Ask the Loveologist: What Does His Infidelity Mean?

I never thought  I would be the recipient of a letter that informed my that my partner was cheating on me.  I had heard that story before and have to say that I don’t know which way to turn, what to believe, how to trust what he says… I feel like I am starting from square one again and although our relationship works so well in so many ways I am not sure how to think about this act of infidelity and afraid that it will make trusting him again impossible.  Any help?

Discovering infidelity no matter how it happens to you is one of the most emotionally jarring experiences many people face. It brings up a huge number of questions about oneself and relationship, in a myriad of ways–especially feelings of attractiveness, adequacy, and worth.  In addition to questioning your ability to trust someone else, it also can make you doubtful about trusting yourself and your own judgment. Infidelity is the one breach of trust that strikes a chord so deeply in most people who experience it, that many look back on it as the beginning of a new chapter in their lives.

Whether it is true as it has recently been suggested that male sexual drives predispose them to “a need for sexual diversity,” the incidence of infidelity in the US is so common that more people are affected than not.   The percentage of people impacted by infidelity is between 30-60 percent of all married couples, depending on the study cited. The work of David Barash in the Myth of Monogamy is a great primer in understanding why infidelity is more the norm than the exception. ‘We are not naturally monogamous.

Anthropologists report that the overwhelming majority of human societies either are polygamous or were polygamous prior to the cultural homogenization of recent decades.’ In a recent study of committed partners, fully 95 percent of men and 80 percent of women fantasized about sex with other partners.

For many couples, the range of emotions that are experienced with infidelity is not dissimilar to a death. All emotions are fair game, from anger, denial, depression and just as in any grief cycle are changeable and forceful. The discovery of infidelity often marks the beginning of the end for many relationships. In the US more than many European cultures, it is a breach of trust that carries much more meaning than other types of dishonesty and betrayal. Considering the many forms of dishonesty that couples are willing to forgive and forget, acts of sexual betrayal are charged with something deeper and often unnamed.

Indeed, the work of forgiveness and coming to terms with each other again is a deliberate exercise in understanding and naming our own needs. The weaknesses in the communication abilities between the partners takes on urgency and learning to articulate honestly and clearly is key to healing. Many of our values which we may have previously taken for granted as known and shared have to be re-examined and agreed upon. Both partners must willingly agree to a new level of transparency and vulnerability in the relationship if the new bridge of trust between them is going to hold.

For couples who get to the other side of the infidelity breach, the relationship in many ways does feel like a new one. Coming to understand one’s sexuality and feel safe about sharing it within the relationship takes time, but is often the reward of the healing work after infidelity. If the relationship had not held a shared language for the sexuality of both partners, the one that emerges from this crisis will. Resolving to stay together after infidelity can mark the beginning of a more open and daring intimate life. It isn’t an easy journey back, but it can be done.


Scott haakon
Scott haakon5 years ago

katarina : it is not done to you at all. There is nothing about doing it to you unless it is done in such a way that it is "shoved up your nose".

Scott haakon
Scott haakon5 years ago

Sexual infidelity is not even close to the end of the world that we are conditioned to believe. many societies were poly /non monogamous and were fine. it is the fact that in much of the US were settled by middle class and poor. These people did not have the resources that the nobles and wealthy had. Survival was dependent on the gender roles.
it is far more important do actively discuss sexual activities and to realize once the bloom of early romance has dwindled to the routine of normal life it is vitally important to be tactfully honest. Many people are swept away by the ardor of their new love. however,as the new love declines into everyday many change into the person they really are expecting to intended to accept sometimes 180 degree change. The relationship must come first. That may mean having sex rather than taking a bath or reading a book. respect by letting the other watch the game with out pulling a power play.
For men it might mean listening without trying to solve; for a woman it might mean taking the male verbal directness to the point rather that leading up like she might do with a BFF.

Elaine A.
Elaine Al Meqdad5 years ago

Lack of commitment, lack of integrity, lack of maturity, lack of concern for others feelings, lack of discipline to rise above an animals natural instinct...Finally, no lack of selfishness!

LM Sunshine
James Merit6 years ago

thank you.

Sharon Walker
Sharon Walker6 years ago

I don't know when you sent this to me but the circumstances of a relationship can waiver between the two when one wants more than what they are giving and they don't always talk about things before they decide themselves to do what they want to and it upsets the way a relationship should be by both of the people who cause the problem of infidelity and the consequences of their actions. It isn't what you make of it it is what others seem to think they get out of it by being unfaithful.

holly masih
.6 years ago

The bottom line is,infidelity comes from selfishness."I" want variety,"I "think so-and so would be a fun partner."I"-"I"-"I"!!! I f the same level of commitment is given to the relationship in the first place,infidelity wouldn't happen.It is a purposeful act of your will TO BE FAITHFUL,and telling yourself "no".I know that self discipline is not very popular nowdays , which is why I believe happiness is not popular,either.GROW THE F*** UP BEFORE GETTING INTO A RELATIONSHIP!

Lupe G.
Guadalupe G7 years ago

I guess I don't really know how I can answer this one as I was just personally hurt by this topic on Christmas Day. I want to believe the research that points to monogamy not being natural but I guess the idea of forever is something I prefer. I guess in this case it's nurture vs. nature.

Rachel R.
RK R7 years ago

It is so "soul-sucking" when true cheating is found to be occurring to yourself. Trust is so difficult. Cheating can be avoided if there can be some way to agree to a safe,mutual escapade. But that is just throwing something out there. Not realistic for everyone.
I agree about how disgusting it is to know an STD may be brought home to be shared OR a possible pregnancy or emotional bond is shared with another person. How terrible. The emotional bond is almost worse than the physical betrayal.

Michelle Rudd
Michelle Rudd7 years ago

Boooooo!!!!! =(

Sharon W.
Sharon Walker7 years ago

It has happened to me as well he went with someone before then he went back again and the consequences of his and her actions lead to something else. I only found out last year. It still hurts and I don't think that things will ever be the same again. His disrespect for our marriage seems to be what he had decided to do on his own without thinking first of what he was losing