In this post, I am going to explore some myths that I often hear from my clients around issues of infidelity.
- The person who had an affair was not in love with their spouse.
While some people may look for physical intimacy outside of a committed relationship because they have fallen out of love, it’s not always the case. Esther Perel, the author of “The State of Affairs, Rethinking Infidelity” explains that affairs are often about exploring parts of the individual self that may have felt neglected or unseen, not about the process of falling out of love. The person who stepped outside the relationship may have very loving feelings for their partner and experience a satisfying sex life.
- The faithful partner must in some way be responsible for the cheating.
No one can make anyone cheat. Of course, it is possible to feel like you are not getting what you need from the relationship. However, this does not place the blame on the faithful as no one forces anyone to do anything, a conscious choice was made to step outside of the relationship.
- The unfaithful look for an affair.
Many or even most people who have affairs do not go looking for them. Something that started innocently as a colleague or friend relationship becomes an unplanned emotional connection.
- People who cheat are horrible, immoral people.
The vast majority of those who find themselves cheating are kind, lovable people who made unfortunate choices. The best of us make mistakes, sometimes really costly and hurtful mistakes.
- Once a cheater, always a cheater.
This myth assumes that people can’t change. Making behavioural change is possible. Such change takes commitment and practice, but it is entirely possible.
- If there’s no intercourse/sex there’s no affair. Or there was no emotional connection; it was just sex.
These myths are both about the definition of infidelity. How do you define when cheating happened? Is it intercourse? What about oral sex? What about texting or online chatting? Porn? No definition works for all situations. You need to discuss within your relationship what your boundaries are, what are your relationship agreements/deal breakers and what you consider cheating for your relationship?
- Those who are unfaithful can’t help themselves; they are just wired that way.
This one may hint at some truth, but it’s still false. The kernel of fact is that we can’t help feeling attraction. The myth is that there’s nothing we can do about it. You may notice someone in your office or among your friends that you find attractive. Your body may even experience arousal. Often we don’t have a lot of control over this if any. However, you can control what you do about it,if you act on it. Do you let yourself entertain fantasies about this person? Do you allow yourself to be in situations with this person where attraction can flourish? Making these choices could make you vulnerable.
If you have questions about infidelity or would like support in your current relationship, please do not hesitate to contact me.