One might think that an extra-marital affair would end quickly once the initial thrill wears off.
This is, sometimes, the consolation that some people with unfaithful partners find solace in.
However, in some cases, an affair can last for years.
So, what are the reasons that can make affairs last for so long, even when both partners are still in their primary relationships?
And what should you do if you find yourself in this situation?
In this article, we’ll explore the possible explanations for the longevity of some affairs while offering advice on weathering the lingering storms bedeviling the marriage.
9 Reasons Some Affairs Last For Years
An affair may last for long if:
1. The affair meets age-long unmet needs
The first likely reason is that there may be some underlying issues in the marriage that have lasted for an extended period.
This could include a lack of intimacy, unmet needs, or unresolved conflict.
These issues may make it difficult for the partners to address their problems.
Thus leading them to seek fulfillment elsewhere.
For example, if one partner feels neglected or taken for granted in the marriage, an affair may be a way to meet their needs.
The affair may provide attention, affection, and emotional connection lacking in the marriage.
It may also offer a sense of excitement and newness lacking in the marriage.
When neither of the parties is making conscious efforts to resolve issues, the cheating partner may continue to engage in the affair for as long as it meets their unmet needs.
2. The affair provides an escape from reality
Another reason an affair might last for years is because it provides an escape from reality.
For some people, an affair can feel like a fantasy world where they can be someone else, escape their problems, or feel special and wanted.
This fantasy can be alluring, especially compared to everyday life’s routine and responsibilities.
An affair can sometimes feel like an escape from the stresses and pressures of real life.
For example, an affair may provide a sense of excitement and novelty that is missing from the primary relationship.
Or, it may allow the person to feel desirable and special in a way they don’t in their day-to-day life.
This can be very alluring and difficult to give up, even if it’s causing harm to the marriage.
3. The affair gets thrilling
Moving on to the next reason, affairs may last for years because of the thrill of secrecy and deception.
Some people may find hiding the affair and lying to their partner exhilarating.
This can become addictive, making it hard to end the affair.
There’s a psychological term for this phenomenon: the “adrenaline junkie” effect.
This refers to the high some people get from doing risky or forbidden things.
For people who have this effect, the secrecy and deception of an affair can be thrilling and hard to give up.
Some people are indeed attracted to the forbidden, or the “forbidden fruit,” as it’s sometimes called.
But it’s important to remember that affairs usually have consequences, and those consequences can be devastating.
So, even if the affair is thrilling in the moment, it’s not worth the risk in the long run.
4. That is where they find happiness
The next possible reason is that some people may stay in an affair because they believe it’s their only chance at happiness.
This may happen if the person feels trapped in an unhappy marriage or doesn’t believe they can find love or fulfillment elsewhere.
For example, people may feel they have no other options because of financial dependence, family obligations, or social pressure.
They may remain married while cheating with someone else.
Or, they may have been emotionally manipulated by the person they’re having an affair with, such that they believe they can never find happiness anywhere but with them.
These factors can make it difficult for the person to leave the affair, even if they want to.
This is a bit of a false premise.
People’s happiness in an affair is often temporary and fleeting, no matter how long it lasts.
It doesn’t last, and it doesn’t replace the real happiness that can be found in a healthy, committed relationship.
This reason is definitely misguided.
5. Dysfunctional upbringing has made infidelity normal for them
This is a complex issue, but it can contribute to long-lasting affairs.
Some people from dysfunctional families may have learned unhealthy relationship patterns and may repeat those patterns in their own relationships.
This can lead to affairs, as well as other unhealthy behaviors.
A child whom an unfaithful parent brought up may grow up believing that unfaithfulness in marriage is not a big deal and may not see any reason to quit an affair.
This kind of experience can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mental health and ability to form healthy relationships.
People who have experienced this may have trouble trusting others, setting boundaries, or feeling secure in their relationships.
This can lead to a cycle of unhealthy relationships, including affairs.
6. The fear of losing the gains
They may also fear the emotional consequences of ending the affair, such as feeling rejected or alone.
Some people may be afraid to end the affair because they don’t want to lose what they’ve gained, such as money, security, or status.
The long-term consequences of an affair are often far worse than the perceived gains.
The cheating spouse may have a “fear of the unknown” regarding ending the affair.
They may not know what will happen if they end the affair, and they can find this uncertainty scary.
But again, this is a short-sighted way of thinking.
This fear of the unknown is not a valid reason to continue an affair.
If one or both partners are unhappy in the marriage, it’s essential to address the issues rather than continue the affair.
7. The affair does not require so much commitment
Affairs can seem less complicated and demanding than marriages because they don’t involve the same level of commitment and responsibility.
This may make it easy for an affair to last long.
It probably would have been otherwise if they owed each other some marital commitments and responsibilities such as consistent cohabitation, financial responsibility, parenting, etc.
These are some of the issues that engender conflicts in many marriages.
But it’s important to remember that affairs often come with their own set of complications and consequences.
They can cause a lot of emotional turmoil and even lead to a marriage’s end.
8. The affair gives a false hope of something permanent
Sometimes, people who are having affairs have a feeling of false hope, believing that the affair will lead to something better than their current marriage.
They may feel like the affair is the answer to all of their problems or that it will make them happier in the long run.
However, this is often not the case.
In reality, affairs usually don’t lead to long-term happiness, and they often cause more problems than they solve.
Let’s say a married woman is having an affair with a coworker.
She may believe that the affair will lead to a happy relationship with the coworker, and she may feel like the affair is making her more satisfied overall.
However, this may not be the case.
The reality is that she may lose her job, damage her reputation, and hurt her family and friends.
She may also end up feeling more isolated and unhappy because the affair is not sustainable in the long term.
9. They have not been caught
In some cases, when an affair is exposed, it can be a wake-up call for the person involved.
They may realize the damage they’re doing to their relationships and their mental health.
They may also realize the consequences, like losing their partner or family or facing legal or professional repercussions.
Exposure can be a catalyst for people to end the affair finally.
Sometimes, people having affairs don’t have any external distractions or pressures that would force them to end the affair.
They may have plenty of time and resources to keep the affair going, and no one is pushing them to stop.
They may feel like they can keep the affair a secret forever.
This lack of external pressure can make it very easy to stay in the affair, even if it’s not healthy or good for them.
For a cheating partner, it’s important to take responsibility for their actions, apologize to their spouse, and commit to rebuilding trust and repairing the damage that’s been done.
The couple should also seek professional counseling support to address any underlying issues that led to the affair.
By taking these steps, a cheating partner can begin to repair the relationship and move forward healthily and positively.
While affairs can be devastating, they don’t have to be the end of a marriage.
With hard work, honesty, and support, it’s possible to heal from an affair and create a stronger, healthier relationship.
It’s also important to remember that self-care is essential for both partners, as it can help to build resilience and prevent future affairs.