Say Good-Bye to the Affair

One of the first mistakes made by someone wanting to end an affair is not ending it. Although it sounds simple, many people do not take this first step or they take it out of order. Attempting to kill the feelings while the affair remains active is an exercise in frustration. It is akin to fixing a leak, while the water is still turned on. The decision has to be made to END the relationship. You have to decide to end the relationship. Like the word ‘decide’ indicates with the ‘ide’ ending, something has to die. The meaning of the word comes from de + cedo. De is from a Latin root meaning to separate or move away from. ‘Cedo’ means to cut. Together they mean to cut and move away from. The more thorough the cutting, the smoother the killing of feelings will be. You will need to cut off contact, remove tokens that remind you of them, delete them as your friends and contacts. You will need to quit fantasizing about them as well.

Once the affair is ended, then the next essential step deals with the feelings associated with the affair.

The second mistake people make concerning affairs is not killing off the feelings of the forbidden love. They may have cut off the relationship in the external world, but continue nurturing feelings for the lover in their heart and mind.

If you are serious about killing them off, you will need to say good-bye to the forbidden relationship and mean it. There is no “see you later” or “until we meet again”, it is “Bye”, not “good bye” or “fare thee well” it must be the firm cutting off both in the physical world and in your emotional world. The lover in your heart and head have to be cut off as well. Once you say your “bye”, you can begin the process of killing off the feelings. Below is an overview of things that you can do. Since each situation is different, you may have to make some personal modifications.

Steps to take:

1. END the affair. That chapter of your life is over. Burn the bridges and move forward.
2. Kill the affectionate feelings associated with the affair. Quit romanticizing it or thinking how fun it was.
3. Remove or destroy photos of the lover. These can trigger the feelings again.
4. Remove or destroy any gifts given to you by the lover.
5. Quit frequenting places that you visited with the lover.
6. Quit listening to music that you and the lover shared.

Get Honest with Yourself

The next step in killing the feelings regarding a secret affair involves being honest with oneself. With all the secrecy and deceptions surrounding the relationships, the place to start is with honesty. Developing this kind of honesty requires some effort. First you have to be honest about what the feelings are that you are experiencing. As part of the process, you may need to write them down, regardless of whether or not they make sense.

For example:
1. lust
2. companionship
3. excitement
4. feeling alive
5. selfishness
6. young
7. …

Once you have the list, the next step involves identifying where it is coming from. It is hard to kill feelings if you do not know where they are coming from. You will want to take them out, roots and all. If your lover reminds you of someone or some other time in your life, acknowledge it. If your lover reminds you of your spouse when they were younger, admit it.

Since our choices reveal a great deal about our needs, being honest about where these feelings originate will reveal a great deal about your own needs. The lover may be an ‘idealized’ or ‘romanticized’ version of what you are looking for. Use this time to learn about yourself. In the time that you and the lover were together, neural connections were established. Once established, the connections remain in your brain. Although you cannot change the connections, you can let them atrophy and develop stronger connections with the significant person in your life. The problem with the photos, music, etc., is that they can re-activate those connections. This is one reason why relationships with old flames can be triggers relatively easily. The connections are already there and waiting to be turned on again.

“Where are the feelings coming from?”

Another aspect of identifying where the feelings are coming from is to locate where in your body the feelings are coming from. Are they coming from your head, your heart, your gut or elsewhere? Since people often just react without taking time to think or consider where things are coming from, this step may require some effort. This is an important part of the process of self-honesty. Depending on where the sensations are coming from will alert you concerning what steps to take in dealing with them.

If your feelings are coming from your head, you can change your thoughts. Doing things like “fast-forwarding” your mind to where giving in to this feeling will lead, and considering whether your response is based on facts or fantasies are places to start.

Heart based feelings can be changed with some re-adjustment to your will power and time. Since the heart is often reactive, you may need to change what it is reacting to. If you heart is wanting something, try to identify what it is about your lover that your heart is reacting to. Is it their voice, their walk, their look, etc. This will let you fine tune the focus of your heart.

Anne Sexton: Poet Laureate of Affairs

For further insights on dealing with the ‘forbidden affair’ you may consider reading ‘Love Poems’ by Anne Sexton. In this collection of poems, which can be read as a series or one at a time, the author relates how she struggled with the death of an affair. The poems convey the emotional struggles and challenges that often accompanies affairs.

Removing the reminders

The final step is to “remove provisions for evil” or “exorcising the emotional ghosts”. This step involves removing the reminders of that person from your life. Cards, knick-knacks, photos, etc. must be removed. I know I have mentioned this before. The reason for repeating it is that people often keep some of the reminders. They need to remove them, remove them, and then remove them. Since a relationship was established, people often resist letting go of those reminders.

These reminders, as innocent as they seem pose a danger. These can become triggers that elicit reactions that you are trying to remove. In the recovery community, they talk about “changing play mates, play grounds and play toys”. You will need to apply this to your situation as well.

Now that you have removed the old stuff, change your environment. Change your routine, change the furniture arrangement, change the pictures on the wall. Leaving your surroundings as they were can trigger old feelings as well.

These steps, when used consistently will reduce, if not totally kill off the feelings. Since some feelings do not die easy, it may require some time to reduce the intensity of the feeling, but if you do not give into them, they will not have power over you.