How Do I Walk Away From The Affair When The Other Person Matters So Much To Me?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people who are well aware that the affair they are having is absolutely wrong. Many never would have believed that they would ever cheat on their spouse. And now, they are horribly ashamed of their actions. Plus, they know that the right thing to do would be to walk away from the affair immediately. Sometimes, they even try to do this and are unsuccessful. Other times, they aren’t yet willing to try because they have come to believe that the other person is now an important aspect of their life.

I might hear a comment like: “It hurts me to even write these words. But I have been having an affair for four months. The other man and I were friends for about eight months. I suppose during that friendship, I was really having an emotional affair. But during that eight months of friendship, we never crossed the line. There was never anything inappropriate. But we did develop a deep friendship. I did come to depend on the other man. I told him everything. He is closer to me than any friend I’ve ever had. He gets all of my jokes. He knows what I am thinking from just looking at me. I can not imagine my life without him. Our relationship progressed to a physical affair and once that happened, my feelings became even more intense. On a different note, my brother came to visit me recently. And my brother’s marriage ended because of an affair. I confided to my brother about this relationship and my brother became very upset. He told me that having an affair ruined his life. He said that he thought that he was in love with the other woman. But he said that because of his love for her, he has lost everything. He rarely sees his children. His wife, who is a great woman, can’t stand the sight of him. My brother begged me to walk away from the affair while I still can. I admit that this makes sense. I know that what I am doing is wrong and that my husband truly is a good man. But how do you walk away when the other person has come to mean so much to you? Even the thought of not seeing him or talking to him anymore makes me very uncomfortable.”

This type of concern is not uncommon. I hear comments like this quite a bit. People know the affair is wrong. People truly do want to end it. But they believe that they have developed real feelings. Here is the thing. Breaking it off and walking away is not likely to be pleasant for you. In all likelihood, there is going to be some difficulty involved. I am not going to tell that it will be easy or that you should just get over it.

But you know, without my even needing to tell you, that ending it is the right thing to do. I realize that some relationships that start as affairs turn out to be long term relationships. I am not going to deny this. But I do believe that before you ever start a new relationship, you should resolve things with your spouse. That means that unless you are divorced, regardless of what feelings are present, you owe it to your spouse, to your family, and to yourself to remain faithful until the marriage is over. You likely already know this and don’t need for me to tell you this or you wouldn’t be reading this article.

So let’s get down to it. Honestly, this is like breaking a habit. You take it one day at a time. You make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for you to cheat. And you hold yourself accountable. You be clear with the other person so that they understand what to expect. And optimally, you stop cold turkey. Because quite frankly, the longer you allow for this to go on, the harder it is going to be on every one involved. So this means that you make a clean break. You don’t call. You don’t send notes or texts. And you especially do not meet in person.

So what do you do with all of this time that you would normally pour into the affair? You spend it on yourself. Or your family. Or in counseling. I do realize that many people scoff at counseling. I did also. But sometimes, having that support and having someone to hold you accountable really helps.

Regarding whether or not you should tell your spouse, I can’t answer that for you. In some cases, the guilt becomes too much. And in other cases, people chose to keep this to themselves because they know how painful and devastating it would be to their spouse. Regardless of which way you choose to go, your goal should be to become an attentive, faithful and loving spouse with the whole idea being that you can use the affair to improve your marriage instead of to destroy it.

I’d like to offer you some encouragement, if I can. I can not pretend that I have been in your shoes, because I haven’t. In my case, it was my husband that cheated. But I can appreciate that you are trying to do the right thing. And, I can tell you that a good deal of people contact me and tell me that they truly thought that they were in love with or were soul mates to the other person when the affair was happening. But once it is over, and in hindsight, they realize that they built it up into something that it really wasn’t – not really.

In a sense, you have to make out the relationship to be something magical and something that you can’t turn away from. This is necessary in order to justify it’s existence. But once you have decided that it shouldn’t exist anymore, then you really don’t have to do this anymore. And with time, it is easier to see it for what it really was – a relationship not rooted in reality.

But to answer the original question, in order to walk away, you take that first step. And then you take another. And another. And with each day after the relationship has ended, you continue to walk. And you walk away one step at a time.

Again, I am biased.  I freely admit that.  But I believe that my husband is very much at peace today with ending the affair and with walking away.  I believe that he would tell you that he sees things much more clearly since the affair has ended.  And until you truly end it, then you probably can’t have that clarity. If it helps, you can read more about this process for me on my blog at

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