If you are in an illicit relationship outside your marriage you’ve probably wondered how to stop having an affair at one point or another. Affairs are exciting by nature and often give you the confidence and feelings of being desired that are lacking in your marriage. However, they also come coated with guilt and hurtful feelings for all the parties involved.
Ending an affair isn’t easy nor is it always as quick as saying ‘It’s over’ – but you can break free from your affair addiction. Here are the steps to take to end your affair with dignity and put your heart back into your marriage.
1. Have realistic expectations
Ending an affair is hard. When you have decided you want to get out of your adulterous relationship it’s important to have realistic expectations. Expect to feel hurt and guilty toward both your ex-lover and your marriage mate. Expect to feel the loss for all the qualities your lover had that you felt your partner was lacking. Expect to feel resentment, heartbreak, anger, sadness, and pity.
2. Know who you’re hurting
If you’re about to end an affair, odds are you know exactly who’s feeling will be hurt in the process. Yourself, your lover, and your marriage mate. However, this pain can extend beyond these three parties. Children from your marriage will be devastated and conflicted should they find out about your affair, family and extended family will be hurt and angry, and friends may feel betrayed.
3. Draft what you want to say
It can be helpful to write out your goodbye before going through with ending your affair. Ending an affair is an emotionally difficult time and you may get nervous when you’re in the moment. Having drafted a goodbye for the breakup beforehand can help you get your thoughts together and decide what points you want to make without getting flustered. Make your points clear and tactful.
Definitive statements are key. Don’t blame the breakup on your marriage mate. Do not use phrases like “I love you, but I owe it to my husband/wife to work on our marriage.” This will give your affair hope that they may be able to re-enter the picture because you still love them. Instead, use phrases and terms that your lover cannot argue with, such as “I don’t want to be in this relationship” or “This is not a good situation for me.”
4. End your affair
Don’t put it off. It may seem tempting to postpone ending your affair. Maybe you have an anniversary with your lover coming up, or they have been particularly stressed at work recently. Regardless of circumstances, never put off ending your affair in order to make it easier on your soon to be ex. Hesitation can cause you to lose your nerve. When you’re ready to end your affair you have to do it now.
Do not feel as though you have to end your relationship face to face. This is not your marriage mate and you do not owe this person an in-person breakup. If anything, breaking up in person may weaken your resolve to work on your marriage.
5. Don’t give in to a “closure” meet
You’ve ended your affair and you’re feeling good, but then your ex-partner asks to meet together to gain closure. If you are serious about ending your affair you will not give into this temptation to meet. This could lead to a moment of weakness where you resume your affair. Be committed to ending this relationship and keeping it done with.
6. Pinpoint your desires to prevent future affairs
Do an honest self-examination and rediscover what it is you need from your marriage mate that you were seeking from someone else. What are your wants and desires in a partner? Vocalize these needs in order to prevent future slip-ups.
7. Identify alternate sources of excitement
Some people engage in extra-marital affairs because the secrecy involved creates excitement. Once your affair is ended you may feel that some of the excitement has left your life. Discover alternative sources to excite and engage you once again such as exercising, chasing after your dream career, or taking up a new hobby or sport.
8. Tell your partner
This is one of the most difficult parts of ending an affair and taking back control of your life: telling your partner. If they don’t already know, it’s best to come clean with your partner about the infidelity. Don’t feel that you have to share every single hurtful detail, but do not downplay the affair either. Remember that you strayed because something was broken in your current relationship, so you owe it to you and your partner to get everything out on the table so you can have an honest relationship. This may result in the dissolving of your relationship or it could mean a stronger relationship in the future.
9. Work on saving your relationship
If your partner is willing, work on saving your marriage. This is a hurtful period of time in any marriage and many couples benefit from infidelity therapy and marriage counseling post affair. You may be looking forward to reconnecting with your marriage mate, but understand that they may not be the same person once they find out about your affair. Exercise patience and understanding and give your all to saving your marriage.
10. Commit repeatedly to ending it
As emotions and sexual gratification enters your affair you may start to feel obsessed with your secret partner. In some way, your affair has become an addiction and like all addictions, it is hard to quit even if you’ve verbally ended it. This is why it is so important that you recommit yourself to ending it on a daily basis.
When you are having an affair, ending it with integrity can be difficult, but there is no reason to put it off. Affairs are difficult for all parties involved and may carry scars for years after it has ended, but you will feel great relief once it is over and you can take your life back into your own hands.