I Hurt My Affair Partner | How Do I Avoid Hurting Him?

“I hurt my affair partner, and I feel so bad about it—what do I do now?” 

If you’ve said some version of this to yourself in the midst of your affair with a married man, you’re not alone. Every relationship has its fair share of ups and downs, so when you fall for your affair partner, the last thing you want to do is hurt them or have a negative impact on his feelings.

And when you feel like you have, the guilt that weighs on you can seem insurmountable. 

At the same time, you may have noticed how avoiding his discomfort often comes at your expense. When he feels down, you take it on—and you feel like it’s your fault. Keeping him happy has become your personal responsibility, and slowly it’s become more important than meeting your own needs.

In this blog, we’ll explore how to cope with feeling like you hurt your affair partner. You’ll also discover the difference between codependency and a healthy relationship dynamic, as well as some journal prompts to help you uncover where your relationship stands.

As an Affair Recovery Coach, I offer 1-1 services to help you navigate the unique circumstances of your affair relationship as the other woman. I also offer a support community where women in affairs with married men can connect with likeminded women who get it. Book a 15-Minute  free discovery call with me to learn more.

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Codependency and Feeling Responsible for His Feelings

You care deeply for your affair partner (AP), and holding space for his feelings is important to you. But at what cost does this come to you? If you’ve been prioritizing the needs of their partner to the detriment of your own well-being, or you feel a strong compulsion to “fix” or take care of your AP, you may be experiencing what’s referred to as a codependent attachment. 

Codependency in a relationship refers to a dysfunctional pattern of interacting in which one person’s needs or desires are subordinated to those of another person. This often involves an excessive reliance on the other person for approval, identity, and a sense of self-worth. 

It’s normal to desire a level of approval from your partner, but if your life begins to revolve around his emotions and what he’s feeling, it could be a sign you’re experiencing codependency. 

A graphic with a checklist describing a codependent affair for women thinking "I hurt my affair partner - what now?"

So often I hear stories of women showing patience for all that their affair partner is moving through with their family, their work and their divorce—which sounds something like this:

As a person with great capacity for empathy and care, it’s easy for you to see the best in your affair partner, even if it means neglecting your own well-being in the process. Codependency and affairs don’t always occur together, but they certainly can and often do. 

While you might have once felt vibrant and driven by your dreams, you may now feel like you exist solely to meet the demands and desires of the married man you’re seeing. 

Red Flags of An Unhealthy Dynamic in Your Affair Relationship

If the signs of codependency resonate with you, your relationship may also feel one-sided—especially when it comes to compromise or even sacrifice in keeping your partner happy. 

Being a highly caring person, it’s natural to see the best in your affair partners while neglecting your own well-being in the process. Common characteristics of power imbalanced, codependent relationships include:

Crossing boundaries. Do you have trouble setting and maintaining healthy boundaries? Do you feel bad when you say no to your affair partner? If your affair partner crosses the line and you feel uncomfortable or unsafe speaking up, it’s a sign that the power dynamic in your relationship is one-sided—in favour of him.

This can lead to feelings of resentment, not just towards your partner, but also towards yourself for allowing those boundaries to be crossed without consequence (even when avoiding confrontation under distress). 

Note: This graphic is not based on all affair dynamics. This data is collected from the reoccurring patterns of this affair community. In different types of affairs, the dynamic may flip.

A graphic showing unhealthy affair dynamics for both the other woman and the married man involved in the relationship

Angry outbursts. Are you scared to hurt your partner’s feelings? Do you feel like you are the one responsible for his angry emotions? You shouldn’t feel like you’re walking on eggshells when you want to express your true feelings and opinions with your affair partner. If this has become common in your dynamic, know that you deserve better than feeling constantly on edge or worrying about his reactions. Your thoughts, feelings, and experiences matter too.

Does your affair partner ever talk down to you, call you names, or put you down? In unhealthy relationships, your partner may seek to control you by encouraging poor self-image, which keeps you coming back to him for validation and approval. 

Controlling behaviour. Does your partner point to you as the cause of their difficulties? Intimidation and tactics like guilt-tripping or manipulation are common methods of control. His feelings are his responsibility, never yours. 

Are you noticing signs a married man is jealous and wants you to himself? This is common in affairs with married men. In fact, your affair partner may even implement rules, like being strictly monogamous with him, that you are expected to stick to… meanwhile he is not.

Are you scared to break up with a married man because you’re worried about their reaction? This could also indicate controlling behaviour in your relationship—especially if your expressed desire to leave is met with threats of any sort, for example: “But you are the best thing that’s ever happened to me, what will I do without you” or “you won’t ever get sex better than what we have together”

These are just a few indications of unhealthy relationship dynamics, especially those that present in a codependent relationship. If codependency and infidelity both play a role in your relationship, it can heighten emotions and make seeing your relationship clearly that much more difficult. 

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Rationalizing Your Affair Partner’s Behaviour

There was a time when your affair partner’s world revolved around you, but now your entire life centers on them. You’ve bent over backwards to meet their every need and ultimately get the approval you’re longing for. 

Yet, over time, it’s become clear that no matter what you do or don’t do, you notice they never truly find long-term satisfaction. There always seems to be a problem—and that problem always seems to fall on you as your responsibility or fault. Though his words and actions impact you greatly, you do your best not to take it personally. 

In situations like these, it’s not uncommon to rationalize your affair partner’s behaviour by attributing it to something else. For example: 

  • The stress he’s experiencing at work
  • The challenges that accompany the end of a marriage
  • The desire to shield the kids from pain
  • The belief that his jealousy or anger may stem from past trauma 

Your natural inclination for understanding and compassion may cultivate a profound sense of responsibility for your partner’s emotional well-being, often at the cost of your own happiness. This prolonged empathy can become a heavy burden, ultimately hindering your ability to prioritize your desires and assert your needs in a relationship.

Healthy Relationship Reflection Questions

Is your affair relationship healthy or unhealthy? The married man you’re seeing may know how to say all the right things, but sometimes words and phrases that seem kind on the surface can actually be somewhat manipulative—and even be used intentionally in an attempt to hold you responsible for his well being. 

A graphic with a quote from a married man in an affair that reads "You're the only one who truly understands me"

Here are what those phrases sound like:

“I’ve never met anyone as amazing as you; you’re the best thing in my life.”

“You’re the only one who truly understands me.”

“I don’t know what I’d do without you; you complete me.”

“My life was a mess before I met you, and you’ve saved me.”

“You make me a better person; without you, I’d be lost.”

If these phrases are familiar and you’re wondering if you’re bearing the weight of his emotions more than you should be, a little reflection can help you explore further and find answers. Here are 12 questions to assess if your connection is healthy or if it’s causing you to compromise yourself: 

  1. Have I noticed a pattern of my affair partner using overly emotional or dramatic statements to get me to do what they want? 
  2. Do I feel a sense of guilt or obligation when my affair partner makes such statements, as if I must prioritize their needs over my own?
  3. Am I starting to believe that my affair partner relies on me for their emotional well-being and happiness?
  4. Do I find it difficult to imagine life without my affair partner because I’ve come to see them as someone who can’t function or be happy without me?
  5. Do I feel anxious or fearful at the thought of my affair partner suddenly ending our secret relationship or being unhappy without me if I end the affair? 
  6. Have I made sacrifices or compromised my own needs to prevent my affair partner from potentially leaving or becoming upset?
  7. Do I find myself seeking constant validation and approval from my affair partner, and does this drive me to neglect my own needs? 
  8. Have I noticed that my sense of self-worth is closely tied to my ability to meet my affair partner’s needs and make them happy?
  9. Have I observed a decline in my self-esteem and self-worth over time, particularly in relation to my affair partner’s needs and emotional state? 
  10. Do I feel that my value as a person is contingent on my ability to cater to my affair partner’s desires?
  11. Do I often experience feelings of guilt when I consider my own needs, interests, or leaving the affair relationship?
  12. Have I felt trapped in the relationship because I believe my affair partner’s well-being depends on my presence and support?

Coping with Feeling Responsible for Your Affair Partner’s Feelings

When it comes to relationships, the most important thing you can do is tend to your own needs first—and yes, this includes affair relationships too. Just because your relationship exists under unique (and difficult) circumstances doesn’t mean you deserve to be treated as “less than”. 

Often we fear that if we put our needs before our affair partner, then he will no longer care for you in the way he does right now. But this thinking is a recipe for disaster. Essentially, you’re telling yourself “I have to change myself to be loved by this married man”.

While it’s important to consider your partner’s feelings, a pattern of putting them above your own could indicate codependency and an unhealthy power dynamic over time, which leads to losing yourself in the relationship .

Remember: Guilt tripping, name calling, intimidation, and controlling behaviour has no place in your relationship, whether it’s with a married man or not. Feeling too overwhelmed with guilt to express your own needs in your relationship is a sign it’s time to reach out for help. 

If you’re navigating a relationship with a married man and you’re looking for support, join our community. Inside our community, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with women who have been in your shoes and can relate to what you’re going through. 

Access to our community starts with jumping on a short call with me. Let’s connect so you can ask any questions you have and see if you’d be a good fit. Although you may have been feeling alone up until now, you don’t need to move forward all on your own.

More resources to help you navigate your relationship with your affair partner:

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