5 Misconceptions about the causes of affairs.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Emotional Affair

Affair?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The causes of many affairs are not what people think.

Often they are a lot simpler than you may expect. Here are some common misconceptions.

1. Affairs are all about sex.

Love Triangle

Love Triangle
Photo courtesy of Flickr (slambo_42)

Some affairs do start that way, the one night stand or the hookup, but most include a much deeper feeling component. Wives are often surprised that the woman their man picked for an affair is not all that spectacular.

Far more affairs begin as over close friendships that develop given enough time together and the increased sharing of feelings that develop into an intimate relationship. Many affairs start out with the sharing of things that the affair partner is not able or willing to share with their regular partner.

Affairs can begin as a result of people spending time together on the job or in an outside activity. They progress from spending lots of time together to sharing about the hobby or job and ultimately reach sharing about feelings and secrets.

When someone begins sharing inner secrets with someone other than their partner the risks of an affair increase. This is one reason therapist are warned to always be on the lookout for clients who are beginning to feel attracted to the therapist or vice versa.

2. Affairs are the result of a bad or unhappy marriage.

Many people, up to 37 % in one study, reported that they thought they were in a good relationship. They did not begin to think of their primary relationship as bad until after they were involved in an affair and then felt the need to choose between the relational partner and the affair partner.

3. People leave their wives and families for their lovers.

That does happen sometimes, but it is true less than 25% of the time. Most of these relationships that started out as affairs do not work out. Either the primary couple reconciles and works it out or the person who had the affair ends up alone for a period of time before getting into another long-term relationship.

4.  Affairs are planned ahead of time.

Most affairs are the result of opportunities and attitudes. Away from home travel, working or socializing with the opposite sex and being in a culture that accepts or condones sex outside marriage increases the risks.

If others around you are hooking up and fooling around it becomes more difficult to maintain boundaries.

5. An affair is a rational choice – there had to be a reason he picked her.

Often the affair is a purely accidental happening. When it comes to a romantic relationship humans are often drawn to someone very different from themselves. A new partner who is very different from the primary relationship partner has that extra allure of the unknown. They may also present the challenge of seeing if you could get that person to want you.

As people get older the affair may be a chance to answer that question “Do I still have what it takes.”

6. Affairs are secretive solitary happenings.

Sometimes affairs are conducted in secret but more often than not the affair couple develops a social circle of friends who support the affair couples relationship.

The social group of one or both of the participants in the affair frequently encourages the affair couple. Working in a place with lots of single people or a culture of hook-ups and away from home sex can encourage an affair. Some jobs have a culture of partying after work, complete with alcohol or drug use and hook up sex.

In a setting where others are fooling around it is easier to end up hooking up yourself. Having friends who will facilitate your adventures and cover for you increases the risks that you will engage in an affair.

Affairs happen, more often than not. They can cause a huge amount of suffering. Some people have one affair and they regret it. Others repeat the mistake. If this is the first time and the person who had the affair regrets it then there is hope. Marriage counseling can help. So can individual counseling for the two married people to help them see why it happened and how to create a safe relationship in the future.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

10 Rules for recovery after an affair.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Emotional Affair

Recovery after an affair.

The common perception is that once the affair is discovered the couple is headed for divorce. The truth is that up to 70% of married couples stay together, for a variety of reasons, after they discover that partner was having an affair.

Among those who do divorce, many will later regret making that first impulsive decision.

Your family and friends may be telling you to kick him, or increasingly her, to the curb. But should you call it quits? What does it take to recover from an affair? How can marriage counseling play a role in mending the pain?

1. Don’t make sudden decisions when you discover an affair.

Give both of you time to think it through. You have a lot of time and emotions invested in this relationship. You owe it to yourself to see if it can be repaired before you junk it.

2. Both of you need to process how the affair affected you.

Both partners in the relationship may need therapy to work through their feelings about the affair, their relationship and how it reached this point.

Therapists recommend that the non-affair partner write a letter to the affair partner telling them how they feel and how this has affected them. This is the kind of letter you need to write but do not need to send. Process these feelings first in your own therapy. Eventually, you may be able to read this to your relationship partner and help them to understand how this has affected you.

3. You need to create empathy for the non-affair partner.

Many people who have had affairs have very little understanding of how this has affected their partner. They will say in counseling that they have ended the relationship and that should solve the problems. Having them listen to the non-affair partner talk about how they were hurt by the affair and what feelings this created in that person can increase empathy and understanding.

4. Avoid staying together after the affair and ending up living two separate lives.

Some couples arrive at this point as a result of unspoken feelings. They will stay together for the children, for the economic needs or because of the problems of splitting assets. What they don’t plan on is having an emotionally close relationship ever again. Most of these efforts fail as the two people involve find that they are living a life devoid of love and affection.

Even if the couple plans to try to make this relationship work, avoiding having those tough talks about their plans goals and future may result in a relationship that feels like to unrelated people living in the same house.

5. Rebuilding trust after an affair is a long hard process.

The most devastating part of finding out your partner had an affair is the feeling of betrayal of your trust. It takes a long time and lots of effort to rebuild that trust. You need to let each other into both your lives and make sure neither is hiding anything. Do not tell your partner you are going to get gas for the car and then turn up several hours later with leftover takeout food. If you plan on several stops tell your partner if plans change, call them and let them know or stick to the plan and make a second trip some other time.

6. Do not use counseling or therapy as a way to get even with your partner.

Trying to use marriage counseling as a way to get even with the affair partner makes things worse. No amount of beating them up will erase what happened and it will result in fresh wounds that may never heal.

7. Give the non-affair partner all the information they need but no more.

Many partners want to know every detail, what did you two do in and out of bed. It is important to stop keeping secrets but beware of giving more details that requested. Non-affair partners can suffer from symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After hearing about sexual activity between the partner and the affair partner the non-affair partner can experience intrusive thoughts. They may imagine graphic images of their partner engaged in sexual activity with another person.

8. Make post affair counseling a repair effort.

Give the partner that had the affair a chance to show their intentions. Do they do small things to make it right but quickly slip back into old behaviors? Let them know that you hope for and expect the best but they will need to prove their desire to change and make it right by making visible changes in their behavior.

9. Get extra honest with each other to rebuild trust.

Affairs are about the fights you never had. If there are problems in the relationship talk them through. Work on expressing your feelings, being careful to ask to have your needs met rather than run your partner down. “I feel disrespect when you do not help clean up after dinner.” Not “You are such a pig!” You never clean up after yourself!”

One key characteristic of affairs is the need to keep secrets. The non-affair partner sometimes feels then may have contributed to the affair by not asking what the other person was doing and feeling. Some people who have had affairs tell me that they felt they had a sort of permission to have the affair a “don’t ask don’t tell” code.

Couples may need to have a lot of those talks about sex and relationships they did not have before they entered this relationship. Women frequently have a different definition of an affair than a man will. She thinks that flirting and emotional closeness with another woman is cheating. He may think that anything short of intercourse is OK. That attitude and some alcohol have led to a lot of one night stands.

10. Avoid problematic use of drugs and alcohol.

Drugs and alcohol lower inhibitions. People with an untreated substance use disorder are at increased risk to engage in affair behavior. Drinking and using places encourage sexual activity. People who abuse alcohol and drugs may accept those kinds of behavior as a part of the “Partying” lifestyle.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Does an affair mean you should divorce?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Divorce.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

7 things you need to know if you stay together after an affair.

One partner has had an affair, should you divorce? Should you stay and try to work it out?

Here are some of the things that you need to think about, talk about and work through in counseling before you decide whether to stay together or separate.

1. Do you and your partner share any common values, goals, and interests?

What do you have in common other than having been sexual partners?

Having common values and goals for your life is a great predictor of long-term compatibility. In the first intoxicating insanity of love, we often do not ask questions about the values that underlie our potential partner’s desires and dreams.

No matter how hard you try to support your partner’s dreams and goals if you have different values the results are uncertain.

Any couple should expect to have tough times. Affairs are one of the toughest. So are deaths in the family, particularly the death of a child. Addictions are another severe crisis.

When a couple is thinking about the decision to stay together or part ways, now is the time to have those discussions about your values. That discussion can bring you closer together or help you make the decision that this relationship is not salvageable.

2. How will you feel about yourself if you stay?

What does it mean to you if you go?

The first few weeks after the discovery of an affair you may be asking yourself all sorts of questions about you. How did you make this mistake, is it your fault that the partner cheated.

This is a time to get in touch with yourself. Some people can never forgive or forget. This is an especially difficult problem for those who have been the victim of abuse or neglect in the past. If you already had “trust issues” this crisis may be beyond your ability to accept.

Think this through carefully. If you can feel good about yourself for the decision to stay, then give this a chance. If you feel you can never forgive yourself for letting them get away with this then your own mental health may demand that you leave.

3. How will you feel about being alone?

Are you likely to get into another relationship to fill that void? If you do start a new relationship they will have a sexual and relational past.

Being alone can be a scary situation. If you are fearful about that think carefully about your ability to stay single for any length of time after you end up separating.

Each partner you pick will come with a past. People fresh out of a relationship, those who are afraid to be alone, are at extra risk to start a relationship with a person who has their own set of problems and their own emotional baggage.

If you have a lot of time invested in a relationship, be careful that you do not leave one partner because they had an affair only to enter a new relationship with someone who is single because of their affair.

There are reasons why people are single. Think about what attracted you to this certain partner. Will those same things be attractive in a new partner? What are the chances that you will pick a new partner that may cheat or have an undesirable sexual past?

4. Did you contribute to this in any way?

Will you change or will you pick a new partner and go through this again next time? If you had a role in these problems, say you did not have those discussions about problems with your partner before they started the affair you will probably contribute to the same sort of problems with the next partner.

It takes two healthy people to have a healthy relationship. If you are healthy and both you and your partner are willing to work on mending this breach, you have a good chance of ending up with a great relationship. If only you will stay and do the work.

5. Is he or she reliable in other ways or is this part of their pattern of being unreliable.

If this is the only significant problem in your relationship then it may well be mendable. If this partner has a history of not coming through when you need them, they are not likely to change just because you know about the affair.

6. Besides being lovers, were you two really life partners.

If you have things in common, you like the same things, have the same hobbies and want the same things out of life, consider staying together and mending the problems in the partnership.

If the only thing you had in common was the sexual part or if the emotional closeness you had is gone and neither of you is willing to do the work to get it back, then the chances are good that you will never be life partners.

Two people living separate lives under the same roof is not much to settle for.

7 What other serious problems does your partner have?

If your partner has other serious problems, addiction, alcoholism or gambling, an affair could be the smallest part of the problems you will have to face. Criminal lifestyles can sweep you up. So can most any other addiction.

All of these are things to consider before making your decision to stay or go. It can help to talk this through with a Marriage Counselor or trusted advisor.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.