The most common places affairs begin

Image: Pexel

We’ve been working with couples, both married and unmarried, for the last 13 years. Of the many challenges couples face, and despite the unspeakable devastation it leaves with at least one partner, sexual infidelity still easily ranks in the top 4.

It easily competes with marriage or relationship boredom; lack of communication; abuse — physical, emotional and financial; as well as addiction, whether smartphone or social media and substance addictions.

If you’re an avid reader of our writings, you know that we always approach the theme of infidelity from two ends.

  1. As an expression of a symptom

While adultery causes lots of divorces, it is usually not the primary reason a marriage fails. But a failed marriage leads to cheating, ie. cheating is a symptom of the disease in many cases, not the disease itself. Often it’s a partner that feels they are punching against a brick wall trying to resolve and manage their frustrations with the other. And as much as they are still entirely responsible for choosing to cheat on their partners, they would site whatever their frustrations are as reasons.

  1. Because they can

On the other hand, many partners that cheat aren’t necessarily frustrated about anything in their marriages or relationships. To them, infidelity is not necessarily a sign of something missing in the marriage. Many people who have affairs aren’t chronic philanderers. Most are actually happy in their marriages, and wouldn’t trade their partners for no-one. However, their biggest challenge is to manage the paradox of our human need for security ie. stability, reliability and predictability; vs. our other human need for adventure ie. curiosity, mystery and excitement of risky behaviour.

Most people who have affairs experience inner turmoil about it. To some degree, such turmoil is a feature of our psychological architecture, which must balance these inherently opposing desires. We wish for order, stability, fidelity, and predictability. But we also seek change, novelty, thrill, autonomy and spontaneity. A home from which you can’t get away is not a home but a prison. And a traveller with no home to come back to is not a traveller but a refugee. The complexity of an affair is also a balancing act of understanding these inner human dichotomies.

Cheating is not the fault of the partner that's cheated on, nor is it necessarily a sign of something wrong in the marriage per se. People do cheat on partners they deeply love, have no problem with, and that they aren’t willing to lose. They also pay more attention to what they believe they’re missing out on, rather than be fully invested to what they actually have.

That being said, when you think of a cheating partner, you may picture a bar or a nightclub. But that’s actually not one of the top places people meet their affair partners. Instead, they usually begin in much more wholesome environments. Here are the most common, in no particular order:

At work

We spend most of our awake hours at work. We look fresh, dress nicely and are on our “good behaviour” since work is a contained environment. This is also the place the other partner won’t easily show up as they most likely have their own career, or are occupied with working at home. The shared creative energy, goals, and passion about projects — including mutual annoyance with the boss or co-worker — leaves people more receptive than usual to somebody’s interest or

admiration. And at this, we throw frequent business trips with the same person in the mix. One night stands while on the trip, can turn into full-blown affairs. 

At gym

You already have endorphins rushing and a lot of attention paid to your body at the gym. Furthermore, you are half-naked most of the time with your body shape on full-display. There’s a whole element of physical attraction, availability and accessibility. Gym is the easiest place to flirt without trying too much.

On social media

Social media is often a fake representation of the “top 5%” of life.  People usually do not post about their problem children, depression medication, porn addiction or overbearing mother. They post carefully selected pictures, while on a vacation or when their children are doing fun stuff in their sports uniforms. Social media represents a false or at least a misrepresented reality. In addition, people tend to reconnect with old flames via social media. It’s easy for them to reminisce about the “good old days,” when they were younger and not bogged down by so many responsibilities. And old flames and crushes can kick-start fantasies about “what if” lives. It doesn’t take much to take things to the next level.


Shared passion

Bonding over shared commitment to a common cause, and seeing a person being selfless can quickly stir up the ingredients for an affair. Any time you’re working towards a common cause or objective, you may start to feel a sort of energy that leaves you more vulnerable to this attraction. Wherever possible, we always encourage couples to join forces as partners in sharing this type of commitment.


At church

Church can create a false sense of intimacy between members, or between a leader and a member. People often open up about their emotional needs and marriage problems, looking for comfort, not realising that others may take advantage of that vulnerability or else develop feelings for that person. There’s a deep sense of attraction when two people open themselves up spiritually. Trust and intimacy become inevitable between two people that pray together, and are vulnerable in the process. In addition, a person that appears as spiritually wise can be quite attractive. Their sense of optimism, hope and clarity of direction and thought are all incredible sparks to the ingredients of romantic attraction.

All the above places don’t have to cease to exist just because they are the most common for affairs to take place. The issue is not with the place, but the person. A polygamist with five wives would still cheat on them if he chooses to do so. The issue is his unquenchable lust, inability to self-govern and manage his fleshly desires, as well as his lack of maturity to consciously commit to one person faithfully while remaining self-controlled. All the place does is to bring out what is already in him. Someone that has made a choice to be faithful to their partner can be at any place and will never cheat on them.



Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.