Dr. Lisa Boesky
Psychologist, National Speaker & Author
John Edwards…many of those who didn’t want him for president still viewed him as a “nice guy.” A politician cheating? Not shocking. But, John Edwards, the squeaky clean devoted husband who let his cancer-stricken wife stand at his side throughout his entire campaign? Devastating.
Most of us have either cheated, been cheated on, or know someone who has been unfaithful. Yet, much of what we think about cheating is WRONG!
- Infidelity spells the end of a marriage: It definitely feels that way when you first find out—anger, depression, anxiety. There appears to be no way to work it out. But, with time (and a lot of work), it is possible to rebuild the trust. If couples seek professional help to deal with the aftermath of the affair, their chances of staying together are pretty good.
- People cheat because they’ve fallen out of love: Many unfaithful spouses report that they still love their wives or husbands. Whereas women often report being unhappy in their marriage, some men consider themselves in semi-happy, or even happy marriages—despite their affair. Cheating typically results from other relationship issues.
- Once a cheater, always a cheater: It depends. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. However, if someone cheats one time due to immaturity, poor judgment, impulsivity, intoxication or opportunity and receives tough consequences for their actions, they may learn from their mistake and never do it again.
- Spouses who are cheated on “know” at some level, but choose not to see the infidelity: Many spouses don’t have a clue that their husband or wife is cheating—especially if there is trust in the relationship and the cheater is a slick liar. Hindsight is 20/20–but during the actual affair, extra time at work, plans with friends, or weight-loss won’t automatically spark thoughts of infidelity.
- People cheat with someone younger, sexier, or better in bed than their partner: Many victims of infidelity are shocked that the “other” man or woman isn’t some young stud or hottie. It may be the other person’s witty banter, submissiveness, undying affection, heaps of attention, shared interests, unexplained chemistry, gifts/money or “understanding” that pulled at your spouses heartstrings.
- No sex = No affair: Deep and intense relationships are developing over the internet and as male and female co-workers spend hours upon hours together. Emotional affairs can be incredibly addictive due to their secretive and unconsummated nature. Commiserating about unhappy relationships can quickly turn into bonding, attraction, and desire.
- Women don’t cheat as much as men: The percentage of women cheaters is quickly catching up to men. Both genders report similar reasons for cheating, though some women in midlife feel they “deserve” to cheat after raising kids, being a supportive wife, and sacrificing their identify in a marriage. Women who marry young may feel trapped if they haven’t played the field—especially if their young husband doesn’t fit their idealized view of who she thought he was.
- A one-night stand is just as bad as a long-term affair: Long-term lying, betrayal, deception can have a much larger impact on marriages than a one-time mistake. Both can negatively affect the marriage and break the trust—but a one-night stand tends to have much less of an emotional component, which gives the relationship a greater chance of surviving.
If you find yourself looking outside your marriage for what needs to be fixed inside your marriage, talk to your spouse or a professional NOT your opposite-sex neighbor, co-worker, or friend!