Surfer falling off a surf board.

Affair Partner Withdraw: Surviving the Emotional Crash

Coming down off of a high with your lover sucks

Photo by Debora Cardenas on Unsplash

Catching feelings for your affair partner is tough to avoid because you’re fighting brain chemistry. There are higher highs and lower lows when you’re in love and as the emotions crash over you there’s little you can do. A great sex date can leave you feeling euphoric in the moment, but depressed and alone in the morning.

Reddit’s r/adultery, a subreddit for cheaters, sees adulterers asking the hard questions about emotions. Their pain is palpable, and emotions raw. If you can get over their adultery, you’ll see vulnerable people experiencing the toll love the wrong person takes.

Too bad for them you say. Sure. Until it happens to you.

Female Redditor “Crash,” Asks — Not my first affair, but it’s my first very meaningful one. The depth of feelings I have for this person really surprises me. I suppose I was not prepared for this. After a recent extended amount of time together, I find myself struggling. I understand and accept the nature of our relationship and will always respect our boundaries, set and agreed to by both of us. That said, the harsh realities are plaguing me today; this person is not my spouse. They are not my partner. Our time together is infrequent, limited, and a secret. For the most part, our worlds are separate.

I want more. So much more. I know I can’t, and I do mean it when I say that I accept that. I would rather have what I have with them now than not know them at all.

But… this Crash…

To those who know what I’m talking about… Help?

Many Redditors know what she’s talking about, and they respond. I didn’t respond, but I am exactly where she is, lost in dreams of my lover and holding on to every scrap I can get. I live the crash after every time we meet.

Female Redditor Responds — Similar boat here. I almost hate how much we are into each other. It’s been a while, and we both recently dropped our guards with each other and fell and are continuing to fall harder for each other. If it’s anything like the one I share with my AP, be open with them. It’s possible they’re feeling the same way, and you can at least know that the “crash” is being shared. It won’t necessarily make it any easier, but sharing those feelings helps, even when it’s with that secret someone.

Crash — I hold nothing back from them, this included. Thank you for sharing. I have always been one to talk about my feelings. It’s nice to discuss this situation with those who have been there!

Female Redditor “Coping” Responds — Two words to explain how I often feel… cognitive dissonance. Coping strategies:

  • Compartmentalization — put him, us, this into a parallel universe, a fantasy world that doesn’t exist, but the ‘we of us’ does, reminding myself this isn’t real, and therefore cannot exist in the real world, no matter how much I wish.
  • Remind myself every single day many times: he’s never leaving, we don’t have a future together, this is all it can and will ever be; I am not part of his future; therefore, don’t imagine him as part of mine out of respect for his commitment to his family and spouse. I am not the first, and I won’t be the last, so don’t get attached (the attachment is a separate component to the depths of my feelings)

Crash — Thank you. This is all very reasonable. I applaud your strength.

Coping — I’m not sure they are healthy, though!! I hope you feel better soon. This is not for the faint-hearted

Crash — It most certainly is not. Thank you.

Cheating isn’t for the faint-hearted. After you realize you need more than sex from your affair partner, the relationship gets more complex, intense, and scarier. The hardest part is wondering if it could be more.

Female Redditor Responds — I feel this so much! I do want more with my AP, but I know he won’t change his situation to be with me fully. And I’m not going to ask him too. I definitely understand the feeling of having this versus not having them. It is hard. It’s hard when you love them. But it’s good to find time for yourself and loving yourself, too. Wishing you the best to keep going forward!

Holding the shitty end of the stick sucks, until you realize it’s better than not having the stick at all. No matter how shitty that stick is, when you’re in love, you can’t let go.

Male Redditor Responds — write about how much sucks, and we are here to listen. My best friend moved away, so I would sit at the bar after work and drink. It did not work that well. I started making progress by writing about how I felt. It helped a lot since we really can’t openly share our misery.

This is the essence of the emotional rollercoaster during an affair. You can’t openly share your feelings — with anyone. When the crash comes, and it always does, you crash alone. The best you can hope for is that your spouse doesn’t notice.


When the intense emotions hit, there’s little you can do in the moment, but you can prepare for them. What I try to do is indulge those emotions if I can so they pass more quickly. I also always have a cover story for my sadness and emotional pain, so if my spouse asks why I’m crying, angry, or upset, I can tell them:

  • the bitch at work won’t leave me alone
  • work stress from deadlines is getting to me
  • my mother’s upset about what so-and-so did and is taking it out on me
  • I’m tired of covid because I can’t see my dad

Have a plausible story to channel your emotional crash into something your spouse and family will understand. What I don’t do is deny my feelings to myself. If I’m feeling it, I’m feeling it.

When you’re in an affair, ironically, honesty is what you need the most. As a cheater, you can fool everyone else around you without fear, but when you start fooling yourself, the bad shit starts.

r/adultery is the place to go to get that honesty.

Join my email list — HERE and get a free pdf copy of my ebook — How to Cheat: Field Notes from an Adulteress

© Teresa J. Conway, 2021

Author of How to Cheat: Field Notes from an Adulteress, several short stories, I'm active on Medium @teresajconway where I sometimes share my blog posts.

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