How Should I End My Affair? What Is The Best Way To Do It?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from folks who know that it is time to end their affair, but they aren’t sure how to go about it. They know that this is going to cause pain, but they also know that it must be done. However, they aren’t sure how to do it in the right way so that every one can go on with their lives in the most positive way possible.

A comment that you might hear in this situation is something like: “I know that this is going to sound stupid, but last night it dawned on me that I could be ruining my life by having an affair. I started this relationship impulsively, at an awful time in my life. These circumstances have nothing to do with my husband. He has tried to help me, but I have pushed him away. The other man is not a bad guy. He knew that I was married. but I lied to him and told him that my marriage was over. I don’t know if he has real feelings for me. I like to think that he does because this would make the affair seem not quite so awful. I haven’t told my husband about the affair. I do intend to. But only after I have already broken it off. So, I know that I need to end this, but I don’t know how. Part of me just wants to send a text or an email, but I feel like the other man deserves more than this. But I don’t want to see the disappointment in his face when I tell him. What is the best way to end it?”

I will tell you right up front that I am not very objective about this. As a spouse who has been cheated on, I’ve never been the one who has to break it off. But I do hear from many folks in this situation on my blog and I believe that there is probably a right and a wrong way to do this, which I’ll discuss below.

Think About Your Spouse And Your Marriage First: I couldn’t help but notice that the woman in this situation was most concerned with the other man’s feelings than with her husband’s. Quite honestly, you need to be the most concerned about your spouse. Many people will feel somewhat apprehensive about breaking it off and so they will go and tell the other person that their spouse is “making” them end the affair and work on their marriage. What is the risk of this? Well, what if the other person blames your spouse and shows up at your spouse’s work or home? Can you imagine how awful this would be? Especially if your spouse doesn’t already know about the affair? My point is this. Don’t use your spouse or your marriage as an excuse. Take responsibility for your own mistake. Don’t blame anyone else, including the other person.

Break It On In A Way That Sounds Decisive And Final: I understand wanting to let the other person down easy. I understand wanting to have compassion. And, if you can do that while still being clear, than that is optimal. But, be very careful that you don’t break it off in a way that is going to give the other person hope that you might change your mind. Don’t leave them any incentive to continue to contact or reach out to you. It should be clear that you intend for this to be the end without any further contact. If you believe that this is better done in a letter or email so that they can’t interrupt, then I understand this, but keep in mind that they could always show this to your spouse later so be direct and to the point without a lot of emotion. Stress that you made a mistake, that you are sorry for involving them in your mistake, and make it clear that you don’t place any blame on anyone but yourself.

Potential Words To Use: I didn’t know the other man in this situation. The person who can come up with the best words are the people involved. But here is just a general suggestion. “I have been thinking about our relationship and I have realized that I have made a selfish mistake that is entirely of my own doing. I’m so sorry for involving you in this. I was going through my own struggle that I should have dealt with on my own, without involving anyone else. It is time for me to deal with it once and for all. And, in order to do that, I need to end our relationship.”

The other person may try to debate or ask for more information. Keep things short and to the point. Frankly, they may ask about your spouse or your marriage. I realize that some may disagree, but I don’t think that you owe them an explanation about this. Your marriage is your own business, especially since the affair is over. And you don’t want to do anything to encourage the other person to contact your spouse, who doesn’t deserve any of this. Frankly, if the other person knew you were married, they also knew that this day might one day come.

No matter how you decide to end it, the most important thing to do is to end it as soon as you feasibly can. Yes, there may be hurt feelings and pain. But it is better to get the process underway than to continue on and make a bad situation even worse.  You can be gentle and considerate while also being firm. And as soon as that is done, you can focus on your marriage.   If it helps, you can read about my own recovery after the affair on my blog at

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