The 4 Stage Addiction of an Affair

A while back, I gave a lecture about
affairs and the problems of destruction they leave behind. After that lecture, I
received many emails, but one was gut-wrenching. She could not let go of
the lover, but she could not let go of her partner
either, and she saw no way out. This woman was totally desperate. Today on Reaction
Reset, I’m going to talk about how affairs happen, what is behind an affair,
and also how to stop it if you’re in it. Affairs can be exciting and they’re
energizing, but affairs rarely turn out well. In fact, people get in one, they
can’t get out of it and it ends up (when they finally come to their senses of
what’s going on) they’ve left a path of destruction not only for themselves but
for everyone whose lives touched theirs. I think what’s really important is that
we never really think about what’s going on in our brains during an affair. Today
I’m going to talk to you about how affairs are like addictions, and why
they’re so difficult to let go. Stage one of the affair is a stage that
is often begins subtly. Basically what’s happening is you’re starting to make
compromises. You’re making compromises to be with this other person, you’re willing
to take very few risks, but you’ll take some. This person in stage one is often
referred to as a friend and that’s why it’s pretty subtle yet. This is a stage
when you begin making little changes in yourself. You may take more time to look
at what you’re wearing. You may start wearing a different cologne. You may
start wanting to go to the gym to look your very best. Often you’ll buy new
clothes and it’s specifically in line with when you see this person. Now,
whoever your significant other is in this stage, they may want to say
something. They’ll notice a little bit. But they’re afraid if they confide in you or say something like, “Why are you
always getting dressed up?” Or, “Why are you so close to this person?” That they’ll
appear jealous or be accused of being jealous, so they just assume it’s nothing, This part of it gets swept under the rug, which makes it even worse and more
likely that you’ll continue to go deeper into the addiction. In stage 2, you begin
boldly crossing lines. This is where you are really
starting to get committed to this person. You may start a secret email, you’ll
change your number so you can text them. You want to spend time with them, you’re
willing to take risks that will jeopardize your partner in order to be
with this person. This is the stage lots of secrets happen. You begin developing a
secret life. Don’t forget what you’re doing physically is being orchestrated
by your brain chemistry and the addictive component of this. This is
where you start feeling like this person is essential in your life. This person
becomes a major, major person in your life. They begin having more influence
over you. In stage 2, if they’re upset you, can’t sleep. This is a stage where you
will get up at night when everybody’s sleeping so you can go out and text, or if you’re on a vacation, you will leave your family
to go and communicate with this other person. Basically, you are having a lot
more dopamine and endorphins – that’s a feel-good hormone and that’s
why you feel really good. But along with that it also causes an excessive anxiety
because you begin worrying what will happen if you lose this person. It’s
important you remember that at this stage, you’re not worried about somebody
finding you – like if your wife finds out. What is more likely is you’re worried
this person will grow tired of you, so you may not be sleeping as well. You may
lose concentration; you can’t focus. It’s in stage 2 also that you began
separating from your spouse. If you’re actually married to
someone, you may grow more hostile toward them. Basically there’s a separation now,
because your brain is convincing you that this person is your soulmate;
they’re the love you never knew about. And you begin actually believing you
cannot live your life without this person. The next stage is stage 3, and
stage 3 is when you’re now in a pattern. You’re having active physical and
emotional intimacy and sex with this person in stage 3. Your lover’s flaws
begin to be more prevalent. All the lies, all the secrets are becoming harder and
harder for you to sustain. You’re starting to kind of think about this
more in stage 3. You have an increased sense of panic and loss
because you’re so distant from your spouse. You’re worried, “What if this
doesn’t work out with my lover, then I will be alone.” So the idea of withdrawal,
of actually cutting the affair off, is terrifying to you. At the end of stage 3,
the majority of affairs are noticed. It’s at this point that the person has to
make a big decision. If you’re far enough along that you understand this was a
fantasy and that you see enough flaws with your lover that you can actually
make the break to break that affair off to save your marriage, your marriage
still has a really great chance of making it. If you cannot, this is where
the majority of marriages end. Two thirds of all marriages where an affair is happening
are salvageable. During stage 4, you’re beginning to come
out of the haze of the affair. If your spouse or significant other is still
invested enough in the marriage, your marriage can make it. However, you are
still vulnerable to falling back into this old addiction with your ex-lover, so
it’s important that you understand in the stage of addiction which
you have – you are in recovery. And remember, addictions never go away. New
skills are learned to manage them. Stage four is also the time to look at whether
or not your marriage can be saved. It will mean you being vulnerable and
totally honest and understanding that you have to rebuild trust with your
partner. More of the weight is on your partner and the reason is because they
have to grieve the loss of who they thought you were. Then they have to
relearn how to trust you. So going forward – what your partner needs to fill
trust with you again – it’s essential that you invest in it. Own it, and carry
through with it. Affairs almost always end. They may take months, years, but in
the end only ten percent of affairs go on to marry. If they do marry, they have a
75 to 80 percent of divorce so it’s much wiser that you get out of your addictive
affair and that you work on establishing trust and honesty within your marriage
and humility. It’s so important. Remember, change your reaction change the world

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