I Don’t Want to Lose My Relationship, but I Want More (2024)

Every committed partner in a relationship struggles at times with the limitations of a monogamous relationship, even when they appreciate and value the person they are with. The comfort of a secure and predictable partnership is a strong pull, and many are unwilling to risk the loss of that bond. They might allow themselves the fleeting fantasies of a new encounter but do not act upon them.

Yet…predictability can become “same-old, same-old” and result in feelings of boredom. Those experiences can become their own saboteurs, pushing people to hunger for more. Private fantasies can become more realistic desires, especially if they become focused on an actual person.

I have treated many patients who come into therapy searching for resolution of this kind of conflict. They do not want their relationship to end, but they are feeling a growing restlessness and sense of entrapment within the boundaries they once accepted.

Some of these patients have given in to that temptation and gone outside of those boundaries already. Whether it was a one-time event or has now become a long-term involvement, they struggle in what to do with the uncomfortable triangles they’ve created. Or… they may want to leave their primary relationship but don’t want to hurt their partner and create a painful fallout for others involved. Many are remorseful and embarrassed that they have dishonored the person they love and want to know how to heal that rupture.

They Ask the Same Kinds of Questions

  • If my committed relationship was not that bad, why do I/did I want more? And will I always? If so, should I ever be in a committed relationship?
  • Should I have done something earlier to let my partner know I was dissatisfied and tried to fix it before I strayed? Is it too late now?
  • Is the rest of my life unexciting, and am I blaming the relationship when I’m dissatisfied elsewhere in my life?
  • My partner doesn’t know about any of this. Should I confess what I’ve done even if they will never find out, or will that make it harder for us to go forward?
  • If I’m willing to lose my primary relationship to be with this other person, how do I know it will turn out to be the right decision?
  • Can I handle the fallout if I choose to leave?
  • Have I gone against my own principles or am I just upset that I got caught?
  • Have I outgrown my primary relationship and pretending to be okay when I’m really not?
  • Have I tried to give my primary relationship a chance before thinking about a replacement?
  • Should I stay where I am and let go of wanting more, even if it means sacrificing my own needs?

These are all intrapersonal and often painful explorations. Individuals are asking themselves to choose between risk, newness, challenge, and excitement versus comfort, predictability, and security.

The way in which a person is willing to explore that conflict tells me whether their current relationship is genuine love or mere attachment. Are they in it because they can’t afford to give up what it provides, or because they truly love the person they are with?

I work with these patients to help them navigate through these crucial questions and to reset their emotional and behavioral compasses.

These Become Their 8 Goals

1. Living With Personal Integrity. A committed partner may feel genuinely sorry about the betrayal, but not sorry themselves that they strayed. It is crucial that a person live according to his or her personal values. If they do otherwise, they will only be rationalizing their decisions but giving up their own ethics to do so.

2. The Liberation of Authenticity. All betrayals begin with lies to self and to others—ways of distorting reality to justify behaviors. If people continue down that path, they will forget who they really are and no longer be able to make accurate decisions about their lives.

3. Intention Rather Than Reaction. As people become clearer about who they are and how they act, they realize that they make choices that they unconsciously or consciously intend, rather than pretend that they are reacting to what others have done and use those behaviors to justify their own right to do what they actually want.


  • What Is Self-Control?
  • Find a therapist to help with self-control

4. Acceptance of Self. If people observe their behaviors over time, and those behaviors are not in line with who they think they should be, they need to come to a place where they acknowledge that who they are is what they do, and accept that reality.

5. Personal Models. The people who are our models and teach us when we are young give us the ethics and morals that guide our behavior. Learning to challenge them as unsuccessful coping mechanisms when the consequences are painful allows a person to search for a new way to believe and act.

6. Giving Up Excuses. The beginning of true change must be based on taking responsibility for our actions without defending them. People are held accountable for what they do, not what they pretend, wish, or promise to do.

7. Defining a Way of Being That They Are Proud of and Living by the Rules That Govern It. Though it may be hard to give up temptations, people who live within the boundaries they have set can look in the mirror and see someone they respect. They can challenge those boundaries at any time, and change that path, but walk authentically upon it until that time.

Self-Control Essential Reads

When Do People Think Abstinence or Moderation Is Better?

Buddha, Darwin, and Dumbledore: How to Override Our Impulses

8. Working on Their Primary Relationship Before Going Outside of It. If there is authenticity and the willingness to challenge a committed relationship, there may be ways of reviving that partnership. When partners feel they have done everything they can and the relationship still is not working, they can best honor their partner more by leaving rather than betraying.

* * *

Betrayal of another, betrayal of self, betrayal of beliefs, or betrayal of ideals can damage the core of an individual and keep them from becoming who they were born to be. Though the pleasures of the moment may override those decisions, they most often cost more than they promise. Exploring those conflicts can positively change their life.

I Don’t Want to Lose My Relationship, but I Want More (2024)


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