This is Day 10 in the series “31 Days: What You Should Know Before An Affair“
I’m not sure what planet I was living on, but it never occurred to me I could love more than one person at the same time. I knew there were times in my dating experience where feelings for one guy might begin to wane as I became interested in a different guy, but this was something I never thought would happen after I was married.
I just knew I loved God, was in love with my husband and honestly believed marriage would be pretty easy. I never thought for one second I’d ever love anyone else.
Of course I wouldn’t.
I was married.
When we are ignorant and unaware of danger, we are most vulnerable to it.
And my ignorance absolutely set the stage for the mess I’d choose.
We’ve talked about the way the danger begins, with thoughts we feed and ideas we promote in our minds. We’ve explored the danger of comparison, the importance of gratitude, and the unintended path compromise brings, which lands us in a place we never intended to go.
Once we’ve arrived though, there is power that holds us there.
Some would say it’s the fear and devastation of being found out.
Others would suggest it’s the fantasy world an affair creates.
And many think it’s the physicality of the experience.
But you need to know the power of an affair is in the emotion—in the shared emotional connection. It’s the vulnerability offered and the empathy conveyed which gives the connection its power.
Most people enter an affair because it gives them the feeling of being seen, appreciated, admired, and loved. This “me too” experience creates a powerful bond between two people and is extremely difficult to terminate. It’s a bond that forms slowly over time–seemingly benign and harmless.
And often, we don’t realize we are in so deep, until it becomes a strong and solid bond, and then when we panic about how to get out. But by then, even though we realize it’s wrong, we’re so connected we don’t want to get out. We choose to be in denial, and instead, feed our own selfish desires–telling ourselves it can be our little secret, and that no one has to know. Then we tell no one, justifying our behavior all along the way.
It is far easier to prevent a connection, than to terminate it once it’s grown.
Many assume the most egregious and heinous component of an affair is the physical part. And while having sex with someone other than your spouse is an extreme betrayal and violation of trust, the power of any relationship is in the emotional connection between two people–something which is very difficult to break.
To break it, requires a death.
It necessitates grieving and loss and pain, which few of us would ever willingly choose. The truth is, as much as we love those in our lives, the tendency is to protect self at all costs, which leads us to minimize, justify, or deny the pain we are inevitably causing others.
No one wakes up one day and decides to have an affair. It happens over time, and most often is preceded by an unmet need which is filled by a strong and profound emotional connection.
With the exception of the Ashley Madison list, those who prefer one-night stands, and sociopath, most people who have affairs don’t go looking for them. They are simply people like you and like me who want to feel like they matter—to know that they’re enough.
We all want to connect with someone who will show us we are worthy of love and belonging. And when our needs have been neglected in marriage we are like sitting ducks, hungry for connection and ripe for an affair.
It is this vulnerability, coupled with ignorance, and the neurophysiology of the high of a new relationship, which is the trifecta deadly combination which precedes most affairs.
But there is good news.
Today we have the choice to prevent entanglement, and choose to emotionally connect ourselves with our current partners.
We can choose respect.
And to help them feel seen and worthy of love and belonging.
We have the power to move toward one another in relationship–to meet our partner’s needs first.
And because the power is the emotional connection, the good news is we get to choose where we invest our time connecting today.
How have you experienced the power of emotional connection?
What one thing can you choose to do today, to move toward your partner?
Throughout this series, if you have a question or a struggle and want me to address it or write on it in this series, please send me an email (jacque at jacquewatkins dot com) or a voicemail (green button on right sidebar) and I will do my best to incorporate it into this series. It will make me so happy to have feedback from you and to write what it is you might need. I can’t wait to hear from you.