Why Am I Shy About Sex With My Husband But Wasn’t With My Affair Partner

By: Katie Lersch:  I get a lot of correspondence from folks who do not understand why affair sex is different from marital sex.  Many people report feeling more free or adventurous with the affair partner.  And they do not understand why.  Even after the affair is over, many fully admit that the affair changed them.  Still, they can not hit their sexual groove with their spouse, no matter how hard they try.  This can be upsetting, as many really do want to save their marriages, and they unfortunately take this sexual mismatch to mean that they aren’t meant for or combatible with their spouse, when this isn’t necessarily the truth.

For example, someone might ask something like this: “Let me say this right up front that I love my husband.  I value my marriage.  I always thought that my husband and I knew one another very well and were matched well.  I will admit that our sex life never set the world on fire.  But quite frankly, I didn’t know any better at the time because until very recently, I have only been with my husband. I had to travel for three months with my job.  While there, I met a man and had an affair.  I am very guilty about this and it is not like me.  I have not told anyone about this and I never will.  But I was a different person with the other man.  I was very free both in my personality and during sex. It was like night and day.  Once the three month assignment with my job ended, of course the affair was over.  There was never any thought to keep it going.  I love my husband and I’m pretty sure that the other man loves his wife.  I see no reason to tell my husband about the affair.  It would only hurt him and there’s no reason for it.  I had hoped that my sexual adventures would help my sex life with my husband.  They have not.  I am still very shy sexually with my husband and I am not sure why.  He’s a good man and he does nothing to make me feel self conscious.  I don’t know why I can’t feel free sexually around him when I was able to do so around a virtual stranger.”

I can’t say either, but I can certainly tell you my theory.  What I’m hearing from you is something that I commonly hear, actually.  It’s not as rare as you might think.  I personally believe that people often feel more “free” or “uninhibited” during an affair for two key reasons.  I will list the reasons below.

An Affair Is Not Thought Of As Being Long Term: First, many are fully aware that the affair is temporary.  They know that it won’t last and that they can just walk away.  Think about this.  How many times have you felt more free (and like a different version of yourself) when you were on vacation (especially when you were on vacation as a young person?) An example would be spring break.  You felt free and joyful because you’re able to escape real life.  You know that what you do on vacation will stay on vacation and you likely won’t have to revisit it or answer for it.

The same is true of an affair.  You’ll have the experience and then you will walk away and go back to regular life.  This allows you to let down the persona that you carry in regular life.

It’s Like Running With Scissors: The second reason that people tend to believe that they feel “free” during in affair is because the act is kind of forbidden.  It’s sort of like running with scissors when you are a kid.  It feels dangerous, and therefore, quite thrilling.  Honestly, I don’t believe that it is anything more than these two things.  I know that some people think I’m cynical when I say these things, but I don’t believe that good sex with a virtual stranger makes the stranger in any way special.  It may mean that he is in the right place at the right time and nothing more than that.

Nor do I think that hitting a sexual rough patch with a good and loving man needs to mean that you aren’t a good match or that your marriage can’t be a great one.  Perhaps you can create that sense of danger or something forbidden in your own marriage.  People do this all the time when they go to bars, pretend their spouse is a stranger and then “go home” with the stranger / spouse.  This is a healthy way to feel like you’re living dangerously (when there is no danger involved) and it’s certainly preferable to having an affair.

Frankly, by definition, our marriage is our safe place to fall.  That is in direct contrast to the “dangerous” thrill of an affair.  Sometimes you have to work to find a happy balance between the two.  But I believe that the feeling of freedom during affair sex is nothing more than the combination of it being temporary and of it being forbidden.  To me, it’s nothing more than that.

If you need to spice up your sex life in your marriage, there are all sorts of resources for that.  But I think it would be silly to give up on a good man before you give this your best try. It took my husband and I awhile to hit our stride again sexually after the affair.  If it helps, there’s more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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