Who is my affair hurting if no-one finds out?

Q I’m married and having an affair with man who is also married. I know it’s wrong, but I’m addicted to the sex. Is it so bad to continue? Who are we hurting if no-one finds out? 

Over the years I have been asked this question by lots of people. Men and women. What’s the harm with sex on the side if no-one’s getting hurt? You don’t say how the sex is in your marriage but I’m assuming you’ve been together for a while and it’s so-so.

I’m not going to preach to you about how it’s not a terribly nice thing to do to sleep with someone else’s husband. I’ll leave that to your conscience. Here, I’m going to focus on why this can hurt your marriage.

In theory, it sounds like a logical way to deal with the sexual boredom that can happen in a long-term relationship.

What you are doing is having your cake and eating it too. You’re enjoying the comfort and security of a marriage but also getting the excitement that isn’t part of most long-term marriages by having an erotic affair. Everyone gets why you’re doing it – but that’s not the point.

Affairs make us feel alive, sexy, appreciated. We can reinvent ourselves, be who we want to be. They make us feel more attractive and all of this can have a positive effect on a marriage. It’s not uncommon for people having affairs to have more sex with the person at home, as well, because it ignites your interest in sex generally. So what’s the problem, right?

Here’s the problem: you’re assuming you won’t get caught and you should NEVER assume you won’t get found out. About 65 per cent of people who cheat get found out at some point. It’s technology that trips people up – more methods of communication mean more to cover up. Most people who cheat get caught through text messages (39 per cent). The second way is through emails (22 per cent). Getting caught lying about where you were accounts for 20 per cent. Being spotted out is another way and being told by a friend make up the rest.

You CAN get away with an affair.

But it means deleting all messages, emails, photos immediately after you’ve seen them. Not keeping anything, never telling anyone – not even one friend.

It can be done. The reason why lots of people get discovered is that they can’t resist keeping that message or photo. It turns them on. It makes them feel good about themselves. Or they realise they can’t separate sex from love and start to develop feelings. Nearly everyone leaves evidence that can be discovered. And let me repeat – people do get discovered. YOU might get discovered.  Now, I want you to do something for me.

Picture your partner’s face when they find out.

Watch the emotions play out. Shock, disbelief, hurt, anger, disappointment, devastation. How harmless will it seem them? I don’t know if you have kids but picture their faces when they find out. You are risking everything you have.

It doesn’t mean you don’t love your partner if you’re having an affair – but it does mean you don’t respect them.

You’re breaking a vow. You’ve taken what was your husband or wife’s alone – the sexual and emotional intimacy – and shared it with someone else. It’s not special anymore because it’s not something you share exclusively together.

If you love someone and they supposedly love you, you feel safe. It’s the two of you against the world. When someone has an affair, everything you trusted is gone and you must rethink what relationships are all about.

Affairs are destructive because affairs involve lying.

“It wasn’t the affair I couldn’t get over, it was them lying to my face,” is something I hear over and over. There is a lot at risk here. Even if you do pull through after an affair, there’s a loss of innocence and a scar. It takes years of hard work to rebuild trust, if indeed it can be.

Your partner feels foolish, you see them differently.

If most people stopped and mentally pictured their partner’s face if they found out, they wouldn’t have an affair in the first place. I want you to do that.

The other reason affairs are so destructive is that you are stopping your primary relationship from growing. By getting your sexual needs met by someone else, you stop trying to get them met by your partner.

And are you sure it’s just the sex that’s missing? Most people have affairs to get something they’re not getting from the relationship they’re in – it’s that simple. Your relationship is vulnerable if you are getting some needs met outside the marriage. Maybe it is just the sex but by having an affair, you’re stopping that ever being fixed with your partner because you’re getting your sexual needs met elsewhere.

The bottom line to all of this is your personality and morals.

If you can read this and still think, ‘Nup. I still can’t see anything wrong with it’, then you probably will get away with it. But very few people truly believe there’s nothing wrong with cheating. Can you really look your partner in the eyes and not feel guilty? Most people can’t and that’s when it all unravels. Our instincts are strong. If you’re close with your partner, they will eventually suspect something is wrong, even without evidence. There will be a flicker of guilt there.

Here’s another final thought: an affair involves two people. You’re only in control of your side of it.

You can’t control what your lover doing or predict whether he will get found out. Only proceed with all of this if you are prepared to risk everything.