Having an affair, for some men, causes an addiction to the other woman. The same kind of addiction that some have for alcohol or opioids. And, once the addiction takes hold most men find it almost impossible to extract themselves from the affair.
I remember a divorce coaching client of mine who was totally obsessed with her soon-to-be-ex’s cheating partner. She could focus on nothing but the other woman who was sleeping with her husband. She goes to bed thinking about the woman and wakes in the morning thinking about the woman.
My client was well-educated, had a great career, was slim and attractive. She was the total package trying to come to terms with the fact that her husband had cheated and fallen in love with an overweight, unattractive woman with five children with three different men and lived on “the wrong side of the tracks.”
She had always assumed that if she lost her husband to another woman, that woman would be younger than her, better looking than her, and have more to offer than her. What she was failing to understand is, men, don’t cheat because the woman is younger or good looking, they cheat because they like the way they feel when they are with the other woman.
At the root of most affairs is fascination and infatuation. To understand how men cheat with the last person you’d expect them to, you must understand that an affair is intoxicating and addictive and the “love” felt for a cheating partner is different from marital love.
Married love begins with infatuation or romantic love and moves into committed love that ebbs and flows based on life and the personalities of each spouse. For romantic love to turn into committed love each spouse must have some or all the character traits below.
- An understanding of what commitment means,
- Sensitivity to the feelings of others,
- A generous heart, the will to give to your spouse when it means doing without yourself,
- The ability to take into consideration the needs of their spouse,
- A willingness to be honest, dependable and trustworthy,
- Most of all they are resilient, accepting and forgiving.
When we marry the romantic love that led us to the decision to marry falls prey to daily stressors that either promote committed love or reveals that the “love” was nothing but infatuation that can’t survive the reality of daily life.
Most marriages move from infatuation to a more balanced, reality-based committed love. That can’t be said for most affairs.
It’s Isn’t “Love,” It’s Infatuation:
“To inspire with a foolish or extravagant love or admiration” is the definition of infatuated. It is easy to mistake infatuation for committed love but it is only an attraction to another person based on who you need that person to be in your life and how that person causes you to feel when with them.
An affair is about that initial “in love” feeling, that point in a relationship when someone is blinded to the other person’s flaws. By its very nature, a love affair prolongs those feelings of infatuation. The longer the affair, the longer the 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. It is easy to maintain illusions and romanticize a relationship if that relationship is based on secret, fleeting meetings with little time for real life to intrude.
The other woman is an object of desire, they are wanted based on the fact that they fulfill a man’s need to feel “in love” and not based on who they actually are. Think of the infatuation that comes along with a love affair the same way you would if your spouse had “one too many beers.” There is a sense of intoxication that comes along with a love affair that keeps those involved from thinking rationally.
Love affairs are as addictive as alcohol or drugs due to the good feelings they illicit in the cheater. That “in love” feeling gives the cheater a sort of chemical high. He/she will continue the affair until the relationship is exposed to the realities of day to day life.
Below are 8 characteristics of cheating “love.”
1. They feel as if they can’t live without each other despite the fact they live most their life away from each other.
2. They fear they will fall apart emotionally if they must remove themselves from the affair.
3. They have deep feelings of anxiety, worry or jealousy of the affair partner.
4. They have a need for the affair partner to meet all their expectations.
5. There is the belief that the affair partner will change themselves to meet the other person’s needs.
6. A need for the affair partner to be accessible always, regardless of the fact that they are rarely able to see each other.
7. They have a deep dependence on the affair partner to “make” them feel loved.
8. There is an inability to find comfort when they are not with the affair partner.
Basically, the difference between married love and affair love is…married love is unconditional, you accept your spouse for who they are, warts and all. Affair love is conditional; it cannot survive the realities of day-to-day life. Affair love is steeped in fears of loss whereas, married love is associated with the comfort of knowing you are loved and accepted as you are.
The reasonable person wonders how someone can become addicted to or intoxicated by a situation that causes so much stress and anxiety. I suppose that feeling of infatuation outweighs those feelings of stress and anxiety over the love affair. The emotional rush one experiences during the affair makes real life marital love seem like a let-down. So, they return as often as possible for that short-term hormonal feeling of infatuation.
Points to consider if your husband is addicted to the other woman:
If your husband is having an affair please keep the 4 things below in mind.
- Infatuation is not real love,
- The fact that the affair is not exposed to daily life stressors is what keeps it going,
- Long-term affairs are usually a sign of problems in the marriage,
- Whether your marriage survives an affair depends on what kind of affair your spouse has.