Sticky Bonds

Lost Loves, Romances, and Families in the 21st Century.

A Grandfather Clause For Affairs?

Reunited lost loves who are married to others don't always feel guilt.

Lost love couples who reunite while being married to other partners have referred to themselves 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.

I found in my worldwide research, with thousands of couples, 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 can feel to them like the person 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. 

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People feel what they feel. They can't will themselves to feel remorse if they just don't feel it.

 And, they can feel happiness and joy within the lost love reunion, with the lost love partner restored to their lives, and at the same time have feelings of guilt (and often love) for the 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 and it's an affair does not mean that, down the road, reality won't hit and guilt will set in, recriminations, confusions and crises. Or 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, unless the reunion is out in the open and the spouse agrees to accept it; or the marriage ends; or the reunion ends; denial of remorse and denial that the affair (or marriage, or both) will end badly, is easy.

So imagine the challenge of running a website of forums for lost love relationships. The people who feel guilt over their affairs get angry with 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 and the member returns and renews membership, sometimes years later. What they feel is, not uncommonly, even unknown to them and changes over time. Thus the forum Crisis/Totally Confused.



Nancy Kalish, Ph.D., is an Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the California State University, Sacramento. She is the author of Lost & Found Lovers.


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