Sample Affair Break Up Letter - How To End Infidelity  | Marriage advice from Dr Kathy NickersonThe first step in healing from an affair is ending the affair. It's truly impossible to start making a relationship better while an affair is ongoing, so we have to stop the affair first.

To end the affair, I suggest that you and your spouse sit down and write a letter together to the other person (affair partner). The letter should mostly be written by the straying spouse (the one who had the affair) because it's critical that he/she starts to take responsibility for the choices that were made. I also want the straying spouse to "own" this letter and truly feel what he/she is writing. The letter should be short and clear, but not emotional in any way towards the affair partner.

 

 

 

Here's a sample break-up letter that I recommend my clients send (via mail or email) to their affair partner:

Jessica,

Out of respect for my wife, my children, and my marriage, I need to end our relationship immediately. I can no longer have any communication with you in any form. I realize that our affair was a very selfish choice and my family deserves to be treated with love and respect. While I cannot undo the choices I've made or the pain I have caused to my family, I can work diligently to make amends for my behavior. I love my family deeply and I will no longer do anything to risk their happiness. I will not be contacting you further and I ask that you do the same. I do not want to see you or hear from you. Please respect my decision to end our relationship and have no further communication.

Sincerely, Tom

You are welcome to copy this letter and personalize it in any way that makes sense to you.

(NOTE: Need help getting over an affair? Get our free Affair Recovery Roadmap, so you'll know exactly how to rebuild trust and heal your relationship. Just click here! )

Please note a couple of deliberate choices...

(1) I didn't say "Dear Jessica," because I don't want to convey any affection or emotion. This might give the affair partner some false hope and we don't want that.

(2) I repeat the phrase "end our relationship" twice so that it's very clear what the goal is here.

(3) I specifically ask for no further contact and then say "I do not want to see you or hear from you." This should make it crystal clear that no further communication is wanted.

(4) I resist the temptation to say anything nice or empathetic, like "I know this is painful for you too" or "I know this will hurt you" or "I am sorry I hurt you," etc. Even though those things may be true and would be nice to say, we need to stop all emotional contact with the affair partner. Saying something empathetic only keeps the emotional connection alive. I even debate using the word "Sincerely" in the closing of the letter, but I think it's ok. Leave it out if you prefer.

If you choose to email this letter, both of you should be in the room when it is sent so that nothing more can be added or taken away without the other spouse knowing. If you choose to mail the letter, address it, seal it and go mail it together. This may seem a little silly, but it's a significant moment showing that you are both putting an end to this affair together.

(NOTE: Struggling to cope with your partner's affair? Get our free Coping Guide + 11 Steps To Heal From An Affair, so you'll know exactly how to rebuild trust and heal your relationship. Just click here! )

After sending or mailing the letter, take steps to stop any further communication from the affair partner. Change emails, block emails, block texts, block numbers, etc. Do anything and everything you can think of to prevent the affair partner from reaching out.

The reason for this is that an affair is like an addiction. The first couple of days after going "cold turkey," we have great resolve and great commitment to our goals. Then pain sets in. We can tolerate pain for a while, but if our marriage is still fragile, we're probably not getting all the support we need there, so if the affair partner chimes in, it will be hard to resist responding and get some "medicine" for our pain. We need to avoid this at all costs.

I've had a few clients over the years try to do a break-up conversation via phone. The results were mixed and when the calls went bad, they went REALLY bad. I can recall a few verbal battles that the affair partner and the hurt spouse got into, then the hurt spouse was mad that the straying spouse didn't defend them. So for this reason, I no longer recommend phone break-ups.

(NOTE: Need help getting over an affair? Get our free Affair Recovery Roadmap, so you'll know exactly how to rebuild trust and heal your relationship. Just click here! )

UPDATE:

I recently received a really thoughtful note from a woman who feels the above letter is too mean. She explained that affair partners deserve compassion and care, especially if they were innocent in the affair and had no idea their lover was married. This is a very fair point!

So here's the thing... the purpose of a break up letter is to end the relationship AND make it very clear to everyone involved that the affair is over. Many injured spouses are very upset about the affair and incredibly angry at the affair partner. The injured spouse is usually very comforted by a harsh letter and often wishes it could be harsher!

That said, I think we must balance two things with such a letter: taking care of our hurt spouse and being kind to the affair partner. I'll admit that I am usually so concerned about saving the marriage that I don't think a whole lot about the affair partner, but as a human being who loves people, of course I care.

So with this in mind, please modify the letter about to meet your needs. I certainly don't think you need to be any harsher or more direct than we are above, but you could be kinder. And if you will still be working with the affair partner in the future, it makes sense to be as gentle as you can be. An affair partner who feels used and discarded may want to take revenge by telling HR, an employer, or anyone else so that they can inflict pain on you. So do be gentle and kind, but firm... the affair is over.

(NOTE: Struggling to cope with your partner's affair? Get our free Coping Guide + 11 Steps To Heal From An Affair, so you'll know exactly how to rebuild trust and heal your relationship. Just click here! )

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Tags: infidelity

Comments

  • Posted by Jody on

    Hi Dr Kathy,

    Whilst I understand that the main goal here is to end the affair and reassure the hurt spouse that it is over, I agree with Kelly in that your sample letter is way too harsh. You need to understand that in a great number of cases, the 2 people involved in the affair are truly in love, especially the affair partner and to receive a letter as cold as this one is cruel and is likely to cause severe long term emotional damage. I’m sure you would be aware that many women who become The Other Woman, already suffer from some form of emotional instability etc and feel immense negativity and hatred toward themselves already, so for the cheating spouse to be so cold hearted and emotionless not to say they are sorry to the affair partner or even acknowledge the pain they were also caused could in some cases push the affair partner into a breakdown or worse!
    I understand that in the situation of an affair, the wife/husband of the cheater is caused extreme hurt however no one ever wants to see the damage this type of thing has on the affair partner. The hurt spouse at least has the support of her friends and family along with her/his husband/wife who has decided to work the marriage out…however the affair partner has no one and is isolated due to the judgement of her/his actions, therefore suffering the pain of heartbreak and rejection totally alone without support or reassurance from a loved one.

    I’m glad to see you acknowledge the affair partner is human and had feeling also, I just suggest maybe re writing your sample letter to include the acknowledgment of hurting the affair partner as well as his/her family and that the affair partner deserves love and respect and more than what the cheating spouse is willing to offer.

  • Posted by Mustangsally on

    Wow. APs are feeling people, too. I would have told my AP that I understood and to go do what he had to do had he taken five minutes to call me instead of cutting me off cold turkey…I’m not unreasonable, emotionally damaged, or stupid. But I wasnt given that opportunity and had I received a letter like this, I think I would have felt a lot worse. I get that the betrayed spouse is paramount here, but after five years of him telling me how messed up his spouse was and me encouraging him to fix things, I deserve the compassion he’d have given a stranger when he finally got caught leaning on me emotionally by her.

  • Posted by Velma on

    Kelly,
    Yes, the affair partner is a human. I think the point here is to establish a clear boundary to make a new start with the betrayed spouse. Boundaries aren’t important to cheaters, including the affair partner, who clearly doesn’t respect those of the betrayed spouse. This letter indicates a willingness to set and respect boundaries. The affair partner needs to take responsibility for his/her self and do his/her own work on him/herself. It isn’t someone else’s partner’s responsibility to do that. It was the taking care of their selfish needs that caused all the pain to the betrayed partner to begin with. To continue that sick dynamic defeats the purpose and does nothing to assuage the hurt partner and move the couple toward healing.

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