So you’re thinking of having a revenge affair. I understand. I thought about doing that too. After all …
Why play by the rules anymore? Playing by the rules didn’t get me what I wanted.
Why shouldn’t I have some fun?
Wouldn’t it help them to understand what it feels like to be hurt?
And besides my self-esteem and sexual identity is crushed. I need to know that someone else would desire me!
You are free to do whatever you want. It’s your life, and you will live with the consequences of the choices you make. Therefore read this article first. Then if you still want to have a revenge affair go right ahead – at least you’ll be doing so fully informed.
Facts about revenge affairs
Having a revenge affair is going to make your life worse, not better.
Here’s the thing.
We go out and have a revenge affair to make ourselves feel better, but we end up feeling worse. It ends up doing more damage. It’s disastrous. Revenge affairs don’t work.
There are people in our culture who believe that monogamy is unrealistic and everyone has affairs, and obviously if that’s a persons belief system, they’re going to have affairs. (I was shocked in 2006 when CNN ran a one-hour documentary special on affairs featuring scientists who studied apes and had concluded that apes can’t be monogamous and therefore humans can’t be. I don’t know about you, but I expect my husband to function at an intelligence level higher than that of an ape! But if the rest of the country is satisfied with ape like husbands – to each his own!)
For most people who come to BAN or attend our Healing From Affairs seminar, that’s not what their spouses’ affair was about. Most people mean their wedding vows when they say them, and end up sliding across boundaries they once, with absolute certainty, believed they never could.
Rarely does someone wake up one day and decide to have an affair.
But when someone decides to have a revenge affair it’s completely different, because they are actually having an affair with the intention of hurting their spouse.
Affairs are not about someone waking up one day and thinking, today I’d really like to hurt my spouse. Now let me see. What mean, evil, terrible thing can I do to hurt them. I know I’ll have an affair. That will really get them! That’s not how affairs generally happen, but that’s what a revenge affair is.
When you have a revenge affair, your spouse doesn’t feel the same level of betrayal. Instead they generally ends up feeling better after the revenge affair, because there is something inside human beings that experiences guilt – that feels we need to be punished, to pay a price for our wrongs. If we pay a price (our debt), then we can be forgiven, restored and released from our guilt (we think).
If the betrayed spouse has a revenge affair, the unfaithful spouse got their punishment. The price has been paid. Their guilt is diminished. They feel better about themselves. So the revenge affair does not have its intended outcome.
Revenge affairs also fail to make the initially betrayed spouse feel better, like they think it would. They think, “He/she got to go out and have all that fun. I’ll go out and have that fun too.”
The problem is, when you go out and have an intentional affair it’s usually not that fun. When the initially unfaithful spouse first has their affair there is a thrill and an excitement as they gradually slide across boundaries.
An affair will often start at work, or some other similar contact point, sharing emails which gradually become compliments, flirtations, sharing of information that’s more personal than should be shared, and eventually even explicit. The next thing you know they’re all excited to check their emails, or get on their computers, or meet that person at the water cooler at work again, trying to time their coffee breaks at the same time, to get another compliment. Everyday is getting more and more exciting (and this is often long before the unfaithful spouse is even aware they’re getting caught up in an affair).
When you go out to a bar, or go to a singles site to meet somebody, and you’ve decided “I’m just going to go sleep with somebody!” You’re full of anger and pain. You don’t get to experience the fun of an affair. Revenge affairs don’t give you the thrill, excitement or the chemical high.
Instead you feel scummy, especially after.
The thoughts that kept me from having a revenge affair were …
“How does me becoming a lesser person make things right?
“What kind of person am I if I allow my spouses bad choices to cause me to make bad choices too?
“I’m not going to lower my standards, just because they lowered their standards.
“If they choose to be lesser, how does me choosing to be lesser make things right?
“I’m not going to lose my dignity just because they made a choice to lose theirs.”
Sometimes the unfaithful spouse wants you to go out and have an affair, so you can be “even.”
Two wrongs still don’t make a right.
And if you have children together, and they know (or may know one day in the future), then the unfaithful spouse can feel redeemed by saying, “well, mommy/daddy had an affair too.”
If you think a revenge affair will make you feel better after you do it, YOU ARE WRONG. It will make you feel worse and possibly be the biggest mistake of your life. Remember once it’s done, you can never go back.
There is also the issue of the other person you have the revenge affair with. You will be using this person in a selfish way, and that person didn’t do anything to you to deserve that.
I wouldn’t have sex with someone unless I really liked this person, and then of course I’d have to lie to him, because anyone I could like would not be interested in having a relationship with me if they knew I was using them for the sole purpose of having a revenge affair. And at some point this person would likely get hurt. How can hurting yet another individual be okay? For me, this wasn’t a choice I was willing to live with.
My goal is to live life without regrets. I refused to allow the pain of my spouses affair change that.
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