Why do people cheat?
There are a variety of reasons someone may look for connections outside of their relationship. Someone may be unfaithful to their partner for reasons such as low self-esteem, differing value systems or trying to fulfill a need or desire in a maladaptive way. Others may have differing ideas from their partner about what constitutes cheating. A new area of infidelity growing in the world of technology includes “emotional” affairs. This happens when one’s relationship boundaries change from a platonic relationship into a romantic or flirtatious relationship. Today, these relationships can evolve through social networking sites such as facebook, text messaging, emails etc. Perhaps you reconnected with a high school friend on facebook and thought about old times or your relationship just isn’t satisfying anymore and you’ve been talking with a co-worker about it.
How do you know if you are having an emotional affair? Think about these questions:
1. Is there sexual chemistry between you and this person?
2. Have you thought what it would be like if you were a couple?
3. When you are feeling lonely, anxious, angry, stressed or some other uncomfortable emotion, are you finding yourself daydreaming about that person?
4. Are you open and honest about the relationship with your partner?
5. Do you question what you should tell your partner or how much you should tell your partner?
6. Do you feel more emotionally connected with this person than with your partner?
7. Are you putting more time and energy into the relationship with this person than you do with your partner?
8. Are you feeling the emotional “rush,” “high” or “butterflies” that comes with starting a new relationship?
Once one discovers their partner has been unfaithful it is common for both individuals to struggle with grief, anxiety and/or depression. Often times, individuals struggling with their partners’ infidelity will try to make sense of what happened. They often want to process the details of the affair or control their partners’ behaviors. In return, the partner who was involved in the affair may feel hopeless to work on the relationship. They feel as if they will forever be punished for cheating.
Couples therapy is unique when addressing issues of infidelity by helping couples make sense of their relationship after an affair. Although many individuals find it helpful to seek individual counseling when an affair has happened, couples counseling provides a unique opportunity for a couple to process whether or not they wish to separate in a constructive way or help rebuild their relationship.
Marriage & Family Therapist at Conscious Living Counseling and Education Center