Your Secret is Safe with Me with Dr. Marie Murphy | When Will I Stop Fantasizing About My Ex-Affair Partner?

192: When Will I Stop Fantasizing About My Ex-Affair Partner?

Jun 19, 2024

Do you ever find yourself fantasizing about your ex-affair partner? Do you torture yourself reminiscing on the wonderful times you shared, and the amazing memories you hold with them, even though the infidelity situation has since come to an end? I recently received a question from a listener facing this exact situation who wanted to know when this pain and hurt would just end already! And this has formed the basis for this week’s episode.

It is so easy to think there should to be a time limit on when we hurt and feel pain. Our infidelity situation ends, the pain should stop, and we should be free and able to move on, right?! Well, sometimes, that may be the case. But what if that time doesn’t come? What if the pain and hurt continue longer than you would like or expect?

Regardless of how your infidelity situation ended, the lingering hurt can be debilitating. Floods of tears, staying stuck in the pain, feeling empty and deflated; it’s A LOT. But the right tools mixed with the right effort can lead to some pretty amazing changes, and it is possible to stop fantasizing about your ex-affair partner, it all starts with approaching your challenges in a different spirit.

In this week’s episode of Your Secret is Safe With Me, find out the reasons you might still be fantasizing about your ex-affair partner, and how to start to ease your way out of this if you really do want to relegate your memories to the compost bin of history.

I share some tips to help you take action that is right for you the next time you notice yourself thinking about your ex-affair partner and the three choices you always have available to you when it comes to fantasizing about your ex-affair partner.


Are you ready to resolve your infidelity situation in a way that you feel great about? There are two ways we can work together:

Why wait any longer to find some relief and a clear path forward?  Let’s get you the guidance and support you need today!


What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why it is entirely possible to acknowledge challenges without turning them into problems or stopping points when dealing with your infidelity situation.
  • Two important reasons it might be challenging for you to resolve your infidelity situation.
  • How to practice allowing your thoughts about your ex-affair partner to be less interesting to you, and why doing so doesn’t mean instantly deleting them from your consciousness.
  • Why I believe it is such a great tragedy that we tend to shy away from doing things that we believe will be “too hard.”

Listen to the Full Episode:


Featured on the Show:

Are you ready to resolve your infidelity situation in a way that you feel great about? There are two ways we can work together:

Resolving your infidelity situation may take some effort. And it is also totally do-able. Why stay stuck for any longer?  Let’s find you some relief and a clear path forward, starting today.


Hi everyone, I’m Dr. Marie Murphy, and I’m a non-judgmental infidelity coach.  If you are cheating on your partner, or engaging in anything you think counts as infidelity, I can help you deal with your feelings, clarify what you want, and make decisions about what you’re going to do.  No shame, no blame, no judgments.  If you are ready to resolve your infidelity situation in a way that’s truly right for you, I can help you do it.  There are two ways you can have me as your coach.  You can purchase my self-guided course, You’re Not the Only One, which contains powerful teachings and assignments that help you apply my teachings to the specifics of your unique infidelity situation.  This course is a great option for you if you like learning on your own and you’re good at holding yourself accountable to making use of what you learn.  We can also work together one-on-one.  When we work together one-on-one, you get my undivided attention on you and your infidelity situation, you get highly personalized attention from me.  If you’re serious about making change, and you’re ready deal with your infidelity situation in a way that you feel great about, working with me might be the best investment you ever make.  To get started working with me one-on-one, or to purchase my self-guided course, go to the services page of my website,


Today I’m going to answer a question from a podcast listener about when their sexual fantasies of their ex-affair partner will stop, but before I get to that, I want to address what I consider to be a glaring omission on this podcast.  And that omission is this.  Some of my clients resolve their infidelity situations surprisingly quickly, and they are delighted with the resolution to their situation that they create.  I don’t talk about that nearly enough!


Instead of doing that, I tend to emphasize the challenges associated with infidelity situations, and I tend to emphasize the effort it may take to deal with these challenges.  And I do think it’s important to recognize that many people find their infidelity situations pretty darn challenging to deal with, and I want to be really upfront about the effort it may take to resolve your infidelity situation in a way that you feel good about.  I think it’s important to be upfront about this for a lot of reasons, and I’ll share two of the big ones. 


Here's the first reason I emphasize that it may be challenging to resolve your infidelity situation.   We sometimes shy away from things that we think are “too hard,” or we avoid doing things that we think are going to be “too hard.”  And I think one of the reasons why we shy away from dealing with things that we think are going to be too hard to deal with is because we think we won’t be able to do them.  And what happens when we think this way is we tend to prove ourselves right.  If we think something is going to be too hard and we don’t try to do the hard thing, we won’t get the hard thing done!  And we often interpret that as evidence that the reason why we couldn’t do the thing was because it was too hard.  But that actually isn’t the reason why we didn’t get the thing done.  The reason is that we didn’t even try.


And that, in my opinion, is a great tragedy!  Not doing things because we think they’ll be too hard to do and then thinking that the reason why we couldn’t do them is because they were objectively hard to do is a damn shame. 


Here’s the thing that I think is really important.  The solution to this sort of tragedy is NOT to say, “Oh, that thing you think will be hard to do is actually not hard at all.”  That simply might not be true, in our experience of dealing with the thing.  BUT, if we want to get the hard thing done, and we’re WILLING to deal with it being kinda hard to do, we can usually get the hard thing done.  Instead of wanting things to be easier, we can approach challenges in a different spirit.  So that’s one of the reasons why I tend to emphasize the challenges associated with dealing with infidelity situations.  People often do find infidelity situations challenging to resolve, and we can acknowledge challenges without turning challenges into problems!  Rather, the problem may lie in resisting challenges, or trying to avoid challenges, or not knowing how to engage with challenges.  And the solution may lie in learning how to relate to challenges in a totally different way.  And perhaps obviously, that’s what I help people do.  And also perhaps obviously, I think learning how to approach challenges in a different way is LOT more productive than trying to avoid things that we find challenging, or attempting to tell ourselves that we don’t actually find the things we consider challenging all that challenging. 


The second big reason why it’s important to me to emphasize that infidelity situations can be challenging to deal with and that it may take effort to surmount these challenges is because the coaching industry has kind of a bad reputation for promising that hard things will be easy, and that you can do anything, and that you can get the results you desire super easily if you just follow the proven step-by-step formula that a particular coach is selling you.


That is the kind of sales pitch that I want to stay as far away from making as I can.  I think these kinds of promises are at best a little problematic.  Right?!  But what I’ve started to realize lately is that in my effort to stay away from over-promising the benefits of coaching, I’ve also been under-emphasizing, or underselling the benefits of coaching.  And I don’t want to undersell the benefits of coaching, because coaching – as I practice it, anyway – has helped me tremendously, and has helped my clients tremendously, too.  And why on earth would I want to under-emphasize that?  Quite simply, it’s because I’ve wanted to err on the side of caution.  I haven’t wanted to sound like a snake-oil salesperson.


But what I’ve realized is that my caution, however well-intended it may be, may be doing a great disservice.  Here’s my completely honest but slightly less cautious sales pitch.  Resolving your infidelity situation may be challenging, but it is also super-doable, and the right coaching can help make resolving your infidelity situation a whole lot MORE do-able! 


And, it is also the case that some people find their infidelity situations SIGNIFICANTLY easier to deal with as a result of working with me.


Some of the folks I work with find a substantial amount of relief after one or two sessions with me.  Some of the folks I work with put the things I teach them into consistent practice right away, and start reaping the benefits of using the concepts and tools I teach them very quickly.  Some of the folks I work with start making brave changes in their infidelity situation within weeks after we start working together.  Some of the folks I work with feel like they’ve solved problems that they thought were unsolvable after we’ve worked together for a couple of months.  Some of the folks I work with find that they are able to resolve their infidelity situation in a way that is even better than they thought they were allowed to hope for. 


And sometimes people make big choices and big changes within the span of several weeks or a few months.  Sometimes people who come to me thinking that their infidelity situation is going to be IMPOSSIBLE to resolve, or will take FOREVER to resolve end up amazing themselves by how efficiently they were able to handle their business, and how pleased they are with the way in which they’ve handled their business.


Now, the client’s role in creating these outcomes is significant.  The greatest athletes in the world are the ones who win the gold medals and the championships and the whatever.  And, do you know of any elite athletes who don’t have coaches?  I don’t.  Maybe there are elite athletes who don’t have coaches and I just don’t know about it.  It’s a big world, after all, and there are many things I do not know about what goes on in the world.  But I’m pretty sure that most, if not all elite athletes have coaches, and have had coaches for their entire careers.  And even though it’s the athlete who wins the game, the coaching they get is a significant part of what it took to make them the athlete who could win the game.


And that’s basically how it works with me helping you resolve your infidelity situation.  If you bring your readiness to get to work and your willingness to put new things into practice, we may be able to find you a resolution to your infidelity situation pretty darn efficiently, and you may be amazed by how delighted you are with the outcomes you create.  This is definitely something that happens with my clients, and it happens all the time. 


Now, I want to be really clear that although some of my clients make big changes within their infidelity situations very quickly, and feel awesome as a result, this isn’t everyone’s experience.  For some of the folks I work with, change does not come so quickly. 


And one reason why that’s true is everyone I work with is starting from a different place in their life and in their infidelity situation.  Some folks come to me pretty sure of what they want, and pretty ready to take action in the service of what they want, and they want my help confirming their decisions and taking brave steps forward.  On the other hand, sometimes people come to me and they’re awash in fear and uncertainty and self-doubt and confusion.  They know they want change, but they don’t know what changes they want, and they’re not even sure that change is possible for them.  And what I want you to know is, if that’s where you are, that’s fine.  And, if that’s where you are, it’s probably going to be a matter of months, not weeks, before we can get you to a place where you feel confident in what you want, and ready to take action in the service of what you want.


Sometimes we have to clean off a really dirty windshield before we can see clearly.  Sometimes we have to build up our capacity to do something before we can actually do the something.  Sometimes, even when we work diligently and consistently towards a particular goal or set of goals, it takes us a fair amount of time and effort to get there.  And none of this is an indication that anything has gone wrong in the cosmic scheme of things!  If we’re starting from a place of major confusion, it may take longer for us to get what we want out of the coaching process.  If we’re starting from a place of relative clarity and certainty, coaching may help us make some big changes pretty quickly. 


It’s also really important for me to emphasize that we may not know how long something is going to take until we actually start doing the thing.  I like to emphasize that you can DECIDE to make resolving your infidelity situation as efficient of a process as possible, and I think that’s a decision that you might want to consider making. 


But even when we make that decision, even when we say, “Okay, I have decided to resolve my infidelity situation as efficiently as I reasonably can, and I’m committed to doing what I need to do in order to make that possible,” there’s a difference between being efficient as we can be, and attempting to rush things that can’t be rushed.  Sometimes we think we’re on a pretty clear journey from point A to point B, but when we actually embark upon that journey, it turns out that in order to get from point A to point B, we have to go up a mountain and down a mountain, and then we have to cross a river, and then we have to take a major detour around a massive sinkhole, and then we have to lay down and take a nap because we’ve walked for forty days and forty nights nonstop, and we’re tired!  We thought the path from point A to point B was going to be short and free of obstacles, but once we actually walked the path, we found out otherwise.  And this does not have to be considered a problem.  It may SEEM like a problem if all you want is an easy solution and you want it right now, but if that’s what you want, the problem may lie in your expectations.


It's also really important to mention that the folks who work with me who get results they are delighted with and get them relatively quickly put effort into making change.  Nobody I work with gets awesome results without putting in a certain quality of effort and quantity of effort.  When we use tools and approaches that are actually helpful, putting effort into making change doesn’t have to be an onerous process.  But it still takes effort, AND it takes willingness to allow for change to occur.


The right tools plus the right effort can lead to some pretty amazing changes pretty quickly.  And, it’s also so important for me to note that even when we put earnest effort into making change, the changes we desire take longer to come about than we might like them to.  And what I see fairly often is that the folks I work with who are willing to hang in there and continue working to resolve their infidelity situation get to a resolution they feel great about, even if the process takes longer than they thought it should, or takes longer than they would have liked it to.  And what I really want to say about this is that although I think that intentionally committing yourself to efficiency rather than unconsciously committing yourself to dilly-dallying is great, diligence matters more than speed.  Diligently working towards a particular outcome is what will get you there no matter what.  And trusting that it’s okay if resolving our challenges takes longer than we might like, and trusting that resolving our challenges might be even more challenging than we would have liked it to be helps us diligently work towards the changes we desire.


So another thing I see quite often is that my clients don’t resolve their infidelity situation quickly or easily, but they hang in there until they get the job done.  And they get to reap all of the benefits of their own tenacity, and that’s a beautiful thing for them, and it’s a delight for me to witness.


Finally, I want to mention that sometimes after working with me for a while, my client will say, “You know what, I’m just not ready to make any changes right now.  I’m going to choose to stick with the status quo, or I’m going to choose to kick the can down the road, and I’m okay with that.”  And for some people, that’s the best thing for them to do at that moment in their lives.  Consciously deciding to not make any big decisions is sometimes just right for us, AND, in my opinion, there’s an enormous difference between consciously deciding that we don’t want to make any decisions and unconsciously avoiding making decisions.


One time, after I’d been working with a client for several months, they said to me, I’m just not going to make any decisions right now and I’m okay with that, but I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed in me.  And I said that I absolutely wasn’t.  And the client said, “But isn’t it frustrating for you when you work with someone for a while and they seem like they’re going to do some big badass thing and then they decide they just can’t do it?”  And I said, absolutely not.  My agenda is to help my clients do what’s truly right for them.  And part of my job is to help clients be ruthlessly honest with themselves in deciding what’s truly right for them.  But I don’t have a pony in the race.  If you work with me for a while and you decide you just aren’t ready to make any choices or changes, I consider that a win of sorts.  Getting to that sort of clarity is something.  And also, there are times when I get an email from a client a year or so after we’ve stopped working together and they say something to the effect of, hey, I just wasn’t ready to make the kind of changes that we talked about, but since I spoke to you last, I’ve transformed my life in ways I never imagined I could, and I’m so much happier now, and I know that working with you is what got me to the point of being able to do all of this.    


So!  Although everyone’s experience of working with me to resolve their infidelity situation is a little different, I want to be clear that lots of my clients resolve their infidelity situations in ways they are DELIGHTED with.  And although there’s no prize for speed, some people do make pretty quick work of dealing with their infidelity situations.  If you’re willing to put the effort into making change, having the right tools and the right support can help you get the job done a lot more efficiently.  And that’s important because you don’t want your life to be defined by your infidelity situation forever.  At least, you probably don’t.  At some point, you probably want to be able to focus on other things. 


And that is actually a great segue to this question from a podcast listener.  I’ve lightly edited this person’s question for clarity, and if you submit a question, chances are good that I will lightly edit your question, too.


The question is, when will I stop fantasizing over my ex-affair partner sexually? 


It’s been almost 8 months since my affair partner and I broke up, and I’m still so sad. I still cry at night, or if I give him too much thought/room in my head.  When I am alone and playing with myself I cry.  Maybe not at first, I start by thinking generic things - scenes of sex or porn or something unrelated to my ex-affair partner. 


But soon my mind has taken all the sex moments my affair partner and I had together, cuts them all up and replays them like a movie.  I moan and whisper his name, and as I am climaxing, I can feel the tears rising and building behind my eyes.  I cum and then burst into floods of tears immediately, if not before. 


I can honestly say I forgive my ex-affair partner, and I am not angry or resentful anymore.  I understand why he broke it off with me and the reasons.... but I’m so fucking sad. 


I've sat with the pain and allowed so many moments to just be with the hurt and learn from what I have experienced... but I also feel so empty and deflated from life now.


I feel very stuck in my pain still and although I can forgive him from afar, the hurt is debilitating in some moments. 


Is there a timeline when this should be over please?  I’ve tried to work out why I’m still stuck in the hurt locker, but it’s boggling my mind.


Okay.  There are multiple things going on within this listener’s question that I want to address.  The first thing I want to say is that although we tend to think there ought to be a time limit on experiencing sadness or pain or grief or hurt, there may not be.  Sometimes, when a relationship comes to an end, we hurt for longer than we want to.  And sometimes we may want to examine what’s really behind our pain – more about that in a minute – but sometimes we simply have to allow ourselves to feel our pain for longer than we might like to!  Crazy, right?  I know!  The idea that we might have to experience pain for longer than we would like to sounds crazy sometimes.  But some things just take longer to run their course than we might like.


Also, some things in life may be sad forever!  I talk about my dogs from time to time on this podcast, so I’ll use the death of my first dog as an example here.  It’s been almost two years since Seymour died, and I’m still sad when I think about his death.  Sometimes I’m SUPER sad when I think about the creature he was, and how he isn’t around anymore.  Sometimes I miss that little fucker a LOT.  I don’t spend NEARLY as much time in those thoughts and feelings as I used to, but the sadness isn’t gone, exactly.  It just takes up less space in my life than it once did.


Along those lines, the person who asked this question said they were sometimes giving their ex-affair partner “too much” space in their head.  And I want you, the person who asked this question, to ask yourself WHY you’re giving your ex-affair partner too much space in your head.


My guess is that it’s because you’re getting something you enjoy out of thinking about him.  If thinking about him turns you on, that’s a pretty good indication that you’re getting something you REALLY enjoy out of thinking about him.  Revisiting your memories of having sex with him probably feels GREAT, at least in some ways, or to some extent.  It sounds like he’s still part of your sexual life, even if he isn’t physically present anymore.  And my guess is that you kind of like keeping him around in that way, right?  If the sex with him was really good, you may like thinking about that!  Even if thinking about him also gives you an occasion to miss him, which you might not like, it’s important to recognize that you are getting some benefit out of thinking about him and fantasizing about him.  And again, I’m just guessing here.  If you really aren’t getting any pleasure out of thinking about him, then these comments of mine may not be all that helpful.  But it sounds like you’re getting a lot of pleasure out of thinking about him! 


On top of that, I’m also willing to bet that part of you ENJOYS missing him.  It may hurt to miss him, but there can be some drama and excitement in missing someone, and our brains tend to like drama and excitement.  Even when it seems like unpleasant drama, you might prefer the drama of missing your ex-affair partner to the alternative.


What might the alternative to missing your ex-affair partner be, you ask?  Well, the alternative might be feeling bored.  Or less than entertained.  Or maybe empty and deflated.  Or maybe the alternative to actively missing your affair partner is you stop having an excuse to not confront something in your life that you aren’t particularly interested in confronting.  Sometimes ruminating over a relationship that’s ended helps us distract ourselves from other aspects of our life that might need attention.


Sometimes we just kind of like having a wubbie.  Some of you probably know exactly what I mean when I say that, but some of you, quite reasonably, might not, so let me explain.  Sometimes little kids have a special toy or stuffed animal or something that they carry around everywhere with them and they cannot go anywhere without.  I know I had a few of those when I was little.  And people have all kinds of names for these things, but sometimes we call them a wubbie.  The kid needs their special something, or needs their special friend to hold onto.  And adults sometimes get themselves wubbies, too.  And sometimes, that wubbie takes the form of a particular experience we don’t want to let go of.  We want to have our special something, even if it only exists in our thoughts, and we want to hold onto it, because it’s just so darn special to us!  And the story of whatever happened with you and your affair partner, and your whole thing about missing him and wondering when you’re going to stop missing him may be functioning as your wubbie.


And that’s not a problem if it’s not a problem!  If you have a wubbie and you like it and it isn’t causing you any trouble, then by all means, keep it. 


But do you want to keep it?


Sometimes it’s kind of nice to keep on engaging with our memories of someone, even if it’s sad to do so.  More specifically to this person’s question, if you get intense sexual pleasure out of thinking about someone, you might not really want to give that up!  You might WANT to keep on thinking about your ex-affair partner, even if it’s sad.


Maybe the sadness isn’t actually such a bad thing!  Or maybe, the sadness IS something you don’t like, but it’s something you’re willing to put up with because the benefits of thinking about your ex-affair partner outweigh the drawbacks.


So what I want to suggest is that you have three main choices.  You can keep on thinking about your affair partner as you have been, and you can keep on viewing the sadness as a problem.  Or you might want to keep on fantasizing about your ex-affair partner, and reframe your relationship to the sadness that comes with doing so.  Maybe the sadness isn’t a problem.  Maybe it’s just a normal human emotion that comes and goes.  Maybe you can tolerate the sadness in a different way, if you really like the pleasure that comes with thinking about your affair partner.  Maybe the sadness is just the price of admission to having a really good orgasm.


Now, on the other hand, you are also totally entitled to want to stop thinking about your affair partner.  You may want to relegate your memories of your ex-affair partner to the compost bin of history.  So that’s the third main option.  You decide that you’re willing to give up your wubbie, and you decide that you’re going to actively relinquish your fantasies about your ex-affair partner.  This is something that’s totally possible to do, but it will take effort, and your efforts will not be successful if you don’t truly want to relinquish your memories of your ex-affair partner.  If you want to be done with the sadness, but you’re not really ready to stop replaying the pleasurable memories, your desires may be at odds with your stated goal.


Assuming that you really do want to relegate your memories of your ex-affair partner to the compost bin of history, your job, in the simplest terms, is to be less interested in those memories.  How can you find your memories of your ex-affair partner less compelling?  If you find yourself getting sucked into thinking about him, how can find it preferable to stop thinking about him, rather than to continue thinking about him?

If you and your ex-affair partner ended things about eight months ago, and you’re still thinking about him now, you may have developed a pretty entrenched habit of thinking about him, and of treating your memories of him as compelling, and worthy of your attention.  But even if the habit is strong, you can start to ease yourself out of it.  When you notice yourself thinking about him, you can pause, and consciously decide what you want to do.  Do you want to keep thinking about him?  Maybe you do – and if you choose to, that’s okay.  But if you don’t want to keep thinking about him, you don’t have to keep indulging the memories.  It’s kind of like driving by the candy store and deciding not to go in and buy some candy.  Or the whatever store.  Maybe you’re trying to quit drinking, but you always pass your favorite wine shop on your way home.  Or your favorite bar, or whatever.  You don’t have to get all lost in the romance of how much you love wine or tequila or Pabst Blue Ribbon or whatever you like to drink.  You can just be like, oh, yeah, there’s the wine store, but I’ve got other things to focus on.


Now, let me be clear that when I work with people on this stuff, we do a lot of interactive coaching!  There is only so much that can be accomplished through the podcast!  So if you want to release your memories of your ex-affair partner to the compost bin of history but you need some help doing it, that’s what coaching is for.  But to briefly reiterate the simplest possible point, you can allow your memories of your ex to be less interesting to you.


And this is true for all of us who would rather not think so much about something.  We can practice allowing our thoughts about that something to be less interesting to us.  That doesn’t mean we get of the thoughts, or delete them instantly from our consciousness.  If we’ve been habitually thinking about something, we may continue to keep thinking about that something, even after we decide that we’d rather not think about it anymore.  But you can let the thoughts come without getting invested in them.  You can let the thoughts come, and give them very little of your attention.  You can let the thoughts come, and you can let them be present in the corner of your awareness without giving them your focus.


Try this out for yourself and see how it goes.  Practice giving things you don’t want to think about less of your attention.  And if you need help, that’s what I’m here for.  I help my clients consciously and deliberately relate to their minds and their thinking, and I can help you do that too.


And to that effect, when you’re ready to resolve your infidelity situation in a way that you feel great about, let’s get to work.  There are two ways you can have me as your coach.  We can work together one-on-one via Zoom, or you can purchase my self-guided course, You’re Not the Only One.  To get started with either of these options, go to the services page of my website,


All right everyone, thank you all so much for listening!  Until next time, bye for now.





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