As a psychologist and lost love researcher, I am concerned with the faulty and self-defeating thinking and actions that cause pain to the extramarital lost loves and (if they know) their spouses, children, extended family, friends, and coworkers.
Being in the middle, in an affair, and not wanting to "get caught" produces anxiety, guilt, sadness, and fear -- and a desperate need to make a decision. Especially for people who seldom see their lost loves (most of them), those emotions outweigh the good feelings in terms of the amount of time they actually spend in each emotion each day. I suggest a thought experiment: list the good days with the lost love in the last 6 months, and then write down the unhappy days. Most people see that their happiness is not a matter of rational time; it is more a wishful thinking about what might be if they hang on long enough.
When the reunion objectively will not work -- one or both of the lost loves are in marriages that they know they do not intend to leave -- then the faster the end of the affair, the better for everyone. But faulty thinking is strong: there is a belief/wish that if the lost loves ignore the problem, the affair will just go on forever and so will the marriage.
Along with the high school sweetheart, I have found that adolescent thinking patterns, called egocentrism, set in:
* I will never get caught.
* I deserve my lost love and the spouse does not.
* I will be that rare person whose lost love leaves his marriage for me.
* He will see the light, that I am better.
* We will be together someday.
* I am willing to be a friend to my lost love and not expect or seek more.
* I am not hurting anyone. Being happy and in love is all that matters.
Women, especially, want to keep "following their bliss", keep chasing it, but if the lost love is married, the odds are that he will stay married. He knows his old flame is available, yet he has not left his wife. This is a daily decision, not an accident.
There is a lot of faulty thinking, and this can lead to extreme ideas. Many people believe (deep down) that their lost loves really belong to them, in some proprietary way, even though they are married to others. This leads to extreme coping patterns: over the years, I have observed my website members writing posts to teach each other how to stalk their lost loves in cyberspace and in real life (to see what he/she is doing with the spouse and family), hack into private email, and even send his wife a letter (the men don't do this) telling her about the affair so she will "kick him out" and he can fully belong to the lost love. These posts do not stay up any longer than the time it takes to read them -- my site is moderated and does not tolerate potential harmful schemes.
Lost love reunions that are extramarital affairs are more obsessive than average affairs. People start losing weight, not sleeping, having no interest in work or even in their children.
Their minds are always somewhere else, with their lost loves, wondering "what is [lost love] doing?" and "what will [lost love] decide to do about us?" One goal might be to take back your life by living it, not wandering off into lost love's life, in your head or reading Facebook. You can't do anything about lost love's choices; you can only make choices for yourself.
Sure, some people leave their marriages and then marry their lost loves, but very few. I have found that most lost love affairs end, and they end in extremely hurtful ways. It's just a matter of how long the couples want to torture themselves with false hopes before getting caught, or growing to hate each other because one blames the other for the terrible guilt and/or pressure to leave the marriage.
Like many situations in life, sometimes we don't get to choose our "best" outcome. Sometimes sanity can be restored by accepting the "least detrimental" choice.
Copyright 2013 Nancy Kalish, Ph.D.
Learn more at http://www.lostlovers.com