How Affairs Start


Think of the love in a marriage as a campfire. There are actions that can be done to stoke the fire and make it hotter–those are Love Kindlers. There are actions that can be done that are like putting water on a fire–some are like dribbles out of a holey bucket, and some are like dumping a big old bucket of water on the fire. Those are Love Extinguishers. When two people first met there were no Love Extinguishers because they put forth their best image and the two were not sharing a home, bills, and chores yet.  At the same time there were TONS of Love Kindlers. Think about it! People in love tend to spend a lot of time together; they talk to each other and get to know each other–and they actually stop and listen; they do fun things together like go bowling or take walks; they look good for each other and flirt…. See all those kindlers? And sure enough, the fire of love blazes and they get married.

Like all young couples they thought their love would “conquer all” and never even considered that one of them would cheat. Sure that happens to other people, but their marriage was different and special and it would never happen to them.

Then enter just a few Love Extinguishers.

The Loyal Spouse put the Disloyal Spouse through college so they could get ahead in life, and the Loyal Spouse always thought that his/her sacrifice would be paid back worth it “someday” when they were successful as a couple. Meanwhile, Disloyal Spouse worked and worked to climb the corporate ladder, thinking that he/she was “providing for the family” and doing it to get ahead.  The Loyal Spouse began to be involved with their own college, work or activities and forgot to take time for Disloyal Spouse.  In fact, when he/she did see Disloyal Spouse, he/she complained because Disloyal Spouse wasn’t helping out with the shared household chores. And Disloyal Spouse also forgot to make time for him/her and began working longer and longer hours at work. Sometimes they didn’t even see each other awake for DAYS…and when they did, one or the other of them had negative things to say. Maybe she’s not a great money manager (or the opposite, a controlling penny-pincher); when he’s home he’d rather sit in front of the TV or PC to veg out.  They don’t talk anymore…and the Love Extinguishers are dribbling on the fire. Then more Love Extinguishers are added–kids are born and there’s even LESS time together; she gains some weight and he wear sweats; he yells at her about bills and she disrespects his job; he wants sex and she doesn’t feel connected to him so she resents it.  The Love Extinguishers are getting to be less like a drip and more like a downpour.

Right about then…enter stage left the Other Person. Other Person is a colleague at the Disloyal Spouse’s office, a classmate in a college class, or an old romance from “way back when” found on Facebook.  The Other Person has no Love Extinguishers because they are putting forth their best image. The Other Person is happy to hear from them–they dress up/look nice and wear cologne–whereas the Loyal Spouse is at home wearing jeans and a t-shirt. The Other Person knows all about work or the class…what he/she does…how he/she does it…what is hard about it…what is easy about it…what the Disloyal Spouse struggles with…and probably spends 8 hours a day with them–whereas the Loyal Spouse is bored hearing about work or school, has no idea how hard it is, and spends hardly any time with Disloyal Spouse.  Pretty soon, the Disloyal Spouse starts talking to Other Person about a fight that he/she had with the Loyal Spouse the night before…and Other Person is understanding and takes their side. Then Disloyal Spouse starts going with the Other Person to work conferences or extra-curricular activities and kind of “seeks out” OP and sits by him/her at lunch.   Soon, they are talking like teenagers at lunch–phoning each other on the cell phone “for work”–and emailing all night long.  Part of the Disloyal Spouse is thrilled that someone else thinks they’re neat! They are happy…and a little love zing of amphetamine hits their brain. Then they flirt a little and the Other Person flirts back! And pretty soon after that, one of them mentions that they have feelings for the other … and that’s it. The decide they are “in love” and kiss.

So there you have it–the affair is in full swing.  Since the Loyal Spouse doesn’t even know about the infidelity, they continue with Love Extinguishers. To the Disloyal Spouse it seems like this: set up two columns with the Loyal Spouse in one column and the Other Person in the other.  The Loyal Spouse spends LESS time with  them–the OP can’t wait to be with them.  The Loyal Spouse doesn’t dress up for them or say they look good–the OP tells them they are beautiful/handsome without even being asked. The Loyal Spouse yells about a bill or gets in the same old argument–the OP never even yells at them even once. So in their head…the Disloyal Dizziness begins to roll in like a fog. (Disloyal Dizziness is that way of thinking that is so bizzarre and so … well just absurd that it almost sounds nonsensical when it comes out of their mouth as their reasoning.) The Disloyal Spouse knows that having an affair is wrong, but the thrill of the amphetamine zing is so exciting and s/he feels loved and sexy, so they make excuses.  Furthermore, they start to be more and more and more secretive (because the forbidden rendezvous is so tempting!) and she willing do anything to get more and more and more of that amphetamine zing. It’s like a drug. They justify why it’s okay to go one small step further. They were never happy. They never loved you.  They love you but they’re not IN LOVE with you!  Shortly thereafter, the Loyal Spouse discovers the Affair (D-day) and finds Affaircare.  

Does this sound familiar?

It would be just the same thing if it was a man or a woman. Men also need to be told they are handsome, smart, interesting and fun to be with. Men also need to think that the one who loves them gets a little thrill when they walk in the room. Thus is it really, REALLY rare for an affair to be about sex. What happens is that for both men and women, the Love Kindlers are being met so they feel blazing hot feelings for the person that spill into wanting to do physical things to express that fire. In my more than a decade experience with helping people in affairs, they are very, very rarely about sex–on the other hand, I can think of hundreds and maybe a thousand that were all about getting Love Kindlers from the other person.

8 thoughts on “How Affairs Start

  1. Just discovered my wife has been in an emotional affair for the last ten months. We’ve been talking for the last month and I believe we are on a road to recovery. My wife has had a hard time explaining her feelings and I’ve been asking the “why” question so many times. I never ever thought this could happen to us in a million years. I just wanted to mention how helpful this article has been.

  2. Thank you John. I’m sorry to hear that your wife has been in an emotional affair, but I’m so grateful to hear you two are on the road to recovery! If there’s ever a way we can help, let us know!

  3. When it comes to extramarital affairs, a lot of time and energy is needed to work through the initial feelings. The emotional blocks at the beginning of knowing the extramarital relationship has to be addressed with lots of maturity and patience. And to end up making the relationship a lot stronger after the affair is possible however it requires a large amount of commitment and effort towards the partner.
    Have a nice day.

  4. Thanks for the enlightening article. For years my husband and I have been in a downward slump… going through the motions of work and living. Our work days are long, our schedules vary slightly and our work tasks are almost opposite (sales vs home office paperwork). When husband comes home drained, I want to release all the conversation that’s built up all day long. Then there’s my “glass is half empty” outlook. I could tell this was wearing on my husband, though I seemed to frequently dismiss it or argue in my defense. I eventually noticed my husband worked later and later, gradually turned into an every day thing. Soon we began arguing about his late work hours. I recently discovered that my husband has been having an affair with another woman… he claims his interaction was merely supportive emails/texts, nothing physical. I truly don’t know if there was a physical relationship. Though knowing my husband disregarded me at home for another woman has rocked me to my core. He made the decision to enter into an inappropriate relationship, sacrificing our marriage. Though it is me who suffers greatest. It’s unfortunate the energy was not put into working on our relationship. So very sad and heart-wrentching.

  5. WOW! Bullseye in accuracy! Just erase the He/she and plug our names in that story. It was so exact, it was almost like reading our own emotional affair marriage tale. I’m 3 months into d-day. My dear, almost perfect, Husband didn’t obey normal professional office conduct. He thought he could be exempt from the rules and not have predictable consequences of an office affair. I saw it coming, i couldn’t prevent it. Once he said the word divorce, I contacted the OW husband. (She quit the next day) No contact. my husband is still in the fog, mourning her. It was very hard for the first 60 days, now I just practice love-kindlers and he responds in kind. Really, its his choice to stay or go. I don’t live in fear, who wants a spouse who doesn’t want you? I deserve to be cherished. Trust, may or may not come back for awhile. We’ll see after the fog truly lifts….until then, the sex is better than ever. Grateful for family, friends, children, a forgiving heart and this awesome website.

  6. Got pregnant, couldn’t do much after the half way mark as I was tired enough from physical strain at work. Then after baby was born I went into postpartum depression and I think that’s what started his emotional affair. I found out about them “flirting” and brought it up with him but it still continued. Just got worse and worse even as I tried to do small things to make it better between us. He would lie about their conversations, hide them behind passwords and get angry at me getting upset with him. We still live together but he says now he doesn’t want to be with me and goes out with her and friends to hang out. You think there’s anyway to fix any of this??

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.