Please don’t judge me, but I have been in an affair with a married man for the last five years. I have tried to end it countless times, and failed. I can’t count the number of breaking up/reuniting episodes we’ve gone through, and he continually convinces me this affair is the perfect solution to our marital dilemmas. No one has to tell me how wrong this is, and yet every time I try to end it, I end up back in it. Now I am depressed, and I feel my situation is hopeless. – Five Year Low
From your email, it does seem like your own mind is working against you, and is even trying to sabotage your efforts to move forward with your life. I’m as curious as you are to discover why this is.
Maybe the answer can be found by looking at what pleasurable gifts this affair is bringing into your life. I strongly believe that your mind is only sabotaging your efforts to end things because maybe, just maybe, you’re gaining something from the affair you want to keep, and would rather not lose.
Before you discredit this idea…
Think about it with me.
What are the secret gifts of the affair?
In other words, what hidden wishes, desires, fantasies or secret needs is he meeting or fulfilling for you? Even if you don’t want to admit it to me, be willing to admit it to yourself because the one thing I know for sure is that, all behaviors have some type of positive intent.
Why is it important to know the hidden payoffs?
It’s important because until you discover what they are, you might be having difficulty giving yourself permission to move forward.
Here’s why I say that:
Often, when people find themselves stuck (or trapped) in unwanted behaviors, they do so because their behaviors, actions and choices are actually satisfying a deep emotional need, and doing such a good job of it. In other words, that part of you that’s getting those needs met… might very well sabotage your attempts to have its source of satisfaction taken away.
Here’s another thing to consider:
When you notice that you’re consistently sabotaging your own bid for freedom, that’s a red flag for you to begin asking a different question. Rather than asking, “why can’t I end it permanently?” it would be more helpful to find an answer to “why do I want to, need to, hold on to this so badly?”
Check in: What does he do FOR you? Does he make you feel special? Important? Validated? What does the affair give you? Romance? Meaning? Adventure?
It’s important that you “own” whatever the payoffs are because coming out of denial about the “kickbacks” you’re getting will allow you to heal and find more honest ways to get your needs met.
The good news is that you can overcome all of these obstacles in your path.
The fact is, trying to exit an affair IS part of exiting an affair. But in order to change this from a temporary retreat to a permanent release, you must consider two things:
- Notice that “neediness” isn’t loving-ness. Notice that wanting to be loved isn’t the same as needing to be loved. Why? Because one leads to desperation, while the other leads to freedom.
Why is this observation important?
Very often, these types of indiscretions are rooted in our deepest desires to love and be loved. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that desire; in fact, the desire to love and be loved is the most fundamental of all human desires.
Here’s where the challenge comes in: when that desire gets twisted into a state of “neediness” — one that feels more like an addiction rather than love.
Because then, rather than wanting to be loved, you need to be loved. Rather than having a positive life-affirming experience, it often becomes a depressing experience. And rather than leading to you a place of joy and freedom, your relationship has a pattern of leading you time and time again to pain and disappointment.
I suggest you take a look at the patterns and ask yourself: has it been more about my “neediness” than “loving-ness”? Have you experienced more cravings, obsessions and withdrawals than enrichment and empowerment? And perhaps the most important clue… has this affair led you to a place of freedom, or has it repeatedly led to a place of frustration? Answer honestly and your own experience will shine the light on what’s really going on here.
2. Recognize the difference between failure and feedback. In reality, there’s no such thing as failure, only feedback. Take Thomas Edison, for example. He never had a failure — simply 11,000 feedback on what didn’t work.
In your case…
What the past five years have given you is feedback about what doesn’t lead to ending an affair. And what you haven’t found yet is that light bulb that shows you what DOES work.
Well, today is your lucky day. I can tell you exactly what to do to stay off the merry-go-round of breaking up and making up. It’s as simple as this: do the exact opposite of what you’ve done in the past.
Could it really be that simple? Yes, because for you, it is.
How can I be so sure?
You’ve collected 5 years of feedback on what didn’t work. Now, it’s time to put that feedback to good use for you by doing the exact opposite of what doesn’t work. What would that be? You guessed it — by doing what does work in ending an affair.
Where in the past, you’d have contacted him… NOW you don’t initiate contact (forever).
Where in the past, you’d have talked yourself into getting back with him… NOW you “self-coach” out of ever getting back with him.
Where in the past, you’d have let your mind wonder, ponder and obsess about a future with him… NOW you slam the door on any and all such painful thoughts.
Where in the past, you’d have been willing to deny or lie to yourself… NOW you’re only willing to hear, speak and accept the truth.
Where in the past, you’d have been willing to practice deception… NOW you’re only willing to practice integrity.
And perhaps, most importantly…
Where in the past, you used to be willing to “wait for happiness”… NOW you’re unwilling to put off your happiness for one minute longer.
Do you think you can do that? I know you can.
Until we speak again…
Remember… Love Wins!