8 Things You Didn’t Know About Men And Affairs

Neil StraussNeil11 Comments

Today’s guest blogger, Jayson Gaddis, is a former psychotherapist, a teacher,  a speaker, a writer, and a relationship specialist. Today, he takes a fascinating look at root causes and effects of having an affair. More of his work can be found at www.jaysongaddis.com

Most men justify their affairs. Many feel ashamed and are still living in secret. But what is really going on with guys having affairs? This post is less about why men have affairs and more about what is going on and what can be done after an affair. Whether you are on the giving or receiving end of an affair, read on. This might be good news you haven’t heard.

In my career as a relationship specialist, I’ve worked with a lot of affairs and I’m coming to understand a few things about affairs and infidelity. I figured I’d share them.

First, a few personal details from my own experience…

I’ve never slept with another person while in a committed partnership. However, I have had lame boundaries and an emotional affair.

For example, I had an emotional affair once. I met a sexy woman on a weekend meditation retreat and became infatuated by our chemistry and connection. I knew her for a period of 12 hours before I started to question my current relationship and wonder if instead, I should be with this new woman. And, true to form for me, I was infatuated and projecting all kinds of stuff onto her, who I later realized I’d be miserable with.

But why was I vulnerable to this “grass is greener” dynamic with this new woman? Essentially I was pissed at my current partner for not valuing what I value—doing meditation retreats with me. I wanted her to be there with me. I was judging her way, her path, and felt alone in mine. A core wound of mine was being triggered—I was feeling unseen/unmet and was very hurt and angry about it. Of course, I was completely unconscious to this at the time. So, my “affair” with this new woman was me unconsciously saying “fuck you” to my partner at that time.

Same with my “leaky” energy back then. I had porous boundaries with women for years. I always kept the door open for another “better” woman to come along. When I finally investigated intelligently I discovered a few things to change this pattern.

On the surface, I blamed my commitment issues. But under “commitment issues” was a deeper fear.  But again, I had no connection to this at the time. I was very asleep. My “nice, gentleman” mask hid my shadow of fear, repressed sexual energy, hurt, and anger all directed toward the feminine (mom issues), underneath. I was both afraid to be engulfed by women and I was simultaneously afraid to be left by women.  A wild paradox that left me with a lot of “push/pull” behavior with the girlfriends I dated (come close, go away). All of these are discoveries I made with skillful guidance and a lot of honest self-inquiry.

We all have our own version of this that is just a re-enactment of our childhood wound that then plays out in our adult relationships. And, in long term partnerships, when we don’t learn how to fight properly, we stuff things, we hide them, we posture, and we are not willing to be ourselves.

But, What’s The Good News?

Conventional wisdom comes up short when we really look under the hood of affairs. So, here are seven things you may not know about affairs that hopefully engage you to look a bit deeper. Some of them might even be good news to a hurt heart.

1. The blame game. Many men want to blame their affair on their current partner. Not so fast. Years ago, when I “acted out” with whomever I was with, it was always because of something going on on my side. It was never her fault or because of her. Did she have a part? Sure, but blaming her got me nowhere, which is what most men do—they blame the woman. But if I want to move past this type of behavior, which is out of integrity for me, then I need to look within.

The opposite of course is a smaller percentage of men who blame themselves. Blaming yourself is still more blame and shame and goes no where to get to the deeper issues. Try it on that it is no one’s “fault.” Fault keeps us in the realm of right and wrong. We gotta dig deeper here.

2. Affairs are a product of… FEAR. That’s right. Fear and more fear. If you’ve dabbled in an affair or two, try it on that you are scared. Scared of what? Loads of stuff. That’s why you kept it secret or hid it for a while. You are scared. You’re probably also exhibit strong co-dependent behavior and are very developmentally young when it comes to being yourself in your marriage. Ouch and probably true.

3. An affair equals underdeveloped sexual maturity. Affairs happen when men are not in the driver seat of their sexuality. Are you owning the wild beast inside of you, or letting it run wild, thus run you? Most men are not even close when it comes to fully owning their sexual range and expression. Most men are like teenage boys sexually. Thus they attract teenage girls who are at the same level in their sexual development. A good match, but there’s way more folks.

4. An affair is always helpful. WTF? Yup. Affairs are often a helpful wake up call that cracks an already leaky foundation in a marriage. An affair snaps both parties out of a sleepy trance and into truth. However, few heed the call of truth and many slip back into fear and being comfortable withholding who they really are from their partner. For the committed couple, an affair can, and often does, take the couple to a deeper place.

5. Affairs take two—always. That’s right. It always takes two for an affair to happen. I’m not taking about the third party. I’m talking about in the primary relationship; both people contribute equally to an affair happening (hard pill to swallow for some).  The important point is that you learn to take full responsibility for your part, whatever side of the affair you are on. And “full responsibility” has nothing to do with blame or “fault.” This is particualarly challenging news for folks on the receiving end of an affair who’d rather go to their grave feeling self-righteous and indignant.

6. Affairs are a symptom. Affairs are a symptom trying to help each party get to a deeper wound that needs healing. Affairs are the canary in the coal mine. Once the shit hits the fan, it’s a huge opportunity to deal and heal some unconscious baggage. Go there!

7. Affairs are handed down. Perhaps the most interesting fun fact here is that when affairs happen, there is always (100% of the time in my experience) a lineage component. Meaning, people who have affairs, at least one party, and often both, come from a family where one or more of their parents had some kind of an affair or breach in their marriage boundary. Fascinating and true. Just goes to show how critical lineage work is if we want to get to the bottom of patterns.

Many of our relational patterns are handed down generation after generation. And, until one person “wakes up” and gets that pattern to zero, it will keep being passed down, largely unconsciously. And, getting the affair, and all of our hurt feelings about it, to zero is a fairly straightforward protocol. Or, you can pass it down to your kids. Your call.

8. After an affair, you can move beyond shame and guilt. And, no, I’m not talking about taking this one to your grave and hiding even more. If you have big balls, you can be free of shame or guilt after an affair. Believe it or not, we don’t need to stay ashamed, hurt, angry, or feeling betrayed for years on end. It can be different. And yes, we can even learn to be genuinely grateful for the affair. But that takes a special kind of warrior with badass tools to move through it. The choice is yours.


11 Comments on “8 Things You Didn’t Know About Men And Affairs”

  1. Shit, it keeps my marriage strong. Face it one partner is boring as hell. It is fun for the first few years then miles down the road when the crazy sex stops you turn and say what the fck. So you take a road trip, hit some game, grab a hotel room, knock that shit. Then come back to the marriage a whole lot happier person. Plus it increases the love for the wife as far as im concerned (maybe this is the fear you talk about above). You live one life, some live it others just live in it.

    1. yeah, all psychology experiences that were done SCIENTIFICALLY prove that it’s necessary for a good marriage.

  2. I find this article pathetic. it’s that type of propaganda that makes our society sick. Despite your degree, I find nothing scientific in all what you say, and state as a fact. It’s like a teenager searching for his own spiritual model and thinking the world runs this way. It’s all superstition and nothing else. remember how many times psychology was biased into a sick pattern just to judge people and try to “heal” them? This article falls in that pit.
    It is a scientific fact that less than 3% of mammals are monogamous, and Humans are not in that part. There’s nothing bad about it. Without affairs, we would certainly be extinct!
    Now there’s two ways to do this: assume your nature and be actually polygamous, or hate that and settle instead for being a serial monogamous. Men usually follow the first and women the second, even if we intellectually hate polygamy. But it’s our nature. It’s like forbidding breathing. It’s not natural and you’ll end up suffocated.
    Instead, we have to get mad at “owning people”, engaging them together by means other than love, like love of ownership.
    Just remember that love is when you like to see the other happy no matter what. Jealousy is triggered by love of possession.
    One last thing, I appreciate feminists effort to liberate women, but that’s what they should do, not enslave men too. there’s the difference.

  3. A girl I know wants to cheat on her boyfriend (she keeps suggesting that we get together), she says that hes addicted to drugs and doesn’t appreciate her trying to help him whenever she suggests that he would quit.

    I’m into her, I’d like to sleep with her. I don’t know what it will result in for me and the girl but these 8 things hold true for women too.

    1. If she wants to cheat on her boyfriend, then there is a problem in her relationship. Therefore for her to resolve the problem she has to tackle it head-on or leave her drug-addict boyfriend. Sleeping with you isn’t gonna solve anything. She will try and USE you to shock a response out of her boyfriend. Try being honest: “I’m kind of into you but there’s no way I’m going to fuck you while your dating someone else. Give me a call when something changes.” Tell her if she did leave him what your expectations are (sex/relationship/whatever) Then stop talking to her. And focus elsewhere and Neil’s techniques. If she likes you, she’ll come runnin, if not then she’s not worth your time. Don’t let her make you the other-guy.

  4. In my past I’ve had more then one girl cheat on me. I used to think that my own fidelity made me righteous in my cause. I was bullshitting myself. I had made mistakes.

    Later I became the “other man” stealing someone else s girl.

    here are the deeper truths.

    1)sexual power is womanly power [and men resent it]

    2)Being a skilled lover is a mans only salvation [most men are just plain terrible in bed, and women pay a terrible price to prop up delicate egos] anytime they say there is a “communication problems,” this is code for “he cant find her clit”

    3)everyone cheats [actualy not true but useful to adopt this belief]

    4)Its ok for her to be jealous, its NOT ok for the man to be jealous. [the role of her sexual power is to hold a man, other women want]

    5)she is a piece of ass to you. [this reinforces her sexual power, and is the fulfillment of her feminine role.]

    6)she wants a man who is dominant[affirms her sex power, and fem role. the submissive role is the actual power role.]

    i have a strong attraction to powerful women and was always surprised how flopped over in submission they would try to become.

  5. “Affairs are handed down” – can you provide any scientific research into this? Or is it just your feeling? I call it BS.

  6. Good article but I don’t agree with it completely. I do believe that affairs are necessary at times, of course it would be different if I was on the receiving end (I probably wouldn’t accept it), ego maybe? I don’t see too many marriages working without a lover involved…maybe we’re not supposed to be monogamous? Several studies have suggested this too.

  7. Monogamy is not about: how boring it is to pound the same vagina over and over. Monogamy exists to create the best environment for a strong offspring for the species in question. Plenty of studies show that a person raised in a tranquil household with 2 parents, yields the best result. At its most basic, the mother teaches how to nurture, the father teaches how to hunt. I think that the polygamy/monogamy question boils down to how an individual envisions its family, if any. I think the statement: “humans are polygamous” to be stupid. We are born to a 51/50 birthing ratio (the extra 1 accounting for a brash male’s death). Also women rate their orgasms as more intense with someone they love. Thereby (I would wager) increasing chance of conception with the most suitable father of the offspring. I think the article is right on the money. Also crazy sex doesn’t keep a marriage strong. Communicating (about the sex) does.

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