Support for the wayward spouse and the other man/woman

"No one need ever know..."
Many affairs involve secrecy. Usually, the motivation for this is to prevent hurt. If the "betrayed spouse" knew about the affair, s/he would be hurt - so the unfaithful spouse, and often their affair partner, want to keep the affair hidden from the other spouse. This can lead to several things:

* keeping a secret can be hard. For the unfaithful spouse, s/he gets forced into a "double life", with certain "no go" areas they feel they can't share with friends, or family, and especially not with their spouse. This creates distance, and frustration, and a growing sense of isolation.

* This can be true for the affair partner too, even of they are single. They may fear that they will be judged by their friends or family for involving themselves with someone officially "unavailable", or there may be other constraints - if they work with their lover, there may be risks to their job security or prospects, or reputational damage. Being in a secret affair can be very lonely, for both parties.

* knowledge is power, and there are risks attached. If a single lover to a married partner feels aggrieved, they could threaten to expose the affair to the spouse of their lover. They typically have less to lose through exposure than their married lover, and the threat of exposure may cause friction within the relationship, and ultimately lead to a breakdown of trust. But the threat can also come from outside. If a mutual friend or colleague discovers the affair, or if the single lover confides in someone during a spell of loneliness and desperation, this third party holds power over the affair couple and can threaten to expose the affair, creating panic and insecurity for the affair couple. (Paradoxically, the risks seem greater the fewer people know. As more and more people find out, the affair becomes an open secret, and becomes normalised, and people assume rightly or wrongly that the other spouse either knows or chooses not to know, and the risks of exposure to the other spouse drop.)

* sharing a secret can bring the affair couple closer together, if they have no one to share their "secret selves" with beside each other. But it can also lead to a "split", where they share more and more of their secret selves and less and less of their public selves with each other, so that the relationship risks becoming as one-sided as the marriage that the married partner is seeking to augment. These kinds of affairs can become long-term marriage aids, giving the married partner what they lack in the marriage, and keeping them fulfilled enough to stay married... at the cost of the single partner, who increasingly has to settle for a partial relationship, and has to watch their lover looking more and more settled and less and less likely to leave the marriage. For a single partner who hopes for a full-time relationship with their married partner one day, this can be very demoralising.

If you are in a secret affair, you need to look closely at your relationship to see whose interests are being served by the secrecy, or the amount of secrecy. If your own interests are being threatened or compromised, you may need to speak to your lover to see if you can find a way where both of your needs are more equally met. A relationship that meets only one person's needs at the expense of the other's is neither healthy nor long-term sustainable.

If you recognise that the secrecy is necessary, albeit not ideal, and value the relationship despite its constraints, and feel you are making an informed choice to continue, then you have the right to that choice. We will not judge you for making it - we have all made similar choices, and all live with the consequences of our choices. If you would like to trade stories with us, and share experiences so that we can all learn from each other and support each other with the difficult consequences of those choices, and share the joys of the benefits, then you are in the right place. Welcome to our forum!

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