How to build an ‘affair-proof’ relationship…

Photo by Andrew Nicholson

Firstly, it’s important to point out that there is no absolute way of guaranteeing an affair proof relationship. There are many factors to take into account; who your partner is as an individual, how they feel about themselves which will often determine how responsive they are to attention from others, whether they maintain healthy boundaries, and how drawn they are to variety, to name but a few. If these aren’t regularly occurring issues, then there are some fundamental things that every couple can do to make their relationship as strong and ‘affair proof’ as possible.

Affairs generally tend to begin when one partner’s needs are not being met within the relationship. Yet how many of us don’t even know what our own needs are, never mind our partner’s?

And then there’s the issue of communicating your needs… to many that may seem selfish. Or perhaps we feel our partner should just know what they are.

Unfortunately not…

Our partner can’t guess what our needs are, particularly if we don’t know what they are ourselves. This is why understanding yourself is vitally important, accompanied with the ability to communicate openly, honestly and lovingly. It is utterly liberating, yet so few couples ever discuss this. Having worked with many women who have been conditioned into putting their own needs last, many of them don’t realise just how much a man loves fulfilling his partner’s needs. She just needs to tell him what they are… quite simply, it makes him feel great to make his lady happy. But he can’t do anything about it if he doesn’t know.

Do you know that there are 10 fundamental needs within an intimate relationship? These are different to our everyday human needs as an individual, and arise as a direct result of entering into a relationship. Added to that, the order of importance of these needs differs for men and women. And yet we often fulfill what we think our partner’s needs are, based on our own because we assume they need what we need. We’ve worked with hundreds of couples, and haven’t found one couple yet whose needs were in the same order of priority.

When two people enter into a new relationship, by doing so, there is an unspoken agreement that certain needs will be met exclusively by their partner i.e. sex, affection, intimate conversation and so on. These needs can go unmet for a variety of reasons; either because their importance hasn’t been shared, one’s own needs aren’t known or are put aside, communication is unclear, or because one partner simply isn’t interested enough in meeting the other’s needs.

It’s here that things can become complicated, because over time, one partner is likely to begin viewing the other as a source of frustration rather than love. They may coast along in the relationship feeling unfulfilled for years, or sooner or later they may find that someone outside of the relationship begins to fulfill those unmet needs, often unintentionally. This can happen quite innocently, through chatting with someone who listens and cares, through a simple hug, you name it. The less an individual’s needs are being fulfilled at home, the deeper the impact when someone pays a small gesture to show they care. Mixing with people outside of your relationship is part and parcel of normal life, so how can you make your relationship as affair-proof as possible?

Well, one of the most important things to understand is the part you play in it. You see, each individual in a relationship holds a love bank account for their partner. We either make deposits or withdrawals to this account depending on how we show up in the relationship; how we communicate, how affectionate and loving we are, how we speak to them, how tactile we are, how open and honest we are, how needy, moody, critical, trusting, trustworthy to name but a few. Basically, with each and every thing you do or say to your partner, you will either be making a deposit or a withdrawal to the love account they hold for you. And their behaviour will be doing the same to the account you hold for them.

So, think about how you treat your partner, and which of the two you’re doing on a regular basis – depositing or withdrawing. Speak to your partner as a friend – someone who’s on your side, and if you need to point something out, do so in a loving energy. Take action to show you care. Say thank you. Be affectionate… there are literally hundreds of ways that you can show your partner how valued they are, how much they mean to you and how much you enjoy having them in your life. Everyone needs to feel valued in order to want to remain in a relationship.

Of course it’s normal to make the occasional withdrawal, because it’s essential that truths are shared honestly – this is the foundation of a solid relationship after all. However, if you’re making too many withdrawals and very few or no deposits, then sooner or later your account is going to go into dept. When someone outside of the relationship begins to make deposits, then suddenly your partner will find they have two love bank accounts;  yours and someone else’s who is fulfilling needs which make them feel valued… and if this person keeps making more deposits, whilst you make more withdrawals, then this is where problems occur.

So if you criticise your partner regularly, then along with this must come the understanding that the love account they hold for you also be depleting regularly too. It’s fine if it’s only now and again, but if you continue to do so whilst making few deposits, then it will continue to deplete. If the account becomes overdrawn, then love fades away and resentment sets in. If this is the situation, then someone outside of your relationship is going to have a very serious impact with every deposit they make.

Research also suggests that for every withdrawal you make in your relationship, it takes four positive actions to restore the balance back to what it was before.

This is why there’s usually a honeymoon period in most relationships, because deposits are being made left, right and centre and it’s a while before any withdrawals begin. A really good relationship should continue to build deposits until both love accounts are so high, they are practically unbreakable… and as a result, the love between you grows stronger, not weaker. Living life affectionately with one another on a day to day basis becomes the energy in which your relationship is conducted. If not, then why not?

After many years together, it should become easier to build a love bank, because you truly know one another and have accepted and appreciate your differences. You understand how to bring out the best in one another, love-making becomes better and better… right?

Unfortunately not for many, instead couples begin to nag, to criticise, to lose interest, they stop talking and start arguing, stop doing things together, love-making disappears… quite simply, they stop making the same effort they did when the relationship was in the early stages. Then life settles down into a general routine where very few needs are actually being met at all. A couple can eat together and watch TV together, but if that’s all they do, then it’s worth noting that neither of these activities are included in the 10 needs of a healthy relationship. It’s also wonderful to know that this can be turned around very easily, and before the possibility of an affair sets in.

Each and every one of us is responsible for the love account our partner holds for us. How you show up in your relationship and treat your partner is up to only one person – you – and no one else.

You can begin to make that difference today. When your partner comes home tonight, greet them at the door, hug them, kiss them, flirt a little… let them know how much they mean to you. Perhaps you could plan a little romance at home, or an evening out…  After all, this is the person you’ve chosen to share the intimacy of a relationship with, so why wouldn’t this be the norm?

No two people enter into a relationship with the intention of having an affair, so it’s much easier to bring affection and intimacy into your relationship now, than it is to repair it later.

I have to stress here that this is not by any means an excuse to have an affair. Not at all. Instead it’s an awareness of the reasons behind how and why they happen in the first place and the action you can take now to make your relationship as strong as possible. If you are at this stage in your relationship, then this is exactly the time to sit down and begin talking honestly and openly with your partner. If the love is still there between you, then it absolutely can be resolved if you’re both willing to make the effort with full awareness of what both of your needs are.

If after discussion your partner has expressed no interest in meeting your needs at all, then that should be your guide on whether to remain in the relationship or not. Either way, honest communication first and foremost is vital.

If you’re in a relationship with someone who makes continuous withdrawals from the love account you hold for them every day regardless of how well you treat them, then the greater question would be why are you choosing to remain in that relationship? Considering this question very realistically may provide some very powerful answers. Are you fearful of being alone? Do you prefer to be in an unhealthy relationship rather than no relationship at all? Are you drawn to people who mistreat you? Why? Understanding the deeper answers to these questions will help you move beyond them.

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