Thinking of having an affair? Assess your vulnerabilities!

The heat continues in Houston. It’s so hot the grass all around us is dying and various places are rationing water use. Too much heat is never a good thing.

I’m starting a series on a topic that gets many LEOs in hot water – affairs. They seem to bring just the right amount of heat in the moment, but often an affair escalates conflict so high in your life that things begin to implode and – hypothetically speaking – leave) leave a lot of dead grass in their wake.

This will be the first of three articles in this series and will focus on what makes a person vulnerable to an affair, specifically what are the individual risk factors. The second article will focus on relational vulnerabilities and how to protect yourself from infidelity. The third article will focus on recovery from an affair in a relationship.

First of all, let me point out that bad marriages/relationships DO NOT cause affairs. Bad circumstances DO NOT cause affairs. Engaging in an affair is ultimately a choice, but there are risk factors or vulnerabilities that can increase the chances for an affair to happen.

There are social factors to consider such as social media, movies and culture and the glorification of sex and infidelity. Pop culture often glamorizes and normalizes affairs.

The easy and broad access to technology profoundly increases one’s vulnerability to engage in an affair. Technology allows us to hide in plain sight. Phones, tablets, watches, laptops, etc. can cause a ton of damage within a relationship.

Socially, who we associate with can increase the risk. If we spend time with others who are involved with or have been involved in an affair, increases our vulnerability.

Think about how many people you know who are either currently having an affair or have had one and glorify it. If that number outweighs those who have not, your friend group is increasing your vulnerability.

There are also individual vulnerabilities. A person’s personal beliefs heavily influence how he or she approaches infidelity. A strong belief in honesty, monogamy and commitment tends to be a protective factor but lax morals or growing up in a family where infidelity occurred or as mentioned earlier, embracing a social group where affairs are the norm, increases the risk.

If an individual believes they will never be unfaithful and has a sense of invulnerability, they may unwittingly put themselves in high-risk situations thinking they are immune to the risk versus someone who sees the slippery slope of certain situations, i.e., texting or spending increased time with someone who is not your spouse or partner and seeks to avoid those risky situations.

Another risk factor is tied into self-esteem. Those with lower self-esteem tend to be more vulnerable. Think about relationships as a mirror—if marriage tends to be more of a magnifying mirror, i.e., your flaws and weaknesses are in view. If this is the situation, then an affair is a vanity mirror, which validates you. But it’s phony validation because it’s based on deception.

The last risk factor to discuss is the one I think often hooks in LEOs and that’s the factor of boredom. I know all of you have heard the term, “adrenaline junkie” and many go into policing because they crave excitement and enjoy the “running and gunning.”

But ding, ding, ding! That craving for and sensory seeking in one’s life is a risk factor for infidelity in a relationship. Committed relationships tend to fall into predictable patterns and security and rather than see that as comforting and healthy, it’s seen as a negative.

So, the seeking behaviors begin — secretive texts, sneaking around, risky meet ups. All of this feed the adrenaline junkie. But how does one sustain dynamite long-term? Once you light it, the explosion is inevitable.

As the old adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” Learn and be aware of the areas where you are vulnerable. Ask for help/support. Give us a call at 832-394-1440. We are happy to listen and support.