Affairs, Infidelity & Getting Caught Stepping Out: Is it just the sex?

affairs,infidelity,causes of infidelity,adultery,cheating,extramarital affairs

Affairs & Infidelity are rarely as simple as someone was good while the other was bad. This is too simplistic an explanation but we all love it because it’s easier to digest,rather than the difficult truths underneath. We love the simplicity of being judgmental or of gossip; someone is the martyr and the other is Darth Vader.

Most often the complicatedness can be brought out in treatment. Many couples admit sex disappeared a long time ago & they don’t talk about it. Sex 10 times or less a year is considered non-sexual.

Estrogen is not fierce like testosterone. Estrogen allows sexual libido to flat line or be ignored. Testosterone demands attention.

Affairs as a repeated pattern are about disdain & disrespect. One problem with swinging (yes, this flash from the 1970’s has returned) is that the exciting, new third-party can become more interesting & engaging than the original, primary relationship. For swinging to work the primary relationship must continue to be respected as being primary.

Too often, I hear young women comment “If my husband has an affair, we are so over.” Affairs are a complicated story and usually both people play a part. The non affair person’s percentage of the problem may be far smaller: 15% to 40%. It is crucial to address the problems that have eroded the infrastructure of the relationship.

* People are hungry & get their needs met, even if they have to go sideways.

* People do not honestly dialogue about what’s missing in the relationship. They pretend it’s ok, when it’s not.

* No single relationship can meet all of anyone’s needs, nor should it.

* If life brought someone the affair & they were not out hunting for it, this is different.

* Infidelity is complicated with many layers. Self-righteousness by the non affair partner can erase important work that needs to be done.

* It is almost always true that the partner who did not have the affair is more angry at the 3rd party (think Elizabeth Edwards) than they are at their partner, who committed the wrong doing. This too often leads to ignoring the problems in the original relationship (i.e I’m afraid of her so I don’t talk about what’s real).

The partner who had the affair has to do serious self-examination. I highly recommend Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass as a tool for deeper exploration. She suggests these 10 Questions be answered by the person who had the affair:
1. What did you say to yourself that gave you permission to get involved?
2. After the first time you had sex, did you feel guilty?
3. How could it go on so long if you knew it was wrong?
4. Did you think about me at all?
5. What did you share about us? (Rhoda note: Did you tell her specifics of your unhappiness & not me?)
6. Did you talk about love or a future together?
7. What did you see in the affair partner?
8. What did you like about yourself in the affair? How were you different?
9. Were there previous infidelities or opportunities & how was this time similar or different?
10. Did you have unprotected sex?

These are great questions that can trigger more authentic conversation. Just like AA asks that the non drinking partner to go to Al Anon to look at their part in the problems, try not to be so defensive & angry that it’s impossible to talk about the hard truths underneath. If you have been wronged, think of this as an opportunity to rebuild an honest future, no longer avoiding hard things.

8 thoughts on “Affairs, Infidelity & Getting Caught Stepping Out: Is it just the sex?

  1. Nephila says:

    Excuses excuses. Plenty of men (at least) cheat even when they’re in happy marriages. No, the betrayed party is 0% responsive for the cheating. Try again with your blame shifting.

    • rhodasommer says:

      In my worldview; people who give 100% of the responsibility to the other party are very much about the comfort of 0% of the blame. I’m not very black or white about many things which might explain our inability to align on this subject.

      • Nephila says:

        Are you black and white on murder? Rape? Is robbery with violence ever ok with you? Domestic violence? In my experience the only people who are not black and white about infidelity actually don’t think it’s as big a deal as having your face punched. Believe me it is a much bigger deal.

  2. rhodasommer says:

    Again, I’m not talking about a repeated pattern. Women & Men cheat. It’s often not Black or White but complicated. Blame is very much about the comfort of the zero percentage. The 10 questions are no picnic to honestly answer which addresses the larger percentage partner. Rhoda

    • Nephila says:

      Larger percentage partner? How about just own up that the cheater is 100% responsible? Too hard? Too bad. I said men specifically because women tend to be unremorseful more often. Blame isn’t anything to do with comfort. It’s to do with reality. The only people who shy away from it want to make cheating just a little ok, it depends, maybe, sometimes. It isn’t. That’s nonsense. Right and wrong are pretty simple. That’s why 7 year olds can give evidence on oath, they can show they understand it’s wrong to lie.

  3. Cheating is Abuse says:

    The faithful partner is NOT in any way responsible for their partner’s *decision* to cheat. A lot of faithful partners aren’t happy in their marriages, but they *choose* to remain faithful and to continue to work toward personal and marital growth. They choose not to lie, not to manipulate, not to humiliate, not to profoundly devalue, not to traumatize, not to abuse the person they promised to nurture, protect, grow with, share life with, etc.

    Cheating is *abuse*. It’s an ethical betrayal, a sexual violation that leaves a life-long scar. And it’s psychologically abusive and disgusting for therapists to advocate that victims of such abuse are to blame. Free societies need to send a loud and clear message that cheating is grotesquely unhealthy, cruel, and in no way at all acceptable. Unhappy in your marriage? Work it out or divorce!

    Cheaters and cheaters’ partners (who are aware of marriage status) should both be held accountable to pay damages for mental cruelty, psychological abuse, therapy for faithful spouse and children, etc.

    There is no justification for cheating, ever! I will not engage in media (TV/film/etc) that glorifies or makes light of cheating, nor will I be friends with someone who is okay with cheating. I refuse to participate in harming or condoning the harm of another person.

    • rhodasommer says:

      If one partner decides to remain celibate without any discussion about it, they would contribute to the problem of an affair. This is something that happens & it is unfair. Affairs are complicated. The simplicity of self righteousness may be comforting though not accurate and yes there are certainly times when an affair is just wrong.

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