From Fantasy To Reality: The Bitter Truth About Affairs

Seductive and addictive. That’s what having an affair will feel like. And it will take you from reality to fantasyland. Quickly.


The highs. The excitement. The adrenaline. The thrill. The lack of reality. The promises. The feelings that show no boundaries as they suck you in.
But with those highs comes the lows, too. And those lows are often so much lower than anything else you might have experienced. With most affairs, you know you should put a kibosh to it. But you don’t. Even when the promises are broken. As they will be time and time again. Yet, the intensity of your feelings are hard to dismiss. So you don’t. They transform you to another time. A time that you can be someone else. Live a different life. Ignore the realities of life. Like I said, it’s seductive.


Your brain on fire.

The limbic part of your brain holds all the emotions and functions outside of the prefrontal cortex or the neocortex of the brain where reasoning, morality, sensibility, and good decision-making ability exists.

And although these two systems are hard at work, they don’t work in unison. They work in many ways, against one another.
If the limbic brain notices sexy people and becomes romantically infatuated with them, the prefrontal cortex holds out on impulsivity and takes a ‘let’s wait and decide approach.’

Then there’s the dopamine, the adrenaline pumping feel good neurotransmitter that goes right to the reward part of your brain. And you want to keep getting those rewards.

It feels too good to give up. You are charged up and feel alive! Unfortunately, your marriage will feel dull in comparison to this fantasy relationship. It simply has no chance.

As the fires are gradually stoked, a person is not really tuned into what is actually going on, until of course, it’s too late. You’re infatuated! And being infatuated prevents you from staying rational, doing the right thing, and making healthy choices.

Soon you will be breaking your rules, devaluing your values just to be with this person.

You will switch your schedule, align your days and nights to fit him or her. Cancel plans with friends. Say no to the family. Sneak off and have private phone calls. Hide your phone. Create less transparency in your marriage or with other people. Stay home and wait for them to contact you. Lie.

You will justify spending holidays alone. You will justify why this person in your life isn’t available at any given moment. You will make excuses for them.

But, let’s be honest. The only excuses you are really making are for yourself because if you were to hit the pause button you would have to step into reality.

And right now, that’s too painful for you. So, you think, let’s not go there. As you continue to live in your fantasyland of your affair, you continue to forsake self, work, and other important things and people in your life until the next moment to spend together becomes available and voila! You get the rush all over again. Bam.

The emotional roller coaster of the highs and lows are in the moment, rationalized, and embraced. Yet, as guilt, shame, and reality takes over when it ends (because the majority of affairs fizzle out after six months), you cannot help but feel more destroyed, alone, and question yourself for the decisions that you made.

Many like you though suffer in silence and do not get the support they need. It’s during these times that you need your friends the most, but many become judgmental and find it difficult to support you through this loss because many cannot understand why you had the affair or if they do understand in some way, they might have to take a look at their life, and for most people, that can be equally painful.

Yet in all of this, you have lost so many things along the way – family, friends, support, and so on – they lost the most important thing one can lose: themselves.

Don’t lose yourself. Figure out why you are either stepping out of your marriage or stepping in someone else’s marriage before you go down the fantasyland path of having an affair.

Hit the pause button. Examine your life.

Get the help and support you need. Reach out to your spouse. Find a way to figure things out before making, what could be, a life-changing decision.

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Kristin Davin, Psy.D.
Dr. Davin is a Solution Focused Therapist and Coach. She specializes in couples counseling, personal and work related relationship and dating challenges. Helping her clients focus on solutions rather than problems, helps people get to a healthier place, faster.
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