STANTHONY154.INFO

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I often get emails from women involved with a married man or from men who are engaged in an affair that usually center around one question: "Am I a terrible person for doing this?"

And while there are too many variables and not enough jewels in my own crown to effectively answer this, I can answer the underlying inquiry: No, you are not abnormal or evil.

Ninety per cent of questions that centre around sex and love are a version of "Am I normal?," because generally speaking, people do not want what satisfies them and their morals to be in direct conflict.

So, my answer to this popular query is always the same: If it occurs in nature, then yes, it is natural. And since extra-marital affairs have been in existence for just as long as the institution of marriage, I think it is time we stopped looking at affairs as heinous crimes and instead as a natural occurrences.

Did I lose you yet? Let’s hope not. The beauty in seeing things as natural vs. deviant is it allows you to exercise understanding. The more we understand and can identify patterns, the better we can cope and even evade the trauma associated with them.

Marriage was invented to legitimize offspring so that parents could pass down any assets acquired over their lifetime to heirs. In the beginning, marriage was essentially a business transaction designed to increase the power, legacy, wealth and reputation of a family name.

Historically, extra-marital affairs were common, permissible and especially in the male’s case, not seen by the courts as substantial grounds for divorce. It is really only within the past couple of generations that love has conquered all and become the primary driving force for tying the knot. And even though we in North America have adopted the Disney model, it doesn’t negate the fact that only 5 per cent of all mammals are monogamous and whether or not humans belong to this minority is still widely debated.

Men produce more testosterone and less oxytocin than women. Testosterone is responsible for sex drive and also compels the host to seek out dopamine, a chemical released by risk-taking and new experiences. Oxytocin is the bonding chemical that cements loyalty through intimacy.

Thus, many men will not successfully conform to the monogamy model whether they have shared their last name or not. Similarly, a married man is a living example of the qualities women naturally seek out: Some women simply appreciate their attraction while respecting the family unit, others compete to have those qualities for themselves.

On the flipside, not all women who date married men are in competition with the wife. Some prefer the mistress-relationship-model, since it provides them with the fun side of companionship minus any of the traditional obligations of partnership.

In short, there will continue to be married men who find themselves seeking new intimate experiences and there will continue to be women who are interested in engaging with married men.

Now for the happy part: Once you understand that affairs are driven by natural tendencies, you can stop personalizing the act and begin managing the possibilities. I strongly believe that keeping an open dialogue with your partner about their temptations, desires and natural drives is very important. Not only can you help your partner effectively manage these natural urges through counsel, but you can also create healthy alternatives in the event that the desire is too strong to curb.

Betrayal, not compromise, is the biggest offense in any relationship, but if you don’t create an environment of open communication, you leave your partner to their own devices and vices.

So, I suggest some new rules that crush the fantasy in order to get to the heart of our human reality:

Women who engage with married men: Don’t be anyone’s dirty secret. If you prefer to date those who are attached to keep your own involvement at arm’s length, then you should have no qualm with the wife being aware of your intentions. If you fall for someone who is taken and they feel the same, demand that they open up their relationship—otherwise, you won’t be a part of it. Do not enter into any situation hoping for change; rather, create the change and then enter. Encourage opacity and know that it is possible to create a healthy arrangement, as opposed to a devious, secretive relationship.   

Men who seek affairs: If you are not cut out for the monogamous model, do not deceive anyone into believing you are. Of course, you're allowed to change, but you must communicate this change with your partner. Desiring new experiences is understandable, while concealing this desire and act from your partner is not. You are an adult. You don’t have to hide your “dirty magazines” under the bed anymore. Come into your own and into the light where everyone can see you and most importantly, where you can stand to look at yourself.

Women who are the victims of an affair: First step, realize that it’s not you, it’s not him, it’s nature. He is not evil, he may just lack discipline. You can work through this by working together, but you can’t if you refuse to acknowledge that what your partner needs is understanding… not an exorcism.   

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