Affairs are devastating to any relationship or marriage. It symbolizes many things: a loss of trust, a preference of someone else, lack of self-control or respect for one’s partner, or even just poor judgment. When an affair is found out, it’s usually followed by tears and hurt feelings, and harsh words are exchanged. After the dust is left to settle and the dirty details are aired out comes the age old question: what happens next?

What happens next can be many things: it could be forgiveness and an effort to salvage such a relationship (usually through relationship counseling). This is often a bumpy road with many revelations, vulnerable moments, and more tears. Some people choose to leave (immediately or afterward). Often relationships can’t survive such a betrayal and ends. One less traveled but controversial path is that of the revenge affair. As the name implies, it involves having an affair because one’s partner did. Done out of spite, these affairs are supposed to ‘get even’ with the initial offender and make them feel as they made their partner feel. From novels to adult films, the concept is very intriguing and tantalizing. Sadly, revenge affairs in real life are rarely beneficial for anyone and often do more harm than good for the following reasons:

1. Guilt: It seems too obvious, but this is usually overlooked by those who engage in revenge affairs. Blinded by rage and a desire to get even, they often forget that, more likely than not, the revenge affair won’t help them feel better (which is the major goal), rather it adds guilt to the cocktail of emotions being experienced. Even if it does make the offending partner feel bad once discovered, it becomes apparent that seeing one’s partner in pain doesn’t bring pleasure, regardless of what they have done.

2. Complications: Affairs in themselves are complicated and messy, and revenge affairs are no different. What happens if the affair partner develops feelings? Or if a pregnancy occurs? What if someone gets an STD? Revenge affairs tend to happen while the first affair is still fresh. This means that the complications of the first affair probably aren’t fully dealt with before this new affair takes place, bringing a new set of complications.

3. Misplaced priorities: Other than making the wronged party feel better, the other purpose of a revenge affair is to make the offending party feel bad. This in itself makes them wrong. Making your partner feel awful for no other reason other than making them feel awful is wrong. If the relationship is beyond repair, leaving is a better option. If it isn’t beyond repair, a revenge affair worsens it’]s chances. Either way, it does mostly harm and rarely any good.

Regardless of the steps to be taken after discovering an affair, a revenge affair isn’t the answer and shouldn’t be an option.

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