Revised 11/17/23

You want to return to your marriage, but you also want to know how to get over your affair partner.

The grief of the "unfaithful" Involved Partner is the most delicate issue in couples therapy.

Commonly there are problems of rumination and obsession with the Hurt Partne. In this case thought-stopping may be an effective way to assert control over intrusive toxic thoughts.

Sometimes an Involved Partner breaks off an affair when they come to realize that the relationship is a dead end.

Some Involved Partners disclose... others are discovered. But they often realize that they don't want to sacrifice their marriage, and they can't make promises in the dark anymore.

Intimate and significant

But affair relationships can be intimate and significant. A sense of profound grief and longing may linger in the mind long after the affair has run its course. They ask how to get over an affair partner and remain contented in their marriage.

The partner not only filled with grief but is worsened as it is an often taboo subject in couples therapy, and many "general practitioners" therapists lack the sophistication and training to engage with the Involved Partner's grief during their individual sessions... (if they even bother to hold individual sessions at all).

Unlike the rumination of the Hurt Partner, Involved Partners who are grieving the loss of their affair partner, cannot discuss their grief with their spouse. They often lock their grief away, and typically regard it as invalid and inappropriate as the affair itself. In a world of the therapy room, where full disclosure is important, not discussion this grief is a double-edged sword.

Getting over affair partner: The unspoken grief of the Involved Partner

When working with a couple in affair recovery, a clinician should always assume grief is in the room. Sometimes it's not and you'll be corrected.

When conducting an intensive couple retreat with a couple working on affair recovery, your therapist will speak with the involved partner alone.

"How are you handling your grief about losing this relationship?"

Sometimes the questions startle them and is very relevant. Sometimes the person is simply relieved that the affair has ended.

A shame-laden dark secret

Sometimes involved partners seem surprised that their couples therapist knows about their grief. They discuss their grief as a shame-laden dark secret because up to this point, they have been struggling with it alone. Often they are relieved to talk about it... or are grateful for my "permission" to explore it. If they confirm that they are grieving, normalizing their grief is important. It is natural for them to grieve a loss. They want to know how to get over their affair partner.

It doesn't mean they aren't determined to rebuild their marriage. They should accept these feelings, and not fight against them.

In other words, affair recovery sometimes presents a therapeutic paradox; There are concrete tools, like helping a hurt partner to Thought-Stop their toxic rumination, but the Involved Partner may need to know that their grief is not toxic and that they should avoid second-guessing themselves, or their commitment to their affair recovery. The grief they feel doesn't render them insincere. They should allow the grief to flow so that it may be discharged as soon as possible.

The sooner they relax into their grief, the sooner their grief will fade from memory

Grief is a very idiosyncratic emotion. It's a popular notion that there isn't a "right" way to grieve. Grief is a working process. And this process works if you don't interfere with it by denying its reality. While there may be no correct path to resolving grief, there are many paths to a problematic and painful, prolonged grieving process.

Many general practitioners see the grief of the Involved Partner as a serious obstacle to affair recovery. Some are even openly hostile to the grief of the Involved Partner.

They are wrong.

Working with the grief of the Involved Partner is a necessary part of affair recovery. This grief, however painful, has a utility. It often provides a roadmap to what was lost or denied in the marriage.

Normalizing the grief of the Involved Partner is not a moral decision... it is a pragmatic one.

The grief and the struggle for integrity

Involved Partners are assailed on all fronts. Their grief is only part of their struggle.

They often see their grief as something to hide, while also feeling resentment and lingering dissatisfaction with the marital status quo, depression over the collapse of their integrity, and an often anxious, angry partner who is also in grief and despair.

The grief of the Involved Partner has many dimensions; grief for their affair partner, grief for their spouse, grief for what may be an emotionally abusive or dead marriage or grief for themselves over their unwise decisions.

That is why useful conversations are so critical to affair recovery.

There are conversations between the partners who are reaching toward affair recovery, but there are also an inner conversation that needs to take place as well.

  •   What kind of partner do I want to be?
  •   Why did I lie and deceive? Why am I staying?
  •   What if repair is too hard?
  •   And what does too hard mean to me in the light of my other accomplishments?
  •   Am I staying because divorce is too messy?
  •   Am I only staying for my kids?
  •   What will my kids think if I leave?
  •   What will they think if I stay?
  •   How can I ask for what I need after what I have done?  
  •   Can we recover from this?
  •   Is it true that we can get into a better place than before?
  •   What can I learn about myself in this recovery process?

Some of these inner questions are more helpful and generative than others. it is not unusual for Involved Partners to do individual therapy as well as couples therapy to sort out how they are going to stay in their marriage after they decide that they want to stay. Affair recovery is often a transformational experience as well as a painful one.

Exploring the grief

Blazing a path to forgiveness, transparency, trust, empathy, and redemptive healing is always the best practice.

When we unpack the grief of the Involved Partner we often find that they feel hopelessly lost and depressed.

Even when struggling to reconcile with the Hurt Partner, they may also feel a keen loss of excitement and vitality.

How can they reconnect with their spouse and rebuild trust again?

Some Involved Partners struggle with the question about their relational dissatisfactions before the affair. "After everything, my partner has been through, how can I put these issues on the table now?

They’ve been through an exciting affair and now struggle with a fear of their lingering malaise with their now openly troubled marriages.

Is it possible to process this grief with your Hurt Partner?

Part of the grieving process for the Involved Partner is confronting their humility, neediness, and broken spirit. The involved Partner appreciates, through their grief, a growing awareness of their own self-focus and misplaced attachment. Perhaps with this deeper understanding, they might learn to tolerate their partner's relational failures as well.

Involved Partners who choose to return to their marriage may want to avoid the pitfalls that will complicate their grief and extend their suffering:

  • Stuffing down their feelings.
  • Grieving without talking to a therapist or confidant.
  • Thinking that the passing time without self-examination is enough.
  • Regretting the past without curiosity about enduring vulnerabilities.
  • Collapsing into toxic shame and not feeling entitled to discuss with their Hurt Partner "what happened to us?" 

Can getting over your affair partner lead to healing?

It's not unusual for Involved Partners to carry a toxic shame for their infidelity and wonder how their marriage could ever be restored. They question whether they’re doing the right thing for themselves and their spouse by staying.

They must silently deal with their own internal grief for the loss of their affair partner because to openly grieve would either risk derision from others or upset their Hurt Partner who already has been devastated by their actions.

But self-forgiveness is sometimes a part of this process as well. If you have split yourself off, lied, and distorted the truth to cover your tracks, eventually you must look back and learn. If you are authentically striving to rebuild with your spouse, you need to forgive yourself for being a good person who made some bad choices and then tried to make it right again.

Toxic shame, like toxic rumination, means that there is less of you available to your partner in the ever-critical present moment. Learn about your vulnerabilities and promise yourself not to ignore them in the future. And since you care about your partner's feelings, be tender with your own as well.

Getting over your Affair Partner means managing lingering feelings

Michele-Weiner Davis believes that there are many varied reasons why someone might have an affair.

Sometimes it is purely a case of bad judgment -- a person may feel satisfied, even happy, with their marriage, but after a late night at the office struggling to meet a deadline with an attractive co-worker, and after a couple of celebratory glasses of wine can lead to lack of impulse control.

But much more frequently it's either an active search for an emotional connection or responding to an attractive other who is paying attention to you, flattering you, and attracted to you. And the subsequent feeling of "aliveness" that follows can be as unexpected as it is exhilarating and alarming.

Grief is a normal process

This soon becomes an incredibly challenging situation. Don't expect your feelings to simply die off. Michele advises that feeling positive feelings toward your former affair partner is a quite common reaction, even if it’s been quite some time since the affair ended.

But feeling grief does not mean that you should act on these feelings. Recognize your grief as a normal process that you are moving through.

The research tells us that well over 60% of couples struggling with infidelity never divorce. Recovery from infidelity is possible, even likely in many cases.

But it the quality of the recovery that matters. At Couples Therapy Inc., we feel privileged to work with couples who take their healing seriously. They see the pitfalls of rumination, inconsolability, and shame. They become stronger and more resilient because of their efforts.

Our couples realize they're not perfect, but they strive to be better, more honest, open, and authentic. And that is what really matters in affair recovery.

           Recover from Your Grief.

Ready for a change in your relationship?

It starts with a no-obligation 15 minute phone call with our client services team.

Staff Writer

Staff writers are those who have chosen to share their wisdom with our readers. I hope you enjoy these contributions.

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  1. Reading these comments causes me to rethink everything about trying to reconcile with my spouse who cheated 7 years ago. The feelings are pretty raw because he only confessed the affair 3 months ago. It seems it was a 4 month (or is it 7?) affair. With his secretary, which doesn’t feel great. He claimed to have no feelings for her – loved the attention, says he felt like a big shot, enjoyed the kissing and feeling her up though she refused to go further (so he says). He ended it by getting her transferred away after I pressured him due to my suspicions. As it turns out those suspicions were accurate. Anyway, he has done everything possible to make amends, be transparent, shared texts, location data, never travels, literally everything for 7 years. Except of course he didn’t actually tell me about the affair until just now. If what he says is true (no feelings, loved hooking up, no discussion of a future on either of their parts, no hookups outside of the office and could only do that 2 days of the week in a particular office which allowed for the privacy) then maybe I could forgive and move on…with work on both our parts. Due to my suspicions 7 years ago we completely revamped our marriage and are intensely intimate, sexually and emotionally, dating, traveling, cherishing, complimenting a ton, etc. Yes we were missing all those things and getting everything wrong due to 3 young kids and 2 full time careers. The lady who was his secretary was older than me, less educated, about equal looks-wise (kinda eerily similar) so I am not as super jealous as I might otherwise have been. Of course I’m still jealous but its not as if he was with Marilyn Monroe with a PhD. But he says it was a big ego boost for her to come on to him (yes, I know they probs all say that, but he insists she kissed him). All of this I could maybe move on from. But if he was pining for this woman for years (as it sounds like many of you do) then I truly don’t see the point in us staying together. He should leave. If he had those feelings he couldn’t possibly have loved me so why are we doing this? Yes we have fun together, yes I love him deeply, we met in med school in anatomy lab and have been theoretically in love for 25 years (except for that really shitty year 7 years ago). But maybe this is just what I think and deep down he thinks this ex-secretary is his soul mate. Please believe I don’t negatively judge you unfaithful spouses for all you have gone through. You deserve to be happy and we all make mistakes. Lord knows I have made many many mistakes. I just don’t want my husband staying out of some misguided commitment or because he doesn’t want to lose half of our savings. I know he fears losing our kids respect

  2. I am in a similar situation. One of my husband's friends is my third cousin. We did not grow up together. I knew of him but never was around him when I was younger. We were never close until we were adults. I always knew he had a special place in my heart but I never would have guessed this would happen.. We were hanging out pretty tough after I split up with an abusive ex. That's when out of no where he introduces me to my now husband. Then he vanishes. I always felt a little messed up by his absence but I never really thought too much into it. Well just a year ago after nine years of absence he returns. He coming by here and there for awhile, I always assumed to see my husband. Until he calls me one evening and my husband and kids were gone that night to his sisters. I was to join them the following day after my mom's doc appointment I promised to take her to. Anyway I had thought to stay with my mom because I was a little nervous about staying home alone. But when my cousin called, I immediately told him I was home alone and he could stay if he needed a place to go and then that way I could stay home too and not be scared. I assumed this would be ok considering he was my cousin. But I had no idea that my cousin was going to use that alone time with me to confess his love to me. I thought he was kidding at first. Then I thought he was crazy. Then he kept talking about things from the past and by the end of the night I realized I had feelings for him too. I've always loved him. He was there for me thru a difficult time years ago. He said he left 9 years ago because he thought he was going crazy because he was falling in love with me, his cousin! But he said he couldn't hold it in any longer and thought I should know. We began talking everyday after that. He gave me money and made me feel beautiful. Just a few weeks after this started my husband gets arrested and that's when our affair really took off. He made me feel so safe. And no matter how he was to anyone else.. I knew he would never hurt me. My husband was locked up for 3 weeks. And he knew something was up right away. We gave physically fought about this because I tried to denial the allegations. That's not something u want the world to know about… I left for a few days and had the best time of my life with my ap but guilt made me come home. My small daughters need me. And their father. So I basically chose my husband kind of. He says he can tell my heart is somewhere else. But I'm having the hardest time cutting ties with my ap. He's all I think about! I still text him behind my husband's back.. and we meet up sometimes still.. I just can't let go….

  3. My wife had an emotional affair with her former classmate. It got really intense and I found out and intervened. Reading the messages, it was clearly that my wife was falling head over heel and the man doesn't love my wife back so it is mostly one sided. He also went through marriage issues.

    After I talked to both, he quickly stopped the messages. Because of the long distance, and the man was mostly uninterested there was no sex. I believe she would have gladly have sex with him if he pursued her.

    My wife and I have a 13 year age gap. I have a full time job and she is a at home mom of 2 kids. She always wait until and house is a complete mess and the disses full in the kitchen before cleaning up. Issues like this has caused a lot of friction in our marriage. My wife doesn't have the best health and I now believe her lack of energy contributed to her "laziness". I criticized her too much and I think she felt underappreciated.

    I am ready to forgive her because of the kids. She has said sorry and downplayed the affair and "slightly over the boundary". Deeply inside, I feel that she is going through an intense grieving of the loss. It hurts me deeply.

    In the last two weeks I have reconsidered my behaviors. I am too strict with my wife and kids. I have too many rules. Now, if she doesn't clean the dishes immediately I don't care as long as she cleans it. I also help to do more housework and taking care of the kids. Since it has been only two weeks, our emotions are still very raw. We made up, have fun, and then my antenna rises up and we fight. For example, she wants to take piano as a hobby because she has always want to play the piano. I said fine, she found an inexpensive teacher but he is a young male and I said no because the closeness of the teacher student in learning piano. I told her I wants her to a female teacher. She got upset and didn't talk to me tonight.

  4. This article was an absolute lifesaver for me. Prior to reading it, I know I had felt grief, extreme grief in fact. I just tried to suppress it, thinking that it was not a valid emotion as the involved partner in an affair.

    I recently came off a 2+ year affair, which was discovered two months ago when the (now ex) husband of my AP reached out to my wife. As earth shattering as that night was, it also came as a relief of sorts.. I had been grappling with extreme guilt for the double life I was living, but also b/c I had developed real, intense feelings for my AP. The revelation basically ended contact between my AP and I, and the days/weeks to follow was the most challenging mental health period of my life. It didn't end on our terms, we were both fully in love with each other, and now had no closure. Of course, this is all on top of having to deal with a devastated, angry, bitter wife and trying to run a household with three small children (10,8,3). I was the following all at once: confused, ashamed, guilty, regretful, but NOT remorseful. That is important. I haven't felt remorse because my AP was and is a much better partner for me than my SO, and b/c I cherished time spent talking/being with AP knowing full well what the risks were. I knew that I was jeopardizing my family, who didnt deserve any of it, and continued to because it felt so "right". I havent fully processed all of it, but I do now that I have a significant amount of grief and no real outlet, other than friends, to express it.

    In the past two months, I have read quite a bit about limerence and would strongly encourage those who've been in an "intense" or "unlike any other" type of affair to read up on it. I am now trying to sort out whether I've been "in limerence" or "in love" b/c I recognize that the grief in each scenario might be different.

  5. This really hit home. I've been involved with a co-worker for 2 1/2 years now, and we've tried many times to end it, only to end up back in each other's arms.

    It all started during a time when my wife was having an affair of her own and I was struggling to keep our marriage together. Even knowing that she was having a relationship behind my back, I stayed loyal and true to her and begged and begged for her to end what was going on. At the time she continued to deny that it was anything beyond a "friendship". Then she asked me if she could meet him for breakfast to talk about some things. Shortly thereafter she suffered a mental breakdown and then that "friend" all of the sudden was gone. Knowing that she was grieving her relationship with him, I tried to be empathetic and compassionate to her because I wanted my marriage back. But over the coming months more and more information started coming out about the depths to which she lied and hid things from me. In public, I maintained that our marriage was awesome and perfect, but it definitely wasn't. One of my co-workers recognized my struggles and offered to be a listening ear for me. As we got closer, she confessed to me that she was in a loveless marriage as well. The chemistry between my colleague and I was building fast.

    Fights continued at home, and then when the pandemic hit, my wife decided to take the children out of state to quarantine because I was in a profession that I had to work in during the pandemic (to which later she confessed that she just needed a "break" from the marriage). I was home alone for well over a month, without knowing when my family was going to return. The day she left with the kids, my impulses got the best of me and I took a risk and kissed my co-worker. She gladly returned the kiss, and the passion and fire was amazing. She then showed up at my house one Sunday and we made love for the first time.

    We thought we could be FWB and keep it casual, but the feelings kept growing and growing. We started talking about what life would look like together, making fantasy plans, having office, parking lot and hotel rendezvous. Fast forward to when my family returned home, evidence of my affair was found by my wife. I lied and said it was just a one-night stand with a stranger in order to protect my AP.

    I then began to intentionally and unintentionally sabotage our marriage because I so badly wanted to be with this person, but every time I would get ready to ask for a divorce, I see my two small children and how happy they are with our family unit, I couldn't bring myself to do it.

    My AP ended her marriage about 1 1/2 years into our affair. She said that she wasn't leaving him for me…but other comments she's made since then make me question that. Of course, my guilt for driving a dump truck through her life is insurmountable. She got her own apartment and it was on my direct route to work each day. She gave me a key to her apartment and I would come over almost everyday and we would make love, or just hang out for a bit. But she was getting antsy because she was now a single woman wanting to experience life anew, and here I was keeping her in a situation where she had to keep a secret about the "greatest love of her life" as she put it.

    After a few really really bad fights at home which were witnessed by our children, it became real that we either needed to divorce or I needed to fully commit to repairing the marriage. But it's hard to make that decision! I love my AP so so much…but my family unit and the future of my children is so important to me.

    This morning my AP told me that it was time for me to make a decision…leave home or not. I gathered the rest of my belongings that were at her house, returned her key and left after a painful and saddening discussion. I'm crushed. It isn't that easy. We see each other every day, and we became such amazing friends and lovers, I can't imagine her not being a staple in my life. But I also can't imagine not being with my children everyday of their lives. And to add to it, my wife has turned a corner and is doing all of the things I wish she would've done for years (more affection, being less "nagging" and more collaborative, equally contributing to the home, less critical of my shortcomings, etc.). Our relationship at home is starting to feel like the old days again, but I don't know how I'm going to get over my AP.

    This feels impossible.

  6. I'm so sorry that happened to you. Losing your AP is really, really hard & no one really knows that kind of pain until they have been thru it. I'm going thru the same thing right now & it's extremely difficult ..

  7. I'm so glad I came across this article. I've been with my AP for 4 yrs. now & he recently broke it off saying he just wants to be friend as he is going thru some personal issues. I understand that but not 2 month's later he has a girlfriend now. I am completely blindsided by this. We have an amazing connection & I was always very good to him in & out of the bedroom. My husband does not know & I will not tell him .. god only knows what would happen to me if he found out. So I am really struggling with losing my AP. I have no one to talk to about this. I am depressed, feel completely lost & feels like a piece of me has died. My emotions are like a rollercoaster. I feel obsessed & possessed. I have gone to extremes to figure this all out by consulting with psychic's to see if he will come back to me, I have had spell casting's done on him to bring him back .. this is just so ridiculous to go this far for this man. I know in time he will come back to me as he always does so the hurt & pain starts all over again. I've tried coping by doing all the thing's recommended such as no contact, keep busy, spend time with friends, writing down your feelings, talking to a counselor & none of that has helped with how I am feeling. I feel like I am on auto pilot most of the time & dead inside. I hate feeling this way & don't know how to change it. Can anyone help me ??

    1. You have just basically described exactly what I’m going through. It’s such a tough situation. I too have done the psychic route etc. I just don’t know how to go forward with this.

  8. I met my ap at work. The instant chemstry we had was insane, like we'd known each other forever.

    At first we would just hang out after work, for hours sometimes just talking. I am married with 2 children and she just got married. Shortly after her marriage we realised that we were hanging out after work and concealing it from our partners. We admitted to each other we had feelings and not long after we confessed our love to each other.

    Our time together was mostly emotional and never led to sex but came very close. We tried breaking it off numerous times but always ended up back together. Just a few weeks ago we broke it off for real, she has been very distant with me not replying to texts etc. At work she has utter disregard for me so it seems but I know she still has feelings for me and is struggling.

    The grief I'm experiencing is so intense, I feel like she has died but I still see her almost everyday. She can barely make eye contact with me and our relationship is strictly professional. We always said we would help each other through the break up and be honest with each other but that has not been the case. I miss her terribly and cannot stop thinking about her. It doesn't help that we see each other all the time.

    Neither of our partners know and our respective marriages are happy ones. We didn't go looking for each other, it really was love at first sight. When we were talking the grieving process was easier as I knew I hadn't completely lost her. Now that we don't talk the grieving is the hardest thing I've ever encounted.

  9. Three years ago my husband was constantly showing anger fussing at the kids fussing at me not showing me attention etc and I found someone at work that was flirty and gave me all I needed. He was married to in a unhappy marriage to someone who is moody didn’t like sex or to show him attention what started as something sexual with “no feelings attached “ turned into the love of my life. He didn’t want to leave because of his kids and said he needed them to be a little older so I was patient he was making changes at home by distancing himself from her no sex etc as I was in my home. We had a few disagreements as anyone with the situation we were in but the attraction and the love was strong even after 3 1/2 years! Neither of us had ever felt like we did for anyone he’d been with her since high school and told me he didn’t love her was not attracted to her didn’t want things better there etc and she suddenly started questioning him pushing him about talking he kept telling her he was just depressed a few weeks ago I woke up to him deleting his app we talked on I called and she answered and said she knew everything he told me he couldn’t live a life of lies anymore and that was it he didn’t give me an explanation no reason for anything just that with her on the phone too. He cut off all contact blocked my number turned his phone off for two weeks now we worked at the same school so I just transferred but I’m so confused I’m hurt I do love my husband and obviously I feel like if my affair partner has cut me out I want to try to restore things in my marriage but how? Is it possible? He knows I deal with depression and anxiety and he’s gotten better about how he is with the fussing and he is crazy for me but why can’t I get over the affair? Why do I feel betrayed I should want to be with my husband and over the affair but idk how. Am I crazy? Does it get easier? I don’t remember what I was like almost four years ago before the affair. I don’t have hardly anyone to talk to so I feel I should get therapy I’m just lost and my friend who knows who works with us says he will eventually reach back out bc there is no way he can be happy there with her he is just doing it for his kids but I can’t put my life on hold to wait and see.

  10. I developed a crush on a guy I work with.

    My marriage hadn’t been good for awhile and COVID/quarantine just made things worse. I gained weight on a new antidepressant and my self esteem was rock bottom. My husband ignored me. He would come home from work, yell at me about politics and go to the basement and watch the news that made him more miserable. He was NOT attracted to me, it was obvious.

    I started talking more to the guy I liked and we both flirted and he seemed to have feelings for me too. We finally admitted to each other through text how we felt. We decided to become FWB, but liked to call each other “besties.”

    He gave me everything I needed. He showered me with compliments. He made me feel comfortable in my larger body. I felt beautiful for the first time in my life.

    When he kissed me I was light headed after. I’m not exaggerating. I’ve never experienced a kiss like that. It was like that every. Single. Time.

    Then the more physical we got the more intense my feelings became for him. When we finally had sex after a few weeks of flirting, sexting and fooling around, it was amazing!!!

    It was like the sex you see in movies and say “who actually has sex that great?!” We did.

    I planned on keeping this as friends that enjoy having sex with each other. I’m married with kids, but he’s single. He also is younger than me. (Which also meant he had amazing stamina, wow 😮) I told him before anything happens, if he meets the right girl, I won’t hold him back, because I understand he wants someone to date, which we can’t. Even though I would have loved to. I just couldn’t afford a divorce and the timing with my kids…it was just a lot of reasons.

    After we had sex, my feelings got stronger for him. I didn’t plan on that. I wanted to keep things casual. Flirt at work, and sexting, then hook up when we could.

    Long story short, he dumped me in a text. He said he was trying to work things out with his ex. I knew he was lying. The next day at work he avoided me and just simple “hello.” It was weird. I was mad he never talked to me in person about the break up. I tried talking through text, but ended up sounding pathetic and annoyed him to the point that he said he didn’t want to get together to talk. Which I didn’t think was fair.

    I should mention we work in a school.

    The school year was ending in a couple months. We texted, and kept it professional in the halls, which we always did before, but we used to be flirty and text after how we were checking each other out.

    I would catch him checking me out and the excitement in his pants. (So I knew he wasn’t back with his girlfriend if he was still checking me out)

    The last week of school I was talking to him and he wasn’t replying and I said, “why aren’t you answering me?” He snapped at me. I froze and had to hold back tears.

    I left the area and ran into a friend that saw I was upset and asked what’s wrong. I got word vomit. Long story short…. She said I could trust a friend of ours to talk about it. Wrong! She said something to him, which basically told him that she knew about the relationship.

    He wrote me a horrible, nasty text saying- “I’m too pushy, I couldn’t handle being just friends. Don’t talk to me….” (That’s the nice version)

    On Sunday and Monday he was telling me about how he still jerks off thinking of me. Tuesday snapped at me and Wednesday nasty text. Then school let out for summer.

    Fast forward to 2021-2022 school year. He doesn’t talk to me still. School ended last week and I still think of him. I saw him every day and he ignored me every day. Not even eye contact. If I talked to someone he would interrupt me like I was invisible. I saw him checking me out up to the last days of school. I really thought by the end of the year he would at least talk to me, but he didn’t.

    (I found out the reason he dumped me was because someone that isn’t a fan of me spread a rumor that he thought we had something going on.) When I found that out this school year I was furious! He should have told me. I had a right to know. We didn’t need to break up. We could have just stopped being flirty. I have had people ask me if the rumors are true and I say we were friends. They say it’s weird we don’t talk. ( which I agree it makes it seem obvious) The fact that he ignores me, and is clearly embarrassed of the rumors and mad that I told a couple friends to the point he ignores me hurts so much. I feel ugly. I mean absolutely hideous. It’s like he’s so embarrassed of the rumors that he won’t even acknowledge I’m alive kills me.

    I miss my friend. I miss the chemistry. I miss everything. When he walks by me, my stomach hurts. I think it would hurt less if he punched me in the stomach….🥺

    I wanted to transfer schools, but miss the application deadline due to being home sick and forgot to submit the form. I want a fresh start at a new school, but I have great principals. That is a huge deal since I have worked for horrible administration.

    I want to text him so bad. But I don’t know what to say.

    I just want things to go back to how they were…..

    I’m so sad in my marriage more than ever because I know what amazing sex feels like and I don’t have that with my husband and never will.

    Help…. Am I crazy?? I feel like how I’ve been ignored made me go crazy…. But yet I would take him back in a minute, which I know I pathetic.

  11. My affair happened because my husband had rejected me numerous times over the years. He had not touched me in over 4-5 years. Honestly I had lost count. I had found out that someone I truly cared about and had an affair over 30 years ago and we stopped it. Current events he had just lost his spouse to Covid. I did care about him and thought many times about him over the years and the what if's. We reconnected. It was me that pursued him. It was mostly out of curiosity. Long story short, it started out innocent. We couldn't wait to see each other. It was intense, we couldn't keep our hands to ourselves relationship. Then 6 months after his wife died we started having a full blown affair. We are adults and we knew as Christians this was forbidden. As humans, we kept at it for over a year and a half. I had filed separation papers and I confessed my affair and I moved out. I thought everything was fine and he and I were moving forward. That was not the case. I thought me and this person could talk about anything. All the while he was leading me on. He had never processed or really grieved the loss of his wife. I was selfish, inconsiderate, and intrusive in his world. We are both pillars in our communities and if this had gotten out, it would have ruined us both. He was adamant to end it. I saw the signs I just refused to believe them. Because he had done this to me before. We parted. I was angry, hurt and felt like I was working on giving up so much to spend the rest of my life with him. However, the grief of losing him was emotionally debilitating for me. I have cried the loss of someone I poured my heart, soul and body to. This went on for several weeks. Not once in my life but TWICE! What are the odds? He confessed he was trying to please me, and would give up things he had planned to be with me. He also said he done a lot of things for me because he felt like that was what I needed and what I needed to hear at the time. Nothing good ever comes out of an affair. I think we needed each other during a time that we needed attention and compassion. He is experiencing his different stages of grief and he is in the angry, ashamed, and feels guilty. I have had numerous layers of different grief that I have been repressing. In my heart I know he would never re-marry. He may have someone from time to time to keep his bed warm. While I am repairing my broken marriage I don't know what the future holds. All I know is what I am going through and what he is going through and also my husband.

    1. Have you found any way to cope so far? I have just ended a 2 year love affair to stay with my wife instead. The love my affair partner and I shared was unlike anything I ever felt with my wife. Ultimately the shared history of my 12 year marriage proved too much for me to leave for my affair partner and in what seemed like a moment of clarity I ended the affair. She was devastated and the breakup was not a pretty one. We had plans to move away together and build a life together. I had convinced myself and her of this which made the breakup all the more painful.

      What you said rings so true. Throughout our difficult affair we could talk, even when things were very tough. We drifted in and out of the relationship because we knew how far fetched our future together was. But now that it’s all over I cannot talk to her or even see her ever again. I texted her a message trying to explain myself again and how painful this is. She never responded. It’s been a week and this pain is so intense and makes me wonder if I made the right decision. My marriage is relatively good and I’d chose my wife over being single every day. But my partner and I have a connection that felt otherworldly. If only we had met before I married already.

      How are you, or anyone else reading this, handling trying to stay in love with your wife/husband after ending your affair. We assume it’s the right thing to do but that doesn’t mean it’s not gut wrenching

  12. I had a year long emotional affair whilst in a 9 year relationship.I felt that aliveness & felt so seen, even without the sex. My partner knew about it and we tried to stay together (without counselling). It finally ended when my AP moved to another city to pursue a relationship with someone who was available. I was distraught, that the person who made me feel really interesting was gone, whilst I’d stayed with the person who kinda saw me as part of the furniture. I tried to hide how upset I was. My partner could tell & furthermore knew exactly why I was upset & ultimately just couldn’t feel secure with me so left.

    It was only when my long-term partner, with whom I shared a life, left me that I could see things clearly. The grief I felt at the end of my relationship dwarfed the grief I felt at my AP leaving & lasted much much longer. Thankfully, I moved on from both eventually but loosing them both in such a short period was so so hard.

  13. So….I am married but super unhappy in my marriage and unfulfilled in many ways.

    Last summer, my husband and I got into a fight and I went and got a hotel room. I got extremely drunk and called my ex.

    This ex was my first love and someone I care deeply for. The moment we re connected online he seemed really happy to see me. He drove almost 3 hours immediately to the hotel to "help a friend" as he calls it.

    We got drunk and slept together. When he walked away the next day I was absolutely devastated.

    I love him, I always will.

    I am not in love with my husband.

    I wanted to do the right thing so I asked the ex (after he told me he had no feelings for me which I think is a lie) to block me so I wasn't tempted to contact him again and he did without even a thought.

    I just feel so sad about the entire thing
    I have never been so depressed in my life.

  14. I am absolutely floored I FINALLY found articles and a website with comments that deal with the grief we are all experiencing as involved partners! I have been in a sexless marriage for several years. We’ll be married 20 years this fall. Sadly, there was a time in our marriage when I had zero libido and he was without for a few years. Then menopause happened and the gates flew wide open. However, my husband got diagnosed a diabetic and is dependent on insulin. I am a nurse and really didn’t understand the effect diabetes had on a relationship until it happened in my family. Fast forward a few years. Husband has ED and has NOT taken any proactive steps to find a solution. I think part of the problem is psychological as well.

    I’m ashamed to say I went on a website for married people just to “look”. After a while I started talking to a sexually frustrated husband that shared some of the same issues I was having. That was 5 months ago. Here’s the kicker….he is 16 years younger! Over the years I have gained weight and this past year have been on a health journey and have lost 75#. But I still think I look disgusting, but not to this man! This man makes me feel like the sexiest woman alive! I have never felt this incredibly special, needed or wanted with such passion! The chemistry and compatibility is unreal. He has 2 kids in Highschool and a 1 year old! When I found that out I felt even more disgusted with myself. But still we continued. This goes against every moral fiber in my body. I feel like a hypocrite. We have tried to stop on 4 different occasions and 3 out of those 4 times he’s contacted me saying he can’t stop thinking of me and I’m driving him crazy. I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel! So we are trying to quit again. Only we are still texting each other – nothing sexual, but the tension is there. My heart is broken. I’ve cried a million tears in silence. Neither one of us plan to tell our spouses because they both would be devastated and permanently scarred. He definitely has filled that void and I feel somewhat complete. I regret I’m not younger and that I didn’t meet him first…. Isn’t that sick? I absolutely know our affair will never go anywhere – it was supposed to be strictly sexual and yet we developed feelings. I don’t understand why I’m so upset and devastated? I went into this with my eyes wide open. I didn’t expect to have feelings! My biggest fear is that I’ll live in a sexless marriage for the remainder of my life and never feel as alive as I do with him. It’s like I’m running away from the person I’ve become and yearn for the person I used to be and can be. I even went to counseling through EAP at my job. I had a “come to Jesus” talk with my husband and he finally made an appointment with a doctor (BTW Viagra did not help him). It’s like my affair partner is an addiction. How do I get through this and survive? How do I keep some glimmer of hope? My heart skips when my AP texts me. Ugh! Any thoughts or suggestions?

  15. Thank You for the article. I just ended my affair not even a week ago. I didn’t understand the impact the affair had on my kids so I choose to end it and try to repair my marriage. Even after a week I’m questioning did I make the right decision to go back to my wife. I truly miss my AP and all we had in common and the connection we had. Not sure if it’s just early in the grieving process but I’m having problems moving on and it’s been so difficult to not think about my AP constantly. I guess I need more time to grieve.

    1. Michael,

      I totally understand. How long was your affair? And you had moved out? So I’m guessing your wife and family knew? This whole process has been undeniably one of the most painful times in my life. How are you doing now?

  16. Thank you for sharing this. My wife has just asked me to leave as I have finally collapsed emotionally after trying to hide my grief at ending my affair. It’s been quite delayed but feels absolutely devastating. I am even questioning if I made the right decision to stay. It is so difficult as so much of the emotional attachments were with my affair partner and the marriage feels so empty. If an affair had any depth it’s end will be like any relationship break-up and often worse as the person leaving it my be going against their true feelings for a host of other reasons.

  17. Hi Lynn,

    Your comment here has encouraged me in my own pain. Thank you. Both my AP and myself and trying to have no contact. I instigated this and then after months reconnected. Then she instigated it after awhile. It’s been a several months and it’s been painful. I’m amazed at how I just can’t get over it, and the intensity of the pain at times. I was interested in your story because after 15 years you still haven’t forgotten each other. I feel like that will be the case for me. It is a lonely place to be and there is no one (non-professional) to talk to about this stuff. It’s one of the worst types of pain I’ve experienced.

    1. I agree with the previous poster. I have lost loved ones I have deeply loved and the loss of my affair partner is just as devastating. When you lose your AP, you lose the part of that person that you desperately want to see in yourself. The make you feel valued, seen, alive and desired. I am in an abusive marriage and my relationship with my AP has made me find value in myself. Each day with no contact is painful. I lost a loved one and a cherished friend. Unlike me, he is in a relatively happy marriage and Carrie’s a lot of guilt . This breaks my heart because I don’t want to hurt him and I know that being discovered would be devastating. There is something called llimerence and it binds you to your AP. I have been stuck in a toxic cycle of “trying to be friends”, getting more and more wrapped up in each other, he panics and pulls away and I am confused and hurt not knowing where I stand. Each time this happens I cease contact. We have done this 3 or 4 times and it is always the same and each time I wonder if this is the time he won’t come back. There is little to be gained by becoming involved with someone outside of your marriage. I tell myself I won’t always feel this way, that someday it won’t hurt or matter anymore. Right now, in the present, life feels unbearable.

    2. Alan, how is it going now? I have instigated no contact with my AP and it is pretty awful. I think constantly about how and when I might be able to reconnect with him, but hoping this desire fades with time. It is very lonely.

  18. It’s exactly as you say – ‘responding to an attractive other who is paying attention to you, flattering you, and attracted to you. And the subsequent feeling of “aliveness” that follows can be as unexpected as it is exhilarating and alarming.’ This was 5 months ago. We are both married. At first I was uncomfortable but found myself quickly thinking I was too old to be too moralistic and that I might regret it if I walked away. So we continued to meet, every couple of weeks or so. Although he made all the overtures at first, he is reluctant for sex and in many ways that doesn’t bother me – we kiss and embrace, and sometimes he touches me intimately although he won’t let me do the same to him. But I fear that despite this he regrets it all – I find myself doing all the chasing. He is in in his mid-80s, 24 years older than me, and has had numerous affairs before which, I think, he breaks off if the IP gets ‘too needy’. And I have managed to fall in love with him. He’s just told me we should be friends only and just meet for lunch and conversation from time to time, and I feel as if I have been suddenly bereaved even though we have plans to meet next week. It’s partly because communication is so difficult – I can’t call or email and I can only send occasional short texts – but mainly because I can’t bear the thought of a future without him. I know it sounds morbid, but it is so much more likely he will die before I do and I have no idea how I would manage the grief.

  19. I met my AP 15 years ago. We were working on a project together. We were both very lonely. We had kissed and talked. Through the first several years we would go in and out of each other’s lives. About six years ago, he outreached to me. He sited he was layed off his job and couldn’t find my contact information, but hasn’t stopped thinking about me. We started talking, texting. We met for a drink and it led to sex. This went on for four years. The sex was amazing. We would talk every day. Two years ago we got caught, not by either of our spouses. We continued to talk and text but became more reluctant to engage in anything intimate out of fear of being caught. In April we did have sex. It just happened. This last summer I really started struggling emtionally and was becoming exhausted.. I am a nurse and with the pandemic I was miserable. I felt isolated. Looking back I should have realized I was not a happy person to engage with. AP didn’t believe in masks, didn’t think COVID was that bad and refused to get vaccinated. I tried to educate but not force. It seemed like our conversations were ok, but with work I was asked to do more so our evening conversations were more limited. In August he went on a hiking trip. I hadn’t heard from him when he said he would be home. 4 days later I got a text. He called and briefly talked about his trip. He seemed different. Vague with his responses. We met up the first week of September. He gave me a hug, we went into the restaurant and he argued with the waiter about wearing a mask. I tried to ignore the situation. We left the restaurant and he asked if we could have sex because he missed me and knew the next several months would be a challenge to get together. I believed him because he was going to be out of town on some jobs. Afterwards we talked as we both drove home. we texted the next two days. Suddenly he just stopped responding. We were not arguing. He just stopped. He didn’t return my calls. He still won’t. He won’t return my text or emails.It has now been two months. He hasn’t blocked me. My heart is broken. I know his wife didn’t find out. It is the rejection of the ghosting that really has me swirling. I always asked if he wanted to stop or felt he needed to, to just let me know. I would understand. I am grieving the loss of a friend, confident, and lover. I also am really struggling over the way it happened. Did he know that would be the last time we would see eachother? Did he use me that last time for one last sexual interlude? did he meet someone else? So many questions…..

  20. I have been struggling with grief, guilt and pain for a year and a half and couldn’t summarize my feelings until reading this. Thank you! Just the acknowledgment gives me clarity and hope. I feel like I have PTSD from the trauma of losing my affair partner, the shame of hurting my husband and all the friendships that have been destroyed with the revelation of the affair. I live in constant anxiety of a confrontation with his wife who despises me, especially an ugly confrontation in front of my children. My feelings of grief and loss are so deep and hiding them has been incredibly difficult. I thought that misery was part of my punishment. Thank you again

  21. 10 years later. I still haven't gotten over her. I miss my affair partner just as much as I did in the early days of returning to my wife. I only came back because I didn't want to lose my children. Now they are all in college and I am stuck alone with my wife.

    My affair partner is still single and I often wonder if she has moved on or if she would take me back. I did not know what it felt like to be really loved and to be in love until I met her. We actually liked each other and respected each other.

  22. I am a trauma survivor. My husband attempted to kill me in 2018 after I found a phone that proved he had been having an affair.
    We separated and then my kids and I did oversee toxic mold in our house. We evacuated and had to detox with my husband in an apartment he had developed.
    My son (12) was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor 3 months later (March 2019)
    I began taking much more adderall than I usually did to study his medical docs and get him to the best hospital.
    My husband was not supportive and in denial about the brain tumor.
    In December 2019 I met a man at Starbucks I had known when I was 16 and he was 12 in high school. He wanted to help me find my son have a stem cell transplant. He looked like a movie star, was brilliant, successful, and compassionate.
    I had an affair. I sent myself to a rehab/ trauma center that March when COVID happened. I had 3 Tbis and was scarred from the affair and knew I had to get off the pills. I was there 60 days. I came home that June, healthy and ready to have a full affair, from June- September I became obsessed with this man and wanted to leave my husband. Finally, after 4 incidents of my husband taking my phone and becoming violent and threatening my affair partner it has ended. I know it’s for the best, but I’m devastated he has blocked me. Please give me advice on how to suffer well!
    Sincerely, A H

    1. Your story is a complicated one, filled with domestic violence, drug addiction, and serious illness of your child, as well as both you and your husband involved in an affair.

      You have a lot of work cut out for you, AH, and first on the list should not be to get your affair partner back. Obsessions with an affair partner can mimic the hyper-focus of substance addiction. That’s the first thing to be clear about. It seems like you see this affair partner as a “golden parachute” from a nightmare marriage. And perhaps BECAUSE this man you knew in high school is brilliant, successful, and compassionate, he knows you have a lot of work to do on yourself, your child’s health, and not the least, stopping the domestic violence, which seriously harms children.

      When you being to focus on your many issues, like you did so admirably with that addition to pills, you will find yourself with many positive things to focus on, and a more expansive world that can offer you pleasure and satisfaction.

      Admit it: You are in no shape to have an “exit affair” with this man. You have to get clear and focused first, and make a decision to end the violence or end the marriage. That is only work you can do. And your sick child needs you to act fast.

      Get yourself a good individual therapist who knows about Domestic Violence (ask when you interview them). They will help you to both put the affair into perspective, and make important decisions about your future.

      You won the battle against pill addiction. Now move on to the other issues plaguing you. You can do it.

  23. Thank you thank you thank you. As the involved partner in a current affair I am struggling with ending it. I know that nothing good can come of it no matter how much I fantasize about it. He is a widower and I am married. My husband doesn’t know. There is much baggage on both fronts but the emotional support and connection that we have supersedes that or at least that’s what I keep telling myself. I am absolutely petrified of what my life will be after I end it. I love this man. He represents everything I have longed for in my adult life of relationships. Ahhh, thanks for the bad timing. Everything I have come across on the subject is from the spiritual perspective and doesn’t deal with the grief and loss that I know unequivocally will come with ending it. I am broken thinking about it.

  24. Thank you for putting this post for the Involved Partner. I had an affair for almost 18 months. We ended the affair almost 5 months ago now. His wife was suspecting and we had to end it. I always know that the affair was going no where and it was filling the void in my marriage. Fast forward 18 months later, it was over. I am accepting the fact that it is over, but what I didn’t realized is that, it is just so hard to get over it and moving on. Your article was spot on about feeling lost and all the grievances. It’s like something you had died and the emptiness after the affair. Having said that, it was a relief that I don’t have to sneak around or hide anything anymore from my spouse. I know that affair is always a wrong path. So the question is how do I stop the feeling of being lost and the anxiety/panic attack around anniversary day and also the hour of the day where we would be together.

  25. This article is so needed. I’ve not found a therapist or friend for that matter who will go near this issue. I didn’t have a physical affair, but still fell deeply in love, more deeply than I even knew how to imagine. He showed a strong and sustained interest for years, and eventually moved away not ever knowing his actual effect on me; I had probably a clinical breakdown when I heard the news that he was gone. It wasn’t until I started travelling away on my own and began to acknowledge his true effect on me that I started to normalize again. It makes a person unbalanced to carry around so much unacknowledged powerful emotion. Yes, it’s ethically and practically not ok to fall in love with someone else; also yes, we are human, and it does happen. I didn’t go looking for it, this was someone I met by happenstance and still believe to be my true love, lifetime over lifetime. It’s been close to a year and I still miss him keenly and continually. Aside from the intense chemistry, he was a great friend and support, and made me laugh more than anyone I’ve ever met, even while arguing. He was also the only man whose child I wanted to have, and the only person who made me feel actually satisfied to be alive—not just passing moments of happiness, but thoroughly satisfied. I’ve survived a very lot, and he is the only thing in this world that has ever made me feel it was, all of it, worth the trouble. Even if it’s right to do so, it’s extremely painful and damaging to pretend like none of this ever happened, and that I don’t still want another chance with him. Thanks again for this article.

  26. Thank you for this. I had an emotional affair (and I’m the wife) and even though I told my husband I ended it, it continued for another several weeks. There was emotional abuse going on so he’s been working on that but I’ve been depressed since finally cutting thing off with my AP. We are scheduled to go to a marriage retreat and he’s being amazing about it but he doesn’t know the extent of my infidelity. I am scared and confused and shamed and depressed. Also hard since there aren’t many resources for women who cheat emotionally only and whose husbands don’t think it was serious. This post made me feel at least “seen”. Thank you!

  27. What a much needed article. Thank you. I ended a short, but intimate affair only 2 weeks ago. I confessed to my wife of 43 years hoping she could forgive me and together rebuild our marriage. Though she was shocked, hurt and angry, she has shown me inexpressible grace, and is unwilling to give up on all of our years together. We’ve begun joint and individual counseling. The problem? My affair was with an intelligent, educated and attractive younger woman. We easily communicated the deepest thoughts and emotions with one another. I was the one to end the obviously wrong relationship, but I’m grieving, painfully at the loss. I feel ashamed as well, so I grieve alone. I love my wife and want to be with her, but I can neither reconcile the conflicting emotions or escape the memories of the affair, which haunt me.
    I have to overcome this if our marriage is to succeed
    What has helped others to let go?

  28. This had me in tears. I feel like my grief isn’t allowed, and my husband keeps telling me how I shouldn’t grieve over someone who could be so apparently malicious toward my children, and my friend keeps telling me I have to refocus my thoughts away from my AP, and I don’t feel ready for that just yet. I’ve barely had a moment to myself since D-day, so I’ve barely even had time to cry, much less process the loss of all we shared. I know it was wrong, but the conversations we shared were so intimate, and the emotions were so intense. My family even has a connected history with my AP. That makes it even harder, because there’s so much more loss than just an affair partner: it’s the loss of someone who felt like my brother and who was also my friend for many years. This is so hard…

    1. Same here, Allison. I feel like I am not entitled to ANY grief since I’m the unfaithful partner. Every website I’ve been on regarding affair recovery seems to be slanted toward the betrayed which, I completely understand, but we unfaithful have our own grief. We’re just not able to show it or talk about it. You’re not alone.

    2. It’s very hard to be viewed as a “bad person” without the right to grieve. My affair partner’s wife discovered our relationship. Within a few days of discovery he ended our relationship of 18 years. We are both married, with adult children now. I am not proud of my life and what I continued to do for so long. He came into my life when I was so low, a virtual door mat for my husband. He taught me how to laugh again and find joy in life. He taught me how to love and be kind to myself. Was the affair wrong, yes. But being in a marriage that chipped away at me a little everyday until I no longer recognized myself was wrong too. Because I could find moments of peace with my AP, I was able to stay married and provide my children with a stable home. His wife has yet to out me to my husband and I’m not sure why. I unintentionally ran into my AP the other day in a parking lot. We spoke very briefly. He looked broken and as if he had lost his last shred of dignity; and this broke my heart because at his core he is a good man. So Sharon and Allison, every day I grieve a little, try to live a little and most importantly try to love myself a little. We are people, we are not perfect.

      1. I met my AP 16 years ago. We had an on and off again relationship until 6 years ago when we actually started a true affair. We text and talked daily. Met at least once a week. Two years ago we got caught in a compromising position so we decided to stop the physical part of our relationship but continued to talk, text, and meet. Sometimes we were on the phone for hours. 3 weeks ago he ghosted me. I have struggled tremendously since than. I don’t know what happened. The last time i saw him was 3 1/2 weeks ago when we met for lunch which led to having sex. First time in two years. Prior to our lunch he went on a trip with his friend hiking out of state. Before he left he was his normal self. After I could tell something changed. I am grieving, sad i lost someone who was essentially my best friend. Also the way he just stopped everything. He hasn’t blocked me on text or phone but just wont respond. I have not been able to find someone to talk too who can relate with my situation without making me feel more awful for having an affair in the first place. I am sure he knew that was the last time we would see each other but I didn’t. I deleted our text as I always did after we met so i now i dont even have that to look at to see if he really gave me any clues

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