By Claire for DivorcedMoms.com
Once it became known amongst my family and a few close friends that I was divorcing my husband and in love with another man, the most common question I received was whether or not it was an emotional or physical affair. I have wondered a lot to myself about the differences and the need for people to know what boundaries had been crossed. I have also observed that most people are adamant in their feelings of which one is worse. I thought it strange that it would matter what kind of affair I was having.
At the end of the day, my decision to seek happiness outside my marriage was one that had little to do with any kind of reasoning. It was not a rational decision, and yet people want so badly to make a very selfish, irrational choice something that has to make sense.
My affair began as an emotional affair but it did not take long for it to become physical. The attraction between me and 40 (as he will be known) is undeniable. I think we both fought it off and hoped maybe just being friendly and not crossing any physical lines would mean we weren't really doing anything wrong. However, in my heart and in my mind I knew I was in love with someone who was not my husband. It was an emotional affair that led to a physical affair with the emotions still in tow.
I'm sure if you were to ask my ex, the emotional affair is what hurt the most. I honestly think it is easier to overcome something that is purely physical. In the case of our marriage, we were not trying to mend things. He had his own set of bad acts and my affair just made it abundantly clear that we did not need to be together. However, I have known couples who survived both emotional and physical affairs so I am not saying it is not possible. It would just stand to reason that if there is no real bond between two people other than a physical attraction it would be much easier to walk away.
The emotions I felt for 40 were unlike the emotions I had ever felt for any other man. It was the early days of flirting and talking that I look back on now and realize told me everything I needed to know about what was going to happen. The emotional affair began for me without any realization that it could be as life changing as it was. I always say I do not condone our actions, but I also do not regret falling in love.
The physical affair began after many conversations about what we wanted out of our relationship. We naively thought we could give it a shot, see what happens, then walk away. In those days we thought maybe just taking things to that level would make it not as appealing anymore. We were lying to ourselves obviously. It was our way of excusing our actions. It only took one time. We were hooked. The physical only reaffirmed what my emotions had been telling me. This man was different.
I know that stories of affairs are meant to end with turmoil and sadness and lives destroyed. While my affair led to me finally calling it quits in a marriage that had long been over, it is definitely not the reason we fell apart. An affair is always a symptom of bigger problems. I have stood by not making excuses for my actions, but oddly enough it was the affair that set both me and my ex free. There was no huge drama. There were no trashy fights between him and 40. I think he knew he wanted out just as badly as I did.
It would not have mattered in my marriage if it had been an emotional or a physical affair. I had shut myself off from my relationship because there was no fixing the years of damage that had been done. You cannot be the only one wanting to mend a marriage, and for eight years I had been the only one who cared. We just didn't know when to say when.
It is impossible to know what life will bring you, and I did not foresee falling in love with another man, but I will always be thankful for the love he has shown me and the awakening he inspired in me.