These can include or contain:
1) Overall Relationship Dissatisfaction
The most common reason given for having an affair is experiencing dissatisfaction in your current relationship.
People who are unhappy in their current love lives often believe they will find happiness elsewhere, aka by having affairs.
They chase that rabbit hole to the inevitable conclusion of an affair.
The result is rarely (if ever) effective in improving satisfaction, but is frequently used as a temporary solution to what they are feeling.
2) Perpetuating Unhealthy Habits
For some, an affair is a simple (if unfortunate) manifestation of long-standing issues with intimacy, communication, and commitment.
For these people, monogamous relationships might feel as though they are steel traps-traps that must be shaken off in any way possible.
This could be due to unhealthy relationship examples in youth (a parent who constantly dates, but never seems willing or able to commit, for instance), a traumatic dating history that was never addressed, or a simple fear of rejection.
When affairs occur in these relationships, it is often wholly unrelated to the relationship itself, or the partner involved, but is based almost entirely on unresolved trauma, pain, and maladaptive coping.
Whether it is an addiction to sex, alcohol, or drugs, affairs can be a common companion to addictive behaviors and disorders.
Just as someone who is suffering from substance abuse must engage novelty to achieve the same high they experienced the first time they indulged in drug use, someone who struggles with addiction might use the rush of endorphins and other hormones that comes with affairs as a means of achieving natural highs, and staving off predictability and letdown.
4) Poor Communication Skills
While it might seem silly to suggest that poor communication skills can cause an affair, it bears weight.
Communication lays the foundation for a healthy relationship, and the lack of communication can lead to a decreased social function, increased relationship dissatisfaction, and a decreased ability to express your wants and needs.
If you are unable to communicate that you are upset, feeling dissatisfied, or feeling as though you want to step outside of your relationship, you may be more likely to indulge these impulses and have affairs.
The exact trajectory of an affair differs, and the affair also differs from situation to situation.
What does not change, however, is the damage that affairs do.
Any betrayal by an intimate partner comes with immense pain and trauma and can cause the development of mood disorders and a host of more issues, ranging from difficulty trusting others, to actual medical conditions.
Whether an affair ends in divorce and remarriage, divorce and a breakup, or reconciliation, all of the parties involved will experience loss and pain, and most will experience the regret of some form.
Whether you decide to continue with the marriage or get separated, you need to forgive yourself and also forgive your partner- this is an integral part of your healing process.
For the unfaithful spouse, you need to seek help and work towards fixing your marriage.
If you think your marriage is worth fighting for and your partner decides to move past what has happened and rebuild your marriage, then you need to seek marriage counseling; talk to a marriage and family therapist like those at...
ReGain to help you through the healing process and work with you on building a strong and lasting marriage.
If you need a crisis hotline or want to learn further about therapy and how it can help an affair, please see below:
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255
- National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-7233
Meet Our Therapists
Carla Noto-Vencill - MA,LMFT
Cynthia Wiedemann - LMFT
Terry Brewer - LCSW
Catherine Wilson - LMHC
Heather Connors - LCSW, PPSC
Joseph Frey - MA, LMFT
Stephen Robinson - MA, LCMHCS, LCAS
Darcy Dobb - LCSW, MHPP
Cheryl Williams - MA
Shannon Caraway - LCSW
Dr. Patrick Casthely - LMHC, MCAP, PHD
Dennis Doke - M.S., LMFT-S, LPC-S
Debra Jenkins - MSW, LCSW-C
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About An Affair
Do affairs relationships last?
According to a 2017 study, relationships that started due to mate poaching are generally less satisfied, less committed, and less invested in their relationships when compared to people whose relationships started when they were both single.
People in relationships that started with mate poaching also tend to be further interested in pursuing other relationship options, in other words, they’re likely to cheat again.
How long do affairs last?
The longevity of an affair can depend on varying factors. Some are one year and others don't even make it that long.
A short-term affair could be anything from a one-night stand to an occasional hookup over a year.
A long affair or long-term affair where there’s a serious relationship with a married woman or man could be anywhere from six months to a year to several years, at which point the couple will probably be discovered.
How does infidelity end?
Infidelity is usually discovered at one point. At which point, the married couple will face a choice.
They will either decide to end the marriage and deal with subsequent issues of alimony, divorce, and child support, or they will decide to stay together.
Contrary to popular belief, most married couples stay together after one has an affair.
Some couples even use it as a wake-up call to deal with greater problems in the relationship and use it as an opportunity to bring passion back to their union.Other people choose to divorce and perhaps that affair becomes a relationship.
However, relationships that started with cheating are statistically less likely to be successful than relationships that started in other circumstances, and one of the reasons for this is that these affairs are built on infatuation, secrecy, and deception, and so do not have what it takes to stand when it comes to face to face with real-life challenges.
In fact, only 3-5% of relationships that started as infidelity lead to marriage.
Percentage of infidelity ends in divorce?
It’s possible to save your marriage after an affair. In fact, the majority of married couples will stay together after an affair.
Fewer than 25% of married men and women will leave their marriage for a partner they met while having an affair.
So, a married woman or man is not likely to leave their marriage for a lover.
This could be due to people not wanting to deal with legal issues like alimony, child support, and the justice system, or it could be because that affair was a wake-up call, which they used to bring further togetherness and intimacy into their own relationship.
Couples can recover after infidelity affairs or marital affairs, so if you’re wondering if that’s possible for a personal romantic relationship of yours where marital affairs have been present, know that it is possible if both you and your spouse are dedicated and invested in healing your trust and the relationship overall.
Are affairs real love? Can there be more than to the infidelity?
This is a complex question that will significantly depend on your personal situation. Can people find love outside of marriage? Yes.
But, in terms of statistics, does infidelity usually lead to happy and satisfying relationships?
No, not usually.
Couples who started as cheating then later came together, whether they were couple friends, best friends, coworkers, or in-laws, tend to be deeply unhappy in their relationships as opposed to people who both started single.
It may feel good at the beginning; you both love to spend time together in each other’s company.
However, these affairs rarely last, especially when tested with real-life challenges.
Also, someone who cheated in their marriage or relationship is about three times more likely to cheat again in later relationships.
For that reason, it is best to seek out available partners, because if they are cheating in their relationship, then they might be using you for reasons other than genuine love.
How many marriages survive infidelity?
More than half of marriages survive infidelity. Many couples even report feeling stronger and deeper in love after surviving an affair, but it takes a lot of work and some deep forgiveness.
There are a lot of things that could complicate the way that a relationship recovers from an affair;
for example, if that affair partner is many years younger, there could be a particular sense of betrayal, hurt, confusion, and even a sense of inadequacy for the betrayed spouse.
The same can be true for those who find out about long-term affairs.
It is certainly possible that infidelity start and end multiple times.
For that reason, it is a good idea to talk to a professional about your situation and seek out advice.
As the betrayed spouse, you need to give yourself time, grieve but don’t allow yourself to dwell in there for too long.
Be sincere about how you feel, open up about how you feel to your friends and family, and seek the right help.
Understanding the how and the why of that affair will also go a long way to help you in your healing process.