Whether an affair is emotional or physical, most originate from a need to find what’s missing in a marriage or relationship or to satisfy a sexual or other addiction not supported by their significant other.
Secret romances are often described as fun, exciting, adventurous, and harmless.
So, what happens when an affair is revealed? Often, the unsuspecting spouse is devastated. The unfaithful spouse may also be devastated after facing negative reactions from others who disapprove.
Exposure may also bring relief to married couples. It can prompt some partners to address problems that plagued the relationship. This can lead to healing, forgiving, and re-committing to each other.
Other marriages move in the opposite direction after exposure. These relationships can end in divorce. Exposure can also bring relief to the cheating partner who no longer has to deal with the stress of managing a secret double life.
But, what about the affair partner? What role do they play when a secret romance is revealed (or not) to an unsuspecting spouse?
Here are 8 reasons why an affair partner might not tell their spouse.
1. They don’t feel responsible for the marriage.
From their perspective, their lover is the one who is committed to the marriage, not them.
The affair partner remains distant from feeling responsible to reveal the secret. It’s their lover’s story to tell, not theirs.
2. Why disrupt a good thing?
The affair partner is happy with their lover who gifts them money, jewelry, and date nights at sporting events, movies, plays, and vacations they may not otherwise afford.
Why “kiss and tell” when they’re getting all they want?
3. They believe that revealing the affair will cause conflict and harm to their secret romance.
They don’t want to betray their lover’s trust or force their lover’s hand into addressing the affair with the unsuspecting spouse.
They are careful not to jeopardize the romance and hopeful that as their trust grows, so does the relationship.
4. They have lost interest in their lover.
For whatever reason, they are no longer interested and have decided to move on without looking back.
They’re done and have no desire to tell the unsuspecting spouse.
5. Even affair partners do not like cheaters.
Some discover that their married lover is cheating on them. They may feel angry and dismayed, but not invested enough to care or waste more time with this married partner.
They are disinterested with no need to tell the unsuspecting spouse.
6. The affair partner believes everything their lover told them.
This means everything about their bad marriage and boring spouse who’s inattentive, always tired, disinterested in sex, and preoccupied.
The affair partner feels compassion for their lover who is trapped in a bad marriage. They are happy to provide needed attention and protect the secret romance.
7. Why tell when you live in another city?
When the lover travels to the city where the affair partner resides, the affair continues. There’s no advantage of telling the unsuspecting spouse about the affair when there are no plans to relocate.
They’re happy with spontaneous weekend getaways, five-star dinner dates, and sexual encounters with no strings attached. When their lover leaves their city, they go back to their daily routine without interruption.
8. They are also with someone else.
Many affair partners don’t tell because they’re also married or involved in relationships and don’t want their partners to discover the secret relationship.
Here are 8 reasons why the affair partner does tell the spouse.
1. They are coming from a place of scorn.
After feeling pushed away by their lover, they push back. Some push back to regain a sense of power after feeling manipulated and betrayed by broken promises.
Retaliation may re-establish their sense of control. Angry and scorned affair partners tell the unsuspecting spouse as a way to punish their lover. 2. They are just as surprised as anyone.
They’re shocked when they realize they are unintentionally participating in an affair with someone who lied about being single, but is actually married.
They expose the affair to the unsuspecting spouse from a place of goodwill and empathy, thinking, “If I were the spouse, I would want to know.” They disapprove of dishonesty, betrayal, and sexual humiliation.
A very public example of this scenario occurred in 2003 when Amber Frey discovered she was in a romantic relationship with married Scott Peterson. eterson, who claimed to be single, was later convicted of killing his pregnant wife, Laci. Frey disclosed the affair publicly, stating her shock, surprise, and empathy for Laci.
3. They are hopeful that exposing the affair to the unsuspecting spouse will result in ending the marriage.
They hope that once the marriage ends, the affair partner and the lover will have a fresh start and the romance will strengthen.
4. They fear that someone has discovered the affair and anticipate that the unsuspecting spouse will soon become aware anyway.
The affair partner exposes the secret in an effort to salvage their own reputation.
Being the first to “tell” gives them an opportunity to explain and defend their decisions before others in town or at their place of work view them negatively as a “homewrecker.”
5. They’re pregnant.
Pregnancy can change the dynamic of a secret romance. What should they do? Who will be affected by their decisions? Deciding whether to raise a child, choose adoption, or end the pregnancy weighs heavily on expecting mothers.
Affair partners may expose the affair to gain support and security from their lover so they’re not left alone to make these decisions.
6. They’ve tried but can’t get away from an obsessed married lover.
The affair partner has tried everything and clearly wants to end the relationship.
They believe the only option left to ensure their lover will leave them alone and completely end the relationship is to tell the unsuspecting spouse.
7. They are extremely angry after discovering they have contracted a sexually transmitted infection from their lover.
Anger and betrayal motivate them to inform the unsuspecting spouse that they are at risk, too.
8. The affair partner begins to feel empathy for the unsuspecting spouse who’s been portrayed as a horrible person.
They no longer believe their lover and, instead, begin to see their lover as a selfish and self-serving individual who has taken advantage of their trusting spouse.
Empathy motivates the affair partner to tell the unsuspecting spouse so they are aware and no longer taken for granted.
Affair partners play a significant role in why infidelity is either protected or exposed.
Extra-marital affairs create a complicated situation flooded with excitement, adventure, and stress that can begin and end amiably behind closed doors, or explosively in public.
Either way, the secret double life slowly erodes qualities essential to intimate relationships such as trust, honesty, accountability, accessibility, transparency, and commitment.
Without these qualities, intimacy cannot survive.
If you’re contemplating marriage, divorce, or an affair, or if you’re stressed and irritated as you strive to manage a secret double life, talk with a professional.
Professional therapists and psychologists can help you to think through decisions, understand intimacy, identify an addiction, gain insight into what your marriage is missing, and learn how to avoid significant consequences to yourself, an unsuspecting spouse, or your affair partner.