In a perfect world, you find someone you love, get a ring on your finger, and commit to them for the rest of your life. And you live happily ever after.
But, we don’t live in a perfect world.
People change, feelings change and you may find you don’t feel the same years down the track.
It’s normal to come across other people you’re attracted to in your married life. But your feelings for your partner are enough to bring you back to Earth and keep you on track.
This is normal.
But, what happens if you meet someone else you have strong feelings for that you can’t shake?
You’re not the first one to have this happen to them. No, it doesn’t make you a bad person.
We all have feelings we can’t control. You can’t help how you feel about someone else. But, it is worth considering what to do next.
Is it love?
It’s so easy to jump into a new relationship and fall head over heels. Everything is new and all those problems from your marriage are thrown out the window.
You can easily get swept up in it all. After all, you’ve found everything that was missing from your own marriage and it feels freeing. But do these feelings equate to love?
This is a question that only you can answer, but it’s an important one to ask.
Here 10 questions to help you out:
1) Is the cheating physical, emotional, or both?
The next step is to work out where this new relationship stands.
If you’re in love with this person, then there’s no doubt that you have cheated on your partner. It’s not possible to be in love with someone else without this happening.
People have this view that emotional cheating isn’t nearly the same as physical cheating. If you ask us, it’s worse.
It’s not just about the sex, it’s about the connection the two of you have together. You have left the realms of your marriage to find this connection.
- Do you stay up at night talking about life and everything in between?
- Does he understand you on a deeper level than anyone else?
This emotional connection you have is dangerous. There are likely strong feelings there.
If it’s purely physical, then there’s a good chance he’s simply fulfilling a need, not a desire.
It’s not love. Just a simple fulfillment of your needs.
2) Why are you interested in this relationship?
Consider why you jumped into this relationship in the first place.
- Were you trying to escape a loveless marriage?
- Did you enjoy the attention?
- Is the sex good?
If you answered yes to these, then it’s more likely you’re in love with the idea of someone new and not this particular person.
If you chose the relationship because you wanted to get to know this person better and find out who he is, then love is more likely.
3) Do you love his flaws?
If you don’t even know what his flaws are, then it’s safe to say this new relationship has been born out of lust and nothing more.
On the other hand, if you know all his flaws, right down to that nail-biting in the bedroom, and you love him for it, then there are definite feelings there.
4) How long have you known him?
It’s so easy to get swept off your feet in a short space of time. And when it comes to affairs, time really is of the essence.
If you haven’t known him that long, then you can take love out of the equation. Love means knowing a person on a deeper level than anyone else and this takes time.
Even if you have been together for a long time, ask whether the relationship feels impulsive or steady?
If it’s the former, then you’re more likely experiencing lust over love.
5) Do you see a future?
It’s all well and good to find a new lover who offers you everything that was missing from your marriage, but do you see them as a long-term attachment?
Perhaps he is simply good for right now and not for the rest of your life.
When there are problems in our relationship and we seek outside comfort, it’s easy to see the best in this new person. But you forget that relationships take a lot more hard work than this.
They take a lot more commitment as well. Do you think this new love is up to that?
6) Where is he at in life?
Another thing to consider is where your new love is at in his own life. If you choose to be with him, then this will affect you greatly.
- Does he have kids of his own?
- Is he married as well?
- Has he ever been married? Why or why not?
You can fall in love with the idea of a person, without actually loving them.
Work out whether the two of you actually have anything in common, aside from the affair that you share.
This will go a long way in helping sort out your feelings and working out whether or not a relationship would even last beyond the affair.
7) Do you shake when he is near?
Believe it or not, shaking is one of those physical signs you can’t avoid when love takes over. You’ve well and truly been struck with that good old love bug.
Your heart races when he’s around and it causes your knees to shake and many other signs:
- Sweaty palms
- Fast breathing
When triggered by love, your brain actually changes in the process. Chemicals are released into your body that can cause these signs – and there’s nothing you can do about it. Just recognize the signs and acknowledge what they’re telling you.
8) Are you prepared to share your life with him?
Seeing someone on the side is extremely secretive — and for good reason.
But are you actually willing to share your life with him? Not just you, but your whole entire life?
- Are you willing to share your kids?
- To share your friends?
- To share your family?
- To share your money?
- To share your home?
These are all questions you need to answer to know how you truly feel about this person. An affair is one thing, but bringing him into the rest of your life is a whole other thing that needs to be thought through carefully.
9) Can you not stop thinking about him?
When you’re at home with your partner, does your mind wander to your new love?
Does the same happen when you’re out with friends? At work? Home with the kids?
This is a sure sign that you’re falling in love (or perhaps already have).
Do you go out shopping for yourself and come back with something for him too?
This suggests you’re not going to be able to cut this person out of your life easily. The feelings are there and they’re strong.
10) Do you share everything about each other?
Love is about forming that deeper connection between the two of you.
If you stay up late each night, sharing insights into your lives and getting personal, then it’s a good indication that you have a strong connection — and emotional connection that we spoke about earlier.
If you find yourself sharing things about your life that no one else knows, including your partner, then there’s a level of trust in this new relationship that doesn’t exist in your married one.
What should you do?
Start by carefully going through the signs above and working out where you and your lover actually stand.
If you’ve come to realize you have a connection but it’s simply physical or a means to an end for you, then the best thing you can do is end it now. It’s not worth throwing away your marriage for.
Work out why you were led astray in the first place and fix those issues within your own marriage.
If you are in love with this other person, then you need to be sure to tread carefully through the next steps.
While you may have kept away from him physically (so far), emotional cheating can be even more detrimental to your married life.
As soon as you step outside your marriage, you’re putting your relationship on the line, so it’s time to make the hard decisions and work out what you want.
At the end of the day, the decision is yours and yours alone. No one else can help you make it. It’s a huge responsibility that will affect the rest of your life, so you want to think it through.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help aid in your decision-making process:
1) How will this affect me in the future?
Take a look at this from both perspectives. If you choose to stay with your partner, how do you see yourselves overcoming this infidelity and putting your marriage back together?
Once you do, where do you see yourselves in five-plus years’ time?
Now consider if you leave your partner for your new love? Again, ask yourself where you see the two of you in five-plus years’ time?
At the moment, you’re feeling complete and utter love for this new person. But, now it’s time to put those feelings aside and really consider how your decision will affect everyone else in your life, including any kids.
2) How will this affect my partner?
You married your partner because you fell in love at one point in time. It’s important to consider his feelings in all of this.
Are you OK with turning his life upside down? Is it worth the feelings you have for this other new love?
Of course, you can’t stay in a marriage based on your history alone, it takes more than this to be happy. You may consider that letting him go gives your partner another chance at true love as well.
There’s no wrong or right answer here, it’s all about considering your personal options.
3) How will this affect your new love?
Now think about your new love. Imagine both a live with him and one without him and how both choices might affect him.
His feelings in this matter as well.
Consider where he’s at in his life and what your life together might look like if you go down this path.
Are there step-children to consider as well?
If you cut ties now, will he be able to accept it and move on with his own life away from you?
It’s important to consider all these long-term consequences before you go ahead and make a decision.
Here are some options for you to choose from:
1) End the affair and work on your marriage
Cold turkey. You have to cut this person out of your life forever in order to make it work with your partner.
It’s best to be upfront and honest with what has transpired, then throw yourself into fixing your marriage. There’s more on this below.
2) Stay in your marriage while continuing to see your new love
This is often dangerous territory, as there’s every chance you will get caught out doing this.
You have to realize your marriage is on the line every moment you’re cheating.
3) Leave your marriage for your new love
If you decide on this option, then be sure about it. Talk through it with your new love and make sure you have the means to set up a happy life together.
There’s no going back once you go down this path, and it impacts all those around you.
4) Wait until your new love ends the affair
This is the option for those who don’t want to make a decision.
Just simply let the affair run its course and hope you don’t get caught out beforehand.
Why do married people have affairs?
Before you tied the knot, you couldn’t ever imagine yourself being the type of person to cheat. That happens in other marriages, but definitely not your own.
But, the truth is, until the situation presents itself, you never really know what you’re going to do. There are so many different factors that can lead to someone cheating within a marriage.
Here are some of the main reasons people cheat:
- Lack of sexual satisfaction
- Lack of emotional satisfaction
- Falling out of love
- Lack of excitement
How to make your marriage work
If you’ve decided to patch things up with your partner, then there are some crucial steps you need to take to ensure your affair is completely over and the two of you can move on together.
1) Stop all contact
The first crucial thing you need to do is stop all contact with this person. There is no way your marriage can move forward while this other man is still in your life.
Cut all ties and all communication.
It’s hard work when the feelings are there, but you need to make your relationship a priority again. Otherwise, how will your partner ever trust you again?
2) Focus on your partner
One of the key ways to find that bond again between you and your partner is to show them that this is what you want.
They’re naturally going to have some trust issues that need to be repaired going forward, so it’s up to you to show them that you mean it. To make amends.
Make him feel special. Show an interest in all his hobbies and passions and listen to him. This is a great way to reinforce that bond between the two of you.
It’s also important to make sure you support him in everything he does. Become a good listener and genuinely care about everything he says.
Rebuilding trust can take time. Showing you genuinely care is a great place to start.
3) Rekindle your relationship
Rekindling your relationship is about finding each other again. People change over the years, so it’s natural that the two of you have done the same.
The best way to find your way again is by revisiting your love languages. There are five to choose from: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch.
Discover each other’s and remember it. This is how you rekindle that love and reconnect.
Listen, respond and speak your partner’s love language. This way, you have a chance to meet their emotional needs.
At the same time, be upfront with your own love language and what you need from him. This is a two-way street that you both need to make work moving forward.
4) Work out why you cheated
It’s almost impossible to move on if you don’t take a pause to consider why you cheated in the first place.
Scroll back up and consider the four most common reasons for cheating. Do any of these apply to you?
If not, dig deeper. What is it that led you to that place?
- Do you have an addiction (such as drugs and alcohol) that lowers your inhibitions and led to the poor decision-making?
- Was it an act of revenge because of something your partner did to you?
- Did you simply take up an opportunity that was presented in front of you?
By determining the reason, measures can be put in place to ensure it never happens again. Measures that will help rebuild your partner’s trust in you again.
5) Seek professional help
There still tends to be a lot of stigmas when it comes to counsellors.
The truth is, they can help you get to bottom of your issues and work through them much better than you could on your own.
Having a third party listening to your troubles is the perfect solution. They offer an impartial view that allows you both to achieve something from your conversations.
With the help of a professional, you can work on your marriage and find a way forward together.
Making your decision
The decision is yours and yours alone to make.
Use our guide to help you work out your feelings and make the best decision possible based on your own experience.
Everyone is different — what works for one isn’t going to work for another.
You need to dig deep for this decision and don’t rush into it. It will alter the course of the rest of your life — and the lives of others around you. Think it through and own it.
Once you make the decision that works for you, then commit to it and do everything in your power to make it work.
It’s a second chance, either way, you look at it.
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.
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