“So often the intoxicating ‘other’ that people discover in an affair is not a new partner, it is a new self."
- Esther Perel
Affairs and All That
I was struck by this quote because it hits at the heart of why many people in chronically struggling relationships seek affairs. It’s not about disliking their partner. It’s about having a hole in your feelings about yourself. By providing adoration without strings attached, affair partners may help adults recover their self-esteem and sense of self.
This was the case in the affairs in my own relationship – both my husband and I reached out to others when we simply couldn’t find any other way to feel ‘whole.’
Both ADHD and non-ADHD partners have affairs. Finding out your partner is having one is simply crushing. But for some couples, an affair can also be a wake up call in which the affair puts the need to look much more closely at the weaknesses in the primary relationship. If you are up to the task, this necessary but painful process can provide an opportunity for significant growth.
That said, if you are contemplating an affair, I recommend that you first talk with a counselor and explore how you have lost yourself in your relationship and how you might uncover the ‘new self’ you seek without the pain and trauma of an affair.
I can say, without a doubt, that finding out about my husband’s affair(s) has been the singly most painful experience of my life. Now that I’ve been on both sides I would never, ever, impose that pain on another. So please know that I am NOT suggesting you consider having an affair as a way to change your relationship. Only that if faced with one, it’s possible that growth can occur.
For those in marriages impacted by ADHD
You can find great resources for couples impacted by ADHD at adhdmarriage.com, including free:
- Online treatment overview;
- Downloadable chapters of my books;
- A community forum with other couples facing similar issues;
- A large number of blog posts on various topics;
Is your relationship in trouble? Consider my highly acclaimed couples' course: ADHD Effect In-Depth Couples' Seminar - This 8-session phone seminar has helped many couples thrive in healthier, happier relationships. The next live course begins October 3rd, and the self-study version is available anytime.