Keeping Affairs to Yourself

Have you had an affair recently? Before you act all astonished that I had the audacity to ask and before you launch into a long-winded self-righteous response filled with offence and exasperation, let us be sure you understand me clearly.

Featured imageI think from my initial question you are of the opinion that I am suggesting you have had an affair. You know, cheated. Well as a matter of fact, I am. (Yes, I said it). What I want to know is if you have done it (again) recently, within the last year. Still can’t believe I asked? I still can’t believe you think you are innocent. Because believe or not, you have had an affair. At some point. Disagree? Let’s call a truce. Perhaps if we better understand each other, we can mutually agree, I am right.

In order to establish that you have had an affair at some point, we will first need to determine what an affair is. How silly, since we all know what an affair is already. Do we?

In layman’s terms an affair is cheating, two-timing, being unfaithful, having a fling, a little hanky-panky on the side, messing about, or (my personal favourite) ‘ringing a horn in someone’. But in more definitive terms, having an affair is having an amorous or intimate relationship with someone other than the person you are (already) in a committed relationship with. So, if you are having an intimate need fulfilled by someone other than the person you are with, you are cheating. With me so far? Because the meat of the matter here is that you don’t need to be having sex to be having an affair. (Aha!) And that right there is how you just got caught.

We all want different things out of relationships, but some of the basic things we are all looking for, are more or less the same. This must be true or otherwise we would all still be single. So let us cover some of the basic necessities. And while we are at it, let us look where your relationship’s needs are being met. And at who is really meeting them.

Like Super-glue (or a Paris Hilton Weave) – Bonding / Time

First things first, in order to be in a relationship we are going to need to relate to each other. That means we are going to have to get to know each other and then we have got to bond. We will talk and spend quality time, and chat about and do just about anything and everything together. In the early stages of relationships this is easy. It is when you have been together for awhile you have to work at this. Date night helps. And don’t forget to do the little things like leave ‘I love you’ messages in your partner’s hand bag or briefcase. Above all, keep talking to each other.

But with all the ways we stay socially connected, Facebook, chat-rooms, Facetime (and so on), if we are not careful we can easily spend more time talking to other people than we spend talking to our spouse. Worse still, you can easily build relationships with special ‘friends’ who share a common interest. And before you know it, you have got another relationship blossoming in the left wing.

If you take a moment and think of who you chatted with most in the last 30 minutes, (smile) and if that person you just thought about, (who made you smile), is not your partner, you have started cheating. You have started the basic cultivation of a relationship with someone else. Sure, that relationship may stay right where it is, in the ‘safe friendship’ zone, but if you continue to nurture it with time and build bonds, it can take a very different direction.

“well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded – Diana, Princess of Wales”
Cathy Lowne, Speeches That Changed The World

Feel Good Factor – Emotional

Your relationship should fulfil you emotionally. The person you are with should be the person who effortlessly and always makes you feel good, feel good about all kinds of things and mostly, about yourself. He or she should be your bowl of favourite ice-cream on a hot day and when you are with them, it should seem as if suddenly (even if briefly), all is right with the world.

When you have a bad day are you still turning to your significant other for comfort? If instead you are logging on and laughing up with someone else, you are probably not on the right track. That emotional fulfilment is coming from elsewhere and ‘elsewhere’ may not be where you want to be.

Who’s Your Daddy? – Nurturing / Protection

Remember the night you came home from work and vented to your spouse about that so-and-so no-good dimwit you work with, who did such-and-such and really ticked you off? And your loving protective partner’s reply was ‘that fool did what?’. And then without them needing to say another word you instantly felt better. Remember? That was because you knew that person had your back. We need that. We need to know the person we’re sharing our lives with, will be in our corner and that they will be supportive, encouraging and sometimes appropriately inappropriate on our behalf.

This is one trait that is best revealed with time. As the relationship progresses you’ll know how protected and secure you feel with this person from their repeat performances.

If your go-to person has shifted, you have already invested time and emotion on the outside. You should understand by now that you have got a nice little affair going, but if you are looking to keep the relationship you are in from being on the out, this is a good place to stop and just cancel your subscription.

There Is Only One Usain Bolt – Priority Status

Your partner should be your number one person, the priority in your life that demands and receives the majority of all your best. Your investments are banked here, with this person. They come first, all the time, every race. They receive the most of your time, affection, love, protection, support, care, all of it.

And when I say all, I mean it in a sensible way. Who wants all of your day time but none of your night? It must be balanced, although we do recognize it has to be fair to all involved. Here by all, I only mean two of you.

If your partner receives most of your time and most of your support but the least of your flirtations, you still fail. Grade F. So if you think that just because you and your ‘friend’ are not rolling around in the proverbial haystack (yet), it means exchanging those hot and spicy texts is not a problem, think again. You’re just one step away from making your affair a legitimate reason for a class-action suit. And if Tiger Woods can’t win, neither can you. You catch my drift.

The Barry White CD – Sexual

Let’s be frank, your partner has to fulfil you sexually. You can decide how much you need in that area to make it work for you. But if it isn’t working on some level, fix it. Fast. Because if you don’t, you have opened the door wide for your new ‘friend’ to become your new improved ‘friend’ with benefits.

After the first sexual interaction with the other person, (the other person being the one you are not in a relationship with), you know without a doubt you are having an affair. Usually this key point is where most people recognize they have gone astray.

The sexual affair is commonly considered ‘the affair’ and they are some who will challenge that everything before sex, is just foreplay. We will get back to those critics in a minute.

As we have all come to learn from the whole Bill and Monica saga, (Clinton still rocks), loose definitions of sex will come back to haunt you. So to clarify when I refer to having a sexual affair, I’m including all the fun and even somewhat sketchy types of sex. Oral sex, penetration, phone sex, text sex, chat sex, if one (or both) of you climaxes from it, in my book sex occurred. Clear?

And for those of you who think that as long as sex is absent, you have not done anything wrong, I say only this. If that were true, the global divorce rate would be a whole lot lower. Instead, divorce is suspiciously high. Because it seems that even in the absence of sex, your sordid emails, texts, messages, photos and whatever else was uncovered, still hurt. It seems your partner can still end up broken-hearted, when they did not actually catch you in the act.

“He wasn’t yours to get hurt by. He was someone else’s and you knew that, so why are you offended? What right do you have to be hurt when you were a part of the deception (lying by omission)?” ― Donna Lynn Hope

Think of if this way. If the roles were reversed and the person being cheated on was you, at what point would you no longer be comfortable? Would it matter less that your parter is involved with someone else if no sex occurred? Or would somewhere inside tingle a little, would a little sleep be lost, would a meal or two be missed, from the first too-long phone call in the middle of the night? In other words, when it’s happening to you, when exactly to you define the start of the affair?

So did you have an affair recently? Ok, I concede, there’s a chance you haven’t. But I’m pretty sure that now we have talked about it, you have had one at some point. It’s okay though, keep your affairs to yourself. You don’t have to tell me. After all, I’m sure not telling you.

Breaking-up, Beautifully. (10 Easy Steps).

What do you say to the beautiful, the brainless, the brazen and the barbarous who broke your heart? I’m sure you can think of a few things. I’m sure you can think of a few things you’d like to do too. But apart from the legal implications, (or illegal I should say), there’s a few good reasons why you should hold your tongue, don’t say anything and don’t do anything either, (nothing at all) in the heat of the moment.

Too often we say the first thing that comes to mind. While this may be what you’re thinking at the moment, anger aside, it may not really be a true representation of how you feel. Surely although in this moment your partner seems to be ‘a mere tick on the backside of an elephant, soon to be flicked off by its tail and crushed under its mammoth heel like nothing more than an insignificant annoyance’, (breathe) in hindsight this might perhaps be a bit harsh. Likewise, quick flares of rage can prompt actions that land us on ‘Judge Judy’. And since we all know it’s edited, the experience may not be as cool as they would have us believe.

All in all, what you say and do can’t be taken back. And apart from the hurt and disappointment you’ll both feel, it can lead to a month, year, or lifetime of regret. So learn how to bite your tongue and curb your raging enthusiasm. Besides, are you even sure you want to break-up?

Breaking-up, Beautifully. (10 Easy Steps).

The jackass of today maybe the stallion of tomorrow. You are ticked-off now, but give yourself a chance to cool off. Later, when you think back (with a clear mind) of all the idiotic and hurtful things the other person said, (or did), some of it may actually make a little sense and while not well phrased, was perhaps not intended to be hurtful. If you didn’t blow-up in the first place, you won’t have to admit this. And more importantly, with a little etiquette class, you may not actually want to break-up. A rational discussion, or few choice words in a firm tone should suffice. And then you can kiss and make-up. (Ah, fun times).

The repeat offender. You’re really furious this time. And the last time you were here was just a little while ago. (A few hours to be exact). You cooled off, even chilled out, but here you are again, red in the face and ready for a taekwondo class. (Sometimes yoga won’t do).

Relationships are about being happy together. There’s a lot of other stuff in there too, but generally speaking, you’re with that person because when you are, it feels good. But what if it feels bad, all the time? First of all, is it really all the time? You may just have one issue that you’re not dealing with and getting past. Don’t get me wrong, depending on what it is, this one issue can be enough to make you run for the hills. (And not in a ‘Sound of Music’ type of way).

If you are at this stage you should do a hit list. One page with two columns and a writing instrument. Side A, write all the stuff you love, like and can tolerate about your partner. Side Nay, the opposite. Do this as a numbered list. Clearly if the A list wins, give the poor darling a break and work things out. You may just need a little therapy. But if the Nay’s have it and there’s a hot new topic to make you hot and bothered daily, see your local therapist. If time passes without a real resolution and the money runs out, throw the towel in. If you gave the therapist a shot, you can honestly say you tried to make it work. Or, you can have ice-cream in front the TV and honestly say you tried to make it work. It depends on your budget.

The unforgivable. Something was said or done that there is just no coming back from. This one is easy to spot. You have started meditating to episodes of ‘Snapped’ and generating ideas from ‘Forensic Files’ on ‘TruTV’. Act quickly, it’s time to break-up. Or pretty soon you’ll be staring in your very own episode and you won’t even get a trip on the Red Carpet for your troubles.

So, here we are, you have decided to break-up, it can’t be helped. Even the therapist recommended it. Or worse, your partner doesn’t like ice-cream. (Madness!).

1. Time to get down and dirty. Or not. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do just about anything. Even break-up. While I’m no therapist, I have been broken up with (fools) and I have done the breaking up with (fools) and I have consoled enough friends through both to tell you exactly what the wrong way is. It’s cruel and insensitive. The right way, is kind and sincere. The wrong way, hurts everyone. The right way, hurts everyone. No, that’s not an error, just thought you should have all the facts. We’re going to try and accomplish the break-up done nicely. This way should hurt a little less. (Hurt you less that is. Your partner may disagree.)

If you have absolutely no fear of Karma or you think the other person is worth the risk of Karma just so you can be mean, knock yourself out. But stand in your shoes, keep your jewelry on and hold the clutch in place for just a minute more. Might I suggest you think about two things first? If what you’re about to say or do, was said or done to you, how would you feel? And if you saw your ex in the obituaries next month, would you regret what you say or do now? Because then, you won’t be able to take it back, ever and since we don’t know the future, I don’t recommend the risk.

Breaking-up, Beautifully. (10 Easy Steps).2. “The art of living is in the fine balance of letting go and holding on.” I don’t know who said it but I think it’s profound and quite true. Usually from every relationship there was some good mixed in with the bad. Take the good stuff with you, let the bad stuff go. I’m not saying it’s easy to do. But as far as I can tell, nothing worth it ever is.

3. Study, you will be quizzed later. Think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. Your partner will have questions, but if you give details and examples upfront, you can minimize the number of questions you get. Reducing the queries will help you to keep your temper in check, since they can be frustrating.

I’m always a big advocate for writing it out. Personally this just helps me remember. (Please don’t leave the list on the kitchen counter). But be warned, if you break-up with someone with a notebook in your lap and check things off a list as you go, you’re liable to be cussed, or smacked. So you’ll want to commit the points to memory.

4. The real estate market is booming, but choose your location carefully. Relationships today are surely not the relationships our parents had. We keep in touch through a complex assortment of technological advancements, few require even seeing the other person. You’re lucky to have a cup of coffee together and if you get a physical card or (gasp) flowers, you’re likely to cry. (More from shock than anything.) But none of these channels is the way to break-up.

Do not break-up by phone call, faxes, emails, e-cards, web chat, webcam chat, Facetime, video conference, text message, Blackberry messenger, My Space, Facebook or Twitter. It unkind, tacky and rude. Break-up in person, face-to-face. And think twice about that location.

A public location may lead to embarrassment for you both if things get heated and loud. Choose somewhere private and comfortable for both of you. Be careful however not to be insensitive, don’t go back to a place that as previously a source of happiness. For example, don’t break-up on the park bench where you first said ‘I love you’. (Dipstick). If you’re concerned things may not go well, have a friend nearby to bail you out if shoes start flying.

5. Schedule a commercial break. Plan the timeline you want to break-up in, start time and end time. It may sound rough but not really. Bear in mind you know what’s going on, but if the other person doesn’t know what’s coming, they may not want to let you go. If we want to hold on to a relationship the best chance to do this is during the break-up itself. With enough time they may try to wear you down and get you to recommit. (Sneaky devils). You will also want an official end time for you own peace of mind. Hurting someone isn’t an easy thing to do and you can only answer “but why?” so many times. You should plan your out from early, once you have said all you had to say and listened all you care to listen, escape.

6. You’re cordially invited to an execution. You’re going to have to invite your partner to the face-to-face break-up. If you don’t let them know in advance you ‘need to talk’, they will feel ambushed when you drop the bomb. But whatever you do, don’t say, ‘let’s go out because we need to talk’. Nothing that has ever ended well commenced with that phrase. How you phrase it will depend on how well you know your partner and the level of your creative genius, but don’t get them there under false pretenses. If you can just go to their place, brilliant. This will also make your timely exit less of a problem.

7. The talk. It’s over, there’s nothing to lose now, so you can be completely honest. Be frank and firm but sensitive and fair. And have some heart, it’s not a good time to crack a joke and don’t smile sweetly through the whole thing. Seriously. Be sure to listen to how the other person feels too. While it may not fix the relationship, it may set you both on the path to emotional recovery. You may come out of this, friends. Or you may want to move to another country when it’s all over. Prepare for the worse.

8. The stages of grief. The relationship has been lost so there will be some grieving, for either or both of you. There are 5 stages to expect (others break this down into 7 but I prefer the one hand finger count).Breaking-up, Beautifully. (10 Easy Steps).

  1. Denial (this isn’t happening to me!)
  2. Anger (why is this happening to me?)
  3. Bargaining (I promise I’ll be a better person if…)
  4. Depression (I don’t care anymore)
  5. Acceptance (I’m ready for whatever comes)

You can practically count these off as the conversation flows, it’s that accurate. What you should prepare for is that some people will linger at the second or third stage. Your break-up conversation may end with the other person still angry or bargaining. Don’t expect acceptance to come right away. Some break-ups even have sequels.

9. You’ve broken up, so take a break. You have done the deed, time for life to start moving on. Solo. Give yourself a break, emotionally. The other person will say you have done a bad thing, (whatever), that does not make you a bad person. Live guilt free. Give yourself a break, physically. Enjoy dating for awhile. Spend the weekend somewhere fun. Just relax. Now is a good time for that postponed yoga class.

10. Don’t retaliate. It would be remiss of me you to let you leave thinking if you followed the steps all will go well. Perhaps, but not always. Some of us date slightly insane people, but you may not know until you’ve scorned them. While you didn’t say anything on Facebook or Twitter, doesn’t mean they won’t. No need for us to all act like children. Inhale, exhale and let it go.

Good luck with your break-up. I hope you go to each other’s weddings (to other people of course) and stay friends for years to come. If all else fails tell the fool where to get off. Then grab your trusty spoon and go knock back a quarter litre of ice-cream.

There’s A Con In Our Conversation

So you’ve met someone. Not just anyone, someone really special. Someone you believe you can wander through this crazy maze of a world with, who will help you to make sense of the insane and share the wonderful, the worrisome and the weird with you. It’s a lovely thing.

And then, all of a sudden, out of the clear, blue sky, that person you met becomes the person they are and the two aren’t the same person. You have been deceived. Swindled. Tricked. Conned.

It’s the fault of our elders really. Our parents and grandparents and teachers and mentors aren’t honest with us from the start. Between the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the wide world of Disney, by the time puberty kicks in, you’re as confused as a cat in a dog fight. Nothing is really what it seems, if it’s real at all. The Tooth Fairy was Mum. Santa Claus was Dad. (Sorry. I thought you knew by now). And that frog in the backyard won’t become a prince no matter how many times you kiss him. (I should have told you sooner). Even the clear, blue sky I referred to earlier seeks to betray you. Surely the sky cannot be both clear, lacking in color and blue, a primary color. (Hmm.) You see the con begins from early.

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In the relationship, the con starts from that very first conversation. When you first said hello you used your best Marilyn Monroe, or Barry White impression. Because we know you don’t really sound like that. You laughed at their jokes, which we know aren’t really funny. You praised your boss, loved your neighbor’s dog and said your tennis level was just a ball shy of a Williams sister. You twisted the truth a little. You bent it. You lied. Call it what you like, that’s what you did. And don’t bother to tell me you didn’t because that would be a lie in itself and only prove my point.

It’s ok though. No harm in it. (Or so they say). Because once you got to know each other and the love started to bloom, it all worked itself out. The little twists and bends straighten themselves. And later when your real tennis skill level is revealed, your little white lie becomes something you’ll both recall and laugh at when you meet mid-court by the net. Those initial and little fibs are not a big problem, just don’t keep them going. If you’ve been in the relationship for awhile and still can’t say what those shoes really cost, or where you really were at 3am, you need to rethink what you want from the relationship. Flat out. But later, when you know each other, it’s not so much about what you said. Oh no. The real problem by now is what you don’t say. (Ummhmm). That secret you’ve been keeping. This, is the real con. What you don’t say in the conversations. And if you keep on keeping that secret, that beautiful future you’ve been building for two, can end up fit for one.

Let’s set some boundaries. We’re going to need to clear up what a big secret is. Because let’s be honest with each other, some things you’re meant to keep to yourself. You’re not in the practice of doing anything to deliberately hurt yourself. Part of two becoming one, is that this person is now part of you, so you wouldn’t do anything to deliberately hurt that person either. I believe there are some things you don’t need to say, ever. This applies to telling your partner things about themselves which will hurt, but they can’t change anyway. In other words, you’ve highlighted a hurtful problem without a solution and neither of you is any better for it. For example, if his equipment (sniffle), is more weed-whacker (blush) than a 17 horsepower, 4-wheel steering, 2-pedal hydrostatic, rust-proof riding mower (cough). To me it’s not necessary to say, but this is where you (chalk in hand) need to draw your own moral boundaries, I’m not touching that one. (Pun intended).We’re talking the big stuff. The stuff that day time programming is made off. The ‘my credit can’t get me a loan for a pencil’, ‘I did drug rehab’, ‘it’s not your baby’, (Maury, you need a new punch line) and ‘I was born a male’ type of stuff. You always tell the truth about your sexual status, your sexual partners (how many, who is up to you), your sexual preferences, your finances, your expectations and ambitions, your recreational habits (the negative ones), your religious beliefs, your triggers (what turns you on and off, non-sexual) and your definition of family (4 children, 3 dogs, 2 cats and a pig).

Now while most people when asked will say they lie to shield their partner from hurt, but if you’re ever caught in that lie, the hurt you both feel will only be a part of the problem. You’ll then have trust issues to deal with as well. And by the time you add feelings of betrayal, (theirs), guilt, (yours), anger, disappointment and heartache (shared), you have got yourself one great, big, flushable, hot mess.

So what’s to be done? Surely I’m not expecting you to tell the truth? Well actually, yes.  If there’s any chance that secret can come back to haunt you, tell. (The whole truth?). That’s the idea. Out with it. You’ll sleep better. But since it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, let’s see if I can help. (Ahem).

Before you open the closet, know why you’re coming out. You can’t undo hurt. So remember, if it’s not on the must tell list and neither person benefits from the knowledge, you may want to get a combination lock for the closet door and just leave it in there.

But once you’ve decided to share, plan ahead. You don’t want to drop the bomb just by the way. Know what you want to say and how you want to say it. Be prepared for all the follow-up questions that are sure to come. If you write it down, this helps some people, do not leave your note-pad on the dining room table by accident.

Location, location, location and timing has got to be right. This is all part of your planning. Don’t do it in a public place. It could turn into a disastrous embarrassment for you both. Choose a time when you both have clear calendars for awhile. Give yourself time to tell, time for you both to talk and time to determine the steps to recovery.

Be ready to give the other person space. Depending on how big the bomb is, that might be physical as well. It’s a dilemma you’ve brought to the table, so the couch is yours. Or the hotel room. Just don’t expect things to return to normal overnight. If there’s something the two of you enjoy doing together but alone (just the two of you), it may be a good time to do it. Hiking, fishing, tennis. But don’t purchase two first-class tickets and plan a second honeymoon as a surprise. This will not only invade the other person’s recovery period, it may cost you a good non-refundable penny if the other person doesn’t want to see you for bit.

Serve notice.  You didn’t plan the what, the where and the when only to slip up now on the warning. You’re going to have to let the other person know you have a secret to tell. Let them know it’s something major and when you want to have the discussion. Be ready to do it immediately if there is persistence, but if you can, and this is preferred, allow at least a few hours for the other person to be mentally and emotionally prepared.

In stressful situations we tend to improvise, don’t, stick to the script. At least in the beginning. Ask beforehand to be given the opportunity to explain everything in detail before answering questions. Talk to your partner though, not at them.

Now is not the time to cast blame, take responsibility. This will be difficult enough for your spouse without them having to hear that they caused the problem. So when giving that detailed explanation, remove all occurrences of the word ‘you’. There is a good chance that you will be asked who is to blame directly, think this through in advance and know what you want to say.

There may be expletives. Know in advance that you will be a pestilence spat up from the bowels of Hades upon the face of the earth. Or something not so creative but equally as harsh. Anticipating this in advance will help you not to be surprised when the onslaught begins. And there will be an onslaught. But try not to retaliate or cast blame. Remain calm. Don’t argue. This will be their time to vent. There is a lot of confusion, hurt and anger and any retaliation on your part will hamper the resolution.

Have your suggestions for how you plan to move forward ready. What are the resolutions. But, and this is a big but, you may not be able to fix this. It may take days, weeks, months or even years for full healing to occur. And sometimes, that healing never comes. Don’t expect the worse, love conquers all (I believe this and I’m a pessimist) but be prepared for it. That first-class ticket money may be put to good use with some professional counselling.  If all else fails, there’s ice-cream. Good luck.