The Ultimate Christmas Relationship Survival Guide
Diagnosis: An Affair
We may never know the truth behind the allegations that Gordon Ramsay and Sarah Symonds had an affair however one truth is certain: an affair causes tremendous pain all ‘round. The question on most people's lips is why would anyone who seems to "have it all" be tempted to stray? The answer is never simple.
From my experience adulterers who otherwise have apparently happy lives often have some personality trait that drives this bad behaviour. Either they’re natural born risk-takers and get a buzz from playing away. It's the thrill of almost getting caught that's so exciting.
Or it may be they have little sense of the damage an affair might cause. Such adulterers are emotionally ignorant when it comes to other people's feelings. They don't realise what good intuition their partner might have and that he/she will start suspecting something.
Sometimes it’s down to pure lust. The sex drive can be incredibly powerful and if a person doesn’t have the will to say No to an opportunity – they’ve had some drinks, had a row with their partner, have been going through a bad patch (there are loads of excuses I’ve been told!) – they find it hard to resist. And when they seize an opportunity to have, say, a one night stand knowing full well it’s wrong it can become a full-blown affair that they hadn't intended. But ultimately they don't have the guts to stop it and it becomes a secret part of their life.
Women who become mistresses often have the most self-destructive motivations. Sometimes they're frightened of real commitment and by choosing an unavailable man they get some male company but know they won't have to forge a genuine relationship. Or they have a manipulative side, seeing it as a challenge of whether or not they can wrestle a man away from another woman.
Others are emotionally vulnerable and don't feel deserving of more than the scraps of a relationship so get taken advantage of by attached men. While some mistresses are attracted to a man's power or charisma whether they work with him or come across him by chance. They find his allure so powerful and long to snatch him away from his partner.
If you find yourself caught up in the misery of an affair then you're in good company with surveys finding about 30% of women and 40% of men admit to being unfaithful in at least one relationship during their life.
When a partner first discovers an affair they’re bombarded by a range of powerful emotions from hatred, to betrayal to a huge sense of “why did they do this to me?” These lead them to feel torn between two urges - "should I stay or should I go?"
Here are some things to consider:
When you've just been devastated by news of an affair it's not the time to make big decisions about staying or going. Go ahead and rant, rave and sob but don't necessarily rush to kick them out or to have a "revenge affair". That’ll make things more difficult if you decide you'd like to repair the damage.
Is the unfaithful partner prepared to be completely honest about why they cheated? If not, then a big part of them probably feels your relationship is over and that’s why they strayed. Otherwise they’d be grovelling to explain and make amends.
Consider carefully how much detail you want about the actual trysts. You do want to know the ‘whys’ of why it happened but the nitty-gritty of waht they did with their lover can be too much for some to hear.
Can both of see what part you played in taking your relationship for granted? That's no excuse for an affair but often a fling looks like a good thing when there’s dissatisfaction in a relationship. Identifying what each could do better from now on is a good starting point.
You both need to accept that if you stay together it’ll take time for these very deep wounds to heal. The cheater needs to be patient. And the betrayed must resist throwing the affair in their face each time they have a problem.
Ultimately prevention is better than cure. If you feel things are slipping in your relationship try these:
Immediately start to build in quality time with each other - even if a couple of hours every fortnight for a "date".
Start listening to your partner. Because you're busy it's tempting to pay lip service to the things they say and a wall grows between you.
Make a note of the three biggest reasons why you fell in love with your partner in the first place. Put that somewhere handy to look at every day.
You may have let sensual spark die in your relationship. You can rekindle things with little romantic gestures, affection and indulging your partner with some pleasurable techniques to make them feel special.
If the affair keeps rearing its head yet you’d really love to put it behind you then try Relate 0300-100-12344
Published in The Express Newspaper
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