Infidelity is the act of physically or emotionally betraying the partnership between two people. Infidelity has become more complex and more complicated to identify with the use of technology and social media apps. Infidelity can be split into seven types which include: physical infidelity, emotional infidelity, cyber infidelity, object infidelity, financial infidelity, micro cheating, and combined infidelity. For the sake of efficiency, we will be focusing on the most common forms of infidelity.
If you have had the misfortune of being cheated on or being the one who was unfaithful to your partner then you understand that trust is a difficult thing to repair between the two of you as well as intimacy.
Types of Infidelity Defined:
- Physical: The act of engaging in a sexual act with another individual outside of the marriage or partnership with or without an emotional connection.
- Emotional: Having an emotional attachment or development that creates emotional intimacy between someone outside of the relationship.
- Micro Cheating: A series of behaviors that bother the significant other such as witnessing the unfaithful partner flirt with others or make comments about other individuals’ looks but have not physically touched or emotionally cheated.
- Combined type: This is where a combination of all of the listed are acted upon.
Step 1: Forgiving
I know that if you are on the receiving end of cheating, forgiveness is the last thing on your mind. It is however the most important step. Can you bring yourself to forgive your unfaithful spouse/partner? Forgiveness means that you are able to move past the act and focus on the reasons behind their actions. Don’t get me wrong. I am in no way shape or form saying that cheating is a valid response to whatever was going on. However, I find that the majority of the time the partner who was hurt wants an explanation and a genuine apology as well as expects to see behaviors that are indicative of their remorse. Forgiveness is also being able to eventually reach the level of intimacy and emotional connection that was once there and perhaps even come out stronger. In order to achieve this, however, the faulted partner needs to be patient, consistent and considerate of the other spouse.
Step 2: Figure Out The Underlying Problem
People who cheat are sometimes unaware of the effects it will have long-term on the relationship and have no idea how to foster appropriate relationships with the opposite sex. Perhaps, they think it is normal to talk to many women or men and think that emotional cheating is not a real thing. They may think that as long as they aren’t having sex, it shouldn’t be a problem. Some people do not know that what they have started over the internet can lead to a cyber affair because they did not intend to initially start off that way. There may also not have been boundaries stated within the relationship that touched on this subject. It is important to figure out what the cause and reasoning was behind the infidelity. It is important to do this step with much thought and patience and conversation if the relationship should stay together.
Step 3: Assert Boundaries
As a clinician, I encourage all couples to make a list of their fundamental values as well as their non-negotiable values. When these values are being discussed it is very important that things surrounding the infidelity and lack of trust are mentioned. This is the time to talk about the boundaries the couple wants to implement in their relationship. Some examples include, social media boundaries, hangouts with the opposite sex, and the way in which we speak to other individuals around our partner. It is important to prioritize one another’s feelings and prevent the insecurities from perpetuating. Perhaps the infidelity occurred over text, at work or both. It is important to offer reassurance and honor the boundaries in front of your partner and even when you are not with them.