It’s a taboo subject. Nobody really wants to discuss the topic of extramarital affairs, but the truth is that they happen. But is there more to how do affairs start than we might like to admit?
The numbers show that an awful lot of people have encounters and affairs outside of their marriage. So, why is this happening? And how do extramarital affairs start?
There is always going to be a lot going on beneath the surface every time someone looks for an affair outside of their marriage, whether they realise it or not. And it’s a lot more complicated than someone being at fault.
Understanding Why Someone Might Enter an Extramarital Affair
It would be wrong to assume that there is always one single reason why someone might enter an extramarital affair. It would be like saying there’s only ever one reason why couples get together.
We’ve put together a list of five of the most common reasons why someone might be looking to meet someone outside of their marriage.
1. They’re Unfulfilled in Their Current Relationship – Emotionally or Sexually
It can be an incredibly lonely experience when you’re not fulfilled in your relationship. When you’re feeling unfulfilled emotionally, it can feel like you might as well be alone because your needs aren’t being met. You’re sharing a space with someone without sharing anything deeper.
Sexual unfulfillment can be just as damaging. Everyone has needs, and if yours aren’t being met, then you will start to ask why and start to wonder if there’s any reason you shouldn’t look for someone who will meet them.
2. They’ve Actually Agreed to an Open Relationship
This is a point that a lot of more “traditional” people don’t like to think about or simply don’t understand. Open relationships have become increasingly common over the last few years as people are looking past the outdated idea that love can only mean monogamy.
Many couples have an agreement that each partner can have affairs outside of their marriage, provided they keep to certain rules that they have both agreed upon. This allows them to ensure their needs are met without risking their relationship.
3. They Have Commitment Issues
This one’s a bit of a cliché, but a lot of people find the idea of settling down and committing to one single person for the rest of life very difficult to get their head around. It’s a surprisingly common situation for a lot of couples.
In this case, an extramarital affair is something that they may feel compelled to explore because they don’t feel like they are ready to commit. An extramarital affair may be the thing that helps them to feel more confident in their marriage.
4. They Feel Neglected by Their Current Partner
This is similar to the first point, where emotional or physical neglect can cause a person to look for an extramarital affair. It’s easy to understand why someone would want to look elsewhere if they aren’t being made to feel special or important.
An extramarital affair, in this case, is about reminding yourself that you are worthy of someone’s devotion and full attention. It’s about finding someone who does appreciate you.
5. They’re Seeking Revenge
Finally, one of the most common reasons behind extramarital affairs is that they’re seeking revenge on their partner. Often, this scenario arises because the person has discovered that their spouse has cheated on them.
However, getting back at someone for cheating isn’t the only revenge factor. It could also be to make them realise how much they have been neglecting their partner or take back the power in the relationship.
Is it Always Wrong for Someone to Enter an Extramarital Affair?
Indeed, extramarital affairs are often frowned upon because it implies someone is doing something they shouldn’t be – but there may be situations where it might not necessarily be wrong for someone to look elsewhere.
The best example of this is an open relationship where both couples have agreed on exploring other encounters, but an affair may also be the result of a really difficult emotional situation, and it may help someone to understand themselves better.
How do Affairs Start?
Considering the reasons why extramarital affairs might happen helps us to understand how they start. Everyone knows that scene in a soap where someone is asking their spouse, “How did this happen?”
Well, there are more scenarios than you might think. Let’s have a look at some of the most common reasons.
1. Affairs Start Slowly, With a Friendship
Affairs don’t always start with a bang, so to speak. A lot of affairs begin with a friendship as two people realise that they have a lot in common and enjoy spending time together. As emotional intimacy blossoms, physical intimacy may follow.
2. Affairs can Begin at Work
The term “work wife” or “work husband” is a bit of a joke, but the fact is that it can be similar to an affair developing through friendship. You spend a lot of time with each other, you adapt to each other’s rhythms, and if there is an attraction there, then it won’t take much for something to happen.
3. Flirtation and Attraction Often Lead to an Affair
Attraction is often one of the biggest factors that lead to an affair, but flirtation is crucial too. Married people often engage in flirtation because there’s the understanding that nothing is going to happen…but what if it does? Those playful interactions can quickly become a lot more serious.
4. The Emotional Connection Plays a Huge Role in Starting an Affair – it’s Not Always Just About Sex
There’s a myth that affairs are all about animal attraction and sex. They do have a big part to play, but the emotional connection can often be the deciding factor. Finding someone who understands what you’re feeling and shares it with you is an intoxicating thing, and it’s something that can push people into an affair.
5. Similarity in Circumstances can Promote an Affair
Following on from the point above, finding someone in the same place as you emotionally or circumstantially can create an understanding that leads to a physical encounter. We’re all looking for someone who gets it, and if your spouse doesn’t, then it’s powerful when you find a person who does.
How Long do Affairs Last?
There’s no one answer to how long do affairs last. It depends on a range of factors that include the feelings both parties have for each other and how committed they are to their affair.
If it’s an encounter fuelled by attraction alone, then the affair might not last very long at all.
However, if there are more emotions and a deeper connection involved, then it may go on for longer. It also depends on how happy each party is in their current relationship and whether they want to see how far this new one goes.
What are the Signs it Might be More than Just an Affair?
Some affairs turn into something a bit more serious. You might find that you’re not just fulfilling a temporary need, but a long-term one. One or both of you might want to see how far it goes.
If it feels like more than a physical connection, here are some signs that your affair partner might have feelings for you.
- They want to meet up casually.
- They ask questions about your home life.
- They want to sleep over.
- They make plans for future weeks and months.
- They talk about other members of your family.
It’s up to you whether you want to encourage this in your affair or if you want to draw a line under it.
Summary: How do Affairs Start? And Why?
Affairs start for several different reasons and in several different ways. One of the most common themes is that the people involved are missing something in their current relationship, whether it’s physical or emotional intimacy or a sense of adventure.
Some people fear commitment, others want to explore their sexuality, and others are looking for someone who feels the same way they do. They can start through friendships and work, or they can be a spur-of-the-moment fling.
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What age do most affairs happen?
Most affairs happen when people are in their 30s. This is the age when a lot of people have started to settle down, and when they are also more aware of their physical and emotional needs. This is when they realise that their needs are not being met and they start to think about whether they are really happy.
How long do affairs usually last?
The length of affairs varies greatly depending on the situation that prompted it, and how committed both parties are to the affair. Some affairs only last one or two encounters, but if there is an emotional connection then they can go on for much longer. It depends if they have finally found what they looking for, or if they just need a bit of excitement.
How do most affairs happen?
Most affairs happen in situations where the two parties already have something in common. Affairs can start between friends who already have an emotional connection or easy rapport. They can start at work when you are in the same place a lot of the time and share the same stress. They can also start through a simple flirtation.
What are the root causes of affairs?
The root causes of affairs are often feeling like you are being neglected, either emotionally or physically. They can occur because of a fear of commitment in one of the parties, or they can happen because the person feels like their needs are not being met. They can also happen for revenge reasons.