Why an affair mentality can make your relationship better
What if I told you that having an affair mentality could actually help to strengthen your relationship?
Now, I am aware that this is a pretty controversial sentiment, but hear me out. As a couple’s therapist, I see relationships that have been affected by infidelity. I often see the person who’s having the affair one on one and I even sometimes see the affair partner. I know affairs come at an incredibly high and sometimes irreparable price, but what I have learnt from them is actually relationship gold! To be specific, the mentality from the individual having the affair, towards their affair partner is one were I think a lot of people could learn and grow from. So let me break this down into the main positive findings I have discovered in my line of work.
The Turn Towards
The first positive attribute of an affair mentality is turning towards your partner. When something good or bad happens in the day, people having an affair often describe this want to share that news with their affair partner. There is this natural tendency to want to experience even the smallest things together. Even when they go through struggles, the person they turn to for support and love is often this same person. My advice is when something happens in your day, good or bad, big or small; share it with your primary partner. Get into the habit of reaching out throughout the day. Don’t say goodbye in the morning and then not speak again until you come home from work or to just check in for domestic queries. Text, phone or even squeeze in a visit to your partner on any given day. It is not just the turning towards your partner to express the events of your day but also the desire that those having an affair often have to hear about the each other’s day. Ask your partner more about their day and when they do open up to you, show genuine interest and excitement in sharing their world. Create a constant appreciation that you’re both lucky enough to share each others worlds. Because I can tell you, this is a sentiment that I hear a lot of in my rooms, they feel lucky and appreciative of their affair partner.
This is an interesting positive quality I have learnt from affairs. Often couples I see tell me how they would always find a way to meet up with their affair partner. If they had a spare twenty minutes, an afternoon or even an extra 5 minutes, they would make the effort and create the time to see each other. If you put in this same effort to your primary relationship, not only will it make your partner feel prioritised, but it will also create a culture of appreciation in the relationship that lessens criticism and contempt.
Compliment, Compliment, Compliment!
This might be one of the easier ones for you to implement. One positive and endearing quality of affair couples is their ability to compliment each other. They almost look for the good and even if bad moments come up they tend to focus on the positive of their partner. As relationship expert John Gottman says, “for a relationship to thrive every one negative comment or interaction needs to be replaced with 4 positive ones.” Affair couples have a tendency to do this very naturally and thus their love tank and appreciation for one another is very high. If you are looking for the good in your partner, and let me highlight that I am not saying ignore the things that negatively affect the relationship, but if you focus on the good, you will feel the good. In addition, you and your partner will both feel desired, wanted and loved!
Embrace Adventure and Spontaneity
I know that every day life, whether you have children or not, requires levels of structure and repetitiveness. But this does not mean it needs to be solely that way. Those having an affair often book a last minute hotel room, partake in spontaneous sexual interactions or buy that surprise present. If this is too hard with your jobs or children etc then my tip is to designate some time in your schedule for spontaneity. I know that might sound a bit strange to plan spontaneity. I understand that with today’s busy schedules and world pandemics, doing something last minute can be a bit hard. But if you and your partner have designated some free time to do this, it means that that last minute trip, restaurant reservation or sexual encounter doesn’t need to stressfully impact every day life.
Lose Your Inhibitions
A common comment I hear is “I just let my guard down with my affair partner”. The irony is your primary partner often knows you more than anyone but we manage to feel this layer of reservation and judgment with him or her. This results in people not sharing their sexual and intimate authenticity. So let go of those inhibitions in whatever way you know how and let your primary partner into the real you.
Look After Yourself
One thing that often fades in a relationship after being together for while is a desire to impress your partner. I’ve often heard people say in my therapy room “ I don’t care how my partner’s body looks, I just care about them putting in effort. If they look after themselves it shows that they not only care about themselves but also me”. The thing that is consistent with an affair couple is their want to impress and put in the effort. They wear the nicer underwear, put on the aftershave, go to the gym etc. Remind yourself that not only will you feel better about yourself which promotes a happier relationship, but your partner will feel that you care about making effort to keep them which will help them feel that aren’t taken for granted.
Learn What Your Partner Likes
Affair partners put in so much effort to learn the details of their partner, both in and out of the bedroom. They have this desire to make sure they impress, spoil and love their partner in the best way possible. They take time to learn, and they seem to really enjoy the process on what their affair partner will respond to best. Apply this mentality to your primary partner in sex, in daily life and romance and it is almost guaranteed that the two of you will build a closer and happier relationship.
One of the most controversial points I think I’ve learnt from affair relationships is to think that in some way you’re always at risk of losing your partner. Affairs are often not a guarantee, so many factors effect whether or not the relationship can continue and they just never know if or when it will end. This often encourages people living with their affair partner to live like every moment counts. If we use this mentality with our primary partner, just imagine the positive effect it would have on the relationship. Fight for your partner whether you have been together for 1 year or 20!
This is not a post about supporting people having or turning to affairs. But instead I hope these observations from my therapy room can be used to inject some love, happiness and longevity into you primary relationship. Let’s learn to relationship better!