How Do I Break Off The Affair With Someone Who I Actually Love?

I sometimes hear from people who know that their affair is wrong on multiple levels. Because of this, they know that the affair must end. They know that ending it is the right solution for everyone involved. And yet, they also know that there is going to be pain involved because they truly believe that they are in love with the other person and vice verse. So, in their minds, they want to handle the “breaking off” of the affair correctly and properly.

To that end, you might hear someone say, “I know that this is going to sound somewhat cringeworthy. But I have been having an affair and I know that it is wrong. I know that I need to end it. But at the same time, there is no question in my mind that I love the other person. However, I love my family more. I’ve noticed some disturbing behavioral issues with my children and I know in my heart that part of the problem is my emotional absence from the home. So I know that I need to turn all of my attention to my family. And I DO love my husband also. I know that the affair has to end. But I’m not sure about the proper way to do it. The other man has been there for me. I know that he loves me as much as I love him. And he deserves more than to just be brushed off. I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to do this.”

I understand where you are coming from, but if the other man knows that you are married and that you have children, I suspect that he had to know that the end of your relationship might arrive at some point. And if he really does care about you, then he must know how invested you are in your children. If he also has children, how could he possibly not understand?

I think that you can never go wrong with just being honest. There is nothing wrong with telling him that you are going to place your focus where it belongs – on your family. I don’t see how anyone in their right mind could fault you for that. Everyone should understand why you’d need to prioritize your children. I also don’t think that there is any kindness in dwelling on how much you care for him and what a sacrifice it feels like to end things. It’s really not helpful to give someone hope that you will change your mind when you know that you shouldn’t and won’t.

So I’d try something very direct, like, “I need to end our relationship because my family needs me. I am sorry that I involved you in an inappropriate relationship when what I needed to do was focus on my family. But now that I see my mistake, I really need to make this right and to place my immediate attention where he belongs. I’m truly sorry and I hope that you understand, but the relationship has to end.”  You can say it with a gentle and kind tone if you feel that this might make things better.

You have to say it very decisively because you don’t want for him to continue to contact you. This just causes confusion and more pain for everyone and it keeps you from your primary goal, which is your family. After you do this, move right on. Don’t dwell. Don’t check up on him. Don’t look at old pictures or ruminate on this. Do exactly what you said you were going to do – prioritize your family.

Speaking of your family, you didn’t mention whether or not your husband knows about this. So I can’t speak for him, but I would strongly suggest counseling or doing some self work to determine why you sought out an affair in the first place. You’ve placed your family first and that’s wonderful. But part of giving them the mother and parent that they deserve is making sure that you don’t repeat this same mistake. So determine what set you up to be unfaithful in the first place and then fix it. That way, you truly are free to devote yourself to your family with confidence.

I know that in these types of situations, it’s easy to get caught up in trying not to hurt anyone. But the real people who should be protected are the children. Someone who participated in an affair is an adult who knew that the relationship was going to have its challenges. You can certainly try to deliver the message with compassion, but I think that we can all agree that you have to deliver it with finality and then move on to what you know is most important. In truth, we often feel loving towards those people with whom we spend the most high quality time. When you give that time to your family, the love you feel should shift to them and the pain that you are feeling now should improve. I don’t mean to be insensitive. I’m just trying to stress what you probably already know deep in your heart.

The good news is that families can and do recover from affairs each and every day.  The damage does not need to be forever.  You can read more about my journey in trying to accomplish this on my blog at

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