Suzie Johnson, cpc
Marriage coach & Affair Recoveryexpert since 1999
This website is designed to be a two-way conversation. Where you can ask questions, read or listen to my answers, advice and insights about love, trust & overcoming infidelity.
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an Affair Partner
Answered by Suzie Johnson
Betrayed SpouseOnline Courses
Why am I obsessed with my husband’s affair partner? My husband made a clean break from her. He told her he regretted their actions, he hated what they did, and he wished he had never met her. He also told her everything they did was based on a lie, so nothing between them was true. He told her he loved me and not her; still I can’t shake the thought that if I forgive him, she’ll be walking around thinking that he couldn’t really mean what he said because he had the affair with her. Why do I care what she thinks?
Thank you for the opportunity to serve. The situation you find yourself in, although unpleasant, is actually very common in this type of experience — especially for betrayed wives — and one of the main reasons for this is the female ego.
Here’s the thing. While a lot has been written and said about the male ego (indeed many women are well aware of what it is and how to recognize it), what many of us aren’t so familiar with is our very own — the less talked about female ego. And yet it’s just as relevant… especially in this type of situation. In fact, very few things can bring out a female ego than infidelity.
Here’s what I mean.
The female ego is characterized by two things: competitiveness and territorialism. And here’s how those two break down:
While the female ego is competitive, it’s not usually competing for trophies, resources or survival — it’s usually competing for attention and power.
Interestingly enough, the female ego isn’t usually competitive with men but with other women. When we say a woman is catty, it’s because she treats other women as rivals rather than friends.
When women get jealous, it’s usually because they’re competing with other women in their minds and seeing themselves as lesser than or losing in that competition. This leaves them feeling insecure, which is then expressed as
The female ego is very territorial. It often views its loved ones as possessions or as territory that belongs to them. When another woman tries to encroach on its territory or tries to “poach” its possession, the female ego reacts with outrage and viciousness.
So how does all this connect to your obsessing about the other woman?
Well, here’s the connection.
From the ego’s perspective, this other woman “poached” your territory. She stole what was yours… right under your nose. The ego is outraged that she would dare to do such a thing. It’s got you all riled up. You feel violated by her, you feel like she needs to be punished for what she did. And so now, you’ve declared war on her. That’s the ego territorialism coming into play.
And if that’s not enough… as we said before, the ego looks at other women as rivals, and so now you’ve made a mental enemy out of her. You’re now having a full-blown war with an imaginary rival. Your mind has become obsessed — not just with thoughts about her, but also with coming up with strategies to defeat her, humiliate her, retaliate and show her that she messed with the wrong woman’s husband.
For the ego, it’s not enough to know that you won. You wantherto know that you won… you wantherto feel small… you wantherto be humiliated… you wantherto pay a price for poaching another woman’s husband… andyouwant to be there to witness it.
Does any of this ring a bell?
I wouldn’t be surprised if it does. You see, I’m well acquainted with the female ego. I understand its petty thoughts and its thirst for revenge. I understand that urge to “teach people a lesson” and to “give them a piece of your mind.” I understand the feeling of “outrage” that erupts when others take advantage of you… and I know what it means to feel “threatened” by the unknown females who are able to “lure” the men we love.
The point here is this…
The ego isn’t personal to you… it’s a built-in part of the female psyche. You didn’t invent it… you’re a witness to it. In fact, your experiences are common among women who’ve gone through the same things you have. Indeed chances are many women reading your question right now can actually relate. Because we’ve all had these moments ourselves.
So how do you handle your ego’s reactions to all this? Good question.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for you.
- Don’tmake a federal case over the fact that you’ve had these thoughts and feelings.
- Dorealize that these are just “thoughts”, so you don’t need to believe them or act on them.
- Don’t“re-wound” by becoming a victim of your ego.
- Dorecognize that you want peace more than you want to satisfy your ego. (Or else, why would you have taken the time to write?) Therefore, you must remember that the ego is not interested in peace; the ego is a warmonger… don’t take its advice!
- Don’tcompete with other people in your mind, andDon’tturn anyone into a mental enemy, no matter what they’ve done or not done to you. Why? Because no thought leaves the mind of the thinker. That means that for every thought you use to punish the offender, you’re the one that is actually punished.
- Doextend mercy and forgiveness towards her.
Here’s the thing. As counterintuitive as it may seem, extending forgiveness and mercy towards her… will free YOU. It will calm you, and perhaps most importantly, it will release you from the cycle of obsessing.
How can I be so sure? Well, think it through with me.
From your email, you said your thoughts have been negative and painful about her, and you’ve been imagining her knowing that she lost. Why? Because you secretly want her to feel the pain of losing. You want her to know you won. This is called a “revenge fantasy.” It’s so addicting that you’re now trapped in an obsessing loop… wherein you can’t seem to stop yourself from thinking negatively about her over and over again, day in and day out.
Have you ever asked yourself why wishing her ill once wasn’t enough? Have you ever wondered why is it that your mind needs to keep replaying revenge scenarios… images of her learning a painful lesson and getting her “just desserts” and you getting to witness it over and over again?
If you never pondered these questions, you should.
Because there’s a reason. And it’s because punishing others in your mind (revenge thoughts) is like drinking seawater to quench thirst.Not only will itneversatisfy you, but indulge too long and eventually it will poison you. And this is why it’s often said that indulging revenge thoughts is like praying to the devil— no matter how seductive it seems, nothing good ever comes out of it.
So here’s another question for you to consider.
If wishing her harm (obsessing/revenge fantasies) hasn’t done any good, what would happen if you were to do the opposite? Instead of having revenge fantasies, you extend forgiving thoughts and mercy. What do you imagine that might do? To discover for yourself…
For the next 21 days, every time you have a bad thought about her, I want you tointerruptandreplace.
Interrupt them. Shut them down. Press and pause. Freeze the image.
Replace those thoughts. With the exact opposite thought.For example, if you were imagining the look of pain in her eyes when she realizes that he has chosen you above her, replace that thought. Imagine her instead feeling gratitude when she realizes that you’ve forgiven her and that he has chosen you.
What if you can’t think of a replacement thought?
No problem. Just imagine her surrounded in a warm light of love and forgiveness. See her healed from the thinking that allowed her to do what she did. See her going forward in her life a more loving and happy person — free from the types of thinking that caused her to harm others in the past. In other words, end the competition with her. Let her go in peace. Do this and then watch for miracles.
Until we speak again…
Remember… Love Wins!
Obsessing about an affair and asking questions about the details of the affair potentially enables a new boundary to be constructed. When even small truths are revealed, the obsessing provides a pathway to work through and understand the story of the affair.Why are affairs so addictive? ›
According to psychologist and relationship researcher Scott Haltzmann, infidelity is a “flame addiction.” A person having an affair craves the other person, wanting to experience the same addictive behavior repeatedly. This is due to a series of complex neurological, chemical, and hormonal changes.Do you ever get over your affair partner? ›
Recognize your grief as a normal process that you are moving through. The research tells us that well over 60% of couples struggling with infidelity never divorce. Recovery from infidelity is possible, even likely in many cases.What is hysterical bonding after an affair? ›
The deep desire to win back one's partner's affections post infidelity is called hysterical bonding. This is most commonly with respect to the infidelity of a sexual nature. So, the one who has been betrayed sexually by their beloved indulges in sexual experimentation with their partner.When should you stop talking about an affair? ›
When both spouses are in a calmer place, feelings have been recognized and understood, amends made and an honest and sincere apology made and accepted, couples are ready to stop the conversation about the affair.Is an affair limerence? ›
If it is a long-term, emotional affair, it usually involves limerence. Short-term affairs or one-night stands rarely if ever do. That is because limerence takes some time to develop.Can an affair ever be love? ›
Can an affair transform into lasting love? An affair can become long-lasting love when both parties are in love and are ready to do right by each other. This often happens when the person being cheated with seems to outperform the present partner. You might get confused if you are really in love or not.What percentage of couples make it through an affair? ›
Close to 25% of marriages stay together after an instance of cheating. And more men than women stay married when they are the cheating partner (61% vs 44%).Why are affairs so devastating? ›
Infidelity undermines the very foundation of marriage in many ways. It causes heartbreak and devastation, loneliness, feelings of betrayal, and confusion to one or both spouses in a marriage. Some marriages break after an affair. Others survive, become stronger and more intimate.Why are affairs so alluring? ›
By its very nature, a love affair prolongs those feelings of infatuation. People engaged in an affair spend little “real” time together. Most of their time together is spent in a fantasy world free of the stressors that daily life introduces into love relationships.
“Findings indicate that while affairs do tend to make respondents happy, a number of factors influence perception of life satisfaction during an affair, including a belief that an outside partner is required to remain in a primary partnership, a desire to remain in the primary partnership, at least biweekly sexual ...How do you say goodbye to an affair partner? ›
I love my family deeply and I will no longer do anything to risk their happiness. I will not be contacting you further and I ask that you do the same. I do not want to see you or hear from you. Please respect my decision to end our relationship and have no further communication.How many relationships work after an affair? ›
In practice, it tends to be uncommon for a relationship to survive instances of cheating. One study found that only about 16 percent of couples who'd experienced unfaithfulness were able to work it out.How long does it take to get over your affair partner? ›
“Like any relationship, the amount of time it takes to 'get over' an affair varies,” Mohamedali explains. However, in some instances, the time it takes for emotions to subside is longer than the affair itself. “It usually takes six months to one year to emotionally bounce back,” Ghanbari says.Is an affair a trauma bond? ›
Dr. Carnes writes that in many cases of PTSD, infidelity causes new, distorted bonds to form between spouses. He calls these “trauma bonds” or “betrayal bonds.” Trauma bonds look different in every relationship.How long does infatuation last in an affair? ›
“Usually, infatuation lasts for between 18 months and three years,” says Mundin. “Unless a long-distance relationship is involved or an extremely insecure individual is fascinated, infatuation rarely lasts longer.” The remnants of infatuation may help strengthen a relationship, however, according to Lee.How long does the excitement of an affair last? ›
The "in-love" stage of a love affair typically lasts six to 18 months, and occasionally as long as three years, says Denise Bartell, PhD, psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. But it does wane at some point.Should I confess an affair that ended years ago? ›
It depends very much on the circumstances. If the affair is known or strongly suspected, you're usually better off telling. You won't gain by denying it because you'll probably get found out anyway and you might save the relationship by confessing.How are most affairs discovered? ›
More than half of women polled (56%) said they had made their own secret checks to uncover a partner's affair compared to 29% of men. 'Phones are by far the most common way for cheats of both sexes to be exposed,' sex and relationship expert Jessica Leoni said.Should you always confess to an affair? ›
Confessing is crucial if you're invested in someone other than your partner, she adds. That's because your affair could be a sign that some elements—say, sexual intimacy or other kinds of closeness—are missing from your current relationship, and you'll need to address them if you want your union to survive.
The three stages of limerence are infatuation, crystallization, and deterioration.What triggers limerence? ›
What Causes Limerence and ROCD? The intrusive thinking involved in limerence and OCD and has been associated with low levels of serotonin and elevated levels of dopamine and norepinephrine—all neurotransmitters, or chemicals that act as messengers between brain cells.What is the infatuation stage of an affair? ›
Suppose you are in a committed relationship and you're on the cusp of being involved in a limerent affair. In that case, the infatuation stage is when you first make the decision of whether or not to begin the affair.
First, affairs are often a replication waiting to happen. And second, affairs are often forged with the same magnetic power that a marriage is, often rendering the affair as hard to break as a marriage. Thus, ending an affair, especially if it is long-term, may resemble a divorce.What is the average length of an affair? ›
How long does the average affair last? While some infidelities may only last one night, others can drag on for years. The average affair, however, usually lasts about 6 months before finally fizzling out.Can an affair strengthen a relationship? ›
Nowadays, some therapists believe there are times when an affair can rescue a marriage or relationship and even make it stronger. Starting to understand how an affair happened can provide clarity and give answers to the many questions a couple may feel are still unanswered.How many people on average have an affair? ›
A 2021 survey by Health Testing Centers polled 441 people and reported: a little over 46% of respondents in a monogamous relationship said they had affairs.Is it OK to read partners texts? ›
Generally, texts and emails are private. Thus, you don't have a right to look at them without your spouse's consent. Doing so is viewed as an invasion of privacy. It doesn't matter whether you are married, separated or divorced.Why do some affairs last for years? ›
The main reason people engage in long-term affairs when both parties are married is that they are unhappy in their marriages. If their husband or wife doesn't prioritize or value them, or fights and arguments are frequent, being with someone else is very enticing.What is Microcheating? ›
Micro-cheating is of course not a psychological term. It is simply an internet-friendly shorthand for describing one partner testing the limits of partnership by creating intimacy with someone else, yet without veering into a sexual relationship with them. And it's surprisingly common.
"`If a man commits adultery with another man's wife--with the wife of his neighbor--both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. "`If a man sleeps with his father's wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.What percentage of affairs are discovered? ›
Coming to the question of how many affairs are discovered, a survey by IllicitEncounters.com (a dating site for extramarital affairs) revealed that 63% of cheaters have been caught at some point.Do men fantasize about affairs? ›
Men officially fantasise about cheating on their partner more than women. New research shows more men fantasise about cheating on their partners than women, with a scandalous 83.4 per cent confessing to getting off thinking about being unfaithful.Do men miss their mistresses? ›
Yes, they do. Or they wouldn't be in a long-term relationship with their mistresses. Some men have mistresses for years, and it's not because they want just sex, they have true and lasting feelings for their lovers and feelings are difficult to shut off.How do most affairs end? ›
Yet, most affairs usually end one of two ways: with divorce or a stronger current relationship. How the end plays out is up to you, how you choose to react, and how hard you want to work to stay together. Learning how to overcome grief and pain is going to be difficult, but Couples Academy can help.Why do men have affairs if they are happy? ›
In some cases, it stems from unmet needs in a relationship. Issues like lack of communication, boredom, and personal insecurities can fester when they're not fully addressed. If one partner feels like they're never listened to or respected in their primary relationship, they may look for that in another person.Why cheating feels good? ›
The researchers put it this way: Cheating is associated with feelings of self-satisfaction, and the boost in positive affect from cheating persists even when prospects for self-deception about unethical behavior are reduced.Do affairs ever end happily? ›
According to WebMD, the “in love” stage of an affair lasts 6 to 18 months, on average. And around 75% of the marriages that start as affairs end in divorce. Considering only 5 to 7% of affair relationships lead to marriage, that's a grim statistic for couples hoping their affairs will last forever.How do I stop thinking about my affair partner? ›
- Talk to a counselor. Explore specific, personal ways to heal and rebuild your marriage. ...
- Make a list of reasons you want to save your relationship. ...
- Make lifestyle changes that change your habits and patterns.
Experts say it's a phenomenon called "affair fog," which occurs when the person engaging in an affair is hyperfocused on the excitement of a new relationship and cannot properly understand the mistake they are making.
- Explain to your partner why you want to take time apart. ...
- Consider going on dates with each other. ...
- Spend time with friends and family. ...
- Prioritize self-care. ...
- Consider going to individual therapy.
American Psychological Association research found that 20-40% of divorces are caused by an affair. The discovery of an affair may trigger a divorce, but there were likely problems in the marriage before the affair. When marital problems are not addressed, unhappy spouses may turn to someone outside the relationship.What should you not do after infidelity? ›
- Tell Your Entire Family & All Your Friends. ...
- Blast Your Partner on Social Media. ...
- Make Life Altering Decisions. ...
- Place All Blame on The Other Affair Partner. ...
- Obsess Over the Other Affair Partner. ...
- Blame Yourself. ...
- Think You Can Recover On Your Own.
By working through the 3 stages of affair recovery—atonement, attunement, and attachment, couples can find healing from infidelity. If you're in a marriage where there's been infidelity, marriage counseling is going to be an important part of your healing process.
Recognize your grief as a normal process that you are moving through. The research tells us that well over 60% of couples struggling with infidelity never divorce. Recovery from infidelity is possible, even likely in many cases.Can you fall back in love after an affair? ›
Experts say it's possible for couples to go on to have a happy relationship after infidelity, provided they're willing to put in the work. “The couple can survive and grow after an affair,” says Coleman.How do you overcome affair triggers? ›
- Accept that triggers are normal. Until you've completely come to terms with your spouse's betrayal, you'll have flashbacks, intrusive thoughts and triggers. ...
- Choose your mindset. ...
- Identify your triggers. ...
- Develop your plan. ...
- Ask for help.
- Work Through Your Feelings.
- Don't Blame Yourself.
- Don't Live in the Past.
- Think About What You Want.
- Take Care of Yourself.
- Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help.
They have low self-esteem. This trait is a known risk factor for cheating, and often for these people, cheating can be a coping mechanism and an attempted means to feel validated, desired and needed.What is infidelity PTSD? ›
In the wake of the discovery of an affair, you are likely to experience a wide range of thoughts and feelings, ranging from numb (non-feeling) to feeling completely out of control and 'crazy'. This is the result of Post Infidelity Stress Disorder (PISD).
- Ask lots of questions. ...
- Balance your rage with your need for information. ...
- Set a time limit on affair talk. ...
- Expect curveballs. ...
- Talk about how the affair has affected you. ...
- Don't forgive quickly or easily. ...
- Find support. ...
- Spend time together without talking about the affair.
The one thing all cheaters have in common is a lack of impulse control. Unfortunately, they also tend to be opportunistic and have an inflated sense of their own importance. What is this? Not only do serial cheaters adopt similar behavioral habits, but they also share a number of personality traits.Why do I feel like I want to have an affair? ›
There are many reasons for infidelity such as revenge, boredom, the thrill of sexual novelty, sexual addiction. But experts say that a large majority of the time, motivations differ by gender, with men searching for more sex or attention and women looking to fill an emotional void.How do you avoid temptation of an affair? ›
- Put yourself in your partner's situation. ...
- Play out how your partner would react if you cheated and they found out. ...
- Ruin the fantasy. ...
- Talk to someone you trust about it. ...
- Force yourself to refocus on your current relationship.