Ask Andrew – Is it possible to have an affair and not have feelings for someone
I recently found out that my husband of 5 years (together for 9, we also have four young children ranging between 6 and five months) had sex with an ex – student of his 3 times over the course of 6 months last year. I had been paranoid about this girl for some time, but he always denied anything. Apparently they had sex 3 times, plus 1 sexual contact – only after bumping into each other – and than he ended it. But six months later when they bumped into each other he walked with her, hugged her, kissed her and than ended it again. However, she than texted him and they continued to text each other really flirty. I found the messages 9 months ago and confronted him, he denied it. I emailed this girl at the time, but heard nothing. Out of the blue, 2 months ago she emailed me back and said she had something to tell me. I asked him about it and he finally confessed to it. After much discussing and shouting, he finally stated that there was four reasons why he did it – 1) our marriaged (I have never really shown him any love, or affection, haven’t told him that I loved him for about 6 years) and I control everything; 2) pressures at work 3) outside interference from family (my side) not feeling that our marriage is private 4) the death of his mother 3 years ago and for whom he never grieved. My husband claims that he does not recognised the person that did what he did, that he did not have any feelings for her, that he didn’t enjoy it and that he deeply regrets it. He was signed off of work and is currently seeking professional help – being diagnosed as suffering from depression. His therapist has claimed that he has been mentally ill.
I have been able to sit back and look at our marriage and hold my hands up to my faults and can recognise that many of my difficulties stem from issues not related to my husband. However, some are related to him and unresolved issues from the beginning of our relationship.
I have bought How can I ever trust you again? and I love you but… and have found both books to be brilliant.
I am terrified that my husband will do this again and absolutely do not trust him. My problem is mainly that I don’t know what to believe because he so blatantly lied to me and at the time that he was sleeping with her, I thought things were fine ( he claims that he was masking everything and making out everything was fine to stop conflict at home).
Is it possible for someone to suffer mentally to a degree that they can cheat? Is it possible for someone to have an affair and yet not have feelings for that person or enjoy some element of the affair? If my husband regretted it each time than why would he go back and if he ended it each time, what makes the last time he ended it any different? I feel that when he goes back to work it could all happen again – how can I learn to move past this? I am also struggling in that I find the slightest thing reminds me of the situation and than brings the pain back to the surface – please help?
Let’s take a deep breath and work through your questions.
Yes. It is possible to have an affair and not be in love or even enjoy it very much. If you husband was desperate, depressed and saw no future in anything, he would have done almost anything to get out of that hole. Someone coming along and saying ‘I love you’ and ‘you’re wonderful’ and let me give you a momentary high from hot sex, it seems like the answer to your prayers. However, it’s a bit like someone offering a gallon tube of ice cream or a bottle of whiskey. It takes the pain away for a while but you feel terrible the next day! Did you really enjoy the ice cream or whiskey – not very much? Worse still, you feel terrible shame and sink lower and become even more vulnerable to the next offer of cheap sex, ice cream or whiskey.
Can you suffer mentally to the point that you start cheating? Certainly if you husband has manic depression, it is not uncommon to cheat in the manic phase. (Quite a few people are diagnosed in the aftermath of an affair.)
You’re frightened it will happen again. Of course, that’s only natural. Same with the slightest things reminding you of the affair. I’m not surprised you’ve been on high alert for months and months, it will take time to feel safe again. However, if you attend to your half of the problem and learn to communicate properly (rather than demand or control) – see Resolve your differences and Help your partner say yes – and he deals with his stuff, there’s no reason why you can’t rebuild this marriage.