This guest article from YourTango was written by Dr. Erica Goodstone.
Did you know that 99% of men cheat in America — and the other 1% cheat overseas?
That is a joke, of course, which highly overestimates the percentage of men that cheat. “It is estimated that roughly 30% to 60% of all married individuals (in the United States) will engage in infidelity at some point during their marriage … Men are more likely than women to cheat. But, as women become more financially independent, women are starting to act more like men with respect to infidelity.”
We have probably all heard the statement that men tend to cheat just for sex and women cheat for emotional connection. I believe that both men and women cheat for similar reasons. Many men, and now almost as many women, spend more hours at work than at home.
During those work hours, they may share thoughts and feelings and emotions with someone who gradually becomes more and more sexually intriguing and desirable. Another possibility is that many people marry for comfort or a sense of security with a steady partner, and once they feel secure they can more freely connect with someone who really matches their needs and desires.
But there are many other reasons for cheating and they may have very little to do with the attitudes, appearance, or behaviors of the partner or spouse.
- They seem to have gotten it all (successful career, financial abundance, suitable mate) too easily and too early to develop authentic appreciation.
- They got pressured into a long term committed relationship before they were really ready to love and to serve a partner for life.
- They are disillusioned with life, their career path, or qualities in their own self that they project outward onto their partner.
- They have experienced a death or loss that they have not been able to reconcile or come to terms with.
- They are seeking a quick fix, a momentary high, or an escape from facing problems.
- They were never really in love with their partner and stayed for different reasons.
- They no longer like or respect their partner or their needs have changed over time but they are afraid to let go.
- They were brought up in a culture or a family that encourages or condones infidelity.
So one of you cheated and the other person knows. What do you do now?
Dealing with Cheating Fall-Out
Instead of running to a new and different person to assuage your insecurities and fears, I suggest that you take the higher road. Involve your intimate partner. Seek counseling together. Attempt to bridge the gaps that have developed.
Face your feelings and your fears and share that with your partner. Sometimes, in fact often, it is that emotional closeness that has been cut off making one or both of you vulnerable to outside attentions.
How can counseling or positive coaching alleviate the pain and distress of both partners when the lying, cheating and betrayal has been revealed? Isn’t the damage already done and the best solution to dissolve this painful relationship?
Yes, sometimes the best immediate solution is to end the relationship. But it is important to understand why you are choosing finality. If your goal is to “get even” with your partner, that may feel good for only a brief period of time. However, it does not erase the trauma, rejection, and loss of self-esteem or the sense that you have lost your dream of this wonderful relationship lasting a lifetime.
What choice to make depends upon many factors. What do you believe is the basic character style of your partner and what do you believe are the real reasons for the infidelity? Sometimes the betrayed partner has been neglecting the relationship and the cheating person’s needs for a long time. Some couples remain together even though both are really unhappy and it takes one person to do something different to cause the breakup.
The partner who has lied and cheated may be surprised to feel emotional turmoil if the betrayed partner decides to leave. The cheater may actually feel love for the partner he or she has hurt. The reasons for cheating may not be due to lack of love or lack of sexual desire for the partner.
This is where the problem becomes complex and one simple answer does not work for every couple and every situation. I do believe “When there is love, there is a way,” even after infidelity and betrayal. Counseling sessions can either help to salvage a fractured relationship, or they can help each person to finally understand their own thoughts and feelings and one or both may discover that this relationship no longer serves them the way it once did.
Each person can start to understand the interpersonal dynamics that led up to this point and may more easily forgive themself and the other person. Although the counseling process can be temporarily painful, the only way out is through. Once all the emotions have been expressed, each person can gradually heal as they let go of the relationship and get ready to start socializing again.
Counseling and psychotherapy are not instant gratification solutions. They provide a safe and private place to explore what is going on in your life and your relationship in light of your personality, family history, and personal dreams and goals. Before you destroy the possibility for recreating and reviving a previously painful relationship, please consider seeking counseling from a qualified professional. You may be able to salvage something worth having and recreate your relationship to become the way you always dreamed it would be.
It is possible to return from emotionally distraught, conflict ridden interactions to a state of emotional acceptance, forgiveness, sensual and sexual passion, and love. How important is your relationship to you? Are you willing to face the problems head on and do what it takes to work through them to the other side?
More great content from YourTango:
- Emotional Infidelity: 18 Signs You’re Crossing the Line
- How to Overcome Your Fear of Infidelity
- Women Are More Likely to Cheat Than Men – And Here’s Why