It's the question that all of us ask when we discover our partner cheated on us. Why? we ask, over and over, rarely satisfied with the answers. Sometimes we're dissatisfied with the answer because it's blame-shifting and gaslighting. Sometimes we're dissatisfied because it's entitlement and delusional. Sometimes because it's trickle truth and we know there's a whole lot more to it. But sometimes we're dissatisfied because we just don't believe it. Really? It meant nothing? Then why bother? Why risk so much for so little? Why? Why?
Lynn Less Pain posted this in the Sex and Intimacy After Betrayal thread and I'm so struck by the candor that I want to post it again here:
I would be inclined to believe your husband when he says there weren't emotions involved. Most of the sex I've had in my life had no emotions involved. It was exceptionally rare for me to develop an emotional bond with someone I was sleeping with; and, that was as a single guy. When I already have an emotional bond with my wife, I can't imagine an affair having an emotional component for me, I really can't. I'm sure I'd say whatever it took, but the real payoff for me, the reason I'd do it and then go back, would be exclusively for the sex.
I'm not sure if this helps you at all, but, at least some men (me), think about this very differently than women do. Sex isn't the same for me as I see it described for others; the only time it's ever been that is in my marriage and that was a long process to get to the point of integrating the physical sensation of sex with the emotional connection. It's not the "default" setting at all for me, and I don't think it is for most other men.
And I do believe the sex he had with her, albeit new and exciting, was never what we have, and that it can still be "special" for us. Absolutely it can be. I'm going to say something that's going to really piss off some husbands, but, honestly; in a lot of affairs the OW is simply a substitute for the hand. Like, I'd jerk off, but this feels better, it's not too much effort to get her over here and have her do it, and, what the heck, I deserve it. It's an equation, how much work vs how much better sex feels than masturbating. And that's what these guys are often doing, they are just masturbating with another woman's body. I do think that a lot of the affair is just finding and keeping a masturbatory aid around, and feeling good because you can call her up at any time when you want some relief. It sounds like this is the kind of affair your Husband had, and this is the kind of Affair that I've seen first hand. The question isn't "did he care about her" because the answer barely makes sense, she was just there to bring the things he did care about with her. The question is "why did he think this was OK". And I think that's the question that husbands need to dig in on; not "why do it", that's obvious, but "why did I give myself permission to do it".
This guy has done some soul-searching and I suspect he's none too crazy about the lack of integrity he found. But, to his credit, it sounds as if he's done some hard work.
And he's absolutely right. If a cheater won't examine why he gave himself permission to cheat then he's vulnerable to doing it again. Without pulling that sense of entitlement into the light and truly examining the thought process, subconscious or not, that led to cheating, then a relationship with him is high-risk.
Too often I read the stories of women who come to this site, confused about why they feel stuck in their pain only to read further that their partners are insisting this is "in the past" and they need to "move forward". That sends off so many alarm bells in my head, it's a miracle you can't hear them ring across the Internet.
Anyone who refuses to examine why they cheated is either still invested in giving himself permission to do so or so terrified of what's there that his denial will keep him so emotionally removed from any intimacy as to make a true relationship impossible.
If a cheater wants a second chance, then he needs to show you he deserves it. And he shows you that by taking a good long look at "why did I give myself permission to do it."