As a love and relationship counselor or coach, undoubtedly you will be having clients facing challenges with infidelity. If you’ve done this kind of work for long, you realize that people stray for any number of reasons, and if you can remain supportive and non-reactive or judgmental, you may be the pivotal player in this relationship as someone who can assist in the relationship’s recovery, or at least, help the relationship end in the most amicable fashion.
Infidelity is a good indicator signaling that something is wrong in the relationship. It’s up to your clients to see if they can unravel the root cause if they intend to try to rebuild the relationship. It will take full commitment to the process from both parties if the relationship is to move forward, not so much if there is no hope and one or more or your clients is determined to call it quits.
Even if a couple starts off as the perfect match in the beginning, there is the tendency for people to grow and change or deteriorate and change over the course of time. There can be many reasons why things might change that may make the once compatible couple incompatible, resulting in irreconcilable differences, for which there is presumably no remedy. Though this is not always the case, as any impasse today could be a challenge to face and deal with another day.
Researchers who study cheaters only have access to cheaters who have either been caught cheating or have volunteered the information about their infidelity. The clergy will have access to greater and more detailed information, but this information is protected by clergy-penitent privilege. Anthropologists, on the other hand, are able to study animals for clues about our sexuality and how common infidelity is among members of the animal kingdom that share our DNA, like primates and mice. Then, there are others who are unfaithful who have gotten away with it and will take this secret with them to the grave. None of us will have access to that data.
The most common form of infidelity is neurotypical infidelity. This is to say that perfectly normal and average people will have a tendency to stray from an otherwise typical monogamous relationship. Anthropologists insist that the tendency to seek sexual gratification or variety outside of a monogamous relationship is hardcoded in our DNA inherited by our ancestors.
People cheat out of anger or revenge, because they have fallen out of love, or “accidentally.” By accidentally, I mean, they were unfaithful for the same reason that a non-criminal might commit a crime, they were in a weakened state and found themselves in a situation where they were presented with the means, motive, and opportunity to engage in a crime or sexual tryst.
Other reasons include the inability to commit or limited emotional bandwidth for a long-term commitment, feeling as though they are not being attended to appropriately, mismatched sex drives, and/or a hyperactive sex drive which may include a strong desire to have sex with other people.
Emotional issues, such as low self-esteem, insecurity, unworthiness, or unresolved trauma from the past may also be contributors to being unfaithful, as seeking a sexual relationship (even if sex is not consummated) outside the couple may boost their confidence, helping them to cope with their other unresolved emotional issues.
Addiction is one of those tricky areas where there is hope for recovery because we have so much evidence of success stories that it is reasonable to believe that one who suffers from any addiction can overcome it. Addictions may be contributors to infidelity and come in many forms such as alcoholism, addictions to drugs (pharmaceutical or prescription), compulsive gamblers, eaters, spenders, sex addicts, etcetera.
Addictions come in varying intensities. For those whose addictive tendencies are mild, the hope for recovery can be high, though even so, one must realize that relapses are quite common. Severe cases may require supernatural intervention, like (insert addiction) Anonymous. I have often found God to be a powerful ally in battling addiction for my clients.
Considering the nature of sex addiction, certainly one would expect to see infidelity rear its ugly head in any relationship, though few may struggle with the addiction but refrain from acting out completely. This still puts a tremendous strain on the relationship.
These addictions that may include different forms of infidelity are uncontrollable urges that cause the victim to act out unfaithfully. They do so, not to offend the faithful partner, but often participate in such activity in an effort to self-medicate serious underlying issues such as being haunted by an unresolved traumatic past, anxiety, depression, unworthiness, guilt, shame, or when feeling overwhelmed by other psychological issues.
Sexual Orientation Infidelity
No longer in the dark ages, people in the modern world are empowered to express themselves sexually in authentic ways that may have been prohibitive in the past. There is a trend in the laws of the land to support all types of sexual orientation. One of the participants in a presenting relationship may experience a change in sexual orientation. Though one does not normally change their sexual orientation, just simply come to realize that their previous commitment to a particular sexual preference was a lie.
This is a change for the other partner who did not see this coming, though there’s a good chance that the partner who is awakening to his or her true sexual orientation may be just as surprised when this reality comes to light. You are born with your unique sexual orientation but often develop a socially acceptable sexual persona to in effect find an easier way to make your way through life.
In some cases, an individual will look as though he or she is a sexual chameleon, changing his or her sexual preference from one to another over time. This is common enough, especially if their previous programming to adopt a false-facing-front sexual orientation has been prolonged. It may take experimentation over time to finally discover one’s true sexual nature.
If you are in a relationship with someone who is on this sort of path of exploration and personal growth, this can put a great deal of stress on a relationship and may very well lead to the end of the relationship, especially if the explorer is intent on eventually finding a more suitable partner, or maybe his or her path will lead to having no steady partner at all.
In the rare circumstance of finding yourself paired with a malicious predator who may be a narcissist, sociopath, or psychopath, someone on the Anti-social Personality Disorder spectrum, you may suffer from infidelity because your partner gets a thrill from controlling, abusing, and torturing you in a variety of ways and you may never have any method of proving infidelity (or any other secrets he/she may be keeping from you) concretely. If he or she gets the slightest idea that you might be questioning his or her fidelity, you will be verbally and psychologically assaulted (gaslighting), discredited, disrespected, and made to feel like a fool.
If you are in a relationship with a predator, it may be difficult to find adequate help, as these individuals, if they are highly skilled, have the ability to be very persuasive with an incredible ability to con people (he or she conned you, right?) and may be able to manipulate any counselor you might like to see.
If you see this happening, just play along and look for another counselor who has experience with victims of narcissists, sociopaths, or psychopaths who can help you to protect yourself and deal with your situation without having to endure more pain or loss.
With the expansion of sexual orientation, relationships are changing and evolving and the idea of monogamy is becoming less popular, as it is being seen as an unnatural archaic method of approaching romantic relationships. Instead, the current trend is toward supporting a more advanced tolerant relationship between a main pair of individuals, allowing for straying partners. This is referred to as ethical non-monogamy (ENM) or consensual non-monogamy (CNM). Observed as being ethical because there is full disclosure, thereby eliminating the “cheating” label, and consensual due to both parties agreeing on certain parameters.
What are your thoughts?