I have known, and had written for a number of years that affairs are rooted within emotional infatuation, emotional addiction, and emotionally immature behaviors on the part of the cheater, who seem to feel they are entitled to have it both ways. Not just that, but the cheater has a real fear of intimacy, fear of commitment, and fear of the responsibility that comes with both. However, instead of getting help to overcome those fears, and emotionally maturing as they were designed to do, they choose a path of least resistance where they think that no responsibility, no judgment, no consequences, will ever arise.
Of course, we know this is not true, because the chosen behavior, also chooses the consequence. It is all too easy to fall into trouble, because of emotional weakness, but it takes increased emotional strength to eventually navigate out of it. It should never be easy to come out of an affair, because if it were made easy, then the cheater would never have any incentive not to stray, cheat on their spouse, and destroy their marriage.
So, you who are the betrayed spouse, need to leave the affair completely alone. Do not contact the affair partner, because one of two things will happen:
1. You manipulate the ending of the affair, the cheater has not learned anything-and in time, they’ll go get into another affair.
2. You could cause the cheating spouse to cling that much more closely to the affair partner, become protective, and it will take so much longer for the affair to break down, IF it even breaks down.
You want to be careful about interfering with an affair that has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with the person who has betrayed you. People who interfere will reap the consequences from that interference.
The affair partner is NOT your problem–that person is the cheater’s problem. Only the cheater has full responsibility for what they will choose to do about, or with the affair partner. All you can do is choose to limit your exposure to the affair partner.
It is acceptable to let the cheater/midlife spouse know that as long as they are involved with someone else, they cannot have you, too, and leave the decision in the hands of the cheater. You will not see any movement, if any, in a short time. Sometimes, it takes a long time for the cheater to realize they cannot have it both ways. All you are doing is respecting their choice. Even though you do not agree with it, you do not have control over them–just over yourself, your actions and your reactions.
Every affair must run its course, and until it does, there is absolutely nothing the left behind/betrayed spouse can do, or say, about it. The cheater’s heart and mind is completely turned away, and until they wake up to the fact that they are about to lose everything, they will keep doing what they are doing.
The following two-part discussion has been posted to help people better understand how the dynamics of an affair works, and what happens when the affair breaks down, and the “emotional withdrawal” from the affair begins.
To explain, the affair is like an emotional “drug” that causes the cheater to experience an emotional “high” that comes from being infatuated, and becoming addicted to how the affair partner makes them feel.
Once that emotional “drug” is overcome, outgrown, discarded, stopped all at one, and NO CONTACT is put in place, an emotional battle begins against the addictive aspects of the ended affair that will have the cheater/midlife spouse fighting between what they want so badly, which is the affair partner that made them feel so good, and what they know is right–which is trying to bring back together a relationship they have destroyed through their adulterous actions.
The spouse they have betrayed, represents responsibility they do not want to own, nor have anything to do with. The total breakdown of an affair is not easy, because what they had with the affair partner was a fantasy, something not real, and until the light of reality shines a bright ray of truth into their life, the situation will continue to run its course.
The left behind spouse can say all they want, but until the cheater opens their eyes to the fact that the affair partner is not what they thought they were, the left behind spouse is wasting their breath.
The midlife spouse will not turn back toward the left behind spouse until they have won this battle against their emotional addiction to the affair partner. Read further for more information.
Some things never change, and the information provided here in this two-part Q&A session has not changed. I have edited for flow, continuity, and for better understanding of the subject matter.
This is an interesting discussion, about the addiction to the fighting….. so, part of the Other Woman Withdrawal is not really them missing the Other Woman, but the drama high?
No, it is not really that, either.
While a person is within an affair, they were ADDICTED to the fact
1. They had NO responsibility whatsoever within the area of the affair;(the affair partner is not harping about bills and kids; the affair represents fun and games),
2. The way the affair partner made them feel,(by making them feel “special”, “needed” and giving them lots of attention; without any demands, at least at first) and
3. The teenage hormonal highs they felt when with the affair partner.(Not always about sex, but often about being “accepted” or seeming to be accepted without judgment; there is always a “childlike” desire for this kind of acceptance; and somehow the affair partner meets that need)
4. The secrecy of the affair brought its own highs,(thinking they are getting away with something no one else will find out about, especially their spouse) and
5. when they were fighting, that had its own “highs” as well as being very “teenaged” type behaviors that show within both affair partners.(I’ve never read anything supposedly positive about fighting within an affair; only that if the affair is physical, it’s supposed to make the sex better, more intense)
Once the connection is broken, and the midlife spouse goes into Other Woman/Other Man Withdrawal/The Affair Addiction Processing, they are:
1. GRIEVING the end/loss of the affair and of the affair partner,
2. processing the SHAME and GUILT of the addiction they’d once felt, that also drove them to what they did, and
3. processing the meaning of the connection they’d forged with the affair partner, even though they know they were wrong, did wrong, and what they did was wrong.
4. They also have to process through the addiction itself to rid themselves of it…
That’s why IF they reconnect with the affair partner, the affair will start up again, and Other Woman/Other Man Withdrawal will end until they make the break once again; then Other Woman/Other Man Withdrawal will start up from the beginning again, after ALL contact is broken.
What drives them back multiple times is the real sense of responsibility that they are at fault for having dragged this “fine” person into the mess they made. That’s why they’re often defensive and protective of the affair partner. They feel guilt and shame over knowing they must dump them; but for a time weakness keeps them down. Until they become emotionally ready to break it down completely, and until the affair must also become very unsatisfactory to them; they will remain in this status quo.
Anytime you make an emotional connection with someone whether legal or illegal, that person lays claim to a place within your head and heart, when the connection/relationship ends, this is grieved through and processed.
Within the Other Woman/Other Man Withdrawal, this same connection is also processed through, and broken completely; and the affair person is “purged” from their head, and heart.
They also DO miss the affair partner; more what they did for them, than the actual person themselves. However, they have associated and attributed their addictions, highs etc., TO this person, and so they grieve out a whole lot of feelings, various emotions, including dealing with what was within them, whether it was a character fault, or other such issue, that drove them to do what they did, and these are all processed to a final end.
This has to occur and end BEFORE the person who has had the affair will start turning to the one they cheated on again.
For what it’s worth, affair partners who are dumped; that didn’t wish to be dumped, go through the SAME behaviors of clinging, begging, pleading, and grieving that the left behind spouse goes through when the midlife spouse drops the bomb on them expectedly. The difference here is the left behind spouse attains the tools of the journey of a lifetime, whereas the affair partner who gets dumped, doesn’t learn these things, and within a given time, gets into another affair with someone else, repeating the same patterns again, and again, and again.
There are very real problems within men and women who have affairs; and these problems aren’t much different than the midlife spouses who get involved with them.
Maybe this will help; this was courtesy of a whole lot of research done some years ago on my part; and nothing has really changed in this aspect, believe it, or not.
Do you think the reason the affair partner repeats the affair pattern is because they were broken to begin with, where we were already in a place of strength?
From what I know, researched, and have experienced, the affair partner is just as broken if not worse broken than the midlife spouse is. It’s a “just like” pattern, based on the “opposite theory”. This is my own theory, based on all I have seen, which follows:
Just as the midlife spouse has literally become the opposite of what they were before the crisis, their desires and needs take the directly opposite direction within themselves.
In a “normal” type situation, opposites attract, and likes repel; now, take just a moment and think of this within the area of the “opposite” realm of aspects, and what do you have? “Opposites REPEL, and Likes ATTRACT” which is the direct OPPOSITE of what should be in a “normal” situation.
They are attracted to each other, initially because they are JUST LIKE each other….again, not normal in itself, actually ABNORMAL.
Your typical affair partner has generally suffered damage from childhood, having dealt with various kinds of abuses, and emotionally unavailable people in their lifetimes. Midlife spouses have gone through this same thing or somewhere close within their own childhood. So, each person has “issues” that feed the other person’s set of “issues”.
Yet, in many cases, but not all, the midlife affair is subconsciously “set up” to help settle various issues within the midlife spouse as it’s not unusual, for them to “recreate”, “relive” or even “replay” a time in their lives that need “fixing” or “redoing”. Furthermore, the affair is not always all about sex, contrary to what people think; it’s really all about emotional “needs” met within each person by the other, even if in a very dysfunctional way. And these various dysfunctions came come from childhood, previous marriages, etc. Again, this is unique to each midlife spouse
Usually if sex is involved, that takes the emotional affair to a physical affair, this generally happens for one of two reasons:
1. the affair partner, most of the time the affair partner, because of insecurity, or because they perceive they are “losing”; as a last ditch attempt, uses sex to try and “keep” the midlife spouse, or
2. true sexual addiction comes to light, as the additional evidence of pornography, sex films and magazines, etc. either shows at the same or another time.
It could be one or both that takes them into an even deeper downward spiral, taking a person into a place they NEVER meant to go, but did.
Their very weakness becomes their downfall…and it takes a great deal of strength to break various addictions that can be utilized during the crisis, not to mention the affair; which is also an addiction all its own.
It is also not uncommon for the affair partner to already be suffering from various personality disorders, such as Manic Depressive, Bi Polar, Multiple Personality Disorders, Emotional Instability, and it is also not uncommon for the affair partner to ALSO be going through a midlife crisis.
Look at it this way; no emotionally healthy and truly self respecting person ever has an affair with married people or even bothers with people who are emotionally unavailable. The very fact the affair partner would even look twice at them to begin with, tells you a great deal about the affair partner in relation to the midlife spouse.
When it comes right down to it, the blame/responsibility for becoming entangled in an affair belongs on your midlife spouse. They always had a choice, and chose to make the WRONG one.
Continue forward for Part Two