How long affairs last depends on several factors. Some of these are under your control. Learn how to do what you can to shorten your spouse’s affair.
For more than two decades, I have been helping people to end their spouse’s affairs and to rebuild their relationships.
What is important to realize is that there is no one best strategy for ending an affair. Your choice of strategy will impact your success. What worked for someone else will not necessarily work for you because each situation is different.
Strategy impacts length of affair and chance for success
It’s important to find a strategy that fits:
your security level,
the reason your spouse is having an affair,
your spouse’s personality, and
the amount of pre-affair relationship damage.
Each of these factors impacts your chances for ending your spouse’s affair. It also impacts how long your spouse’s affair is likely to last.
How your security level impacts time to end an affair
The more secure a person is, the more able they are to take reasonable risks in order to achieve success. The more insecure a person is, the less risk they can tolerate, the fewer changes they can make, and the less likely they are to have success.
For example, if a person is secure, they will have reasonable boundaries. This will prevent their spouse from being able to have their cake and eat it, too. They will also be able to (when the time is right) give their spouse a choice between them and the other person. With this scenario, the affair is often ended within three months, though there is still more rebuilding to do.
If a person is very insecure, they will not have any boundaries. They will fear their spouse becoming upset and totally rejecting them. They would rather put up with an affair than take the risk of being rejected, even if it goes on for years. Since their spouse can have things both ways, the affair may go on indefinitely.
The reason your spouse is having an affair impacts length of affair
Some people have affairs to supplement their marriage–trying to compensate for what they can’t get from their spouse. They do not want to risk their marriage or disrupt their family.
Because of this, an affair can be ended fairly quickly as long as you can provide what they were missing from your relationship and use good boundaries.
Other people have affairs simply because they believe they can get away with it. They are also secretive because they are also not wanting to disrupt their marriage or families. It takes longer to end their affairs because it is not a matter of their missing something.
They are greedy and want it all. Besides boundaries and connection skills, their respect has to be earned.
Yet other people have affairs because they are preparing to end their marriage. Although still legally married, they consider the marriage to have been over for some time. So, they don’t think of what they are doing as in any way cheating.
Ending this kind of affair takes much longer because of relationship building and more limited contact.
Your spouse’s personality impacts how long affairs last
Spouses run the gamut from loving to selfish, and from responsible to irresponsible. It is easy to image that a selfish and irresponsible partner would have an affair. But, responsible and loving partners have affairs, too.
A selfish partner is not concerned about others and only cares about him or herself. Generally, they have been that way throughout the relationship. Ending their affair is likely only if you have something they want more and there is no other way for them to get it.
Usually only needy people want to reconcile with such a partner. This is because they see their partners as the way they want them to be rather than the way they actually are.
A loving and responsible partner may also be focused on their own needs. They still care about others, though. They are easier to deal with and they also understand why they can’t have their cake and eat it, too.
Using good connection skills while maintaining good boundaries is a good way to end their affairs. They are good prospects for reconciling.
The amount of pre-affair relationship damage and time to end an affair
The more damage there was in your relationship prior to the affair, the longer it will take to end the affair, if it can be ended at all. A spouse who has burned out on a bad relationship is not going to care at all about boundaries. He or she will have no fear of losing the relationship.
Rebuilding has to start at a very basic level. It is possible, provided their is still regular contact for any reason. Your connection skills must be very good and conflict must be avoided.
If the marital relationship was close and strong, time to ending the affair is much shorter. No one wants to lose a good thing. Provided your boundaries are good, the affair should be short lived.
All of these factors interact, making each situation different
You can work through all the possible combinations of these four factors. There are 24 of them! Here are a few:
If you are a secure person and your relationship with your spouse has been very good, then time to end an affair can be pretty quick. But only if your spouse is loving and responsible.
If you are an insecure person and your relationship has been very good, then time to end your spouse’s affair could go three years or more, if it ever ends. Though you are more likely to remain friends with your spouse.
If you are secure, but your relationship was poor, then this will also take some time, but not as long as for an insecure person.
Hopefully, this shows you:
Why you can’t simply follow what someone else did
The factors affecting time to end an affair
The importance of being secure
The importance of using good boundaries
The need for good connection skills
The good news is that much of what affects the length of an affair is under your control. You will need to learn some skills and work on being secure if you are not.
Find an approach that fits your situation and your spouse
Going through all the different possibilities can be confusing. Also, it’s not easy to recognize our own degree of neediness or security. Getting the help of a relationship coach can simplify things and speed them up. It can help to prevent you from using an approach that just won’t work–which would waste valuable connection time.
Another advantage of getting coaching is that you will learn the specific connections skills and boundaries needed for your situation. For more information on coaching, please see the coaching package, Marriage Coaching for Ending a Spouse’s Affair.