So this is an interesting question because one answer is due to problems in the marriage and the other answer is because they can.
So there are some people who are opportunists, they love their marriage and their partner and would never leave them, but if a one night stand, a fling, or an affair is offered they will take it for as long as it suits them especially if they don’t think they’ll get caught.
The most common reason for an affair is due to problems in the marriage.
This can be viewed as a person with a problem or a couple that have problems.
Very typically some people are using the affair to feel emotionally connected to someone, some are needing intimacy, they need closeness a feeling that someone cares about them.
Some are craving sexual intimacy due to lack of sex or because the sex at home is boring.
Some people are just bored with life and want more from their lives and use an affair as the excitement vehicle.
So boredom is one reason, loss of love, no passion, partner not caring enough, no empathy, no compassion, abandonment, feeling abused to name a few.
Really anything that helps one person to feel bad about themselves at home has the ability to make them vulnerable to an affair or a fling.
Looking at an affair from my perspective (A Crisis Marriage Coach) someone that sees the problems and the devastating aftermath of affairs every day, the drivers behind affairs can be more complex than those typical reasons stated above.
Then next two stories are real stories about couples that I saw and what drove them to have affairs.
Most affairs happen for a reason and that reason must be understood before any kind of solution can be created for them.
The challenges these two people faced were deep seated and needed specialist support.
She loved her husband so much she had to sleep with another man to survive
So one lady totally in love with her fiancé was devastated when he had an affair/fling just weeks before they were due to be married.
This event changed her ability to function, you’ll see what I mean as the story unfolds.
She married him despite this shocking event, but all she could see for years after was her husbands’ interaction with other women.
What she saw and imagined was every woman was a threat to her marriage.
She never said a word to anyone, but every social event was torture.
She died inside bit-by-bit as her mind played out more and more affairs, secrets and questioned what did that kiss on the cheek mean at our friends party?
Did you see the way they looked at each other her mind constantly chattering.
To be clear he never had another affair he was loyal to his wife.
She was driving herself mad with what her mind was telling her – her paranoia was significant and it was affecting her mental health.
Her self-esteem had crashed and she was constantly anxious about the future waiting for him to leave her and depressed about the past his affairs and the memory of the mounting affairs she had imagined.
She would NEVER EVER LEAVE HER HUSBAND because she saw him as amazing, it’s why she married him.
She actually blamed his need to be with other women (her illusion) was due to her.
She wasn’t pretty enough, she was too thin, not intelligent enough, he liked brunettes and she was blond the list was long and very detailed.
She was lucky to have him, but she struggled to be herself in her marriage her anxiety had taken over she needed a way to stop the pain and suffering.
The next part is where most will find her decision confusing.
She noticed that a flirtation with a local man had a powerful effect on her anxiety she actually felt better.
This drove her to connect with this man and it’s wasn’t long before she started the affair primarily to stop her anxiety.
When she went to her lovers’ house the pain went away, when she left his house and went home the pain did come back but only after a few days.
It was a place where she could be herself again a place where the pain stopped.
This wasn’t about revenge, it was her way of getting off the rollercoaster of destructive emotions so she could be normal with her husband again.
Part of her was having an affair to save her marriage.
She didn’t know how to get back to being herself.
She needed this man and his home to help her even if the result lasted just a few days, something was better than nothing.
It was like her oxygen, but in a place that wasn’t real life, for her time stood still – she wasn’t someone who had affairs so she rejected this identity she saw her affair as a way to get back to herself and to her husband.
She had sex with her affair partner, but the sex for her was irrelevant and if it didn’t happen she didn’t care, she just liked the peace, a safe place she could go to when the pain became too much.
Naturally, she became addicted to this emotional reset resulting in this situation spanning over 8 years.
The husband had no idea she was going through any of this and was not aware of the solution she discovered to her own pain and suffering.
In the end, the husband did find out – they always do and the journey from that point was very messy mainly due to how long this affair had continued and that the reasons for the affair didn’t make sense to him.
Why people have affairs is so varied, below is another couple who entered a marital crisis. Look at this husband’s thinking it will be shocking for many to understand.
“My wife looked so stunning I now have to sleep with other women”
One gentleman told me when his wife was getting ready to go out with her friends she looked so amazing and he couldn’t cope with how beautiful she looked.
He told me he couldn’t cope with the fact other men were going to see her like this and were bound to approach her – he couldn’t bear that thought.
His irrational mind told him she might like them noticing her and she too could want to sleep with them, he couldn’t bear it.
Of course in reality his wife did enjoy looking good, but she was not at all interested in other men because she genuinely loved her husband.
What she didn’t know was each time she went out with her friends he was so traumatised by his own insecurities, he went out too, he was looking for a woman to have sex with.
He needed to sleep with other women to shut his painful feelings down because of what he imagined his wife was doing behind his back.
He did this twice a month each time she went out.
This distraction stopped his focus on what was happening in the bars and clubs she went to and his guilt was balanced by what his mind said she was doing.
It hadn’t occurred to him that he was transferring onto his wife the way he thinks when he goes out looking good and getting attention.
Affairs in most cases have reasons
- Lack of relationship building skills
- Poor parenting models
- Poor communication
- Little emotional connection
- Depression, anxiety, stress
- Lack of sexual connection
- Loss of love
- Uncared for
The list of course can go on…
Many people have been in touch this week as affairs are such common place. If this week has touched you and you need help please get in touch.
This is Affair week
Tuesday: What counts as cheating?
Wednesday: Why affairs that end in marriage rarely work
Thursday: Why do people have affairs?
Friday: Affair addiction