With most romantic couples, there is an implicit agreement that both partners will be sexually and romantically involved only with each other. When this pact is broken, a great deal of trust is lost, which may never be regained and can easily lead to the end of a relationship or marriage.
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What Is Infidelity?
Infidelity is generally defined as the act of being unfaithful to a spouse or a romantic partner. Infidelity can include extramarital sex, having an emotional affair or cheating. When you find out that your partner has been unfaithful, it's can be an incredibly painful experience. However, deciding what to do next and moving forward with the support of a licensed therapist can help you to have a healthier relationship experience, whether or not you choose to remain with your partner.
Below, we’re discussing possible causes of infidelity, occurrence rates and different things to consider if you find out that your partner has been unfaithful.
Why Do People Engage In Infidelity?
People may engage in infidelity for a variety of reasons. There might be a disconnect in the relationship, or a person may stray from their relationship so that they can get attention or validation that they may feel is missing from their current situation. Cheating could also be a tactic to attempt to gain confidence in themselves. Any person that identifies as any gender or sexual orientation can engage in infidelity.
Ultimately, people may have very individual motivations for cheating. While this can make every experience complex and potentially painful, a licensed therapist can work with both partners to help them make the healthiest and best decisions possible.
Is Infidelity Common?
In the United States, many studies have been conducted over the years to gain information regarding infidelity. Current data suggests that infidelity occurs in roughly a quarter of marriages, and it can be more prevalent in relationships held by unmarried couples.
What Should I Do If My Partner Hasn’t Been Faithful?
It can be painful to find out that your partner cheated on you. There's no wrong way to feel after experiencing betrayal. One of the first things you may consider doing is reaching out to a licensed therapist to discuss how you feel, and your next right steps. Doing this can help you to feel more stable in and grounded in your decision, which may result in a higher quality of life.
Questions to ask as you walk through this process may include:
- How are you feeling right now?
- Do you want to continue this relationship and feel that it can be amended, or do you feel that it has disrupted things too much for the relationship to recover?
- What would you need from your partner to move forward?
Can A Relationship Be Repaired After Infidelity?
A relationship can generally be repaired after infidelity, if that's what both you and your partner want. If you or they have no desire to stay in the connection, you may consider seeking support from a therapist to determine how to disengage in a way that’s healthy for both of you.
It can take some time to rebuild trust after people cheat, but with effort on both sides, it is possible for many.
How Can Online Therapy Support Couples In Rebuilding Their Relationships?
Couples in need of therapeutic support may not feel ready to take the step forward towards in-person therapeutic sessions. This may be due to perceived stigma, social pressure or family influence, which can delay healing. Online therapy can present a more accessible and attainable solution in this case, offering comparable results in a more convenient way for some.
Is Online Therapy Effective For Relationship Support?
A recent scientific study published in Frontiers in Psychology indicated no major differences between online intervention and in-person therapy, citing a lack of significant clinical differences between the two respective test groups in the study. Both groups of couples walked away benefitting from their experience at a comparable level, regardless of the relationship concern noted. This was measured by a clinical, self-reported happiness scale that assigned a quantitative value to the perceived benefit.
Whether or not you decide to patch things up with your partner, healing from infidelity can be a long, dedicated process. It's generally important to feel your feelings on an individual level, and if you do decide to stay together, seeking guidance from a professional can help both parties walk away with a healthy relationship experience. It’s important to remember that you don't have to go through this alone. Whether you see a mental health provider online or in your local area, you can get help for infidelity and the rebuilding process. The counselors at Regain can help you and your partner work through your experience in the privacy of your own home.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the main reason for infidelity?
Psychology today reveals that infidelity may occur for a different number of reasons, and these reasons may vary by men, women and non-binary folks. Individuals of any sexual orientation or gender identification can engage in or survive infidelity.
Marital infidelity may occur if a partner feels that they are not appreciated enough by their partner(s). They may feel that something’s missing, or they may wonder if their partner still finds them attractive. There may also be sexual disparities between expectation and true satisfaction that can contribute to the urge to treat.
Regardless of the reason, infidelity can be overcome with effort and the right tools in place. Online therapy can be a helpful resource if you are experiencing infidelity in your partnership(s).
What is marital infidelity?
Marital infidelity is generally defined as cheating on your partner. Marital or sexual infidelity is not gender specific, as individuals of all genders and sexual orientations are capable of cheating.
What are the signs of infidelity?
There are no formally agreed upon signs to look for if you suspect that you’re being cheated on. If you’re experiencing doubts, you may consider reaching out to your partner or therapist to clarify and inform yourself of what’s going on in the situation.
While signs of infidelity can vary, many agree that they can include:
- Secretive social media use
- Locking of devices and refusal to have them unlocked or in public view
- Reduction in attention span in conversations or intimate encounters
- Changes in sexual activity*
- Unexplained hostility or frustration
- Chronic bouts of unavailable behavior, either physically or emotionally
* Variation in attraction can be a very normal experience for some, with many possible social, emotional or physical reasons. If you’re experiencing this in your relationship, you may consider consulting with your physician to help you or your partner determine the root cause of the behavior.
What is emotional infidelity?
Infidelity may not always be sexual. There is also such a thing as emotional infidelity. Emotional infidelity generally occurs when someone develops a strong emotional connection with someone outside of their marriage that has crossed into a non-platonic territory.
Healing from emotional infidelity in a relationship is much like healing from any other form of infidelity. Usually, trust must be regained over time. Seeking accountability and support from a therapist during this season of life can help all members of the relationship to walk away with a healthier overall experience.