Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Why Did They Choose the Affair Partner?

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"What in the world attracted you to her? You're disgusting!" Sandy screamed.

Across town a similar conversation was going on between John and Margret.

"Are you kidding me?" John said in disbelief, "You're having an affair with an alcoholic who barely scrapes by? Do you really think he has the ability to support you? He only makes a tenth of what I earn."

And yet another,

"Frank, how could you do this to me? She's 25 years younger than you. She's practically the same age as our daughter! What in the world could the two of you have in common?"

Disclaimer: Before I even start this article let me stress that there's no way I could ever write something that will be able to fully answer why your mate chose their affair partner (AP). Why someone becomes involved in an extramarital relationship can't be explained in a few paragraphs. While reading, please don't assume you know your mate's motivations. I promise you'll always get part of it wrong as it's impossible to pinpoint another person's motives. I do hope, however, to give some general reasons for why your mate may have chosen that particular person.

In past articles, I've addressed the justifications and motivations of those having affairs; this week I'd like to tackle why we (the wayward spouses) choose who we choose. What is it about that woman or that man that would cause someone to risk it all? Is it intentional or just chance? This topic could be a book but, hopefully, I can help shed a little light for you.

The Missing 20%

affair recovery-ive always contented that people affair down if for no reason than because its an affair-its not real

I've always contended that people “affair-down” if for no other reason than because it is an affair; it's not real. Even if they believe they've found someone who does a better job of meeting their needs than their mate, it simply isn't true. Their mate probably incorporates 80% of what they want and need. Affair partners might possess the missing 20%. Why would someone trade the 80% for the 20%? In the moment, satisfying the longing created by the missing 20% seems like a good idea.

Two thirds of all marital problems are unsolvable—it's impossible for one person to meet all your needs. No amount of searching for the right person will ever yield the perfect match. Unrealistic expectations are a core issue when it comes to this type of marital dissatisfaction, which may then lead one to search for the missing 20%. Take the example of John and Margret above. John is a steady, stable guy who provides for his family. His wife chose an affair partner who was just plain fun. She was chasing the 20% that she believed was missing from her marriage.


Many won't like hearing this but, at times, the AP simply knew the right words to say. There are some "experienced APs" who've had serial affairs and are constantly trolling for their next victim. They are constantly casting a lure in the water to see if anyone will take the bait. That isn't an excuse, but if your spouse is insecure by nature, they are vulnerable to the person who knows how to say the right things to make them feel special. The person who takes the bait isn't a victim, they volunteer, but they choose that person for the way they make them feel. Leslie Hardie, the author of Harboring Hope, says "If you meet someone who always knows how to say just the right thing, run away as fast as you can." Someone that slick has had lots of practice.

Past History

Many affair partners are chosen out of past history. The attachments we form prior to marriage still exist at some level. When we reconnect with those individuals, rekindling past attachments is easy. The reasons why that relationship went by the wayside are long forgotten and the nostalgic feelings associated with days gone by make having an affair with that person simple.

Excessive Time and Familiarity

Many affair partners are chosen because of attachments created due to excessive time spent together in a shared activity that is exclusive of their mate. Online gaming, shared projects at work, serving together at church, or recreational sports might drive the choice of affair partner. When time spent with another exceeds time spent with their spouse, choosing to connect with this individual seems natural.

Authority Abuse

At times, the affair partner is chosen out of envy and magical thinking. Mentors, pastors, therapists, teachers, and other authority figures are often chosen in this scenario. The respect and trust placed in this individual, as well as the hope generated by what they represent causes the potential AP to overvalue the relationship and an attachment is created. Magical thinking on the authority figure's part allows them to distort their mentee's respect and admiration and, through an abuse of their role as an authority figure, they take advantage of the mentee. This is called "authority abuse" and is a criminal offense. In this instance, the affair partner chooses their victim.

Trauma Bonds

Past abuse can also drive how the AP is chosen. If there is unprocessed abuse in your spouse's past, they can be vulnerable to someone who treats them the same way as their original perpetrator. Choosing this type of AP is particularly confusing for the betrayed spouse because they can see the abuse and it makes no sense why their mate would hook up with an abusive AP. In reality, the trauma bond compels them to choose someone with whom they can reenact the abuse.


Some choose their affair partner out of envy. They are drawn to characteristics in that person that they envy. Magical thinking causes them to believe that somehow connecting with that person allows them to possess those qualities. They tell themselves that being with that person somehow soothes the places where they feel inadequate. They think the AP makes them a better person.

Common History

There are times the AP is chosen out of common history or common circumstances. For instance, in cross-cultural marriages, an AP from your spouse's country of origin may give them the feeling of being understood and that they have more in common with this person than they do with their mate. This can happen if two people grew up poor and felt ostracized, if both are children of alcoholics, or countless other "connections" they may find. The perception that this person understands them draws them to the relationship.

Misery Loves Company

This affair partner is also chosen out the perception of things shared in common. If the husband or wife begins commiserating with the AP about their miserable marriages, the validation they receive from telling the other person creates the bond for the affair. What's sad is this process causes them to focus only on the negatives in the marriage in order to justify the validation they are receiving from the AP.

The Willing Partner

Some individuals, as a result of sexual addiction – or because they've given themselves permission to stray for whatever reason – are looking for anyone willing to have an affair. Once they locate someone willing to interact with them, that person becomes the affair partner. The qualities they are looking for determine who that might be. For instance, if they just want sex, then they hook up with someone who also wants to avoid attachments. Many relationships created on dating websites fall into this category.

Midlife Crisis

Those in a midlife crisis typically choose an AP who can help them feel young again. They are likely to choose someone who is 20 years younger than them, and is willing to be with an older man or woman. It's the youth and beauty of a person that makes them feel young again that drives their choice.

This is not an exhaustive list and, as I said earlier, none of the above-mentioned items are excuses for having an affair. I do hope, however, that they provide some insight as to what drives the choices made by the unfaithful spouse. If you are the betrayed spouse and want help discerning why your partner had an affair and help processing his/her choices in a healthy manner, consider Harboring Hope. We'll walk though how you got here and help you learn how to take care of yourself in your recovery journey.

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Why did I choose that.......???

I could check all but 2 of the above! The hardest part for my spouse is understanding my choice to affair had zero to do with him and absolutely NOTHING to do with the AP. It was ALL about me and my unaddressed crap that I conveniently blamed on my spouse. I has semi truck loads of baggage straight out of the gate entering my marriage and expected my spouse to be my ' be all end all' for my every problem or insecurity. Talk about unrealistic expectations and pressure on a spouse, not to mention living in fairy tale land. I had work to do on me and refused to do the work. After taking EVERY class AR had to offer there is no doubt that my selfishness and 'all about me' started from the get go. So why did I choose to do that? I didn't want to see the ugly crap in ME. It was cheap and immature just to get a few words to make me okay with me from a third party, even if it was for a few minutes to deny my junk. MY JUNK- not my spouses issues or my AP's words of crap! Words don't mean anything-actions do. I can confidently say today since I have stayed accountable with my past groups the blame game is no longer. If I'm off, then it's my junk not my spouses responsibility to fix. If AR comes to the table with a new womens class I'll be the first to sign up! Thank The Lord sweet freedom at last.

Rick, this was another OUTSTANDING article...


You covered a lot of excuses and reasonings of the 'why' of an affair. Early after the discovery, the wounded spouse, wants to know everything. Answers from the guilty spouse don't always come easy. As you stated, the memory grows foggy. Cognitive reasoning was tossed aside along with moral - core values. But, I believe, if both husband and wife can sit down with a well trained professional like yourself and explore this article together - there can be some closure.

It is always my belief that healing for both partners begins with an honest assessment of the history (below the surface) for the affair(s) coupled with a deep desire for both to work on the "missing 20%" as a catalyst for growth. Both may not be ready to do that at the same time. But, if this opportunity for healing is addressed by participating in clinical sessions - Spiritual devotion - support groups that address the issue of unfaithfulness - and constant attention to 'the hard work' within the marriage, then the marriage will not just survive but grow stronger and flourish.

Your article

In reading over the different reasons and we will never know for certain 100%. The one that makes the most sense to me is the Seduction. The AP is a predator. He was our sons freshman high school basketball coach. My wife met him playing co-ed softball. His line was he was looking for a team mom for basketball team and my wife gave him her email and the rest is history. I am self employed, my wife didn't have to work and got to spend quality time with our children as they grew up, we had home 1 block from the beach, owned a boat that was kept in the harbor, members 15 years of a prestigious country club and I make more in one month than the AP makes in a year! I know my wife and she is a bit naivete, gullible, caring, compassionate and he knew exactly how to play her. She was prime prey for this guy. The affair lasted a year and I caught her with text messages from him on her cell phone. It is mind boggling that my wife feel for a guy like this. They say in affairs people don't improve up finding better people it is usually people who are much less than their spouse. Thanks for your article

Thankyou for sharing this. I

Thankyou for sharing this. I am an unfaithful wife who could ditto your wife's story. I'm trying to find my way. On behalf of us all- I'm sorry.

Take her off the pedestal

A year? She got duped for a year? You don’t really believe that, do you?

Your Article

You are in denial about the AP. Your partner is guilty of seduction as much as the A P.

Why did he choose her? / Why did she choose him?

Very insightful. Thank you. It helped me a lot!


THIS makes a LOT of sense; I can see my husband/his affair partner fitting into several of these categories. Thank you.

and then what

Ok, so it is all about the 20% and the affair is exposed and the two affair partners hate each other (or so it seems), each of their spouses know and there is all kinds of trouble. My husband now thinks I am great, wants to save our marriage; will do whatever.

What about that 20% and the magical thinking? What about seeing themselves through someone elses adoring and appreciative eyes?

During my husbands eleven month affair, he was mean, removed and uniterested in anything and now the opposite. He acted like he was King Kong and I was a villain; now the opposite.

It's like, why would you want the marriage now--it's broken, it's work, it has hurt in it. Is it because the Affair Partner is unavailable?

and then what.......

Hi Butterflies....

I feel the same.....I was stupid, I didn’t do anything right. Complaints and unhappiness was all he could say to me.
I wasn’t good enough for a 2nd chance not even for our kids.
then the affair partners husband found out and called me and she dumped my husband.
Then he comes home and for months he idealizes her and acts like a moron.
NOW, it’s been almost 2 years, and HE is happy. I am the best.
I still ask WHY am I perfect NOW...Is it because he can’t have her, so he is settling for HIS WIFE.

By his selfishness, he in turn killed me. I’m not sure how I feel anymore.
Did you get any other responses, because this is a question I would like to know the answer to myself.

And then what...

My story is also the same. My husband was distant, grumpy, argumentative and critical. Nothing I wore looked appealing, rarely did he support an opinion, never did he ever reach out to touch me during the day (walk with his hand on my back, take my hand, touch a shoulder or arm). This treatment lasted for years and my husband's affair was on and off for 6 years with a woman 19 years younger. Now, I am his everything. He listens intently to all I have to say, touches me constantly, makes me coffee each morning, never let's me carry a bag, every day tells me I am beautiful and he was a fool. What is the pattern here? The Unfaithful Spouse finally awoke to appreciate the 80%. He finally realizes how much he risked losing to gain that little bit of comfort the missing 20% provided and he is scared straight. He is deeply grateful for this second chance. The Fog has lifted and the man I married (a slightly improved version if I am being honest) is back. Why do we the Betrayed Spouse have such trouble accepting this? I think we need to go through the stages of grieving for our old, dead marriages before we can more forward and embrace our new marriages. This takes time but I am still in this fight 18 months after Discovery hoping one day I can accept my new and improved husband and move on.

And then what

I also feel like my husbands AP broke up
With him so he “settled” for me, his wife. He was emotionally cruel to a point I had a break down. Now, he wants to go back to how it was even though “ how it was” was miserable according to him. Everything I ever did was wrong-nit picking me right down to the point of destroying who I was and now never will be again. Our marriage will NEVER be the same and neither will I.
It’s a daily struggle to regain some self worth, but I am working hard at taking of me and trying to put his affair behind me. Good luck to all of you!!!

and then what....

Hi Butterflies....

mine did the same to me. I couldn't do anything right according to him. I felt worthless. I actually suspected his affair during this time and would get up in the middle of the night and go through his car, pockets, phone, etc... I thought he didn't love me anymore and wondered what I was doing that was so wrong... But they HAVE to make you the villain during this time to make what they are doing okay in themselves; to internally rationalize it within themselves. If you were actually the good wife that you were, they couldn't tell the OW how great you were. Mine actually got in a fight with the OW at the end because she found a sweet text on his phone that I sent him and she called him out on it saying how he told her what a witch I was... That was the day I finally had PROOF of his affair because he came home noticeably agitated and forgot to delete their texts. She was just a constant ego stroke - a fantasy - that he didn't have to do anything real to sustain. I was real. Of course it happened again because he needs constant validation and I couldn't look at him with that love and admiration I'd once had anymore once I knew how weak he really was and he wasn't willing to see it was his own issue he needed to address. I worked on my own issue of why I was willing to stay with someone who was willing to treat me that way in the first place. Now I never will do that again.

I was an unfaithful wife. I

I was an unfaithful wife. I can only speak for myself and maybe it will help and not hurt. My AP was 18 years younger than me and it was even a shock he looked my way. He made me feel like I still had it. When we thought I may be pregnant he asked me to kill the baby and dumped me. My husband, on the other hand, wanted to forgive me and even said he'd raise another man's baby and we'd never tell anyone it wasn't his if I wanted. I am soooo sorry to say that when I acted out in my affair I lost all reasoning. Once it got to a certain point I wasn't at all acting according to my core values. I even said to my AP 'I wish you would have met me 10 years ago, I was a much better Christian then'. It's like a piece of me was sad to betray MYSELF. (Side note AP would have been 16 10 years ago and I'm thinking that would have been illegal. Eeesh!!!). Anyways I just wanted to say that I was pining for that young man who I gave my flesh to for mo this after he dumped me. But my husband's continued love won me over like Hosea in scripture. He was criticized and many said they never would have taken me back. But he stuck to his resolve and did the hard work of changing the things he needed to change- and he DID have areas needing help. We haven't arrived and yes I still miss that asshole AP but all these articles and Hope for Healing is helping me gain perspective. I'm going on 3 months since Ground Zero so I'm pretty pleased with our progress his far!!


I could have written this.....

I have the same questions

I have the same questions

And Herr I am nine years

And Herr I am nine years after this post saying the same thing as you.
My husband can't seem to give me answers.
He intentionally set out to find someone and vice versa.
He said it was all about sex , but yet told her he loved her.
They met on line , drove long distances to screw....
She told him even after he said he isn't ever leaving thid marriage , she'll take what ever she can get.
What kind of cheap ass woman does that. Takes scraps. Oh & she is married also.
I despise that skank and my husband for allowing this in our lives. I hate the fact that they chose my future for me.

Adultery partner choices & anger about adultery to begin with

Amazingly well put! Other than the particulars to fill out the edges of each "case", I think you have hit the nail on the head, Rick.

I think what is so difficult for us "betrayed spouses" to get is that the "reasons" our unfaithful spouses give for choosing that other person are really sometimes just their excuses, and justifications, in the form of criticisms of their spouse that they had to capitalize on in order to justify this act to themselves; while the "real" reasons are oftentimes a LOT more along the lines of what you have stated here.

Anyway, hurting people, I pray you don't beat yourselves up by believing the "lies" involved in adultery. Those lies are lies that your spouse has told himself/herself in order to justify adultery. If you are married, then adultery is sin, pure and simple. Don't blame yourself. Help your spouse blame himself for his/her choices. Go way into being angry about it, and venting your feelings -- and get it out of your system, before you EVER even agree to discuss any kind of "mutual blame" for the breakdown of the marriage. You want to see that person take responsibility and work hard to win YOU back, and see them repent toward God. Wait for that. If they don't know Him, they need to, and if you both don't -- read the gospels in the KJV, and see for yourself what adultery is.

Anyone with a conscience, HAS to have had come up with "something" to use as an excuse. They peddle the lie to themselves, first; to their affair partner next; and finally to you -- when it comes out. Sometimes they peddle it to friends and colleagues and family members as well, but it is always "peddling", and it is always a "lie". The real reason they did this was because they wanted to. They were drawn aside by their own lust (even of their own mind, having little to do with sex appeal of affair partner etc.), and enticed, and sinned. You did not MAKE them do anything! Any honest person on the adulterous/adulteress side of this will admit they have come up with a justification, that involves blame, or excuses, and has nothing to do with the responsibility of this act being someone else's.

I have the unique perspective of having been on both sides of this, more than once. I know that if "I" had been allowed to vent and process the first time this happened to me as a "victim", I would not have later been able to come up with "he did it to me" as an excuse for my own affairs. If I had had my spouse (at the time) vent and process with me (after I did commit adultery), I would have dealt with "all of it", and it would have changed my thinking in my next relationship.

I believe I would have seen my own emotional affairs sneaking up on me, and prevented them -- seen them for what they were (sin) and been truly sorry to my spouse; and I might have actually seen the danger coming with my second spouse, before he cheated.

Live and learn! It's best to learn from someone else's mistakes if you can, before you have to learn the hard way.

Yes, I am a flawed person, and I did contribute to the breakdown of my marriages, through lack of communication --- but not because I did (or didn't do) x, y, and z --- excuses used by my mate(s) to commit adultery. The flaws of the injured spouse should NEVER be addressed anywhere close to the time of disclosure of an adulterous affair though.

This is a mistake I made over the past year and a half after the disclosure of my husband's adultery. My husband is still involved in his second emotional affair (long-term fantasy) and has left me, believing his problem is that I am flawed, and refusing to examine himself.

I have truly learned the hard way! And now, thanks to information, such as this article, I can begin the arduous task of healing alone, and planning not to make any of these mistakes again. I am really thankful for this article, Rick. Bless you for being on target with it! And bless those of you who are going through this. Try hard to be straight with one another. It IS sin, and it does bring forth death. Don't try to sidestep the issue and miss real repentance, healing, and reconciliation. You need to get clear of the real flaws inside the perpetrator (first that they can and will make excuses, and second that they probably don't communicate their own emotions very well, and third that they may have past baggage that has not yet, but needs to be dealt with so they can really relate to another person lovingly).

David Clarke in his book: What to do when your spouse says, "I Don't Love You, Anymore." says that you need to get out of the shock & denial -- and bring on the buried anger as quickly as possible. This would have been good for me to hear up front.

I stayed in shock and denial a LONG time in my second marriage after "discovering" my "loving" husband's long term entangled (sexual & emotional) affair (lasting 5 years total).

If I had been truly angry, perhaps he wouldn't have been able to "hide" his second (becoming long term) "emotional" affair, from me for six whole months after initial revelation, or to take six months to completely tell me about the first affair. Anger has a purpose, and it shouldn't just be a day or two or on occasion that you let it out. You need to let it out until it is gone! Don't hide your feelings and chase your adulterous spouse, like I did. Learn from my mistake. Oh sure, he knew I was mad, and in pain, but he also thought I was a nice door mat -- to take his affair with such "grace". He decided he still needed the one he "hid" from me. These really ARE "his" problems, they are sins, and they affect me. Adultery is Never "fair"; it is "cheating"... Let the anger that this causes out. There is a good chance your adultery spouse will be shocked at your righteous indignation. There is a 100% chance they need to know it exists. If you don't get good and angry, and get it out of your system, there is a chance you will not be able to fully forgive when the time comes! Don't lie to yourself or your mate and forgive early. Be real. God does understand.

Hear this article, and don't blame yourself or your marriage for "making" your spouse cheat on you. Realize they have real issues communicating, and with morality. Address this by communicating your anger (so they know it exists) and asking hard-hitting questions. Get a good counselor early on, one that doesn't have you "just hug" and make up, or be a better wife/husband.
Get a counselor that sees this as a sin problem and doesn't let up on the cheater until they break.

"I" would have appreciated it, as a cheater. It would have given me a chance to "clean my own clock" with God and get straightened out in my conscience and thinking (to really decide what I wanted to do, not just pretend everything was OK, and pretend I loved my spouse) and have prevented subsequent "sins" of adultery on my part.

And yes, emotional affairs are adultery, too. I've had both, and my current spouse has had both. I recall thinking, "If only this had 'only' been 'emotional' and not sexual, then maybe I could get over it easier." They really lie to themselves (and everyone else) if it is "only emotional", and it is actually harder for them to see it as "sin". It is. Remember what Jesus said. If your spouse is "in love" with someone else, I guarantee the lip-service they give you about loving you -- is just that, "lip service". Don't believe the lies, and get and stay angry -- until you see real changes! It's never too late to "feel" your feelings. Forgive, but not until it is "real". Give your unforgiveness to God, and tell Him what you are doing. I guarantee, if you are being encouraged to look at your "fault" in your spouse's adultery, you are setting yourself up for a prolonged amount of pain. Clean the temple of your marriage!

God bless you with healed marriage, or the dignity to walk away "well"!

Mixed feelings

Boy.. wistful, you really went into great detail with your answer! I agree with you on all of it and I have had almost 4 years now to accept my husbands (35 years) of betrayals... I am still here but honestly I don’t know why? I can’t seem to respect him or show love anymore.

In these 4 years, he can’t call me up with any reasons for what and how and why he ever did these things.. Only thing he says is he’s so sorry and he’ll never do it again! (He wasn’t suppose to in the 1st place).. Then he makes it all about him and get whiny just so I can’t ask him anything else.. He has not done anything to really better himself, so how can I believe that nonsense...

I can’t trust him and lately I am realizing just how much I want and deserve better than -him! I hope you find someone you can be happy with and enjoy each other enough to stay “all in” soon.. You sound like a very intelligent person!

That missing 20%

I think the missing 20% is more about the percentage missing inside yourself (appreciation, humility, self esteem), rather than anything really missing from the marriage.

That Missing 20% Is Within the Betrayer; Not the Marriage


Missing 20%

The 20% line has always not felt right to me. What you said does. It is true that I am not perfect, I know that and I never expected my husband to be perfect. In fact, I saw his flaws and accepted them. I apologized when I saw my fault and advocated for date night, counseling, vacations together; he criticized me, refused all of the above and had secret sex with other women for 33 years before I found out. I was willing to work on my 20 %, he denied he had any faults. I think the 20% just indicates we are human and always need to work on ourselves and being more Christlike.


They both chose each other. This is the second time around my husband had an emotional affair with her. First time =maybe a mistake. Second time = a conscious choice. He knew what he was doing and so did she. Apparently the first attachment was never severed and it made it easy to re-attach to each other when he moved into her building at work. What's to keep it from being a third time? Nothing. If they want to do it, they will and there is nothing I can do about it. Except leave and divorce. If I stay with him, I will always - until my dying day -be hypervigilant and suspicious and untrusting. I am no longer the same person I was.

Well said

Many of these reasons are things my husband has shared. I already understand why (though I'll never agree it was right) but what I struggle with and I hope an article is written about this one day is how does the betrayed spouse get over the pain. I have no anger anymore, no resentment, no bitterness. That's all gone, I have forgiven it's been five years since my husband gave me the I love you but I'm not in love with you talk and refused to work on the marriage and left continuing his affair after moving out and into his own apartment. I still have moments of extreme sadness and sometimes I think about my brokenness and I wonder if I ever will REALLY get over it all.

I'm also very disappointed about how little my husband works on the marriage. Everything we have grown past and done to mend things is because I initiated it or I read it, or I looked it up. He's willing to go along with whatever I propose but drops off from continuing it soon after the initial talk or event. I still to this day have never felt he tried to "win me back" and it hurts.

I never used to look at my husband through flawed eyes but I do now almost every day. I sometimes think I would have been better off moving on from where things were.

Great Article

He told me he thought I didn't love him anymore. We had drifted and he was horrible towards me. It got to the stage where we were just living in the same house but not together emotionally. I can understand why it happened but I don't understand how he could do it to me without giving my feelings a second thought. The AP is married too. She finished the affair before I "accidentally" found out. What I also find hard to comprehend is how they could still work together knowing all the hurt they've caused but I guess it's easy for her as her husband still does not know what she did. Coping is getting easier but will never be 100% 'cos she's still part of his work life. What's the chance of it happening again?

Why he chose her, why he risks it all?

My husband was a heart patient on a pacer, and yet he drank, socialise in the clubs and pubs and met her, who showered so much attention to him. He was successful in business so perhaps he felt entitled to have a fun on the sideline and LIVE. She was 30 years junior to him, only 5 years older than our first born. She was born in the year we got married. So can you imagine the pain as we celebrate our wedding anniversary. It happened 6 years ago, discovery 4 yrs ago, and I still not healed. Everyday I am reminded how they spent their rendezvous for 2 years until she tells on him. He did not come forward so I presume he was sorry it ended. I am existing going through each day, on my own.

Never the same...

My spouse was almost bi-polar in his behaviour toward me. Swinging from "your the most beautiful thing I wake up to every morning" to nasty "you don't know anything" and abusive. I was everything and nothing all at once. Now nearly 3 years out and I don't know if I'LOL ever believe anything that's comes out of his mouth. Finally he has started individual and couples counselling. It was that or I was done. No gratitude and no empathy. The couples counsellor asked in a safe way if he thought he was psychopathic. Apparently he can feel empathy for everyone else except me and sometimes our children. I think a lot is part of his personality disorder. Yet to discover what that is. But I am tired no exhausted I mean really at 47 you should have some of your H ni together. I just want him to adult and stop blaming everyone and everything else for his issues. Things will never be the same and I won't ever trust him again. Sad but true. Life goes on. And as for the 80%, gee I wasn't even getting that for the last 25 years. I learnt pretty early on he was less then what he presented but I just loved him anyways. Very little in return there I've now found out. My compassion and unconditional love was rewarded with a fraud. A well hidden counterfeit. Not sure why he wants to stay but he does. You talk about new beginnings but very few people can make something out of so much destruction and trauma. It's like my son who broke his neck at 19yrs old and is a C4 quadriplegic. He's still my son but physically broken and has had to learn new ways to live. May the Lord bless us to get through these terrible experiences.

My husband confessed five

My husband confessed five months ago that he had been unfaithful for the past 6 yrs and had been seeing a woman for 2 yrs out of the 6. Of course I wanted to know why especially when I saw three of their pictures in his phone talk about down grading. My husband told me he wasn't attracted to me, he wasn't happy and he thought we were eventually going to get a divorce. Which I thought was a bunch of malarkey because he always seemed happy never left any clues and when did have explosive arguments where I wanted out he would always convince me to stay. The one thing I'm having trouble with is now he's always over the top happy calling me through out the entire day face timing for 2 hours at times. My husband says that I have changed for the better I am 42 yrs old I seriously doubt that I changed, I tell him maybe because he doesn't have a distraction and is able to focus on me only. This is definitely hard and taking one day at a time.


Well it seems my missing 20% was the fact she was available during the day when I was at work and fawned all over him where as after 14 yrs together that initial new relationship feeling was gone. So I will never have that 20% so what stops this from happening again?

Another Man's Wife

My husband and the other woman reconnected on a school facebook page. He was her teacher, and I later realized, she had a teacher crush and he thought she was cute. He taught fresh out of college so he was only 6 years older than her. She was married, so he needed to hire her to be able to lure her into an affair. Her poor husband thought she got a job and she was traveling all over with "her boss". I've worked through everything as to why they connected and how they stayed connected. My husband relied on his justifications stemming from my trauma, which was from his ongoing pornography, deceit, indifference, unwillingness, etc... The minute he connected with her, I felt it in my soul. I began experiencing the escalating trauma even before the truth surfaced. I cycled in and out of depression which then led me to getting help. Now I see how unhealthy they both were and are, emotionally and spiritually, and why they stayed connected through divorce unto remarriage. Some people don't ever want to change, they just want a change.

Another reason

My experience.
Society gives the message that men are in charge, women are to respond by being submissive, accepting and loyal to our men. ”Boys will be boys” with only a hand slap for wandering outside the marriage. Women, on the other hand, are judged more severely by society for similar behavior. Isn't this societal attitude of women as second class citizens another reason? Yes women have affairs too, but not at the rate that men do. Are their any faithful men out there?
Signed, 'Feeling Hopeless'

I guess I’m a little

I guess I’m a little surprised at this article. I understand a lot of your points, but I can’t help but be frustrated by your main point of the unfaithful spouse looking for the 20% they aren’t getting from their spouse. I’m tired of the message to the betrayed of “they were looking for something you weren’t giving them”. While sometimes that might be true, sometimes the betrayed is showing up, doing their best, and giving their all to the marriage and the unfaithful is just too emotionally unhealthy to do the same. They can be looking for the missing in themselves and not their partner. I’ve learned his choices in the affair and in his affair partner were not about me at all.


It's important to emphasize that the 20% is what's missing from the marriage, NOT from the faithful spouse alone. That missing 20% is a shared responsibility. Sometimes no matter how much is given, it's not enough, and the wayward spouse may be more than happy to shift all the blame onto the faithful one. I understand your position because I have held exactly the same feelings that you are expressing. Thanks for making this clarification for those of us who are struggling through these issues and running into this "blame the faithful one" game. Glad you are not beating yourself up. I have stopped too but it took a while.

That 20 % is whats missing

That 20 % is whats missing in themselves!!!
Not the other spouse......


its the cheater that has the issues ! not the faithfull spouse!


there really is and shouldn't be focus on "the why's" but.. i get ppl looking for a simple answer to try to put the sad reality of affairs into a formula. I appreciate the list of reasons or excuses, depending on perspective, but it is missing a big one.. on purpose? SEX. sometimes it is missing from the marriage and sought out. i'm not talking about addiction or other behavioral issues. i believe sex, for some ppl irregardless of gender, is just more necessary than it is for others. this is especially problematic when libido variations are significant btn spouses. whether its testosterone or estrogen, sometimes sex drive and hormones are just more significant to some. i believe its just a difference in a physical trait like height, athleticism or baldness. some ppl just need it more than others. not identifying this fact or limiting what is natural, or a hormonal predisposition, only leads to problematic behaviors. take for example the problem the church has with pedophile priests. putting restraints on individuals, priests in this case, with abstinence is a mistake. hormones have no religious perspective. no one can or should limit nature. some ppl have strong libidos and others could care less. the care less ones should be the ones that choose abstinence and become priests. this would keep our kids safer. anyway i'm getting off the subject. i'm not making up excuses for affairs but.. seems like SEX is the elephant in the room missing from your list.

I agree. However, sometimes

I agree. However, sometimes it is the adulterer that is withholding from the spouse. It is not always the betrayed spouse who is not willing to have sex. (1 Corinthians 7:5, for people who believe in the Bible, encourages us not to defraud our spouses.)

I have a much higher libido

I have a much higher libido than my husband, yet I didn't want to have an affair. He wanted to have an affair, just because he wanted "strange".

I chuckled to myself as I

I chuckled to myself as I read Perkys remarks. Infuriatingly dehumanized as I felt, when I too heard those words from my spouse as one of his various reasons (excuses) for his most recent affair. I just can't fathom another human being as able to place an insignificant perception to an accountable action, knowingly to be with sinister outcomes. Can there really be anymore out there?


So if there is such a mismatch of sexual needs, and that is what you want to base your whole relationship on, then maybe the answer is not an affair but a divorce and the freedom to seek what you so desperately need. To cause such unbelievable hurt and disrespect for your spouse because of your own desires is so incredibly selfish and self serving. Why not be honest with your spouse/partner and give each other the opportunity to make decisions that benefit you both? Why drag them through hell just to get your own moment of pleasure with someone you deem more of whatever you can rationalize to have your deceitful sex with? Maybe you should ask yourself why your partner isn’t as interested in sex with you anymore? Ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe, the problem IS YOU!

Sex affair

I agree sex is a big part of the affair.. My WS was a terrible lover very selfish only thought about himself and getting off. He watched so much porn that I believe he thought that was how it was in real world. I was treated like a porn star. He would come to bed all excited by those women and f** me There was no intimacy no kissing, no connection no fun there for me. Just self recrimination for just going limp and taking mind elsewhere and letting him have his way. So that is his excuse of why he had affair was because he couldn't please me in bed. And that it was all my fault because he was doing his best and I just didnt like it.

Misery Loves Company

The misery loves company reason sounds like the basis of my husband's affair. Do any of the different reasons predict the outcome of the affair relationship? In this case if trying to have a long term relationship the foundation built upon by commiserating in the beginning later becomes uncomfortable to keep the bond. It worked in the beginning, but will it be a sabotage for long lasting relationship?

Why did they choose the affair partner

My husband had a n emotional affair with a woman 10 years younger and they shared bike riding. My husband always said we would retire and ride bikes together, he continued to push more than I could do, I was injured and could not ride anymore. He joined bike clubs and rode almost everyday. I always thought that he was in a group, but I learned this summer that at least 4 days a week he was riding alone with this woman. I found out this had been going on for about 2 years. They were texting all the time, and also communicating on an app called Strava. He had started going to her home, buying her bike parts and fixing her bike if she needed it. He kept all this a secret from me. When I discovered this I was heart broken, my world was rocked and I am in so much pain. He claimed they were only friends and she was the only one of any group that could ride as fast as he could and he needed that to keep in shape. He forgot our 47th wedding anniversary, but spent part of that day looking up info for her new bike and they sent about 12 texts back and forth.
We are now about 6 months from D day and I am still spinning and hurting, we want to stay together but he has made it all my decision. I found a counselor and we have worked a book, but he has not initiated anything it is always I will do anything you say. I want to scream I want you to pick me, I want you to want to be with me. I want you to help me heal.
Thank you for you work, this article helped me.

Betraying Husband has most of these

My Betraying Husband (soon to be ex at his request) has been with a handful of strange sexual partners including paid. The latest is 14 years younger, thoroughly covered in tattoos (he was always openly against tattoos) and piercings and labels herself as pansexual and pagan publicly on social media (and she currently is dating a woman while living with him). I know I shouldn't judge her appearance (it's just so out of character for him and I know many wonderful people are pierced and tattooed, but I should judge her self-claimed labels. He is a former church member and worship team leader. He pays her bills (I think she has a track record of getting older dudes to support her). He is in his early 60s. I think most of the categories of "why" in this article fit him. They have an abusive physical relationship (fighting), something he and I never had.
He sold out his family and friends who he is estranged from most of us now, for this kind of behavior/addictions (including drugs/alcohol). None of it makes any sense and his pleasure and excitement and selfishness took priority over the wake of devastation that he left behind of children, grandchildren, and a nearly 4 decades long marriage. Thanks for helping us to relate to others and make some small amount of sense of things. I owe everything to my Lord Jesus Christ for standing firm in love with me through it all. Without Him I would have never made it through.

Thank you Wayne.

Thank you Wayne.
This helped to clarify my thinking of the last 2.5 years since disclosure.
My husband was seeking sexual gratification as a way to feel affirmed and desired. Our sex life was in the tank after 20+ years of marriage and those holes and wounds from his childhood reared up to tell him that he was not loved or valued.
He chose his affair partners based on anonymity, perceived safety, and with anyone who was willing and halfway desirable. He didn’t even see them or know them when he would start up online conversations and flirting. This went on for about 4-5 years with 5 women. Only one of these became a physical affair, but even that was very low commitment. He never contemplated leaving the marriage.
I’m thankful to say that through our work with our counselor, EMSO, Married for Life, H4H and HH, plus countless books and podcasts, we are in the best marriage of our entire 28 years as husband and wife.
Thank you again to all of you at AR.

She wanted to replace me

When I found out my H of 26y had an affair with a girl the same age as our son, very overweight and not attractive in the slightest, I couldn't understand how he could throw away his entire life for her. He knew her for 2 weeks when he left me and moved in with her. He told her he loved her after 3 days! This girl was 29. He was 50. Thank God he came home after 3 weeks (no STD's or pregnancies).

After finally getting all the details, I know why he had an affair with her:
1. She knew he was married but pretended to believe his lies about being separated. She knew exactly what to say.
2. She was playing the victim and my husband played the hero. She boosted his ego.
3. She wanted to be the girlfriend of a popular biker. She had a goal.
4. He told her no one could know about her, and she was fine with that. She had no respect for herself.
5. She had no kids or responsibilities so she could drink and party every night. She was nothing but fun.
6. She offered to let him move into her home. She handed him the "solution" to his bad marriage.

My husband was going through a mid-life crisis after his parents passed and he lost his job. He did something that he would have never done in a million years because he was both sick and naive. This person was a friend of our daughter and knew he was married. When she caught his attention and saw that he was eating it up, she knew this guy would fall for her helpless victim act and she could steal him from me. And, she was right...it worked. But they both couldn't keep their lies going for long because he realized he was being played and came home.

I've finally been able to open my husband's eyes to the reality of the entire affair. He now sees what everyone else sees in her and is so embarrassed. He can't believe he thought he loved her and feels so stupid (it was limerence and that was real...but never love). He now sees how she manipulated him to get what she wanted (Stache's Girlfriend) and how he fell for it. He believed he was the one in control the whole time and looking back, he sees that she used her "victim act" to get him to do anything she wanted. He feels so foolish (kind of how they made me feel...sorry, not sorry).

So, my husband and I are finally at a good place after 2 years since D-day and 4 years since his affair. He finally decided to try the "You have to hurt her to help her heal" conversation that needs to happen before we could ever get past this. He told me everything I wanted to know, even though the truth hurt. Now, there is nothing to hide and we have the most honest and productive conversations that I've been waiting for for years.

Good luck all and God Bless

Still Struggling..

Give me one good reason to CHOOSE to forgive a spouse who repeatedly didn’t CHOOSE me!
I have read every article sent to me by this organization. Grasping at anything to try and understand just a sliver of why he did what he did. With understanding comes empathy.
I have come to the conclusion that if you want to forgive your spouse, this site offers you plenty of excuses to do so. But, if your like me, then no excuse is enough to justify my decision to choose them when they repeatedly forgot about me…

Still struggling

I feel your anger and pain. There is no justifiable excuse or reason fir a spouses affair. I am 2 years out from discovery and the pain is relentless. I am working hard to move pass victim status. My husband fell into the trap of entitlement thinking, feeling old, and that life was on the down swing. In walks a 32 years younger, co-worker who idolized him, stroked his ego, started an affair after being married for 2 months because my husband promised her my wonderful life, only she wouldn't have to wait nor work for it. It was a perfect storm. He was having a mid-life crisis, lost his mind, and was addicted to the high created by the forbidden. Why? Because she was a willing participant in the game, something entertaining during covid. She made him feel young and he promised to place her on a throne. Nothing in their affair was based in reality. When the affair was discovered, he hit rock bottom and has ben working hard to fix himself and us. I didnt have this realization until reading these comments. Please do not allow yourself to be bitter. If bitter is where you choose to remain, then move on. It sucks and no one deserves this pain nor the body blow we were given. But how we heal and how we move forward s our choice. I am choosing to find empathy with the changes my husband is making. Most days it seems impossible but there is hope for all of us. (BTW-I work for the same company and the affair became public). We can survive this hell.

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-D, Texas