What is an Affair?


What is an affair? When does an affair become an affair?

In the past I’ve talked about how commonly people seem to consider an affair occurring only when you have had sex with the other person.

To me, that interpretation is really broken.

Sex seems like a level that affairs hit when they have reached “the point of no return”, but it has always seemed to me that the “affair” started long before that.

Affairs don’t just happen. There are any number of choices made by both parties that lead to an affair. But at what point does a relationship cross that line?

I’ve been searching for a better way of describing and identifying an affair, and recently came across it in the form of a Ted Talk video by Esther Perel. If you haven’t seen it, it’s truly a great video and well worth spending 20 mins on.

In this, she defines an affair as a relationship with three characteristics:

  1. A secretive relationship
  2. With an emotional connection
  3. And sexual alchemy

Let’s look at each of these characteristics in turn.

A Secretive Relationship

First, the relationship is secretive. That doesn’t mean the betrayed partner doesn’t know about the person. In fact, in the VAST majority of affairs the betrayed partner does know the “other person”. Often they know them quite well, and may even consider them a friend or at least an acquaintance.

Statistically, men are most likely to have an affair with a co-worker while women are most likely to have an affair with a friend. So it’s not as if the people are unknown. And often the betrayer will even talk about them and mention them in conversation.

What is secretive about the relationship is the nature of it.

Even if the affair has not progressed to a sexual stage (and some never do), the betrayer keeps a lot of details away from their partner. How often they are seeing the person, the sorts of things they talk about, etc.

So while the betrayed partner likely knows about the other person, they have no idea what’s actually going on. They think it’s just a co-worker, or an acquaintance. What they don’t realize is just how much time and energy their partner is expending on this other person. How invested their partner is in this new relationship, usually at the expense of their own.

The betrayer may claim “it’s just a friendship, it’s nothing” – and maybe part of them even believes that. But if that were true, then why hide it? The fact that they are hiding details from their partner indicates that at least at some level, they know they are doing something wrong.

In one case I know of, the husband had a very close friendship with a co-worker. They talked/texted all the time outside of work, and sometimes the husband would go meet this person without telling his wife where he was going or who he was going with.

When the wife found out about the relationship she confronted her husband on it. He insisted it was nothing, and that they were “just friends”. When she asked why, if they were just friends, was he so secretive and evasive about the “friendship” his response was “because I knew you wouldn’t like it”.

Ummm, alright. So if he knew she wouldn’t like it, then that would seem to indicate he knew at some level that there was something wrong. And he chose to pursue the relationship in spite of that.

Maybe there truly was nothing more than friendship. But the fact that he kept it going in spite of knowing how his wife would feel about it indicates at the very least a lack of empathy, and putting himself and what he wanted ahead of the good of the relationship.

The secretive nature of the relationship destroyed trust, and once broken trust is very hard to regain.

An Emotional Connection

Next is an emotional connection, and to me this is where the real affair begins. Maybe it starts out as a friendship, or a co-worker at work. But as you get to know the other person better you start to open up more, and discuss increasingly personal details about your life.

This type of discussion builds closeness. But this closeness is a huge danger sign for someone in a relationship.

If you think back to how your existing relationship began, it was probably exactly like this. How someone looks may be the characteristic that caused you to initially notice them, but it was likely long talks and “getting to know them” that caused feelings to form.

Once an emotional connection starts to form with someone else? Well, that’s not really a great sign for your existing relationship.

In many affairs the cheating partners fall in love (or at least believe they have). Incidentally, women are more likely to believe they have fallen in love while men tend to see the affair as “harmless fun”, and something that is filling a gap that is missing in their current relationship.

But whether or not they have fallen in love, they have allowed themselves to open up to the other person in a way that has created an emotional connection, and allowed it to grow.
A while back I had a post called Can guys and girls just be friends? (when they are already in relationships), where I suggest that no, they can’t.

That’s not entirely true. Guys and girls CAN be friends, but if you are in a relationship it changes the nature of the friendship. You aren’t single – and you shouldn’t act like you are. Certain topics shouldn’t be discussed, and the biggest one of all is you should NEVER discuss any problems you are having in your relationship with the other person.

Sexual Alchemy

Lastly is sexual alchemy. See, you don’t need to have had sex for things to be an affair. You don’t even need to have kissed. But you feel *something*, and when you do you KNOW you feel it. A cheating partner may tell the betrayed partner that “nothing happened”, or “they are just a friend”. Well, they can lie to their partner but they can’t lie to themselves. They know they felt something. And even if they didn’t act on it, they know they’ve thought about it.

If they are starting to feel good about themselves when they are around the other person and find themselves looking forward to the next time they see them, then these are HUGE red flags that the nature of their feelings are changing. When that happens, if they are already in a relationship they owe it to both themselves and the other person to stop. Cut off contact with the other person, and figure out what they really want.

I think Esther Perels definition of an affair is perfect. A secretive relationship with an emotional connection where you feel *something*.

If someone is pursuing a “friendship” like this while they are already in a relationship, then whether or not it goes any further than this it’s an affair.

Plain and simple.

37 thoughts on “What is an Affair?

  1. Exactly. In my research and in my personal experience, affairs are as you have described. I would add (which I am paraphrasing) from Jayson Gaddis: It is an affair, “when I’m out of my own integrity with myself, energetically, physically, whatever, with another person and when I have another agreement with my partner.” He goes on to say that as a general rule if your partner were to observe your behavior and would go into reactivity, then a boundary is being crossed that the agreement you have set up with your partner is out of integrity.

    You write that certain topics should not be discussed with the other person. For example, never discussing “any problems you are having in your relationship with the other person.” I think letting someone know you are attracted to them, letting that sexual alchemy be known is also a big red flag. If, as Esther suggests, so much of our experience with another is in our imagination, then letting the 3rd party in on our desires has the ability to create or fuel a desire within them. It gives oxygen to that sexual spark. From the book, “Not Just Friends” by Shirley P Glass, Phd., “Sexual chemistry, is only enflamed by admissions that a sexual attraction exists but won’t be acted on.”

    Esther Perel is brilliant and I’m so glad she’s talking about affairs. Actually, I’m glad you’re talking about affairs, too. I think more people should talk about them. Talking about affairs helps them 1) to not happen or happen less often and 2) helps to heal the wounding caused by an affair. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, telling the other person that you think they are hot and/or you want to have sex with them seems a pretty clear violation of boundaries. I didn’t mention that one because it’s one that few would defend. But often people defend confiding their own relationship problems with the other person. They often seem to think that’s alright, but all the evidence shows that confiding your relationship problems with someone else is one of THE leading activities that builds towards an affair.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hah, you’ve got me there. I agree that it’s normally more subtle, and you’re right when you say that sort of behaviour shouldn’t be alright. I could never date someone who is a major flirt, as I find that sort of thing disrespectful. I have seen couples joke about whether or not they would get a “free pass” if some sort of hot celebrity were to proposition them, and that kind of stuff doesn’t sit well with me.

        Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for sex. I think it’s great, and is a very important part of a relationship. I think couples should be able and willing to talk about it, and things like fantasies in order to enhance their enjoyment of their life together.

        But I’m also very much a believer in monogamy and in treating your partner respectfully and with empathy.

        I see women that are attractive to me all the time. But there is absolutely no benefit in verbalizing that. If my partner were to ask me if I find someone attractive I would be honest, but unless she were to ask why would I say anything? And telling the woman in question, even subtlety? No good can come of that.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on My Life is a Soap Opera and commented:
    Reblogging this post here because this is exactly what I want to have my husband figure out in his own head what was going on with him from day 1 when AS started working on October 12, 2010.

    If I could hear my husband admit that this is how he was thinking and feeling I would be more inclined to forgive and forget but so far all I get is resistance and excuses.

    There is no point in pushing the matter but how do I get him to realize that everything he did with her and how he treated me and how absent minded he was during that time all are a result of his inner feelings of turmoil?

    I’ve called bluff twice now and my husband doesn’t know. He doesn’t know that I KNOW he was talking to AS inappropriately about private matters because he didn’t have to tell me, I know him. I can read him most times. All during his affair he begs to differ that everything was my fault why he was acting different. NOPE! It’s all you buddy! My husband needs to acknowledge what constitutes an affair as described above by ZombieDrew and then put all the puzzle pieces together to realize he is the one that solely destroyed our relationship. Humility will go a very long way but without it I fear there will be an end with undesirable consequences.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: What is an Affair? | My Life is a Soap Opera

  4. Great post and topic as usual, in the past I usually side with you, today I’d like to deviate a bit if you’re willing to entertain me. One of the things Esther Perel said that snapped my attention is this: that in relationships we look to our partner for EVERYTHING. Lover, best friend, parent, support, confidant etc. while all these things are great thing to be able to get out of your relationship, and will certainly build a strong and long lasting relationship. For me there’s one central question. Is your partner agreeing to be all those things, and are they CAPABLE of that? A question for you to ask yourself, is if your partner isn’t capable, then what?
    I think without asking these questions it puts you in an environment where an affair may be more likely. I’m sure most people will agree that they’re not 100% of the things their spouse was looking for and vice versa. I think recognizing and understanding this dynamic puts a little less stress on the other person. If your partner doesn’t have to invest time into who you want them to be, but who they actually are. Time spent together will be more about using the skills you actually have, and learning to mesh those together.
    Given all of this, especially for the emotional connection element of an affair. I ask this question. If before your marriage you were able to form new friendships with close emotional connections, does that stop after marriage? While I do agree that you should definitely set boundaries with your friendships, especially with the other sex when you’re married. I don’t entirely agree that all topics should be off limits. In the event that you are having problems. Someone of the opposite sex could help you see a different perspective, or even help you to communicate in a way that helps to improve or correct the problem you were having. As long as those friendships helps enhance and bring dept to your marriage, I don’t think of ALL of them as harmful. I think when it comes to close friendships, there’s a taboo when you’re married. As I said earlier if you made friends before your marriage, then why would that stop after you’re married? I feel as though there’s that notion of, “oh oh we’re becoming friends, this is wrong” with proper boundaries I don’t see a friendship with the opposite sex as a bad thing.
    Which brings me to my last point. We’re going to have sexual desires no matter our state in life, single or not. Yes it matters what you do with that desire, if you act on it then yes your spouse definitely has a reason to be upset. What I’m talking about is we should be a bit more forgiving of our natural tendency to be attracted to the other sex. History has shown us regardless of how attractive a person is, it doesn’t stop their spouse from thinking “hmm I can probably do better!” When I say acting on our natural sexual desires, I mean either copulation of those desires with sex, or fantasizing about sex with the other person. If you only go as far as recognizing that you’re sexually attracted to someone beside your partner, that is still just a biological response. Of course the devil is in the details, and most of us can’t or don’t stop at that first stage. Well this is my 2 cents, and sitting from where I am, as a single. However I’ve always held these views, even in relationships. I acknowledge that I may also change that view in the future.


    • Vance, great to hear from you. And you make a lot of good points.

      First off, I think you are 100% right in your comment about us expecting “more” of our spouses. I think we often place an unfair burden of expectation on our partners. We expect them to meet all of our needs, and in doing so we put them in a position that they will never be able to live up to. I talked about that a bit in my “identity crisis” series of post a while back. We need to accept that we have many facets to who we are, and no one person can ever fully satisfy all those things. And in saying this I am absolutely not talking about sex or open relationships (which I am completely against). Rather we need to acknowledge this and not place unrealistic expectations on others.

      I’ll give my thought on your next two points together. You are right, being in a relationship does not mean you cease to notice other people. Anyone who says that is probably not being honest with themself. But finding someone attractive/hot/whatever is very different from wanting a relationship (even a purely sexual one) with another person. If you want both, in my opinion you don’t understand what love and commitment is truly about. To me that means “love” is just about how things fulfill your own needs and wants. That’s selfish, and not love. Or maybe it’s better to say that is an immature form of love, as that’s probably how most of us start out.

      So yeah, you can still have friendships with other people. But when you are in a relationship life is not just about you. So you need to be cognizant of how you friendship affects yours partner, and what sort of things you are sharing. And if you do start to find feelings developing? Then it’s totally on you to cut contact before it develops further. And if you want it to develop further? Then you owe it to your current partner to get out first.

      Too many people want to have it both ways. Try out the new relationship and see where it goes while having the old one as a fallback. That’s just bullshit.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Yes definitely, I want to be clear that I too am saying not to start another relationship while you’re married. If you find that your relationship is becoming more than platonic or that you desire more, you should definitely stop. I think it’s also important that the moment that starts to happen, is also a moment for introspection, to find the WHY! Many times cracks in your relationship develops and manifests into other things. Having a committed relationship without your sexual needs being met is not a healthy arrangement. That typically leads to sexual infidelity. If you’re in a committed relationship, you should ask yourself, are my needs being met, is my partner’s? If not why? Sex is by no means the most important part of any relationship. This goes for any of your needs, if they’re not being met, you’ll be excited when someone comes along who can. Depending on that need, you’ll probably want to have an honest conversation with your spouse about it, and have a plan going forward.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think the idea that sexual needs not being met leads to an affair is only partially true. Yeah, if your sexual needs aren’t being met it will spill out into the rest of the relationship. But I actually think that’s a symptom and not a cause.

        My belief is that affairs are much more frequently about emotional needs and connection. And when you feel emotionally connected then sex is a natural result of that. So people are in relationships that are in a rut, and the emotional connection has broken down. They meet someone and connect emotionally, and don’t actually intend for it to go any further. But once that emotional connection has been made, nature takes over.

        I suspect this is what people mean when they say they didn’t mean for it to happen, or it was a mistake. They didn’t mean for it to go as far as it did. But by pursuing a friendship/relationship after they knew feelings were developing, they are completely at fault

        Liked by 4 people

      • Wanted to share something I was reading from Esther Perel about Sexual Intimacy and Emotional Intimacy. “Ironically, what makes for good intimacy does not always make for good sex. It may be counterintuitive, but it’s been my experience as a therapist that increased emotional intimacy is often accompanied by decreased sexual desire.”
        First I wanted to point out, this IS not the case for everyone. Instead of looking at Intimacy and sex as two complimentary things. They could be at opposite sides of a continuum, I think if we approach it with this in mind, it may help answer some of the questions about passion. Of course I believe that there are couples who don’t have this problem, increased intimacy also leads to an increased sex drive.
        What do you think about this concept, do you find it as interesting as I did?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well Esther Perel is the expert here, and I agree with her on that (not that my opinion really matters).

        It makes me think of the following quote:

        “Passion is fueled by newness and mystery. Passion declines over time, but it is replaced by a different type of love that is associated with marriage longevity and happiness.”

        This is what people talk about when they mention the excitement of the new. I’ve been thinking a lot about anticipation lately. Often, anticipation for something is as good as the thing itself. We are able to build up an image of something in our heads, and that creates excitement.

        When a couple gets together, they look forward to the first kiss. They look forward to having sex for the first time. I think this anticipation makes the actual event itself seem better than it really is.

        But in relationships, people let this fade. We take for granted what we have, after all – we have it. But what about those things we don’t have? Hmmm, maybe they are more exciting? Maybe they are better? The “new” is always going to be more exciting than what we know.

        In the story from this post, when the guy started talking with other women it was this newness and this excitement that drew him in.

        I think this is a cautionary tale that many people need to hear (though at some level we already know it). The grass isn’t greener. Other people may be “new”, but they come with thier own sets of problems. There is no “perfect relationship” or “perfect fit”. Your relationship is what you and your partner make of it. And effort, and continuing to prioritize each other and show our partners we care and value them is much more important than anything else.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: It’s Not About The Sex | thezombieshuffle

  6. I agree with this, in many ways, but if I pick it apart it ALMOST says my partner didn’t have an affair. I’ve battled those thoughts often, some have battled me as well saying it really wasn’t an affair. Sometimes even I start convincing myself it wasn’t. It’s a crazy situation, maybe it wasn’t a “true” affair… but in the end, her actions and decisions hurt, maybe it wasn’t really an affair after all in some people’s eyes but it felt like a betrayal and hurt just as deep. Good explanation though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • If I recall your situation correctly, your partner decided she needed some space/needed a break, moved out and the two of you were apart for a period when things happened.

      If so, I guess it comes down to what was talked about with the separation. For you I know you were holding on and hoping that this was a phase and that you would get through it. So the betrayal is still very real.

      I’ve always said I would never cheat, and if it got to that stage I would end my relationship prior to starting a new one just out of respect for everyone involved (including myself, as I don’t believe I could respect myself if I cheated).

      Hypothetical case:

      I’m at the end and don’t see any hope for my relationships so I leave. Then on the rebound I meet someone and have a fling. However it makes me hate myself and realize I’ve made a mistake, so I go back.

      Lets say she takes me back. Was it cheating? I would say no. Would it hurt her any less. I doubt it. Would it cause just as much damage as cheating? Probably similar, but the main difference in my mind is the violation of trust isn’t as bad as when someone is carrying on under your nose and lying to you about it.

      Now if during the period of seperation there had been an agreement that this was just a temporary time apart to try to figure things out, then yeah, the trust violation is pretty much the same.

      Not an easy situation either way, but that’s my thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Couldn’t agree more and yes you are very good at remembering much 🙂 There are definitely things that point to “violation” and some that say “but you knew”…. fine line folks. We had agreed it was just space during our first few convos. I stated there was not to be any dating or seeing of others and she agreed, at this point she was not mentioning this “new friend” and i think that’s bc she didn’t expect anything to come of it, it was just questioning her feelings even more so. In time, a few days I’ll say, it did some out that there was “interest” in someone, she did admit this. She still said it was a friendly interest, basically she wasn’t looking for anything but this person was showing her attention and it intrigued her and made her second guess her true feelings for me (ones that had already been “lost”) I didn’t get a play by play by any means but she did confess they hung out a few times. I basically told her to figure things out (I thought in a honest way, emotionally) and we would come back together in a bit and figure out our situation. I know we both feel there was definitely betrayal in all of this but some don’t see it that way. But it’s not for them to decide 🙂 Thanks for your input, always appreciated.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ultimately it’s what’s in both your heart and hers that matters. And thankfully in this case, you both feel that there was a betrayal, which allows you to move forward in a healthy fashion.

        I believe you’ve said yourself that as affairs go, your situation is one of the “better” ones.

        Where things get really difficult is where there is an affair and one person is caught but continues to deny it. Or worse, deflects it and claims it’s all the betrayed partners fault for driving them to it.

        Something people probably won’t like to hear – I usually feel the betrayed spouse shares in the blame. Not for the affair (that’s 100% on the betrayer). But they do share blame for the conditions that let to the affair. Not suggesting it’s 50/50 or anything like that, but when the betrayed partner puts 100% of the blame on the cheater, and refuses to acknowledge that there were problems in the relationship that contributed to things, it makes it very difficult to move forward in a positive way.

        Liked by 2 people

      • It is hard to admit but I agree. NOT that the affair was constituted, hell no, never a good reason for that. But yes, I had faults, ones I didn’t realize or recognize were an issue. We rarely fought, we did everything together and that’s why it all came as such a shock. I never knew she wasn’t happy with the way things were but when we broke it all down and she finally expressed her feelings I could understand what she was feeling. If she would have talked me before things got out of control it could have all been avoided but that’s not the way the cookie crumbled, so it is what it is. Thanks again for talking 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • another thought…. you state the word “relationship”, ending one before starting another. That’s the thing, there really was no emotional attachment or relationship with this girl. My partner didn’t even look at it that way. She was like a zombie. She did not discuss anything personal about her life, not us, not her family, not even our fur babies. She said she’d talk about how work was, or what she was doing or school ((which was all via IM) and this girl did most of the talking bc she was all about herself and the drama. I truly believe, that if the one night they went out, this girl hadn’t come on to my partner, nothing would have happened bc that’s not what my partner was looking for, she didn’t know what she was looking for….answers is all she wanted. She just didn’t know how to find them until therapy. I make no excuses for infidelity, there is always a better way. I just know there was no intent, no emotional attachment and really not very secretive once she moved out and admitted things. Maybe it makes me look like an idiot but you (not you personally) have to know her and be in the situation to better understand, as we all go through all different things in life.

        Also “temporary” is a key word, she wouldn’t say that word. Yes, to me “break” is temporary, but to her it was distance to figure out what she wanted and when she was in her effed up state of mind she believed she wasn’t in love anymore and things wouldn’t work out BUT she didn’t convey this to me bc she knew I was all or nothing and she didn’t want to lose everything (and me) when she was so lost. Yes it was temporary but we only can call it that bc we are back together, but if in the end she decided she was done, it wouldn’t have been temporary. She didn’t know what she wanted or which end was up, it’s actually very sad. Never seen her like that in the 12 years I’ve known her, she wasn’t herself, she seemed barely human and now if you ask her to recant those months she really can’t, she struggles with what she did, where she went, who she saw because it’s a blur to her, it’s what her therapist calls disassociation disorder, the events were not pleasant to her and she pushed them so far back as to convince herself it never happened so she often times can’t even come close to knowing what she was thinking for feeling at that time, which is good but also makes it harder for me to try to understand.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on your whole world can change in a minute and commented:
    Hmm… I agree with this, wholeheartedly. BUT I could pick this apart enough that this would say that my partner did not have an affair. Do I wanna pick it apart? I thought about it then thought, whether it would be classified as an affair or not, her actions and words were hurtful and it caused a lot of heart ache. So in the end, maybe it wasn’t, maybe it was. Maybe I have no right to call myself a betrayed spouse. But in the end it felt like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Most people don’t consider an affair to have occurred until someone has had a sexual relationship with another person, but that has always seemed wrong to me.

      The sexual side of things is simply a step in a relationship. A big one maybe, but the relationship has started long before that.

      So this definition seems right to me.

      Thanks for reading

      Liked by 1 person

  8. We do have to be careful about imposing one size fits all boundaries. Healthy boundaries are little elastic. Yet like anything elastic, if you are repeatedly stretching and rebounding from the boundary, it’s likely to wear out and eventually break. Some people might be really good at this boundary stretching and put in the extra effort to monitor and repair any sign of faults in their own boundaries and relationships. More power to them. I’m personally too vulnerable at this time to have a partner playing much near the bounds, and I appreciate that my partner understands that.

    As to what is an Affair, there many kinds, but I think the real question is, would you cause your partner to hurt if they were aware of your actions with someone outside the relationship? If yes, does it really matter what it’s labeled?

    At the moment their committed partner finds out what they’ve done, their heart starts to race with panic because they know their actions with another person have hurt their partner and damaged their primary relationship. They already knew it would hurt their partner, else they wouldn’t have the panic and be trying to hide, or voluntarily sharing, what they were doing. Whatever the action is. The action with another person could be just fine in some relationships, and terribly devastating in others. It really depends upon the relationship, which is as distinct as the individuals with in it. Whether it’s a peck on the cheek, a slap on the butt, flirtatious banter, going out to dinner, going out to lunch, seeing a movie, a foot rub, a one night stand or a year long tryst with a particular person outside the relationship.

    Good communication is required to setup and maintain a healthy set of boundaries between the individuals in the relationship. This includes sharing and understanding the others particular vulnerabilities at that time. It also includes both parties compromising to an agreeable degree (if one partner is dead set against any pecks on the cheek with anyone else, then the other partner needs to be ok with that or end the relationship). Simply assuming the social norms on what an Affair is, what the boundaries should be, or how their partner should be ok with this or that, without communicating and agreeing to your own set of boundaries and vulnerabilities, is a recipe for hurt feelings.

    Back to what is an Affair, perhaps the term Affair is required, to imply an amount of hurt, to impress an amount of wrongness on them and their actions. But for those that are hurt, it’s extremely difficult to quantify and compare against a set of actions that caused their hurt. We see it all the time, two people expressing massive amounts of hurt, one from just finding out about a one-night stand that happened 5 years ago, vs another who just found about their partner has been in an affair for 5 years. From the outside observer, the former seems less than the latter, was it an Affair, but try telling that to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love this:

      “perhaps the term Affair is required, to imply an amount of hurt, to impress an amount of wrongness on them and their actions.”

      I’ve always thought of it as empathy, but you are right that it also involves communication. Any action you take which you know would hurt your partner if they found out is a form of betrayal.

      One reader pointed out that the idea of a secretive relationship implies some sort of relationship. A one night stand may not be a relationship – they may never have met prior to that night. But it’s also very damaging and would be considered an affair by most criteria.

      Still, although the definition may not be perfect I think it’s pretty good.


  9. Hi Drew-I’d like to add a couple of thoughts here. First in this technological world we live in, you no longer have to be physically in the same room to be intimate. Anyone with a smart phone has the capability of being intimate (sexually) without actually touching and no one will know if they are in incognito mode. So i believe this must be added to descriptions of what constitutes an affair. I pretty sure husband (still) thinks he didn’t have an affair because they never met in person( still not sure I believe that one). Second you talk about thinking about or fantasizing about an attractive person you’ve met or new co-worker, neighbor etc. I totally agree that the thoughts of what one might like to do ( unless only fleeting) have the potential to do plenty of damage to a relationship. You know what they say, that “the mind is your greatest sex organ”. Anticipation is certainly half the fun. Don’t call it forplay for nothing. ! And yes i do accept partial responsibility for the state of our marriage ( until upto about a year before discovery,)because i had decided to really focus on loving him and showing him how i felt to improve things or i was going to leave. Things improved tremendously (families even commented about it) then i see the text message and completely came unglued. Funny he probably started before i made changes and then figured what the hell i’ll just keep em both-the cake thing & all- tried to tell me he had been so unhappy the last year -yeah i bet cheating on your wife didn’t feel so good- i’ll zip my lips now- great post!


    • Technology is great, but it sure does open up a whole bunch of new avenues for infidelity.

      It makes it so much easier for people to carry on with “relationships” in a way that is difficult to observe from outside. Now instead of someone just coming home late from work all the time, they can be carrying on with someone else from the comfort of thier own home, while their partner is in the next room.

      Another thing I see about social media is that it has the tendency to keep the past in the present.

      For me with relationships, I’ve never looked back. Sure, once in a while something may trigger a memory that makes me wonder how a past girlfriend is doing, but that’s about it.

      I read all sorts of stories about people who keep tabs on their exes through social media, and it gives them an avenue to stay in touch. And exes can commonly be the source of affairs from the current relationship. The past is the past – chances are you moved on for a reason.

      You make a really great common on the mind being the greatest sex organ. I actually have a post in progress on the power of anticipation, and I think I’ll steal your line for it. It’s true, the mind has a way of making things better or worse than they really are. Expectation and anticipation colors everything.

      The whole “have your cake and eat it too” side of affairs is part of what really bothers me. If you ever truly loved someone, I just don’t see how you could ever do that to them – especially over an extended period of time.

      Hope things are improving for you.


  10. This was very hard to read, because it is so true. Sometimes when you start growing apart, it happens so gradually that you don’t even see it happening, until you do, and by then it’s too late. My heart aches that our relationship will forever be changed. Our anniversary will have an asterisk like Barry Bonds’ home-run record, forever tainted…

    My “friends” bailed as soon as I failed to adopt their way of thinking. In their eyes, I took the easy way out and stayed with him. Little do they know that this has been the hardest thing I have ever had to endure. I really need their support, but instead they choose to gossip and judge me. Like I don’t have enough knives in my back.

    This affair affected so many people and I really hope he understands the gravity of his actions. I understand we both got lost in raising kids, work, and everyday chores. Bottom line, we stopped connecting one on one. We should have done a lot of things differently, but hindsight is 20/20. The damage has been done. Obviously, he wasn’t happy and he felt like there was a hole that needed to be filled, but I had needs too that weren’t being met, and… I didn’t cheat. I buckled down and tried to do the best I could. He unbuckled and made very bad decisions that now unfortunately the whole family is paying for.

    Time will either help things to heal or it may reveal other truths that may have not been uncovered yet. But for now I will paint on a smile and wait to see what rises to the surface, cream or shit.

    Thank you for your honest insights. It’s so refreshing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry that it was hard to read. You mention honest insights, and truly that’s what I try to provide. I try to be somewhat inspirational, but I also try to bring up what I would consider to be “uncomfortable truths”. The things I feel sometimes need to be said aren’t always the things people want to hear.

      I understand what you are saying about choosing to stay. One of my biggest beliefs behind this site is that many more relationships could be saved, and actually be happy, if we would only start paying attention to how things often go wrong, and working to insulate our relationships/marriages against them.

      Personally I find your choice to stay an admirable one. When you are at that spot, I don’t think either option looks great. Both leaving and staying are difficult, and each come with their own share of problems and issues.

      But I don’t think it’s ever too late.

      If a couple loved each other once, anything CAN be turned around. The catch is, both people need to realize what went wrong, accept their own part in things, and truly commit to repairing things moving forward. Easier said than done, I know.

      You mention your anniversary always having an asterisk. I think that may feel that way for a while, but if both of you are committed that will fade in time.

      A while back I wrote a post on things never being the same again (https://thezombieshuffle.com/2015/06/06/it-will-never-be-the-same/). That’s true, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

      All the best.

      Liked by 1 person

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