Let’s look at Affair number 7, “I Want to be Close to Someone, But I Can’t Stand Intimacy.” This is often a long‑term affair that drags on over a period of time and not much change happens. Confronting the other person here, poses the risk that the distance between you and your spouse may increase. The cheating spouse may retreat even more, become even more distant, self‑disclose less and less because it’s as if they find it very, very difficult to handle that kind of exposure. I often say that in the “I want to be close to someone affair, but I can’t stand intimacy,” it’s like there is an elephant in the room that no one talks about. The risk is that the elephant may become bigger and take up more space in your life and that takes a tremendous amount of energy.
The reward here, in confronting the other person, is that you shake up the equilibrium in the triangle. That may be a catalyst for change. You’re doing something that prods this relationship for some kind of change because change probably has not been part of that relationship. It’s like throwing confetti up in the air and waiting for it to come down and see how it’s going to be re‑arranged. Often, there is a deep sense of relief here, because there has been an underlying current of tension for a long, long, long time. Again, that elephant is there. By taking the step of confronting the other person, there may be a sense of relief as if, “Wow! Finally, finally, finally, we’re doing something about it. I’m not sure what the outcome is going to be, but I certainly feel some relief.”