How Not to Have an Affair in 10 Steps

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I love my boyfriend and we are very happy together. Even so, last year a new colleague started at my office and I couldn’t help but feel a spark of attraction to him. He was “my type” in that he possessed some of the qualities that I find most attractive in a man — the ability to make me laugh, kindness, and dark, striking features. My boyfriend also possesses all of these qualities and I feel extremely lucky to be with him, but that didn’t prevent me from feeling attraction to another person. I didn’t want to end my relationship with my boyfriend though, so I made decisions to prevent anything from happening with my colleague.

Feeling attraction to another person while in a committed, monogamous relationship is completely normal. Taking action on that attraction is not. If you have agreed to an exclusive relationship with your partner and you want to keep it that way, then follow these steps.

1. Know the consequences:
Understand from the very outset that if you have an affair, your current relationship is over. Even if your partner never finds out, you will know what you have done, and that you have betrayed your partner. Don’t kid yourself for a single second that you can have your cake and eat it — if you have an affair, you are effectively ending the relationship that you are in and you are betraying the trust of someone you love.

2. Envision your life without your current partner:
Do you want to be without them (if this is a yes, then maybe your desire to have an affair is actually because you want a way out)? Do you want to separate all that you have built together? Are you excited for a future without them, or saddened by that thought? For me, a future without my boyfriend would be possible, but sad. I wanted to stay with him and so I didn’t risk our future together for the potential of a quick fling. I’ve heard some married men say that the best thing to prevent them from giving in to temptation is to envision themselves in a grotty bedsit night after night— removed from the family home, alone, eating TV dinners from a tray in their pants. Is a quick flash of passion worth that possibility?

3. Imagine how you would feel if the situation were reversed:
If your partner told you that he’d/she’d had an affair, how would you feel? Imagine the words they would say to you, how your whole body would respond, and what you would say to your friends and family. If my boyfriend had an affair, I would be devastated, lost, hurt and ashamed. I would find it incredibly difficult to trust another person after an experience like that and I imagine it would leave me feeling isolated and lonely. There is no way that I want to inflict those sorts of feelings on someone else, especially not someone that I love deeply.

4. Get to know your attraction in a safe space:
Part of attraction comes from the unknown factor, an element of mystery, and making that person “forbidden” is likely to heighten the attraction. Instead, get to know them, but in a way that involves no danger — e.g at the office in broad daylight, maybe even at after-work drinks — but always with lots of other colleagues. If your other colleagues leave, so should you. Hopefully, as you get to know that person more, you will notice that they also have bad habits or annoying characteristics that you can focus on. Maybe they reveal something about themselves that you find unattractive. Maybe they do something that gives you the ick. I used to have an old housemate that I really fancied for a while, but he had a girlfriend. He had such a gross habit of making excessive chewing noises when he ate though, and I always tried to remember that sound at other times when he was being particularly attractive.

5. Don’t use alcohol as an excuse:
Alcohol is not a get out of jail free card. Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol may lower your inhibitions, but it won’t mean that you’re forgiven. Let’s be honest, you probably allowed yourself to get that drunk because you wanted to have an excuse for something to happen. I personally don’t drink very often, which is why I know I have to be careful about how many drinks I consume when I do have alcohol, otherwise, I get very drunk very quickly. At our Christmas Party last year I only allowed myself two drinks. I still had a great evening but I didn’t risk losing control and throwing myself at my colleague.

6. Don’t alter your behaviour:
I realised that I was starting to brush my hair more and put on a nicer outfit in the mornings when I knew that I was going to see my new colleague. The moment I realised this, I had to stop. If I’m going to make an effort, I want it to be for my actual boyfriend, not some random guy. I made sure to follow my normal routine and didn’t adapt my behaviour to try and appear more attractive to my new colleague.

7. Talk about your partner to the person that you find attractive:
When I clocked that I found my new colleague attractive, I tried to drop it into conversation as early as possible that I had a boyfriend. I tried to mention my boyfriend and what he was like as many times as possible (without sounding like a weirdo) to my colleague. This wasn’t because I thought my new colleague fancied me back, but because I needed to remind myself of my relationship status in his presence. I needed to make my boyfriend real and avoid compartmentalising different parts of my life.

8. Don’t escalate:
If you say yes to something small, recognise that it can lead to something big. It’s very easy for situations to escalate rapidly. So what might seem like nothing — agreeing to go for a walk together at lunchtime, for example, ends up with you running your hand down their arm while laughing at a joke, brushing your fingers against their hand, them putting their hand against your back as you enter the building, a lingering look as they make an innuendo which adds flame to the fire. Be polite, be friendly, but don’t allow the opportunity for escalation and don’t reciprocate anything that might be considered flirting.

9. Do nothing and be patient:
Most attractions fade in their own time. Mine did. After two weeks or so the attraction to my colleague disappeared. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling attraction — it’s normal and your partner may even have felt it for someone else before. Instead, use that feeling to reaffirm your connection with your partner by being grateful for all that you have experienced together and how deep your feeling for one another is.

10. Invest some time in your relationship:
The phrase “the grass is greener where you water it” has become popular in recent years and I agree. There’s no denying that it can be hard to maintain the spark in a long-term relationship and nothing will last forever without some work. Go away for a dirty weekend, buy some sex toys online, read/watch some erotica, spend some quality time together — there are thousands of ways that you can spice things up and reestablish your appreciation for your partner rather than giving in to a fleeting temptation.

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