I have a friend whose husband is cheating on her. This friend is hyper focused on the other woman’s looks. She doesn’t understand why her husband chose someone she feels is unattractive over her, someone who is slim and pretty.
My friend is missing the point of the affair altogether. Most men and women who cheat don’t do so because they like the looks of the other person. They do so because they enjoy the feelings they get from interactions with the other person.
Fascination and infatuation is at the root of most love affairs. To understand why the affair is so intoxicating you need to understand the differences between married love and infatuation.
Married love begins with infatuation or romantic love and moves into committed love that ebbs and flows based on life and the personalities of each spouse. For romantic love to turn into committed love each spouse must have some or all of the character traits below.
- An understanding of what commitment means,
- Sensitivity to the feelings of others,
- A generous heart, will to give to your spouse when it means doing without yourself,
- The ability to take into consideration the needs of their spouse,
- A willingness to be honest, dependable and trustworthy,
- Most of all they are resilient, accepting and forgiving.
When we marry the romantic love that led us to the decision to marry falls prey to daily stressors that either promote committed love or reveal that it was nothing but infatuation that can’t survive the reality of daily life.
Most marriages move from infatuation to a more balanced, reality based committed love. That can’t be said for love affairs.
“To inspire with a foolish or extravagant love or admiration” is the definition of infatuated. It is easy to mistake infatuation for committed love but it is only an attraction to another person based on who you need that person to be in your life.
A love affair is about that initial “in love” feeling, that point in a relationship when someone is blinded to the other person’s flaws. By its very nature a love affair prolongs those feelings of infatuation.
People engaged in an affair spend little “real” time together. Most of their time together is spent in a fantasy world free of the stressors that daily life introduces into love relationships. It is easy to maintain illusions and romanticize a relationship if that relationship is based on secret, fleeting meetings with little time for real life to intrude.
The other man or woman is an object of desire, they are wanted based on the fact that they fulfill someone’s need to feel “in love” and not based on who they actually are. Think of the infatuation that comes along with a love affair the same way you would if your spouse had “one too many beers.” There is a sense of intoxication that comes along with a love affair that keeps those involved from thinking rationally.
Love affairs are as addictive as alcohol or drugs due to the good feelings they illicit in the cheater. That “in love” feeling gives the cheater a sort of chemical high. He/she will continue the affair until the relationship is exposed to the realities of day to day life. Below are a few characteristics of affair love.
- They feel as if they can’t live without each other in spite of the fact they live the majority of their life away from each other.
- A fear they will fall apart emotionally if they have to remove themselves from the affair.
- Deep feelings of anxiety, worry or jealousy of the affair partner.
- A need for the affair partner to meet all their expectations.
- The belief that the affair partner will change themselves to meet the other person’s needs.
- A need for the affair partner to be accessible at all times, regardless of the fact that they are able rarely see each other.
- A deep dependence on the affair partner to “make” them feel loved.
- An inability to find comfort when they are not with the affair partner.
Basically the difference between married love and affair love is…married love is unconditional, you accept your spouse for who they are, warts and all. Affair love is conditional; it cannot survive the realities of day-to-day life. Affair love is steeped in fears of loss whereas, married love is associated with the comfort of knowing you are loved and accepted as you are.
The reasonable person wonders how someone can become addicted to or intoxicated by a situation that causes so much stress and anxiety. I suppose that feeling of infatuation outweighs those feelings of stress and anxiety over the love affair. The emotional rush one experiences from the affair makes real life marital love seem like a let-down. So, they return as often as possible for that short-term hormonal feeling of infatuation.
Points to Consider:
If your spouse is having an affair please keep the below in mind.