Distraction Affairs – The Exclusive Overview on a Bad Escape Attempt

Life can be highly difficult and lonely at times, even within a good relationship. Overwhelming stressors – layoffs at work, terminal illness of a spouse or family member, the loss of a loved one or the need to make an important, potentially life-changing decision – can all seem too much to deal with.

When someone has a hard time coping with these deathly sobering issues, they can become vulnerable to engaging in an affair. These are known as distraction affairs, as the person is not actively seeking to deliberately cheat on their spouse or destroy a good relationship. More or less, the affair serves as a distraction, an outlet for pent up frustration, feelings of loneliness, grief or hopelessness.

Distraction affairs also serve to show an individual that they may have been anxious over involuntary changes that coming into their lives. Large changes in our lives which require more energy from us can seem exhausting, especially when they’re not by choice. A distracted cheater might understand this effort is mandatory, yet still shy away from stepping up to the necessary challenge. Instead, his energy is directed elsewhere until he either feels ready or is forced to make that change.

Distraction affairs can appear helpful to the parties involved at first, but they only waste time and energy. A distraction affair delays the inevitable action the distracted cheater must take, whether it’s to make an important final decision on a large purchase, the need to prepare for possible funeral arrangements, or investing in resources to tackle a hefty project at work that is largely understaffed.

How to Handle a Distraction Affair

Distracting yourself from life’s problems is only a temporary plug that eventually wears off. Instead of expending time and energy into your affair, you’re better off taking a deep breath and tackling the problem. Begin outlining a defined plan of action to resolve the conflict which stresses you out. If you fear the problem is too large to handle, remember the popular adage which states: “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”

Is This a Distraction Affair?

If you can answer yes to at least two of these questions, then there’s a strong chance this was (or currently is) a distraction affair.

Are/Were you miserable about life or a pending life event at the time your affair started?

Are/Were you dejected about your relationship in any way?

Did/Do you feel “stuck in-between” two different tides in life?

Do/Did you feel indecisive or ambivalent towards how to handle feeling trapped?

Why Do Men Use Affairs As an Escape?

I was recently asked this question by a wife whose husband had told her that he’d had an affair as an “escape mechanism” for the stress that was in his life at the time. He had recently lost his father, was worried about his job, had a health scare, and was generally just struggling with his life at the time. The wife didn’t buy any of this. Lots of people wanted an “escape” from every day life, but not every one chooses to cheat. And, if the husband was in fact struggling, he had a wife who would’ve been more than willing to help him through this.

This is a very valid point that few people would disagree with. Unfortunately, the husband’s approaching an affair can’t always see these same points, especially at the time. In the following article, I’ll attempt to take you through the thought process of a husband using an affair as an escape. I do occasionally dialog with men in this situation as the result of my blog. Believe me when I say that I’m not defending these husbands. As a wife who has been cheated on, I would never do that. But, from first hand experience, I believe that following the thought process can sometimes help with the healing.

With that said, it can be very hard for those of us who would never, ever, be unfaithful to identify with this thinking. Infidelity is just a path that we would like to believe that we would never take. So it can be hard for us to wrap our brains around this. But I believe that having as much insight as possible is generally an advantage that we shouldn’t pass up.

Affairs As An Escape Mechanism: First of all, it’s slightly easier to buy this “escape” theory, when the affair or cheating has only happened once. But, if you’re being given this excuse by a repeat offender, it becomes more difficult to really buy into this. Maybe he was blindsided once, but if it keeps happening, then rehabilitation and healing is probably not taking place, and, in retrospect, one would like to think that he would learn to know better.

Nevertheless, sometimes I do have men who tell me that they didn’t see this coming but that they learned their lessen and they never want to feel that vulnerable and helpless again. I can tell you that the vast majority of men tell me that they never set out to cheat or have an affair. It was not part of their plan. They never intended it. But usually they will tell me that this occurred in a very bad time in their life. It’s much less common to hear of a man who had an affair when things were going absolutely wonderfully in his own life.

Many in bad situations are facing their own mortality after an illness or the loss of someone close to them. They know that they are aging. They might be worried about their job or being able to provide for their family. They may feel insignificant, incompetent, or not worthy or strong. In short, for some reason, they feel quite vulnerable and they very much do not like this.

Wives will very often ask me why in the world their husband would not reach out to them during this vulnerable period. This is truly perplexing and maddening, but my theory on this has always been (and many men have confirmed this for me) that they don’t want to admit this vulnerability to themselves, much less to you, who they already suspect sees them as “less than” something that they themselves really want to be.

Usually, what men tell me is that the opportunity for the affair presented itself to them. Most deny vigorously that they went looking for it and will maintain that they never had any intention of cheating on their wife. Most will tell you that this took them completely by surprise. And, many will continue on in this same way to insist that they never intended for this to be a long term thing. They counted on the fact that no one would find out, they hoped that they could feel some relief, regain their confidence and their strength, and then move on quickly and be able to cope again without anyone needing to know.

What they often don’t count on is the guilt or confusion that only adds to their problems and will begin to make their wife suspicious or at least more attentive to their struggles. And this is typically when they realize that they’ve created more problems than they have solved. Of course, unfortunately, it is now too late.

These things don’t excuse their cheating and I don’t mean to imply this. But, I do think that it can help to understand their “escapism” thought process because it is often quite real in their own mind, although it typically doesn’t make as much sense to us.