Infidelity is more common than most people realize. In fact, it is estimated that 50% of men and women today will have an extramarital affair during their marriage.
Forms of Infidelity
Infidelity takes many forms. Some people have sequential affairs--a series of one-night stands or short affairs. In this day of on-line life, affairs can happen via email, texts, and social media sites. When such behavior continues for several years and finally is discovered, it is difficult to heal the years of deceit but it can be done. Sometimes affairs last longer and become more serious. These affairs may be quite romantic and sexual. Sometimes they grow into more serious relationships and may last for years.
Why Affairs Happen
Infidelity happens for many reasons. Here are a few of the common explanations:
1. An affair may be a response to a crisis such as the death of someone important, moving to a new city, a job change, or some other kind of life transition.
2. Sometimes people become bored with their partners and seek sexual or emotional excitement with someone new. The new person seems to supply the excitement that has been missing.
3. Stressful times in the family life cycle lead some to seek escape in an affair. This includes things like taking care of aging parents, raising teenagers, and becoming new parents.
4. People sometimes look for outside relationships because their expectations of marriage have not been satisfied.
5. Some people seek outside relationships when their partners are emotionally unavailable because of illness.
6. Other people begin affairs because they seek more affection than their partner can provide.
7. Other people seek professional or social advancement.
There are also many social reasons why affairs happen: factors that exist in our society that lead many of us to expect a fantasy version of marriage that could never really exist. When marriage doesn’t live up to this expectation, some of us keep looking for it outside of marriage.
Signs of Infidelity
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Probably the most painful thing one can experience in a marriage or committed relationship, after death or divorce, is discovering your partner is having an affair. Upon discovery, one's mind starts spinning and one's body goes into high alert. Warning bells go off and panic and anxiety take over. Reality has changed and what once was a safe and secure relationship is unstable and dangerous. Questions like, "Who am I? Who is my partner? What has our life together really been about?" crash down on the mind like a spring waterfall full of furry.
This entire experience is traumatic, often causing PTSD-like symptoms in the betrayed person. Obsessive thinking and obsessive behaviors like cell phone checking take over. Loss of sleep and appetite are not uncommon. Emotions may become mercurial, flipping from grief and sadness to rage and disgust. Self-blame can creep in. This is all normal because this is a crisis.
Evelyn Schmechtig Cochran