This person had feelings from the affair that she had to process. As it turns out, she had an emotional affair addiction problem.

emotional affair addiction

By Doug

“Addiction is a state that is characterized by compulsive drug use or compulsive engagement in rewarding behavior, despite adverse consequences.”Wikipedia

I’ve been communicating via email for quite some time with a woman whose husband had an affair and is going through the withdrawal period after it ended.   She’s struggling with his current state of mind and the curious things that he says and does. She’s quite frustrated to say the least.

Our latest communication got me thinking that perhaps we should post some more about this state of mind that exists with most unfaithful after the affair has ended. I found a comment that a reader left a couple of years ago about her emotional affair addiction that summed things up quite well and thought it might help some of you who are going through this.

The Emotional Affair Addiction

“I was thinking more about this “fog” and like to share a few more thoughts. To me as the cheater, the “fog” represented some level of mental illness that I must have possessed. When I read about it, it made me feel terrible, that I truly was crazy. So, that’s why I am “defensive” about the term “fog”.

Over time, I accepted that I had feelings from the affair that I had to process. As it turns out, I wasn’t crazy. I don’t have a mental illness. I had an addiction problem. Even though I’ve never had any addiction or substance abuse problems, the affair was an addiction. The term addiction is also very negative, so it has taken me a while to accept this is what I had. So, look at it like this (and mind you it’s taken me a while to sort this out in my mind):

I had an addiction to a drug.
The OM was the drug.
This drug made me feel good.
I did a lot of things I normally wouldn’t do to get this drug.
I became severely addicted to this drug.
I was not able to stop using this drug on my own.
D-Day was an intervention from the drug. It forced me to stop.
I went cold turkey from the drug via no contact.
Then, I went into withdrawal from the drug which included emotionally disconnecting from life.

Once I finally go over the withdrawal, I realized that:

  • This addiction cost me a lot.
  • This addiction screwed up every facet of my life.
  • This addiction caused me to hurt people that I love.
  • This addiction destroyed me as a person.
  • I must maintain no contact to avoid a relapse with this drug.

A few more points: When I had access to the drug, I could not see how much damage it was doing. During the withdrawal period, I could not be convinced that this drug was bad for me.

Depending on the level of addiction, the withdrawal period will vary for the cheater. This addiction makes it difficult for cheaters, to “unhook” from the emotional affair. It takes time and no contact. Does this make sense to anyone?”

The Relationship Between Infidelity and Addiction

We published some posts on the affair addiction previously a couple of years ago. Here is a good one to read if this is an issue for you or your spouse:

See also  Getting Over an Affair: Dealing With Affair Withdrawal

Here is the link to the post where I found the above comment:

There are some really good comments for this post – many of which are from ex-cheaters.

Finally, if you or your spouse are indeed going through the affair addiction and/or withdrawal, (or have done so previously) please share your experiences and/or ask questions in the comment section below. Thanks!


    20 replies to "An Unfaithful Reader’s Emotional Affair Addiction"

    • Gizfield

      the way I see it the fog is a person sayingI didn’t do anything wrong. the addiction is a person saying I did something wrong but I can’t help myself.saying. either way, my main question would be why do you want to stay with someone who is carrying a torch for a nother woman? they are both just ways for a cheater to keep from doing what they need to do.

      a cheater doing either of these is a cheater with too much time on their hands. there is an educational concept called a logical consequences. it just means that your punishment is to deal with the crap you have created. get this guy busy doing something. if he persists in this addiction business, personally I would tell him it’s time to begin his new life with his true love. if he is only one contact away from whatever with this woman I certainly would not stand in his way. as it stands, he has all the time in the world to mope around about his lost love.

      when I was a cheater 20 years ago, I never was caught. I imagined being caught and then allowed to mope Oh for what I did would have been a cheaters dream come true. most likely I would have been thrown out of the house, beaten, and have to take out a restraining order.
      I understand your fear that your husband will leave you. right now you are probably making things really easy for him. house looks nice, he gets sex when he wants it, you are losing weight maybe, dressing nicer, making sure your children don’t bother him in his period of mourning. as I said earlier he has too much time on his hands. make him mourn for you not this broad. If he does pick her at least you are free to go on with your life.

      • exercisegrace

        I agree Giz. If it is that hard to be with your faithful spouse, do them a favor and GO. Posturing yourself as a valiant and noble man fighting the good fight against an “addiction” that you are all but powerless to resist? Give. Me. A. Break.

        Two points for turning around the image of yourself as an amoral cheater, into that of a noble man battling against the odds. Sorry, but you are NOT the hero of the Hallmark movie of the week.

    • Gizfield

      And a comment to Cheaters, as well. Aren’t you just the Noblest little things? Sacrificing your own personal Happiness and Perfect Relationship with the Perfect Person for your boring old marriage and spouse. But you can’t help it, right, cause it’s an Addiction? You need to do the honorable thing and deal with your problem. In my personal opinion, no addict is worth the trouble. I lived with one for twenty years so I ought to know. Trust me, you really aren’t the prize you think you are. Sorry.

    • exercisegrace

      This reader’s response is rationalization and justification at it’s FINEST. The term affair fog makes you feel terrible? Let me ask you….why wouldn’t you feel terrible, you did a terrible thing! While there are certainly factors that make one vulnerable to an affair (depression for example) to call it an addiction is just a way of soothing your conscience and letting yourself off the hook. Unless and until you are willing to OWN, TRULY OWN what you did? You will not have healing. You will still be vulnerable to making the same self-serving choices. If you want to save your own sanity and your marriage, you will do the hard work of counseling to figure out WHY you made the choices you did. You will step up and take full responsibility for your actions, instead of casting about for reasons to excuse your cheating or mitigate it in some way. You were not marched at gun point, nor were you compelled by a biological urgency into another man’s bed. You chose yourself over your spouse, children and family. You walked step by step to the edge of that dark abyss and jumped. Call it what it is. Delve into the reasons that allowed you to throw away your boundaries and your family and make the choices you made. My husband has done this hard work and it is worth it. If he tried to fall back on “severely addicted” “cold turkey” “withdrawal”? I would be out of here. Because I would know he is already playing the blame game and setting up an excuse for the next time.

      Sadly we live in a culture that tells us there is no such thing as accountability. No such thing as being responsible for our actions. Our culture tells us to look around and blame someone else, find something else to excuse our poor choices. Why man (or woman) up when you can just toss around excuses. Sickening.

    • Gizfield

      Everything you said is so true, EG.

      They have really good Hash Brown Casserole at the cafeteria st work every day. I think I’m addicted, lol. My big butt gets on the elevator a couple of times a week and goes down there to buy it. It makes my stomach feel really good to eat it. but if I give in I will be fat and unhealthy. When I do, I guess I will call it an addiction. But guess what, no matter what you call it, the results are still the same.

      So yes, it’s all really a choice in my opinion. No more, no less.

    • Gizfield

      I just reread through the I’m an Addict email again. If every time this woman uses the term “the drug” you substitute the word “I” see if it makes more sense. Works for me.

      one thing about addicts, too. You will rarely, if ever, hear them use that word in regard to themselves.

    • antiskank

      I am so on board with people being responsible and accountable for their actions. When you made the choices to break your marriage vows, cheat on your spouse, and destroy their life – you screwed up!!! Own it, fix it! Quit making excuses and looking for sympathy. No more “affair fog”, no more “addiction”, no more “suffering from the withdrawal”. You can’t begin to understand the suffering that you have caused by your selfish choices. Enough already!

      • exercisegrace

        Amen antiskank! How a cheating spouse spends their time post d-day is very telling. If you spend it researching ways to mitigate what you’ve done….Oh I’m an addict! It’s excusable! I couldn’t help it! I AM THE VICTIM HERE!………they are wasting their time. If they are truly interested in healing their marriage and protecting themselves from similar choices in the future, they will look at their behavior and what drove it. They will call a spade a spade. And certainly, by all means, understand what things (past and present) drove the vulnerability. An abusive childhood can play a part, depression can play a part, life situations can play a part. These can ALL create a perfect storm. Just don’t hide behind them.

        • vlman

          Hi guys,

          As a CS I have to somewhat agree with everything you have said. I think all of the terminology /like fog and addiction etc should be taken as just that – terminology , not excuses. If they help you to identify in truly and honestly looking at your life why you have done what you did, and you ACTIVELY try to fix it , then its of value – otherwise then yes, its just a label, or diagnosis.

          After D-Day I went to therapy – I wanted to know why I did all of those horrible things to my wife who I actually still loved (and believe me I know how contradictory that statement is!!!!) The therapy did help me identify a lot of personal issues that would have contributed to me being a total d**k. I was thrilled! Now I knew why ! And I rushed off to start my new life, to dedicate myself to my family and my wife. For 8 months this was all fine (well I was a better person lets say /… obviously the pain caused to my wife did not disappear in that short a time). Then 1 month ago the OW contacted me AND I RESPONDED!!!!! I was curious .. wanted to know how she was and was thrilled to hear that she had moved on etc. Over that month we continued to exchange little chit chat … there was not any other overtones but I knew it was wrong .. I knew I was lying and hiding this. I have now hurt my wife AGAIN (she now knows) … What I have realised is that I never truly dealt with the affair the first time. I shut it off (cold turkey you might say) I got the therapy that showed me its roots … but a diagnosis IS NOT a cure. So to all other CS out there – dont take these phrases we use to describe things such a Fog and Addiction etc as just diagnoses – WORK ON THEIR SOLUTIONS. I am heading back into therapy now. My wife is immensely hurt and that really weighs on me … God knows if our family will survive what I have done.

    • Tabs


      Thanks for your insight. For about two years after Dday, the CS would randomly contact my H. He would always chit chat, even though he knew it pained me. I’ve always believed that he has never dealt with the affair, either. My H refuses any kind of help, especially from a professional. From my point of view, it doesn’t feel like he’s sorry. There’s no discussion of diagnoses or solutions with anybody. “Out of sight, out of mind.” He believes that things will return to normal if the affairs aren’t brought up. Unfortunately, I still need reasons. Out of curiosity, did you willingly go to therapy?

      • Strengthrequired

        Sounds like my h, out of sight out of mind and everything returns to the way things were. Maybe for him, not for me. My h just prefers to wash it over with, It was a phase that he went through and a phase he prefer to forget.

      • Vlman

        Hi Tabs,

        Yes I have very willingly gone to therapy – I really wanted to know how I could hurt someone who I professed to love so much. I would agree that your H’s actions show that he doesnt ‘get it’. If he can see he is hurting you and yet continues then he certainly needs to get professional help – unfortunately recognising that has to come from him

    • Lost33years

      I have to say the excuses could overflow New York city’s sewer system . I am married to an addict he is easily excited by new things he is a serial cheater he is a manipulative abusive man/child. Addicts are like toddlers and teenagers its a dangerous mix everything “new” ie different has to bee explored just like toddlers with no stopping themselves and even worse like teenagers they lie to themselves to soothe the little immature one inside themselves . Like teens they continually push boundaries and seek bigger thrills hmm just as teens the narcassistic me me me is truly their whole world . To make a teen see the damage they are deliberately causing themselves and see the pain to the ones who love them requires a level of maturity cheaters and teens don’t have . Are cheaters just immature people running around pretending to be real adults? Cheaters show their lack of maturity in the low choices they make truly have they considered the pool of low life’s they are fishing in ? If they looked at it the way I have been forced to see they are fishing in the unhealthiest pool this one is full of the sickest of the sick those who prey on others, those who lie to others those, those who are jealous , and those who play their I am the victim help me hook, the parasitic low life’s who troll the pools are like sharks . Unfortunantly those of us who genuinely love are the bait used to hook the next sicko into the players mind game of poor pitiful man .

    • theresa


      Your comment “out of sight, out of mind” was a stunner for me.
      This is it. This defined my marriage
      Boy oh boy does it hurt!
      Feel like I’ve fallen into a black hole. But there is one very small pinpoint of light. I can get out. Wouldn’t’ have seen this but for the support of this site. You have validated me, encourage me, you gave me hope. You gave me strength, knowledge. Helped me find and value myself. You gave a shove when it was needed. Gave me tools to help me see it through. And I landed here.
      And I’m healing, not broken.
      34 years ago today, 10/10/1980, we exchange vows.
      Made promises to each other. Committed to each other.
      “Till death do us part”
      No expiration date
      No amendments, codicil
      No it’s and’s or buts. Forever.
      Not only when we are in sight of each other.

      Was she ever out of mind? Did you ever “not remember her?
      Or was it just me?

    • Denise

      My husband has just been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. We are working with individual counselors and group therapy to deal with the fallout of his “acting out”. His affair was just one (but the worst one) of the symptoms of NPD. Things that I let slide for many years – the bizarre fits of rage, the jealousy, the constant need to be the center of attention – were all indicators. He was addicted to the attention the OW gave him. He’s confessed that he felt powerful when he could treat her poorly, call her a slut for having an affair with him, make her cry and then have her grovel for sex. He seems to be really working, not just in making amends for the affair, but also in getting control of his narcissistic view of the world.

    • Karen

      Lost33years it’s so true re cheaters being like teenagers and toddlers! I constantly feel like a parent of an errant teenager by trying to limit his behaviour and damage control from his withdrawal/guilt driven rages that affect me and my daughter. And like Denise I suspect my husband is a narcissist too and loves the attention from anywhere he can get it… it’s so unfair that we have to live with the consequences of their actions while they seem to go around consequence free while everyone else cleans up the mess behind them. I’m so angry!!!!

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