Make relationships that emerged most recently from infidelity

The psychology of infidelity

Good people in good marriages have affairs. More times than I can count, I've sat in my office, almost torn apart by the grief, anger, and remorse of the people I assist in trying to cope with the aftermath of their infidelity or that of their partner. Two-thirds of all couples I have treated in my practice over the past twenty years had either their husbands or wives, or both, had become unfaithful. Broken promises and shattered expectations have become a part of our cultural landscape, and new people come to my office every day who need help dealing with them.

Amazingly, I am now seeing a new form of infidelity. It doesn't develop, as is commonly believed, between two people who are looking for thrills. The new infidelity arises between people who at first unintentionally enter into a deep, passionate bond before realizing that they have crossed the line from platonic friendship to romantic love. Eighty-two percent of the unfaithful partners in my practice had an affair with someone who was "just a friend" at first. Well-meaning people, without any intention of cheating, cheat not only their partners, but also their own beliefs and values ​​and thereby provoke both internal and marital crises.

The essence of this new crisis in infidelity is this: it is friendships, work relationships, and internet acquaintances that threaten the partnerships. As the possibilities of such close relationships increase, the line between platonic and romantic feelings becomes increasingly blurred and easier to cross.

Our workplace has become a new danger zone for romantic attraction and opportunity. More women than ever before are having affairs. Today's women are more sexually experienced and are more likely to work in what were once male-dominated professions. Many of their affairs begin at work. From 1982 to 2000 the number of women unfaithful in the workplace rose to 50 percent. For men, 62 percent will get involved with someone they have met at work.

The essential feature of these new affairs - and what sets them apart from affairs of previous generations - is that they begin as relationships between colleagues. People who were originally just friends or friendly colleagues slowly find their way onto the slippery slope in the direction of infidelity. Secret emotional intimacy is the first warning sign of impending fraud. But most people only notice what they are getting into when they have become physically intimate.

Many people mistakenly believe that affairs can be avoided by being loving and devoted to your partner. I call this the prevention myth because there is no evidence to support this assumption. My experience as a marriage therapist and researcher on infidelity has shown me that you cannot protect your marriage from affairs simply by being a loving partner. You also need to develop an awareness of reasonable boundaries around your work and friendships. This book will help you observe these limits or, where necessary, set them. You will learn about the red flags and alarm bells to watch out for in your friendships and those of your partner.

Most people also wrongly believe that infidelity is not infidelity until there has been sexual contact. Women generally consider any sexual intimacy to be infidelity, while men tend to deny infidelity as long as there has been no sexual intercourse. However, with the new infidelity I'm talking about, affairs don't have to be sexual. Some, such as Internet affairs, for example, are first and foremost emotional. The most disastrous extramarital entanglements are those involving the heart, mind, and body in equal measure. These types of affairs are becoming more common. Nowadays there are more and more serious affairs than before, because more men engage emotionally and more women engage sexually with someone else.

The surprising statistic: In 50 percent of all couples, whether married or living together, whether heterosexual or homosexual, at least one partner will break the vow of sexual or emotional exclusivity in the course of the partnership

A large number of people are concerned about actual or potential fraud in a close relationship. This fear is not limited to a particular class of people, nor to their professional position or age. Infidelity can occur in any household, not just those where partners are often changed or where partners are rich or powerful. No marriage is immune to it.

However, there are ways you can protect your marriage. And if your partnership has been shaken by emotional or sexual infidelity, you can fix it and help yourself get over the trauma of betrayal. All of these steps will get you into The psychology of infidelity to get to know.


The suggestion to write this book came from my natural desire as a therapist to offer help and comfort to more people. Every time my work was covered in the media, I received reports from people telling me that I had helped them get through their partner's infidelity, rebuild their marriage, and get on with their lives. I have also given relationship advice over the Internet, which has brought me in contact with many people who were stuck in the pain of infidelity and were looking for a way out. Even if the knowledge that I have been able to help many through these means fills me with gratitude, I hope to reach even more people through this book.

Second, I wanted to provide a fact-based, scientifically and therapeutically responsible approach to couples counseling and therapy. In the area of ​​infidelity, there are no generally accepted norms for therapists and counselors. As a result, those seeking help often receive bad advice from professional carers as well as from well-meaning friends or family members. Many of our cultural beliefs about the behavior of others arise from projections of our own opinions and personal experience. Unfortunately, this personal bias also affects the work of many consultants. I use research and documented evidence throughout this book to provide you with solid predictive parameters as to who is likely to be infidelity and why, and to provide you with proven strategies for healing your relationship.

Some of the research I refer to is my own. In my first research on infidelity, my traditional notion that infidelity only occurs in unhappy, loveless marriages - a belief I am sure I shared with many others - turned into a hard one Put to the test. I learned that an acquaintance, an older man with an exceptionally loving wife, had had sexual adventures for decades without his wife ever suspecting anything. Until the day of his death, she felt he was the only one who loved her deeply. After realizing that an affair could indeed occur in a loving marriage, I scoured the psychological literature on partnerships, but found little that shed light on this apparent contradiction. The lack of research hinted at a void that needed to be filled. And that's what I wanted to do. So I continued my studies of extramarital relationships as a PhD student at the Catholic University of America, which, as you can imagine, raised some eyebrows.

What I found through my research forced me - a conservative young woman who married when she was nineteen - to correct many of my ideas. Over the years I have conducted some large studies that form the basis of my research-based approach to understanding and treating infidelity.

Here is a brief overview of my professional work so that you can get a sense of the facts on which the instructions in this book are based. Some of my discoveries are far from intuitive and contradict popular belief.

  • The Psychology Todaystudy (1977) .2 This study was inspired by said acquaintance, the womanizer. She compares the satisfaction of couples who had affairs early in their marriage with those who did not have them until later. At first I had no idea where to find subjects for such a study. The last time I called Bob Athanasiou, one of the authors of a questionnaire on sex in Psychology Todaywho provided me with data from 20,000 people. Analyzing this data, I found that infidelity in young marriages either represented dissatisfaction or predicted divorce. In addition, I found some very interesting ...