The new infidelity is between people who unwittingly form deep, passionate connections before realizing that they’ve crossed the line from platonic friendship into romantic love. Infidelity is any emotional or sexual intimacy that violates trust.
~ Shirley Glass, author, Not “Just Friends”
Affair – The word no married person expects or wants to ever hear. Though 90% of people surveyed say affairs are “wrong,” they are happening every day and in increasing numbers. Here are five important facts for married people to know about infidelity.
TRUTH #1: Estimates are that 25%-40% of women and 50%-60% of men will have an affair during the lifetime of their marriage.
Affairs happen for many reasons – we’ve heard:
- My needs were not being met, emotionally or sexually.
- I was bored, unloved or unappreciated.
- I tried to talk with him/her but things didn’t change or the change didn’t last.
- I felt hopeless and gave up trying.
- His work was more important than me.
- The kids were more important than me.
- He didn’t listen; He wasn’t affectionate; He didn’t make me feel special.
- She never wanted to have sex; Having sex was an obligation to her; I couldn’t make her happy; Nothing I ever did was good enough.
Then one day he/she starts talking with someone else of the opposite sex – at work, in the neighborhood, at the gym, online, in a chat room – and shares the discontent in their relationship. The other person listens with empathy and shares dissatisfaction in his/her relationship. A bond forms, a sharing of intimacies and emotions cross boundaries, secretly. An affair is born.
TRUTH #2: 85% of affairs begin in the workplace.
Think about the amount of time you spend with your spouse versus the amount of time you spend with co-workers. Day after day, maybe 40+ hours a week, you and your colleagues share the ups and downs of work; you bond over projects, successes and difficulties at work. The close interaction, travel, and unavoidable closeness may lead to strong friendships and emotional attachments outside your marriage. The workplace provides opportunity and proximity to people outside your family. Women’s increasing entry into the workforce has correlated with a rise in the number of affairs women are having. It’s no wonder the workplace is the most common place affairs start.
TRUTH #3: Emotional infidelity can be just as or more damaging to a marriage than physical infidelity.
Innocent flirting and office banter turns into lunch together, texting or emailing during off hours. Correspondence enters the personal realm and you begin to share intimate details about your life and relationship with this person. The secret feels exciting as you hide it from your spouse and rationalize that this is not “cheating” since there is no physical contact; but, the emotional attachment you develop with this person can be devastating. The more intimate connection you have with someone outside your marriage, the deeper the Head and Heart connection with your spouse becomes compromised. A physical affair may not be far behind.
TRUTH #4: The internet, email, cell phones and Facebook have made it easier for people to cheat.
Curiosity about high school sweethearts, old flames from college, and lost loves can be dangerous, especially when there is a drifting or emptiness in your marriage. Romantic memories, alluring and powerful, can lead you down a path of unexpected consequences. With the click of a mouse and the best of intentions you search for an old love. Taking the next step by emailing or friending him/her on Facebook seems harmless enough. However this may begin an unanticipated cascade of romantic feelings and thoughts. Not sharing this with your spouse can lead to an “accidental affair.” Flirting and sexual interactions through email, text, pictures and video are cheating.
TRUTH #5: After an affair, 65% of marriages end; 35% are able to save the marriage.
For some people an affair is a deal breaker and the betrayed partner cannot fathom continuing the relationship under any circumstances. For others the affair is their ticket out of the marriage; the result of a string of events that is the final breaking point in a marriage. Then there are the couples who want to save their marriages after an affair – they end up in our office.
We strongly believe that with therapy, time, patience and work couples can journey together toward deepening their relationship and building a stronger, closer bond than they had before.
Here’s to your relationship,
Lori and Bob Hollander
Lori Hollander, LCSW-C, BCD, and Bob Hollander, LCSW-C, JD, are licensed counselors and co-founders of Relationships Work, an innovative therapy practice and online resource center that gives couples 360 degrees of support for extraordinary partnerships. Sign up for Radical Relationships, a monthly eZine from Relationships Work, and receive Why Take the Journey to Extraordinary? absolutely free.