We’ll all seen affairs and infidelity portrayed and popularized in the media – and with that comes all kinds of stereotypes and myths.
For those who have been the victim of an affair, as well as those who have played the role of the cheater, understanding the truth behind infidelity is an important step in not only healing but knowing where to go from there.
Let’s look at some interesting ways in which the pandemic has impacted the rate of infidelity as well as common myths that need to be debunked:
The Impact of COVID-19 on Infidelity
Throughout the pandemic, I noticed a significantly higher number of cases in my clinic that involved infidelity and affairs. Almost double, in fact.
There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic placed significant amounts of stress on couples and presented new challenges to relationships. Isolation, loss of income – these are all byproducts of the pandemic that were thrust upon us all with no prior notice.
Stress is inarguably the main driver when it comes to infidelity and, with stress levels skyrocketing during the past year or so, it’s not surprising that more people are straying outside of their relationships.
The people who cheat and have affairs are often using the activity as a form of escape. Infidelity shares many similar behavioral patterns with substance abuse – but instead of reaching for a drink, it’s reaching for another person.
This is why the most common answer to the question, “Why did you cheat?” is not something like, “Because I wasn’t getting enough sex from my partner,” or, “I resent my partner and feel disconnected from them.”
The most common answer is, “I don’t know.”
Busting 10 Common Infidelity Myths
Before I start busting through these common infidelity myths, I want to point out that these explanations are in no way excuses for cheating or having an affair. There is never a situation that involves infidelity in which someone doesn’t get unjustifiably hurt.
The point of debunking these myths is to show you that, no matter what end of infidelity you happen to fall, you don’t have to be pressured by societal “norms” when it comes to deciding your next step.s
Think of it as expanding your knowledge and digging into the core of infidelity so that you can make a personal and informed choice.
1. Infidelity Destroys the Marriage
While this may be true in some cases, it is the exception and not the rule. In fact, many marriages survive affairs when both partners are committed to saving the marriage and changing the dynamics that led to the infidelity.
2. Cheating Happens Because of Sexual Attraction
There are many different reasons for having an affair and, although sexual attraction can certainly be a reason for cheating, it is usually an unfulfilled emotional need that drives people to stray from their relationships.
3. Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater
There is such thing as serial cheaters but not everyone who cheats will cheat again. It is possible to for couples to work on their relationship and overcome issues of infidelity.
4. You Can’t Love Someone and Cheat on Them – It’s One or the Other
The media tends to portray the cheater as an evil person who doesn’t care about their partner. The truth is, someone can love their partner and end up having an affair. These individuals are often confused, insecure, or hurt.
5. If You Stay With Someone Who Cheats, You Obviously Have No Self-Respect
There are so many cases of infidelity in relationships where cheating was a symptom of other underlying issues. While cheating is inexcusable, it can provide an opportunity to create a stronger and healthier relationship. Having no self-respect would look more like accepting a partner’s unfaithfulness and making no efforts to fix the core issues.
6. Infidelity Only Happens in Unhappy or Troubled Marriages
The truth is, infidelity can happen in good marriages as well. Affairs happen for many reasons other than a “faulty” spouse or unhappy marriage – stress (both inside and outside of the marriage) is a significant predisposing factor.
7. Only Morally Bankrupt People Cheat
As I mentioned before, cheaters are not all heartless when it comes to having an affair. Infidelity can be a random, unplanned act that develops unexpectedly. Does it result from bad decisions? Yes. Does this mean the cheater has no morals? Not at all.
8. Cheaters Are Looking for a Younger or Better Looking Sexual Partner
Yes, we’ve all seen movies and shows where the old spouse is traded in for the “newer model”. Statistically, however, many affairs take place between same-age couples or with an individual that is equally attractive as the spouse.
9. The Best Thing to Do is Leave Before You Cheat
As I mentioned before, infidelity is often the result of an unplanned act – those who stray typically do not plan on having an affair. Therefore, how can you know to leave the relationship before one happens? Also, infidelity often results from underlying issues in the relationship. It would be more effective to work on these issues than to simply throw in the towel because someone might cheat.
10. You Can’t Have a Good Relationship After an Affair
Surveys have shown that almost 80% of people who divorced their partner because of an affair regretted the decision. Divorce is a difficult process that, in some cases, causes more pain than healing. Of course, if addressing the marital issues doesn’t work out, divorce may be the only recourse.
Infidelity is Ruining My Relationship: What Should I Do?
Knowing what you should do when dealing with infidelity in a relationship isn’t as easy as Googling an answer.
Recovering from an affair is a major challenge that involves rebuilding trust, admitting guilt, learning how to forgive, and reconciling struggles.
Remember to take some time before making a decision. You can always consult a couples therapist to help you put the affair in perspective and identify any issues that may have led to the affair.
As a couples counselor, I can start you on your path to rebuild and strengthen your relationship as well as avoid divorce. If you and your partner are ready to fix your relationship, let’s get in touch today!