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  • Too often affairs are seen as the outcome of random horniness or just plain old nastiness.

  • But that's very rarely the case.

  • When it comes to affairs,

  • we spent far too long being incensed or secretive,

  • and far too little time trying to understand.

  • In truth, affairs stem from a very fiddly aspect of our romantic psychology.

  • In relationships with a partner,

  • all of us need carefully calibrated mixtures of two different ingredients:

  • we have a need for closeness and a need for distance.

  • We want to impart closeness

  • to feel we can hug, touch, be cozy, intimate, and entirely relaxing at home with someone.

  • We want them to know our thoughts and to wander freely in their minds too.

  • But we also need distance enough not to feel cloyingly submerged, subsumed, or owned by another.

  • We want to retain a sense of freedom.

  • We need a private room to which we alone have the key.

  • Any imbalances towards over closeness or over distance may prove catastrophic if left unaddressed.

  • In a relationship which threatens to lean perilously towards over-closeness,

  • we can be driven to strain by powerful urge to prove to ourselves

  • that not everything we do and are is owned by the partner

  • that we remain desirable to the world and a going concern in and of ourselves.

  • Going to bed with a new person might not simply be about lust,

  • It's about escaping the alarming feeling

  • once all identity appears to be on the verge of dissolving into the couple.

  • But too much distance can undermine fidelity no less powerfully.

  • The distance reads like constant rejection.

  • When we try to touch the partner, they move away or sigh.

  • When we bring up something personal, they change the subject.

  • We may end up having an affair, not because we don't love the partner anymore,

  • but precisely because we do,

  • and yet the distance they appear to be imposing on us through that lack of engagement

  • feels unendurable and humiliating.

  • it's the final irony that if caught will be accused of not caring when it was caring too much

  • might have inspired the whole mistaken escapade.

  • Tragically, two people almost never enter a relationship with the same needs for distance or closeness.

  • That's why in every couple, we hear the accusation that one person is too clingy and another is too cold.

  • These are unhelpfully vicious words for what are at heart just two different ways of feeling comfortable in love.

  • It's, therefore, an early imperative in any relationship

  • to work out what the relatively needs for distance and closeness actually are

  • to avoid disjuncture, not to get angry about it

  • and mutually with good humor, to apologize for once distinctive contribution to it.

  • Only thus can we hope to ensure that the gap won't lead in an online chat, at a bar or at a conference

  • to a situation where only an affair feels like a plausible solution to the vexing problems of distance or closeness

Too often affairs are seen as the outcome of random horniness or just plain old nastiness.

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B1 US closeness distance partner caring affair owned

Why People Have Affairs

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    Jerry posted on 2016/07/07
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