I'll be under the assumption that those who have had affairs that weren't just ONS started out as "friends" of the OP. What then, was the seemingly innocent notion that nailed the coffin in your grave?
For me, it was simple. AP#2 was a co-worker. It started around Christmas time in 2011. My co-worker had always been the distant type; he was the kind of guy that just wanted to punch in, deal with bullshit customers all day, and go home.
During that time, his father had shot himself (gun went off; non-fatal) and he was having a hard time. I figure since he was going to have such a crappy Christmas that year, I'd splurge on a cheer-up Christmas present.
...Thus was the major mistake that started rolling the snowball down the hill. The present was around $30, and wasn't something cliche like bath soap. There was also the fact that I didn't get any of my other coworkers a present.
This obviously sent the wrong kind of message. And then, well, he had to get me something too! And then it was the point where the boundaries crossed from "nice thing" to something heinous.
I of course still blame myself. I could have stopped him at any time. I could have just said "No thank you" to his advances and left it at that.
So my harsh lesson to be learned is to not get close to co-workers. Period. If I'm to get any gifts, it'd be only during something like Secret Santa, so everyone gets something of equal value.
I look back and wonder what would have might been if I just never got that gift. If instead, I just bought everyone a card and left it at that. I just view this as the main fatal flaw that ruined it all.
As hypocritical as it sounds, I feel like I can't trust anyone. I keep my distance from co-workers, even female ones. It's gotten to the point where I don't go out anywhere without BBF. I don't know if its because I don't trust them or if I don't trust myself. Maybe both.
I'm just curious to know what was that one "mistake" you made that you never thought would lead to an affair?
My mistake was searching for him on fb and sending him a friend request.
For me, in the cases of my As (1 EA and 2 PAs, with a bunch of other inappropriate behaviors mixed in there), I know now exactly when that happened. I know I was sending out signals all along, because in my head at the time it felt exciting and I didn't think it was wrong, and I certainly never thought I'd cheat. Looking back after having done the work, it is so obvious.
So, continue to work on your boundaries. Once they're firm and you're comfortable in them, the rest kind of takes care of itself. I feel like it's not so much a matter of what's going on with others, people are going to be people. If you're working on the internal and know that there's a certain way you are behaving and what you will and won't tolerate from people it's simple.
Here's an example that just came to mind: I started a job about two years ago. There's a vendor who comes into the store, a guy who thinks he's funny, makes sarcastic jokes, teases the women who work there every time he comes in. The guy who thinks he is so clever and witty. I barely looked his way because I know his type and I just wasn't dealing with that. So one day my supervisor comes up to me and says, 'C says you're snotty'. I just laughed to myself and thought, 'Oh, because I'm not fawning over him and laughing at his jokes I'm snotty?' But I just said to her, 'Oh, well'. That could have gone so many different ways but to me it was a non-issue because I was exercising my boundaries and I just didn't care.
The summer before I married my XH, the AP, my ex, texted me to ask a work question (something along the lines of "where is XYZ location and how do I get there?"). We had had very little communication since we had broken up. Since this was years ago, I don't remember exactly how it happened, but one thing led to another and we began to flirt and banter via text. Nothing explicit, but we made it clear to each other that there was still something "there." I do remember clearly the most inappropriate of the string of texts being that we each acknowledged the other was "unforgettable."
At this point I was very naive about adultery, emotional affairs, slippery slopes, etc. At that point I honestly didn't think I was doing anything wrong. It was harmless. It was "just talk." I wasn't doing anything. All the lies we tell ourselves at the top of the slope.
So my XH, then-fiance at the time, found the texts and freaked out. A huge blow-up ensued whereby I kicked out a mirror that was leaning against the wall and the downstairs neighbors called the cops. Classy. This was like 2 weeks before our wedding. I ended up apologizing and saying it would never happen again, but never sought any help or outside resources for dealing with my behavior. I chalked it up to XH/then-fiance being jealous of my ex and rugswept it. He rugswept it too, we got married, blah blah blah.
But! Believe it or not, I still kept his f-ing number in my phone. I am a smart lady, I promise I am. But in relationships, with boundaries, I was clueless.
Two years pass. My then-husband and our circle of friends took a special excursion to a very special, wonderful place (a place that is now ruined for all time for XH and I, unfortunately). Being vague due to this story being very personally identifying to anyone who knows us: we had an encounter with something that reminded me of my ex-boyfriend, the guy from the texting, the soon-to-be AP. That afternoon, on our way home, I texted him about it. I sent a text that at that time I perceived to be innocent but in retrospect was horribly inappropriate. He replied in a way that indicated he missed me and wished it was him (in the situation).
I assumed he was drunk (it was a Saturday evening and he referenced his BFF being there egging him on to send that text) so I shrugged it off. But then he said some more stuff. I ate it up. I felt special, validated, powerful, important. After all, this guy had dumped me 4 years prior, breaking my heart. Now he was realizing the error of his ways! Now he was saying he'd been wrong! Now he was coming crawling back! OMG, I was so messed up.
So we started an affair that lasted 5 1/2 months because I was too weak to hold true to my wedding vows and too scared to leave my then-H. And that's how it happened. (Leaving out, obviously, the whys and hows, because this post is already a novel.)
Divorced from (2010) and remarried to (2014) XBH
It doesn't help that my love language is gift giving. I probably sent double the wrong message there.
Sucked me in like the fool I was.
Now of course I know it was all BS which makes me feel like an even bigger fool. But I am still happily married to a wonderful man and xap will probably die old and alone because he burned too many bridges with his kids and family.
D day - July 2011 after a 4 year relationship with OM
Reconciled and renewed our vows on our 22 Anniversary in June 2012
After that, if there was something else, it would have been responding to an email from the AP in which she spilled her guts about our breakup 20 years prior. To bad I got sucked into that. She was a liar, probably still is, and I was primed and ready to have my ego stroked on top of tending to be a KISA and wanting everyone to like me. It all finally hit at the same time.
So one day my supervisor comes up to me and says, 'C says you're snotty'. I just laughed to myself and thought, 'Oh, because I'm not fawning over him and laughing at his jokes I'm snotty?' But I just said to her, 'Oh, well'. That could have gone so many different ways but to me it was a non-issue because I was exercising my boundaries and I just didn't care.
BS here, but I wanted to chime in because I think this ^^^ happens ALL THE TIME. Or doesn't happen, actually. I have known so many women that accept people trampling all over their boundaries simply because they're afraid of "looking like a bitch". Everything from giving a guy they didn't like their phone number because he wouldn't stop asking, to not "wanting to get someone in trouble" by reporting rude or sexual comments.
ETA: I want to add that it happens to men, too, but it's of a different variety. Men who demonstrate pushback against flirty or sexual behaviors are somehow seen as less masculine when they enforce their boundaries, even by other men.
[This message edited by FacePunched at 10:40 AM, November 25th (Monday)]
I'll be under the assumption that those who have had affairs that weren't just ONS started out as "friends" of the OP.
Well, no, there are another means. Some of us went shopping for As on AshleyMadison or other such sites. Talk of mistakes, rolling snowballs, innocent notions and sad coworkers obscures the fact that you, all of us, made a deliberate choice.
So my harsh lesson to be learned is to not get close to co-workers. I look back and wonder what would have might been if I just never got that gift. I just view this as the main fatal flaw that ruined it all.
I could not disagree more, and strongly recommend that you quit looking for external reasons or forces, and find a mirror. The fatal flaw is within you.
I still made the deliberate choice to cheat, however, for my case, I wasn't window shopping for affair partners. The lack of realizing a safe boundary for co-workers did me in.
So the lesson here is to learn to remain well within my boundary so this does not occur again. Could I buy someone a nice pricey present and it be nothing but platonic? Sure, I could. But right now, I wouldn't even trust myself or a co-worker to do such a thing.
It's kind of like how if, say, my affairs started out by just innocently texting a co-worker, if you were my BS, would you trust me to just give out my number to another co-worker? There's a possibility that it'd mean nothing more than friendly banter or work-related business, but there's a chance it could not.
So, the "lesson" to not buy gifts for co-workers is partially due to the fact I can't trust myself. Once I get to the point of being able to clearly identify boundaries and know the exact moment I'm coming close to crossing them, then maybe. But for now, this is a restriction I'm placing on myself for myself and for my relationship.
There was an article on Huffington Post recently that said that 60% of people who had affairs said that they would not have done so if it weren't for texting and e-mail.
Those things sure makes it easier to have an affair. My wife used texting to cheat right in front of me, many times. Instant communication makes it easier to do a lot of things. But it's an ancient problem (read Proverbs for evidence that wayward wives were on the prowl about 3,000 years ago) that doesn't require technology - just a willing man and a willing woman.
....and then being subtly manipulated for almost two decades....allowing myself to be...
[This message edited by looking forward at 8:44 PM, November 25th (Monday)]
So the lesson here is to learn to remain well within my boundary so this does not occur again.
You're a bright young woman. This statement is getting much closer. What I'm hearing you say, is that you had poor boundaries and you easily slipped down the slope from "caring coworker" to "FWB." My suggestion is that you look into why you slipped so easily. Pardon the awful pun, but what hole were you filling? Having an A is a form of self-medicating, for many of us. What is your illness? That is the question you need to answer. In other words, as a wise SI member used to say, "fix your shit." Because if you don't, I'm afraid when you're 35 and you have a husband, demanding career, and two little kids...you may find yourself right back here.
One thing, which I'm going to tackle with my IC first, is that I lack assertiveness. On a scale of 1 to 10, I may hit a 4 if I really try. And it ends up as a "I don't know if I'm comfortable with that" instead of out right refusing.
Another is this sense of pity for people? It could tie in to external validation. Oh, how sad! This poor man has had a poor life, no friends, and is so lonely! I should be his friend!
I noticed I did this with strangers. Once I went to Wal-Mart at 4 in the morning (I was working 3rd shift so this was normal.). A guy in his 40's who barely spoke a lick of English approached me for my number. Normally the thought of a man 20 years older than me approaching me is sickening, but it seemed my logic took a nap. I didn't want to give this guy my number, obviously. But then I started having intrusive thoughts. "Aw, the poor guy probably doesn't know anyone. It must be so hard to make them when you can't speak their language. If you walk away, he'll think you're an asshole. You wouldn't want that, would you?" So, after an awkward 10 minutes, I told him I "didn't have a phone". Don't think he bought it, but hey, at least I didn't just say NO to the guy! (Sarcasm)
So in a way, I'd say it's a need to be validated by others since I never really was growing up. "PNR is so nice! Look at this nice present she got me!" But there's also feeling pity for the wrong kind of people. In my mind, I think of how I once was. Extremely lonely and friendless.
It's why I really, really say the gift was a mistake. It was a nice thing, but I'm afraid it was just so I could look like the good guy, reaching out for someone who was down on their luck. If instead, I got everyone a small gift or card, then the A probably wouldn't have happened, at the cost of me not being validated.
Ironically, a majority of communication with BW over the past two years has been through texts as well, because she doesn't want to talk to me. Unfortunately, I personally feel that texting loses the same human element in this regard, too. I really wish we didn't do so much texting, but it's what she wants...
But do I think copious amounts of alcohol is what lead me to have a year long affair? No. Not at all. This is all so much deeper in my opinion than 'boundaries'. This is sort of a 'what came first, the chicken or the egg?' kind of question.
[This message edited by helpemegetoverit at 10:39 PM, November 27th (Wednesday)]
"You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world...but you do have some say in who hurts you."