Are They Comparing You to Their Affair Partner?

Of course they are, is the harsh, straightforward answer.

The cold hard truth is, they are in an affair, and they are in their own mind, happier when they are with their affair partner. Most definitely they are comparing you to their affair partner.

However the fact is, you can’t win in this game. It’s destined for failure.

The reason you can’t win is you are competing with a fantasy, and in our own fantasies we get to play God. Both in life and in fantasies we can’t beat an all sovereign God and in the mind of an unfaithful spouse, they are typically captivated by the emotional or sexual component (or ‘hook’) that the affair partner has in them. They play God and design their own euphoria.

To compare a spouse who has other responsibilities and real life with bills, expectations, mood swings, deadlines, kids, diapers, work, stress and overall normalcy with a fantasy of non-stop affection, a Romeo and Juliet mentality of ‘the world is against us, but we’re destined to be together’ (not to mention emotional and/or sexual adrenaline) and no expectations except to make me feel better about myself… how can you compete with that? You just can’t.

I encourage you not to even try to compete with such a fantasy. It’s not real life, and later you’ll hate yourself and have more to work through in your own healing if you stoop to the affair partner’s level.

You may have some very hard conversations with yourself and reevaluate what is lacking in your marriage, sure. I would encourage you to not compare yourself with the affair partner, but to simply say “how can I be a better person in this moment and in the future?” It doesn’t assume that their affair is your fault, but perhaps it would be wise to (at the right time) ask yourself what changes do I need to make in myself and how I relate to my spouse? I’m sure there may need to be some changes in your marriage and perhaps this affair is the opportunity to see a reprogramming of sorts to the way you do marriage. They will still need to take responsibility for their choices, and will have a lot of work to do emotionally. That’s a fact. However, to not take ownership of your own failures or struggles is short sighted and will complicate matters down the road as you venture into recovery.

Getting back to toxic comparisons though, my affair partner threw herself at me. She would turn on a dime for my attention and for my affection. She was just as unhealthy as I was. Samantha couldn’t compete with her, and honestly she didn’t try. Once we were able to gain some momentum in pursuit of restoration, there were some significant times where she had to have some very sobering conversations with Rick and myself about changes she needed to make and where she had let our marriage become vulnerable. Keep in mind, vulnerability does not guarantee infidelity.

My affair partner didn’t have kids. My affair partner didn’t have the responsibilities a married woman with three kids had, nor did she have a ministry, another business and people clamoring for her husband’s attention. She also didn’t have a husband who traveled once a week on a plane. In fact, my affair partner was the one traveling with me most of the time.  She enjoyed the best of my time, and Samantha received the left overs. Unfortunately, I also for a time received Samantha’s leftovers.

Marriage is real life. Like all things that matter in life, marriage also requires hard work to love the one you have chosen.

Affairs are fantastical, selfish endeavors which don’t reflect what real love is like or requires or expects. 

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This is perhaps the worst aspect...

When I can set aside the lying, the misplaced resentment, the fact that he got tangled up with another woman at all, or even the cruelty with which I was treated by my husband... I am left with the humiliation of knowing I was being compared to and found wanting with regards to such a vulgar, unattractive (by his own opinion before and especially after the affair), vapid, airheaded drunk, unhygienic, STD-riddled trollop as with whom he chose to have his affair.

I have looked at everything I've done: academic achievements, published scientific research, social service projects, spiritual pursuits, the way people express their positive impressions of me, the way everyone teased my husband that he'd married far beyond his league, how lucky he was to have been married to a smart and driven girl... And to know he put all these things on a scale versus his AP, whose notoriety is mainly as a woman who gets hammered at church functions and has to be carted out by her husband, and I am the one losing the comparison? To know he leapt out of bed on Sunday mornings to be at her side for three Mass services in a row, turning music sheets for her, while I spent the only free hour of my week looking at them holding hands during the Lord's Prayer... wishing he could have sat next to me... bowing my head on the drive back home, listening to his barely concealed contempt about how our children were a disappointment? This is what incenses my anger... this here is what sends my heart into a squall, raging about the futility of being anything remotely decent and honest... because being the good girl, the good wife, got me nothing. Being the smart, accomplished woman didn't stack up enough to win the comparison against a laughable, dirty, lying, cheating clown...

Yes, she threw herself at my husband, yes she adulated him with praise, telling him he could sing... gave him solos and duets with her... but she said nothing that I didn't also say to him, she offered him nothing of value, except the risk to get caught being indecent in public places, or of losing his job because he was texting her constantly, and sneaking out during the day to be with her. And in the end, all she left him with was a disease that he sadly shared with me, a deep, unrelenting shame, the loss of his self-esteem self-respect, the loss of esteem and respect of our clergy, our sons, my mother, and his sense of closeness to God.

He claims he never compared us, that he was able to have complete segregation between our relationship and his affair. He claims our intimacy was completely insulated from thoughts or influences of his AP... I don't believe him for a second.


nmg, you are correct, it's one of the toughest aspects to grab hold of. remember though, people have affairs because of their own dysfunction and own inability to handle difficult situations the right way. the marriage may be 50% your responsibility, but the affair is 100% HIS responsibility and though he was comparing your to her, the comparison is out of his own blindness and dysfunction. I think it speaks to his own unhealthiness and his own deception. many will marry who they know to be the right one, but have an affair with a type of what they also want. please know though, that either way this is due to his own confusion and his own duplicity. i'm very sorry for the pain you are in and the hurt that surrounds you right now. it's unfortunate you are the victim of his unhealthiness and that you are the one who suffers most for his bad choices. I hope you are able to find healing and wholeness for you due to the pain you have had to walk through.

Thank you for what you do for us!

Samuel - I'm sorry you both had to face such a difficult time in your marriage and I don't want to take anything away from that pain but I thank God for your ministry now and your writings to all of us. I've been following your blog for awhile and find the similarities between you and my husband such a God-thing. I long to have my husband come out of his "emotional affair fog" and be able to own it and work toward recovery but right now, she's "all that." They both are in ministry and I can't compete with all the things they experience and share together. I try so hard to be more everything and it doesn't matter. I'm still the one who has to take care of the house, yard, pay bills, -everyday life stuff and working hard not to ask for his help so as not to be the "heavy". We're in the EMS online class but he's still in denial and resents having to read and watch the videos. Says that I'm the one being deceived and it's just the enemy trying to interfere with his ministry. I'm trying so hard to trust God because I know he led me to Rick and this site but I feel their working situation will prevent him from ever "opening his eyes" as they have contact every day. Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing what you do and sharing so openly and honestly. Even if my marriage doesn't survive this, I know God has been with me and will continue to be with me and we've grown so much closer through all that I've learned with this site and program. Blessing to this and your ministry!

Thankyou so encouraging to

Thankyou so encouraging to hear how you value your relationship with God through it all and your first love for God, bless you.


thank you for your kind words today. they give me hope that this is somehow help to many who are hurting. i'm very sorry to hear how difficult things are and how trapped your husband seems to be. if the emso course does not seem to be helping to open his eyes, you may try to reach out and get a session with Rick over the phone to help. You can reach tony at 512-879-6326 to talk to him about that option since you are already in the emso course. there is hope for breakthrough and for clarity, as remember, they are in ministry for the Lord and any time we are going to represent him, he is going to refine those he employs. don't give up hope my friend. my wife samantha prayed for years for change to the climate of our situation, and when God opened it all up, i remember her saying i wish it didn't have to be this way, but it shows me God is in this and wants to heal all parties. I'll be praying and thank you again for your kind words.

BS in this post

I call BS in this post on two separate issues:
1) I would encourage you to not compare yourself with the affair partner, but to simply say “how can I be better?”
This suggests that had the Betrayed been better in some nebulous area it would have kept the unfaithful from straying.
2) ask yourself what drew my spouse away?
What a load of crap! You guys always say that the affair is 100% the fault of the unfaithful, that the etrayed doesn't have to feel any blame at all and should not accept any blame - and then you say this crap! Of course there are struggles in the marriage. Of course there's deficiencies within each individual, but the thing that drew my spouse away could very well be huge deficiencies within themselves that no level of perfection in the betrayed would have assured that the Unfaithful would have stayed. This is offencive on so many levels and I can't believe that people look to you andcsay you have wisdom. You were the cheater. Why should we listen to you? That's like asking the fox to guard The henhouse. Of course the Unfaithful is going to blame the deficiencies in the betrayed and deflect and blameshift.. Shame on you. You are to be most pitied.
If this is what I can expect in Harboring Hope then Im out. I cant believe that even in an organization that claims to help people that this myopic, blame-shifting attitude is allowed to not just exist, but to lead others. What a travesty!

I totally agree

I totally agree. A key pint you noted was the part about how engaging in perfectionism is ridiculous. No matter what efforts one may make at the end of the day people are responsible for their own choices and actions. This person’s wisdom is foolishness.classic gaslighting and deflecting techniques going on most definitely. You’re not the only one who sees it. God bless and peace.

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