A reader recently wrote me with the very pertinent question, "What happens if you encounter the other person at a party or public place?" Although you don't want to think about such events, the possibility of that happening is real.
This question comes up frequently regarding work place affairs and affairs in small towns. Although I wrote about the challenges of affairs in small towns on my blog, the last of those posts were several years ago.
Encountering the lover is always awkward. In many ways, it's similar to encountering the ex-spouse.
I recall that awkward "I don't belong here" reaction when I attended the wedding of an old girlfriend. I have also gone out to eat with my wife and met a different old girlfriend and her husband.
The circumstances were different and there was no awkwardness. These situations can be managed and handled.
Choices were made and every part has to work through the consequences of those choices.
Yes, those chance meetings make everyone uncomfortable. That's a sign that guilt and conviction are doing their jobs. Everyone is uncomfortable for different reasons.
You may want to discuss with your spouse ways of helping each other feel better in social situations before some awkward moment happens.
When you are confident in your marriage, and your social skills, you can handle those awkward moments much easier.
It helps when you have clarity on your boundaries. The old expression "good fences make good neighbors" also has application here.
Besides having clear boundaries, you want to improve your relationship with your spouse so that their associations with you are STRONGER than anything a chance encounter with the lover may trigger.
That way, even if an encounter with the lover may happen, any reactions that happen don't pose a threat.
I don't advocate avoidance of social situations, since that gives them more power than they should have. Although I don't advocate avoidance, I also don't think that going to the same church or working at the same company is good for any of the parties involved. They each need their own separate 'worlds' so to speak.
Occasionally those worlds overlap. With forgiveness, and improved trust, the meanings and associated feeling can change.