Part 1: The Affair Fog Series
This is the first in a series of posts exploring the theory of affair fog in cheaters.
What Is Affair Fog?
Infidelity sites commonly refer to affair fog (as it applies to the cheater, though some will extend the scope of affair fog to also include confusion in the faithful spouse), but what actually is it?
Affair fog is generally applied as an overarching term for the mindset, behavior, and (some) physiological states of a cheater when in an affair. Affair fog is considered to start at the beginning of an affair and is generally considered ‘lifted’ when the cheater ends their affair and returns to the marriage.
(In the faithful partner, affair fog is generally a term that seeks to highlight skewed and often codependent thinking, a reluctance (or refusal) to see the cheater and the situation in the stark light of reality, and/or unrealistic hope or expectations of the cheater’s return.)
Components of Affair Fog
There are some common components contained in most definitions of cheater affair fog that include:
1. Mental Health
While affair fog is often colloquially defined as insanity, there are specific mental health disturbances that many faithful spouses seek to identify in their cheater. These commonly include (but are not limited to):
- narcissistic personality disorder
- bipolar disorder
- schizophrenia/multiple personality disorder
- family of origin issues
- midlife crisis
Read more about mental health in affair fog theory: Affair Fog Theory: Mental Health
2. Sex/Love Addiction
Dr Marty Klein explains the sex addiction model:
“In the literature, the sex addict is typically described as:
Someone who frequently does or fantasizes sexual things s/he doesn’t like; Someone whose sexual behavior has become unstoppable despite serious consequences (including, according to Dr. Patrick Carnes, unwanted pregnancy); Someone whose sexual behavior and thoughts have become vastly more important than their relationships, family, work, finances, and health; Someone whose sexual behavior doesn’t reflect her/his highest self, the grandest part of her/his humanness;
According to the National Association of Sexual Addiction Problems, “6% or 1 out of 17 Americans are sexual addicts.” That’s about 14 million people.”
Read more about sex addiction in affair fog theory: Affair Fog Theory: Sex Addiction
3. Character Change
Many faithful partners observe their cheater’s behaviors during the affair as a sudden, complete, and dramatic departure from their cheater’s true personality. They struggle to reconcile this new personality with their historic experience and understanding of their cheater’s character. They attribute these new behaviors and choices of their cheater primarily to the results of:
- The undue influence of the affair partner.
- Influence of drugs/alcohol etc.
- Brainwashing by the affair partner resulting in loss of empathy for the plight of the faithful partner, and numbness and submission to faithful partner.
- Unwarranted grievances and anger towards the faithful partner for issues within the relationship.
- The affair partner using sexual reward and withholding to control the cheater’s actions towards the faithful partner.
- Blackmail by the affair partner, threatening to expose the affair to employers, family, friends etc.
Read more about character change in affair fog: Affair Fog Theory: Character Change
4. Psychological Morphing
The seemingly complete and sudden change in a cheater’s personality during an affair is often attributed to not just confused, disordered thinking, but to Salber’s model of psychological morphing.
Dopamine is probably the most well-known chemical involved with the pleasure and eurphoria associated with an affair. Some other chemicals often cited as being involved in the formation of romantic relationships are phenylethylamin (infatuation stage), adrenaline (physical responses) oxytocin (bonding stage), and nonrepinephrine (falling in love).
The chemical cocktail at play during an affair is often considered to be the primary component of affair fog, and the one that most powerfully embroils the cheater in an affair fantasy world that is punctuated by irrational and unhealthy thinking and behaviors.
Is Affair Fog Valid?
The issues of mental health, libido, affair behaviors, and physiological responses to certain stimuli are, of course, legitimate in their own right. The bigger question though is whether these topics form a valid and robust collective explanation for affair behavior.
At face value it might appear that these individual elements aggregate into a comprehensive and compelling basis for the commonly espoused affair fog theory. Since faithful partners generally react to affair discovery with an immediate, knee-jerk desire to save the relationship, popular affair fog theory reassures them that their cheater’s behaviors are the result of a temporary departure from their true selves. The affair fog theory extends to further reassure that once the affair fog lifts, the cheater will return to their true natures and thus return to the marital fold.
When presented with this theory while trying desperately to secure the survival of their relationship, it is unsurprising that so many faithful partners subscribe to the affair fog idea.
The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it.
~ George Bernard Shaw
The upcoming articles will review these constituent elements of affair fog theory and explore its legitimacy as an explanation for a cheater’s behaviors.