5 Things to Consider Before You Enter an Affair

About 3 years ago an unmasking happened that rocked marriages. Someone hacked into Ashley Madison’s 37 million subscriber database exposing the identities of individuals seeking an affair. AM’s motto: “Life is short. Have an affair.” Karma struck. The business had a short shelf life. Beyond the breach, AM allegedly used fembots to interact with many male clients. Sadly, life is indeed short for some who were exposed.
  • A few committed suicide.
  • Marriages and families were torn apart by the Ashley Madison revelation.
  • Even the owner, Noel Biderman  was discovered to have multiple affairs.
If you have been wounded by the exposure of an affair, my heart goes out to you. Ashley Madison’s advice: life is short, have an affair sounds rather hollow now doesn’t it? The reality is, life is hard after an affair. May I offer some sound advice from my work with individuals or couples rocked by the discovery of an affair? Here are 5 things to consider before you enter an affair.
#1: The Adventure Is Not Worth The Risk
The sense of intrigue and adventure is a lure for individuals whose relationships are lackluster. Attention from a coworker, neighbor, Facebook friend, a bartender or Starbucks Barista may be all it takes. Sexual attraction activates powerful sensual receptors in the brain. The rational part of the brain is in danger of being hijacked by the sexual impulses. Herein lays the risk. No matter what you do to keep the adventure covert, a risk of exposure always exists. The damage following discovery is heavy.
  • People you care about are hurt.
  • Reputation is ruined.
  • Future is bleak.
  • Life is hard for everyone impacted
Knowing this, ask yourself this question? Is the adventure worth the risk?
#2: Hiding An Affair Is Not As Easy As It Seems
Ask the millions of subscribers to Ashley Madison! Nor is it easy for anyone else. Some people get careless in affairs. Phone records provide evidence, as do text messages, emails, or other forms of social media. Subtle changes in behavior, allocation of time, or other nuances can signal something to a spouse or partner. There is also the risk of the affair partner getting caught by being careless. Before long, the thrill of adventure shifts to a tone of anxiety about potential exposure and the ramifications that follow. Managing an affair under the threatening cloud of exposure is not easy. It’s like living in an inter dimensional reality.
  • You live in one primary world with a set of expectations.
  • You escape into another world with developing set of expectations the longer you are in it.
The affair is no longer an escape from reality. It is a reality with a new set of problems.
#3: You may compromise core values
I use the word “may” here because not all people value monogamy in marriage. Some people do not consider it a violation of marital vows to seek sex outside marriage. Be that as it may, the majority of couples value monogamy and consider it a grave offense to discover a partner involved in an affair. Values of fidelity, honesty, and integrity meld relationships in a sacred bond that ensures security. Advancing an affair may take you into territory you know goes against your core values. You will likely be wrapped up in an internal battle of self-gratification and guilt. You are not congruent in your beliefs and actions. No matter what you do to justify your actions, a simple glance in the mirror signals you that you have lost your way.
#4: A Safer Approach is to Confront The Problems In Your Marriage
In my work with couples, I have found that several factors contribute to the risk of an affair. I won’t go into them here. Suffice it to say there are five dynamics I see that elevate risk.
  1. Risk of an affair is increased in relationships where couples do not invest regularly in their marriage.
  2. Risk of an affair is increased in relationships where emotional distance is a pattern.
  3. Risk of an affair is high in relationships that lack intimacy.
  4. Risk of an affair is high in relationships where couples do not confront their problems.
  5. Risk of an affair is high in relationships where a partner ignores a problem addressed by his/her spouse.
If you are a couple that avoids problems, I recommend you start confronting them together. See a couples counselor. Get some help right away. You do not want to see your spouse drift into the arms of another person. My heart goes out to those of you who have been trying to get your spouse to work on the marriage but to no avail. The prolonged waiting is tiring and can leave you feeling lonely and trapped. Here is where many are vulnerable to an affair. I recommend you see a professional counselor for support and help in deciding what to do next.
#5: If Marital Issues Are Unresolvable Bring A Respectful End to the Relationship
It takes two people working together to resolve marital issues. You are responsible to do your part. You cannot do the work of two. If your mate is unwilling to make the changes necessary to repair the relationship then you have a decision to make. You can stay in a lifeless marriage. You can respectfully end the relationship. After you end, and take sufficient time to heal and grow, you are free to pursue a relationship that aligns with your values and expectations. An affair is not the solution to a dead marriage. Leave gracefully. Maintain your dignity. In time you will find what you’re looking for.