Can extramarital affairs be true love? 8 things you need to know

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Two years ago I had an affair that rocked my world.

To tell the truth it’s still going on and I’m now at a point where I have to decide whether to break my current marriage up to be with her or let her go.

This is my take on whether an affair can be true love and what to do if it is.

Can extramarital affairs be true love? 8 things you need to know

An affair is, by nature, a betrayal.

It’s not a good start by most standards.

But the thing about love is that it’s often found in the unlikeliest of times and places.

So here’s the bottom line on extramarital affairs and their potential to be more than just a fling.

1) Yes, but rarely

Can extramarital affairs be true love?

First, let’s be straight up with an answer:

Yes, of course.

There’s no doubt that some couples fall in love in the course of an affair and go on to be together and live happily ever after.

It clearly does and can happen…

But (and it’s a big but):

They rarely are true love and they rarely turn into something long-term that works out.

The reasons for this are various, but they boil down to the following:

  • Cheaters tend to cheat again
  • Affairs are usually more about sex than love for a man
  • The complications and drama of divorce, custody and breakups make the next relationship hard to enter without a lot of pain
  • Many times affairs are exciting and new because they are taboo and naughty. Once that wears off, it often turns out that the only “true love” involved was, in fact, temporary and true lust.

With all that said, sometimes affairs do become true love!

So let’s continue taking a deeper look at this.

How can you know if an affair is true love and what can be done about it if it is the real thing?

2) Affairs always hurt someone

No affair comes without a price. The price is a broken heart of at least one person and usually more than one person.

At minimum, the man or woman being broken up with by the cheater is going to be brokenhearted or at least deeply upset.

The person you are having an affair with is also likely to be brokenhearted about the end of his or her relationship.

Then, if there are children involved it becomes even more difficult and heartbreaking to end the previous relationship and start with someone new.

If you’re the one having the extramarital affair or the other woman or other man in the affair, there’s going to be a ton of drama and sadness regardless.

The point is that even if it is true love, that true love is going to hurt.

Can a true and lasting love be born from a sea of pain? Absolutely. But it’s not going to be easy or smooth.

Far too often love is not enough, as the author Mark Manson wrote about.

At the same time, love is definitely an excellent start and it can be the beginning of something great if you get lucky and go about this in the right way.

3) Your true love might be his or her fling

The other crucial thing to keep in mind about this subject is that one person’s true love can be another person’s lark.

In other words, you may be falling hard for this person you’re cheating with, but they may be barely registering you on their emotional rolodex.

You’re just a number to call for them and a short chat after shagging in the afternoon.

On the flip side, they may be falling deeply for you while for you they’re not much more than a nice looking body.

I hate to cut through all the mystique right to that, but it’s crucial not to get your expectations up too high to the point that you assume your feelings are reciprocated.

An affair often leaves the other man or other woman bewitched and even in love…

But the man or woman doing the cheating quite often means it more as a way to let off steam sexually or have someone to talk to on the side.

They may not be nearly as invested, and it’s important to realize that if you’re starting to fall in love.

Proceed with caution in love in general and make sure not to fall in love too fast.

This is a good rule of thumb, and it’s especially good if you’re talking about love that’s born of an affair.

4) Will they leave their partner or not

Next up, if you’re wondering can extramarital affairs be true love is to talk turkey:

Will they leave their husband and wife or not?

Because if you’re feeling a strong love connection that’s one thing.

But if they’re willing to actually end their marriage to be with you is something else entirely.

It’s practically the oldest story in the book:

A man or woman is having an affair and cheating on their spouse.

They share deeply intimate moments with their new partner both physically and emotionally…

They have intense and broad conversations and even make plans for the future, perhaps…

But when the rubber hits the road, they don’t leave their spouse to try out this new relationship, even if it is love of some kind.

They head back to safety and security in the arms of their loved one.

This is one of the most disappointing things that can happen, so be careful how invested you get in someone before knowing for real whether they are willing to get a divorce or not.

5) Look objectively at your own situation

Another important thing about extramarital affairs and their potential to be more is to look objectively at your own situation.

If you’re cheating or someone is cheating in order to be with you, then there’s probably a lot going on in your life.

Look objectively at your own situation.

Are you in a position to enter into a relationship?

When was your last real love and how did it end?

If this really is true love and you’re sure of a commitment being reciprocated, then how will you work out the more pragmatic aspects and things like custody, divorce settlement, where to live, career and so on.

True love is one thing, but a life together is another.

It can be quite difficult to put the practical pieces of the puzzle together and make it happen.

I’m not saying it’s impossible, mind you, just hard!

6) Respect yourself above all

It’s crucial to respect yourself above all.

If you’re involved in an affair in some way, then you may often feel like you are being asked to stretch your boundaries beyond where they are comfortable.

If the other person is cheating to be with you, then you may feel they’re asking you to take second place and accept whatever attention they give you.

If you’re the one cheating, then you may feel you’re lying to yourself in being with someone new without being willing to first break up with your husband or wife.

It’s crucial in either position to respect yourself above all.

And a crucial component of self-respect is respecting others.

This means respecting the person you are cheating with, respecting the partner you are cheating on, respecting your family and respecting your own limits.

It means also being completely honest.

If this is just sex for you then say it.

If you’re falling in love then open up about it.

7) How intense and long has the affair been

Next up, in terms of the potential of this affair you’ll want to think about how long it’s lasted and how intense it’s been.

Have promises been made or has it been a pretty spur of the moment overall?

In terms of answering whether extramarital affairs can be true love, it’s important to take a look at how this affair has gone.

Who started it?

Who’s more into it or is it evenly reciprocal?

Is it mainly based on sex or has a lot more of a romantic aspect?

Has either of you opened up about having deeper feelings for the other?

How comfortable are you both about communicating openly and sharing your thoughts and feelings with each other?

Thinking about your affair and how long it’s lasted and the dynamics of it will give you many valuable insights into its longer term potential.

8) Fulfillment can’t come from force

When you’re feeling strong emotions, and the other individual is as well, it’s natural that you’ll hope for something serious to develop.

The thing is that fulfillment can’t come from force.

No matter how much you want an affair to become more, it takes two to tango.

This is true of any romantic endeavor, but doubly true of love that starts out as an extramarital affair.

Even if you both are in love, making it happen has to have both of you fully onboard to even get off the ground.

And you have to be fully prepared for judgment and steeled against some of the disapproval and hate that’s going to come your way.

Affairs are often far short of love, but even when they are real love, flipping that over into something real and committing fully to each other is another matter entirely.

What you really need to know

Can extramarital affairs be true love?

As I said at the beginning, yes they can be.

But it’s rare, and even when it’s the case, making it work in the real world is going to take toughness, determination and consistency.

It may also involve big life changes on a practical level that could involve moving, changes of work, custody of kids and many more things.

Is love worth it?

I’d say yes!

But I’d also caution strongly against jumping in too fast.

Sometimes the excitement and illicit nature of an affair can make it seem like love when it’s really just a rush of your youthful days or a strong lust-filled time.

Be sure it’s love, give it time, think it over and talk it over.

If you’re still feeling it, see what happens next and what you can both agree to at this time.

An affair to remember…

Can extramarital affairs be true love?

Yes, but be careful.

Far too often they will end in disappointment or in a dramatic mess.

And even if an affair does turn out to be true love, transforming it into a working and stable relationship is going to be difficult and take time and tears.

If you’re ready for that and confident that this is indeed the once-in-a-lifetime kind of love you’ve been seeking, then I would be a fool to tell you to desist.

At the same time, always maintain your wits about you.

You can find love in a hopeless place, absolutely, but you can also stumble across many a mirage!

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

I know this from personal experience…

A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.

If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.

Click here to get started.

The above link will give you $50 off your first session - an exclusive offer for Love Connection readers.

Did you like our article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.