Infidelity involves an action or state of being unfaithful to a spouse or committed partner. Infidelity can include emotional, mental and or physical components and is most commonly expressed as sexual or romantic deceitfulness. Infidelity can also come in the form of financial, occupational, or social dishonesty. A study conducted by the Institute for Family Studies illustrates that 16% of Americans are unfaithful to their partners with higher rates for men than women. The older the age of men the greater the likelihood of infidelity with the highest rates occurring between 70-79 years of age. Women experience the highest rate between 60-69 years of age. Cheating is linked as both precursor and a result of most separations and divorces. The foundation of any relationship is trust, intimacy and respect. Infidelity severely impacts the foundation of a relationship and is difficult to repair. With a good support system including family, spiritual and professional counseling the struggles associated with infidelity can be reduced and managed.
Non-physical Beginnings of Infidelity
The majority of cases involving infidelity begin by using nonphysical sources and the most significant cause of infidelity today involves the use of the computer and or personal digital devices including cell phones. The internet provides various social media services to chat, interact and share videos and pictures. Services such as Facebook, Snap Chat, Instagram are popular places to make new connections and share intimate moments. Each place has dedicated groups and pages where infidelity can be experienced or encouraged. Websites that provide readily available porn contribute to the emotional and mental connections that lead to physical infidelity. Other individuals are more discreet using email providers. Email accounts can be set-up easily and quickly. They are less likely to be seen by others but can be easily shared or archived.
Physical infidelity usually begins in a non-physical form. With the help of the internet, individual websites such as Ashley Madison specifically help adult arrange provocative encounters and swingers clubs and bars still exist in many larger cities and escort services also arrange for discretionary rendezvous. With the invention of FaceTime and Skype, individuals can connect by video in a visual way.
Infidelity can occur or begin when two people begin or choose new paths in life that create a sense of distance and disconnect. If one person finds they need to run away from problems or responsibilities, feels boredom, or doesn’t feel appreciated they often look for another to help fill those voids and if this connection ends up being strong enough it can lead to infidelity. Couples who go through long periods of separation or experience a lengthy or life-changing medical situation are susceptible to infidelity.
Mental infidelity occurs when an individual experiences something psychological in natural that expresses itself in the form of physical infidelity. A person who is depressed, lacks self-esteem, become emotionally or physically insecure, develops or struggles with addiction, has a traumatic emotional or physical injury can all lead to deceptive behavior; even certain medical prescriptions can have side effects that reduce inhibitions.
Life Events and Infidelity
Significant life changes can be a catalyst for infidelity. Couples who experience; the loss of a child or other family member, a period of separation or are planning a divorce, a new job or job loss, an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy, a midlife crisis or insecurity, financial crisis or instability, and or changing attitude or attractions when aging can be times when one or both individuals explore infidelity to escape the challenges of reality.
In summary, couples begin to connect to someone outside the relationship when bids for attention between them go unmet. Needs go unmet. Couples stop communicating, no longer taking time for each other, and other alternatives move in to take over the void.
Marsha Ferrick PhD BCC is a licensed clinical psychologist, life coach, and couples counselor so get in touch today!