In addition to numerous other meanings attributed to the word "affair" over the years, it has dabbled in another meaning for which it is now most often identified. Unlike these types of affairs, this meaning is something the word "affair" has stuck with.

To step out
To seek absolution of desire, understanding or love
Outside of a commitment that in the light of the moment
No longer offers what the party having the affair
Wants or needs in the present tense.

Gotta get you into my life
Pretty baby
Gotta get you into my life
Handsome stranger

There once was a darker period of my life where I specialized in being the party available for married women who wanted what they generally considered a "vacation." It was an amusement to me that in my general evilness I took full advantage of. Why an affair? Why consider it a vacation? Why not love the one you're with.

Marriages and committed relationships require patience, perserverence and a positive attitude. They also tend to require constant attention and a bit of work to keep the garden that was once planted in bloom. The whirlwind of romance ignores things like bills, stress, career dissatisfaction, health issues, family, children and the proper place for socks after a long day working on the chain gang. The whirlwind of romance is all about the ideals of love, sex, breathing each other's air and impatiently waiting for the next love note or phone call. At some point the train changes tracks and picks up a head of steam. There are more things on the shared plate than either party wants to eat.

So, you think you want to have an affair?
There must be pluses and minuses
There must be congestion in my sinuses
Or: Why am I considering violating the sanctity of the one I once promised to love over and above all things?

Okay, so not everyone enters into a committed relationship with promises of eternal devotion. I've only done that once and it still haunts me because I am incapable of violating my promises. Beyond that, there is the point that almost everyone reaches where they are at least tempted to step outside the boundaries of their commitment to love, honor and cherish one particular being in the hopes of filling in the blanks with another particular being. With any luck, this is a human being and not a tropical fish from a neighbor's aquarium. If this is the case, I suggest you call a random 1-800 number and tell them about it. The rest of this write-up will not be of help to you.

The stereotype says that most men have affairs because of a need for sex caused by a lack of sex with their partner. It also says that most women have affairs because they do not feel appreciated or understood and feel the romance has gone out of their lives. These stereotypes may hit close to home, but most often they hit outside of the home.

The main causes of affairs are lack of communication, vague dissatisfaction, lack of fulfillment, desire for escape and the need for excitement/danger.

As life changes and evolves,
the things we once had
or the things we never had
and fear we never will
begin to haunt us.

In my experience, both first hand and from observation, very few people have affairs with the intention of escaping from their present relationship. The affair is like the salad bar. You go up to the salad bar once, twice, or even three times, but you rarely take any home in a doggie bag. The steak the serve you at dinner that you can't finish you take home with you. The committed relationship remains the main course unless there is some strong reason to leave it. To stay at the salad bar requires a drastic change in lifestyle, such as our steak loving diner deciding quite suddenly that he will now become a vegetarian.

So, why does the vaguely dissatisfied diner decide that he wants to have an affair when he or she has no intention of giving up what he or she has for the grass they imagine being greener? There is a heavy investment in the relationship and things are rarely as bad as they lead the person who has the affair with them to believe. Some affairs are openly stated as just that. A few rendezvous after work and perhaps even a weekend getaway and no one is to expect anything more. Other affairs are darker and involve convincing the other participant that this will develop into much more. This is done to bait the hook and keep the other party interested. Most people who have affairs realize the futility of trading one being for another (unless of course the other being is an aquarium fish, and I am required by law to remind you about those 1-800 numbers again). It is the commitment that they are escaping from, and to drop that commitment for another will only lead them eventually down the same road.

Action!
Adventure!
Romance!
Affair!

Not so fast! This is a complicated matter, aside from the fact that you probably will eventually get caught and create an emotional avalanche that will bury at least two people. When you first consider having an affair you need to look beyond the smile of your new found friend. You must examine how you truly feel about commitment (as well as your definition of marriage if this is an extramarital affair). There is a certain shallowness of the spirit that causes the soul to drag along the rocky bottom of life's ocean when you stand up and scream "YES!"

This is where the story of your vague dissatisfaction and trouble communicating come into play. Why are you having trouble understanding and communicating with the partner you chose? Where did things take a bad turn and why do you keep taking them? Is this not what you expected or has it become something you've begun to loathe? Perhaps you need to consider ending it if it has gone so far out of whack that you want to have another person lick your wounds. If you are not ready to end it, perhaps you might consider the possible channels by which you could heal the divisions that have arisen. Start with your partner, your spouse, your significant beloved. What was the reason you made this commitment and can you get back to where you once belonged or do you need to jump ship. People are not lettuce. Nor are they steak. And salad bars have sneeze guards for a damned good reason. Think about it.

Can an affair be a healthy thing? Perhaps it can, given the right circumstances and your ability to live a lie once it has been done, because you will have to. Unless, of course, you are willing to openly admit the affair to your partner. I once knew a couple that separated every couple of years so they could have six months of free range time and then got back together. Nothing in life is really set in stone as far as how you play your cards. However, the nature of honesty and of that which you made as a promise at one time or another can be haunting entities. Do you want to do that to yourself? Do you want to do that to another human being? A secret like an affair can create a wraith that winds its way between two people and never lets them achieve true intimacy again.

What would you say if I sang you a tune?
Would you stand up and walk out on me?

Well, people will go on having affairs and devising old and rehashed rationalizations for them. It is the way of things and will not change. It is for the individual to decide. Whatever your beliefs may be, about love, about honor, about commitment as well as your spiritual beliefs will all be impacted. The rush of that excitement of the moment weighs very little against many of these things. Find a way to open that communication and find that fulfillment that has been lost. If you don't, and you go forward with that affair, it may be a race to see whether your partner finds out about yours before you find out about theirs.

It is a lot easier to put on some special clothes and pretend you are someone else. Your partner can pretend they are someone else. Then you can have an affair with each other. You get a rush that is far more saccharine than the real thing, but you might just stumble upon a way to reopen the communication and the road to fulfillment. Or not.

Af*fair" (#), n. [OE. afere, affere, OF. afaire, F. affaire, fr. a faire to do; L.. ad + facere to do. See Fact, and cf. Ado.]

1.

That which is done or is to be done; matter; concern; as, a difficult affair to manage; business of any kind, commercial, professional, or public; -- often in the plural. "At the head of affairs." Junius.

"A talent for affairs." Prescott.

2.

Any proceeding or action which it is wished to refer to or characterize vaguely; as, an affair of honor, i. e., a duel; an affair of love, i. e., an intrigue.

3. Mil.

An action or engagement not of sufficient magnitude to be called a battle.

4.

Action; endeavor.

[Obs.]

And with his best affair Obeyed the pleasure of the Sun. Chapman.

5.

A material object (vaguely designated).

A certain affair of fine red cloth much worn and faded. Hawthorne.

 

© Webster 1913.

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