Infidelity is not a phenomenon that can be defined simply and unambiguously. There are as many people as there are definitions of betrayal. Although the phenomenon of infidelity is not necessarily about the relationship and the sexual sphere, it is most often referred to in this context. Again, infidelity is not understood in the same way in every couple.
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Emotional, physical and controlled infidelity – what is it and what are its facets?
There is more and more talk of so-called emotional (or psychological) infidelity, which does not necessarily involve physicality in any way. The personal definition of betrayal depends on a person’s value system, emotional life and boundaries. Whether a wife’s infidelity or a husband’s infidelity becomes the beginning of the end of a relationship also depends on these factors.
Infidelity evokes many negative, often very intense emotions. It involves feelings of jealousy, but also of confusion and insecurity. The betrayed person may feel that his or her world is collapsing and ceases to exist in its previous form. This is accompanied by fear that the partner will leave, and often by rage at the disappointment of trust. The strength of these emotions is compounded by the fact that a romantic relationship is the closest possible relationship, revealing a person’s insides and feelings. When an unwanted person appears in this relationship, emotions run high. The sense of uniqueness, self-esteem suffers, the betrayed person feels humiliated.
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Physical betrayal, where are its limits?
The form of betrayal that is most talked about and discussed is physical betrayal. In its simplest sense, it is sexual intercourse that one partner has had with someone outside the relationship. However, it is worth noting that, for not everyone, infidelity starts at the same point. A moment of infidelity can be a sexually charged flirtation, the exchange of spicy messages, entering dating chat rooms, creating an account on a dating site, kissing, overly intimate hugging, talking about sex or even watching pornography. Physical infidelity can be defined as crossing the boundaries of intimacy, although as we can see from the example of pornography, it does not even have to take place with a real, live person.
Sexual fantasies about other people are also included by some in this category of infidelity. Fantasising is a natural human reflex and part of the inner life of any person interested in sex. However, for many people, the knowledge that a partner or partner is fantasising about someone ‘third’ is very uncomfortable and arouses feelings of jealousy.
Emotional betrayal, is it the worst kind of betrayal?
A slightly different form of infidelity is emotional infidelity. It involves mental involvement and the nourishment of strong feelings towards a third party. Emotional betrayal sometimes co-occurs with physical betrayal or sexual fantasies, but these need not necessarily occur. The person betrayed in this way feels that he or she has lost the exclusivity of the other party’s emotional involvement. There is anxiety about the future and a sense of abandonment. The general availability and popularity of social media and online communication means that the pool of ‘betrayal’ activities in a relationship increasingly includes the exchange of comments, likes or compliments on other people’s profiles on social media. Even excessive interest in someone’s profile, photos or content they post can be seen in terms of emotional betrayal. This is an extremely emotional subject, in which it is difficult to be objective at all.
Infidelity and excessive jealousy
Infidelity does not necessarily mean sex with another person. Its definition can include a variety of other actions and even intentions or thoughts. However, the definition of infidelity should not be too broad. When one party in a relationship cannot accept any interaction of the other party with a third party, and sees the worst intentions in every gesture, word or look, there may be a problem with excessive jealousy and insecurity in the relationship. Such a problem often disorganises life after betrayal. The betrayed partner, although declaratively forgiving and wanting to undertake to save the relationship, emotionally cannot cope with the situation. He feels such a strong fear of being betrayed again that he is constantly monitoring the other party and trying to spot the slightest sign of a new betrayal or its intentions. If similar feelings arise in one partner over a long period of time, although realistically there is no basis for them, it is worth considering individual psychological therapy or couples therapy. Perhaps the problem is not the provocative behaviour of the other party, but one’s own thought patterns, emotions and wounds from the past. By working through these under the guidance of a good psychotherapist, you can feel better in your relationship and no longer see betrayal or the risk of betrayal everywhere.
Infidelity of the wife and infidelity of the husband – how to recognise it?
Infidelity evokes huge emotions not only when it happens. Many people wonder how they can recognise the fact that their partner or partner is thinking about infidelity, considering it, planning it or has even already done it. Numerous lists of behaviours or statements have emerged that should be alarming. More than one husband wonders what a wife’s typical behaviour is after infidelity, and many women spend considerable time considering the potential behaviour of a husband who is cheating. It is impossible to create a list or test to discover infidelity by ticking off point by point. In many cases, the behaviour of the partner who has cheated or is considering it actually changes. The husband or wife may become emotionally distant, avoiding conversation and contact more often. In many cases, it is also not difficult to see that the partner or partner is hiding something – especially if the relationship is not fresh and has been going on for many years. Some evidence of infidelity may be photos, text messages or overheard conversation. However, it is better not to judge the other party categorically based on behaviour such as a sudden increase in effort (long-lost flowers, an invitation to go out together) or a one-off, surreptitious phone call. In this case, the first cure for uncertainty should be a frank conversation.
Life after betrayal: forgive or leave?
Infidelity disorganises a couple’s life and makes it difficult to return to the previous mode and relationship. Life after infidelity in a marriage very often ends in divorce. Proven infidelity by one party is grounds for divorce with a declaration of fault. Some people, suspecting that their spouse is cheating on them, opt for such radical steps as the services of a private detective – they provide not only knowledge and certainty, but also evidence for court. Life after infidelity is not easy – to forgive or to leave? This question is probably asked by most people who have discovered that they have been betrayed. Infidelity does not necessarily have to end in divorce or separation. Some couples undertake to work through the problem and come to an agreement. A frank, calm conversation saves many a marriage or relationship. Of course, after reconciliation and forgiveness of infidelity, time is needed to gradually rebuild trust. People make the decision to give themselves a second chance for many reasons. The first is the love for the partner or partner that still exists, despite the hurt. An important argument for ‘trying again’ is also the shared financial and life stability, raising children together, owning a house. Sometimes infidelity is just one event in a long-term relationship that never happens again – so it may be worth giving yourself a chance. Finally, some couples feel a strong commitment to their vows despite the betrayal and believe that they should stay together for better or for worse.
If the negative emotions, grief, resentment and fears are too great for the couple to deal with on their own, it is a good idea to go to couples’ therapy. A condition for attending therapy sessions is that the affair has ended. A professional therapist will never undertake couples therapy when one of the people is having an active affair. Once the unacceptable relationship has been broken off, the therapeutic process can begin, which will help to calmly and honestly discuss the problems that have arisen and deal with emotions. The overriding goal of couples therapy is not always to stay in the relationship. Sometimes, during the therapeutic process, the couple come to the conclusion that the best decision is to separate. The therapist helps both people to cope with this decision, to make it and to carry out the divorce or separation peacefully, without destructive emotions, arguments and revenge.
Are there ways to avoid infidelity in a relationship?
Infidelity is a problem that spends the sleep of many a woman and man. Of course, there are ways to make it less likely. However, one should not “prevent infidelity” through morbid jealousy, controlling behaviour, stalking and surveillance of one’s partner. Nor are there any tricks that will make a partner “never look at another”, or a partner “only want you”.