Infidelity - Clouded By Myth

According to couples therapists, infidelity is the second most difficult relationship problem, surpassed only by domestic violence. Most of the time, the other partner gets blindsided in the knowledge about their partner’s affair. Affairs do not have to be sexual for there to be infidelity. Sometimes the greatest betrayals happen without touching. Infidelity is any emotional or sexual intimacy that violates trust. “At least one or both parties in 50% of all couples, married and living together, straight and gay, will break their vows of sexual or emotional exclusivity during the lifetime of the relationship.” While most people want to be loving and dedicated to their partner, there obviously needs to be more awareness of the appropriate boundaries in friendships, work relationships, and internet interactions. Where are the lines between platonic and romantic feelings outside of the couple relationship? What are the signs or myths to look for? First and foremost, anytime there is a secret emotional intimacy, there is potential for an impending betrayal. Here are some myths encompassing affairs:Myth: Affairs happen in unhappy or unloving marriages/relationships.Fact: Affairs can happen in good marriages.Myth: Affairs occur mostly because of sexual attraction.Fact: The lure of an affair is how the unfaithful partner is mirrored back through the adorning eyes of the new love. Another appeal is that individuals experience new roles and opportunities for growth in new relationships.Myth: A cheating partner almost always leaves clues, so a naïve spouse must be burying his or her head in the sand. Fact: The majority of the affairs are never detected.Myth: The person having an affair isn’t ‘getting enough’ at home.Fact: The truth is that the unfaithful partner may not be giving enough.There is hope after an affair. If both partners are willing and wanting to stay together, here are some ways to bring about healing:

  1. Find a therapist whom you can trust and confide in. Make sure both of partners feel validated and heard in the therapy session.
  2. In order to rebuild intimacy, you must be willing to talk about the affair with the betrayed partner. “Trying to recover without discussing the betrayal is like waxing a dirty floor.”
  3. The aftermath of an affair can offer partners who are still committed to their marriage an opportunity to strengthen their bond. “Exploring vulnerability often leads to a more intimate relationship.”
  4. If you notice you and/or your partner turning outwards in the relationship instead of towards one another, seek help before bigger issues emerge. All relationships need tweaks and tune ups every now and then. Nevertheless, when the tweaks are not attended to, that leads to greater risk of greater damage.

Adapted from: Not “Just Friends”: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity.” By Shirley P. Glass, Ph.D.

Can My Relationship Recover from an Affair?

You've just found out that your partner has been inappropriate with someone outside your relationship. This could mean sex, non-sexual physical contact, emotional bonding, sexting, flirting, video chatting, or any number of ways the trust can be violated. Your mind is reeling. Your first instinct is to throw them out before they have a chance to blurt out an apology. But you have history together, a connection that you don't find every day, and maybe even children. Then you start to consider whether or not you should even entertain the idea of working things out. How do you determine whether it's worth trying? Here are a few things to consider:Hurt feelings. Try and recognize that right now, above all else, what you are experiencing is betrayal and emotional pain. Yes you feel anger too, but that's a secondary response due to the primary hurt feelings. Don't make any rash, final decisions until you've had a few days to calm down and lean on your support system.Lean on others. Is it embarrassing? Sure. Would you be there for your friend or loved one if they were going through the same thing? I bet you would. I hear lots of reasons not to share with friends and family, some of which are legitimate, but I would recommend finding at least one trusted person that will be supportive and non-judgmental. We are social creatures for a reason and going at this alone is not a good option.Natural connection. Stepping away from the anger and hurt for a moment, do you genuinely feel you and your partner have/had a natural connection to each other? Has your relationship become more like a roommate or coparenting situation? If you and your partner are both willing to try to get past the affair and learn to invest in your romantic connection, you may be able to regain that lost bond.Seek professional help. Whether you are determined to make your relationship work or you want help deciding whether or not to even try, a couples therapist that is experienced in working with affairs will be an invaluable resource. They will offer a judgment-free environment and help you through the typical stages and reactions following the discovery of an affair. Then you can better determine when and how you are going to move forward.