How Often Do Affair Partners End up Marrying and Happy?

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Short answer? Sometimes. But not as often as people in them think they will. In fact, it’s pretty rare that two people in an affair end up married, and are still married after 5 years. Those that do marry face this sobering statistic: They are twice as likely to end up in divorce than marriages that didn’t start out as an illicit relationship.

This is for those of you who think you are with your true “soulmate” in an affair. Who believe that you are special. Magic. That if it wasn’t for one or both of you being married that you’d be together legitimately and living happily ever after.

And a lot of people must think that a long term relationship with their Affair Partner is likely — because this question is the number one search engine term that lead people to my blog. Every single day.  They all want to know whether they will end up married to their Affair Partners.  The illusion is necessary for many to keep a relationship going that is deceitful and illegitimate by its very nature.

I know, because I was there. I believed in all of it for a while. I’m one of those hopelessly, ridiculously romantic and sentimental guys who believed that while what I was doing was absolutely wrong, I couldn’t help myself. There was something “magic” in my relationship with her. Something bigger than me. Something long-term and inevitable. I really believed this for a while.

988DLS_John_Malkovich_002To quote John Malkovich in “Dangerous Liaisons,” it felt like it was “beyond my control.”

Some experts say that a relationship that started as an affair can work—but it’s the exception and not the rule. “Every now and then, an affair is a matter of two star-crossed lovers finally finding each other. They were never the ‘perfect’ match with their spouses or exes and everything works out despite the upheaval of breaking up, divorcing and pulling families apart.”

However, this is by far the exception.

Here are some sobering statistics (although I can’t vouch for the source or their veracity, I’ve seen these stats pretty similarly at a number of sites):

1. Depending on which sources I found, it’s estimated that only 1%-10% of married men who have affairs end up leaving their spouses and marrying their affair partners (I haven’t found a stat for married women).  I don’t know the validity of these stats, but they feel like they are probably right.

2. Over 75% who marry partners they were in an affair with eventually divorce. (of course, this isn’t much higher than the divorce rate for any second marriage. Still, it’s sobering).

3.   80% of those who divorce during an affair regret the decision.

So putting that together, it doesn’t look so good. For every 100 people who have an affair, anywhere from 1-10 of them will marry their Affair Partner. Of those, statistics say that 75% will divorce within 5 years. So that means, MAYBE 1-3 out of 100 live “happily ever after” with their affair partner after leaving their spouse.

One study I read stated,

“If an affair replaces the marriage, it is subject to the same emotional stresses as the marriage but is twice as likely to fracture.” And “The divorce rate and ratio of infidelity are much higher among marriage partners (whose relationship began in an affair).”

So why then do so many people in affairs often believe that their relationship is “meant to be” and will blossom indefinitely? One of the draws of the affair is that you’ve met that someone who totally “gets” you. Who is meeting virtually your every need. Who understands you. The time together is almost always characterized by unbridled joy and excitement. And over time you assume, why wouldn’t that continue if I was with him/her?

But this is just a poorly-reasoned, self-justification in your head to provide the emotional rationale for why you are cheating in a lot of cases. If you are with that person that you think you SHOULD be with, but are trapped because of your life circumstance, then why shouldn’t you be? You are those “star-crossed lovers.” And if you truly love someone else — even if in an adulterous relationship, then how can it really be “wrong”? You love and do what you will.

But also it’s the hook for the two people involved. If there isn’t a possibility that it’s going to be anything more than it is, then it’s hard for one or both partners to stay engaged in the affair. Especially if one partner in an affair is single.  breakups_pictureFew people really want to be “the Other Woman” or the “Other Man” indefinitely. It’s usually a lonely existence. Everything is a secret. You have your married partner only occasionally, and then they are gone. In another place. Sleeping with their spouse. If there wasn’t a possibility that you could “partner poach” (steal the person from their spouse), most won’t stay for very long. There are exceptions — I know a couple like this – both married. They have carried on an an affair for something like 15 years and have no intention of leaving their spouses for each other. They get what they need for each other and are satisfied. But this is the exception. Few people want to be someone’s mistress or “boy toy” for very long.

It’s not that your married affair partner was necessarily lying to you (although they might be in order to keep you in the game) — they may honestly and truly believe that you two will some day be together. But, as with me, when the shit hit the fan, I could not overcome the leap of faith it would’ve taken me to devastate my family, and move in with my OW — knowing the  financial, familial, societal difficulties associated with fracturing a family via an affair. Carrying the guilt.   Knowing the long odds of my relationship with the OW truly surviving for longer than one year. I woke up from the “Affair Fog.” Reality has a way of shattering fantasies, no matter how long they have survived or how deeply love is felt.

And for cheating partners, you have to believe in your mind that your love affair has a deeper meaning, and you can totally picture yourself moving into a legitimate relationship or marriage with this person. If you don’t, then your affair probably doesn’t have much more meaning than sex. Anyone who is truly romantic believes in destiny and a future with someone where everything “clicks.”

526_why-your-affair-will-never-lead-to-true-love-flash-1040737-flashBut the odds are against it. Most affairs are discovered or collapse under the weight of frustration, guilt and unrealized expectations on their own accord within a few months. For most Other Men and Other Women, the affair ends up in pain and frustration. Few married cheaters will end up marrying their Affair Partner, and the tenuous nature of any second marriage, let alone those that were started in a web of lies and deceit, means that few survive for very long.

So why don’t they work out in the long-term? This question has many answers and opinions.

1. Because you’re in a relationship that started out as a big lie, and needs continuous deception on the part of one or both to maintain it, and that’s hard to overcome in a legitimate relationship — the realization that one or both partners has a talent for, and history of, deceiving their primary partner and believes that affairs are apparently an appropriate response to a poor relationship. Trust becomes a huge issue and a weight that hangs over the relationship that is no longer an affair.

2. Because once you’re in a legitimate relationship, the excitement and sexual tension in the affair lessens, which makes the relationship less desirable to one or both. Let’s face it — real life that revolves around chores, jobs, details, finances, etc, it’s just not as sexy as meeting someone once a week for an afternoon of passionate lovemaking. Real life can’t compete with that kind of high.  Succumbing to the fantasy that the new relationship will be free of conflict or other emotional difficulties can be a setup for another failed relationship.

Someone once said something very profound on this:  “You don’t know what it is like to be married to someone until you are married to them.”  So true.  You THINK you know them. You IMAGINE what marriage will be like with your Affair Partner, but the reality is that you really don’t!

3.  The weight of expectations.   When you have left your spouse, and maybe kids, for your affair partner, your life is thrown into chaos. You’ve left havoc in your wake.  You are probably stressed out and facing difficulties more numerous than you imagined.  You feel tremendous guilt over what you’ve done, even if at some level you feel justified and it was the “right thing”.

Therefore, there may be the feeling that anything that cost that much emotionally had better be worth it.  The greater the sacrifices, the greater the expectations for the new marriage.  You may believe that everything will be perfect just as their affair was.  Unfortunately, what you may find is the ordinariness of real life.  The more people enjoy the battles involved in wrecking and escaping marriages, the less they are likely to enjoy the business as usual of the new marriage.

4.  The social stigma associated with marrying your affair partner. Frequently, family and friends will side with the betrayed spouse and will never accept the affair partner into their lives. And that’s a burden to the relationship. An embarrassment to both partners that perhaps best be avoided by not staying with this person after one or more of the partners gets divorced.  Oh, yeah, and your children, no matter what age they are, will not approve and will likely hold this against you more or less permanently, adding further to your stress.

5. And in other cases, I suppose it’s because people often use affairs as part of an “exit strategy” out of an unhappy marriage, but not the person they want to necessarily be with after they divorce. The affair is a way of testing the waters to see if there is something better out there. But once out of the marriage, the former married cheater does not wish to jump straight into an exclusive anything with anyone. They would rather be free, for at least a while, or maybe forever (I’ve heard many divorced men say they will never marry again — that it’s not worth it). And therefore, their affair partner is not what they desire once freedom is obtained.

So if you current cheaters or single affair partners have this fantasy in your head, let it go.

It’s fools’ gold. An Illusion. Your odds are almost better to win Powerball than to end up “happily ever after” with your affair partner. You might as well wear “I’m Stupid” on your forehead.

So before I start getting comments from people how THEY have been married to their affair partner for 10 years, or know someone that has – let’s be clear:   Some affairs DO end up in successful, legitimate relationships, including marriages.   Especially among those who married young and to the wrong person for them. Who were in a fairly loveless/sexless/disconnected marriage that they stayed in out of obligation for years, and now that they are more mature and know what they want out of their remaining years, they are probably in a better position to have an exit affair with the “right person” to be happy with. Yes, it happens.  Just not often enough to sustain the fantasy, I’m afraid.  It’s rare.  Exceptions don’t disprove the rule.

If you are in an affair, assume it will end. And badly. And with you being hurt. Don’t stay because you are “meant to be” — it’s just too rare to count on.

31 thoughts on “How Often Do Affair Partners End up Marrying and Happy?

  1. Hi. I am the other woman in a relationship that has been going on for more than a few years. It is (quite) emotional but has never been physical. He flirts incessantly but never once crossed the line. He’s married, with grown children who are out of the house for good. I am single with none.

    I know it is an affair and not just a friendship because he keeps it all a secret. His wife knows I exist, but we have never met. He and I worked together for several years, and she knew about me then. I don’t know what she knows of me now.

    He talks to me about everything (except their sex life) including a lot about his wife…her (many) problems with family and friends, her therapy…his kids…and a lot about work. Politics (we vehemently disagree!) and sports and pretty much everything under the sun. His friends are their couple friends and he feels no connection to the men, and he really seems to have no other male friends. Which is a puzzle…people at work love him…he is very warm and caring and friendly to them. Oh and very attractive physically. And professionally successful, though not a Master of the Universe.

    There have been several points through these years when I was certain it would end, most especially when he went through some life changing medical issues. But we go on. And on. Texting daily, talking about everything under the sun and then some, flirting madly (90% of the time initiated by him, but I jump right in!), seeing each other at every possible opportunity, at least once a week. There have been times I have tried to push him away, but he fights for me. We have virtually no contact most weekends. Not “none”, but very little.

    So I am reading through your blog, trying to understand the degree of “wrong” of this relationship, and the risks and possible outcomes. I realize the absence of a physical relationship makes it a little strange, since there is an obvious attraction, and I guess I secretly hope it really isn’t that “bad” for that reason. What is your opinion of the wrongness and risks of emotional affairs? I should say I am extremely independent in every aspect of my life and really don’t know what I would do if one day he said he was free. And that I love him and believe he loves me.

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful reply! It is fascinating in that I think, intentionally or not, you went straight to the heart of a significant difference between men and women, because all (ok most) of your followup questions are centered on the sexual issues. My thinking as a woman, my questions, are about the emotional intimacy and secrecy and how they do or don’t define “what it is”.

    The answer to all the questions about sex is no. Yes, we do hug, no we do not kiss (occasionally on the cheek), yes we say “I love you”, again very occasionally. No, we don’t fantasize (openly, I cannot read his mind of course) about the “what ifs”. He does get stupidly jealous when I talk about other men, but it is annoying so I usually don’t say anything.

    One thing is certain, we both work pretty hard at this friendship. I’d bet a lot that I get a lot more of that from him than his wife. I think she is deeply disappointed in a lot of things about him and he has given up trying. I adore him and I am not shy at all about saying it in every way possible but sexually.

    • I hope you don’t mind that i turned your question into a separate blog entry. I thought it was a really good question and that people would be interested in it. I’m going to move your reply there too, ok?

  3. Hi. I just wanted to get some help… I have worked with a man for over 10 years. He got married when he was young to a woman that he says he should never have married…. We have been extremely good friends for all this time. We had an affair that was very short about 7 years ago. He has been so in love with me (I know that sounds rude to say) since we met, and I also have loved him the same. We work in a hospital on an open heart team – so we are together all the time. We enjoy each other so much and over the years our friendship has always been so great. He has always made sure that I, and everyone we work with, know how much he cares for me. I have always tried to do the right thing through this. During the short affair about 7 years ago, it was so horrible because I knew it was so wrong. He has 2 kids who were younger at that time. He did not want to leave his wife at that time because of his kids, and I definitely did not want him to in any way. I was struggling with the guilt of what we did because of how wrong it was…. But we loved each other very much. So we stopped the affair and just remained good friends. He has always made me feel so special and I know he has always wanted more. However, he has been very respectful of how bad it hurt me. Recently, in the past couple of months, I had some changes in my personal life (my parents have lived with me for the past 5 years and they went back to Ohio). So I decided that I am ready to date again. I have not seen anyone since our affair ended because of the stress of taking care of my sick parents. But in the last couple of months I realize that I am ready to have a relationship. I am almost 40 and my “friend” is 50. We have ALWAYS been close and talked about everything. He has been there for me through so much stuff. I do love him so much. And I know that he loves me more than I could imagine anyone else ever loving me. So we started texting and talking on the phone again outside of work. Then we started jogging together… And now it is more intense than it has ever been. He professes his undying love to me all the time. He has a son that is 15 and he is afraid that if he leaves his home now that it will hurt his son tremendously. He discussed with his wife that he wanted to split up. She agreed because things have been so bad for so long between them. She also agreed that it would hurt their son and that they should try to stay in the same house until they feel he could accept their decision. He asked me to wait for him. To remain in this affair until he can be with me. I love him so much and agreed to do this. However, it has only been 2 months and I feel like all I do is cry. He always has to go. Even though he makes a tremendous amount of time for me. He moved out of their bedroom. He has done all of these things but I still feel like I don’t know if he is being honest with me. He says that within 4 years we will be together. Four years is a long time and I’m afraid that my heart is just going to keep on being broken. As soon as I think that I am going to be alright – I get upset about something else that happens (like that he has to go home after only spending an hour with me..) I don’t understand my feelings and I feel like I’m going a little insane here…. And I am really afraid that I am going to ruin our friendship. I have tried to play this out in my mind – and I just can’t seem to be able to break this off. I love him so much and he is being so patient with me. I’m sorry this is so long!!!! I just really need some help!!!!!! I don’t know what to do. We still have to work together and I don’t know if I could bear the thought of being around him and not with him anymore. And what if this is the 1% that might actually be true love? But what if he IS lying to me? Your blog described this so accurately. I want to believe that he would be truthful with me but I watch him lie so easily to his wife…… I feel SOOOOO SAD……. Any advice that you could give me would be so great!!!!! Thank you….. :o(

    • I don’t know if he’s lying to you or not. All I know is this — affairs are a bad idea and almost always turn out badly for the “Other Woman” (or the Other Man, for that matter). They almost always end in pain and frustration. Or worse. You’ve played a part in blowing up another family.

      And affairs with co-workers are a really bad idea. “Don’t shit where you eat” is a good motto.

      You want advice? You can’t be friends. It’s foolish. He obviously doesn’t really believe it. It was just a way for him to stay close to you and keep the option of reigniting the affair open. My advice to you would be to end this. Fully and permanently. No contact. No jogging. No nothing.

      If or when he divorces, he can talk to you. But not before.

      Don’t be a fool. The chances are your heart will get squashed. You’ll follow the same cycle — intensity, he panics, he backs off, he comes back. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

      Don’t be part of it.

      Even if you DO end up with him, the chances of it working out are so slim that it’s not even worth mentioning.

      You’re still young. Don’t give away your life to something that has such a low probability of success and happiness.

  4. I am terrified. In 1979 I met and fell in love with a man and I still love him. I was quite young and we were in love, but somehow my parents and others convinced me that he wasn’t ambitious enough, wasn’t smart enough, wasn’t enough. I broke up with him after seeing him for 3 years. He was devastated. From what I know now he went on a downward spiral that lasted for years. We met again in 1984, the day before I was moving 5 hours away. I knew then that I still loved him. I tried calling, but his mother answered and told me he didn’t want to talk to me. He tried calling my parents and they told him the same thing.

    In 1986 I married another man, but I know I would have walked away from the alter without a glance if Greg would have shown up. Looking back, I should not have married my husband. I was enamored with him, but I wasn’t in love with him. He was handsome and gregarious and everyone else loved him. He still has a great public personality, but without an audience admiring him, he is sullen and difficult and self centered.

    Greg found out I was married and a few years later moved in with another woman. He never married her, but they had 3 children, who are his world. The oldest was born in 1990. He told me later that he never married her because I was the only woman he ever wanted to marry. He knew he didn’t love her the way he had loved me, but when his first son was born he thought to himself, now I have someone who I can love without fear that they will leave me.

    In 1999 I went home for a class reunion and the day after the reunion I ran into Greg. He introduced me to the woman he lives with and his 3 children. I told him I was staying with my sister and would be home only a few more days. The next day he called me at my sisters house and told me that he told one of our old friends that he ran into me and she wanted to see me. We met at a local playground and started talking, We talked for hours and hours. We saw each other a few more times before I left the state again.

    We exchanged phone numbers and at first we talked about once a week. 6 months later we were talking on the phone every day. I went home to visit my family at Christmas and Greg and I started our physical affair.

    We discussed leaving our significant others, but I knew he would never forgive himself if he left his kids. I have never waffled on my decision to be with him and he owns my heart. At times he has pulled away, but never leaves the relationship, just pulls away, and later explains that he was afraid I would hurt him again.

    We have traveled to other states and I have gone home to visit 3 or 4 times a year for 3 or 4 weeks at a time. When we are together we are very happy. We don’t keep our relationship a secret. His kids know me, his friends know me, and although he has never discussed me with the woman he lives with, she has seen us together and knows that I am with him and the kids at ball games and other places and that he doesn’t come home at night when I am in town. He finished the attic as a separate bedroom for himself about 10 years ago and they don’t have physical relations. His nephews call me their aunt. It all seems quite normal except that it isn’t normal.

    My husband is so in love with himself he hasn’t really noticed that I am in love with someone else and don’t bother with him. I have filled my life with friends and family and my horses and my work and survive on calls and texts and e-mails from Greg.

    In August of 2011 I told Greg that I was planning on moving home in 2 years when his youngest graduated from High School. Greg started pulling away and in April of 2012 my world fell apart. I met Greg in North Carolina and we were out together and he left his phone with me. He got a text from a girl I knew from High School. I couldn’t see what the text said because the phone was locked, but I opened his online bill and saw that they had been texting a lot and had been texting like this for about 4 months. Sometime 50 texts in a day. I confronted him and I told the girls husband, who is one of Greg’s friends. Greg and I cooled our heels for a few more months. I didn’t see him again until August. Things were okay, but he was still distant. I found out in early December that he still talked to this other woman, after he had promised me that he wouldn’t. I told him that I was coming home in December, but just to see my family and to say good bye.

    Greg is a proud man, but he told me that he was a fool and he was scared and asked me to give him a chance to fix things. He met me at the airport with flowers and romanced me every day for the month I was home. He has called and e-mailed and texted me every day since.

    A couple of weeks ago Greg came here to see me and while he was here I got a facebook message from the other woman. Very friendly message stating that she heard I was moving back home and knew of a place that she thought I would like. I opened his phone bill and saw texts and 1 minute phone calls from her, but no responses until right before he left to come visit me. There were 12 texts in a row. Greg told me that yes, she was texting him and he finally responded to tell her that he loved me and I was moving home and he didn’t want any trouble from her and would she stop texting him. The call pattern matches his words, so I have no reason to doubt that this is what happened.

    I have asked my husband for a divorce and am going forward with my move from California to Pennsylvania. But I am scared. Is this really the only other woman? What may I face when I get there? Will he move in with me or stay? He says we will be together, but will it really happen or will I find out I have spent my entire adult life loving someone who will really never be mine?

    The woman he lives with lets him do anything he wants and never asks a question. She would never open his phone bill or confront him about his behavior. Will he be able to deal with someone who isn’t willing to share?

    I’m starting my life over at 52 on a wing and a prayer.

    • Tracy Harris,

      I’m no expert. But it seems that there’s a little concern of trust on both you and Greg about becoming a couple.

      For a example. In your first paragraph, you mention you hurt him by listening to your family about breaking off the relationship with Greg. That he was broken man for years after you left. Then in another, he found out your married a few years after ending the relationship. And, regrets on your part for listening to your family in the first place, even thou they were probably thinking whats best for you at the time.

      If I was Greg, I too, would be hurt the way the relationship had ended. Then finding out that you married couple years later to another man.

      I would be a little worried and scared about getting back into a relationship with a women who wasn’t sure if she really loved me. If she did, she would come to me and tell me about her concerns. Then taking her family advice and ending our relationship and leave.

      But then again, if I was Greg, and really loved you, I would done everything I could to win back your hart before you left.

      If you both are ready to leave your spouse and get back together. I suggest that you both start out with baby steps. Start of as boyfriend and girlfriend and slowly grow your new relationship. When the time is right, then take the next step etc, etc.

      And this time around, if your family and friends calls you again about breaking if off again. Let them know how you feel about Greg. And this time, take the time out to talk to Greg. Even if its on the phone, share your feelings with him about whats going on.

      Who knows, maybe you two would have never broking up the first time around.

    • You ask “Is this really the only other woman?” Do you not realize you are THE OTHER WOMAN, you conveniently forget to mention that he is still living with the mother of his children until the end of your post. That is his partner – it doesn’t matter that they are not legally married. He is lying to you and obviously a serial cheater and him and his partner seem to have come to an agreement about it. Please get real, he didn’t ask you to divorce your husband, he didn’t ask you to move to your hometown, he pulls away when you get too close – he is never going to leave her to be with you. You are just one of many others he uses and plays with. Your family and friends were right about him, he is a loser and so are you!

  5. We were married at 20 with baby on board. We were each other’s first. DH left w/in a year doing drugs and during our separation slept with many women. I finally filed for divorce after 18 mos. during which time he went to rehab and we got remarried to each other 5 years later. Skip forward 10 years into our 2nd marriage and 4 living kids, our newborn (#5) died the day he was born unexpectedly and he blamed me I guess. Within 2 years of his death, DH had I guess an “exit affair”, although I thought we were mostly happy and had a great sex life (never saw this coming).

    The OW thinks he was separated at the time of their sexual affair making it OK. He has destroyed our family and seems to not care much. Left me with a 3 1/2 month old baby (who we had after we lost our son and he barely sees). They moved in together during our time of separation to make it work and now live in my town together. Divorce finalized for a few months now. They have been together a year and 1/2 I gather although he admits to nothing. I guess in their book, if you are separated and supposed to be working on it, it’s not called an affair. They seem happy and I’m disgusted. Most of his immediate family has accepted her and it makes me sick (we were very close) and they enable his behavior believing in his now found true love and happiness.

    They seem happy and he seems completely uninterested in me. I just want them to break up. If he’s never with me again, fine. But what are the chances they will break up? Is it just his grief? Clearly he lacks the character to hang on during the rough times. They go out with my 2 middle kids and hang out as a family and it tears me apart. When the ex-inlaws go with them, it’s harder to bear. I just need them to break up so I know it wasn’t me. She’s not Ms. Perfect and they aren’t soul mates meant to be together. She can’t make it work either. I gave my life and was so dedicated to this man and put up with so much BS and sacrificing myself for his happiness. I was a good wife to him. He did pretty much whatever he said he needed to. He won’t even tell me what I did wrong and I have asked for forgiveness for anything I may have done and took responsibility for our son’s death but “he just wants a different life”. He is 38 and she is almost 10 years younger.

    • Forget them. It doesn’t matter if they do or they don’t. His family will support him irregardless, just as if you separate/divorce your parents naturally won’t be inviting him to Christmas dinner. Try to move on, go out, get in shape, making a dating profile and soon enough you will forget about them.

  6. Will the longing feeling for the other person every go away? I literally ache for him, dream about him day and night. My whole life seems like a blur without him. I am married with a family. I love my husband, but the love for this man is completely different and so strong. I am trying to turn my back and do the right thing but I was just wondering if someone else had this experience and was successful in moving on? I know the damage is done, my husband has no idea but I have prayed and asked for forgiveness & help to move on but it seems impossible right now. I’ve never felt this way. It’s hard to let go of the feeling and when I try I wonder if I will always want him and need him this much? Help, I don’t know what to do anymore…

    • I am still going through withdrawl from her. We last touched in early Sept and since about three weeks ago it is over forever. I know what it feels like.

      • Married 11 years. We were best friends, etc. Did everything together, lovingly. She started antidepressants RXd for “Chest Pains”… 3 months later she’s a completely diff. person. Divorced Feb 2013. Over a year later…. I still have a heavy heart and mind. I think, and miss her dearly, every, single, day. Barely speak, hardly see each other. OUr daughter is torn between us. She (ex) doesn’t even care… but I know it’s “not her” really, and I still miss her so. I can’t shake it.

        So, good luck with yours.

  7. I was married for 28 years and my husband started an affair with his step sister. In a six month period we were divorced and my husband remarried the next month to his step sister. So hears one for the books…

  8. Thanks for your excellent post. I agree with all of what you have said.

    My wife and I are an example of a somewhat different kind of relationship. We were both married and doing alright in those relationships for 20 years or so before we met. Somehow, we fell in love anyway. We did not have a sexual affair, although we openly considered it, along with our respective spouses at the time. In the end, after about 9 agonizing weeks, our spouses relented and assented to us leaving and trying a new life together. One therapist at the time told me that after 35 years of practice, I was the first man he had seen who was thinking with his big head instead of his little head. We have yet to meet a couple like us, who left their marriages to be together before having an affair.

    That was about 3.5 years ago. Our divorces finalized about 2 years ago and we were married 1 year ago. Sometimes we feel cursed and sometimes we feel like the luckiest people on Earth. I often acknowledge that fateful line, “It’s beyond my control.” It really is. My wife and I are together because we want to be, and that is really beyond our control, too.

    It never has been easy. Our five children have dealt with the trauma in their own ways. We have had our struggles. We argue. We wrestle with each other, physically, intellectually and emotionally.

    My wife is a psychologist and a writer. We write and we have seen an army of incredibly gifted therapists. Ours is not the recommended path. It is just the path we happened to follow. In many ways, we are very lucky. If we had it to do over again, we would have found each other earlier.

    I often wonder why it is that we judge the success of a relationship by how long it lasts. Sometimes I wonder if the pscyhological trauma might kill me. And yet, here we are. There is nothing wrong with any relationship, sexual or not. It all comes down to what works. Staying in it for the kids is the wrong reason. And yet, maybe it’s a proxy for another reason. Many people simply want that stable existence, with mother and father, raising kids together. We certainly wanted that, but we wanted to be together more. And I believe that all of our children have benefited from having 3 or 4 parents. It hasn’t been easy. And yet, very few of the tough decisions in our lives are easy. That’s what makes them tough.

  9. Hi There, I have been having an affair with a 54 year old (he has been with his partner for about 15 years) (I’m 34, and married for 11 years) man for about 2 years, we met on the virtual reality game Second Life. We actually live in different states so our main communication is either on SL, through Skype or when we call each other. I remember the first time we actually met we had both said that we would not put any pressure on the other for something to happen, but of course it did and I know it sounds very clichéd but we created fireworks and not only that but we talked about everything. We have been together only about 4 other times in total but each time we never want to leave each other and it is getting harder and harder to leave. He recently (last night) said to me that if I wasn’t married or if he left his partner and I left my husband that he would fly over to where I live get down on bended knee and ask me to Marry him – his exact words where “would you say yes if I asked you to marry me”. I was speechless which for me is really difficult and if that moment every happens then I would say yes. And yes I actually asked if he was serious as well. He treats me like I am the only person in the world and really makes me feel special.

    I know what we are doing is completely wrong but I think about him than I do my husband and absolutely love making love to him – he does everything right.

    My husband and I don’t have any kids which if we divorced would be a lot easier I am just really worried how he will react and how he will be able to manage by himself (he went through a lot when he was a kid) I don’t feel guilty about my affair I feel guilty about leaving him.

    • I think what you’re feeling is very typical.

      I have this reaction though — if you don’t feel guilty about your affair, this is a bad, bad sign.

      I think you owe it to your husband to be honest. If you can’t love him the way a spouse is supposed to be loved, it would be humane to let him go and find someone who does. Your lack of guilt for your massive betrayal is a sign of a real lack of love on your part. Do the right thing.

    • Hello there,
      I am struggling, (as in struggling the way you might do on the Western Front in 1917..with a complete stranger who wants to kill you for no good reason). In other words fighting for your naked life.
      Every SINGLE second since my first affair ended badly about a month ago. What you’re doing IS completely wrong. I am 52 and we have no kids….and haven’t married but have been together faithfully since Feb 2000. When it ends for you….the withdrawl will be BRUTAL. Like withdrawing from crack cocaine. Or even worse.
      You cannot imagine how bad you are going to feel. And everyone in an affair feels EXACTLY the way you do. Read about it. Affairs are complete BS. They make you believe you dont love your spouse.And that your AP is the love of your life. And that it was stupid bad luck on your part. That you married them first. But you only live once right? Right?….So of course that gave me permission. And millions of others. For me life is now over. Over. I cannot EVER forgive myself. And l cannot EVER forget her. Forgeting your Fathers face would be easier. Can’t really offer much in the way of insight today.
      I have lost 20Kgs!…..And l feel like l went over Niagra Falls in a barrel. Twice. And l also know that this blog is going to help you. Like it is helping me. My affair started at a place similar to SL. And it was totally public. With all our ‘friends’ wishing us luck. And when it ended it was also in public. And l see she has found someone else now. And they arre carrying on like we did. And the pain l feel at this is awful. Good luck with what ever you chose to do, but l suggest you end it all right now. And NEVER EVER tell your husband it happened. For me this affair was the logical conclusion of years of internet secrecy. A good rule of thumb. If your spouse was standing there….would you do or say it?

  10. I just did a search because today, the man I had been having an affair with, broke it off. We had a whirlwind affair that was just so magical. And like this article I thought I had found my soulmate, finally at 40. When his wife of 20 years found out, that’s when it all went down hill. Harassing calls, emails, people approaching me in bars. Once we got past that hump, the divorce proceedings began. I thought, “wow, we are on out way of starting our life together”. Wrong. After nearly a year together he breaks up with me, out of no where. Fast forward a few months, he decides he misses me and can’t be without me. A year and 4 months, today he decides that he can’t get past the affair. That he is so embarrassed by the affair that he doesn’t even want me around his friends. That he’s so bothered by what people think. Which your point #4 is exactly what happened. I’m telling my story because affairs are not a good idea. I really believed my life was finally beginning but I was so delusional. Just think, all that I went through. A year and 4 months all for nothing. This article was spot on. Doesn’t make me feel better but it was a read I needed to do.

    • datingagaindallas, don’t beat yourself up. It was a learning experience….unfortunately, you had to learn this way. I was 24 years old when I had an affair. It lasted until I turned 30. The guy was 21 years my senior. He made promises for years saying how we were going to be together. After he wife died, he changed. A year ago, he finally tells me that he’s not ready to commit to me. I got married at age 19. This guy new I was a good girl, however, he chased and chased me until I gave in. Fast forward six years later, It was the biggest mistake of my life. The pain that I feel is unimaginable. I’ve been crying, well ever since I met him. I used to put this man on a pedestal , I literally worshipped the ground he walked on; meanwhile latently destroying my marriage for a man who really didn’t want to begin with. Perhaps, he was just going through a midlife crisis and wanted to be with someone younger. At least you only wasted a little over a year. I wasted almost 7 years. And those were years I could’ve been enjoying my husband and my life.

  11. Over a year ago my husband left me for a woman he knew in highschool who had a bad reputation if you know what I mean. They both are 45. Anyway, they were having an affair for almost a year before he left. He moved in with her about 9 months after he left me. So to sum it up, they both will have been seeing each other 3 years this summer. I feel their relationship is going to last for a long time and that they might even get married. I just think they are both sociopaths and what he did will not bother either one of them. He keeps contacting me through e-mail, but I never allow him to see me or call me. I guess i was hoping for Karma and that they would have broken up by now since the stats say affairs last 2 years, but it doesn’t look that way. Do you have any advice for me. He keeps me confused by constantly coming by the house to see the dog when I’m not there and wanting to keep in touch with me through e-mail. We were married for 21 years before he left me.

  12. My husband left me 5 months ago (19 October 2013) for a woman who lost her husband in a road traffic accident only 6 months before that. We had known her for around 12 years, he says he made contact with her at the beginning of October and while he won’t admit it, I have discovered that he had moved in with her by the end of that month. He has cut me off financially, treated me like an irrelevant inconvenience despite a 14 year marriage. He has left behind a 2 1/2 year old son who is currently being assessed for autistic spectrum disorder but states he left me, not the children!! I have been treated like dirt by both of them, abused by her via e-mail, they have tried to hide their relationship by pretending he’s a lodger in her house, it’s just all so sick and twisted. I have been threatened with legal action if I threaten her “business and reputation”, oh it goes on. I am frightened that this may be a long term relationship, he says she’s “the love of his life” and he fell in love with her “a long time ago”…this is a mystery to me because despite some difficulties during 2013 we had an essentially happy marriage. I am devastated beyond belief. My life feels as if it is in ruins. How can they find happiness from such misery? I will never understand.

  13. hi, my partner and i had a baby together who is 9months old now, he started hes affair in dec and dumped me for the other woman on the 25th of feb. i only found out about the affair on friday. she left her partner and baby for my partner and he left me for her. they both living together since the break up on the 25th of feb…. they say they found in each other what they never had in their partners…. is it going to last?

  14. Ok.I married the man I had an affair with. We have been together for 14 years. The affair caused a great deal of pain to all involved. It was horrible and we felt so guilty for hurting our former spouses. My husband’s mother hates me still…the rest of the family accepted our relationship years ago. My ex has since moved on and remarried. His ex is still holding on to the drama and reminds him often of what we did. We are happily married, but karma has her ways. We have had one financial disaster after another. It’s as if we are doomed. However, we stick together and survive. We love each other very much and know that we belong together. Our relationship is strong as ever….It started out as a lustful affair. We fell in love and have a great marriage!! I know that what we did was wrong, but we truly are soulmates…. He has said on occasion that if he had to do it over again we would be together….we would just do it differently..

      • Dewayne: I have deleted your original comment.

        This is the kind of mean-spirited, nasty comment that I won’t accept here. This is not the place for bitter, mean people like you to vent at people like her (or me or anyone, for that matter). If you need to vent, start your own blog but better yet, take it up with the person who actually did cheat on you.

        You can disagree with someone’s point of view here, but if you can’t be civil, you can’t post here. Fair enough? I hold everyone to the same standard.

    • There are always those marriages that should never have been, and I do believe that people can create a lasting relationship from that sort of beginning as long as you both appreciate the damage you caused to others through your behavior and resolve to deal better with each other than you did your former partners. The problem is that so many people want to believe that their relationship will be the exception to the rule, and that’s just not going to happen for most of them. And it’s never okay to build your happy future on someone else’s misery. There’s never a justification for that. The law of Karma, most simply put, is that that certain actions will lead to similar consequences. As you sow, so shall you reap. Or maybe just a less theological way of putting it would be that if you hurt others in the pursuit of your own happiness, you really have no right to expect others (or fate) to treat you any more kindly than that. I happen to think that we can always do something to redress the wrongs we have done to others, even if it’s years after the fact. Sow a little kindness and good will, in the hopes that we can reap the same in later years.

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