Being hit with the news that an affair is usually devastating and often turns the betrayed spouse’s world upside down. In a maelstrom of intense emotions, often people have difficulty thinking clearly and are at a loss as to how to begin to put the pieces of their shattered lives back together. Healing both yourself and your marriage (if you choose) are possible after an affair. However, myths about affairs abound and they often create more distress when going through this already difficult process. Here are the top 10 myths I have encountered about affairs. I have seen this kind of misinformation add pain and confusion where there was already plenty.

If the experience of an affair has, in some way, touched your life, I hope you will read on and clarify any misconceptions that have caused you or someone you love more hurt.

Myth #1

It is better to not talk about the affair Talking about it only makes you more upset, making it harder to get over it and move on with your life.

The Truth: Research shows that openly talking about the affair (with your spouse) is one of the most important factors in improving the relationship and aiding with healing. If you have a gangrenous wound you do not just wrap it up and act as everything is fine. You need to unwrap it and treat it.

Myth #2

It is better to not talk about the affair. Any additional information will just make it harder to forget it and get on with your life.

The Truth: Finding out your partner has had an affair is devastating and traumatic. You often feel as you do not know what is real anymore. The betrayed partner may begin to question everything that previously felt certain in life. The truth is, information about the affair helps the hurt partner reassemble the pieces to the puzzle that is their life. This is the first step in healing.

Myth #3

People have affairs because of sexual attraction.


The pull of an affair has much more to do with feeling cherished and adored by a new love.
Often they only see the positive aspects of a person and miss the flaws that the spouse recognizes.

Myth #4

Most affairs end in divorce.

The Truth: More than half of marriages affected by an affair remain in tact. Some couples even report that their relationship is more intimate, honest and meaningful after the affair. Such couples take important steps toward healing the relationship.

Myth #5

Affairs happen because marriages are unhappy.

Affairs can and do happen in good marriages. They are usually more about sliding across boundaries than they are about love, especially when the affair started out as a friendship that grew in intensity.

Myth #6

You should just forget the affair and get on with your marriage.

The Truth: This is a harmful attitude not only because it is next too impossible, but also because betrayed partners end up feeling additional pain and guilt for not “handling it right.”

Myth #7

Affairs are usually just sexual in nature.

The Truth:

That was the most likely scenario in affairs of past decades. However, since the majority of modern day affairs tend to begin as work friendships which over time develop increasingly emotional intimacy, most affairs have an emotional component to them.

Myth: 8

Emotional Affairs (affairs where there has been no actual sexual involvement) are not really affairs.

The Truth:

Emotional affairs seem to create as much pain as affairs that have become sexual. This is true particularly if the betrayed spouse is a woman. Women experience more pain if their husband has had an affair that has involved emotional sharing than if it is just for sex. Men, on the other hand, tend to experience more pain if their wives have sexual affairs.

Myth #9

People have affairs because they are not getting enough sex in their marriage.


It is usually the person who has the affair who is giving the least in the marriage. The spouse may actually be quite giving. The person who is least invested in the relationship is the one most at risk to stray.

Myth #10

The person who has an affair has no morals.

The Truth: More than 80% of marital partners who had an affair reported that they considered affairs wrong, and would never be the kind of person who would have an affair. They reported that they found themselves caught up in an emotional situation over which they then lost control. These days the beginnings of affairs may have more to do with sliding across boundaries than a calculated plan to deceive.

Barbara Calvi, M.S., L.M.F.T. is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Calabasas, California. She specializes in working with couples and with both couples and singles on affair recovery. You can subscribe to her relationship newsletter at her website: or visit her relationship and affair recovery blogs at or

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