How can we define infidelity?
Infidelity can be defined as a betrayal of the couple’s trust and of the limits that the couple had agreed upon in the affective-sexual aspect. It is a deception and a unilateral breach of the principle of fidelity.
Each couple’s relationship establishes certain limits as to what they consider to be infidelity. Thus, while for some couples it is restricted to sexual relations with a third person, other people may feel infidelity in a look of complicity with a third person, affectionate conversations via cell phone or even watching pornography alone.
What factors can lead a person to infidelity?
There are different causes that can lead a person to commit infidelity and we can see that the main factors are different if he or she is a man or a woman.
Thus, we can highlight as main factors in men:
Dissatisfaction, whether affective or sexual, is one of the main causes that lead men to be unfaithful.
In addition, this dissatisfaction usually comes from a communication problem with the partner where there is no space of trust or mutual understanding where to talk about unsatisfied sexual or affective needs. This leads men to look for in a third person what they cannot find in their current partner.
In addition, it is common to see that, in couples who have been together for many years, there is a decrease in sexual frequency that leads to frustration on the part of the man.
- Low self-esteem
Sometimes, infidelity hides a reaffirmation of the man: feeling that he can have another relationship and that he is attractive to another person makes it a reaffirmation of his own self-esteem. This is an affirmation of the ego that it may still be able to attract, seduce, flirt or sleep with another person.
- Search for new experiences
Novelty, as well as new sexual experiences, is another factor that appears in the sessions. It is often accompanied by a feeling of routine or monotony with his partner, which leads him to be open to meeting a new person or having a sexual encounter.
Alcohol or drugs provoke a disinhibiting effect that can accentuate or precipitate sexual infidelity.
- Difficult or stressful situations
We can see how some men have sporadic infidelities as an escape route in the face of a difficult, complicated or stressful situation.
Sometimes, it is a bump in the road at work or with the partner, which leads to seek a quick and superficial satisfaction getting away from the problems and discussions.
- Lack of responsibility and/or commitment
Infidelity in men can also occur due to immaturity. A monogamous relationship based on sincerity and fidelity requires a mature commitment from both partners.
It is totally normal that a person can feel attraction towards third parties and, if there is no serious commitment and responsibility towards the couple, it opens the door to the appearance of relationships with other people.
For more information about the causes of infidelity in men click here.
On the other hand, in women we can find that the main causes for committing infidelity are:
- Lack of understanding and intimacy
When the woman does not feel understood and there are no moments of intimacy where to have conversations, to talk about feelings and emotions, a disconnection with the partner appears.
Day-to-day life and monotony can easily lead to the couple’s common moments disappearing, generating feelings of frustration, disappointment and dissatisfaction.
- Lack of dedication on the part of the partner
Infidelity is a way of seeking attention and appreciation that your partner is not giving you. The lack of attention awakens a feeling of abandonment and emotional detachment, which leads some women to seek those feelings of love and understanding in another person outside the relationship.
- Routine and monotony
When day-to-day life causes the loss of illusion and pleasant moments with the partner, it begins to create a context of frustration and disappointment that can lead to infidelity.
In these situations, some women choose to look for something fun and different, a little adventure outside to feel again those sensations that already seemed forgotten: the romantic moments, feeling beautiful and desired, the nerves of the first dates, moments of sexual arousal or butterflies in the stomach…
- Unsatisfactory sex
Of course this is one of the reasons for women’s infidelity. If there is no sexual intimacy within the couple or she feels unsatisfied in the erotic aspect, she is more likely to seek a fuller sex life with someone else. In recent years, women have finally managed to free themselves from many taboos and conquer their sexuality, which leads them to be more demanding when it comes to obtaining their own pleasure.
For more information about women’s infidelity click here.
How does infidelity affect women emotionally?
In the consultations we receive in our Psicopartner center, we see that infidelity generates psychological damage that lasts over time and causes psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression or psychosomatic disorders.
The deception and betrayal causes the person to be strongly hit at an emotional level becoming a real psychological trauma appearing all the symptoms of a post-traumatic stress disorder where there is denial, disorientation and confusion about what is happening.
The most frequent symptoms that appear:
- Highly intrusive thoughts related to infidelity.
- Obsession to know details and search for reasons (Why?).
- Feelings of desolation, sadness, deep loneliness, etc.
- Aggressiveness and intense hatred towards the unfaithful partner.
- Anxiety and depressive symptoms
- Sleep disorders such as nightmares or insomnia.
What are the effects of infidelity on the relationship?
Infidelity is the first cause of separation in a couple. It produces a turning point that is difficult to overcome due to the strong emotional impact it generates in the betrayed person and the effect of blaming the person who has committed it.
It breaks something that is crucial in the couple, which is trust, there is a rupture of an established commitment to achieve a common project, the balance, security and stability that previously supported the couple disappears.
The effect it can have on the couple is devastating, there are people who immediately end the relationship, there is a total rejection of the unfaithful or aggressive behavior towards the unfaithful and the people involved in the infidelity.
Other times the breakup of the couple does not occur, but is strongly damaged, appearing behaviors of revenge or constant recrimination that entail a high level of discomfort for both members of the couple.
In addition, it is frequent that the distrust materializes in a hypervigilance that looks for the security that a continuation or new infidelity is not taking place, or the appearance of pathological jealousy with constant questions of verification of the fidelity.
Is it possible to overcome infidelity and how can this be done?
Our experience as couple therapists has shown us that yes, it is possible to overcome an infidelity in the couple, it is a complex and difficult process that requires a clear commitment on the part of both of them to want to continue being together.
The most efficient and appropriate tool is undoubtedly couples therapy, it is essential that both parties agree to face it and with a clear desire to overcome it.
In couple’s therapy we will work on rebuilding trust, this process involves retaking the relationship, taking responsibility for what happened, reaffirming commitment, increasing communication and working on forgiveness.