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How does emotional infidelity begin?


Emotional infidelity begins with neglect which itself stems from a lack of appreciation and value. In short, it arises from a deep emotional need within us when our feelings are unfulilled and when one's emotional health is low, especially through lack of ATTENTION.

People fall in love, become starry eyed at the prospect, ignore the warning signs of incompatibility at the beginning of the friendship then slowly repent their choice when things begin to go pear-shaped later on. Emotional infidelity often becomes a substitute for what is missing in a partnership but, given the right opportunity and circumstances, it can be physically realised.

In any relationship, everyone wants to be treated with love and respect, to be valued and desired. When that does not happen, a feeling of isolation and rejection takes its place. For some reason, perhaps because of the need for security, once people become settled with each other, they tend to take each other for granted. The little things they used to do for one another, the loving acts they delighted in during courtship, the obvious value they placed on each other, tend to take a back seat while partners become weighed down with domestic and career responsibilities. It is not too long before one or both parties begin to feel lonely, left out or unappreciated. In such a case, affection and sex are usually the main things which gradually disappear. If not addressed, it eventually turns into neglect and acute loneliness - and the worst form of loneliness is one which is shared with a partner.

When someone feels neglected it leads to unfulfilled yearnings, particularly around what is absent from their lives. It isn't long before the person, male or female, begins to yearn for what is possible. It might start from admiring a celebrity in an appreciative way, then switches to more realistic targets like a neighbour, a work colleague, someone online, a friend or a complete stranger. For people closer to home, it might begin with just talking, bantering, making jokes or sharing life circumstance. It is not long before they will also be sharing the problems in their lives and offering emotional support to each other.

Sooner or later, there is likely to be either quiet or expressed desires around that person, wishing to be with them, to be loved by them and to be close to them. The main difference with emotional infidelity and physical infidelity is that most times the party doesn't want to leave their spouse, to cause any hurt to them or to break up their family for the object of their affections. They just love the warm feelings, the attention, in particular, and the feeling of appreciation and value they get from that friend or stranger.

One might never physically meet the object of that desire, but the mere thought of dreaming about what is possible with them, affectionately and sexually, and imagining warm thoughts of value around them begin the emotional infidelity process. This can often lead to the real thing if what is lacking in that person's life is not admitted, discussed or addressed at all.

There is a mistaken belief that emotional infidelity is 'harmless' and doesn't really matter in the life of a couple; that it is mainly fantasy and only occurs in one's head. It's nothing like the real thing. However, that is not true. Emotional infidelity is usually the beginning of the physical thing, the precursor to it. It simply needs the feelings to get worse, the object of desire to be accessible and the opportunity to bring it to life. The rest is often inevitable.

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Why Do Some Men Cheat?


Q. Elaine, why do some men cheat when they have a good woman? Surely, such men are no good bastards!

A. Obviously, we know that women cheat too. But as the question refers to you personally, I will only deal with men here.

Men cheat for all sorts of reasons, sometimes it is simply because they can do it, or the opportunity is available. But cheating is done primarily by three types of men: those with low self esteem, those who are unhappy at home and those who are afraid of commitment and are seeking 'fun'.

Low Self Esteem
Overall, cheating is done by men with mixed, conflicting or weak values. They are not firm in their commitment, in their identity of who they wish to be, neither are they sure of what they really want in life. They tend to have low self-esteem and a lack of trust in others. No matter how 'good' or faithful the partner is, having one woman is not enough. There is always someone better outside. Perhaps being deprived of expressive love when they were younger, particularly from their mothers, there is always a doubt in their minds as to how worthy they are to women. Add to that, the competitive nature of their world, where they are always trying to impress their peers, and the usual answer is also to try to impress as many women as they can to uplift their feelings of self worth - regardless of the quality of life at home. But that merely causes heartache for the chosen women, while reinforcing the men's low self-esteem as 'bad' guys or 'bastards' in a never-ending circle.

The serial philanderer is marked by a strong desire to 'prove' something, though he is not quite sure what that is. However, it is usually about his virility, control of women, or ability to attract women. Men who go from one woman to another are also the worst at having that done to them, always feeling indignant at their women daring to fancy someone else because that is all part of what they are trying to prove, that they are the best lovers. Yet they are likely to be very poor lovers because it is always about them, no one else, and so they tend to take instead, finding it very difficult to truly give of themselves.

Unhappy Men

Married men, and those in long term relationships, cheat mainly because they believe that having a short-term affair will temporarily resolve any problems they have at home and prevent them from 'hurting' anyone long term. The fact that their partner is already being hurt by their lack of attention and affection - and being prevented from finding love too - does not seem to come into the picture. There are three problems with this approach.

First, it stops the major conflicts in the relationship being acknowledged, explored and addressed. Second, it makes the situation worse because any liaison only proves starkly what is already missing at home, especially sexually. Thirdly, it deliberately ignores the fact that the man is taking his affections elsewhere which begs the question: How does giving one's self to someone else shows love and affection for the person left at home and, above all, accord her due respect for her love and support?

Finally, men in relationships stray through a conflict of perception. What their women perceive that men want from them might not be necessarily what those men actually desire, and women seldom seek to find out because they are afraid of the answers! So after the honeymoon period is over, when their heartfelt desires haven't been fulfilled, spouses soon seek it elsewhere. In the meantime the women who are affected turn on the men and blame them for their 'bad' behaviour instead of looking into themselves to see where they have missed a connection and, at worse, getting out of their demoralising situation. It is always easier to vilify others because it stops us looking at ourselves, but women aren't tied to philandering men. They can actually make a life for themself on their terms by CHOOSING to act differently. Each person is responsible for their lives. It is fear which keeps them stuck while they wait in vain for the men to change.

Fearing Commitment
The next major group of 'cheating' men are the ones who fear commitment. They want a 'secure' home, with all the trimmings, one they can return to at the end of the day, but they do not like to perceive themselves as 'married' or long term partners, stuck to one person. They like to keep their options open and so they seek 'fun', which carries the implication that marriage, or being in a relationship, is 'serious' business so one has to get the fun outside! They miss the supreme irony that if they are in a really great relationship, it would be automatic in fun and enjoyment because any relationship is supposed to make them happy. Not make them feel so terrible that they need to have 'fun' elsewhere. This category also contains ageing men who are worried about getting older and believe that by starting again with someone else, usually someone younger, it will give them a new lease of life and make them feel better, while they preserve the status quo at home to ensure the benefits from both sides.

Women as 'Victims'

I believe your question not only affects men. Women also condone such cheating by their behaviour in sustaining it through fear of the consequences of their own reaction, and the pay-off they get from having the men with them. Women who put up with such soul-destroying behaviour by constantly 'forgiving', have no self-love or respect either. They are prepared to forgive for their own benefit too. There is always some pay-off for doing that, otherwise they would not be living in denial hoping the men will change when only self-change guarantees real alteration in such situations.

Many times it is also to 'punish' the men for their actions, but they only end up punishing themselves through ongoing bitterness, resentment and pain, while becoming less attractive in the process! Negativity only destroys, it doesn't build anything. So if your man is a serial philanderer, you really are only hurting yourself and need to get out of there. Everyone is entitled to a second chance. But if he is on his third affair, he has had two chances too many, and will merely continue doing it because your presence teaches him that he can get away with it.

Women in these situations usually believe that they 'love' the men who perpetuate such gross disrespect to them, and they are loved in return. But it has nothing to do with love. Love does not seek to hurt. Love appreciates, is unconditional and at its heart is respect for the individual. Where there is no respect for a person and their feelings, there is no love. And whereever someone will continually put up with something that is detrimental to themself, while they keep blaming another for their predicament, you will find firm evidence of the absence of their own self-love and respect.

There will also be the deep-seated belief that they do not deserve anything better. They are likely to believe that their man, as 'bad' as he is, will be the only one to love them. And so they stay put, trying to 'love' their man, while dying inside from exclusion, hurt and neglect. Very sad, indeed, but only they have the power to change their situation by seeing it for what it really is: simple, relentless emotional abuse which will damage them in the end.

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Is it really cheating to engage in online relationships while you are married or living with someone?


Q. If you are either married or in a serious relationship, would you consider it to be cheating if your spouse or significant other was engaging in an online relationship with someone else? This would include chatting, online sex, etc. Would you feel as if you had been betrayed? I mean let's face it, nowadays this stuff is everywhere on the Internet.

A. Personally, I believe any kind of online relationship, no matter how platonic, should be regarded as cheating, especially if the other party is not aware of it. Many people are tempted to believe that because they might never meet the online date, or they are not being intimate, that does not count as cheating, but the intent to deceive has three distinct parts.

First, there is INTENTION. The minute we have the intention to seek out someone else behind our partner's back and talk to them on our own, we have an intention which is not in the other party's interest or for the wellbeing of the relationship. It doesn't matter if we haven't acted on it yet, we still intend to deceive, for whatever reason, one that will benefit only us and no one else. Otherwise we would involve our partners in it.

Second, is the DECISION. From simple intention follows the decision to either leave it as a thought or carry it out. In most cases it soon becomes a fact because of the ease of finding willing parties to engage in illicit liaisons, the total anonymity of such connections and the discreet way they can be maintained without partners finding out. Once a decision is taken to proceed, that is the most dangerous time because of the potential for damage to the current relationship. The die is cast and the next stage has to follow.

Third, is ACTION. Once that decision has been made, action follows swiftly. It really doesn't matter the nature of the action, whether sex is involved or not, it is likely to lead to intimacy, especially where the parties have that as an objective. Whether the two people ever meet is beside the point, there is some cheating taking place.

Often many people believe that so long as there is no physicality in it, then they are having 'harmless fun'. But there is nothing harmless about dallying with a potential date because either party can progress that liaison depending on their objective. A person would be kidding themself if they say they are happy yet are still seeking diversions without their partner's knowledge. The key point here is that if someone is really happy at home with what they have they won't care about hooking up with someone else for anything, unless it is a mutual friend they can share with their partner. If that is not the case, they are simply pleasing themselves without any thought for how it might affect their partners, and that has no other name than cheating.

For me, once I have a partner, he comes first. I might have professional friends and colleagues but they would not be hidden from him. The minute I seek someone else for attention and otherwise, no matter how innocent it might seem, I would be crossing a different line which would put the relationship at risk. The bottom line is that any attention given to someone else online is transferring my emotions away from the one I love, not towards them!

Do You Read Your Partner's Private Emails?


In a short answer, 'Never', unless it is openly shared! I might read things I don't want to see.

A relationship is based upon trust. If there is no trust, there is no relationship. Period. Just two people sharing the same space in an air of suspicion and insincerity. Trust also comes out of a feeling of confidence in the spouse, personal security in the situation and a feeling of being valued by a partner. When that reassurance is gone, or we believe we have cause to doubt, the trust begins to ebb away.

No self-respecting person would read another's email, if they are in a genuine relationship. If you feel you have to watch your spouse constantly, you doubt what they say or do, and you are not feeling any more secure with discussions, then you are in the wrong place. Relationships are supposed to make us happy not keep us feeling anxious and fretful. There is nothing worse than living with doubt and suspicion as constant companions. That is very stressful and erodes the heart of the relationship. Above all, we cannot talk about honesty in a relationship if there is routine mistrust.

I used to know a guy whose wife suspected him of having affairs. One day he went to the shops and forgot his wallet. He returned home to find his wife with it in her hand standing at the door, having searched it. She then added for good measure, "I have had a good look and haven't found anything this time, but I am watching you." For some reason, he laughed when he told me that, but I found it terribly sad to see so little trust and, worse still, such a marked lack of respect between them. Not surprisingly, they divorced a year later. If he was being treated like a child that is no adult relationship!

When we love someone, respect and trust are at the heart of that love. If those key attributes are no longer part of the relationship, then doubts and suspicion take over. If we cannot communicate our fears to a partner, then we are living in denial. Invading their privacy is never an answer. Once we start to read someone's mail, or search their stuff, that's the beginning of the end, because no relationship can really exist in such a guarded, insecure and jealous atmosphere.

How low self esteem in relationships often causes people to cheat


Most people who cheat do so because of low self-esteem. It is likely to be something they have acquired during the relationship. Very few people cheat if the relationship at home is satisfying. Whenever anyone cheats it is often a sign that something fundamental is missing with the partner which they then go out to seek. Often it is based around any of five elements in the partnership, which are often difficult to spot, yet can wreak lethal havoc.

The main reason people cheat is due to a lack of value and respect. They genuinely believe they are not valued at home, for whatever reason. In fact, when cheaters don't love themselves very much, they often transfer that lack of self love to their spouse, believing the spouses do not care enough about them either. Hence why one person might love another greatly, but the partner still cheats because they find it hard to accept that love unconditionally. Everyone wishes to be significant and valued. When they feel as though they are taken for granted, are being used for convenience or have little value to their spouse, they are likely to find that value with someone else!

The second reason is often a lack of love and affection. Wherever there is a lot of resentment in a relationship, it is likely that love and affection is being withheld by one or both parties. Soon there is a feeling of neglect, especially when sex has lessened or ceased too, which makes the partners more prone to seek that love and affirmation somewhere else. The worst thing between a couple is for one of the parties to feel lonely. It is very bad because it limits the choice a partner has in order to feel valued and wanted. If one is single, one can always go on a date etc. But if one lives with a partner, yet feels lonely, that's the worst condition to be in. It does affect one's self esteem, badly, because one then feels unwanted, yet unable to do anything about it.

A very important part of being with someone is the need for validation and attention. If the closest person to you does not validate you, does not confirm what you mean to them, does not reinforce who you are and wish to be, it can precipitate a feeling of being abandoned and uncared for. Most cheaters do not feel validated or affirmed, neither do they get much attention. They often feel neglected, especially if there is also a lack of love and affection, and there will seldom be any real conversation either, mainly accusations and blame. Once we are not validated by those who matter, we lose our feeling of significance which then precipitates an overriding feeling to seek it elsewhere.

When any of the three key elements mentioned above are missing, self esteem goes into freefall and the person is likely to feel a failure. Gradually, it has a knock-on effect on everything that person does, especially their job, because they are constantly unhappy, anxious and stressed. It is difficult to feel good about one's self when there is so much missing from one's life. Sooner or later, the cheater will be seeking to replace them through someone else.

Finally, there is often a loss of personal confidence which then has a domino effect on everything else. One cannot have good confidence with low self esteem. Hence why many cheaters often suffer in silence for a while, feeling low and hurt, until they feel compelled to do something about it in order to boost their confidence and improve their esteem.

There are many relationships where partners have settled into a rut, taking their spouses for granted, living in resentment and hurt, withholding affirmation and attention, value and respect. Those are the kinds of relationship that are most vulnerable because living with someone else should enhance our happiness, not make us feel worse. Otherwise that's totally counter productive to what a relationship should be about and so, not surprisingly, they eventually hit the buffers.

Is your relationship heading for an affair?


People affected by affairs, especially the victims of it, tend to spend a lot of time blaming the perpetrator or wondering why it happened. Many relationships are often killed by an affair but, according to John M Gottman, a marriage psychologist and author of The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work, who studied over 650 married couples, "an affair is usually the symptom of a dying marriage (relationship) rather than the cause of it". It means that affairs do not come out of nowhere. They are triggered by a dysfunctional relationship which is burdened by negativity, has lost most of its positivity, has seen little real friendship between the couple and is highly unequal.

In such a situation, the people involved begin to experience more pain than happiness, but are not sure how to resolve those negative feelings. Instead, they cope by disengaging themselves from each other emotionally. Gradually, they begin to feel lonely because of that emotional separation and begin to look outwards for affirmation to stem the loneliness and lack of joy.

There are seven triggers of unhappiness in a relationship and yours could be in danger if too many of them are allowed to dominate it:

1. Harsh startups:
Discussions that begin with criticism, sarcasm or contempt instead of a willingness to listen.

2. Constant criticism:

Instead of complaining about the action of your spouse you constantly criticise and attack them instead. Yet, actions can always be changed.

3. Contempt:

This includes any form of sneering, eye rolling, mockery or name calling aimed at the other party. It does not show much respect for the other person's feelings.

4. Defensiveness:
One person tends to make out that the other person is always at fault, implying that they, personally, would not have contributed to the situation in any way.

5. Stonewalling:
Opting out of a discussion by refusing to listen to the other party in order to reduce the further possibility of being hurt. This is not only disrespectful of the spouse, and frustrating for them, but it merely builds up further resentment and anger for the future as the problem is never resolved if one person is usually removing him/herself from the discussion.

6. Emotional flooding:

A partner is frequently overwhelmed by verbal attacks from the other, or both engage in this to get their points across. However, that can actually affect someone physically through raised heart rate, blood pressure and adrenalin. In time, the verbal attacks become 'a threat to our very survival' and the parties perhaps begin to stonewall or take flight to escape it.

7. Failure to use repair mechanisms:

Not stopping heated arguments to pause and take stock, to calm down or to use humour to lighten the atmosphere. That robs the couple of the repair tools they could use to alleviate the situation.

To have two or three of these elements in a relationship is bad enough, but to have all seven of them, as I did, consistently for a few years, would be unbearable which would make divorce, no matter what caused it, an inevitable conclusion.

Keys to a great relationship
Gottman's research revealed that the key to a wonderful mutually enjoyable relationship is simple 'friendship' between the couple, routine give and take, which I prefer to call 'reciprocity'. They have a 'fondness and admiration' for each other as equals; they are there for each other to support hopes and ambitions and they are willing to make sacrifices for one another so that both can achieve their dreams instead of one person losing out at another's expense. Moreover they do not wait for special moments to show how much they care for each other. This is expressed on a daily basis in "small, routine, trivial acts of appreciation" and love. It seems that it is when couples stop acknowledging each other and stop sharing power that the rot begins to set in.

How is your relationship doing just now?

How Should I React if I Catch My Boyfriend Cheating?


Q. I have just found out that my boyfriend (now ex!) has been cheating on me with a friend. This bastard, who wasted a year of my life, has agreed to finish it. I am so upset I have asked all my friends to diss him.

A. Can I ask you a special favour? Don't go there! Please.

Blubbering, accusing, stalking and condemning will only vindicate why you were dumped. The only way to take revenge in such situations is to rise above it quickly and show the real love and respect he seems to be lacking. You were very happy in those 12 months and that's what you should focus on. People come into our lives for one of 4 reasons, only one of them permanent. But we burden every meeting with expectations of permanence and when that doesn't happen, we get angry and disappointed. We feel undervalued and used.

But that person has done their job and left. We should learn from it and move on, knowing someone even better is likely to be in the wings; not wallow in its negativity. You should not vilify others just because it has not worked out. That's immature. It only says more about you and your need to control than the other person. Often when we are hurt, we immediately forget what that person gave us or what they contributed to our lives. We focus just on the awful bits and seek revenge.

But what you should keep your eye on is this:
Just because he likes someone else doesn't make you any less appealing or wonderful. There will ALWAYS be someone else who appreciates you. He came into your life at a point when you needed him. He was there for you for 12 months of joy until you found out about him. You both decided to let it lie. Don't put him down now, otherwise, you also put yourself down in the process and that is not very attractive.

Be generous and better than he was by thanking him for being there for you, while adding that you feel sad that he was not more honest. Tell him that you accept that, obviously, his standards are lower than you thought, which would make him incompatible with you, but that's life. He has only betrayed himself and his values, not yours. He merely disappointed your expectations. In this way, you also keep your dignity and respect.

Any relationship is an agreed acceptance that two strangers are TRYING to make it work between them, especially when they are likely to be very different personality and aspirations. By acknowledging the TRYING aspect, both parties also accept that the partnership might carry on forever, or it might break down tomorrow, but the element of a conclusion is ever present. It isn't removed just because one party wishes for something else to happen. So, best to just to enjoy every moment with few expectations and then be surprised, rather than expect permanence and be severely disappointed.

Despite how rejected you might be feeling, you must try to be positive and resist the temptation to be vindictive because EVERYTHING we give out in life comes back to us in the future, as night follows day. If you carry on railing against him because of his actions, someone will come into your life later who will treat you even worse. It is called the Law of Attraction. You cannot attract positive people if you spend your time being negative. Your negative vibes will continue to keep good people away.

Carmen, it takes two for a relationship and each person has to be who they are. People cannot be who you want them to be. Just because he has violated your expectations does not make him any less of a person in deserving of some dignity. When we take up animosity against another it simply drags us down too, reduces our credibility and makes us no better than that person. He also did not waste any time in your life. You had the choice to move away from him at any point. You didn't, because you liked him too and what you were getting, so his love would have changed you in some way for the better.

What many people fail to realise with relationships is that life is a journey and every person we meet is designed to propel us forward on that journey to the next station, to fulfil our potential and aspirations in various ways. Very few are there to accompany us all the way. We LEARN through those relationships and there is ALWAYS a good reason why they don't last. We simply have to move on quickly to get what's waiting for us. If we learn from our mistakes, the new relationship is usually better because we are more experienced to know how to deal with it. It is always difficult to recover from betrayal. But if we keep an eye on the positive things we have, we move on much quicker instead of allowing our lives to be eaten up and destroyed by anger.

There are always two sides to a story, Carmen, and your friends are only hearing your side. It is very important that this side is seen to be fair. You seem a really intelligent woman, who lacks self-esteem and confidence just now. Please use that talent positively and you will rise above insecure guys like that. Give thanks for his attention, wallow in the negativity for just ONE day or one week, no more, wish him well and move on. You will be all the better for it. Better still, you will attract the kind of person you seek as you won't be tempted to bore them silly about your last bad experience.

True love is unconditional. It accepts that person as is, not as we wish them to be. Give thanks for someone coming into your life to love you. Many people will never have that opportunity. However, if he is clearly not the right type for you because of his behaviour, then you are better off without him. Try to focus on the future now and leave him firmly in your past. You have done your bit for his journey and now deserve much better.

He says his affair was 'not his fault'!


Q. During a conversation I heard of a friend whose husband had an affair but it wasn't his fault?? Reason - he was seduced! What a cop out. IMO no male or female can be seduced against their will. I think the spouse or partner who accepts that excuse is only looking for it to happen again. What do you think? Would you accept that excuse and forgive?

A. How can anyone say that having an affair with someone is not his fault when it takes two people to have an affair? Unless he was kidnapped, drugged and forced against his will, that is sheer baloney. Anyone who believes that wants to believe it because they are afraid of the consequences of facing the truth and dealing with it: that their partner has cheated on them and doesn't even have the gumption to admit it and face the problems in the relationship.

That couple are both living in fantasy land, feeding off each other's delusions and they are going to come down to earth with a big bump in due course when the guy does it again because, as night follows day, he will be repeating it with someone else and trying another excuse. By accepting his lame excuse without challenging his cheating behaviour she is reinforcing his actions, with no respect for herself in the bargain. She desperately wants to blame someone else to prevent her blaming her husband so she accepts anything he says. I think it is very sad and sounds like a relationship in deep trouble. They will have to face the truth of their situation eventually but, by then, there could be an awful lot of pain involved for her.

No, I would not accept that excuse or forgive him, especially as he is implying that he could not help himself. One would then wonder if that is how he would behave every time someone showed him some attention. By his own 'victim' admission, he is showing that he has no gumption or maturity to put off potential seducers and behave responsibly. I might have forgiven him if he owned up and address the issues, but to deny accountability and personal responsibility is just the pits ad deserves no quarter. He would be behaving like a child and I would want a real man for a partner. So definitely no forgiveness there.

What do you do if your boyfriend has cheated on you with a one-night stand?


Q. You confronted your boyfriend and he admitted that it happen. He explained that he was so drunk at that time, and the girl, who happens to be a friend of his friend, is flirting on him. How should you as a person in a relationship react with this? Would you give him a chance or what?

A. There are two main things to consider in such situations: the fact that he says he was so drunk as to have a one night stand without thinking too much about it in the first place, and the fact that he also did that, which betrayed your trust.

If I took his word for it that he was too drunk to control his behaviour, then I would have to ask myself if I wanted to continue to live with a drinker who could easily lose control on occasions and shag anything in sight. I would need to ask whether that will be a repeat occurrence every time he drinks, as he is blaming it on the drink, and whether I could trust him again to drink without repeating his actions. Those would be very real concerns for me because we are all responsible for our actions. No matter what state we are in, self control indicates that we are thinking, feeling human beings who know how to act in the company of others. If he is saying that being drunk leads to that kind of behaviour, what is he saying about himself and the future?

Second, if he thinks nothing of sleeping with someone else, though he is dating you, would he have been happy if you did that too? Does he expect you to accept it and carry on as normal when trust is the essence of any relationship?

Only you know how you can treat him after that folly, depending on how much he and the relationship mean to you. But I think once the indignation is out of the way, the first question to ask your fellow is what attracted him to that woman in the first place. When people start to stray it is a sure sign that something is missing from the relationship. Partners can feel mad and angry at a betrayal, but if they ignore its underlying causes, it is likely to repeat itself. You have been going four years. Are things taken for granted? Is there an element of boredom creeping in? Is the attraction between you wearing off? Does he not feel affirmed and valued enough? Why he is drinking so much? Could it be that it is simply time for you both to seek new pastures?

Time for some self reflection and examination here because once attraction goes between two people, it does not return, neither can it be manufactured. Things just gradually get worse. My guess is that the one night stand is a symptom of something deeper. Perhaps it is time to begin the communication to see how you can save the relationship, or to simply call it a day. But if you do decide to stick with him, then you have to really forgive hi for it to work, and not keep reminding him of it. Of course, if it is repeated, you then have your answer about your future.

5 Tell-tale signs that your relationship is in danger from an affair


A relationship in trouble is often not addressed by the two people involved perhaps because they prefer to be in denial about it, or they might feel something is wrong but are not quite sure what it is. They might also fear the consequences of what could happen if they actually face those problems early on and so choose to do nothing, and things merely get worse. But the signs that a relationship is in trouble are always there, revealing themselves in the shape of five main factors.

1. The couple has long since taken each other for granted. Acts of loving and giving are likely to have faded leaving very little in their place except needy companionship. Both parties might feel resentful of the situation, but they probably only complain, or are silent about it, or take it out on each other in mean little acts of disrespect. But the emphasis here is on a loss of mutual respect as they lose the capacity to appreciate each other. They gradually become two strangers living in the same house through expediency and familiarity and because of the neglectful way they come to treat each other.

2. Communication lessens. People tend not to communicate when a relationship is hitting the buffers because communication is often used as criticism instead of reinforcement. They find it hard to express what is really affecting them and so certain subject areas become taboo and they often seek friends or others outside the relationship to confide in instead. Conversation soon becomes mechanical, predictable and functional, because the joy of communicating has gone and real communication, which would reveal true feelings, or expose resentment and anger, is avoided as often as possible.

3. Shared activities begin to decrease. In troubled relationships, people often retreat into their own world because there is little joy in doing things together. The attraction would have gone entirely, or dramatically lessened, and with it would go the desire to do anything with that person because of the negative feelings which are developing between them. This is a time when a spouse might take up going to the pub/club a lot and leaving the wife on her own, or she might wish to be with friends at every opportunity, having lost the desire to even share a holiday with her spouse. They gradually prefer to do things by themselves. Altogether, they begin to become single people in their actions without even realising it.

4. Sex gradually becomes non-existent or perfunctory. Often sex might be the only thing connecting the couple still, as the genuine love, care and attention, would be on the slide. But soon the sex will disappear too, with one or both parties beginning to feel lonely, rejected and unwanted, regardless of what the other might do or say. Often it is the physical side of the relationship which reveals the problems first. People who are feeling resentful of each other seldom wish to even embrace or affirm each other, because the increasing resentment would be too much, and so there is a lot of loneliness where people should be feeling appreciated and loved.

5. Emotional connection is eroded. Attraction, affection, affirmation and reinforcement all drive the emotional connections in couples. When a relationships starts to go downhill, emotions are usually high but in a negative way, because the couple begins the switching-off process from each other in a resentful manner. Their emotions are disturbed, having turned from positive to negative. It is difficult to affirm or reinforce partners who have little attraction for us, or who do not validate us in turn. Gradually the affection between couples goes too because of the low emotional connection between them.

Relationships have to be worked at from the first day in order to be successful, but many people mistakenly believe that once they set up home with someone, that's it. They've got them in the bag, their work is done; no more need to impress and nothing more to do to keep their partner. That is sad because the less we put into any relationship, like everything else in life, the less we will actually receive in return and we ultimately lose what we value through neglect.

What should I do if my friend is cheating?


This is a difficult situation to be in: to witness something you believe is wrong, yet are not quite sure what to do about it.

On the face of it, the obvious answer is to do nothing. After all, that person's life is their own and no matter how close you both are in friendship, they have to make the standards and decisions for themselves. You cannot police their behaviour or judge them harshly for it. That is not the role of a true friend.

A good friend would have a quiet chat, be honest about how you feel regarding what is happening, and then leave it there. It is not your place to report that kind of behaviour to anyone else. Everyone has to experience life for themselves, especially when it comes to relationships. The only people who should be taking action are the two people involved because one never knows what is happening behind the scenes.

For example, your friend could be cheating to attract the attention of his/her partner, especially if they feel they might have been taken for granted or things are not going as they wanted. Difficult for people outside to get the measure of the true situation. So have a friendly chat and wish them well. Most important, be there for them later on if things don't go quite right. That is the best and most supportive thing you can do.

If it gets too much for you to deal with, because of your own values, the best thing to do is to find another friend. But doing anything else might well backfire on you and won't help the situation either.

The 3 Main Reasons Why Couples Are Unfaithful


According to a recent survey in the UK, more than 55% of people are unfaithful to their partners. The rise of the mobile phone, Internet dating sites/chat rooms and greater work freedom for both men and women, ensure that it is far easier to have an affair, or start a new relationship with someone, without current partners knowing about it.

It is also very easy to get indignant when our partner strays, to condemn them in vitriolic terms and accuse them of being 'bastards' 'whores' or 'terrible cheats'. But sometimes getting self-righteously angry, without acknowledging one's part in the process, simply delays the inevitable: the final break-down of the relationship.

There are many reasons why partners cheat, each specific to that relationship, but four main ones seem to cause the most damage: 1. Loss of Attraction and Communication 2. Lack of Gratitude and Appreciation 3. Lack of Affirmation and 4. Loss of Significance and Value. No matter why the partner finds someone else attractive, that infidelity will be tied to at least one of those major causes.

1. Loss of Attraction and Communication

When we fall in love, there is no law which says we will remain attracted to that person forever. In fact, mutual attraction and communication depend heavily on the other three reasons being positively embedded into the relationship. Without feeling appreciated, wanted and valued, or being positively affirmed by someone else, we soon lose our feeling of significance, that we actually matter, and go off that person rapidly. In those circumstances, we are bound to find others more attractive because we would stop communicating at home and communicate to others instead.

Often, partners change in unexpected ways, like physically getting bigger in size, or getting more mean and selfish in their actions, which were not there at the beginning. That might cause attraction to wane because it is then tempting to compare others to our partners and find them wanting. In those situations, we tend to find it hard to express our feelings as we are not quite sure what to say.

Nothing tangible has caused the discomfort and unhappiness with our partners, but it is there like a bad smell, constantly making us unhappy. We cannot make someone find us appealing if they don't. So the only certain thing with this reason is that, once attraction goes, communication quickly follows and the relationship is doomed. It is likely to disintegrate gradually or continue in a very unhappy and resentful way after that.

2. Lack of Gratitude and Appreciation

Most relationships buckle under the weight of this reason. We all like to feel appreciated, being shown gratitude for our efforts and the trouble we take to fulfil our partnership role. When we perceive (and it is a matter of personal perception) that the person is not being very thankful or appreciative, it makes us resentful. We then start to pay more attention to the negatives than the positives in the relationship, which is likely to make both parties feel that they cannot do anything right.

There are many relationships in which one party might withhold praise, expressions of love or verbal thanks. BAD MISTAKE! Never assume the other partner should 'know' how you feel. We all want to hear it, see it and be the physical recipients of any appreciation. If we have to wonder about that gratitude or value, the rot has already started to set in. Sometimes gratitude is perceived to be missing because of how we express such thanks.

For example, one party might love to give gifts like flowers, chocolates, clothes, etc., because they believe giving gifts show their love. But the other party might just want to be hugged or TOLD they are wonderful. They do not wish for gifts. Just having the presence and ATTENTION of their partner regularly is thanks enough, and that's their way of showing of love. In this mismatch of expectation, the parties are hardly likely to please each other unless they discuss their needs!

3. Lack of Affirmation
The greatest glue in any relationship which holds it together is mutual affirmation. The worst thing is to tell someone how much you value and love them, but to have nothing coming back at you in a similar fashion. Soon one gets tired of affirming that partner without being affirmed themself which can be very soul-destroying and demotivating. Wherever resentment begins to take over, look no further than a lack of appreciation and affirmation. It means one person is taking far more than they are giving and this increasing imbalance will be the death knell of that relationship. This is a pity, especially when many people are not used to being affirmed and find it hard to affirm others. But we all have to learn sometime and appreciating our partners by affirming them regularly and letting them know how much we value them keeps them attracted to us.

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Why Unfaithfulness Occurs in Some Relationships


Unfaithfulness occurs in relationships for a variety of reasons, depending on the individuals involved. However, there are some key triggers for such behaviour which always include the following.

1. Lack of Value: People who feel insignificant, unappreciated and low in value will seek the remedy to that elsewhere. We all desire a feeling of being wanted, or to belong. When that is absent, some people believe that the answer is to find someone else outside the home who will affirm them and make them feel good about themselves. Initially, the heady feeling of romance, or having new attention, will temporarily resolve the issue. But once reality sets in, or the new liaison is discovered, it merely makes the unfaithful person feel worse and cements the original negative feelings about them.

2. Unhappiness and Disappointment: This situation is primarily caused by unfulfilled expectations, especially around affection and sex, the true killers of relationships. People set up home with differing, and often unrealistic, expectations of what should happen between them. When these are not fulfilled, disappointment and resentment gradually creep in, which change the personal perception from positive to negative. It is easy to become unhappy in such a situation, especially if the couple hasn't learnt to communicate freely with one another. Many partners suffer in silence until they feel they have no option but to seek solace elsewhere.

3. Unable to Express Feelings: For many men and women, it is not so easy to express themselves, their desires or their needs. They tend to be afraid of what the other partner might think, or how their complaint might be interpreted. They stay silent and put up with things which make them increasingly unhappy, or until they cannot take it any more, and then they act. Communication is the key to a great relationship but often people are afraid of hearing things which might affect their ego or for which they have no solutions, especially in relationships where there is a lack of respect. Often one partner's controlling manner, or reluctance to talk/listen, keeps anything from being addressed or resolved. Some people deal with that by pretending it is all the other person's fault then go outside the relationship to be unfaithful themselves.

4. Inability to Commit: Many couples make vows but find them difficult to keep, perhaps because of failed expectations, their own feelings of low esteem and insecurity, their desire to be affirmed and wanted and, most important, their desire for perfection in their partners which leads to disappointment. Some people find committing truly to just one other person difficult because of their own hurt or trauma in the past. No matter how great their partner might be, it is never enough to keep them in the home because they have a different need for approval, or a fear of total commitment, which cannot me met by their spouse. They will always stray because that is how they get their reinforcement as someone of value, especially as a lover.

5. Finally, unfaithfulness is often governed by perception, as the betrayer is likely to feel they are not doing anything wrong. In their eyes their action was merely a response to something they could not control at home. They are likely to convince themselves that they were forced to do it because of the unreasonable behaviour of their partner, which tends to lessen the guilt they might feel and also provides justification for their actions outside.

Two main things about Cheating that couples do not take into account


I posted an article: Should Cheating Spouses Be Forgiven? with a poll and the avalanche of outpouring emotions on it set my mind exploring the subject further. It is clear that a lot of people have been affected by cheating in one way or another. Cheating has left much heartbreak in its wake, lots of bewilderment and incomprehension and, of course, an awful lot of resentment and bitterness. But if we stop focusing on the actual act of cheating and look to the main reasons behind it, it would make better sense to us and make us more aware of how we could stem it.

Forget everything else in a relationship: the vows, the commitment, the love, etc.. There are two stark reasons why people cheat on every single occasion and one of them is like the invisible time bomb waiting to happen.

1. Human beings do not stand still, otherwise we would not develop emotionally or physically. We all evolve from one position in our lives to another. Evolution is inevitable, but also invisible, so it is seldom noticed.

2. Humans desire ATTENTION, SIGNIFICANCE and VALUE; someone to make them feel like a king or queen, which they are NOT getting at home, for whatever reason.

First, very few couples take human evolution into account when they take vows or settle down together. They believe that the person making the vows will be able to keep them forever because they will be the SAME person 10 or 20 years down the line. But nothing could be further from the truth. If we did not change, we would be the same person at 45 as we are at 25 with the same looks, aspirations and behaviour. If we were also meant to behave at 50 the way we were at 30, we would remain stuck in our tracks in a time warp. Natural evolution ensures that we are always growing, always thinking new thoughts to aid our development and realise our potential and ALWAYS experimenting to feed a need within us for continuous change and growth. It means that if our partner has not evolved in the same way, if he/she has not kept up with us so that we can relate to them comfortably and lovingly, we will look elsewhere for that affirmation of our new status and new meeting of minds, no natter what vows were made on the big day!

Scientists have proven that our bodies change physically in their cells every 11 months. It means that we are a new person almost every year! Five or 10 years of change would result in almost two strangers living together, especially if the mindsets no longer align with each other. The real wonder is that far more people don't cheat, but many couples choose to live lives of quiet desperation, sexless and loveless, resigned to their increasingly emotionally arid state, rather than to rock the boat or start again. In this way which is dominated by fear they are tied to age-old vows which have long lost their meaning and relevance. The people who took them then would be behaving very differently from when the vows were taken, yet still expect solid adherence to them. Hence when the cheating happens it normally comes as a shock because one partner is likely to be more in the past than in the present.

The need for Attention
Second, people rarely cheat because they want sex. That's what victims of cheating prefer to believe of their spouses to make themselves feel better. Cheating can begin with one simple sentence: "What a lovely dress you're wearing today!" or "You like football too? So do I but my partner hates it." What those statements reveal is the underlying ATTENTION people crave and have stopped getting and the SHARING they need but are deprived of. Many spouses are mean with praise, mean with appreciation, don't give gifts, don't take their partners out at all, don't share much together, don't play games, don't bring flowers, don't tell the man how gorgeous and appreciated he is, for example, because making money soon becomes more important than making love. Many are hardly ever romantic and simply take their partner for granted. They get into a rut of living soon after they settle down, which emphasises security and companionship more than affirmation and love, until someone else comes on the scene.

In these days of breaking relationships, perhaps we need a new approach to commitment to take account of our evolving process. Vows that only last three years and are renewed frequently might be a good idea. That would concentrate the mind wonderfully, because both parties would probably make a bigger effort to appreciate and value each other, especially if one fears that the other might not renew at the end of the three years!

We can call cheaters cowards, lacking in integrity, spineless, or whatever we like. It won't remove the underlying REASONS why people cheat, neither will it stop the cheating either until people take a good, hard look at their relationships regularly, stop the blaming and treat each other with the attention, appreciation and value they both secretly desire.

By the way, 78 people took the poll on the last article so far and, at either extreme, 32% of voters (22 people) said they would never forgive while 22% (15) said they would forgive over and over: "as many times as I feel they deserve". Both extremes are inappropriate in a relationship. One stance is too inflexible, given our evolution, and the other is too accepting, which denotes low self esteem and a desire to please at any emotional cost. Life is full of grey areas and twists and turns, therefore being firm but flexible in one's actions and intentions is always the best way to be.

Should Cheating Spouses Be Forgiven?


Only once. If you keep forgiving that person, respect for you will gradually go as they repeat the betrayal for good measure. You then become a 'soft touch' or doormat while the person pleases him/herself.

The reason why cheating spouses deserve forgiveness at least once is because no one leaves a fulfilling and satisfactory relationship to seek happiness elsewhere. Something is missing from that home, more likely communication, sex, attention, appreciation, affection or simply being heard. Often wives do not want to address the issue, pretending there isn't a problem and the man is simply being unreasonable. Instead, they are likely to put all the blame, hurt or pain squarely on the the cheating partners while continuing in the same vein. Of course, nothing gets any better while the resentment and mistrust get worse.

The problem with many relationships is that women tend to cope differently with problems than men. Most women would prefer to discuss it or sulk etc., until it is sorted or addressed. Many men genuinely believe that if they are unhappy, they should bear it quietly or seek solace outside. In that way 'no one gets hurt', especially as they believe they won't be found out. Except, of course, that they are found out in many instances and then things get even worse. The simple reason is that any kind of remedial action we take makes us feel better and act differently, which then makes it easier to detect!

Everyone is entitled to one mistake or negative action. However, repeated behaviour by one party which clearly hurts the other, means there is a basic lack of respect for the spouse. Forgiving an act which is hurtful only to have it repeated clearly demonstrates that the situation will never get any better, that the person prefers to apologise than to change behaviour. Most important, we never get change by trying to change others. Change comes only from changing ourselves!

That's why once is clearly enough. If a person is truly penitent, and their needs are also addressed, instead of the situation being glossed over or ignored, they won't repeat their actions again. As to forgiveness itself, one should forgive every time simply because we free ourselves too with the act of forgiving. But NOT continually in the same situation, otherwise forgiveness gradually takes the place of addressing the misdemeanor which will merely be repeated. The best thing to do is to leave him/her because constant betrayal also makes the wronged spouse feel rejected, inadequate, low in self-esteem, neglected and unloved...and that's not a very nice or uplifting feeling to live with on a daily basis.

This article generated so much emotion and discussion, I have written a follow up one which could be of value.
Two main things bbout Cheating that couples do not take into account

The real reasons why powerful men cheat!


For most men, sustaining a dream of being rich, successful and untouchable is a natural part of their life, especially from their teenage years. They spend many years trying to climb the greasy pole of success, to make it right to the top, to be the ultimate powerhouse in charge. During that time, everything takes second place to that career. Wives/girlfriends, in particular, become attractive trophies to aid that ambitious journey, or they are the power behind the throne, encouraging their men to great heights while keeping well out of the way. The men often don't mind if the affection is reduced, or the sex is non-existent because work becomes its own substitute, a kind of aphrodisiac that leads them to to the ultimate pinnacle of achievement. Nothing is too good to sacrifice on the altar of ambition, especially in their mid-30s and 40s.

Then they reach where they want to go (late-40s or early 50s), they taste power in all its untrammelled glory, but their youth is no longer there, certain things are sagging and greying, and a huge kind of disillusion takes place. They also realise just how lonely a position it is being at the top, on all fronts. What next? Is this all there is to life, they might wonder. Of course, by this time, many of them have lost their marriages in all but name. The neglect and the ambition would have taken their toll on the partners and relationships are now largely empty and superficial. Loneliness, on both sides is the order of the day, but the material rewards are great and so the couple now stay together to enjoy it while slowly dying inside of them. Except, of course, that the man is now powerful enough to do something about it, to have his cake and eat it, without rocking the boat at home.

In essence, powerful men like Bill Clinton, John Ensign, Mark Sanford and Elliot Spitzer (John Major and John Prescott in Britain) cheat because they come to see it almost as a right. Having the power to do almost everything else, they extend it to affairs. They also have the means and the opportunity to have those liaisons.

Moreover that power is like an aphrodisiac to women too, usually younger women who want that help up the ladder. They need the association to feel like 'somebody', to be desired and wanted and to get their own kind of success. Hence why so many powerful men get involved. They are lonely, they are needy but they are not like ordinary guys out there. The feeling of being able to have virtually any woman, because of who they are, is often too difficult to resist, while the women crave the kudos, significance and benefits that can be had from such a friendship.

The plain fact of men caught in this situation is that the very power and control they gradually acquire soon reveal how unfulfilling their home relationship is, how little they have if they don't have love, especially if the couple has been together a long time and work has been a substitute for affection. Gradually that power person realises that they do need something else in their life and not just work as wives appear boring and sexless. Come the day when desire meets opportunity, the rest is inevitable. That's why there will always be men like this because they hardly ever learn from life!

Do Men and Women React Differently To Betrayal?


If we have a look at men who have been wronged, especially those who caught their spouses in an act of betrayal, we come to the heart of what personal perception is all about. Men who have been betrayed tend to have a singular "victim" viewpoint of what happened. They continually blame the spouse (and later all women) without wanting to really find out why the partner might have behaved in that way.

They would never admit that they might be boring whingers, who are also lousy with sex or emotion, because what one lacks one tends to seek elsewhere. They are likely to cite what a wonderful husband they were, who worked all hours in the day to keep their home intact while the hussy of a wife was disloyal!

But homemaking, and nest-building, no matter how good and luxurious, is just one aspect of a relationship. The physical, emotional and intellectual sides are all important to keep that union intact. Often it is sheer boredom, neglect and a lack of love, attention and affection why any partner strays.

As Carl Jung says, "To be appreciated is one of the strongest basic human needs." When a person is not valued, or perceives herself to be unappreciated, no matter how worthy the partner is, trouble is not far behind.

Differing Gender Perceptions
Most men tend to see themselves in terms of career and material success, which is evident in their toys, sports and activities, while most women tend to judge their value on emotional, nurturing and physical attributes. This discrepancy in perception is one of the biggest causes of relationship breakdowns.

So long as men believe that to be a good husband is to provide for material needs - to look after hearth, home and family - while women expect emotional and physical bonding, there will be a conflict of perception between the sexes and they will always be at loggerheads about what it means to value each other, especially when women can look after themselves these modern days!

My ex-husband is a wonderful homemaker. A very caring man whom I could not fault in putting his children and home first. But, as his attention and affection gradually lessened, I perceived myself to be less valued in the home, eventually feeling unwanted, unloved and unattractive. In time, feeling very lonely and low in self-esteem, I began to look outwards for that emotional attention I craved. He could not understand that. He thought I should be very happy with what I had, like "having a roof" over my head and the fact that that he "cared" for me a lot, as he used to say. I used to reply that I wasn't an "invalid" to be "cared for", that I wanted to be loved (as he rarely said he loved me) and I did not marry a house, I married a love partner. His increasing lack of attention and affection, and constant flirting with other women, especially when I had eyes only for him, gradually helped to destroyed the relationship.

His perception of all my genuine actions was entirely negative while my perception of how I should treat him was more positive. We could never achieve anything together unless those perceptions aligned with one another in a more acceptable and agreeable way and that was not going to be possible, in view of the resentment on both sides. Small wonder I began to look outwards for affirmation, which only confirmed his worst perception and expectation of me.

Different Brains

It seems that both genders have different needs. That is not so surprising in view of the difference in their brain make-up. According to neurobiologist Louann Brizendine (The Female Brain, 2006), "Women actually use different parts of the brain and different circuits than men to accomplish the same tasks, including solving problems, processing language and generally experiencing the world." For example, studies have shown that men think about sex on average every 52 seconds, while for women it is once per day. This could be because the part of the brain, where sexual thought and behaviour is generated, "is two and a half times larger in the male"!

Brizendine observes that the brains of male and female foetuses both look the same, up until eight weeks old, when the male brain is then "flooded with testosterone" which kills off the cells relating to communication and helps to grow cells relating to sex and aggression. Not surprisingly, communication is closely allied to emotion; the need for close contact, bonding, speaking and experiencing anxiety. With women getting the lion's share of that, it is small wonder that what they expect from a relationship, and what they perceive in a betrayal will be different from that of men.

Next time you expect your partner or lover to act like you do, and they are not same sex, stop and think for a minute as to the logic of this happening when different brains, attributes, hormones and ways of seeing the world are already in play!

You Can Forgive Infidelity - But Can You Ever Forget it?


Yes, you can forget betrayal, but the time it takes depends on a number of factors, especially the love we feel for that person, and our desire for genuine reconciliation. If the love is deep and reciprocal, then any betrayal is devastating and the time it takes to forget it will be very long.

However, if the feelings aren't really there, or we take the partner for granted, infidelity might hurt but it is not as painful, though the sense of rejection and inadequacy will still be strong. At times like these, it is mainly one's ego which has been damaged and so the pain is soon healed. Where there is a lot of trust and love, it is far more difficult to forget infidelity because one's trust has been betrayed. It will take a while to forget the deed, but it does go in the end, if one lets it.

Purely for our benefit, we have to learn to forgive and forget. If we keep thinking about it, rehashing it, dwelling on it, then we haven't forgiven that person. We have merely used words to make ourself feel better. When we truly forgive, we don't even want to think about the event any more because we wish to move away from its cruel reminder. We will also accept that everything good or bad helped to make us what we are.

Being Liberated
When I left my home, I blamed my ex for everything that had happened. I felt very hurt, angry and vengeful. A couple years down the line, after much reflection and self education, I totally forgave him and just wanted to be friends with him. Whatever happened between us has receded well into the background. I no longer feel the need to even mention the negatives because being positive, healthy and forward looking is more important to me than going back there reliving things I cannot change. It really is a fantastic liberating feeling.

So, rather than living in constant reminder of betrayal, we should give thanks for coming through it and being even stronger for it. We should learn from it and be ready for the next stage of our life. Hanging back in the past robs us of a present and a future and, while any hurt is painful, if we do not forgive and forget it, we will be affected by it for as long as we allow it.

Why Someone ALWAYS Gets Hurt With an Affair


How often do we see requests for friendship, or for lovers, in various advertisements, with the added desire that 'no one should get hurt'. This mainly applies to men seeking temporary solace from their negative home situations who either lack the courage to address their problems and face the issues squarely, or wish to have their cake and eat it. In their eyes, they are free to do what they can to remedy their situation 'as long as no one gets hurt'.

Often, people seek eternal liaisons with the misplaced belief that breaking up the union would harm everyone, except themselves, it seems, and they have to protect that by pleasing themselves instead. After all, they are the only ones who benefit from such a situation. But ignoring problems at home, which is the most important part of our lives, only makes the quality of our existence much worse. The answer to our problems is never outside. We merely take our needs elsewhere instead of seeing how it could be addressed internally through discussion, compromise and change.

The main problem with this approach is that, the minute the affair begins, the hurt is already there through the absence of trust and the deliberate betrayal of the other party. The lovers might not ever be found out, but the feelings we have for another do affect what is going on at home for that particular time. We either become more detached from our partners, less appreciative and less caring, or we become more affectionate to compensate for the guilt associated with our outside activities. As soon as this new attention stops, there are also likely to be changes inside the home, and often for the worse, so that we continue to seek outside gratification to compensate, or the relationship deteriorates altogether.

Worse still, relationships seldom recover from external affairs which are discovered because trust is essentially destroyed. This leads to insecurity, resentment and continuous feelings of being unappealing and rejected by the offended party, along with a lot of guilt and negative feelings by the offender. The couple will limp along with the open secret between them, especially where one party is passive and accepts the situation, with or without conditions. But the offender will seldom change, unless he/she stands to lose a lot. This guarantees a repetition along with a gradual decline in the quality of the interaction and the feelings between them.

Once someone embarks on an affair, everyone gets hurt, even if it is not found out, because the quality of both the relationship and the feelings of the parties involved is affected, usually negatively. It keeps the party at home feeling neglected and unwanted, the one in the affair feeling guilty and the external party either feeling used in the end or with raised expectations of something more. Worse still, it never resolves the real issues and, if anything, is most likely to lead to the relationship disintegrating altogether.

Why No Affair is Ever a Mistake


Often one hears men, particularly celebrities or those in the public eye (British Prime Minister John Major and his mistress Edwina Currie come to mind), when their affairs are outed, bemoaning what a mistake it was (always the men, for this one!) and how mad they must have been to have that affair. But that is such nonsense, when taken with hindsight, as well as being most derogatory and insulting to the women involved. It is a futile exercise comparing feelings across time.

No one ever makes a mistake in their choice of partners. Our choices are dictated by that essential moment in time, the way we felt then, even if they are not appropriate now. Regardless of the options we had before us, that final choice was the only one we felt capable of accepting at that single moment, for whatever reason.

We are constantly seeking happiness through personal reinforcement, affirmation, significance and value because our overriding need in life is to be accepted and wanted. Our parents and partners usually provide that for us. When it is missing through a lack of attraction, being taken for granted, being ignored or simply falling out of love, we seek it elsewhere. Our actions are always dictated by one primary factor the way we FEEL at that moment in time.

Feelings and emotions control us, even when we are being detached, and that is why, no matter how upright and conservative we are in actions, alcohol releases our inhibitions and the feelings we try to suppress. If we are feeling down, isolated, unloved and excluded we are likely to behave in an entirely different manner, more negative and selfish, than if we feel wanted, uplifted, loved and appreciated. Therefore apologising for behaving badly is pointless because that represents the negative side of our character. We cannot apologise for who we are. The best thing is to learn from it and move on. Otherwise apologies and regrets become substitutes for the continuing bad behaviour. In effect, we can always apologise, which then makes it right!

No affair is ever a mistake because it was the choice of that moment to improve our feelings, whatever they were at the time. What happened then might not be the right thing for now, three or five years on, when times and feelings have progressed, but the decision we make at any point regarding the involvement of others is always the appropriate one for that precise moment because of our evolution. If we could have behaved differently then, we most certainly would have done so, and that is a point worth stressing. Very few people act without reason or need. Regret comes only when our mood and situation have changed, or we lost something valuable in the process, then we use hindsight, and the mood and experience of today, to judge the inadequacy, immaturity or momentary madness of yesterday.

Learning from the Situation
Most importantly, the consequences of the choices we make, whether positive or negative, help to shape our individual development and experience. It is thus pointless living in a land of regret, beating ourselves over the head because of unplanned detours we made in our lives. We cannot make excuses for past action we cannot change, because the very act of behaving in that manner will have actually influenced and shaped the person we have become.

Furthermore, that relationship was probably necessary to get the two parties involved through a difficult period of their life; to reinforce them as valued people and to clarify the issues around them. Having benefited from it and moved on, the relationship cannot then be viewed as a mistake! It was a crucial part of defining the people involved, the situation they were in, the pressing needs they had and where they both wanted to go. If they are not too happy with the outcome, the best they can do is to learn from it and avoid a repetition, but it will still have added to, or even changed, their perspectives on life for the better. The least they would have learned is that an affair is never the answer to resolving a problematic relationship.

No experience in our life is ever wasted and every direction we take is part of our natural development. If you steal as a child because of a dare with friends, or it was easy to do, it is pointless berating yourself for that act 20 years later when you are more mature and knowledgeable about life and when those acts of deviance with your peers helped to reinforce you then and make you into the character you are now. Regrets do nothing but diminsh our esteem and induce self-doubt. However, acknowledging those actions as stages in our evolution and development, and using them as learning tools to improve the quality of our life and interaction with others, will make the biggest difference to our journey.