Brisbane counsellor Ana Salido discusses the common myths about infidelity …
Why are we cheating on our partner? Is it just about sex? Where does infidelity begin?
These are the main questions that arise when we talk about the sensitive subject of infidelity.
Fidelity is a value, so it is difficult to give a definition because it will not be the same for everyone. It is necessary to have a discussion with our partner to discuss the limits not to be exceeded.
What is Infidelity?
On the other hand, infidelity has the following characteristics:
- A secret relationship which is kept from one’s partner;
- An emotional connection; and
- Sexual chemistry.
In our modern society, it is becoming easier to divorce, so why do we continue to deceive our partner? Esther Perel, psychologist and sexologist says: “Today we divorce because we could be happier, while in the past we divorced because we were unhappy”. This reveals how much infidelity has evolved – it’s more of a personal quest, than a problem in the couple.
Learning of our partner’s infidelity can be extremely traumatic. Nowadays, we tend to expect a lot from our partner, ie lover, best friend, man/woman, soul mate and confidant, and infidelity can make us feel we are not all these things for our spouse. There is also a feeling of losing everything, because there has been an over-investment in our partner.
In the wake of infidelity, the innocent party usually asks these two questions that question not only their own identity, but also the whole relationship:
- What is wrong with me?
- What is the problem in our relationship?
Myths about Infidelity
It’s a sign that there is something wrong in our relationship: According to many studies, infidelity does not always result from a problem in the couple. Some people have an adventure while they still love their partner. Infidelity may result from a need to feel desired, to regain self-confidence, the fear of aging, a need for novelty, or the need to find oneself. In very many cases, the person who deceives does not seek a person to love, but him/herself.
The cheating happened because of a lack of sex: In my opinion, there are two types of infidelity: sexual and emotional. For a very long time, we thought that men were cheating on their partner sexually while women were looking for an emotional connection. Studies have since found that infidelity can be associated with a personal quest, rather than a problem with the relationship, such as lack of sex.
Men cheat more than women: This cliché has been true for a long time. In the past, women were not financially independent, they did not work, and there was little in the way of birth control, so they had a lot to lose. In recent years, the situation of women has changed a lot. They are now financially independent and much more self-sufficient. It is one of the reasons for the decreasing gap between the numbers of women and men who cheat on their partner.
The other point not to be overlooked is the stigma that women who deceive their husbands endure. According to a study conducted in France, 27% of women surveyed believe that they could deceive their partner if they were certain that nobody knew about it. The fear of consequences remains important. A large proportion (58%) fear “the risks that this kind of experience puts on family life” and 43% fear that the partner or others will learn of it.
Infidelity means the end for the couple: Contrary to popular opinion, infidelity is not synonymous with breakup / divorce. According to statistics, 80% of couples will stay together after the admission of infidelity. However, this is not to minimise the fact that infidelity is an act of betrayal, and can be very traumatic for the partner who has been deceived.
The need to know all the details: The most important thing is to avoid demanding sexual details as this only increases the trauma and division. The deceived partner must avoid creating images of their partner having sex with another.
Recovering from Infidelity
The potential for reconciliation in a couple’s marriage or relationship depends on several factors such as:
- the duration of the affair;
- if it is a person the betrayed partner knows;
- if the deceived partner is ready to forgive.
The real questions for the person who has been deceived include:
- What is the real reason for the affair?
- Is it the end of the relationship?
- Are we ready to change?
If the relationship is to be restored, it must be recognised that forgiveness is a process that takes place step by step. When both partners in a couple are ready to overcome this ordeal, counselling helps to open the way to communication, but also to express their needs more clearly.
Ana studied psychology overseas, and is able to provide counselling and therapy in both English and French. Her goal as a counsellor is to help her clients achieve their goals and overcome barriers in their personal and/or professional lives, utilising psychological strategies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Mindfulness.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.