Save Your Marriage Central: Falling In Love With An Affair Partner

Love Doesn't Excuse Infidelity

Falling In Love With An Affair Partner is one of the classic articles from Save Your Marriage Central’s founder Penny Tupy that Marriage Advocates is very proud to feature.

Originally published as Love As An Excuse For Infidelity, this article addresses the commonly given excuse for infidelity – love – and why love doesn’t excuse infidelity or doom a marriage to failure.

“But, I Love My Affair Partner!”

So often in my infidelity work with spouses whose mates are in the midst of an affair, I hear the anguished fear that because s/he claims to be “in love” with the affair partner, the existence of that love must mean that the marriage is over and the cheating lovers are meant to be together. Soulmates – because they now feel the intense passion of a fantasy relationship.

Falling “In Love” With An Affair Partner

But of course they are “in love.” That’s what an affair is. It’s what the addiction is. It’s an emotional response (without rationality, commitment or long-term thinking) that motivates us to make decisions and take actions that are not in our best interests, hurt other people, and destroy what we have worked hard to build in our lives – things like homes and families.

The idea that love should be the deciding factor is any of this is completely erroneous, as is the idea that love is some magical chemistry between two people. It’s neither of those things. Romantic love really is nothing more than a mathematical equation. Spend enough time with someone meeting intimate needs of conversation, affection, admiration, and play time – and you will fall in love with that person. (Assuming, of course, that they are not doing things you find offensive or objectionable at the same time.)

Yes, Love Is Blind

Interestingly, new infatuation/love blinds us to the offensive or objectionable things – at first. I think the pleasure of having needs met by someone new captures our attention to the point that we block out the less desirable traits. But like any addiction, what worked at first to create a high soon becomes not enough – we want more. When that happens in romantic relationships, the irritating things seem to grow in proportion to the decreasing pleasure from getting needs met. Unless real change takes place at this time – unless the real work of building a relationship kicks in – romantic love will wane.

A Successful Relationship Requires More Than Romantic Love

This is when the instinct to demand more, be rude, or even lose our tempers takes over. This is when the internal shift from, “You are so wonderful, what can I do for you,” to “You aren’t doing enough for me and I’m not willing to do anything for you – you jerk,” occurs. This is where real marriage happens, when we move from doing what we feel like to making the commitment to doing what it takes to craft a truly connected and compatible relationship. This is where real love is grown.

This is where those who have never honored commitment when the going got tough begin to bail. So, yes, I am sure that affair partners are in love. Does that mean it’s the right place for them, or that they have met “the one?” Of course not. It means that they are in the habit of going for the feeling rather than committing to doing the work of making a truly successful relationship. Unless something greatly changes for these men and women, they will do the same again, and again. They will not find lasting happiness until they understand that marriage is more than feeling.

Being in love is important, but staying there is what separates the men from the boys.

How To Combat Infidelity

Be an advocate for marriage. When you hear of infidelity, take a stand. Refuse to condone affairs and “friendships” that threaten the integrity of the marriage bond. Educate your friends and families on the seriousness of becoming involved outside the marriage. Love is not an excuse for betrayal and abandonment. Love based on that foundation is like a house built on sand.

© Penny R. Tupy 2003

About Penny Tupy

Penny Tupy is a marriage, relationship and healing coach, writer, activist and visionary who is passionate about helping people heal and transform traumatic experiences in their intimate relationships. Her specialties include infidelity, addiction, and abuse with a profound focus on the opportunities for growth and renewal within those situations. To make an appointment for one on one coaching for your relationship send an email or text Penny at 651.775.8302. More about Penny...
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20 Responses to Save Your Marriage Central: Falling In Love With An Affair Partner

  1. Alan says:

    I don’t understand it. I get people still may love the cheater. But how can you live knowing they had the best sex of their life with somebody else? Really? What a blow to the ego. How do you get over that? You really want them back after they have been disrespectful and have been having screaming orgasms with somebody else? I’m sure most lie about it afterwards. Cheaters always lie. Don’t they? Why yes they do. How many want to fix their marriage by telling the poor chump the other man tore her up and made her scream? Not many. Don’t be a chump… run. Dump them and run. Cheating on you means your disposable. Run.

  2. Tracey says:

    I am so relieved to find someone that addresses the emotions of the cheater and the love aspect. I have been married for 29 years and had an affair with the original blessing of my husband as the guy was a BDSM master and I am a submissive. I ended things to save my marriage but it is so difficult, The very essence of my affair was the emotional control that my Master had over me. I have tried to break communication with him but he was a friend too. Is it wrong that we maintain occasional communication, just over shared interests or concern over a friend ie. supporting him over health issues?

  3. Melb says:

    My husband and I have been together for 7 yrs and we have 2yr old son. A couple weeks before we got married I found out he was having a virtual affair. I was very upset about it we talked and he assured me they never had sex. I love this man so much words can’t explain. I chose to stay, one year into the marriage I found out he was sleeping around with multiple prostitutes. I was devastated we went to counseling and after a year I was convinced he was a changed man. After our son was born I found out he kept sleeping with prostitutes throughout my entire pregnancy and while we had a new born. I developed resentment towards him and I want to leave I am just trying to figure out an exit strategy. I stopped sleeping with him. I met a guy he really wanted to sleep with me but he didn’t push it. I was so horny and just didn’t want to think or care anymore so we ended up sleeping together. I felt really bad about it. I know he thinks i’m just a slut. It won’t happen again.I just need to figure out how i’m going to leave this man.

  4. ross says:

    Hello all ,

    I’m in a somewhat different position from most ,having just been past Valentine’s day I have been reflecting about my situation over the last 6 years , I found out that my wife had a 3 month emotional affair and a 12 month sexual affair about one month after it ended and when I confronted her about it all I got was ” Yes I had an affair , it’s over now , it really didn’t mean anything , I don’t want to talk about it ” .. The really sad thing for her was she was really in love with him but I think he was just using her for his own ego , she was 44 and he was 30 , both married and they worked together . I believe his wife eventually found out , forced him to leave their work immediately and all she got was an email ” it’s over and I never want to see you again ” , no kiss goodbye , nothing and over the last 6 years she has never gotten over it , I’m sure she is suffering some form of depression or PTSD, but refuses to talk to our doctor or anyone else about it At the time of her affair we had 5 children from 3 to 15 , so when i found out about it I didn’t feel I was in a position to leave , so I moved out of the bedroom .

    I realized that that she no longer loved me when she started her affair and when I found out about her affair I knew I no longer loved her nor would I ever believe her or trust her again after all the lies and secrets over the 15 months . She continued to refuse to talk about it for a couple of years . We tried counselling for a few months but she refused to talk during any of the sessions so in the end I gave up ..We have continued to share our house because of the children and i’m sure we had done a pretty good job at parenting but have lived a loveless marriage , we have both lived separate lives for the last 6 years since her affair . Even though I go out regularly i’m sure she has never had another relationship because she still loves him . The sad thing for her is that I am just waiting for the youngest to be old enough to live her own life and then I’m off on my own and I don’t think she has ever understood that even though I have told her several times over the years and tried to encourage her to go out and enjoy herself

    • ISeeYouClearlyNow says:

      Not a parallel life, but similar situation. I was the older woman. I WAS used for entertainment. He thought I was in on the game. I thought I was, too, but fell in love. It’s humiliating to realize that the “relationship” someone cultivated with you was a joke. You lose all perspective. You despise yourself. Can barely admit the truth to yourself- you were nothing. Worthless. Replaceable. Unremarkable to this person. This is what your wife is dealing with- realizing she was part of a game. Trying to accept that she was inconsequential to this person. That this person felt nothing for her. I don’t want to talk about it either. It makes me cry. Mostly from shame and from being angry with myself for missing someone that I never really knew. Pathetic. I hope you can work things out.

  5. tess says:

    I have been having an affair with a married man for almost 2years now I tried to break it off more than once but I can’t what should I do?

  6. Rob says:

    Very sad and hurt. My wife of 23 yrs. is having an long distane affair. She has made 4 trips to meet him over 6 months? They have shared lots of phone conversations. She has moved in and out of our home 3 times trying to make an effort to stop the relationship with him and work on our marriage with no luck as she can stop communicating with him. She has told me she loves him. A love that she has never felt before and if she could find the strength to move there and leave everything she is sure their relationship would last. She would be leaving everything. She has live here her whole life of 50 yrs. of personal relationships, job, friends, grandson, pets and kids ( that both have houses on our street we are a very close family) how can someone give up so much for someone they have only spent 20 days with? Help me understand…..

    • Right Here Waiting says:

      Rob, the simplest answer is that affairs are addictive and people involved in them behave like addicts. Infidelity is one of the most painful experiences, and much of what you must do is counterintuitive.

      Sounds like you could use some help. I invite you to join our community where folks who have survived what you’re going through now can lend a hand. Just go to and create an account–there’s no cost involved, no one will try to sell you anything, and you remain anonymous with a screen name.

      Take heart–you WILL get through this.

    • tess says:

      How do you stop an affair,and how do you know if he cares about you.

  7. Priya says:

    I have been married so recently (3 months) for the sake of my parents, previously i am into a relationship with one of my colleague and I am not able to come out of it i have still lost in those magical moments though I am not in touch with my X, on the other hand my husband loves me a lot but i am not able to reciprocate, instead i get irritate, I insult him, and hurt him. Latter on I regret for my behavior, I don’t have any feeling for my husband neither Physically nor emotionally. I am not able to take over this kind of life I am hating my Life, Neither i am happy nor he is happy .. Please suggest me, can i apply for divorce in this short time

  8. Kathleen Sanchez says:

    I learned on May 14 2014 that my husband of 21 yrs has been in a long term affair for 3 yrs with an ex girlfriend from high school. During that 3 yrs he was abusive ( verbal, physical, emotional ) , He refused to help with our 6 children. I was just cut out of his life. I had become very ill a few years ago and didn’t have the capacity to care for myself or my family & he completely checked out of the marriage. I have come to understand that they were talking for a few months prior to actually having a physical relationship. The hardest part for me is the feeling that after so many years of putting everything into my marriage and family it didn’t mean anything. All that hard work and love & dedication meant nothing. I am still undecided on staying in a marrige with someone that could just disreguard me or my feelings and fall into feelings with someone that was herself married. I want to leave so bad just to find me and feel whole again without all the lies an manipulation that is still thrown my way. He is still lying about the AP and still lying about well everything. How can i stay in a relationship with someone that i cannot trust to even deliver the truth about their actions? We have 6 children and the manipulation went so far as to include them in his cruel deception. He cannot express anything other than those women are dead to me & i dont want to talk about it. Do they really believe that as a couple we can move on? I don’t think I can without him sowing the seeds of trust. I NEED for him to be honest and upfront with me & not hide all that he has done. There was no shame while he was harming & destroying his family, I need for him to come clean and be honest even if shame and whatever else it is that is keeping him from being honest is haunting him. any advise?

    • You must protect yourself from your husband’s physical, verbal and emotional abuse. Depending on the ages of your 6 children, this could limit your options, but it’s important that you not get stuck in the stalemate you’re in. Realize, that your children will absorb the way your marital relationship works (or doesn’t work) and will apply what they learn to their own adult relationships in the future. They deserve better–and so do you.

      I really hope you will register for the Marriage Advocates forum (choose a screen name that protects your anonymity). People who have been through what you are experiencing can help you work through your options. What you have now is a terribly painful situation–your husband holds all the cards, and you hold none. No one can live like that indefinitely.
      I hope you will join us.

  9. Joe says:

    My wife recently moved out of the “forever house” we built together in 2006 after 14 years of being together and 10 years of marriage. For the past couple years, we had drifted apart emotionally,and she became pretty detached. I accept most of the responsibility in this as I was emotionally unavailable, uncommunicative, angry, and many times disrespectful when I talked to her. She finally couldn’t take it anymore and on March 3rd, I found out she has been having an affair with a coworker since late December 2013. They have been physical and she exhibits all the classic signs that I read everywhere, obsessive, head over heels love for this man. He is also married, in what he told her is a “roommate relationship of convenience”. He has reciprocated her love, but I have no insight into his feelings for her. She thinks he is her soulmate. She sends him love song lyrics that mirror her feelings to their relationship. She spends as much time as she can with him. She professes that she has been waiting her whole life to meet someone that treats her like he does, but as far as I know, he has made no commitments to her. He has not told his wife, he has not said he will leave his wife, he has given my wife nothing in that regard. At least that’s what she tells me. What he does give her is hours of wonderful conversation on the phone, constant texting on the phones, time spent with him is the happiest she has been in a long time. This is apparently enough for her at this point.

    When I found out about the affair I was devastated. I still am emotionally devastated after a month. Sometimes the pain and despair is so overwhelming I just sit down wherever I am and cry. We have had many talks during the intervening month and I have come to realize that I spent our entire relationship treating her like crap. I have so much guilt, shame, and regret about how I hurt that which I hold most dear, that sometimes I find it hard to go on. We have two children, so I try to remain strong for them, but it’s hard. I have started the therapy she always wanted me to get. I have started medications to treat the behaviors that drove her from me. I have completely reversed the way in which I interact with her and the kids. But I fear this won’t be enough.

    I need to fix myself for me, so that I can be a better, happier person, and in turn, those around me will benefit. I wish it would be enough to draw her back in, but I just don’t think she has anything left for me. All she can think about is him and their next date. I have resolved myself to spending however long it takes to make amends to her for how I have treated her. I expect nothing in return. I only hope that I can give her some small measure of the happiness she always wanted from me.

    In the space of reading a few text messages on her phone, my life has been unalterably changed. I was in a clinically depressed fog and never realized I was rushing headlong into losing the most important person in my life. I’m so lost right now, I have no idea what to do, or what to say to her. I would like to eventually reconcile, if I can forgive the affair, and she can find some measure of the love we used to share. The family unit is so important to me, and without her in it, it seems so meaningless. Doing things by myself or with the kids that I used to do with her, fills me with emptiness. Moms and Dads aren’t supposed to have their own homes. They are supposed to live together, and raise their children together. How does one recover from this if they still love the one that left? How do I recover when I see no hope in ever reestablishing that which we once had? Give it time? Find someone new? I don’t want someone new. They won’t be our children’s mother. I guess I don’t even know what I was hoping to accomplish by writing this.

  10. Denise says:

    After trying and trying it looks like my husband will not forget the affair partner. I’ve started to accept he truly fell in love with her and no longer loves me. As heartbroken as I am about that and as badly as I wanted to get back what we had, that part of our life is dead and its time to let go and move on. I will always love this man even after all the pain of his affair but like I heard it said one. If it comes down to you or me I will have to protect myself.

    I honestly thought I was this mans true love, soul mate, whatever, I now wonder if she is. Part of the pain in this is 25 years of marriage and a lifetime for no happy ending. I feel cheated in love.

    • Hello, princefan. It sounds like your WH is till with the OW, or at least, not making the right moves to make you willing to let him come home.

      What’s happened since your last post in April 2013? Come back to your tread o we can rally round and walk with you through this part. Maybe we can be of help. ((((Princefan))))

  11. Marie says:

    My husband has been with his affair partner almost 2 years now so I assume it’s more than just a fog now. He left me 7 months ago (found out about her a month after he left) and I don’t see any hope of reconciliation even though he cake eats like crazy. Can anyone give me examples of anyone being in the fog this long? I hear anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, but my hope is really dwindling.

    • I’m sorry for your situation, Marie. You ask how long someone can stay “in the fog.” It’s typically two years, but some people never come out of it–they take a wrong turn and just keep going. Think about this: Your WH is nearing that two-year mark, and he’s still in the catbird seat, running your life, calling all the shots…he’s got OW, and access to your home and contact with you, time with his dogs (an excuse to see YOU) whenever he wants. While you’re going crazy. Anti-depressents aren’t always enough. Ask your doc if some anti-anxiety medication would be more useful. It often is.

      You know, when something clearly isn’t working, it’s time to do something else. What you’ve been doing is not only not bringing him back, it’s debilitating you! YOU are paying the price, day after day after day. The cake eating is stablizing the affair, and only you can make it stop. When you have NO contact with him, not only will the cake eating come to an end, but you’ll stop ripping the scab off the wound every time you interact with him. It’s killing you, Marie, and you’re worth so much more than that. He has no incentive to change anything, so only you can break this limbo-like existence you’re living. See a lawyer, and then take his/her advice. It may take filing for divorce for him to get the jolt he needs to rethink this. Till then, he doesn’t have to think at all.

      But even if that doesn’t happen, filing for divorce puts your power back in YOUR hands.Try that bold step. What have you got to lose that you haven’t lost already?

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