Infidelity: Taking Betrayal to a Whole New Level

 

We’ve all felt betrayed at least once in our lifetime. Whether it’s been by a close friend or a sibling, this intense feeling of disloyalty hurts like hell. However, when our life partner or love partner flirts or sleeps with someone else we call this a scenario infidelity. In this article, we will review what is infidelity, why does infidelity happen, the different types of infidelity, and much more.

Infidelity

Infidelity

What is Infidelity?

Infidelity is a widespread phenomenon that occurs when one partner in a committed relationship is unfaithful to the other. Generally, infidelity is directed in mystery and encompasses similar characteristics to acts of cheating and adultery. Cheating does not refer only to sexual infidelity as it could evolve into a sexual, emotional, or a sexual and emotional relationship with an extra partner.

Infidelity stands out as one of the most troublesome issues faced by couples and for the advising experts who work with them. Audits reliably archive that somewhere close to 22% and 25% of men and 11% and 15% of women will report engaging in sexual relations with somebody other than their life partners while married. Furthermore, in an investigation of divorced men and women, 40% of men and 44% of women announced having more than one extramarital sexual contact during their marriages.

The negative results of infidelity are effectively and promptly recognized and include loss of trust; damaged self-esteem; disruption to other relationships such as those with children, friends, or parents; financial consequences; and emotional problems such as depression. Moreover, infidelity is the most frequently cited cause of divorce reported by couples.

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Causes of Infidelity: Why do people cheat?

Infidelity is a complex phenomenon with multiple reasons driving people to cheat on their partners. The reasons that could lead individuals to cheat have not been set in stone but to some, it is seen as a strategy that, under certain circumstances, can increase the reproductive successes of the individuals who adopt it. Cheating is a strategy that could potentially provide the best of both worlds. People could continue to stay in a relationship and have children to whom they could divert parental investment, yet in the meantime, they could abuse any sexual open doors outside their primary relationship. Furthermore, individuals will look to form long-term relationships with individuals of similar mating value to their own.

Using two unique approaches, a current study identified a plethora of reasons that could potentially drive individuals to cheat on their partners. Moreover, it arranged these reasons in more extensive classes, surveyed their significance in driving infidelity, and explored their developmental rationale. It found that getting revenge and the current relationship not going well were the most likely reasons for cheating, trailed by a willingness to engage in sexual relations with various mates and gaining other novel experiences. It was additionally discovered that men gave significantly higher scores in all factors than women and there were also significant personality effects, mainly of conscientiousness.

A later report studied 451 American students and requested that they rate 16 conceivable reasons that would propel them to cheat on their partners. By applying a factor analysis, they characterized these reasons into four classes:

  1. Dissatisfaction with their current relationship
  2. Neglect by their current partner
  3. Wanting to have sex with other individuals to satisfy themselves sexually, to experience intense sexual feelings, or to win back lost feelings of self-confidence
  4. Anger and revenge   

Women’s rates for the first category (dissatisfaction with their current relationship) were significantly higher than men. As for the sex factor, men indicated significantly higher scores than women.

Other reasons for cheating, presented by Rebecca J. Brand, Charlotte M. Markey, Anna Mills, and Sara D. Hodges, included:

  1. Being attracted to another makes them feel more attractive
  2. The current relationship is not going well: An individual may feel neglected by their current partner. They may feel as if there isn’t enough communication or that the passion in their relationship is lost. This can lead them to feel unhappy or bored with their current relationship.
  3. Lack of satisfaction with their current relationship
  4. The presence of better alternatives
  5. Character flaws of the current partner
  6. Capacity for the family: If a couple is experiencing infertility, one spouse may cheat on the other. If either spouse struggles to make ends meet and one cannot support the other financially, this too can cause infidelity.
  7. A way to break out of a relationship: Some choose infidelity as a way to break up with their partner for good. They know that in some relationships, there are no second chances after they cheat even if it only happens once. 

Causes of infidelity: Why do people cheat?

Signs of Infidelity

Do you notice a change in your spouse’s behavior? Do you suspect that these changes may be due to a secret life that your spouse may be living? Before you jump to conclusions and immediately assume that your spouse is cheating, separate your suspicions from their actual behavior. Multiple occurrences of the 4 signs listed below may point to cheating.

Changes in intimacy level

According to Beau Dietl and Associates, a premier private investigation company based in New York City, changes in levels of intimacy may be a sign that your spouse is cheating. This can be represented by either an increase or a decrease in the desire to partake in intimate acts. Do you notice that your partner’s sex drive is higher than usual? Well, this can imply that they feel guilty about the affair and they are trying to make up for their unfaithfulness by showing you more affection than usual. However, if you sense that your romantic relationship is slowly fading away, this may be due to the fact that they may be more into their new partner and do not feel the need to continue being intimate with you.

Your partner has become secretive

Do you feel closed out to certain aspects of your partner’s life? If this is true, you need to ponder what lies behind those cordoned-off regions. Privileged insights excite doubt and most of the time, your gut is always right.

Changes in appearance

All of a sudden your partner takes pride in their appearance. You’ve noticed an alluring new hairstyle, a sexy shift in wardrobe, hours at the tanning salon, countless hours at the gym but when you compliment your partner on their unusual and sudden lifestyle change, they don’t seem to care that such compliments are coming from you. These are valuable clues that your spouse may be using “lifestyle changes” to impress someone else. If your significant other avoids or makes light of your compliments, be careful.

Change in work schedule

The most obvious and universal red flag in any occurrence of infidelity is sudden and last minute changes in your partner’s work schedule. Work is an easy excuse to leave or be late without being contacted by a significant other, due to the excuse that he or she is busy with clients or projects. Persistent late meetings, last-minute business trips, and overnight conferences are three of the most widely recognized reasons that a mate will utilize when they are taking part in unfaithful acts.

Sensitivity and defensiveness

If you start to question your partner’s whereabouts, they will most likely give evasive answers to simple questions. They can become extremely sensitive or defensive when asked about where they are. If you find yourself in this type of situation, please realize that they are simply acting out of fear that you will start to pick up on their behaviors and draw obvious conclusions.

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The Several Stages of Infidelity

After a partner discovers that their significant other has been unfaithful, they will learn how to face it, accept it, and put the past behind them. Even though this mending process is easier said than done, living in denial won’t save what’s left of your broken relationship. I give you, the three stages of infidelity:

  1. The ride stage: The ride stage is the initial stage of infidelity where emotions and anger are strong; the future of the relationship is in question.
  2. The moratorium stage: In the moratorium stage, individuals who are unfaithful are not as emotional. They will try to understand the consequences of their behavior but most of the time, they will try to justify their actions.
  3. The trust-building stages of infidelity: In these last stages, couples will determine ways to make their relationship work through forgiveness and trust.
Infidelity: Types of infidelity

Types of Infidelity

Infidelity has been categorized into five forms based on the personal reasons why people choose to be unfaithful. Opportunistic infidelity, obligatory infidelity, romantic infidelity, conflicted romantic infidelity, and commemorative infidelity are the five main forms of infidelity.

Opportunistic Infidelity

Mainly seen in committed relationships, these individuals engage in behaviors normally reserved for their partner with an external person. Typically, situational circumstances, opportunity, risk-taking behavior, and alcohol or drug use drives this type of cheating. Opportunistic infidelity often presents itself in cases of career advancement and financial opportunities. Although opportunistic infidelity ordinarily begins as a simple opportunity to “get ahead”, it has the potential to evolve into sexual and emotional infidelity. Suppose Amanda is in desperate need of a raise. She may choose to sleep with her boss knowing that she may gain the financial support that she so desperately needs.

Obligatory Infidelity

Centered around the concern that denying someone’s advances would end up in rejection, individuals in this category will cheat on their significant other in order to gain acceptance, approval, or affection from others. Like opportunistic infidelity, obligatory infidelity also occurs in situations where there is some sort of role disparity.

Romantic Infidelity

Individuals in this category no longer love or feel attracted to their partner but they choose to stay in the relationship out of obligation or duty. This is the most dangerous type of infidelity in the primary relationship because people who experience romantic infidelity develop strong feelings for the person who they are cheating with. They may feel love, passion, desire, and a sense that they belong with the person they are cheating with.

Conflicted Romantic Infidelity

Conflicted romantic infidelity occurs when the person no longer loves or is attracted to his or her partner but desires to be with many different partners. The individual feels attached to their primary partner but lustful towards their new partner. This type of infidelity ultimately leads to a self-conflict between feelings of attachment and lust.

Commemorative Infidelity

When one person doesn’t love the other but remains in a committed relationship, they are experiencing commemorative infidelity. While there’s no sexual desire or feelings of love or attachment, a sense of commitment keeps a couple together. These people justify cheating by telling themselves that they have the right to look for what they are not getting in their present relationship. It is important, for the sake of appearances, that the present relationship last. The cheater does not want to be viewed as a failure so they stay in an unhappy relationship and seek to fulfill their needs outside the relationship.

Infidelity and Anxiety

Anxiety is accepted to have evolved, in part, as a signal of threats to survival or reproductive fitness. Scientists have proposed that when an individual experiences real scenarios of infidelity or imagines their partner being unfaithful, an anxious reaction occurs. Moreover, studies examining physiological arousal levels have corroborated with self-report methods showing increased arousal in response to an infidelity threat. Foreseeable acts of partner infidelity anticipate the onset of anxiety symptoms.

In 1992, Buss and colleagues requested that men envision their significant other committing a sexual infidelity. The researchers found that men showed increased physiological distress as measured via heart-rate and galvanic skin response. Contrasted with the control condition, participants in the experimental condition had accelerated heart rates. The level of anxiety felt after a partner’s infidelity might be influenced by one’s own mate-value. For example, Phillips found that low levels of perceived mate-value were associated with increased levels of insecurity and anxiety in response to infidelity.

Anxiety is an element of sexual jealousy whereby the threat of losing one’s mate to a rival evokes jealousy that includes not only anxiety but also seeking of reassurance and aggression to try to avert a loss. Anxiety promotes corrective or alternative actions in the face of exclusion from a social group or relationship. This includes the threatened loss of a romantic partner. From this viewpoint, encounters of anxiety following a genuine or envisioned infidelity go hand in hand with this evolutionary theory of emotion.

Infidelity: How to overcome infidelity

Tips on How to Overcome Infidelity

When the underlying stun of the affair is over, an opportunity for improvement presents itself. Both individuals in the relationship will have a chance to analyze the reasons why their relationship slid down such a heartbreaking slant. Hopefully, you’ll be able to save your relationship with these 8 helpful tips on how to overcome infidelity.

  1. Stop the affair once and for all. If both individuals aren’t willing to reinvest in the marriage, then what’s the point?
  2. Keep in mind that the road to recovery isn’t easy especially when your own spouse has betrayed your trust. Your relationship has been through the wringer, of course, you’re going to have your ups and downs. It is completely normal for your new relationship to have a rocky start but eventually, time heals all wounds.
  3. Both parties must be willing to talk about what happened. This requires honesty, patience, and accountability for all actions.
  4. There needs to be a willingness to make future promises and commitments that an affair will never happen again. The person who had the affair should examine the personal reasons that lead them to stray away from their marriage or relationship. After these reasons are addressed, he or she should think about what needs to change to avoid temptation in the future.
  5. As for wiping the slate clean and moving forward, the two individuals in the relationship should take responsibility for building a new foundation. Both individuals in the relationship ought to ask themselves “what can I do to rebuild our connection and ensure a healthier relationship from here on out?” Even the victim of infidelity should think about their possible part in pushing their spouse away and how they can make their partner feel more connected to them in the future.
  6. I know this may sound like the hardest tip of all but you must find the strength to forgive your partner for what they’ve done. Once you are able to forgive, your road to recovery will become much easier.
  7. The support from your family and friends is extremely important in overcoming infidelity. I know that they are probably just as angry and hurt as you are but without their support in building a stronger foundation between you and your partner, recovery will be a lot more difficult to achieve.
  8. If there are children involved, think about the bigger picture. Would you want your own children to commit such acts in their future relationships? Think about how your own actions will affect your children in the long run.

I hope you enjoyed this article on infidelity. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Remember, it’s never too late for positive change!

 

References:

Apostolou, M. (2018). Why Greek-Cypriots cheat? The evolutionary origins of the Big-Five of infidelity. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, doi:10.1037/ebs0000140

Arnocky, S., Sunderani, S., Gomes, W., & Vaillancourt, T. (2015). Anticipated partner infidelity and men’s intimate partner violence: The mediating role of anxiety. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 9(3), 186-196. doi:10.1037/ebs0000021

Dietl, B. (2015, November 12). The 4 Most Common Signs Of Infidelity.

Heintzelman, A., Murdock, N. L., Krycak, R. C., & Seay, L. (2014). Recovery from infidelity: Differentiation of self, trauma, forgiveness, and posttraumatic growth among couples in continuing relationships. Couple And Family Psychology: Research And Practice,3(1), 13-29. doi:10.1037/cfp0000016

Kruger, D., Fisher, M., Fitzgerald, C., Kruger, D. J., Fisher, M. L., & Fitzgerald, C. J. (2015). Factors Influencing the Intended Likelihood of Exposing Sexual Infidelity. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 44(6), 1697-1704. doi:10.1007/s10508-014-0469-x

Labrecque, L. T., & Whisman, M. A. (2017). Attitudes toward and prevalence of extramarital sex and descriptions of extramarital partners in the 21st century. Journal Of Family Psychology, 31(7), 952-957. doi:10.1037/fam0000280

Millar, M. G., & Baker, A. (2017). Behavioral reactions to emotional and sexual infidelity: Mate abandonment versus mate retention.Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 11(4), 336-340. doi:10.1037/ebs0000091 (study)

Punyanunt-Carter, N. P. (2013). Infidelity. Salem Press Encyclopedia

Linda is currently a student at Stony Brook University, studying a Bachelors in Psychology. Through her writing, she hopes that she will be able to expand her own knowledge on the motivation behind human behavior and how the brain works. She hopes that she will be able to inform others about psychology- related topics in a fun, easy, and creative way.