It’s a cold hard truth that each of us have likely been touched by an affair or cheating in one way or another. Whether we’ve only seen it on big screen, heard a friend’s teary tale or been the one doing the sneaking around, an affair is a concept only too familiar.
As to why a man or woman might stray from their partner, well, there’d be countless reasons. We reached out to sex therapist and educator, Jacqueline Hellyer, to find out what these may be.
“A large proportion of the clients I see are dealing with affairs, and the majority of those are married women who have had an affair, are having an affair, are on the brink of succumbing to an affair or are flirting with the idea of having an affair.
So it’s very common.
In my own clinical experience, these are some of the reasons women have affairs. These reasons don’t excuse it, and many of the reasons don’t really make sense, but here they are:
1. Her husband has lost interest in having sex with her;
2. She’s bored sexually and her husband isn’t adventurous enough;
3. Her husband is a sexual bully and she’s found a man who is tender and loving;
4. Her husband is too soft a lover and she’s found a ‘bad boy’;
5. She loves her husband but has lost interest in him sexually;
6. Her husband doesn’t make her feel sexy and her lover does.
7. She’s stressed and overwhelmed and the affair is a bubble of peace;
8. Her husband is critical and hurtful, and her lover is kind and loving;
9. Her life is boring and the affair makes it more stimulating;
10. Her husband is distant and her lover provides the intimacy she craves.
No doubt there are many more reasons - as many reasons as there are adulterous women!
What’s the common thread here? She’s unhappy. She’s either unhappy in her relationship, or she’s unhappy with her life and her relationship is not supporting her to address her unhappiness.
So, if you want to move on from an affair then you need to address the root cause of the unhappiness and turn that around.
That will undoubtedly include personal issues, relationship issues and lifestyle issues. Without addressing those underlying causes, no matter how remorseful she might be, if the problem is still there, then there’s a risk she’ll do it again (or do something else damaging such as become an alcoholic or overeat.)
Of course, if the husband knows, you need to address his hurt. He has been betrayed and trust is gone. It can seem impossible to move on from that. But you can, if the remorse is there and the underlying issues are addressed.
An affair can even make you stronger as you become more self-aware, better able to communicate and better able to deal with difficult issues. When dealing with an affair it’s a double whammy of difficult issues - the deceit and the underlying cause.
There’s no one way of dealing with an affair, and you probably will never quite ‘understand’ it. Affairs are rarely cold and calculating, they are more likely irrational and emotional. Often in retrospect they look ridiculous, but at the time they make you feel better, and that is the attraction, the intoxication, of affairs.
How you deal with it will depend on you as individuals and as a couple. You need to be strong and committed, as it’s usually quite a process. You have to be prepared to both be more honest and more vulnerable than you have ever been before. All the illusions are gone, it’s time to be real.
Once you get real though, positive change can occur, and you have the opportunity to create a truly great relationship.”