Cheating in Relationship

 

“We have been together for 5 years and it was happening right under my nose and I didnt even realise. I trusted him with all my heart. Not just as a partner, but as a human being. How could he stoop so low to cheat and break my trust like this?”

Cheating in a relationship is a devastating and an emotionally painful experience. A breach of trust in a relationship feels unbearable. Many couples part ways and marriages get torn apart due to infidelity. It is hard to imagine that something like this could actually happen to us and first and foremost there is a feeling of shock that someone we loved so dearly and envisioned our future with could betray our trust and shatter it in such a brutal manner.

Signs and symptoms of Infidelity

  • Increased social activities
  • Being private about their phone
  • Frequent change of passwords
  • Changes in desire for intimacy
  • Change in attitude and appearance
  • Defensiveness when questioned about whereabouts

Causes

  • Sexual Dissatisfaction

    According to research published in Journal of Social and Personal Relationships(2005), incompatibility in sexual desires and drives leads to sexual dissatisfaction, this is one of the main motivators for cheating in men .Apart from that 20% of men seek novelty and adventure in sexual experiences which leads them to seek it outside the primary relationship.

  • Emotional Dissatisfaction

    Intimacy is a cornerstone of any relationship. It involves connection and closeness with our partner. Lack of emotional intimacy, validation and attention can lead to feeling disconnected and dissatisfied within the relationship, increasing the chances of seeking intimacy outside the relationship. For women, emotional dissatisfaction in the primary relationship is one of the main reasons for cheating(Barta and Kein, 2005)

  • Conflicts In Relationship

    Arguments, fights and differences of opinions are common in any relationship but when the frequency and intensity increases and starts overpowering the positive interactions then it may start deteriorating the equation shared. These conflicts could be due to disturbances within the relationship, frustration at work, household responsibilities, parenting etc.

  • Incompatibility in personalities

    Partners who are unable to come to middle grounds due to fundamental differences in personality traits, attachment styles, core values and belief systems are more likely to separate or engage in infidelity(Brooks and Monaco, 2013)

    Example 1- Differences in ideas of relationship and love

    Example 2- A person who believes in monogamy might feel dissatisfied with a partner who believes in polyamory.

  • Feeling neglected or lonely

    As individuals we expect that a relationship will fulfill our needs for companionship, affection, appreciation and attention. If we are unable to receive emotional support, quality time and care from our partner, it leads to a barrier and emotional distance.

  • Lack of/Unhealthy communication

    If the communication is unhealthy i.e there is verbal abuse, nagging, contempt and disrespect while interacting with each other then the emotional and physical connection gets eroded.

  • Revenge

    Infidelity can also be used as a revenge tactic by a partner who was cheated upon or to get back for any wrongdoing or hurt that was caused.

Such challenging and overwhelming situations can be dealt systematically and strategically in a therapy session where the aim is to help you overcome breakup as per your response and tolerance level and move towards emotional healing.

The package on moving -on after a break up deals with

  • Dealing with loss/change/void or emptiness
  • Dealing with overwhelming emotions
  • Dealing with self-blame or self-criticism
  • Rationalizing situation
  • Moving responsibly and with positive self-worth
  • Follow-up

External Factors

  • Financial stress

    Loss of a job or financial crisis can lead to a person engaging in infidelity as an easy way out of dealing with the stress or lack of support in the critical situation from their partners.

  • Employment

    Individuals may be more likely to cheat when they are employed but their spouse is not.

  • Work Pressures

    Research suggests that more than 60% of affairs begin at work. If a partner is going through a tough time at work and is unable to share it with their significant other, they may turn for emotional support from their workplace colleagues which might start an emotional/sexual affair.

  • Reconnecting With An Ex

    In one study, 32% of women said that reconnecting with a previous partner led to an affair. 21% of men say they've cheated with an ex.

SESSION WISE PLAN

  • EXPRESSING/VENTING

    Initially the client who has faced betrayal is provided a safe space to express the emotional turmoil they are experiencing. Infidelity leaves a person feeling shocked, crushed, angry, lonely, resentful, bitter and depressed. A Counselor helps you in processing the feelings around the experience.

    Information is gathered about the relationship, dynamics between the partner, all the factors involved- any stresses, conflicts, situational circumstances.

  • UNDERSTANDING EFFECT OF CHEATING

    Betrayal leaves a person shattered as it may depicts a lack of care and intention to hurt and cause pain. Thoughts and imagination of what had happened could affect a person emotionally and mentally. It may start impacting their focus at work and lead to sleep disturbances.

    In therapy we focus on exploring relief from emotional hurt and ways to bring back stability in the day to day functioning.

  • EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

    A lot of times they are unable to understand who to turn to for emotional support which makes them feel even more isolated and desolate. This happens majorly in cases where there was lack of social support since the beginning or if the relationship did not have the approval of close ones like parents, elders or friends. A therapist will be a supportive listener and help in assessment of coping resources.

  • CONSEQUENCE ANALYSIS

    Variables like loneliness, childcare, living situations, financial independence, family relations, stigma attached to divorce or separation, personal and cultural belief systems, managing responsibilities are explored and taken into consideration. Different perspectives are explored which is best suited for the client.

DECISION MAKING

  • Whether to leave or stay?

    Therapy facilitates in understanding the variables and answering this question. One of the major factors to be evaluated is the willingness of both partners to rebuild the relationship which further helps to decide the direction and course of action.

REBUILDING RELATIONSHIP
If the answer is YES

  • Communication of expectations and expression of emotions is facilitated in therapy session as it helps to understand what both partners need to get past this difficult period in their relationship. Couple goals and needs are identified by therapist and the couple.
  • Evaluation of strengths and weaknesses of the relationship is carried out. Any unhealthy patterns of behaviour or long standing unresolved concerns are explored and worked upon in therapy.
  • Trust building- In therapy relationship skills that are necessary to repair the relationship are discovered. Trust building exercises are implemented in therapy sessions. Example- Both the partners are asked to express to each other their cherished moments, enjoyable activities they used to engage in earlier and giving compliments to each other on their desirable qualities,

MOVING ON
If the answer is NO

  • Dealing With Break Up/ Divorce

    End of a relationship brings with it pain, heartbreak, loneliness and a sense of loss. Expression of negative emotions in the safe space of therapy takes place.

  • Coping Resources Are Explored

    Therapist and client together work on building coping mechanisms and distress relief skills.

  • Closure

    When there is pent up anger, contempt, vengeance then they serve as barriers to move on from the relationship. Therapy session works on identifying what is needed to obtain closure.

  • Building Self Esteem

    Majority of women who feel betrayed tend to focus on what was missing in them or how they were unable to fulfill their partner’s needs. Faulty patterns of thinking are recognized and new perspectives are explored.

Complications

If the cause of cheating is not explored then the likelihood of cheating increases. Infidelity can be a sign of unhappy relationship. Understanding and resolving those concerns be it personal or within the relationship is of utmost importance.

A negative and impactful experience like cheating can alter our thought processes and beliefs regarding ourselves, others and relationships. It becomes difficult to place trust in others and open up or be emotionally vulnerable again. If we do not resolve the emotional turmoil and any faulty pattern of thinking that might have developed due to this experience, it may continue to impact our future relationships.

If the cheating behaviour continues then it is sign that the relationship would not sustain and moving on is the only option.

Outcome

  • Clarity regarding the relationship

    Cheating being a heartbreaking experience may lead to confusion in case of long term relationships and marriage as various factors are to be considered which is resolved in therapy.

  • Regaining emotional strength

    It can be emotionally draining to undergo such a shattering experience and initially it may affect daily routine and functioning. Therapy helps restore emotional wellbeing and strength.

  • Restoring self esteem

    Cheating can be a big blow to one’s self confidence and therapy helps in separating the incident from the person who has undergone it and breaking the unhealthy cycle of self blame.

Know Your Counsellor

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