A Grandfather Clause For Affairs?
Lost love couples who reunite while being married to other partners have referred to themselves on my surveys as “happily reunited.” But are these people actually reunited if they are in secret affairs and they have unsuspecting spouses, too? And how can they feel such happiness at the expense of others? Don’t they feel guilty? I will leave the morality to each reader and only write about what I have found in my research population.
In my worldwide research, with thousands of couples, I learned that some people feel remorse over their lost love affairs and some don’t.
For couples who were broken apart years ago by situations (sometimes tragic) outside of the control of their initial romances, it may feel to them like the lost love who preceded the marriage is not an affair, but the person they should have been with all along — a partner restored to them, an entitlement, not an affair partner. Many couples have written to me and used the phrase “grandfather clause.” They want to right the wrong from years ago, and if that means others will get hurt along the way, so be it.
People feel what they feel. They can’t will themselves to feel remorse if they just don’t feel it.
And many people reported that they felt happiness and joy within the lost love reunion, with the lost love partner restored to their lives, while at the same time having feelings of guilt (and often love) for their spouses.
People in lost love secret affairs go through different stages, and their feelings and behaviors evolve. For someone to say he or she is “happily reunited” but it’s still an affair does not mean that, down the road, reality won’t hit and guilt will set in with recriminations, confusions and crises. Or maybe not. People are different and their upbringing, values, marriages, situations are all different. What works for some doesn’t work at all for others.
But I have found that at the beginning of the reunion, denial of remorse, and denial that the affair or the marriage or both will end badly, is common. It is a matter of self preservation: they have decided to float along with their feelings and they don’t want to be bothered with negative thoughts about the future.
So imagine my challenge of running a website of forums for lost love relationships. The people who feel guilt over their affairs get angry at the people who feel no guilt.
Each person will go through happy/crisis stages at his or her own rate, and it’s not linear. Sometimes it seems resolved and the website member leaves my site, but then it’s not resolved and the person returns and renews membership, sometimes years later. What they feel is, not uncommonly, even unknown to themselves and it changes over time. Thus the forum called Crisis/Totally Confused.