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Joanne Mander Bsc Hons; MA; MBACP

Why do affairs happen?

November 29th, 2012 by Joanne
As a Relationship Counsellor, I witness first hand the devastation the revelation of an affair has upon a couple’s relationship and ultimately the wider family. Couples arrive in the counselling room experiencing a whole host of emotions ranging from shock, denial and anger to list a few. In my experience however, not many couples have any idea why an affair may have occurred. So many times I hear, “but you ask anyone we had the perfect relationship”, “if the affair had not happened we would have been fine” or “I just want the relationship back to how it was”. It is not however, realistic to expect the relationship to return to its previous state. An affair, is often the symptom of problems within a relationship, rather than the cause, and can appear after the relationship has been in trouble for some time. Affairs can occur for many reasons. Sometimes the affair can be used to end a relationship that is all but over. The partner having the affair uses it to instigate an end to the relationship and often the partner not having the affair can feel relieved when the affair is revealed, neither wanting to be the one who was seen to end the relationship. Affairs can result when one partner is afraid of becoming emotionally close and vulnerable with their partner. These types of affairs are often repeated. The couple become embroiled in a pattern of relating, becoming close then pulling away from each other when the closeness starts to feel uncomfortable again. An affair can also be used to stabilize the couple relationship. When pressures inside or outside the couple relationship build up, the pressure on the couple may become too much. In this situation an affair acts as a diversion to allow the couple to avoid discussing the real problems. Affairs can also occur in couples where their sexual experience is limited (they may not have had many previous sexual relationships) and/or they find it difficult to talk to their partner about sexual issues. In this situation their lovemaking may be viewed as routine. These types of affairs do generally occur as a result of the lack of sexual intimacy and tend to be sought mainly for sex. It is a common myth however that affair’s are essentially about finding sex outside a committed relationship. Affairs more often occur as a result of many complex reasons. Engaging in the counselling process, either online counselling or face to face counselling can, for some couples can be extremely helpful in managing the aftermath of an affair. For some couples it may be the first time that they have talked constructively together about their relationship. Counselling can enable the couple to begin to try and understand why an affair may have happened, work through the many emotions that each partner is experiencing and support them in re-establishing the trust within the relationship. It also provides an opportunity to encourage the rebuilding of a more satisfying relationship in which both are able to get their individual needs met. Joanne Mander, Bsc (Hons), MA, MBACP Relationship Counsellor

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