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

Affair Partners: Eight Reasons Not to Confront Them

Last week, while I was at the credit Union, I was stopped by one of our mentors. I’m sure the tellers had their antenna tuned all the way up since we were discussing infidelity and ways to respond. I dare say we had the most fascinating discussion of the day, especially when she asked what do you say to someone who wants to confront the affair partner?

Normally, when someone comes in asking what I think about talking to the affair partner I tell them, “not much”. Rarely have I seen much benefit, and I’ve certainly witnessed a great deal of harm.

What’s the driving force when we feel a compulsion to speak to the other person (OP)? Typically it’s to feel better, to take away a bit of our pain. We think somehow that course of action provides more benefits than the alternative.


  1. To begin, affair partners can lie. It is interesting how often a hurting mate believes the affair partner will tell them the truth and sorrowfully see the error of their ways once they realize the pain they have caused. It is not uncommon for the affair partner to lie and manipulate the situation.
  2. How much information do you really want? If you think you might be able to get more information from the affair partner, you're right, but it might not be what you want. If you are married, then you’ve probably already experienced that you and your mate have different subjective realities. You can have vastly different recollections of any event. For that reason alone you can certainly gain a different perspective. At the same time if all your gaining is details about a specific event, your not gaining anything new. It’s difficult enough to process the information from the perspective of your mate, much less the information from the perspective of the affair partner too.
  3. Talking to the affair partner is comparing apples and oranges. One of the most difficult pieces of an affair to discern is motive. Frequently, there is a compulsion to discover why this has happened and one thing is for certain, the answer does not lie in the affair partner. All too often I’ve worked with people who have talked with the affair partner and made the mistake of assuming their motives must have been the same as those of their mate, or they assume the affair partner somehow understands their mate’s motive. In reality, the affair partner has created an illusion of what your mate’s motives are. So please don’t think the causes and motives of the affair partner match those of your mate. That’s no more likely than the probabilities of your mate really understanding how their betrayal has impacted you.
  4. Vengeance doesn’t work: When you’re really hurting, it’s really tempting to think about making the other party experience the same pain that you’re going through. The only problem is this course of action lowers you to their level and results in self-inflicted injuries. Don’t compromise your personal integrity by acting in ways you normally would never approve of. Injuring another will never bring the peace you seek and it will only lengthen the amount of time it’s going to take to recover.
  5. Don’t gratify their hostility by acting as if you’ve been gotten. You don’t want to act in ways that allow the other person to believe your mate was justified in coming to them. If you act like a crazy person in confronting them you only give them justification for their actions.
  6. Trying to get them to “get it” is futile. One of the most common motivations for confronting the other person is to try to get them to see you’re a real person and that their actions are destroying real lives. Personally, I don’t think you’re going to have any more luck getting them to understand than you’ve had at getting your mate to get it. The defense mechanisms put into place to justify the affair in the first place are most likely still in place after the affair. You’re not going to be the person capable of breaking through their denial.
  7. It tends to perpetuate the problem. If your mate is trying to break off the relationship with their affair partner talking with them doesn’t help the process. In fact it is almost guaranteed to create more contact. They’ll either contact your mate telling them to have you back off, or they’ll use your contact as a way to try and guilt your mate into trying to gain comfort. The goal is to break off the relationship not to perpetuate the fight.
  8. What do they have that I don’t? At times curiosity drives the desire for contact. You may be asking, “What does the other person have that I don’t?” “Why would my mate choose them over me?” I seriously doubt you’ll ever find the answer to those questions by contacting the other person. Motivations for affairs are complex, and meeting another person will normally not answer your question. In reality, it’s far more likely to confuse the issues. I found that people always affair down. They never have an affair with someone better than the person with whom they’re married. So I’d suggest not lowering yourself to their level by interacting with them. Have more respect for yourself.


After all is said and done, some of you will still feel an overwhelming need to confront the OP. For some it will be driven by a need to get the crazy compulsion out of their head. For others it may be a need to face their fears. There can be any number of reasons, but I do suggest you try to get your mind off the OP and onto your recovery. The last thing you want to do is let another person have the power to control your peace of mind.



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Confronting the AP

I did. Sorry that I did? 2 sides to that coin. In the end I'm glad I did, it ended up being by best "gift" of the whole situation. My husband never knew I did til I told him 22 years later. I told him when this happened I'd stay til the kids were grown. 22 years later they were all grown, I remembered what I promised, and it was on again after all that time. Post- whatever you call it? My counselor thought maybe. Anywho, I was so upset for him having to leave, military, instead of telling I loved him and was afraid of being apart so far and so long, I said go the hell ahead, find you someone that doesn't care if you come or go, and don't come back, it's OVER! Bam! I got what I asked for! Knew her 1-2 days, did the ! came home and TOLD ME! Left her pic and # in my car! Did he want me to know? Obviously! I called, heck I had the # readily accessible! I told her who I was and that we were still together, she said good, she was glad, told her I wasn't giving him up to no one, she said don't blame you he's a good guy, she told me, "I just fell for him in a special way!"  Wow! I stood there and took it! I never spoke irate or anything, it was one of the most docile conversations for that kind of situation. He never saw her again. I am still with him, we had another child after that.I just knew the part I played in it, that can't be denied. I did for 23 years. Now I am going thru what we should have then. He stayed with me because he was sorry and put up with me, kids, bankruptcy, etc., because he vowed to stay and make it up to me. She made me see what I could have lost. His reason, he figured it would make or break accusations and false lies I made on him. I love him dearly and just now am able to tell him that. She was just helping him with his "marraige problems"! I still have hell dealing with it, guilt, But I believe (after all these years) it is probably a bit more forgiveable situation. I asked him WHY (like I didn't know) and he replied, "I found myself alone with someone that was the nicest, kindest person I had seen in a long time, and said WHAT THE HELL! You were gone and I had no reason to say NO!"I will NEVER mistreat him again!

Reason Not to confront the other partner

I wholly agree with you on this issue, I wish someone had told me not to do it when I was betrayed because the other partner who was a married woman actually upped her game to my horror.  At one stage I almost divulged the knowledge of this affair to her husband who was oblivious to this whole thing, but the spirit of God urged me to let it go, otherwise I might have destroyed her already unstable shakey marriage.

So true!

I confronted my husbands girlfriend and it was a complete nightmare - pretty much everything that this newsletter said came true. She gave me WAY to much information into their affiar, which in turn is making my healing process a whole lot more difficult. She also lied about a lot of things and tried to manipulate me and my husband against each other. She had her own reasons for why he was with her and she very aggressively tried to convince the both of us that she was right. She tried to convince me that my husband never loved me in the first place, and she tried to convince him and he had hurt me too much to ever be able to rebuild our marriage. By letting her in and hearing what she had to say about the situation it has really made it hard. When he decided to cut ties with her and try to work things out with me, that made her furious and then she turned on me. She would send me old love letters that he had written her, told me what it was like to have sex with my husband in my bed, etc. 

My husband and I are in the process of rebuilding our marriage and we have talked about how and why this happened to us and we are determined to never let it happen again. To be honest, though, what she has told me about her relationship with him and how they were together has caused more pain than anything else. TOTALLY NOT WORTH IT!

October 23rd (when the final

October 23rd (when the final email conversation took place with my husbands ap) was one of the MOST difficult days of my life.  The pain seemed impossible to bear, but I am thankful to God for walking me through every second of it!  God knows IT HAD TO HAPPEN!  I feel a true sense of completion now.  Like it has ended.  Like I have won!  Like my husband stood up to defend my honor, becquse we did Iit together! I am vindicated!  We've turned a page.  We CAN FINALLY move forward!   I can honestly say now that i have forgiven my husband, and that feels so good.  I do understand what is being said here, because not all situations are going to turn out like mine did. Only God can make this work. For me, it has helped immensely. My challenge remains to never the lesson but to forget ALL the details.  It was true, I DID have to have them. So that now when I do think of one of the horrible details, all I feel is victory!!!

Glad in my case. But my

Glad in my case. But my husband is a small ex addict. He gloated how she was 5' 10" and a 7. I had pictures of a Victoria's Secret model. I finally realized he prob affaired down and went to see. She is not pretty, is trailer trash and coarse, shallow, not that intelligent and is about as feminine and soft as a big bruising roller derby chick. I got in my car laughing all the way home. I am so glad I met her. Ewww. Just ewww.

So glad I divorced him

I found out almost 4 years ago that my ex had been unfaithful from the very beginning of our 16 year marriage. He is likely a sex addict. After I found about all of them, and the ones he was both starting to and in the middle of grooming for an afffair, I still wanted to save our marriage. I suffered so much for so long trying to save our marriage. It was not an easy decision, but I am so glad I jettisoned that nightmare. His words said he wanted to recommit, but his actual work always left me stressed because it didn't feel like real work. Excuses for everything. I am so happy now. If they don't put in what feels like satisfying work to you and any real heavy lifting I give you permission to walk away. I also give you permission to put your mental and physical health above your cheating partner. I actually regret not walking away the minute I had proof of the one damaged female he had been meeting for 15 years in public parks, park and ride lots, and cheap hotels. I wish I had slammed the door then on the whole sordid lifestyle he had chosen. I got a lot of bad advice. I wish our therapists had put my mental and physical well-being above saving our marriage and not try to make me feel guilty for anything of what I was feeling. I realize now that I am free that I had been in an emotionally abusive marriage for years with him. Your therapist should talk with you alone and ask you if you feel safe. If you do not, then the cheating partner should move out and let you heal. You work with the therapist and focus on yourself and your health first. I was put in the position of being told the marriage and the cheaters needs came before me. I realize now I should have gone to a therapist whose job was tending to my well-being first and foremost. Good luck to you! Stand up for your mental and physical health and that of your children. The cheater needs to take responsibility for their own health regardless of what you do. You owe them no more suffereing - and actually if the really do love you and want you back then they will do whatever needs to be done to take care of you. If they make demands on you, then they are not ready to go back into a marriage with you. My counselor told me that serial cheaters rarely recover unless they have years of therapy and then it's probably a half-alive marriage. I want more and finally realize I deserve more than that. 5 years later I am so happy I ended that horrible existence and moved on. It was also a great example of strength and self-compassion to my daughter. I deserve better.

confronting affair partner

Sure wish I would have read this post before I decided to confront. The bottom line is that anyone who would knowingly sleep with a married man (or woman) especially when the wife is PREGNANT (as in my case) is a broken human being. Everything went down just like the post mentioned. She denied knowing he was ever married (lie) and blamed everything on him. Then she changed her tune and told me "he'd never been in love with me and was going to start a new life with her." Wow. Just Wow. This girl is delusional. Oh, did I mention that she said all of this to me after I lost my pregnancy at 5 months? First of all, even if he did say these things, (which he claims he didn't, but who knows the truth) how could you look your married lover's wife, one who just lost a much wanted pregnancy, straight in the eye and make these claims to her? Logically, I know she's crazy and was grasping at straws trying to "win." But today, one year later, her comments still haunt me, I won't lie. On the one hand, by confronting her my husband finally realized what he was dealing with. A lying, deceitful, manipulator. Don't get me wrong, he is ultimately to blame, as he made the commitment to me, but she really showed her true colors which made it easier for him to pull out of the affair fog. I wouldn't wish this misery on anyone. How do I get past my disdain for this other person? I'm hoping that time will heal.

Harrassment in a coffee cup.

I recently discovered my husband of 19 years had been involved in an 8 month long affair with a co worker from an other town 7 hours away. She was responsible for his travel arrangements. It was easy for her to manipulate his schedule in order for them to spend time together. It took my husband 7 weeks to fully disclose what had taken place. I believe my healing restarted every other day. That was and still is the most painful experience I have ever endured. Over the 7 weeks ( which is today) I tried 4 times to contact her. I wished her no ill will, I just needed her to confirm that it is as in fact over. My husband claimed she called it off. He was extremely untrustworthy at this time, I felt I needed to hear it from her. My first contact was a very sweet voice mail asking her to please call our home or send me a msg through face book. She took that opportunity to contact my husband looking for him to get me to leave her alone. To protect her. She sent him a nasty gram including things like " I was forced to listen to her message" that she "almost felt sad for me listening to my voice" and when I asked her for "conformation of status" in my message she replied to him with "That girl has trust issues" he didn't reply. He allowed her to remain in control of how this would play out. Two weeks later I drafted a letter and sent it through email. The letter outlined what had been going on in our lives over the last couple years and how I understood what and why my husband had been looking for attention. That I forgave her. She again became very angry with him telling him it's not her problem. That we two have serious problems and good luck. Again he didn't reply. He didn't stand up for us. Two days later because I was in the same town as she was I text her and asked if she would be willing to meet for coffee. No response this time. Any how. Two more weeks go by with no contact. Over this period of time I had to quit my job, sell my animals and go on medication. My husbands job was about to dictate him to be working out of the town he and his AP spent time in on a two week gone one week home schedule for the next three months. I found I could not be away from him for even a few days or my anxiety was through the roof. So I planned to go with him for one of his away weeks. The AP learned I was to be in town and called the police. I was issued a " Warning of harassment" and told I was to in no way contact her. She woman would rather call the police and have me slapped with a warning THAT WILL show up on enhanced criminal record checks for life than have a conversation with me. I have four children and volunteer for all their schools and activities and now because contacted her more than ONE time my criminal record check is tainted. The law states that if you contact somone more than one time and they don't want to her from you because it makes them feel uncomfortable or bad about themselves it can be looks at as a " course of conduct" and you can be issued a warning. No trial, no investigation and proof. I feel like I have been run over by a train. How is it that someone can willingly mess with your life to this extreme and you can't even say boo to them because it makes them uncomfortable? Completely unfair.

my story

This is the way mine went down . My wife of almost 35 years told me she had had an affair with her boss and my friend almost 30 years ago. She told me because her AP's wife found out and she had confronted my wife about it at her office...the same office and job she had during her affair. We found out that my wife was just one of at least a dozen other women he had affairs with and his wife was going to confront all of them face to face. I was friendly with her as well so I contacted her and she was stunned that my wife had told me about the affair. We talked a long time and I told her that I was going to contact her husband and let him know that I knew and how disappointed I was in both of them . His wife pleaded with me to not contact him until she could serve him with the divorce papers because being a very high profile person in our small town that if word got out it would ruin his reputation and he would have no reason to sign the papers that would have meant a very large settlement to her. So I did wait for a couple of weeks but then I sent him text messages and told him just what I thought of him and just how bad he had hurt me and my wife and that I was being moved by the Lord to let him know that I forgave him and would pray for him and that I was determined to make our marriage work no matter what . This was in June of 2017 . The timeline had changed from a couple of years to 3 or 4 years and a couple of months ago , putting 2 and 2 together, she admitted that the affair went on for almost 20 years and that she never initiated any part of it but never could tell him NO when he would call her and set up a meeting. Anyway , He did lie about most everything that I ask about and said he couldn't remember any details . Frustrating isn't the word for how I felt. My wife and I are doing very well but still see him all over town daily .

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