What Is Infidelity?

Are Affairs Common in the USA?

Infidelity is a frequent plot point in books, movies and streaming TV. Many of us are fascinated by it and imagine that it’s something that happens to other people – secretly hoping that it will never happen to us. Some affairs are never uncovered and many are covered up by a couple due to shame and guilt. Therefore, infidelity seems to be rare and most of us believe that we would never “cheat” and neither, of course, would our spouse.

Yet, the numbers tell a far different story.

Studies show that as many as 40 percent of married men and 25 percent of married women will have at least one secret extramarital affair in their lifetime. In fact, some men and women have multiple affairs.

With digital technology now making it possible to be “unfaithful” in a variety of ways, it’s just not safe anymore to assume that you will not and cannot go astray or be victimized. Because of the level of ease and frequency with communication technologies, therapy for infidelity has risen nationwide.

What Exactly Is Infidelity?

In common usage, the word “infidelity” is associated to monogamous marriages and typically describes a partner’s secretive sexual interaction with someone other than their partner. Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines infidelity as “unfaithfulness or disloyalty to another.”

These definitions still hold true today for most people however these definitions only represent one slice of a larger pie. Infidelity usually refers to a sexual affair or violation of a marital commitment or expectation. However, not all affairs, short or long-term, are ever sexually consummated. And, infidelity may involve marriages or non-marriage relationships.

But What about Monogamy?

There are many different ways to be “unfaithful”, to “cheat” or to “betray” your partner within marriages and long-term love and committed partnerships. In the Christian-based western world and the USA in particular, most partners assume and expect monogamy and faithfulness from their partner.

In today’s world, the terms “infidelity” and “affair” can include a number of different forbidden behaviors that threaten or fall outside the boundaries of established marriages and relationships. Couples and individual partners usually form, assume or depend upon their own set of relationship expectations, rules and tolerances. These assumptions about monogamy may have been openly discussed and agreed upon or not.

What Happens When an Affair Is Discovered?

Monogamy and honesty are usually expected by the vast majority of couples. That is why discovery of an affair often leads to a very strong reaction from the hurt partner. The psychological fracture in the assumption of fidelity and the discovery of their partner’s deception usually ignites a powerful negative reaction.

When infidelity is discovered or suspected, the hurt partner is usually outraged, emotionally destabilized and thrown into a crisis. Their world as they had known it usually screeches to a rapid halt

By the time the affair is found out, the unfaithful partner often minimizes the impact of their behavior and wonders why their hurt partner is so emotionally upset. Their original guilt and/or shame related to the affair may have eroded over time. Not until they detect the depth of their partner’s pain that they have caused by their unfaithful and deceptive behavior do they wake up again to the reality of the consequences of their violation.

Any of these long or short-term affairs have the power to derail any marriage or relationship no matter how strong the bond and trust appears to be. Most spouses and partners detest their partner having an intimate connection or spending personal time alone with another man or woman in any type of “romantic” or “erotic” way.

Types of Infidelity

Whether a long-term or a short-term affair is characterized by impassioned sex, a brief encounter, an impulsive act, an emotional bond or a meaningful connection, it has the power to derail or destroy any marriage or relationship no matter how strong the attachment and trust has been. Most spouses and partners detest their partner’s spending intimate connection or personal time with another woman or man. Sharing one’s self emotionally and/or physically with another is considered a violation of their relationship.

Here is a list of 11 different types of affairs a partner can engage in:

  1. Marital Affairs
  2. Sexual Affairs
  3. Emotional Affairs
  4. Mixed Emotional & Sexual Affairs
  5. Affairs of Passion
  6. Retaliation/Revenge Affairs
  7. Cyber/Internet/Online/Sexting/Social Media Affairs
  8. Philandering Affairs
  9. Loneliness Affairs
  10. Sexual Compulsion/Addiction Affairs
  11. Exit/Transition Affairs

Most of these types of affairs often create volatile reactions in the hurt or “victim” partner.


For more information about my Therapy for Infidelity, visit my web page at:  http://www.drrevelmiller.com/what-we-treat/therapy-for-infidelity/

I have also posted a number of articles about infidelity on this blog. You can find them by clicking on the blog article Category entitled “Infidelity/Affairs”.


If you want some focused and helpful therapy for infidelity, give me a call at 805-448-5053.

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