What Range Of Emotions Do People Feel When Having An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  One common theme that I see over and over again in the correspondence that I get comes from faithful spouses who are desperately trying to understand the cheating spouse’s thought process while being unfaithful.

Many faithful spouses have never cheated on someone.  So they just can not understand what types of feelings would lead someone to do this.  People often want to know exactly what their spouse was thinking and feeling while carrying out the betrayal.

Their concern might sound something like this: “I desperately want to understand what my husband was thinking and feeling while he was cheating on me.  We had a good marriage.  We have small children.  Our life is enviable by many people’s standards. And my stupid husband risked everything for some low class woman who isn’t even pretty.  I just do not understand.  I have repeatedly asked him what he was thinking and feeling, but he can not give me any answer that even remotely makes sense.  He doesn’t seem to understand it either.  He insists that the other woman meant nothing to him and he did not have any feelings for her.  He insists that he wasn’t angry or disconnected with me.  He also insists that he still wanted and valued his family.  So I am a loss to understand all of this. What are people feeling when they are having affairs?  Because the euphoria must be a real high to risk everything.”

Actually, many people who describe affairs to me don’t describe it in terms of euphoria, although there can be a good bit of excitement thrown into the mix – at least at first  Now, know that I am not a husband who has cheated, so this is not first hand knowledge.  I do not personally know what it feels like to cheat on someone, but I do hear from many people who describe the feeling, and below I’m listing the feelings and emotions that are most often described to me.

Desperation:  I don’t mean this in terms of: “I am desperate to have sex with someone other than my spouse.”  It’s not that type of desperation.  It is the desperation that comes when you are struggling in another area (or areas) of your life.  If you look at statistics of affairs, you will find that they usually come at a crisis point in someone’s life.  The person having the affair is trying to feel better.  And often, the person doesn’t really know why they are feeling so badly and so they also feel helpless to fix it.  So they are walking around in a vulnerable state that makes them more likely to cheat when, in regular times, they would not dream of it.

Confusion Mixed With Frustration:  This sort of ties into what I mentioned before.  People who cheat are not usually very self aware at the time.  If there were, then they might not cheat in the first place.  They may connect the dots and realize that they are depressed because they just lost their job.  Instead, they are sort of walking around in a fog and they aren’t sure why.  They are looking for something to fix this, but they do not realize it.  That’s why sometimes, one of the first things a faithful spouse might notice with a cheating spouse is agitation and a short fuse.  They are sometimes angry and frustrated, but they aren’t sure why.

Excitement:  Do you remember when you were a kid and you were forbidden to do something but did it anyway?  You knew that you might be caught and punished, which is why it was so exhilarating when you did it and got away with it.  This is the feeling that sometimes drives people when they are cheating.  They know what they are doing is wrong.  They may even know that this has the potential to end badly.  But they get a rush during it which helps to quiet whatever crisis that are having at the time.  And sometimes, for just a short period of time, they feel exhilaration because of this.  Many report feeling “alive.” Yes, it will all crash down around them eventually and they will realize that this tiny bit of exhilaration wasn’t worth it.  But they feel it just the same.

Guilt:  I believe that most people underestimate the guilt that people feel while cheating.  Yes, they try very hard to push the guilt down and to not feel anything.  Some even become quite good at it.  They will often try very hard to create some justification for what they are doing: “no one will find out.”  Or “I will end this tomorrow.”  But deep down, they know that what they are doing is very wrong.  This is another place where the faithful spouse will often notice a change in personality.  It’s hard to function normally and to concentrate on day to day life when the guilt is eating you up.  Many people end the affair because they can no longer handle the guilt.  It is also why many people confess even when their spouse doesn’t suspect that anything is wrong. They want an escape for the guilt.

A Sense Of Dread:  Even when people are obsessively careful to cover their cheating, many have a slight sense of dread.  Many are fully aware that they have no intention of ending their marriages.  And sometimes, the “other woman” starts to make demands or to talk about the future.  This is when the realization hits that there may be no way to exit this situation without anyone being hurt or without any one finding out.  There can be a sense that it is inevitable that there may be a bad outcome.

I hope this article has shown you that very few people go through an affair with feelings of euphoria or excitement.  Many people will admit that, other than very short periods of novelty and relief, most of the affair had them feeling guilty, confused, frustrated and resigned to an eventual bad outcome.  It’s not fun juggling all these feelings and trying to cover your tracks all of the time.  It’s not fun to look at your spouse and to know that you’re doing something which you know is wrong.

Many people describe the time they were having an affair as sort of a train wreck in their lives.  I think that many people assume that the cheating spouse was having the time of his life, but that’s not often the case.  Often, they are struggling greatly.  I believe that this was true in my cases and in many cases. You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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