Relationships 101

What is an extramarital affair?

Let's talk about extra-marital affairs.
Extramarital affairs

Up until recently, I believed extra-marital affairs are based on the passion of the body; meaning sex. On further research, the myriad colours and flavours of the term came to be known. Not all extra-marital affairs end in sex, not all have all-consuming, marriage-ending sexual escapades.
There is more to affairs outside of marriage than sex. Extra marital affairs in movies have titillating tales of nudity to convey the basic principles of the affair. But it’s not really the case always.

What really is an extra-marital affair?

In simple terms, extra-marital affairs include a married person indulging in romantic, sexual, mental, spiritual or any other kinds of attachment to a person who is not their married partner. Extramarital affairs or simply affairs are emotional and physical relationships between two consensual adults, outside their respective marriages. For any relationship, sexual or otherwise, to be termed as infidelity or adultery, at least one of the partners needs to be married.

The aftermath of an affair is devastating. Be it cheater’s guilt, be it the partner discovering the infidelity – the aftermath becomes toxic to the relationship. The road / reason leading to the affair matters very little; it could be indifference by the partner, no sexual satisfaction, or just a married person keeping the thrill alive by having illicit affairs with people. Marital discord is an important reason given for being infidel.
The reasons given by the infidel do not matter at all. When an extra-marital affair hits the daylight, it’s Armageddon.

Why do people have an extra-marital affair?

Just for the thrill of it, of course.

Actually no. The daily rigour of married life often tempts people to look for companionship and enjoyment with someone besides their partners or spouses. However, not all affairs are similar. Some are based on emotional connection, while others are instances where people quench their sexual appetite. The higher percentage of women list lack of communication, lack of emotional intimacy leads them to infidelity. A bad history with sex or having no sexual interest in their partners may also make them to have affairs outside the marriage. The men, on the other hand, list lack of communication with their partners including stress and fatigue as the primary reasons.

Women tend to stray away from the marriage because they do not get the emotional support in the marriage. An erectile dysfunction might also turn the wife away from the husband. On many occasions, there are instances of a lonely housewife getting involved with a single or a married guy, outside her marriage, in order to fill her emotional vacuum. In many such cases, the husband is either travelling a lot or simply is not paying enough attention to the needs and requirements of the wife.

Many times in a joint family setup with kids, the husband and the wife do not get enough scope to engage sexually. This triggers the need for an affair that can meet the unsatisfied sexual desires of the husband.

Working men and women also engage in extra-marital relationships in their places of work. Similar working conditions and problems lead to shared emotion, which leads to a solid relationship.

Some may reason that the affairs keep the marriage from becoming a divorce. Asha, an IT engineer got married when she was 21. She calls the occasional hooking up with people as a marriage balancer. What she lacks in the marriage i.e. good sex, she fulfills it with affairs outside the marriage. For all she cares, her husband, who takes a lot of business trips to Mexico and New Zealand might do the same as well. They come home happy, share gifts, have an intimate dinner and go to sleep. She has been doing that for three years now.

But how long do extra-marital affairs last?

The duration of an extra-marital affair is usually until the spouse finds out about it.
But to answer the question: the duration of an affair can be varied, just like the kinds of extra-marital affairs.

  1. One-night stand: Millennial dating term- ONS- is not limited to just millennials. One-night stands arise out of opportunity rather than planning. One-night stands can happen after meeting an old flame from high school. It can happen over the course of a seminar or conference out of town. It can even start as casually and accidently as having dinner with an old friend. Too much alcohol, harmless flirting, spouse being out of town could speed up the process of having a one-night stand as an extra-marital affair
  2. Longer term liaison: This is a long-term extra-marital affair. Longer term dissatisfaction with marriage can result in this extra-marital dalliance. Usually, this kind of an extra-marital affair proves to be more emotional than sexual which makes it go on for a long time. Through this affair, one tends to be more attached to the third person for emotional, mental and physical satisfaction. What the marriage lacks, is made up via a longer-term liaison outside the marriage.
    This kind of an affair last for a long time
  3. Serial cheating: Once a cheater, always a cheater? Yeah, this pretty much sums it up. Serial cheating on their partners provide an ego boost to the one doing the cheating, they usually do not care about the other person’s feelings or who gets hurt in the process. They need validation to their own needs, even if that means hurting their spouses or, the one they are cheating with.
    Serial cheating can last as long as ONS or a number of longer-term liaisons

6 types of extra-marital affairs you should know about

Since affairs come in all colours, here are the 6 different kind of affairs.

1. The emotional affair

We were close but we never had sex¬– the official slogan of an emotional affair. More than getting sexual, it stays emotionally validating. You share your hopes and dreams and passions and fears with this one person so much you feel like you are one body one soul. Generally, this happens when you lack the intimacy with your spouse. You term the emotional affair as an innocent friendship but you do look at them as an inevitable soulmate in your life. It never becomes into something more than an “innocent friendship” but nothing really comes out of it.
Lunchbox is an example of an emotional affair.

2. It’s just-sex affair

People in this kind of affair look for lust and sex when they venture outside marriage. The kind that Bollywood explores in movies like Murder, Jism and Masti are all examples of lust-only affair. People engaging in this kind of affair do not look for anything past the hot-steamy sex and usually have no plans in leaving their spouses.

3. I-will-get-back-at-my-spouse affair

She cheated on me, so I picked up the sleaziest woman in the pub and went ahead with it.
Common for spouses who have recently found out about their spouses being an infidel and it is their way of getting back at them. This kind of an affair is usually too hot, where they take out their frustration of being cheated on in bed with someone outside the marriage. The logistics of it do not make sense since having revenge affair does nothing good for the marriage. It only builds up resentment and destroys the peace of mind.

4. I-was-temped-into-it affair

This kind of affair begins when the spouse finds out someone is intended on having sex with them (How is it almost always about sex?). They give in to the temptation and do not think of the consequences. The illicit affair starts with a simple hello where the cheating person claims that the affair “just happened”. Here again, marital dissatisfaction fuels them to jump into an affair.

5. Mid-life crisis affair

Some invest in a sports car. Some dress themselves in youngster clothes. Some have extra-marital affairs to get a grip on the midlife crisis freak-out they are having. Remember American Beauty where the father has psycho sexual fascinations with his daughter’s teenage friend? A couple of more steps and they are knee deep in an illicit affair at the cusp of their 45th birthday, making them feel good and validating their feelings.

6. All-in-one affair I have never had such feelings for anyone

The most lethal of all the affairs – and also the most potent. This is the affair where it doesn’t feel like having an affair at all. There’s emotional connection and great understanding, coupled with great sex that makes any other relationship (even the marriage) feel like it’s not up to the mark. This kind of affair is so solidly founded that the affair can also lead to something more permanent.

Dhokhe ke baad kisi na kisi ka marna zaroori hota hain
Extra marital affairs do not have to end in maut, unlike Bollywood’s melodrama.

Extra marital affairs lead to turbulence in married lives, makes the straying person feel guilty (hello, cheater’s guilt) and even leads to separation.
But all affairs do not have to be deal breakers. Couple’s counselling, therapy, might prove to be helpful for married couples who want to move past the infidelity. Affairs are deadly and the trust broken cannot be fully repaired but with hard work, the marriage after the affair can prove to be stronger than before.

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