually have fun together every week. We belong to an exercise group and we laugh and enjoy ourselves together when we are there.

      And like I said, he does wonderful acts of service for me all the time. If he sees anything that needs to be done at home, he’ll do it. No questionning, no complaining, he just does it. He does most of the cooking and much of the cleaning.

      I hurt my knee last week. He massages my legs for an hour every night to help it heal faster.

      When we are out, he is the perfect gentleman. So attentive and caring… he opens doors, guides me to my chair, helps me settle in, and takes care of everything.

      We make love often and he is wonderful.

      And then there is the big BUT. Everything is on his terms. It’s what he wants to do, when he wants to do it. Talking about his affair is not something he wants to do so he refuses. Helping me with triggers and flashbacks is further reminder so he has convinced himself that I am not really in pain.

      And as far as the sex goes, it never stopped during his affair. So how am I to know if great sex means love and forever more? I’m not sure.

      He is going to counseling with me – that is amazing! Our children convinced him that it was necessary. He doesn’t contribute much to the sessions, but he is there and he listens.

      So I am not ready to throw in the towel. But I will not be willing to stay in a marriage where I cannot be convinced that he is not pining away for his affair partner. It’s complicated. I appreciate the support from Doug and Linda and all our fellow bloggers.

    • Broken

      I wish my H would admit to feeling some guilt…but he says during the EA he never did…in fact, as of last night, he’s still insisting that they really WERE just friends…and that all they talked about was home life… I was to busy for him and how her H didn’t help her at all with the kids,or around the house and about their jobs, etc…He’s still insisting that there NEVERwas any romance, that yes, he was infatuated with her because she made him feel good about himself, but he didn’t feel guilty because at the time, he didn’t think what he was doing was so wrong since there WASN’T any talk of leaving their spouses and families, no talk of plans for the future, no sex talk, etc…I guess it IS possible…He seems SO sincere, looks me directly in the eye…I WANT to believe him, I really do…but I keep thinking of that old saying “Fool me once shame on you, Fool me twice, shame on me!

      My husband says ALL of the same things. Yet I guess I wonder if it was so innocent then why was there a need to keep it from me for 18 months? Why wasn't I told he had a special friend and secret text messages and phone calls and bar dates? That doesn't scream there was nothing going on to me? What do they think we are idiots?

      Monalisa….my h used the exact same word….thrill. When I confronted him the first words out of his mouth was that "he got a thrill out of it" and that "he was thinking about ending it anyways". If it was nothing then what was there to end?

      Polarization was a big one for me. He use to say she understood him and didn't care about his no so great habits. She never bitched at him he once said. I said well she doesn't live with you!!!

      Gosh does this ever go away…these feelings…they are stealing my life away.

    • lostmyway

      I have spent the last 2 years learning about affairs, why they happen, how they happen etc… and I really truly believe it comes down to one thing- yes, there are different factors and situations, bad marriages where needs are not being met by the spouse, BUT it really comes down to how the person feels about himself/herself deep inside. I know I felt like a nothing, and my husband reflected that in the way he treated me- but it took me having an affair to realize how empty I was inside. This OM made me feel incredible, sexy, and giddy. He made me laugh, which my H never did. But it was the fact that I NEEDED so desperately, the admiration of another (or several other) men to feel beautiful, attractive, smart and important to somebody. Yes there was lots of unhealthy things about my marriage at the time, and yes I had been very unhappy for a very long time, and my H treated me like I didn’t matter to him- but I also allowed that treatment to go on, and instead of finding the strength to say “If you don’t make some changes I am out of here” I fell into something that gave me great comfort, distraction, and helped me forget about the pain I was in. Unresolved past issues get mixed in with marital issues- and affairs only add to the mix. I can say looking back, I was not thinking clearly. I was so immersed in this fantasy, that I lost sight of everything. I became severely depressed, and almost checked into the hospital because I couldn’t function and take care of my 3 children. I almost walked out on my family to be with this man- although I told myself that was not why I wanted to leave (but it kinda was!) My H found me having drinks with the OM when I told him I ended the EA- it was not a good scene- and that was the last time I saw the OM one year ago. It has been a very long road for me and my H, and we are finally making progress and the love is coming back- but the OM still has a part of my soul, and I want it back so I can be free of this. He has moved on- and has not even bothered to email or check in to see if I am OK…if he truly cared for me, and it wasn’t about getting into bed with me (he was trying!!) he would have at least tried to contact me. That is what keeps me honest, and also that I do not ever want to be in this situation EVER again. It has taken it’s toll on me- and I never would have guessed that those “innocent” conversations we would have at work, could lead to the destruction it caused. I just wanted to share my point of view and hope it helps others. Right now, I am focused on healing myself and repairing our marriage, and am grateful I have a husband who stood by me through this whole insane mess..I still have my family under one roof.

      • Anita

        You said you need admiration from a man/men to feel beautiful, attractive, smart and important.
        God made you as a whole person. Your self worth, shouldn’t be based on if a man admires you or not.
        It is never another persons job to make us feel smart and important. As far as beauitful and attractive, thats only skin deep. Inner beauty always makes us attractive.
        Only you can be the one to discover what God says about you, the gifts he gave you. Then and only then will you realize how important you are.

      • Angel2

        I am a betrayed spouse and I agree with you that one reason for a CS’s actions has to do with how they feel about themself. What you said about feeling like nothing to your husband, I felt like nothing to mine and he said he felt the same about me before his affair. We were mirroring each other! only instead of either of us communicating our needs to each other, he took the first opportunity with an married coworker who was infactuated with him. He started mirroring her. He said she was smart, attractive and basically threw herself at him and the ‘high’ he got from her attention usually drowned out any guilt. Throughout that year he would say to himself ‘What am I doing?! I love my wife, I have a family, I could lose my job, our security, my good reputation!’ but his ego needed the drug she was giving him and so off he went to work and his drug. At home he was tense, yelled at our kids, raised his voice to me and I became more and more distant. When I did ask him what was wrong, he would just say ‘pressure at work’ so I backed off. For over a year he grew farther and farther from all of us until I really didn’t like him or know him anymore. I wanted out of my marraige to this stranger. Out of the blue I just went into his email account, and there it was, he was having an affair. It’s been a long horrible year for both of us, there was fog and hurricanes but I must say I tried and try every day to be the woman he fell in love with, to be the person I would want to be with. So hard when I feel so much hurt and anger at how he treated us, his lack of respect for the people he loved the most. He said me finding out woke him up from this hell and that he had never wanted to leave me. He said he didn’t even think that he would have ended up with his AP, that he didn’t really know her at all and when he thought about it, the fact that they as a pair could destroy two families with such ease makes him shudder at who he had became. He didn’t want someone who could pull him to the dark side disguising as a light. He wanted me, and I was his angel.

        Back to earth: our marriage will never be the same. Some days it is better than it ever was in our 14 years together, some days I look at him and wonder whether he will visit that dark place again. So, Lostmyway: When you say your AP has a piece of your soul, it’s the ‘dark rancid’ part that you should let go of like it’s a dangerous cancer. The hole left in your soul can be replaced with a lighter higher goodness- just like the good heart that grew in the Grinch that Stole Christmas *smile*

    • Alone

      Lostmyway – as a female cheater I agree so much with your posts. Same kinds of feelings I have. Hang in there.

    • tryingtoowife

      All the above makes sense in my case. Although Competition (her against him) made him feel good. She tried and tried and she won, her prize. And he felt on the top of the world for that. I SHOULD have read the signs when he changed, but I didn’t.
      We used to watch each other’s back. The beginning of our marriage was very hard, as we both were asserting ourselves professionally and as our babies arrived, we had very little help. I did not care, as we had each other. I thought that things like that, made us stronger. We were happy! I adored and loved him so much. And I know and believed he felt the same for me. I thought that my language of love of supporting him always, no matter what, was strong and I did not have to tell him I love you and how “great you are” any more than I did. I was SO wrong!

      When he started having ‘middle life crises’ feelings, someone else at his side became more important than me. Apparently he did not want to worry me with his worries! Has anything in life made any less sense to anyone reading this?! The OW woman, had a crush on him, and started the chasing, the sexting, the e-mailing, and the I understand you so well” – he fell softly into her claws, and became such a moody person at home. Now he says that it was out of guilt.

      When I questioned him, he always blamed it on stress, and I believed him and I upped the practical help that I though it would help him, kept the children aware of his stressful time, and kept all the business of running a family, a job and life, as simple as possible so HE would not have to worry at all. Little I knew I was freeing time so he could be with the OW. I spent nights at home, after work by myself or only with my children, because he was always at “work”. Some nights he was, is true, but the nights he could be home he was with the OW. So I hardly saw him, and when I did, I struggled to understand what had happened to us. I was so sad and nearly going mad trying to find ways to connect to him. He had closed himself to me and had in his mind made plenty of explanations for that.

    • sandy

      these are very helpful, lets me know you all understand, and why? I won’t ever understand, guess that’s one reason I feel desperate. will he ever understand himself? lot of work , to self examine. and then a lot of times it just seems so obvious. in his case she was a siren validating herself with him and he with her. no one in their world but each other, for however many days he can recall. sometimes I feel, I’m certain, the good memories will never fade, pale, or go away. I would love to believe he could recall any of the negative spins you put on the affair. they are good for me to think on. I just have to believe they creep into his mind now and then. so thanks so much for that.

    • It hurts to breath

      I noticed that most comments are from 2011. After almost 5 yrs has ur pain deminished?

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