Are you wondering whether your partner (husband or wife) is having an affair? You certainly don’t want to project fears on jealousy onto an innocent person. Yet, you are not sure. Is there something going on?
Do you speak up? What do you say? What is the basis for your concerns? You have made it clear in the distant past you value monogamy. You have made it clear then there is no alternative. An affair often acts like a dangerous virus that destroys trust.
Perhaps you have a friend who suspects her or his partner is involved with somebody else. She or he comes to you for advice or support. What do you say to your friend?
Women and men tell me that once the trust has broken it is extremely hard to rebuild. A partner sometimes finds the inner strength to forgive and let go when the partner acknowledges that he or she has been intimately involved with another. There is genuine regret, and end to the affair, and a profound wish to renew the relationship. Can our love hear the regret to start anew?
If history of the affair repeats itself, either with the same person or with another, the betrayed partner may understandably say: “Enough is enough. Our relationship is over.” Does one have the power to say no more and move on without drifting back into the relationship?
The one who has made such a decision to finish the relationship has listened inwardly. The partner refuses to continue to live with an anxious state of mind and possibly sleepless nights. He or she will not put up with another day of worrying about what the partner gets up to in the times when they are not together.
Some partners continue in the relationship despite the situation being a ménage trios. The injured partner gives reasons to stay in such a relationship or leaves it and then goes back to him (or her).
- “I can’t bear to be without him (or her).
- “I have to forgive and let go.”
- “For the sake of the children, I stay with him (or her)”
- “I stay with him (or her) despite his (or her) ongoing unfaithfulness, even though it is always painful and difficult.”
- “I have come to accept him (or her) as he (or she) is. I can’t change the person
It is not always easy to know whether the wounded one who continues or goes back to this kind of painful relationship can’t bear to be on their own or lacks of a sense of self worth or both. Why does he or she continue with an unfaithful partner? Has he or she confused dependency with love? Or is it love and dependency?
I read recently in The Times, a UK national newspaper, an article on infidelity referring to signs of “crossing the line.” I have included these signs and expanded further. The Buddha referred regularly to signs (nimtta). There are events or possible events and we need to take notice of the signs of the events. The Buddha also frequently characterized his talks with a list of specific points as a useful reference point.
In Alphabetical order:
POSSIBLE SIGNS OF AN UNFAITHFUL PARTNER
- becomes moody, more dissatisfied or very warm and friendly in rather superficial way
- cannot look you in the eye and hands may cover the mouth, if lying or distorting the truth
- doesn’t want to be picked up from anywhere
- expresses love far more frequently or stops expressing it. Gone cold on making love or far more keen (due to guilt)
- gets angry or makes claims when partner asks about his or her interest in someone else: “I would never lie to you.” “She (or he) means nothing to me.” “I would never do anything to hurt you.” “Nothing happened.”
- gives out the feeling of loss of interest in the relationship and takes it for granted.
- if partners live apart, sensing the atmosphere in the partner’s home has changed
- later admits to affair but rationalises lies by saying “I lied to you before. I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”
- mobile phone is never out of pocket or purse and there is no allowing of access to emails
- refers to a particular person (the secret lover) regularly in a casual way or to find fault with
- regular apologies for absence or partner takes regular unexplained absences
- sensing that something is wrong and hearing excuses or unconvincing explanations
- spending more hours away from home or claims contact with a person is only a friendship
- spends far more time on appearance
- talks about new areas of interest that seem uncharacteristic.
It is easy for the betrayed partner to portray themselves as completely innocent and the partner with the lover as the wrong doer. At times, there may be a certain karmic justice. A partner has betrayed their last partner only to find that their new partner betrays her or him after some weeks, months or years. The wounded partner may have neglected or found fault with the relationship on a frequent basis so the partner has moved into the arms of another person for intimacy and sharing. The couple have gradually drifted apart. It needed a third person so motivate the couple to end it.
Intimate relationships need to start in a pure, clean and uncomplicated way. The partner requiring monogamy needs to be able to share their history of past relationship and know the past of the partner, their present attitude around monogamy for confidence in a commitment. I am very hard pressed to think of a single relationship that has been healthy and happy in the long term that started with betrayal of someone else’s love and commitment.
Yes, betrayal of trust is foolish and insensitive, and all too human. For loving and sensitive women and men, the regret and sorrow over their betrayal can last for a long term, even when the betrayed partner has long forgiven them for being unfaithful. We need to be supportive and understanding of those who become involved in an affair rather than take the moral high ground. Eros and attraction can override years of commitment.
If you need to address your concerns to your partner (husband,wife) because of possible signs of disregard for the relationship, do ensure it is the right time, the right place and you employ language to explain your concerns rather than make accusations.
If you know already your partner has a friendship with another but you are unsure whether it is an affair, then you can ask your partner to meet with the person and, if appropriate, share your concerns. That may take courage. It is important to recognise that a partner can have good friendships with members of the opposite sex (or same sex) without it being any kind of affair. Sometimes, for a partner, the loss of intimate sharing with a partner is as painful as the partner going to bed with somebody else. Lies, controlled silence and wilful deceptions tend to cause the most pain.
The partner who truly realises the emotional pain involved in an affair surely never betrays a partner again.
Trust and fidelity are powerful forces of the heart. There is a cost for ignoring the precious disciplines and practices of a committed relationship. The cost extends itself to numerous areas of daily life. Be mindful.