In my line of work as a relationship expert, I work with cheaters. Some are funny, others volunteer, and some go to church every Sunday. Some coach their child’s sports teams, others take care of their elderly parents, and some are the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. Some research shows that, at a minimum, at least 50% of all couples will be affected by cheating.
It can happen to you.
No relationship is immune from infidelity. There is a lack of education about cheating, especially around how and why it happens. I find myself repeating the same things to my clients and continually debunking myths. Talking openly about the “reality” of infidelity is one of the best ways of protecting a relationship from it.
Myth 1: Only immoral people cheat.
Reality: Good people cheat. People are harshly judged for stepping outside the bounds of their relationship. Yes, they made a bad choice, but it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. Two of the most common things I hear are: “I never thought I would cheat” from the betrayer, and “I never thought s/he would cheat” from the betrayed partner. If you assume that both you and your partner can cheat, you can be more aware about threats and risky situations.
Myth 2: If there’s no sex, it’s not cheating.
Reality: There’s a different kind of affair that’s been on the rise – the emotional one. It usually starts as “just a friendship” but then a deep, passionate connection grows as time goes on. People can fall in love before realizing just how far they’ve crossed the line. Warning signs your “friendship” may be heading toward an emotional affair: You don’t tell your partner when or what you talk about with this person, and you’ve started divulging personal information about your partner to him or her.
Myth 3: You only cheat if you’re unhappy.
Reality: One of the ways people leave their relationship vulnerable to infidelity is by assuming that only unhappily coupled people cheat. Not so, as my clients often tell me, “I thought we were happy.” For some, cheating is less about happiness and more about sliding across boundaries. Opportunity is one of the leading variables of infidelity.
Myth 4: Affairs happen because of sexual attraction.
Reality: My clients often tell me they weren’t even attracted to the person they ended up cheating with. Research shows that the affair partner isn’t any better than the spouse, just different. If you assume you need sexual attraction, you’re more likely to minimize the close emotional relationship you’re developing with another person.
Myth 5: A marriage is irreparable.
Reality: As painful as an affair is on a marriage, healing and recovery are possible. Many of my clients tell me that the affair was a “blessing in disguise.” Often I hear that spouses talked more in the aftermath of an affair than they have all year, or they realized they have been taking each other for granted and needed a wake up call. Although the process is not easy, surviving infidelity and making your marriage better than ever is achievable.
An affair can happen in any relationship. Awareness of these 5 myths and the reality of each can help keep you both faithful to each other.