After an affair is discovered, in most cases a metamorphosis begins for the unfaithful spouse.
Up until that time he/she may have been carrying on as if nothing was going on. They were stealthy in their ways and they thought they would never get caught.
Then it happens. The affair is discovered. It could have happened any number of ways; an undeleted text or email, an overheard phone call or perhaps they were caught red-handed.
Regardless, this is when the post-affair-discovery metamorphosis begins.
This post will give you an idea of what sort of phases you can expect the unfaithful partner to ‘pass through’ after their affair is discovered. I’m guessing that most of you have seen or experienced this first hand and can relate to what I’m about to share.
Keep in mind that these phases are derived from experience – both my own and from others I talk with – and are not based on research or any psychological or therapeutic principles.
One might experience all or none of the phases or elements within each phase and/or they may carry elements over into another phase or in a different order. Additionally, it’s hard to say in all cases how long each phase will last. Some folks will linger longer than others and some will even skip certain phases.
Phase One: The ‘Tangled Web We Weave’ Phase – This phase is all about deception. When the unfaithful gets busted, most of the time they will attempt to practice the art of deception in its many dubious forms:
- Covering up the truth
- Lying/Trickle Truth
- Misplaced blame and anger
- Minimizing the affair relationship – “We’re just friends.”
- Excuses, rationalizations and justifications for the affair
- Rewriting the history of your relationship/marriage
- Possibly continuation of the affair is taking place
Phase Two: The ‘I Need a Fix’ Phase – More commonly referred to as the withdrawal stage. This is where the affair has ended by some means and the cheater is in a funk. They are missing their affair partner and are feeling the effects of being cut off from the ‘high’ that the AP provided. I believe this is the phase where most relapses occur. In this phase the cheater may experience the following:
- Easily shuts down during discussions and/or arguments
- Emotionally withdrawing/distancing
- Missing/longing for their affair partner. They feel they need to contact the AP.
- Quiet – not talkative
Phase Three: The ‘Hamster Wheel’ Phase – This frustrating phase is often where nothing seems to be happening. There’s no progress in the relationship and the unfaithful isn’t doing anything to make the situation any better. Lots of wheel-spinning going on. This may be the phase where many marriages either make it or they fall apart and the CS never continues to the next phase as a married person. Here are some common traits of this phase:
- Doesn’t want to talk about anything affair related
- Just wants to “move on.”
- Desire to sweep things under the rug
- Short temper
- Seems to just be going through the motions and not really emotionally involved
- They may have feelings of guilt, remorse and self-loathing to some degree
- More ambivalence
- May make some attempts at reengaging with the BS
- May start to really understand the damage that the affair has caused but doesn’t necessarily do anything about it.
Phase Four: The ‘Head Out of the Ass’ Phase – This is when the unfaithful who wants to reconcile starts to ‘get it’ and figure things out. It’s obvious that the affair is truly over and they are doing their best to try and rebuild all that they have destroyed. Here is what you might see:
- Greater feelings of guilt and self-loathing
- Will provide details and answer questions about the affair
- Open to individual and/or joint counseling
- Being transparent in word and action
- Truly regret their behavior and the damage the affair caused
- Begins to reflect and be introspective
- Begins to make personal changes/showing growth
- Remorseful and atoning for misdeeds
- Open to self-forgiveness but may still be difficult for him/her
- No residual feelings for AP and realizes fantasy aspect to the affair
- Desire to reconnect, rebuild and re-commit
Phase Five: The ‘Every Thing is Just Peachy’ Phase – In this phase after an affair is discovered, the ex-cheater is feeling good about things. Trust has been rebuilt to some extent, the relationship seems to be going great and the future of the marriage is very promising. It’s important not to get lazy though. Here’s what to expect:
- Continued personal improvement/development
- May get a bit complacent in their marriage building efforts
- There may be some backsliding towards past relational habits
- If the BS brings up the affair, wanting to talk about it, the ex-cheater may either do so without issue or may be reluctant and even have a “You’ve got to be kidding me – that’s in the past!” attitude.
- Continued transparency
- Proactive, effective communication
- Still may have some residual self-forgiveness issues
- Committed to the marriage and intimate monogamy
Photo by tommaso79
How Are Most Affairs Discovered?
I also thought it would be a good idea to mention the various ways that many affairs are discovered by the cheater’s partner. Here are 30 common, rare, and perhaps even unusual ways that affairs are discovered – in no particular order:
- Suspicious behavior: The betrayed partner notices changes in their partner’s behavior, such as being more secretive, defensive, or distant.
- Phone or computer snooping: The betrayed partner discovers incriminating messages, emails, or photos on their partner’s phone or computer. (This is how my affair was discovered by Linda. )
- Unexplained absences: The cheating partner frequently comes home late or spends an unusual amount of time away without providing a valid explanation.
- Unusual expenditures: Suspicious financial transactions, like unexplained charges or withdrawals, can raise suspicions.
- Changes in appearance: The cheating partner suddenly starts dressing differently, paying more attention to their physical appearance, or using new perfumes/colognes.
- Emotional distance: The cheating partner becomes emotionally distant, showing a lack of interest or investment in the relationship.
- A “gut feeling”: The betrayed partner may have a gut feeling that something is wrong and confronts their partner based on that intuition.
- Physical evidence: Finding items like receipts, hotel keys, or gifts that the cheating partner cannot explain.
- Frequent use of social media: The cheating partner becomes unusually active on social media or starts using it more frequently, leading to suspicions.
- Changes in sexual behavior: The cheating partner may exhibit a sudden increase or decrease in sexual desire, or display new techniques or preferences.
- Changes in communication patterns: The cheating partner may start avoiding certain topics, using coded language, or becoming overly defensive about their privacy.
- Inconsistent stories: The cheating partner may provide conflicting or inconsistent explanations for their whereabouts or actions.
- Lack of interest in shared activities: The unfaithful person loses interest in participating in activities they previously enjoyed with their partner.
- Unexplained charges on credit card statements: The betrayed partner discovers unfamiliar charges for hotels, restaurants, or gifts on credit card statements.
- Changes in work routine: The cheating partner suddenly starts working longer hours, going on frequent business trips, or attending more work-related events.
- Neglecting responsibilities: The cheating partner begins to neglect household chores, parenting duties, or other responsibilities within the relationship.
- Anonymous tips or information from others: Someone close to the cheating partner may anonymously reveal the affair to the betrayed partner.
- Changes in social circle: The cheating partner starts spending more time with a new group of friends or acquaintances without a reasonable explanation.
- Sexual health issues: The betrayed partner discovers they have contracted a sexually transmitted disease (STD) despite both partners being claiming to be monogamous.
- Discovery by a friend or family member: Someone close to the cheating partner may accidentally or intentionally reveal the affair to the betrayed partner.
- Change in sleep patterns: The cheating partner may stay awake late at night or receive late-night phone calls, raising suspicions.
- Guilt-driven behavior: The cheating partner may display signs of guilt, such as being overly affectionate, buying gifts, or being excessively attentive.
- Sudden interest in privacy: The cheating partner becomes defensive about their privacy, such as changing passwords or locking their phone.
- Unusual emotional reactions: The cheating partner may become overly defensive, angry, or accusatory when confronted about their behavior.
- Lack of interest in intimacy: The cheating partner shows a decrease in physical or emotional intimacy with their partner.
- Spying or surveillance: In some cases, partners may resort to spying or using surveillance equipment to catch their spouse cheating. Or perhaps they hire a private investigator to uncover the truth.
- Confessions: Sometimes, the unfaithful partner may slip up and unintentionally reveal information about their affair, or they may be overcome with guilt and decide to confess voluntarily.
- Overheard conversations: Accidentally overhearing a private conversation or phone call can expose an affair.
- Scent or perfume: Detecting an unfamiliar scent or perfume on a partner’s clothing is a huge red flag.
- GPS tracking: Some partners may resort to tracking their spouse’s location using GPS technology, revealing suspicious whereabouts.
Okay, I think that’s about it. I’m sure that there are some more ways that affairs are discovered, so feel free to add them and share your experiences below in the comment section.