How To End An Affair: The Only 4 Steps You Need To Take

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You’ve been having an affair, and you can’t take it anymore.

You’ve decided it’s time for the affair to come to an end.

But you’ve gotten yourself in so deep that you’re not sure how to get out again.

Affairs can, of course, be thrilling, and although cheating is never the way, there might have been all kinds of extenuating circumstances that led to you start to see someone else.

But affairs are also draining, time-consuming, demanding, stressful, make you feel guilty, and will, in the long run, cause heartache for everyone involved.

That’s the case whether or not you’ve fallen for the person you’ve been seeing outside your theoretically monogamous relationship, or it’s always been more about the sex and intrigue.

People often get themselves into affairs without making a conscious decision to do so or quite realizing what’s happening.

They don’t plan to cheat; they just find themselves doing it.

And when it comes to ending them, they don’t even know where to begin. 

If you’ve decided that your affair has to stop, but you’re not sure how to extricate yourself from it, then these steps should help.

Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, as every relationship is different. But this article should at least give you some guidance on how you can go about putting an end to your affair. 

Take these steps as a loose guide to help you say goodbye to this person.

It probably won’t be easy, but in the long run you know it’s for the best for everyone.

Step one: adapt your frame of mind.

If you ended up in this affair despite your better judgement, you might feel powerless to control the situation.

If you’re honest, you’ve just been hoping against hope that it’s going to sort itself out or go away.

This is very common in people who are having affairs. They just put their heads in the sand and hope and pray for the best.

They find themselves fantasizing about something beyond their control happening to determine what the future is going to look like – even something dramatic like an accident or their partner catching them out.

So, step one is to take control of your thoughts and your future.

You need to make a firm decision to take back the reigns of your life and say goodbye to your lover.

It can be very easy to make a decision like this one night, and then wake up the next morning having had second thoughts.

So, if you really want this to happen, find a way to symbolize your decision to make it final.

If you have anyone you trust in your life who knows about the affair, let them know you’re going to end things so that they can support you, and hold you to account if you don’t act on your decision sooner rather than later.

Step two: let your lover know that it’s over.

This isn’t going to be an easy thing to do, so you need to bite the bullet and do it as soon as possible.

Putting it off is only going to make it harder.

You might be tempted to keep delaying it if your lover is going through a hard time or their birthday is coming up, or whatever else, but you’re only drawing out the pain for you both.

Your lover deserves respect too, so if you can bear to, it’s always better to do these things face to face.

But if you think your resolve will waver if you see them in person, then a phone call, email, or letter is always an option.

It might seem like it’s kinder to them to express regret and tell them you love them, even though you’ve decided that things will never work between you, but in fact you’re only making it harder for them to accept.

They already know the reason why you’re ending things with them – your relationship or marriage.

So, there’s no need to go into a long explanation of what you’ve been thinking and feeling.

Let them know that it’s over, that you’re sorry, you wish them the best, and that the two of you won’t be able to keep in contact.

The no-contact thing is key.

This is one ex you will definitely not be able to remain friends with. It would be unfair to everyone involved for you to keep speaking to them.

You need to go all out.

Delete their number, unfriend them on Facebook, change your route to work.

In drastic cases, you might even have to move house. Do whatever’s necessary to guarantee that you won’t be tempted to speak to them or bump into them.

Step three: come clean with your partner.

There’s another uncomfortable conversation in store for you, and that’s with your partner, whose trust you’ve betrayed with your affair.

If you’ve decided that you want to make the relationship work with them, then you definitely need to come clean about what’s been going on.

Think about how you’d feel if they found out from someone else or the truth came out months or years down the line.

The affair itself will be hard enough for your partner to hear about, but knowing you kept it from them for so long could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Chances are you’re feeling very guilty, and that will come between you. It will eat away at the foundations of your relationship and cause problems between you.

One day, that guilt might just be too much for you, and your partner will probably be even more hurt if they find out that you’ve kept it from them for an extended period of time.

You probably have a good idea how your partner is going to react to this news. It’s safe to say that they won’t be happy about it.

It’s important to accept that whilst you might be able to work through this, it might spell the end of your relationship.

They might not be able to forgive the emotional and physical betrayal, but it’s a mark of the respect you have for them to let them decide this, rather than keep it from them and deny them a say in how your relationship proceeds.

Step four: look to the future.

If you’re truly committed to making this relationship work, then you’ve got some hard work ahead of you.

An affair is usually, but not always, a sign that something isn’t quite right in your relationship or marriage.

Sure, you might just have fallen in love with your affair partner, but you were probably receptive to that love because of something in your life not being quite right.

It might have been down to personal issues, like a lack of self-esteem or a need for validation, or to relationship issues, like a lack of physical intimacy or emotional support.

That doesn’t mean it’s anyone’s fault.

You can’t blame your partner for driving you to an affair, but you can recognize that there are holes in your relationship that need to be patched.

Think about where the issues are, and then consider what you can do to fix them.

A relationship counselor will probably be a sensible course of action for you to understand what happened, repair the damage, and move forward as a team.

We highly recommend Relationship Hero – an online service where couples can get the tailored advice they need to heal their relationship or marriage via chat and video.

Things might never go back to being how they were before the affair, but if you’re willing to put the work in, they might even end up being better.

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About Author

Katie is a writer and translator with a focus on travel, self-care and sustainability. She's based between a cave house in Granada, Spain, and the coast of beautiful Cornwall, England. She spends her free time hiking, exploring, eating vegan tapas and volunteering for a local dog shelter.