If you have a cheatin’ heart but don’t want to act on it, here’s how to stop an affair before it starts.
Do you fantasize about secret hook-ups and flings? Are you disappointed by the emotional distance between you and your long-term partner? “Boredisappointment” is a word I’ve invented (just now, actually!) to describe those afflictions of relationship boredom — with a garnish of dashed hopes and dreams.
If you find this feeling all-too-familiar, say it with me: “I suffer from boredisappointment.”
Note that we didn’t say, “they gave me boredisappointment.” The key phrase here is “I suffer.” What you don’t want to do here (take it from me) is to blame your partner for all of it. Sure, they may have had the cold first and then passed the germs on to you. Or they’re just so damn noisy that now you’ve got a bad headache. Or maybe your partner was boredisappointed long before the thought entered your mind.
Whatever the reason, these are your feelings and they should be dealt with. Thankfully, and just as with any headache, cold, or food poisoning bout, there are things you can do (yourself) for relief.
The first step to overcoming infidelity is admitting you’re tempted to cheat. After that comes the fun part!
“What?” you ask. “What fun part? I’m about to destroy my ten-year marriage with the pretzel guy from Costco!”
Hold on now, Brenda. Put down the cheese dip and zip up your fly. You can learn how to stop an affair from happening by leaning into the feelings of cheating without actually doing it. Let’s take a look at four options that can do just that.
1. Cheat on your partner… by having a “naughty” sleepover with your platonic best friend.
Throw a “self-care” night with your closest platonic (emphasis on platonic) best friend, and soak up the sinfulness of it all. Junk food, face masks, roses and candles, confessions, whatever — do what you wish someone else would do for you.
Your romantic partner can’t meet every need in your life. This is why friendships exist. It’s unnecessarily painful to depend on one person for every aspect of your emotional well-being — not to mention unrealistic. But there are ways to get your emotional needs met without ruining your partner’s life. Gush over the grocery boy with your bestie and there’s no harm done. Letting the grocery boy gush on you, well… that’s what’s we’d like to avoid.
Pro tip: TELL YOUR FRIEND ABOUT YOUR URGE TO CHEAT. This (1) makes you accountable to someone outside of your partnership, (2) presents a great opportunity for advice from someone you trust, and/or (3) validates and affirms your boredisappointment without getting an STD.
2. Cheat on your spouse… with a project.
Why is it that when people cheat, they can always find time to do so — but when it’s a painting or building a zen garden, there are a million things more important?
In an interview for The Rumpus, Elizabeth Gilbert recommends approaching your creative project like it’s a secret lover. “Go have an affair with your book…just get some sexy lavender underwear from the girl in Coyote Ugly and go have a fling with your book.”
If there’s a story you’ve always wanted to write, paint, crochet, or sculpt, find secret times to do so. And if you’re feeling frisky, you’re in luck: from boudoir photography to romance novels to sexy dance classes and more, there’s a whole world of titillating activities for you.
Pro tip: To satisfy your urge for sensual risk, why not pose nude for an art class — or take an art class and draw somebody else? Often, the rush of seeing and/or being seen is enough to satisfy the urge to cheat — or (even better) get over it completely.
3. Cheat on your spouse… by pursuing a real adrenaline rush.
Try something dangerous; I dare you. Go skydiving or bungee jumping (with a reputable guide, of course). Go ride a horse and fall off. Do that thing in Vegas where you rent a racecar and pretend to be Ricky Bobby. Experts say that spontaneous excitement boosts your dopamine levels, which can satisfy the pleasurable rush you’ve been craving.
Now I’m not a psychic, but I have a feeling that tropical cliff-diving is a lot more worthwhile than fondling some guy you met at a fundraiser. Unless he’s Tom Hardy, he ain’t that cute.
Pro tip: Take your partner with you! You might be surprised with this one. There’s a certain kind of closeness that comes from defying death with a lover. Please don’t risk your life on my account, but… jump out of a plane. See what happens.
4. Actually cheat on your partner…but do it with your partner.
Maybe both of you are boredisappointed, who knows? Perhaps they’re even more boredisappointed than you are, but haven’t discovered LOVE TV yet. Lucky for them, they have you. Cha-ching!
Instead of thinking about how to stop an affair, think of how you would start one — and then get your partner involved. Surprise them with a naughty email from a private account, or arrange a ‘secret’ tryst with them. Have them meet you on his or her break at work, or after hours at a surprise location. You can go all ‘role-play’ if you want, but trust me — sometimes, doing something that feels forbidden and secretive is the best way to feel like your true self.
Pro tip: Sexting isn’t just for single Millennials. Worst sext-case scenario, you can just send each other sexy spoofs and laugh about it. At least then you’ll both be smiling.
To have a good relationship, you need to take care of yourself.
You can stop an affair before it begins by acknowledging that your needs for novelty, excitement, play, emotional satisfaction, or pleasure aren’t being met – and then finding alternate ways of providing these needs for yourself. By all means, include your partner in as much or as little of this as you’d like, but this is on you. There are healthy ways to do this without ruining your life.
What are some other ways you can think of to overcome infidelity urges? Share your stories in the comments below! And for more reading on ethical cheating options, check out this perspective on polyamory or this one on nonmonogamy. (Yep, they’re different!)