An affair is not an uncommon start to a new relationship. What begins as an illicit dalliance becomes legitimized as marriages are ended and secrets are brought into the open. Affairs bring out strong emotions. For those (like myself) who have been betrayed, we are angry and devastated. For those experiencing the intensity of forbidden lust or love, they may feel the excitement of the newness, the guilt of the deception and the fear of being caught.
But sometimes it’s best to step back from the emotion and cast a rational eye on a situation. What really are the chances of a relationship that starts with an affair going the distance? What are some of the particular challenges that face relationships that begin with infidelity? So let’s set the emotion aside for a moment and examine issues that occur when an affair is the beginning:
Togetherness Negotiation is Delayed
One of the trickiest areas for a relationship to navigate is the expectations for the amount of time the couple will spend together and the amount of time that will be spent apart. In infidelity, like with a long-distance relationship, this negotiation is delayed due to external pressures limiting the time spent together. As a result, although the affair may have continued for some time, there may be incompatibility in this basic area.
An Unrealistic Picture of Sexual Chemistry is Developed
There is a connection between fear, novelty and sexual excitement. Affairs are risky, a new partner is unfamiliar and the result can be sexually explosive. But when the newness is gone and the excitement has faded? You may find that the reason that your paramour isn’t really the reason for your newfound sexual awakening.
It’s Difficult to Trust a Liar
If your partner is married, you enter into the relationship knowing that he or she is able to maintain a life of deception. If you’re cheating, your lover knows the same about you. That’s a heavy load to carry. Building trust is always difficult and it becomes an even greater struggle when you know they are not always honest. After all, if he or she will cheat with you, who is to say they won’t cheat on you?
Lack of Support From Friends and Family
Recent research suggests that the strongest marriages begin with an inexpensive wedding filled with lots of guests. That’s because the community around the relationship helps to buttress the marriage, providing additional strength and support. But when the relationship is one born from infidelity, the support will be later and most likely, lesser.
The Relationship Timeline is Influenced by Outside Forces
The affair is artificially kept in the infancy of a relationship, unable to fully mature due to the limitations of secrecy. It may move too slowly at times only to be artificially accelerated when circumstances allow. Forward progress may be delayed while one or both partners attempt to extricate themselves from their marriage. The affair does not have the freedom to evolve on its own timeline; it is squeezed by the pressures which surround it.
Energy is Divided
It takes energy to build a new relationship. Lots of energy. And when some of that attention is still turned to a marriage, it leaves the new relationship starved for care and primed for the pursuer-distancer dance. When the affair partner is present, he or she is primary. Yet, due to the presence of another family, out of sight is often out of mind. And it’s difficult to build a future with someone who is still entrenched in their past.
It’s not impossible for a long-term, happy relationship to emerge from infidelity.
But it’s also not easy.
No relationship is a fairy tale.
No partner is perfect.
Every romance takes effort.
And running away doesn’t solve anything.