Why do people get the urge to have an affair outside their marriage?

The institution of marriage came into existence driven by the human urge to re-create, grow and survive and be secure. They begin the journey on a vehicle of love and give birth to offspring and mobilize resources to give the best possible upbringing. The commitment that comes from marriage gives women the much-needed sense of care, safety, security during pregnancy and post-birth. However, marriage is not just a physical union but union of ideas and emotions. All is well and everything looks perfect.

Then something happens someday and your bond of trust breaks, resulting in deep distress for both the partners. If not taken care properly, this might lead to divorce and break of your family.

We see several instances of a breach of trust and maneuverability beyond the married life. Why this urge for the extramarital affair? Simple analysis suggests that extramarital affairs have no direct correlation with socio-economic status and location. In most cases, it comes as shock and surprise as they remain under impression that everything was fine. Is it the inherent dynamism of love and emotion or something else?

So why do we engage in extramarital affairs? The journey you began on love vehicle actually is not an emotion but an outcome of the brain system. The love system in our brain is triangular in nature, one point triggers romantic love, the second sex drive and third attachment with a partner. So structurally, it is possible to remain attached with a partner through marriage and feel intense love for someone and sex drive with anyone else. So psychologically, it is possible to start the misadventure of affair but life is not just about going with the flow but control the flow.

Another school of thought suggests that when affair begins it is not normally the love with the person but love with the fantasy they create in their mind about the ideal partner.

Technically speaking, when you start an affair it is just for the fulfillment of the desire of external validation. We all love this validation in terms of suitability, desirability. So you are not in love with that person but the ulterior self you create of yourself. Any clue in anyone attracts you towards that person. It is not the person but the feeling that a person generates hooks you to that person. When it boils down to feeling, we all know that three chemicals namely dopamine, adrenaline; and serotonin controls your emotions which also include love.

Why Extramarital Affair So Widespread

Research may say that it is the structure of brain and chemicals that controls your need for love, passion, and emotions. But, the real-life situations create the imbalance that leads to an extramarital affair. Let us explore the possible reasons:

Late Realisation

One of the prime reasons noticed among affair cases is the late-age realization that they missed something exciting at an early age due to early marriage. This pushes or exposes them to explore the dynamism of emotional and validation needs.

Wrong Choice of Marriage

Although not a western phenomenon, but in many eastern cultures girls tend to go by parental wishes and marry an unknown person. Although most of the marriages go well, in some cases, the realization of unsuitability and resulting friction creates a deviation from the normal path. Added with an opportunity available in terms of validation, the extramarital relation materializes easily. Usually, it starts with simple friendship and understanding but in a short span of time, it takes the shape of physical relationship.

Cope with Changes

Consistent change is the fact of life. We manage to deal with regular ones of lower intensity but big challenges force us to seek external support. In a time of crisis, the source of socio-economic and emotional support makes a deep impression on self. It is very tempting to go with the flow and build some kind of relational with the source.


We all welcome arrival of a newborn, but this arrival brings changes in your lifestyle, priorities and most importantly the emotional bond. You have to cut private and intimate moments, and you compromise with your sexual needs. These changes make an impact on your personal relationship, opening the way to escape. This need for escape is one of the most potent reasons for extramarital affairs.

Emotional Divide

We all know the dynamism attached with the emotion, maybe due to mental chemistry. But what are the reasons that trigger this imbalance in chemical reactions? Is it lack of communication, lack of sharing of view and opinion? Whatever are the triggers, but it forces you to seek refuge somewhere else whether for the emotional need of validation or just to self gratify.

Core Compromised

We find it extremely difficult to accept the fact of situation-driven compromises with the core values. In real life, you make decisions which might not be liked by all and accordingly your partner starts visualizing changes in your erstwhile best. S/he might not like this change, if not communicated smartly the person is likely to shift towards those who validate his new changes. Here the seed of extramarital affair reached the ground to find nutrients.

Diverging Priorities

In the modern lifestyle, where we manage multiple personalities for roles we play at different setups, our priorities get mixed up giving birth to conflicting reactions. The married life starts with idealism and situational sacrifices, but as the relationship matures we start giving priorities to own aspiration values. Your priorities might not find coherence with your partner’s priorities, this divergence opens the path of an affair outside the relationship.

Lack of Excitement

Monotony is another facet of the real world. The institution of marriage came into existence for the need for fun, pleasure, and love. But in the long run, we get so accustomed to triggers that our emotional response system stops reacting at all. The search of new trigger leads one to an extramarital affair.

You can add as many reasons as you want, whether finance, career or anything else but core reason in dissatisfaction and resulting urge to seek validation of changes you adopted from someone else.

Steps to Recovering from an Extramarital Affair

It is globally accepted that affair makes a deep impact not just on both the partners but kids and family members. The affair, with its inherent shock value, emotionally devastates the victim and lower the self-esteem resulting in the life-long legacy of hurt, distrust, and anger. On the other hand, the offender grapples with shame and retributions from different sources.

Whatever we think, but affairs are a reality of life. Knowingly or unknowingly we all get driven by the urge, some manage to control and some fall in the line. Lets us learn how to face the heat of affair and change that in the warmness of post-affair married life.

Find the Cause

If we leave the extreme cases of sexual addiction, affairs are mostly a relational issue. The first official remedy is the knowledge of reasons so that you could work on those reasons and let the situation normalizes in quickest possible time.

Historical Connection

You may not like it, but the roots of affairs could be found in historical connections. The acceptance of this behaviour comes from conditional learning and you are tempted to unknowingly repeat it. So, it is good to know your past but learn the art of overcoming that urge to do practically.


Mistakes do happen, but we take responsibility for our mistakes and move forward. In the case of an affair, the chances of recovery are very strong if the offender comes forward and takes responsibility. It should be genuine; otherwise, the after-effect would be devastating beyond recovery.


Just like the offender, the victim should also break the ego barrier and come forward in accepting the responsibility for creating nurturing ground for the affair to materialize. As said, there are reasons to trigger chemical reactions; you could be a trigger factor. You must understand the intricacy of response mechanism, as make room for the other to come out of the emotional trap.


Communication is the key to a healthy relationship. The good relationship creates a space for venting reactions. Let each other express and react, this will open room for mature dialogue.


The ultimate remedy is the sense of empathy for the other. Visualizing the big picture of the painful experience of both is the key to find a solution. Be open and discuss the endurance and likely scenarios.

Reaction Control

Your feeling of betrayal and induced pain is genuine and expects the best possible treatment. But, if you want to find ways to save marriage then you have to keep ego aside and forget the power struggle.

Life is Great

Whatever be the challenges, the best possible to face it is with the remembrance of those beautiful moments. Your effort to save the relationship will gain strength from the beautiful memories you have with your partner.

The best way to enjoy life is to accept the realities of life. Affair is also a reality, although of unfortunate nature. You know the fundamentals of the affair; it is not you but your partner’s need for notice and value that triggered this transgression. However, you have to accept that you are also part of the triggers like neglect, isolation, prioritization, validation or anything else.

Affair in mind, take a step back, think about impact and act accordingly. Life is beautiful, visualize it with your partner.