A while back, I gave a lecture about affairs and the problems of destruction
they leave behind. After that lecture, I received many emails, but one was
gut-wrenching. She could not let go of the lover,
but she could not let go of her partner either, and she saw no way out. This woman
was totally desperate. Today on Reaction Reset, I'm going to talk about how
affairs happen, what is behind an affair, and also how to stop it if you're in it.
Affairs can be exciting and they're energizing, but affairs rarely turn out
well. In fact, people get in one, they can't get out of it and it ends up (when
they finally come to their senses of what's going on) they've left a path of
destruction not only for themselves but for everyone whose lives touched theirs.
I think what's really important is that we never really think about what's going
on in our brains during an affair. Today I'm going to talk to you about how
affairs are like addictions, and why they're so difficult to let go.
Stage one of the affair is a stage that is often begins subtly. Basically what's
happening is you're starting to make compromises. You're making compromises to
be with this other person, you're willing to take very few risks, but you'll take
some. This person in stage one is often referred to as a friend and that's why
it's pretty subtle yet. This is a stage when you begin making little changes in
yourself. You may take more time to look at what you're wearing. You may start
wearing a different cologne. You may start wanting to go to the gym to look
your very best. Often you'll buy new clothes and it's specifically in line
with when you see this person. Now, whoever your significant other is in
this stage, they may want to say something. They'll notice a little bit.
But they're afraid if they confide in
you or say something like, "Why are you always getting dressed up?" Or, "Why are you
so close to this person?" That they'll appear jealous or be accused of being
jealous, so they just assume it's nothing, This part of it gets swept under the rug,
which makes it even worse and more likely that you'll continue to go deeper
into the addiction. In stage 2, you begin boldly crossing
lines. This is where you are really starting to get committed to this person.
You may start a secret email, you'll change your number so you can text them.
You want to spend time with them, you're willing to take risks that will
jeopardize your partner in order to be with this person. This is the stage lots
of secrets happen. You begin developing a secret life. Don't forget what you're
doing physically is being orchestrated by your brain chemistry and the
addictive component of this. This is where you start feeling like this person
is essential in your life. This person becomes a major, major person in your
life. They begin having more influence over you. In stage 2, if they're upset you,
can't sleep. This is a stage where you will get up at night when everybody's
sleeping so you can go out and text, or if you're
on a vacation, you will leave your family to go and communicate with this other
person. Basically, you are having a lot more dopamine and endorphins -
that's a feel-good hormone and that's why you feel really good. But along with
that it also causes an excessive anxiety because you begin worrying what will
happen if you lose this person. It's important you remember that at this
stage, you're not worried about somebody finding you - like if your wife finds out.
What is more likely is you're worried this person will grow tired of you, so
you may not be sleeping as well. You may lose concentration; you can't focus. It's
in stage 2 also that you began separating from your spouse.
If you're actually married to someone, you may grow more hostile toward
them. Basically there's a separation now, because your brain is convincing you
that this person is your soulmate; they're the love you never knew about.
And you begin actually believing you cannot live your life without this
person. The next stage is stage 3, and stage 3 is when you're now in a pattern.
You're having active physical and emotional intimacy and sex with this
person in stage 3. Your lover's flaws begin to be more prevalent. All the lies,
all the secrets are becoming harder and harder for you to sustain. You're
starting to kind of think about this more in stage 3. You have
an increased sense of panic and loss because you're so distant from your
spouse. You're worried, "What if this doesn't work out with my lover, then I
will be alone." So the idea of withdrawal, of actually cutting the affair off, is
terrifying to you. At the end of stage 3, the majority of affairs are noticed. It's
at this point that the person has to make a big decision. If you're far enough
along that you understand this was a fantasy and that you see enough flaws
with your lover that you can actually make the break to break that affair off
to save your marriage, your marriage still has a really great chance of
making it. If you cannot, this is where the majority of marriages end. Two thirds of all
marriages where an affair is happening are salvageable.
During stage 4, you're beginning to come out of the haze of the affair. If your
spouse or significant other is still invested enough in the marriage, your
marriage can make it. However, you are still vulnerable to falling back into
this old addiction with your ex-lover, so it's important that you understand in
the stage of addiction which you have - you are in recovery. And
remember, addictions never go away. New skills are learned to manage them. Stage
four is also the time to look at whether or not your marriage can be saved.
It will mean you being vulnerable and totally honest and understanding that
you have to rebuild trust with your partner. More of the weight is on your
partner and the reason is because they have to grieve the loss of who they
thought you were. Then they have to relearn how to trust you. So going
forward - what your partner needs to fill trust with you again - it's essential that
you invest in it. Own it, and carry through with it. Affairs almost always
end. They may take months, years, but in the end only ten percent of affairs go
on to marry. If they do marry, they have a 75 to 80 percent of divorce so it's much
wiser that you get out of your addictive affair and that you work on establishing
trust and honesty within your marriage and humility. It's so important.
Remember, change your reaction change the world