Can you ever fully trust somebody you know is capable of having an affair, even if it was with you? More than one third of people in the UK admit to being unfaithful and, when this is disclosed to their partner, only 30% of marriages or long-term relationships end.
That said, a couple lacking history and strong ties such as children are much more likely to go their separate ways. Whatever the relationship was, when a person does decide to leave their partner for someone they met through an affair, what are the chances things will last?
It is often assumed that a couple who met illicitly will never truly trust each other, because as the age old saying goes: ‘once a cheat always a cheat’.
Considering people who have cheated before are 350% more likely to cheat again, even if they are with a different partner, it certainly seems doomed to fail. ‘We’re not big fans of the affair “statistic”,’ Yvonne Filler, a therapist at The Affair Clinic, tells Metro.co.uk. ‘After all, if you’re having an affair you’re no stranger to a lie.
‘This doesn’t mean the real number is necessarily higher. Lots of these surveys and statistics have come from, or are sponsored by, companies trying to sell affairs. ‘They want to make it look like everyone’s doing it.’
Yvonne speaks to individuals and couples who are in the trenches of infidelity, those suspected of an affair, and people recovering from betrayal, including those trying to turn it into a relationship.
She says that it’s not always about sex and, in fact, most affairs begin through an emotional connection. This would suggest a healthy relationship could be developed down the line.
Most affairs only last six months, so if you get past that you’re already beating the odds. However there is truth in ‘once a cheat always a cheat’ and, according to theories within psychotherapy, it all links back to your childhood.
If your parents divorced or one had an affair, the suggestion is that you are far more likely to. Sometimes this will result in a need for reassurance, which someone may look for outside of their relationship and sometimes it will result in a person never being completely committed and attached to anyone.
Infidelity in these groups is particularly common. Even if a new couple doesn’t fit neatly into this theory, and perhaps never cheat again, they may never get the opportunity to prove it.
Trust is the cornerstone to all relationships and, according to Yvonne, couples who met through an affair find it even harder to trust one another than those trying to make a relationship work after one has betrayed the other.
‘People do make it work,” she says, quickly after. ‘But it takes a lot of effort and time to get through it. The first two years are the worst.
‘Also if they have gone from one partner to this new one then often it is done quite quickly. ‘Men especially are quick to settle down again with a new partner and they don’t necessarily get to know the new person properly, so that is yet another reason why it might not work out.’
There may be people reading this who met in such way who would completely disagree (please do email firstname.lastname@example.org if so), but the evidence is pretty damning. We spoke to people who have succeeded and failed to turn their affair into a relationship to find out what went down…
We were both in relationships when we met at work and he was above me, so there were lots of reasons to not get together. It was more of an emotional affair, spending a lot of time just talking and messaging each other every day outside of work hours.
There were only two drunk kisses. I hadn’t been with my boyfriend for long so it was clear to me that it wasn’t right and we should break up. When I became single I felt like ‘the other woman’ for the first time and finally ended it and cut communication (other than at work, which was awkward). Eventually he broke up with his girlfriend but I didn’t find out for a while. When I did we ended up getting together.
At first I was quite insecure and found it hard to trust him. I felt like I was plan B, but we had become so close that I was always very honest about this with him and we worked through it together.
Within a few months he had a key to my flat and came over almost every night and when we weren’t together we were always talking, so that definitely helped ease my mind. Two years on and we live together and have spent a lot of time discussing what we will call our future children. Our biggest problem now is his terrible taste in names.
I have been married for 14 years and we have two children, 12 and 10. I have always worked as an interior designer and generally work from home to fit around school runs and pickups. I was always the rebel as a child and the role of a mother took me by surprise but I embraced it and put the children first. I was very happily married at the time, so the affair took me by surprise, but it was a very welcome one. I was on a night out with my son’s football team for parents and kids and slowly, one by one, the families left.
Once nearly everyone was gone, I was left with one of the dads. We talked about our lives, hopes for the future for ourselves and our kids and I felt excited about life again, but I was drunk. We moved to another bar and we kissed. We both talked about how wrong it was, but it didn’t stop us. We met every few days from then, in different places and for different reasons but generally for drinks and sex. I felt guilty in some respects but not in others. The rebel in me was revived.
The other dad felt the same as me, excited and young again. I felt like I was living for the first time in ages. Like many decisions in my life I made a hasty one and decided that I’d leave my husband. Unsurprisingly, my husband took it badly. As time went on, every time I saw my husband to hand over the children the more I loved him.
The more I looked into my kids’ eyes, the more I loved my husband. I had been stupid. I wanted excitement, yes, but not someone else. We’ve been seeing a counsellor for the last three months and we both know where we need to change in the marriage. I don’t regret what I’ve done but I feel very lucky to still be with the father of my children. I would advise anyone having an affair or thinking about it to try and talk through their issues first. We’ve been lucky but it was a very painful process.
I was married for 20 years but my husband worked away a lot. I got used to him not being around and, as the kids grew up and moved out of home, I became increasingly more involved in my outside interests. I was in a choir and became very friendly with another member and it soon turned into an affair. He was single so it was easy to find time to spend together. I was feeling new rushes of excitement and as that grew and grew, I began to find absolutely everything about my husband annoying.
I dreaded him coming home from work trips and wasn’t sure if I should leave him or not. In the end, I didn’t confess to the affair but told my husband how I felt, hoping he would realise that the marriage needed work. He was very defensive and refused to admit anything was wrong. This was the catalyst for me leaving him and I’ve never looked back. It is now one year later and I am still with the man I left for. I am very happy and I feel about 10 years younger.