Do Affairs Ever End Well?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from the people who are having an affair but who are considering ending it. Many try very hard to find some redeeming factors about the affair. And, even when they are not trying to justify it or make excuses, many are looking to find something positive coming out of it. The hope is that it will end well and that every one will move on with their lives in a positive way.

Someone might ask: “I know that one day my affair must end. I would never leave my family. But the affair has been life changing for me. It has honestly enhanced my life for the better. It has changed the way that I look at life and my sense of adventure. I was talking about this with my best friend and she told me that I needed to be careful because affairs never end well. I know that most affairs don’t end well. But I don’t see why mine can’t be the exception. The other person and I care deeply for one another and have tons of mutual respect. So I don’t see why the day can’t come when we decide to part as friends, taking the best parts of the relationship with us. I don’t see why that’s not possible.”

I’m not going to tell you that it’s impossible for both people to mutually decide to end the affair at the same time with complete peace about it. I won’t tell you that the relationship can’t end amicably. However, it’s my opinion that this is the exception rather than the rule. Much of the time, one person wants to end the relationship a little more than the other. Or, the people have different expectations and views of the relationship.  Or, someone’s spouse finds out and the affair must be ended abruptly and with no closure.  And this causes hurt feelings and even anger.

And that is just talking about the affair relationship. I haven’t even gotten to the marriage yet. Of course, most people in this situation fantasize that their spouse will never find out about the affair relationship and they hope that they will leave the affair a better person and a better spouse. I won’t say that this is impossible. But it’s very rare. Most of the time, either your spouse finds out or the guilt gets to be so bad that you confess. Even when this doesn’t happen, you will be changed. Because you will know in your heart that you betrayed your spouse in the worst possible way. You will know that you let yourself and your spouse down.

Whether you want it to or not, this affects you in many aspects of your life. As you probably can tell, I don’t think it’s likely for most affairs to end well. This is true even if the end is amicable and even if your spouse either doesn’t find out or forgives you eventually.  There is just too much betrayal.  And too much pain or turmoil.

In short, it changes your marriage. It adds a huge, unfortunate challenge. It means that you have to work very hard to restore the trust and / or do a lot of self work to figure out why you may have betrayed your spouse in the first place. I realize that you can’t take back time. The affair has already happened. You can’t change that reality. Even if you accept that things may not end well, you can’t make it so that all of this never happened.

But here is what you can do. You can vow to not prolong this any longer. Because if you are clear that you are not going to break up your family, then what is the point with continuing on with the affair? Once it’s over, the next course of action is to begin to heal and to restore. This isn’t likely to be easy. There is often a huge mess to clean up. But if your spouse is important to you and your family is your first priority, then you take responsibility for this and you do what needs to be done.

In my opinion, this is the best that you can do in order to ensure that the affair ends as well as it possibly can. Sometimes, the affair does shine a light on your vulnerabilities and the places where you need to work on yourself. So long as you follow through and you do the work, then this can benefit you and it’s always nice when the affair didn’t just leave destruction in its wake, but at least gave you some valuable lessons and tools.

But make no mistake. It’s better if the affair never happened at all. But since it did, you’re simply making the best of things. I believe that it’s unrealistic to think that an affair is most likely going to end well or have some much benefit so that the whole thing was worth the pain that someone else and yourself is going to feel. I am admittedly biased but that is my honest take on this topic.

I was the faithful spouse in my own situation, so of course I see things from that perspective.  But although my marriage did heal and there were some beneficial things that we learned, I still would give anything if the affair had never happened.  And I would never tell you that it ended well.   You can read more on my blog at

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