Part 1: The Affair Fog Theory Series
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 is ‘affair fog’ intended to mean?
Affair fog is generally applied by traditional reconciliation apologists as an overarching term for the mindset, behavior, and (some) physiological states of a cheater when in an affair. They consider that affair fog starts at the beginning of an affair and is generally consider it ‘lifted’ when the cheater ends their affair and returns to the marriage.
(Affair fog is also a term sometimes applied to the faithful spouse 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.
Read more about morphing in affair fog theory: Affair Fog Theory: Morphing
Dopamine is probably the most well-known chemical claimed to be 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).
One primary component of affair fog theory is a belief that there is a chemical cocktail at play during an affair. It is this cocktail that is believed to powerfully embroil the cheater in an affair fantasy world that is punctuated by irrational and unhealthy thinking and behaviors.
Read more about the biochemistry of affair fog theory: Affair Fog Theory: Biochemistry
Is Affair Fog a Valid Explanation for Affair Behavior?
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 hypothesis.
Read our concluding article: Affair Fog Theory: Excuse Smog
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
Built-in Failure: how subscribing to affair fog theory reduces your chance of successful reconciliation
Affair fog theory provides excuses and justifications for Divorce Avoidance Plans, but a Divorce Avoidance Plan is a troublingly low bar for your future. We see many Divorce Avoidance Plans in the immediate aftermath of an affair – and we see all of them either:
- head for divorce within a few years
- remain damaged and crippled by the affair, both spouses miserable
- result in yet another affair
Affair fog theory applies blinkers to the work and change that is necessary for a post-affair marriage to be rebuilt robustly and with integrity. We want better for you than a Divorce Avoidance Plan and want you to understand how it fails to facilitate the kind of long term change that will protect your relationship in the future. In our experience, affair fog theory itself is damaging to the long-term potential for successful reconciliation – and we believe that you deserve better.