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Affairs  -  Part One  

In the past month I have seen a lot of information in the media about affairs and thought I would take this time to write some about my thinking and knowledge in the area.  I know this is a very painful subject for many people so I apologize if I trigger painful memories for some of you.  But there is hope in the subject of affairs as well and I hope to be able to articulate that here.  As I started writing I thought I would put together a quick article, but there is a lot to be said, so this will be the first in a series of articles about affairs, preventing them and recovering from them. 

I’m not sure why I have seen so much in the media lately.  Sometime in June the founder of a web site that caters to people who are looking for affairs was interviewed briefly on WGN news.  I won’t give the website, mostly because I hope none of you care to know what it is.  His position was that the biggest problem in many marriages was sexual boredom and he was providing a service that helps marriages by allowing people to take care of their sexual itch. 

He missed the boat.  People may use that as an excuse for an affair, but it doesn’t fit. According to research on affairs, most cheaters report the sex in the affair is no better than with their legitimate partner and they are no more attracted to the person they are having an affair with than their real partner.  My experience in talking with people in affairs is that they are often looking for more of an emotional connection than a sexual partner.  Even those who emphasize talking about the sex often report it is not better than their primary relationship and it may be very infrequent.

Many factors contribute to affairs, so it is impossible to say there is one thing that causes them.  That said, one of the biggest predictors of infidelity is opportunity.  That is one of the central messages in an article on affairs in the August Edition of Psychology Today magazine.  Affairs are more common in people who travel a great deal for work or who have a great deal of exposure in their work lives to members of the opposite sex.  The workplace seems to be the foundation of most affairs.  More illicit partners seem to come from that arena than any other. 

Psychology Today goes on to use the opportunity factor as an explanation for why even happy marriages can end up suffering from an affair.  That may be true, but there are ways to safeguard your marriage from an affair.  And there are ways to recover from an affair.  In future months we will talk about both prevention and recovery.