All affairs begin as a fantasy. Even one night stands begin with fantasizing about what it would be like to have sex with another person.

affairs begin as a fantasyBy Linda

All affairs begin as a fantasy.  During our Affair Recovery Group, Jeff Murrah stated that even one night stands begin with the person thinking (fantasizing) about what it would be like to have a sexual encounter with another person. 

When the cheater begins either an emotional or physical affair they have ready made assumptions about the affair partner based on what they are fantasizing about.

For instance, if the cheater sees the affair partner as fun, happy and outgoing at work they begin to develop a fantasy about how that person would be if they lived together.  They then believe that the OP is that same way in all aspects of their life.

If those traits that the cheater sees at work are appealing, then this fantasy could become very dangerous.

As we all know these assumptions are often inaccurate because how a person acts in work and social situations may be totally different then the way they act in their real everyday life.

When the affair begins, the partners begin to express their fantasy about each other.  They may express to each other how much they love their fun personalities, and how they wished their spouses acted the same way. 

Point and Counterpoint – Are Affairs Based on Fantasy or Not?

The affair partner begins to take on the role of a perfect person because they are receiving affirmation and attention for acting this way. And obviously, the cheater begins to believe that this person is perfect for them.

See also  How It All Started

When I would ask Doug if Tanya was the perfect woman, he would respond that no one is perfect.  However, in my head she was perfect at the time.

My theory is that it is all about the acting out, or role playing of the fantasy. What I mean by this is that the cheater only sees the OP in one aspect of their lives, which makes it easy for the OP to role play as the perfect companion.

Another theory of mine that allows the affair partner to become this perfect fantasy is that they are in possession of the “playbook.”

The OP knows everything the cheater is unhappy about in his marriage and with his spouse.  The OP has been given a guide – a “playbook” – on how to be the perfect partner. All they have to do are the things that the spouse is not doing, and don’t do the things that drive the cheater nuts. This way they are sure to meet the most important needs of the cheater. It’s a piece of cake!

So as the betrayed spouse, how can we take this “playbook” away from the OP, or at least be able to give it less power?  It’s not about competition as you might think.  It’s all about communication, listening and not making assumptions, and I will address this in greater detail in my next post.


    35 replies to "The Fantasy, Role Playing and the Playbook"

    • PTY

      Good post. I like the playbook analogy. It allows the OP to know what to say, thus creating the illusion of “connection”

    • Jeffrey Murrah

      I like the playbook image. It is very descriptive of the dynamics. I often use the phrase I picked up from a pastor, “It happens in the head before it happens in the bed”. Your playbook works better in explaining the options and programming that goes on in the cheaters brain.

      • Doug

        Jeffrey, I can’t take all the credit for the “playbook” idea, one of our readers used the analogy and I felt it was right on target. The cheater feeds the information to the lover which allows them to have all the power and control. Linda

    • Andrew

      Linda, I never even thought about it that way. You are absolutely right, the OP does have a “playbook”, and knows exactly what to say or do to hold the cheating spouses attention. It just dawned on me now, that we in essence have our own playbook too. The OP is on the offense, and we are on the defense. We are trying to prevent the other team, so to speak, from winning. We just have to see that our playbook is designed different. Most of us already know what led to this situation, and know what doesn’t work, so we need to turn the situation on the other team. We can use this to our advantage. The key to winning in any sport is to attack the weaknesses of the opponent. One way we can apply that in our situation, is to negate what the OP does by going in the opposite direction of what the cheating spouse thinks we are going to do in response. By that, I mean, it’s all about reactions, and actions. If we are indifferent to the circumstances, it takes the power out of the affair. By reacting negatively and getting mad or being needy, that only plays to the strengths of the OP. That only adds fuel to the fire. By acting like it doesn’t affect us and we act happy regardless of the situation, we are using that motion to throw our opponent off balance. It may seem like we are encouraging them to continue the EA, but in reality, it will make the CS pay attention, due to it being different from what they expect us to do. It really comes down to perception. If we are perceived to be strong and can live without them, the CS will take notice, for they want what they can’t have. That is what is so appealing and addictive about affairs, it is like forbiden fruit, and it is exciting and new. Our marriages started out that way, but at some point, they became old, and stagnant, because life got in the way. So, in turn, we became someone we really aren’t, that was negative, needy, emotionally closed off, whatever, and it became unappealing to our spouse. So, now we just have to open the playbook to a different page. Our playbook is all right here in this site, in the great resources available,and from each other. We are all one team, one fight. To save our marriages.

      • Doug

        Andrew, Well put. I can see your military background coming through. That or a you’re a coach. The second stage that you mention – the going in the opposite direction – is basically the same as backing off, or doing a “180.” Working on yourself is also a very important thing to do. Both very good strategies. Thanks for your contributions!

        • Andrew

          Doug, you are correct. I was in the Army for ten years, and I tend to think along those lines. I got some of what I thought from your “180” and backing off posts, actually. They helped me to see alot of different things. I just put my own take on it, lol.

      • Doug

        Wow you are amazing! You know if we do put our minds together we can come up with a “playbook” that could conquer the affair and give the betrayed spouse power over the situation. I am confident that all of us know what our spouses need and how to give it to them but something happens when we learn about the affair. We feel that we don’t know our spouses at all and what makes them happy so we try to do all the things we believe they were getting from the affair. This usually backfires because we are not being the person they fell in love with and they really miss being with that person. Linda

        • Andrew

          Linda, I agree totally. I think that all the makings of the playbook are already here in the many posts, comments, and insights that are on this site. We all seem to think along the same lines, and seem to keep coming to alot of the same conclusions. We just have to sort through the massive amount of info and put it into one convenient place, just like your EA Handbook, which is a form of playbook already.

          You are right, that when we find out about the afffair, it shatters all our our beliefs and values, right to the core, which in turn makes us act completely in the wrong way. It paralyzes us, and prevents us from doing what we really need to be doing. We can turn the situation around though!

      • Southern Man

        Andrew has a good idea, one I essentially used. Just as soon as D – day was revealed I simply turned away from my wife, told her I no longer trusted her, stopped all physical and verbal connection except for the necessites of living and to make it even more certain I encouraged her to find another man because I was through and her OP wasn’t good for the long haul. In fact, we found out he had already taken up with another woman. The whole approach thew my spouse off balance so badly she was in a state of confusion that completely deranged her. She never expected abandonment from both directions. This sate of affairs went on for some length of time. I was completely in control. She knew I meant business because she already knew me as a decision maker who didn’t go wobbly. The OP was obviously scared of me, he showed all the signs of wanting to stay a distance from me. Although I don’t know what the fear was about. He knew I wasn’t the violent type although I could be due to prior training. To make a long story short I stayed away from her for a few years, just dropping in to check on her welfare to make sure she had the necessities for living. No one ever knew the real reason for our split. We had another story we used. Decisive measures taken without mercy or ‘understanding’ of the betrayal is the way to go, then live the good life as an example to go by. The idea of pleading for an unfaithful spouse to choose me or come back to me never entered my mind.

    • Yuki

      I was thrown for a loop last night, and I need some input. My husband and I were having some really intimate and positive times together during the past week. You may have read in my previous posts about how he broke down and finally told me with conviction and passion how much he loved me and how sorry he was for causing me such pain. I was just starting to believe him and trust in the fact that he loved me. Then last night happened.
      I have to give a little background on the situation. The OW was fond of pet names and acronyms. Her pet name for him was based on her feeling that he was her rock and shelter from the storms of her relationship with her husband. My husband apparently loved this name. I think it must have made him feel admired and respected. So he used it as the username for the online banking of OUR checking account. When I found out about the affair and realized the significance of this username, I asked him to change it. He was upset at the request, and I suggested that it was because he was still attached to it and to her. He flew into a rage. He said it was just a name, and just a convenient one to use for online banking because it was nowhere close to his real name. But at the end he said he would change it if it really bothered me.
      It has now been about 2 months since that argument. Last night I needed to check our account. So I asked him for the username and password. He said nothing. So I asked him if he had changed it. He said not yet. He said he could not do it himself online, and needed to call the bank to make the change, but he had not had the time to do it. I remained calm. I said I would do it. He flew into a rage again. He said he was mad because I wouldn’t give it a rest. (I have not asked about this since that first argument 2 months ago.) He said to go ahead and change it myself if that would make me happy. I went online to check the account, and saw that there is a page to change usernames! He said it wasn’t there before. Yeah, right. So I changed it. But he is still fuming today.
      He tells me that he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me. He says he no longer has any feelings for the OW. He says that he realized it was just an illusion and he is out of the fog. My feeling is that he is still in love with her and that is why he had such a hard time giving up that username. Am I being paranoid?

      • surprised

        Hi Yuki – I would agree with you that your H is not totally out of the EA yet. I don’t know that it means he is still “in love” with the OW but he does have a strong sense of “the rules don’t apply to me” with little empathy for your feelings at times. A book that has helped me see my H in a new light is “Enough About You, Let’s Talk About Me” by Les Carter. This book described my H exactly and ways to deal with a react to this kind of narcissistic behavior.

        • Yuki

          Hi Surprised,

          Thank you for your input. It is a good confirmation of what I have been feeling. I am definitely going to get that book. But maybe it’s pointless. It may be just a bad day for me, but I’m starting to feel that maybe I should just give up the fight. Why am I putting myself through this?

          • surprised

            It sounds like he is having some breakthroughs that what he did was wrong & that he does love you. That is much farther along than my H has ever done & it’s been over a year. I wouldn’t give up – there are enough people who have been through this that seem to make it through. I keep thinking of Doug & Linda because my H wasn’t nearly has overcome & for as long as Doug was & here he & Linda are helping us struggle through this. I really think time will be a healer of all of us. Hang in there & keep looking for books & resources to help you along the way. I would also suggest getting involved with a women’s Bible study that can pray with you & you can share life with.

            • Yuki

              Thank you, Surprised, for being God’s messenger today. I was thinking the other day about looking for a women’s Bible study, but had not made a move on it. I’ll definitely do that this weekend. I appreciate it!

    • blueskyabove

      This is something I never considered. I just don’t know why everything has to be a game.

    • blueskyabove

      I feel I need to clarify my previous statement. I was not referring to the “playbook” concept, I was referring to relationships, to life in general. Why can’t we just be open and totally transparent? What is so scary about honesty? I don’t get it.

      For example: When my H said to me, “I have two women I’m interested in and you’re not one of them.”, how am I supposed to know he was asking for my help as he has repeatedly told me since discovery of his latest affair? Is it me? Is my thinking skewed? Distorted? I don’t even know any more.

    • RR

      HELP!!! I’m in need of some advice on how to “play” this one out.This morning I found my husband’s cell phone. There were several text from the OW. They were telling him that he had better come see her or it was over between them. She was very persistant. This was at 230AM. I also saw texts from my husband to her saying that he loved her and wasn’t sure what he wanted. He kept telling her whatever she wanted. But, he did not go see her. He keeps telling me that it is our family that he wants. We are in a very bad situation right now. My husband is her supervisor and will get fired if they are discovered. He told me this morning that a friend of the OW went to Human Resources about them and he was interviewed twice about it. It is really interesting that her own friend would do that. At least she has morals… He said that he doesn’t know what to do. Her texts were very graphic. She does seem like the type of person that if he broke it off with her, she would get him fired. At this point they are suspecting him and I would’nt doubt if he did end up getting fired. People talk and it will most likely get around. Their affair would always need to remain secret. If anyone did see them, that would be it for his job. We have two small children to worry about. He says he wants my support. I don’t know if he is just stringing the both of us along because he is confused about what he really wants. At this point is it wise to just back off? Should I be more persistant? I keep reassring him that it is his family that loves him unconditionally and if he does get fired at least he has us. I know what is meant by the “temporary insanity” that keeps popping up on this site.

      • Doug

        RR, What a tangled web, eh?! Some may not agree with me here, but if it were me, I’d back off, give him your love and support and let him handle it. At the same time I’d also let him know that he needs to make a decision one way or the other, and that it’s not fair to you and your family to keep you hanging. BTW…would she also get fired if the affair was found out by their employer?

    • RR

      I don’t know if she would or not. I would imagine that if all this came to light and my husband was fired, they wouldn’t think much of her either. She did seem to threaten him and say that if he came to see her she would throw her phone in the lake along with the texts from him and her friend. I took this to mean that she has saved his texts to her to use against him. I feel like we should be making an appearance Jerry Springer…..

      • Doug

        Being on Jerry Springer would be something wouldn’t it? Lol. Anyways, if nothing else, I would think that your husband is seeing the nasty side of this woman and I would think that he is regretting what he has done. Sounds like she would be slitting her own throat if she turned him in, and would lose her job as well.

      • PTY

        Blackmail is blackmail. Though I am not sure I can tell you or your husband what to do, I think he may be better off dealing with it now rather than later. Who is to say she hasn’t backed the texts up to another phone or computer. Though I would hate to have you suffer (even more) from you husband’s affair from him losing his job, he should realize what kind of person he is dealing with in the OW. I think she would continue to hold this over his head, and pull him in further and further. No matter what happens between the two of you, I think he needs someone to tell him what he knows, but may not want to admit, and that the OW is likely to turn into a stalker, etc. And though tempted I am sure, this probably isn’t the time to mention that you reap what you sow.

      • Karen

        RR – I don’t know what state you’re in, but as an employer myself, I think your H’s employer would be much more concerned with your H’s conduct exposing the employer to potential legal liability from a harassment suit by the OW. I would have your H consult a lawyer familiar with employment law in your state right away. It really doesn’t matter if the OW was the pursuer; your H has legal responsibilities as the supervisor that put the employer at risk legally.

        Remember, this is not your fault. Your H has made some very bad decisions, and it sounds like the OW is going to make sure he suffers the consequences. Take care of yourself.

    • RR

      Thank you everyone for your support…

    • RR

      I think I may be filing for divorce. This just keeps getting worse. Not only may my husband lose his job over this, I found out today that he moved her in across the street from us. I has a suspicion, but I thought it was just me. A couple of months ago a girl moved in acroos the street. I met her once. She even used a different name. I confronted my husband about it last night and today she called me saying that my husband told her that I wanted to talk to and that I could come across the street.Iwent over there and told her that she had no decency and that she didn’t derserve my time. Her response was, if you ever want to talk. My husband came clean and said taht she was only suppose to be there a month because she had no place else to go and that she is moving out. He also came clean and said taht she has been coming over to my house. WHAT THE $^*&. Even, while my children are here. He says that it is over and that he deserves wahtever he gets and taht he wants to make it right. i’m beside myself. My husband has never been this type of person. He moved his mistess in next door under an assumed name and has even spent the night over there. This is so bizarre. I don’t know what to think. Between him being her supervisor and now this. I feel so lost. I’m going to try to get a restraining order, since my H has no concept of boundaries. I’m afraid my children may get confused and now I fell violated in my own home. Any legal advice out there?

      • Karen

        Don’t make any quick decisions is my advice. All this is too new to think rationally. Focus on yourself for a bit and caring for yourself. When you feel calm enough, write down some options for yourself, i.e. divorce, counseling, setting boundaries for your H to immediately follow if H wants to attempt to make it right, regardless if you want a divorce ultimately.

        Your H’s “i deserve what I get” mentality is really not helplful, IMO. I think one very good and loud, “Letting him have it” is in order. Won’t really help the situation but most of us betrayed spouses have done it, and it seems to be a necessary first step. Yell, scream, cry (not in front of the kids).
        Next is when you spend some time with supportive friends, family or by yourself to formulate a calm plan. From then on, all conversation with H is calm, detached but very open and clear about what YOU want going forward.

        I would definitely find a family law attorney to consult with. I’m not sure whether you have grounds for a restraining order against the OP. Obviously one of your boundaries with your H is the OP is never in your house again!!!

        From your posts, there is obviously much you don’t know about your marriage and your H. I still believe it is not impossible to reinvent your marraige, but it depends on you and your H wanting to put in the huge amount of work required. So far I can tell you the work is worth it (I’m 7 months post-D-day).

        Take care of yourself – do one thing a day that you enjoy and dwell on your wonderful children. You have much to be thankful for.

    • Jackie

      I have found that thinking about affairs as an addiction make it easier for me to understand the temporary insanity. The high feeling the fantasy offers is hard to resist and stop, especially when the op confirms that what they both have is “true love”. It seems to happen most in those seeking an outside source of happiness, because inside they feel unfulfilled for whatever reason they choose to believe. The book “Love and Limerence” by Dorothy Tennov says, “it is the state of being completely carried away by unreasoned passion or love, even to the point of addictive-type behavior. Why can’t we call affairs addictions, just like drugs and alcohol are? It certainly explains the spouse’s crazy behavior, high feeling it gives the affair partner, blame of the victim, co-dependent actions of the victim, and the inability for the affair partner to stop or resist the affair.

      Affairs give people a drug-like self induced high.

      • Andrea

        A drug induced high. That really does sound about right from what I can see.

    • Jackie

      Sorry in my last post, next to last sentence, I believe I used affair partner when I meant to say cheater. I got a little confused on terms. It should read, “It certainly explains the spouse’s crazy behavior, high feeling it gives the cheater, blame of the victim, co-dependent actions of the victim, and the inability for the cheater to stop or resist the affair.”

    • EGBH

      Jackie, that is something what you said, when I talked with my W about the EA, etc. She said exaclty what you said, she said it was a high, to have it going on. She said she also was addicted to this or him and could not stop talking with the OP. I am not sure if she wanted to blame me for this or not. I am also not sure if she was truly having a “true love” feeling for the OP or not. I’m guessing so. I am not sure if she would have ever been able to stop or resist the EA on her own. I am finding so much more to this EA thing. I am also not sure if I have any better understanding of this either. God, I wished this didn’t happen to me, but it did. Trying to get on with life is very hard at this time.

      • Jackie

        The blaming seems to come from knowing you are doing something wrong, but doing it anyway and saying it was the victim’s fault for why the betrayer needed to do this. Luckily not every one blames others for poor choices they make. If your spouse accepts the fact that she made a poor choice and realizes she is the only one to blame for her choice, the better for you.

        After admitting to the EA my H blamed me, the marriage, and the kids for why he needed to seek affection elsewhere. It added insult to injury, and made it impossible to talk without finger pointing.

        When the cheater says, “I’m in love with someone else, but I still love you.” I think they mean they found that wonderful high feeling of being in love when you are in that initial stage of a love relationship. This is where the confusion comes in. Which love is real? The great feeling of high on love, or the more mundane day to day love with all the problems and issues. It feels so good to give in to the high, even if it is not a real living situation (fantasy).

        I believe real “true love” is when you learn to accept the person warts and all but still love and accept them in spite of their faults.

        I have accept what has happened 2 years ago, but can’t move through and pass the EA. H doesn’t want to talk about it, and when I ask, he feels I am interrogating him. He feels it is okay for me to express my feelings, but I shouldn’t ask him about his.

        Today he is a depressed man on medication. Sometimes he feels connected to me and the family and other times nothing and empty. I just don’t seem to know how to repair us and our broken relationship. Sadly, we are becoming a somewhat dysfunctional family. I show my love to the kids and H, but H often feels so disconnected to life. Sometimes it makes me so sad to see what our relationship has become. Other times I accept it for what it is. It is very, very, slowly is improving, but I wonder how long I can go on like this.

        Sorry, this is so long. I just had a talk with H and I’m beginning to feel depressed myself.

    • Jeanne

      So, Jackie – How long would you wait for someone to come out of the “addiction” of an affair? I would love to hear more about that. AND, if they have gone off with the OW, should you bother? Thanks so much.

      • Jackie

        No one can give a time frame on how long one should wait. No one can predict how long it takes to get out of the fog. In Limerence they say it can be as short as a few weeks to as long as a few years. Sometimes longer. Theory has it, it is mother nature’s way of getting two people together long enough to procreate and stay together until mom can care for the infant herself.

        Each situation is so different, and everyone’s tolerance is different. Even if the cheater has run off with the OW, many affair website say they can come back, when they realize their mistake, miss the kids, family life etc. .. or are served the divorce papers. So really, no one can tell you how long to wait but you.

        I would consider myself a very patience person, but even my patience sometimes wears thin these days. In my case the ow did not want a “relationship” with my H. Lucky for me. But H still couldn’t stop the fantasy even when he knew it was a fantasy. That is how powerful it is. I don’t know if the “friendship” is still there, since she is a coworker. The OW rejection sent him into a deep depression. He has been very slowly reconnecting with me and the kids. Little feelings of caring. Getting back into the kids life a little. Mostly he wants to be left alone.

        He gets defensive if I want to talk about it, so I stopped for a while. We can talk about anything but the EA, OW, our relationship or our marriage.

        How long would I wait? I really can’t answer that myself. I still love him. He has problems, but we all do. It all has to do with: Are things getting better? How is he treating me and the kids? Is he learning from this experience? And do I still have hope? Only time will tell.

    • BreeAnn

      Hi all… I’ve written on this blog before, it’s really helped me. Unfortunately, my boyfriend and I didn’t make it past his EA. That was 2 years ago and we initially did; but we didn’t properly address it like Doug and Linda suggested. 5 months ago we broke up and he ‘went back to being very good friends’ with her and he swears he now knows his boundaries with her. He wanted me back but didn’t want to do the work needed for us to have a real relationship and he insisted I allow them to be “friends” because that wouldn’t be fair to “her.” My needs and wants never came first. I’m still hurt and betrayed, and think I will be for a long time. I wish he wanted to work on our relationship free from her and their affair fog. It just wasn’t in our destiny. I wonder if it’s because we weren’t married; most folks on this blog have been married a long time?! Actually, I broke up with him because he was still legally married to someone else … he had me waiting 4 years to get a divorce. Maybe I should find a site for partners who can’t commit?! Sad thing is that he has me convinced that I was wrong for wanting him to be legally free from his wife and emotionally unattached to his EP. I thought we were perfect for each other and I miss his two daughters so much. Affairs of the heart are a terrible thing; they hurt the betrayed person so much, and the cheater oftentimes think they didn’t do anything wrong because there wasn’t any sex. Well, there’s plenty of hurt and suffering people out there trying to survive and move on. I’m glad we can share and learn from each other here. Thanks

      • Jackie

        You say this man is married, having a relationship with you and having an EA with another woman. This guy sounds like he lives on the high of one relationship after another. You don’t need this kind of life and deserve someone who can love you exclusively, not keep moving from one high to another. I know it hurts to let go of someone you love. It is time to love yourself and find a relationship that you deserve. The love of one person exclusively. Have pride in yourself and don’t settle for anything less. You deserve it, don’t sell yourself short.

    • Jim

      in some of these posts I think it is time to pull the plug while you still have a life ahead. Some people prove that they don’t care or deserve you. Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder then lies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.