But it’s a dangerous, immature and self-defeating response to being cheated on, which can backfire in many ways.
These actions almost always lead to separation and divorce.
It’s natural for an infidelity victim to want to seek revenge. The revenge affair is motivated by the desire to make the other person go through the same emotions as you did wishes to be set free, and that evolves into you screwing over your cheating spouse. Research says that females are more likely to engage in this sort of behavior than men.
Unlike lust or love affairs, revenge affairs are driven by raw, primitive emotions that have little to do with genuine eroticism. Here, the hurt, the anger, the resentment directed toward one who has already strayed is translated into sexual arousal or action – often in the absence of genuine desire. The compelling urge isn’t “I want you”… it’s more like, “I’ll show you…you @%#&%!”
Not only is the Revenge Affair initiated to salve these wildly inflamed feelings, but unlike a romantic affair, discretion is hardly a priority. Leaving a breadcrumb trail for a suspicious spouse or deliberately flaunting the affair in the heat of a fight is more likely to occur in this scenario than any other. After all, “I’ll show you” is meant literally – as in, “let me punish you with an image you won’t forget; let me show you what it means to be hurt the way you’ve hurt me!”
And yes, the loss of “moral high ground” by the Betrayed Spouse is palpable. After maybe weeks, months, and even years of railing against their spouse’s betrayal of them (and rightly so), in person, in public maybe, to their family. Maybe even on a blog (and Lord knows there are a lot of them written by angry Betrayed Spouses). Yet the Revenge Cheater turns around and does the very thing that was so hurtful to them. Often using the same failed arguments their Cheating Spouse used to justify what they did. It’s not adult. It’s not logical. But it is hypocrisy at it’s finest. Maybe we should call it a “Hypocritical Affair” instead of a “Revenge Affair” in these cases.
In fact, I will go further than that. While all cheating is wrong, and all cheaters are reprehensible, Revenge Cheaters are, to me, a worse type of cheater between the two, and more reprehensible. Few people have an affair in order to purposely hurt their spouse. In fact, the vast majority of cheaters have affairs because of deep, unmet and critical emotional needs in their marriages, and/or deficits within themselves. They, in fact, go out of their way to hide their affair and spare their spouse the pain of discovering this massive betrayal. So when the Betrayed Spouse has an affair for revenge purposes, to me, it’s even worse. When someone decides to have a revenge affair it’s completely different, because they are actually having an affair with the intention of hurting their spouse. Affairs are not about someone waking up one day and thinking, today I’d really like to hurt my spouse. Now let me see. What mean, evil, terrible thing can I do to hurt them. I know I’ll have an affair. That will really get them! That’s not how affairs generally happen, but that’s what a revenge affair is.
And in fact, the Revenge Cheater has purposely used another human being (the third party) as part of their plan to hurt someone else. This is not love or caring. It’s appalling.
There are three types of “Revenge Affairs”:
- The One-time Only Revenge Affair. This is usually an isolated incident in which the infidelity victim has a one-time affair with the person who is most accessible to them at the time. Often, these kinds of revenge affairs are one night stands — sometimes with total strangers – and are often committed under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The infidelity victim feels vindicated, even if the spouse or significant other who cheated on them never finds out about the revenge affair.
- The Carefully Orchestrated Revenge Affair. Some victims of infidelity go to great lengths to cheat with someone they feel will cause extreme emotional damage to the spouse or significant other who cheated on them. It could be the cheater’s best friend, a sibling, or other family member; a business rival, or a deadly enemy. The infidelity victim carefully orchestrates the situation to ensure that the cheating spouse or significant other will be certain to find out about the revenge affair. This kind of revenge affair is done in a very calculated manner, designed to cause total devastation, or maximum emotional “shock and awe.”
- The Non-Sexual Revenge Affair. For religious, moral, or ethical reasons, some infidelity victims who seek revenge cannot bring themselves to become sexually involved with someone else. So they attempt to even the score, or strike back at the cheater by having an online or cyber affair. Or by having an emotional affair with someone they come in contact with on a regular basis. Because the infidelity victim is in an emotionally vulnerable state, the non-sexual revenge affair could easily progress to a sexual affair.
But, let’s be clear: Having a revenge affair is going to make your life worse, not better. . It ends up doing more damage, to your marriage and to your own soul. In fact, before you embark on one, you might as well draw up the divorce papers, because that’s where you’re likely to end up. It’s disastrous.
Revenge affairs don’t work. When you have a revenge affair, your spouse doesn’t feel the same level of betrayal. Instead they generally end up feeling better after the revenge affair, because there is something inside human beings that experiences guilt – that feels we need to be punished, to pay a price for our wrongs. If we pay a price (our debt), then we can be forgiven, restored and released from our guilt (we think). If the Betrayed Spouse has a revenge affair, the unfaithful spouse got their punishment. The price has been paid. Their guilt is diminished. They feel better about themselves, not worse. So the revenge affair does not have its intended outcome.
It’s like saying, “well, if she did it, now I’m off the hook! Great!” Guilt, shame, and a desire to fix the marriage are often washed away in one great tide caused by the revenge affair. In fact, you may have given your spouse a guilt-free reason to walk out on you. Or have another affair. Or both. They won’t feel pain. They will feel RELIEF! They may even think that now they have the green light to re-ignite their affair or move on to another affair partner. Your revenge affair has given them the excuse by removing your ability to express moral outrage for their behavior.
And then they may show you the door. That’s what I would do at this point. It would destroy any chance of marital reconciliation.
Revenge affairs also fail to make the initially Betrayed Spouse feel better, like they think it would. They think, “He/she got to go out and have all that fun. I’ll go out and have that fun too.” The problem is, when you go out and have an intentional affair, it’s usually not that fun. When the initially unfaithful spouse first has their affair there is a thrill and an excitement as they gradually slide across boundaries.
A non-revenge affair is, frankly, different than a revenge affair. The typical love affair will often start at work, or some other similar contact point, sharing emails which gradually become compliments, flirtations, sharing of information that’s more personal than should be shared, and eventually even explicit. The next thing you know they’re all excited to check their emails, or get on their computers, or meet that person at the water cooler at work again, trying to time their coffee breaks at the same time, to get another compliment. Everyday is getting more and more exciting (and this is often long before the unfaithful spouse is even aware they’re getting caught up in an affair).
However, for the Revenge Cheater, who merely decides, “I’m just going to go sleep with somebody!”, this is not out of the motivation of excitement, unmet needs and longing. It’s instead an expression of anger and pain. You don’t get to experience the fun of an affair. Revenge affairs don’t give you the same thrill, excitement or the chemical high that you think they will.
Instead you feel scummy, especially after.
Revenge Affairs rarely yield the expected result, and often have consequences not considered by the Revenge Cheater. The infidelity victim may think he or she is teaching the cheating spouse a lesson, or showing the cheater how it feels to be cheated on. But revenge cheating rarely has the intended effect. Instead of solving the problem, it could actually make a bad situation worse.
There’s always the danger that the revenge affair could backfire and produce the opposite results. The cheater who is being retaliated against by his or her the infidelity victim’s revenge affair as an excuse to continue cheating on their mate, or as justification to have other affairs.
A revenge affair is often the beginning of a downward spiral that will eventually destroy what’s left of the marriage or relationship.
You might feel exhilarated with the thought that it’s not just your partner who can play this game. Since you know about his/her affair, perhaps you think that once he/she finds out about your affair, he/she would apologize and want to come back. Or if we look at the scenario from a completely different point of view, maybe you want him/her to suffer the same pain, betrayal, and heartache as you once felt. Whatever the reason behind this affair may be, in the end, it’s only you who has to deal with it. Getting over an affair is not easy, but lowering yourself to their level, losing face in front of yourself is not the only way. You may think that the pain you went through could be inflicted to your partner by this affair, but the results could be either way. If he/she was oblivious enough to have an affair in the first place and cheat on you, what makes you think that he/she would give a damn. Your dignity and self-esteem are the two most important things in your life, so don’t waste it after an adulterous partner.
Revenge, retaliation, vengeance: these approaches to dealing with pain may seem initially satisfying – and they can certainly energize us out of the numbing depression that betrayal can impose – but in the long run revenge only eats up the souls of those who invest energy in it.
And if you have children together, and they know (or may know one day in the future), then the unfaithful spouse can feel redeemed by saying, “well, mommy/daddy had an affair too.”
There is also the issue of the other person you have the revenge affair with. You will be using this person in a selfish way, and that person didn’t do anything to you to deserve that. At some point this person will likely get hurt. How can hurting yet another individual be okay? How do you live with yourself using someone else this way?
Oh yeah and by the way? Male responses to a cheating spouse or partner sometimes are characterized by domestic violence. You’re risking a lot to even the score, in this case.
So before you engage in the same immoral, tawdry activity your spouse did, ask yourself these questions:
- “How does me becoming a lesser person make things right?
- “What kind of person am I if I allow my spouses bad choices to cause me to make bad choices too?
- “Am I going to lower my standards, just because they lowered their standards?
- “If they choose to be lesser, how does me choosing to be lesser make things right?
- “Am I going to lose my dignity just because they made a choice to lose theirs?”
Two wrongs. Or 4. Or 10. ….still don’t make a right.
The best revenge is to refuse to compromise your dignity or your principles by stooping to the cheater’s level and having a revenge affair. The best thing to do is to seek qualified professional help in order to deal with the trauma of the affair, and move forward with or without the cheater, move on with your life.
So if you’re thinking seriously about having retaliatory affair, consider the advice below:
• Don’t lower yourself to the cheater’s level by cheating too. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
• Don’t sell out your own dignity or compromise your principles just because your wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend had an affair.
• Seek qualified professional help in dealing with the discovery or the aftermath of an affair.
• Remember – revenge may make you feel better for the moment, but in the long run it’s not worth the time and effort.
I believe all affairs are wrong. I’ve been very consistent on that point in my blog. I learned the hard way. If you are that unhappy in your marriage, leave. But I do think redemption is possible. I’m living it. I try and look at all actions by both the Wayward and Betrayed through the prism of “Does this help the marriage or hinder it? Is this a positive thing to say/do to help in reconciling the marriage, or is it a step back?” To me, the revenge affair is one of the worst possible reactions to affairs and will almost always lead to the end of the marriage, and other, possibly, worse consequences.
I don’t suggest doing it.
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