The Paradox of Affairs


“Love is a many splendored thing,” or not.  Often after the honeymoon and couples settle into “reality,” some let-down or depression kicks in.  Life is no longer the romance you were experiencing before you signed on to domesticity and commitment.

Over time the frequency of sex and its heat diminishes, and you wonder, “Is this all there is?”  After the children come, many women suffer a  hormonal change that diminishes their sex drive, their energy is sapped by the demands of caring for the kids.  And, partners suffer the loss of attention.

In my office, I hear complaints from both sexes that they are not getting enough sex or that there is no spark between them any more.  Some of these people have gone elsewhere looking for the excitement and fun that seems to have been siphoned out of their lives, with the advent of responsibility.  The chaos and destruction that results from such forays into deceit hurts everyone,and I’m there to help the healing, restore trust, and make it possible for intimacy and love to deepen and grow again – if couples give healing a chance.

To minimize the risk of affairs, I encourage couples to read books that are readily available on how to please their partners.  Most important is that many couples no longer “bother” to seduce each other. “Do you want to fuck tonight?” just doesn’t do anything to induce a person to put their heads in the place of desire.  Particularly for women, they need to be willing to be turned on.  It doesn’t happen (for most) just by the thought, like it does for men. If you are hoping to grow your relationship and maintain loving feelings, you need to keep the sexual connection alive and exciting.  You need to keep your partner feeling desired and satisfied.

Hopefully when you prepare a meal, or take care of your home, you take an interest in making it nice.  Well, for goodness sake, there are so many horny, attractive people without any strings, who would be happy to give your partner a whirl in bed. And, wouldn’t you be furious if your partner strayed and succumbed to that animal instinct?

In all of the research I’ve seen, both men and women want and need intimacy – feeling wanted, and understood by their partner.  Yes, it’s true.  It’s not just the sex, it is being known and valued by the person you love.  It is about surrendering to the passion that is freed by your connection to each other.

Affairs can offer a sense of aliveness and excitement, although they are almost always a fantasy fed by both people.  It seems like intimacy, it seems like fun, and perhaps even love. It exists in stolen moments.  “Seems like” are the operant words.  If the couple were to live together, all the issues between them would emerge, just as they did with their committed partners.

You are spending time away from your family, you are not resolving issues you have with your partner, you are not asking for what you need, you are spending family money on someone else, along with the energy, and the lies…  It is almost a guarantee with affairs, that the excitement will diminish over time and someone will want more. And you will have damaged your sense of self and the integrity of your relationship with the person to whom you long ago had agreed to be faithful.

So, what’s a person to do?  Do whatever it takes to have you and your partner commit to an alive relationship where you each have the courage to speak your truth to the other.  You must learn how to communicate safely, to share your deepest emotions – joys and fears.  True intimacy is being vulnerable with the person you have chosen to love.  If it doesn’t feel safe, then find someone to see professionally and learn a way for both of you to express who you are and what you need.

If your partner is no longer attractive because of weight gain, or because their anger or moods interfere with your wanting to get close, then do something.  Your partner is probably unhappy, too.

Ideally, before they make that serious commitment, people should understand themselves and the person they love.  However, it is not too late to learn your contributions to the distance you feel now. It’s not too late for you and your partner to heal the wounds which have interfered with your closeness. And, together, you may find the love which inspired your choosing to make a life together.

In truth, there is nothing more deeply gratifying than the intimacy that gets created between two emotionally healthy people who have chosen to love each other through life. And, what a gift to the children.  They are being given a template for their own future relationships.

Make your life together a delicious affair. This is the person with whom you have committed to love and cherish.  True intimacy, living your truth with your best friend, can bring you the deepest happiness and best sex!

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About Paula Susan

Paula Susan, MSW, LCSW, Masters in Clinical Social Work & Psychology; specialist in Trauma and Relationships since 1982. In 1991, I integrated the powerfully transformative process of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Research demonstrates that it facilitates life-altering changes more efficiently and effectively than talk therapy alone. I teach skills such as communication and anxiety relief to improve connection with others. Over the decades, I’ve come to respect how much damage even small traumatic experiences inflict on our core beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. I consider it a privilege to help my clients understand and change what has undermined their happiness and their relationships. I do it with warmth, integrity, humor, and profound respect for those who care about the quality of this small piece of time we have on

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