Can i have an affair and get away with it? i love my wife, but i’m getting older and see an opportunity


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Isabel Seliger / SepiaAffairs are not what they used lớn be because marriage is not what it used to be. For much of history, và in many parts of the world today, marriage was a pragmatic alliance that ensured economic stability và social cohesion. A child of immigrants, Priya surely has relatives whose marital options were limited at best. For her & Colin, however, as for most modern Western couples, marriage is no longer an economic enterprise but rather a companionate one—a free-choice engagement between two individuals, based not on duty and obligation but on love sầu and affection.

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Second, infidelity does not always correlate neatly with marital dysfunction. Yes, in plenty of cases an affair compensates for a lack or sets up an exit. Insecure attachment, conflict avoidance, prolonged laông xã of sex, loneliness, or just years of rehashing the same old arguments—many adulterers are motivated by domestic discord. And then there are the repeat offenders, the narcissists who cheat with impunity simply because they can.

However, therapists are confronted on a daily basis with situations that defy these well-documented reasons. In session after session, I meet people like Priya—people who assure me, “I love sầu my wife/my husbvà. We are best friends và happy together,” và then say: “But I am having an affair.”

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Isabel Seliger / SepiaMany of these individuals were faithful for years, sometimes decades. They seem khổng lồ be well balanced, mature, caring, & deeply invested in their relationship. Yet one day, they crossed a line they never imagined they would cross. For a glimmer of what?

The more I’ve sầu listened to lớn these tales of improbable transgression—from one-night stands to lớn passionate love affairs—the more I’ve sầu sought alternate explanations. Once the initial crisis subsides, it’s important khổng lồ make space for exploring the subjective experience of an affair alongside the pain it can inflict. To this end, I’ve encouraged renegade lovers to tell me their story. I want khổng lồ understvà what the affair means for them. Why did you bởi it? Why him? Why her? Why now? Was this the first time? Did you initiate? Did you try to lớn resist? How did it feel? Were you looking for something? What did you find?


Priya’s affair is neither a symptom nor a pathology; it’s a crisis of identity, an internal rearrangement of her personality. In our sessions, we talk about duty và desire, about age và youth. Her daughters are becoming teenagers & enjoying a freedom she never knew. Priya is at once supportive sầu và envious. As she nears the mid-century mark, she is having her own belated adolescent rebellion.

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These explanations may seem superficial—petty First World problems, or rationalizations for immature, selfish, hurtful behavior. Priya has said as much herself. We both agree that her life is enviable. And yet, she is risking it all. That’s enough to convince me not lớn make light of her behavior. If I can help her make sense of her actions, maybe we can figure out how she can kết thúc the affair for good—since that’s the outcome she says she wants. It’s clear this is not a love story that was meant to lớn become a life story (which some affairs truly are). This started as an affair and will kết thúc as such—hopefully without destroying Priya’s marriage in the process.

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Isabel Seliger / SepiaSecluded from the responsibilities of everyday life, the parallel universe of the affair is often idealized, infused with the promise of transcendence. For some people, like Priya, it is a world of possibility—an alternate reality in which they can reimagine and reinvent themselves. Then again, it is experienced as limitless precisely because it is contained within the limits of its clandestine structure. It is a poetic interlude in a prosaic life.


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