General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

[Potentially NSFW] What do you consider an affair (in the sense of interpersonal relationships)?

Asked by elbanditoroso (30932points) 3 weeks ago
20 responses
“Great Question” (3points)

I was discussing this with someone at dinner on Tuesday.

What do you consider an affair? What qualifies?

- one time hook-up? With a random person or someone you know?

- multiple meets over time, meaning longevity and consistency?

- Do affairs need to include a physical element (i.e. sex), or can they be verbal or mental without anything sexual happening?

- Can LTRs be considered affairs? What about cybersex and internet-hosted relationships?

- Do affairs imply the involvement of emotions and love, or can they be physical only?

- Is a FWB situation an affair?

- Does there have to be a third party (the unknowing husband or wife) for a relationship to be considered an affair?

Etc…

Observing members: 0
Composing members: 0

Answers

snowberry's avatar

All of those activities you mentioned describe infidelity. The definition of “an affair” seems to be open to interpretation.

“Infidelity is the breaking of a promise to remain faithful to a romantic partner, whether that promise was a part of marriage vows, a privately uttered agreement between lovers, or an unspoken assumption. As unthinkable as the notion of breaking such promises may be at the time they are made, infidelity is common, and when it happens, it raises thorny questions: Should you stay? Can trust be rebuilt? Or is there no choice but to pack up and move on?”

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/infidelity

janbb's avatar

A relationship with an outside person that violates the boundaries that a committed pair have established for themselves.

jca2's avatar

When I think of it, I think of a protracted relationship which usually includes sex, while at least one of the participants is married. I don’t think of it as a one night stand or one or two hookups. This is my personal opinion and I realize it might not be a true and accurate description. It’s just what I think of when someone mentions “affair.” I don’t think of it as someone meeting up in a bar or other one night stand type of thing. Not going to argue, it’s just my opinion.

zenvelo's avatar

I am with @jca2 – “affair” implies longevity of the relationship and alos implies at least one person is stepping out on a significant other.

JLoon's avatar

A Naughty/Sexy/Fun/Words question? How interesting! ;p

From my own experience, I think the language we use when we talk about this thing is often vague because a lot of people aren’t really sure about what they’re doing. As a single bi-female open to sex with men and women I deal with a mix of sometimes confusing feelings – including my own. And for me checking the dictionary hasn’t helped.

What makes sense in my own life is that any relationship that involves sex can be be called an “affair”, regardless of how casual or committed it might be – But it’s a different thing when someone in a marriage starts having sex with outside partners and hides it from their spouse. You can call that infidelity, adultery, or just plain cheating – but it’s the same dishonest behaviour and it usually does harm to everyone involved. On a few occaisions I’ve been unkowingly involved in that situation. They didn’t ask me if I wanted to have an “affair” or committ “adultery”. We talked about how we felt and what we wanted, and sometimes nothing was said at all. Later, terms like “shame” and “regret” fit the experience better than anything.

Hookups, straycations, tinmaning, nightmoves… When it comes to attraction, passion, desire, lust, or obsession the feelings often outrun the thoughts and the words come much later.

Forever_Free's avatar

Age old question that so many people interpret so differently. It doesn’t only involve sexual actions.
Many interpret very differently when they are trying to justify their own actions. (“I did not have sexual relations with THAT woman”)

I look at it this way. Any action you take with someone else outside your relationship in a physical, emotional, or even conversational area that is behind the back of your significant other starts to enter into an area that is not acceptable behavior. You can can a physical encounter or an emotional encounter with someone else that is an affair in my opinion if you are doing this knowingly not able to tell your significant other. Going out for drinks, talking for hours on the phone with someone, flirtatious action at work or out of the home, and not being transparent starts the ball rolling in a direction of not focusing on your relationship.

Sharing very personal conversations (unless it is a therapist) can start you down that slippery slope. Example: you start by sharing or venting something very personal in your current relationship with someone else. A conversation ensues. Support and more details are shared. You start to feel a deeper desire to share these details or other things with this outside person. Maybe it is a work colleague, or a gym friend. What would your significant other think of sharing these intimate details with an outsider? Would they approve?

If you can’t share it will your significant other, then it is deceitful. If you even wonder or question your own actions, then steer clear.

JLoon's avatar

@Forever_Free – I think I see your point… in a way. Trust matters in any close relationship. But does defining “fidelity” so strictly just plant landmines, and create more stress for people who want some ordinary freedom in their lives?

Will every private feeling shared with someone in a non-sexual connection be a betrayal? Do limits like that undermine trust? Where does harmless flirting fit in? And what about the different kinds of love we all feel and understand?

Can we just be friends? Or do I have to worry about your partner stabbing me & suing my ass? ;)

jca2's avatar

I think having ongoing texting of an intimate nature or phone calls of an intimate nature or emails other communication of an intimate nature is inappropriate but I wouldn’t classify it as an affair.

canidmajor's avatar

@elbanditoroso, are you wondering if your relationship with that cute brunette is crossing a line? :-)

elbanditoroso's avatar

@canidmajor I should be so lucky!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ask yourself what your S/O could do that you would consider an affair? Would you be OK with a one time sexual hook up with a stranger she or he will never see again on your S/Os part?

zenvelo's avatar

I know people who have had emotional affaris with no sex involved.

A man and a woman who met in AA, both married, but they meet nighlty at meetings, and then they spend time together before and after, always sit together, and then go to dinner together a few times a week. But no sex. Yet they each probably spend more time talking to their emotional partner than they do with their spouse.

JLoon's avatar

@zenvelo – I’m sure what you’re describing goes on all the time. And for reasons I shared above, I don’t think it’s any kind of betrayal or an “affair” in that sense. In fact it’s exactly the kind of sponsorship or “buddy system” that allows someone fighting substance abuse to find support.

It’s a close and positive relationship that connects people as friends, helping each other toward a common goal. And if we say that’s out of bounds for ourselves or anyone else – I don’t understand how we can ever get to a healthy balance in
life.

zenvelo's avatar

@JLoon Yet despite your opinion, I would consider it much more of “an affair” than a one time hop in the sack. Emotional affairs distract the parties from the ongoing relationship with their primary partners.

JLoon's avatar

@zenvelo – So we disagree.

Do you ever talk about your boundaries with people who aren’t your “primary partner”? Do you resent them if they have other friends?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I would say the problem could come in if the person tries to keep friends hidden from their S/O.

JLoon's avatar

@Dutchess_III – Exactly!

Forever_Free's avatar

@JLoon I am not sure if following a rule of open conversation is planting landmines.

I do understand your point about freedom in your own life and not needing to be enmeshed in everything. However, if there is nothing to hide, then everything should be all well.

I don’t think that every private conversation shared is a betrayal or a landmine. I think we have all been in a situation where you confide something to a friend and they unknowingly tell someone else and it gets back around to light in an innocuous conversation. That can raise some feathers. If you are living honestly, it can be openly discussed without fear of it blowing up because you truly have nothing to hide. It is a red flag If you are ashamed of your own actions or if someone is trying to control your every thought or action. Attachment styles between couples has a big play in this.
I am not sure if being open is limiting at all. IMHO, being open and vulnerable allows you to get to a deeper level of that relationship. I view it as sharing with the person that means the most in your life besides yourself.
I think my main point is that knowingly hiding something, returning to it for more, and spending energy away from your main relationship is where it goes south.
Flirting happens. One person being friendly and flirty may cause a prickly spot with their SO. Yes, someone flirting with you and you flirting back can feel great. But it should end there. If you start to create a fantasy from it and go back looking for more is a completely different thing.

I agree there are so many levels and types of love. Yes, we can be friends with anyone we want in our lives. Yes, people get jealous at times of those friends. It may just be their insecurity and nothing to really worry about.
The main point does flow back to openness, being honest with yourself, which fosters trust.

JLoon's avatar

@Forever_Free – Thanks for the follow up.

I feel what this question really points to is the different choices we all make when we try to balance our desire for personal freedom with the need to share ourselves with others.

We all know that’s not easy to do, and I think I understand your own thoughts better.

Forever_Free's avatar

@JLoon Thanks for looping back. It is a tough balance at times indeed. Yet it is worth the work.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

Mobile | Desktop


Send Feedback   

`