Type 2: Avoidance Affairs


Two Types of Avoidance Affairs:

  1. Intimacy Avoidance
  2. Conflict Avoidance

 About this affair type:

  • Contributing factor: The Martial style contributes to this type of affair starting.
  • Cheaters are often unsatisfied with the “emotional” interaction in the relationship.
  • Develops slowly and gradually
  • Usually know each other well
  • Feels like they are in love with affair partner
  • Recovery is tough for these types of affairs


Intimacy Avoiders are frightened of getting too close, so they keep the barriers high between them. Conflict is one barrier, affairs are another. Their emotional connection with each other is through frequent and intense conflict. Often, each spouse becomes involved in an affair. These couples are the mirror opposite of the Conflict Avoiders.

Characterized by:

  • Avoids Intimacy
  • Critical – hurtful words and comments
  • Bickering
  • Open conflict
  • Relationship feels safe because it is predictable
  • Efficient is a good description
  • Both people are “equal” in the relationship


Problem during recovery

  • Neither will take responsibility for the issues in the relationship
  • New rituals can be difficult to implement due to relationship efficiency
  • Can work if they both are open to trying something new
  • Will they see a different relationship as better?



Conflict Avoiders are nice — they’re terrified to be anything but nice, for fear that conflict will lead to abandonment or losing control. They don’t have a way to stand up to each other when there’s a problem, so they can’t resolve their difference and the marriage erodes.

  • Features of the Martial Relationship:
    • A predictable relationship = drudgery & lifelessness
    • Couple will either have:
      • Separate lives, activities, interests OR
      • One will control everything, and the other is obedient
    • The cheaters behavior will be vastly different during the affair, as they feel as new lease on life
    • It is very difficult for the betrayed spouse to hear the cheaters unmet need/s. Remember that in a “predicable relationship everyone thinks they are doing the right thing, and doing nothing wrong. So the betrayed spouse doesn’t like to be told there was something “they “ were not doing.
    • Because of this belief, it is difficult to work through affair recovery, and as a result, the relationship may not make it.
    • couple has not learned the skills of conflict resolution

The conflict avoidance affair screams to the spouse “I’ll make you pay attention to me”. Couples who cannot talk about the differences and disappointments may use an affair to get out from under a blanket of controlled amicability.

The strain is the more dissatisfied spouse, whether that is a husband or wife. The unfaithful partner always manages to be discovered, and the discovery blasts loose the covers and make it clear that there are several problems in the marriage.

The pattern can flow on into subsequent marriages.

The timing of the affair is tied to increased frustration combined with opportunity.

Why this affair happens
-preoccupation with a new baby,
-frustration over being told many times to do something
– work pressures that competes with the marriage
– The demands of an elderly parent
– A sense of inadequacy in gaining the spouses approval

The conflict being avoided stems from dissatisfaction that a spouse is not available. It may also come from a lack of attention or approving.

Many of these couples struggling with the normal disappointment that comes only in marriage when the honeymoon phase is over. Some expected that marriage would make them feel whole and just hasn’t done that. Others feel that voicing their discomfort could end the marriage. Rather than learning to interact with each other at a deeper level, these couples deny and avoid the uncomfortable feelings.

The couple has constructed their marriage to avoid conflict in the hopes of gaining emotional security.

As long as problems and conflicts are not verbalized, it is possible to believe that they do not exist. It is this denial that forms the shaky basis of the security. The affair is a clear message that the foundations of the marriage are not what they seem.

As the obsession with the affair dies down and the nature of the couples issues becomes known, rebuilding can begin.

The couple can appear to looks like the model couple . They can be somewhat perfectionistic. The couple tends to be trying to make their marriage work and please each other. But the pleasing appear to be self-sacrificing to the person.

Communication is limited by the efforts to avoid conflict. And also by the couples collusive focus on idealistic goals instead of on reality.

Underneath the surface is a tendency towards depression. They have a hard time expressing dissatisfaction. They also find it difficult to discuss problems. Sometimes they are not even aware of how dissatisfied they are.

In conflict avoidance affairs, differences get put aside, and resentments begin to pileup. The pressure builds and without verbal means to resolve the issues that exploded into an affair which is discovered.

The threat to the marriage is not the affair but the avoidance of conflict. The affair becomes a threat only when it’s message is misinterpreted or ignored.

Forgiving prematurely will be seen as doing nothing. The result will be more affairs. The message will be sent again and again until the messages heard

Why they shouldn’t end the marriage

– ending the marriage abruptly short changes both spouses, neither learns how to handle the normal give-and-take of the marriage
– there is a good prognosis for the marriage when the affair says as a catalyst for facing problems and learning how to resolve differences
– if they complete the seven step infidelity recovery program, and they decide to end the marriage – it will end with the understanding and closure if the spouses have addressed the issues with each other.

Family of origin

– they were told as a child that anger was bad
– they could have been punished for disagreeing

The Third Party

– The emotional ties between the infidel and the lover are not usually strong
– The loss is more the fantasy then the lover
– if the affair was with a friend or if there are emotional ties of any significance the infidel will need to grieve the loss

Treatment Strategy:

Problems will include:
– some couples choose to sweep the issues back under the rug and pretend all is well
– premature apologies
– deigning The existence of marital problems
– viewing the affair as a one time event
– engaging in distractions
– buying off the spouse
– if the personal belief is that affairs equal divorce, they will need help in seeing that other options exist
– A mild degree of narcissism often interferes with the spouses ability to accurately perceive the situation, as when feelings of worthlessness old offenses against such feelings, block out all the truths

SOURCE: The 7-Step Infidelity Recovery Program