There's a show on Oprah's TV channel called "Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal". I've watched a few episodes. Each hour is split into two 30-minute segments, and each segment tells one couple's story of how an affair affected their relationship. There are some moderately spicy re-enactment scenes. Most of the stories end in a reconciliation of the married couple.
The stories are surprisingly alike. Couple falls in love. Couple marries. Stress is introduced into their relationship via kids/finances/health problems/fear of commitment. One or both individuals allow themselves to respond to the flirtations of another man/woman. The attentions of this third party makes the cheater feel temporarily fulfilled. Things get physical. "I knew it was wrong, but I wanted to do it anyway, so I did." They don't expect to get caught. But they get caught, and by the time they realize the consequences, it's too late to go back.
I have never been involved in an affair, as a cheater, or a cheatee. (To the best of my knowledge.) I mean, one time my high school boyfriend said he couldn't take me to a dance because he was going to a family gathering, and then I found out that he had been out with some of his guy friends and that other girls were there, so I screamed at him in public and ran into the nearest washroom sobbing my face off. But that's about it. Hey, we were teenagers. It's par for the course.
I did allow another man to kiss me once, right at the very end of my first marriage. But I didn't just "let it happen" without any forethought. It was planned. The plan included not going beyond kissing.
The situation was that I had been with my first husband for 12 years (married for 5), and due to a multitude of factors my self-esteem was very low. So low, in fact, that I wasn't sure if I could even attract another mate, if I left my marriage, which I was already considering. I also wasn't sure if I would want to be involved with anyone else. I figured that with so much at stake, I needed to run an experiment. I needed to base this life-altering decision on proper data.
I picked a guy I'd been friends with for over a year who seemed safe, i.e. if I succeeded in getting him to kiss me, he'd stop when I told him to. And that's exactly what happened. I proved that I was still attractive (at the ripe old age of 28), and that getting involved with other men might actually be fun. And also I called a halt to the proceedings after a bit of kissing, because I was only willing to go that far while I still had a wedding ring on my finger.
I gave myself one week to think things over thoroughly. Then I told my husband that I was leaving him at the first proper opportunity.
What happened to the guy I kissed? Believe it or not, I ended up marrying him next. Yup, it was Ken. Apparently I just don't do casual relationships.
I still can't get my head around the thought process, or lack thereof, that leads someone to pursue a full-on affair. I think I'm constitutionally incapable of it. Seriously, one man in my life is quite enough.