It’s highly unprofessional of me but I’m going to tell you a running bet/tally I have with myself when I sit down with a new couple.
It goes a little somethin’ like this:
I’ve just managed to get the sound AND video working on my Zoom – we’ve all spent a good 10 minutes saying “Can you hear me?” over and over again.
We’ve established that we now officially have a connection.
(Why does Zoom change between consults? *shakes head* – you too?)
I’m a little bit nervous – yep, I still get nervous meeting new clients. My leg is probably wiggling beneath the desk – out of sight. I check my hair. I check my smile. To make sure there’s no food. I check my face to make sure I didn’t draw on it with my pen during the last session. True dat. I make sure there’s nothing I don’t want in the background. I run out to grab a coffee like it’s a race.
And then – BOOM.
It’s all happening and I relax – and hopefully, they do too.
Anyways – during the first consult – I try and get a detailed view of the big picture so that I can go about unravelling the clues. I ask both partners their views and where they want to go. Because – let’s face it – everyone has their own definition of a happy marriage.
About a half an hour in – it happens. (Or sometimes it’s a text I receive straight after the meetup.)
One spouse goes to look after the kids – have a bathroom break – stir the dinner. I’m never sure if the distraction has been staged – but it always happens…
The person left sitting in front of me leans in – really close to the screen – they look like they have the most exciting thing to tell me. I usually have to wait for a few seconds while they hesitate.
“I’ve got something to tell you real quickly. Just so you know. I’m having an affair.”
It’s not the information that bothers me. I usually am not surprised.
It’s the look on their face. I have 5 kids – and I’ve seen this look on my kid’s faces at around the age of 5 (today is brought to you by the number 5). And it’s there when they’ve done something naughty but they are incredibly proud of it. And they can’t keep it a secret.
The dopamine rush from having a naughty secret is written all over their face.
If the person having the affair has enough time – they will start talking and talking and talking about how wonderful this new person is – how their wife doesn’t understand them like this person – how this person “completes” them. Yadda Yadda.
Badda Bing Badda Bang Badda Boom – I win the bet with myself.
Yep – that’s how often it happens. If I had a dollar for every time I hear it I would have me a pair of Louboutin’s. And I would look goooooooooooooooooooooooooood.
I digress again. 🙂
Now – I make no judgement on this person. I am super glad that they told me. It’s really common and the actual affair to me is a hurdle – not an issue. It’s usually just a symptom.
BUT – what does bother me is the look on their face.
Why? Because I have something else that I could place a bet on. Secret relationships fizzle out. Not always. No. But usually. And that look is going to eventually turn into the look of someone wrestling with their demons.
The initial look on their face is both the rush of thinking about the affair – and also the thrill attached to “doing what they shouldn’t”; in secret relationships, the preoccupation — even obsession — with someone who is forbidden to us, feels fresh and exciting.
It’s almost like that feeling of falling in love the first time. Teenage love.
Secret relationships can even give some people the feeling of control – being able to control how close someone can get to them.
Secret relationships can give you excitement in an otherwise boring life.
And – to the best of my observations – people can have feelings for two people at once.
For a short while.
Really really quickly the thrill of the relationship does not outweigh the risks to your life on all sorts of levels. Marriage. Business. Family. Friends. Kids. And eventually finances.
It’s a really high stakes game.
It’s physically and emotionally and spiritually exhausting.
It’s a guilt-ridden, anxiety-provoking rollercoaster.
And the ride has an end.
Some of these relationships might lead to divorce and remarriage for the people having the affair. Although the new relationship is often filled with trust issues. “They cheated on their last spouse with me – so they’ll do it again”
Mostly – the secrecy becomes a burden.
Hiding in the cupboard to chat. Deleting chats. Maybe hiding a burner phone. Keeping the cost of meetings off the bank statements. Making excuses. Covering your tracks.
There are so many reasons why it just can’t maintain that initial dopamine rush.
And the guilt. Not just about hurting your spouse – but about behaving in a way that you’re just not proud of. You can feel like you don’t know yourself any more.
The one final thing I’ve noticed – is that the person who tells me about the affair – decides that counselling is useless – because they are in “looooooooooove” and so then, eventually the marriage fails. They believe that they will live happily ever after with their new crush.
The affair rarely continues into a relationship. If you take out the secrecy – you take out the huge rush – and when that’s gone – it might feel really boring and you might not be sure why.
Most people who are having an affair – if they don’t get help – or they try to juggle both people – end up without a spouse, without the affair and without their own integrity.
Having said that – it is never too late to decide to do something about the situation before it reaches out to all areas of your life.
There are ways to have hard conversations.
There are new skills to learn – like how to bring the dopamine back into your actual marriage.
How to be vulnerable and completely honest after so many violations of trust.
How to sit and hear the damage you may have caused.
If you feel guilty about what’s going on…
If you wonder how you can change things…
If you’ve been struggling with your relationship.
If you’ve tried many things to help your relationships that simply haven’t worked…I can help.
But most importantly, if you’ve been feeling the pull to have me by your side as your mentor, and you’re ready for deep support as you find your answer to “should I stay or should I go”…click below to book your first session.
We’ll use an intuitive and solution-based method to get you sorted.
I can’t wait to be your wingman.
Just quickly – before I go and organise some food – I’ll answer a question I know you’re dying to ask.
It’s equal (ish) men and women who are having these “secret” relationships.