The Data on Affairs

I’ve been reading a lot of information on affairs. Mostly because, well, I’m scared. I don’t know where my future is going. It can help to find out the statistics on how these situations have resolved themselves in the past. Not that every scenario or even this scenario will fit neatly into a type, but there can at least be hope or truth found.

What I’m finding mostly is that the data is lacking. The statistics are broad, and have wide margins of error. Even the most basic number, what percentage of marriages have affairs, ranges between 25 and 75 percent. A 50% swing in the range is so broad as to be almost useless – except to say “it happens”. I’m not sure how to get better data out of this. People are inherently fallible, and will hide their mistakes from interviewers. If many of their situations are like mine then they will be loath to admit it’s happening to themselves let alone a stranger. They are not that kind of person. Neither am I.

Then of course you have to ask, what is an affair? Is it purely about the sex? Is it any emotional connection with another? Is there a sliding scale? How do you know? I will tell you that I know at this point I’ve had an affair, but I could not tell you when it started. It was slow and gradual. There were many points along the way  where, had it stopped, I’m not sure if it would’ve been classified as an affair. Even then I wouldn’t have recognized it until I was looking backward.

There are so many things though that I want to know. Generally about how they end. Is there any hope for me in either direction? How frequently do marriages rebound? How frequently, of those that end, do the two in the affair become a couple? Are they successful 5 or 10 years later? What are the age ranges of the people involved? Are there children? How do the children adjust? What other mitigating factors might be involved, such as length of time of the affair or length of friendship before the affair?

There are just so many questions, and it seems so few studies and answers. Instead I find myself getting responses from people stating that these things “never end well”, but with no real data to back it up. It’s mostly anecdotal or from broadly gathered or inferred statistics. I know the commentors don’t mean any harm. They are really trying to help, and I appreciate them immensely. It’s hard for me to really trust the advice of broad statements and no data.

Instead we rely mostly on our values or general societal assumptions. “Affairs are wrong. End it now. It won’t be good if you don’t.” We all can safely say that is the right answer at a high level. “Your children will suffer. Fix your marriage for them.” Yes that also makes a lot of sense. But how badly would they suffer? Would they not suffer from living their lives within a failing marriage too? What are the stats on that? What if four happy and healthy parents are better than two? What about at different income levels? We have no data on that. On nearly any of it at a granular level

This reminds me of a statistic someone told me about their pregnancy. They were told very confidently by their doctor that they needed to be induced because if they went any longer the risk of something bad doubled. Doesn’t matter what it was, I don’t want to debate that. Doubled, is the keyword here. The risk went from 0.01% to 0.02%. In fact that is doubling, but when you see the numbers then you realize that the risk is still so close to zero that there was actually no reason to be concerned. Most people don’t ask for the numbers. We follow the story.

I actually have an example of a close older family member who was having an affair for years. He was caught and kicked out of his house. He ended up living with his mistress and they eventually married. He’s really happy now. His children are coming around to her. It’s obvious when you look back at how unhappy he was, but in fact the affair led to marriage and happiness.

All this to say, I’m very unsure of my future. I don’t know what the right answer is. It is frustrating how little is known about this situation, and how strong everyone’s opinions are. Some days I think it might be better to be caught. Then I could just deal with it out in the open. Most of me however feels I should stop the affair and deal with my marriage first. I guess that is what I will do until further notice.

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12 thoughts on “The Data on Affairs

  1. My mother had an affair and had a happy marriage with him after divorcing my father. I am also in the middle of an affair very similar to yours and have many of the same questions.

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      1. My father was a serial cheater.so there wasn’t much he could say. He and my step dad never got along. My step dad actually was an awesome caring man who I think recognized my mom needed an out and stepped in. But I don’t know all the details.
        As for me, I’m trying a D/s relationship with a man who is also married. It makes it different and hard sometimes, but he sees me for who I am, he supports me and just is everything I could ever want in a man
        Neither of us are in a position to leave our spouses right now. So, we carry on adoring each other the only way we can.

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      2. Oh my. We are in the same boat. I feel like asking you more questions about your situation, but probably not here on these comments. If you are able to reach me via the contact page I would appreciate it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You asked for data. I don’t know where these figures came from but this is what I’ve seen quoted: Depending on the sources only 1-10% of married men leave their spouses and marry their AP. I think that’s a pretty wide range but I’m also fairly certain I’ve heard anywhere from 2-3% all the way up to 10%. It could be that 10% leave for the AP but only 2-3% actually marry them. I don’t know. Either way it’s not a high percentage.
    *Over 75% who marry affair partners eventually divorce. I have heard as high as 80%.
    *80% of those who divorce during an affair regret their decision.
    *75 of ALL second marriages end in divorce and I believe I have heard that most of those divorces are due to conflicts over the children.

    There is also a study out there (I haven’t read it) that surveyed unhappily married people and then revisited them in 5 years. Most of them who did not divorce were happy 5 years later. Of those who did divorce the majority of them were no happier now than they had been.

    As far as antidotal evidence goes I know of one situation where the affair partners married and it lasted. My sister-in-law had an affair, divorced her husband and married her AP after he divorced his wife. They were married 11 years before she left him for another man. I think he saw the writing on the wall and he began an affair of his own because he was married 2 months after the divorce. In another situation the man left his wife, married the mistress. She embezzled money from her employer, they both went to prison and she left him for the ex-con she met in the halfway house. I wrote a post about them. I think this https://wordpress.com/post/arewestillhavingspaghetti.wordpress.com/1142 will link to it. From what I’ve seen most affairs don’t end with marriage, and those that do frequently end in divorce.

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  3. my 2 cents worth.. if the affair makes you a better man then I don’t see why not?
    a better man to your wife ..to your children..
    my logic = if you’re happy you are a better person
    if you’re unhappy then you’re no good to anyone.
    my marriage have been through a lot but it’s still stands .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What do they say about statistics and lies????
    🙂
    This post makes my head spin (not in a bad way) and I know why you need to process — everything in order to finally make a decision that is right for you and your family.

    Your moral compass is being affected strongly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “They” is part of the problem. Who are they? Where are the actual studies? I don’t know. You can read spaghetti sam’s comment to get an idea of the stats floating around. It feels a bit like the telephone game. Someone read a study once and wrote about it then someone else wrote about what was written and so on and so forth and now it is just accepted without anyone knowing anything about the original study. Who was the test group? What were the situations tested? We don’t know. Income levels. Education. We don’t know. I get tired of being told the numbers without context. Maybe it’s because I work in data all day and know how flawed those numbers could be. And believe me I know that the actual data may turn out much worse for me. But we don’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you so much, However I am going through problems with your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I can’t subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting the same RSS issues? Anyone who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

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