When Good People Have Affairs

Inside the Hearts & Minds of People in Two Relationships

Mira Kirshenbaum

St. Martin's Press

A world-renowned therapist, Mira Kirshenbaum has treated thousands of men and women caught in the powerful drama over what to do when an affair reaches into their emotional lives.  Now, in When Good People Have Affairs, Kirshenbaum puts her unsurpassed experience into one clear, calming place.  She gives readers everything they need to cut through the thickets of fear, hurt and confusion to find their ways to happier, more solid relationships with the person who’s right for them.  For example, Kirshenbaum identifies seventeen types of affairs, helping readers figure out which type they’re in and what it means.  Is it a:

--“See-if” affair?
--Ejector-seat affair?
--Distraction affair?
--Unmet-needs affair?
--Panic affair?

Kirshenbaum encourages honest answers to such questions as:
--What am I missing in my marriage?
--How do I decide between two people when it’s like comparing an apple to an orange?
--How do I decide to end my marriage, end my affair, or end them both?

She leads readers through six easy-to-navigate steps that will take anyone from anxiety to clarity.  When Good People Have Affairs will be a lifeline to any man or woman who feels caught between two lovers, and its insights are indispensable to anyone else touched by an affair.



Read an Excerpt




Here’s how Jessica, 37, put it: "In a million years I never wanted to be in a situation like this. To be in a committed relationship and then find myself having an affair—this just isn’t me. But it is me. I’ve done this. And now I’m scared. All I wanted was to find some love, and now this whole thing could blow up, and I could lose everyone I care about."

People like Jessica, like most people having an affair, feel very much alone. But they’re not. In fact, they’ve got plenty of



Praise for When Good People Have Affairs

“Whether you are having an affair or are thinking about it, or your partner is having an affair, this book is for you. Kirshenbaum brings us practical steps for understanding affairs and utilizing the mistakes we make for a deeper healing. This book can help strengthen all our relationships.”—Rabbi Ted Falcon, Ph.D., rabbi of Bet Alef: An Inclusive Spiritual Synagogue in Seattle and co-author of Judaism for Dummies

"Kirshenbaum addresses the often painful question of whether good people can and do have affairs and provides methodical, insightful answers to this very disturbing dilemma. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has had an affair, been the object of an affair, or anyone who has thought of having an affair".— Arthur P. Ciaramicoli, Ed.D, Ph.D., author of Performance Addiction and The Power of Empathy 

"This book is brilliantly written for anyone entrapped in a messy affair. Powerful, pragmatic answers clarify how to sanely address infidelity."— Lee Raffel, M.SW., author of I Hate Conflict! Seven Steps to Resolving Differences with Anyone in Your Life

“Kirshenbaum meets us right at the heart of an illicit affair and juggling two lovers.  Her research and experience shows most people who have affairs want what’s best for everyone involved.  Her absolute acceptance and wisdom teach us how we can trust ourselves, despite feeling crazy, to untangle our love triangles and live with choices that are free of regret and ambivalence.  We can clearly decide what is good for us and what will lead to our happiness.”—Diana Mercer, JD, Attorney-Mediator and Founder of Peace Talks Mediation Services

 "An important and insightful book on a very difficult topic."—Gayle Rosenwald Smith, author of Divorce and Money: Everything You Need to Know  

"The ‘sexual correctness police’ surround us all the time and are so menacing we are often afraid to speak honestly and hence revert to humor to diffuse our  anxieties. Mira Kirshenbaum has dared to break the rules, not by advocating  for affairs (which too often are very destructive) but for acknowledging that  they are happening, and giving advice to minimize the hurts and maximize the  capacity of people to treat the others involved with the dignity and honesty  they deserve."—Rabbi  Michael Lerner, Editor, Tikkun Magazine and chair, The Network of Spiritual  Progressives    

“Every pastor, therapist, and counselor should read this book.  Mira Kirshenbaum, through decades of clinical experience, demystifies affairs with wisdom, humor, buckets of common sense, and most of all, deep compassion for all involved.  She provides from every perspective, including the children, clear guidelines for decision making and the follow through necessary for a long and healthy relationship.  This book resonates profoundly with my 38 years of ministering with people in relationships.  Even the happily married would benefit from reading When Good People Have Affairs.”—M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts

“Mira Kirshenbaum has done it again! She has tackled the most difficult of issues and in so doing offers the reader clear and powerful tools for moving on and through the complexities of an affair. Every psychotherapist in the field knows that working with people involved in affairs is painful for all concerned. These are not bad people, as it would be too easy to assume. These are good people working through complicated issues, feelings and needs. With steps for identifying why and then what next, this book will serve not only those who are personally involved with affairs, but also those in the helping role. I look forward to having it available as a recommendation for clients and as an aide in my own psychotherapy practice.”—Dr. Dorothy Firman, Director, The Synthesis Center, Amherst, MA.  Co-author of Daughters and Mothers: Making it Work; Chicken Soup for the Mother and Daughter Soul; Chicken Soup for the Soul: Celebrating Mothers and Daughters and: Chicken Soup for the Father and Son Soul


Reviews from Goodreads



  • Mira Kirshenbaum

  • MIRA KIRSHENBAUM is clinical director of the Chestnut Hill Institute in Boston, and has been treating patients in individual and couples therapy for over 30 years.  She is the Relationship Expert at Revolution.com, and the author of ten other books.

  • Mira Kirshenbaum Photo: Sigrid Estrada
    Mira Kirshenbaum


Available Formats and Book Details

When Good People Have Affairs

Inside the Hearts & Minds of People in Two Relationships

Mira Kirshenbaum



St. Martin's Press