Thursday, December 13, 2012

Extra Marital Affairs - The Big WHY?

In the recent past, I have heard and seen of several people (especially in their 30's) having extra-marital affairs... Individuals living in India and abroad - primarily from middle-class / affluent families, and seem to be having everything going well (at least at face value).. And then you hear / see of them having an extra-marital affair.. You can't help but wonder WHY?

Something obviously went wrong somewhere.. In this blog, I am listing possible reasons to why people indulge in an extra-marital affair (Based on my own observations, reasoning and speaking to people who have experienced / are experiencing this ..)

(1) Early Marriage
 People who marry in early 20's would most likely have achieved some level of stability and social standing by mid-30's. At that point, they feel that they did not really live and enjoy life in their 20's, and find it exciting to indulge in an extra-marital affair - To experience the thrill of dating and the associated excitement that comes with it.

(2) Married for the Wrong Reasons
 Many people enter marriage for the wrong reasons. Pressures from family and society top the list. After a point, many people say Yes to marriage without even getting to know their life-partner. After marriage, they recognize the differences and after a point realize the mistake they have made in terms of the choice of their life partner. If they meet someone who is in any better than their current spouse, they are immediately attracted to him / her. And what starts as a simple friendship usually ends up in an affair.

(3) Inability to Deal with Changes
Life throws changes at us almost everyday. Most of us are able to deal with the small changes. But the bigger ones are tougher to deal with - Like an ailing member in the family, death, loss of employment, financial loss, etc. - And many turn to people apart from their spouses to deal with such changes. They find it more comforting than the comfort of their spouse; and thus starts an extra-marital affair

(4) Becoming Parents
Becoming parents changes everything about a husband-wife relationship. The top one's being Priorities change, Time you give each other reduces and your immediate living environment changes drastically. While most women give their 200% into being mothers, I know of several men who suddenly feel lost and unimportant at home, and indulge in extra-marital affairs. And since most women are usually so busy being mothers, they probably don't even realize this for a long time
[NOTE: Extra-marital affairs seems to be more predominant in couples after they become parents, and where the women is elder than the man] 
(5) Physical Dissatisfaction
This is probably one of the most common reasons for people to get involved in an extra-marital affair.

(6) Emotional Disconnect
We all change with time, and sometimes a couple grows emotionally disconnected from each other. Top reasons being lack of time and lack of communication with each other. To be emotionally connected, you need to share, you need to talk, you need to express, you need to listen, you need to laugh, you need to care and show that you care... If you don't do this, over a period of time, chances are you will get emotionally disconnected from each other as a couple. And start getting emotionally connected with someone else. What starts out as an emotional bond with someone can eventually lead to an extra-marital affair

(7) Disagreement on Core Values
Sometimes when you experience a tough situation in life, your core values are tested. And you have to make decisions which may not be palatable to your family - especially your spouse. Sometimes this could be the cause for irreconcilable differences, which triggers an extra-marital affair

(8) Differing Life Priorities
When a couple gets married, many times they don't speak about life priorities - simply because it is not so important or people are not so clear. With time, the priorities start getting clearer and more pronounced, and increasingly divergent. Over time, these become so different that it becomes tough to live together and agree on even basic things on a daily basis. This can be a catalyst for an extra-marital affair

(9) No Common Interests
Lack of any common interests between a couple can sometimes be the cause for an extra-marital affair. After a point, each of starts doing their own thing, and the couple end up not spending any time together. As you spend time away from each other, you get opportunities to interact with others.And gradually start building a bond with those who have some common interests like yours. Many times this leads to an extra-marital affair

(10) Need for Excitement in Life
Sometimes it is sheer boredom or a need to break the monotony and drudgery of everyday life that is the reason for an extra-marital affair. Just for fun, for a change or for some excitement. (?)

(11) Personal Finances
Difficulties in personal finances (excess debts and liabilities), or lack of agreement on personal financial management can sometimes be the trigger for constant bickering within the four walls. And at such a vulnerable time, any one who gives a hearing to your woes or some financial support is welcome. And this can lead to an extra-marital affair

(12) Career Advancement
Sad but true! Some people get into a relationship simply because they believe it can advance their careers.

While these are the broad reasons, usually it is a combination of many of these which drives people into an extra-marital affair.

Whatever said and done, it is tough
To see a couple go through the stress of an extra-marital affair
To go through one yourself
To see your spouse have one

Relationships are broken
There is distance between families
Children are affected (if you have them)
One's trust in life.. and the world is lost
Not an easy situation to be in...

NOTE: I'd written an earlier post titled "Pre-Marital Checklist" which lists questions you can ask yourself before you get married.. Do go through if you're thinking about marriage.. Answering these honestly to yourself can help prevent an Extra Marital Affair

What's your view? Why do people indulge in an extra-marital affair? Leave a comment to let me know


  1. Hi Nischala,You have written such a wonderful post that I must congratulate you.It is really unfortunate that extra marital relations are on the rise. You have thoroughly analysed the reasons why people indulge in EMA.To my mind one more reason can be attributed .When two people spend long hours together in their workplace,it results in mutual attraction and hence indulge in EMA. Keep in touch.

    1. Thanks Usha for stopping by and your kind words. Yes, sometimes just the time you spend together can be a catalyst, but there has to be a more underlying driver - which may be one of the above. From what I know, an EMA is just not worth it in the long run! - Nischala

    2. I agree with this point. Spending long hours with a colleague is sometimes the beginning. There is a term called 'work spouse'. So, when a person starts confiding every single detail from his/her personal life, expectations and challenges of professional life, availability of a sympathetic ear/shoulder, etc, etc you know where this is going. Add to that the long hours one spends in the office/at work, traveling opportunities. There are enough temptations but at the end of the day it depends on you, where you draw the line.
      I discovered your blog through Parentous. Will come back for more :-)

  2. Very well analysed but I shall place 'Emotional Disconnect' as the prime reason for Extra marital affair.

    1. Thanks Ayyangar. Yes I agree. Emotional Disconnect is probably a top reason in many cases - simply because TIME is premium, and many people don't have time for the small pleasures and joys of life with their loved ones. - Nischala

  3. Do you think there is any connection with pre-marital affairs and extra-marital affairs? One of my friends told me that people who've had affairs before marriage find it difficult to stick with one partner after marriage. I don't know how far this is true and what are the reasons behind it (if any).

    I feel that sex is like an addiction. Like tobacco, like alcohol, like tea/coffee. The more you have it, the more you want it. The craving increases, but not necessarily the fun.

    I think it is important to control our urge. Not only on EMA, but on anything that is addictive.

    Destination Infinity

    1. Hmm.. Well I don't know if there is a connection with pre-marital affairs and extra-marital affairs. I know people who had affairs before marriage and very happy after marriage. I also know of cases who did not have any affairs before marriage, but ended having an EMA. So I guess it depends on you, your own priorities and the way you conduct your life. - Nischala

  4. well said.. the reasons can be combinations too.. stress can also be a factor.. if we can Analyze and understand the after effects, things and urge to have a new partner can be controlled..

    1. yes i agree - many times it is a combination which drives people into an EMA. stress..hmm! I guess many of us blame stress for everything in our lives.. my 2 cents. find a constructive way to deal with stress.. EMA just gives u more stress - Nischala

  5. Once you marry you take a vow of fidelity towards your spouse and there is no excuse for having an extra marital affair. The main reason is a weak personal value system. If you feel that you cannot remain faithful to your spouse after marriage then it is better not to marry. The reasons you have given are quite interesting but I feel they are excuses by those indulging in extra marital affairs to cover up their guilt conscience because they know they have done something wrong.

    1. Hi Vikram - Agreed that a weak personal value system is at the core. But in some scenarios, people just can't make their marriage work - no matter how hard they try.. (for very many reasons).. Sad, but it is the reality of today.

    2. Hi Nischala,
      Unless there is some serious reason like cruelty, infidelity, major illness, or a very big personality clash, I think it is not that difficult to make a marriage work.
      And suppose you break one marriage because it doesn't work, what is the guarantee that your next marriage will work.
      I feel, that in the long run, committing adultery and having extra marital affairs EMA) is not a good option.
      I must compliment you once again for a very well written and nicely articulated blog post.
      All the Best
      Vikram Karve

  6. Communication plays a very important role, i feel if you can't communicate then its very difficult to maintain the relationship. Also, have seen people behaving as if they own their spouse once they get married. No respect for their space, interests, etc.... Visiting your blog for the 1st time. A good pov on relationships :-)

    1. Hi - Thanks for stopping by my blog, and leaving a comment. Yes communication and personal space are key for any relationship to grow and blossom..

  7. Great blog Nischala ! This is my first visit. You have analysed the reasons of EMA very well. A great post for married as well as unmarried couples. I feel emotional and physical disconnect are the prime reasons for an EMA.

  8. Hi Diana - Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment :).. Hopefully you'll visit again. Yes, emotional disconnect is several times a strong driver, and many times people fail to recognize it. Nischala

  9. Hi Nischala,

    Well written article and I agree with it completely. I feel that nobody wants to enter into a EMA but circumstances (like the ones mentioned in your blog) force a person.

    In our society, men are too dominating. And in a relationship like marriage, a man feels that he has every right for a woman he has married. He tries to govern the entire life of a woman.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, women today are well educated and advanced enough to judge whether the person she is married to deserves to rule her life.

    In all these chaos, the bond between the couple suffers and eventually leads to an EMA.

  10. Life is a package deal. There is very little in life, including we ourselves, which is perfect. It is stupid trying to replace something, which may appear imperfect, with another with its own set of challenges. Whatever may be the driver, an affair results from some inherent weakness.

  11. Hi Rashmi - Valid points. I think one of the reason is many men have still not "accepted" the changing role of "women" in the world and society at large. You need to give each other space in any relationship, else there are bound to be cracks.. and what those cracks can lead to depends solely on the two individuals.. things get complicated if you have children, but i think one should try to make a marriage work - unless there are compelling reasons not to. Nischala

  12. Hi Ratan - Thanks for stopping by. I agree that Life is a package deal and that no one is perfect. and also that some inherent weakness is the trigger of an EMA. i also think that self-control is very weak in many individuals, and also people lack patience - they expect the BEST of everything (from people and the world around them) today. a lot of issues are to do with EXPECTATION MANAGEMENT... whatever said! I think one should try to make a marriage work - unless it is impossible! Nischala

  13. Hi Nischala,
    What if girl marries early and discovers that her husband married her for money. In-laws deprive her of basics and keep pestering her parents for money.
    Sorry Vikramji, but people with strong value systems also succumb to outsiderif they get true love while their husband is there just to use them in every way.

  14. Well analyzed post! Actually, we need Marriage Education as well to make wiser and informed choices in life. We have criterion to be friends with others but are mostly blank when it comes to choose our life partner. I think lack of self-actualization is the basic cause in opting for a wrong life partner. Secondly, we need to have social freedom n choices to leave one marriage if it doesn't work rather then indulging in extra-marital relationships.

  15. I have a question: does anyone have experience in what it can mean for an Indian married man to have an affair with a European girl?
    Is there anything besides the "human reasons" mentioned above, that all of us can relate to?

  16. One more reason that I have seen is when the partners are living physically apart(mostly due to job situations) and get to be together only occasionally.

  17. In nature, the things men want are installed in women and the things women want are installed in men.

    men go for EMA because overcontrol of his spouse, negligence his ego & other needs and his spouse is not lustful

    women go for EMA because spouse drunk, dominance, negligence of care and irresponsibile

    its all unfulfilled desires & emotions AND unfullfilled ego & intellect.

  18. a good and fair blog i ever seen. i want to share some of the my condition now i am undergoing.

    before i got married i want to live a ambitious & high life with a partner i dreamt . but unfortunately/fortunately i due to my parents compel i got married. it almost 17 years over now i am 42. hitherto i managed since i felt it is my responsibility to take care of the girl who came to me. still i miss the life i wanted to live. one day i saw a lady all of a sudder i felt totally connected to her eternally.i talked to her she also yielded..! (and doubt she also like me). i have a girl and boy. she have a boy. i face difficulty to discunnect since i happened to see her daily when come to office.

    my intellect say don't and bring many confused problems...
    my emotion says this is the life you wanted to live don't miss.
    what i have to do..?

  19. Pretty late to react on a old post, but got the time to read your work today. I was discussing the same with some of my friends a few days ago...I think there is one more point that triggers extra marital. That is being forced into marriage. Our indian system still frowns upon love marriages, and people often give up their love to please their family. That old love many times gets re-kindled in form of an extra marital.
    Also, I completely agree about emotional disconnect. A few other issues sound completely bizarre to me.

    1. That's what I meant by Point (2). This has been the most popular post on my blog this far! So it seems to have great appeal! Thanks for leaving a comment

  20. I guess this blog is perfectly incomparable.
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  21. Cane to your blog through the Friday Linky. A wonderful post that analyses the plausible reasons why such things happen. All reasons you cited are spot on. People inadvertently are drawn to others who fulfill a certain need in their life. This need may been buried deep and suppressed because it never seemed it wouldn't ever get addressed. Then this certain someone comes along and fulfills it thereby giving a new meaning to life and all that. That's a more serious reason for a person to have an affair. But then you also have the frivolous lot that for a minute's worth of adrenaline rush would want to risk it all. I feel extra marital affairs were always a part of our society except now people are more vocal about it.