No, cheating won’t fix your marriage..Or will it???

Is infidelity a cure for your marriage problems? If you were skimming through headlines about relationship expert Esther Perel’s new book you’d be forgiven for thinking she believes so.

The Independent lead with “Cheating can make your marriage STRONGER”. and the Daily Mail concurred. Cheating is “GOOD for your marriage” according to The Sun. Even The Guardian played around the edges with “Esther Perel: The relationship guru who thinks infidelity isn’t all bad“.

The thing is, they’re all wrong. Not only does Perel believe affairs are more damaging now than ever before, she says, “I would no more recommend you have an affair than I would recommend you have cancer”.

The State of Affairs – Rethinking Infidelity follows Perel’s hugely popular TED talk on the topic. In both she explains the romantic idealism of marriage, where a spouse is supposed to be the lover, parent, trusted confidant, emotional companion and intellectual equal above all others. Infidelity is not just a betrayal of vows, it is a rejection of everything the betrayed partner believed they were in the marriage, and it can damage their very identity.

Nor is infidelity just sex. Sexting, watching porn, Facebook friendships with old lovers, dating apps, massage with a “happy ending”, desire expressed but never acted upon, all these things can fall into the category of infidelity.

And the effects, Perel says, can be catastrophic. “It is betrayal on so many levels: deceit, abandonment, rejection, humiliation – all the things love promised to protect us from.”

Depending on your definition of infidelity, anywhere from 25 to 75 per cent of people will stray from their relationships. Perel’s definition includes three key elements. One, that it is secret. Whether it’s an anonymous hook-up, an affair lasting decades, or long lunches and endless text messages, it’s secrecy and deception that makes it betrayal.

The second is an emotional element, which can still exist in seemingly emotionless acts. “There may be no feelings attached to a random f—,” she writes, “but there is plenty of meaning to the fact that it happened.” The third element is sexual alchemy, the desire and erotic frisson that commitment promises spouses have only for each other.

It’s interesting that the last two elements are often used to excuse the first. Some cheaters will minimise the emotional involvement of sex – “it meant nothing”, while others will highlight it – “nothing happened”, and both claim there was therefore no reason to disclose.

One of the reasons modern affairs can be so traumatic is our ability to see the relationship in vivid detail. Where affairs would once have been discovered by lipstick on a collar, receipts found in a pocket or information from a third party, we can now go digging and find messages, photos, and emails showing all the expressed desires and daily interactions of a cheater. Did you think of her when you were with me? Did you tell him I could not satisfy you? Did you say the things to her you used to say to me? Did you love her more, desire her more, give her more of yourself than you gave me?

Even when we have the chance to ask those questions, hearing the answers is not the same as watching them play out in real time. This, Perel says, is genuinely traumatic. And can easily be something from which a relationship never recovers.

Staying in a marriage after infidelity can also feel more shameful for the person who did not cheat than the one who did. It isolates the betrayed partner because if they tell people about it they know they will be judged for not leaving.

Many couples do stay together after an affair. Some do not. But staying does not always mean the relationship is healed. Affairs can lock couples into a bond of guilt and fear that never goes away. The cheater may be distraught at the pain they caused their partner and children, and may feel they cannot add to it by abandoning them.

The betrayed partner can become so caught up in humiliation and fear that they cannot let go of the relationship but cannot move beyond the betrayal. Destroyed by the affair but trapped in a never-ending cycle, relationships like this can limp along for decades.

The misleading headlines about infidelity being good for a marriage come from Perel’s discussion of what couples can do to heal from infidelity. She makes it clear it is far from easy. The unfaithful partner must take responsibility for breaking trust and for rebuilding it so the burden of trusting again is not carried by the person betrayed.

It also requires a level of shared honesty and insight that many people find too difficult to manage in the aftermath of an affair.

Perel says when someone cheats on a relationship they value, it is almost never just about sex. There is often a feeling of loss and mortality underlying the need to stray, and many cheaters she talks to say they did it to feel “alive”.

Affairs are common after a bereavement or change that leaves the cheater wondering about the person they used to be before marriage, or the person they could have been without it. Passion and communication, dissipated over years of a long relationship, might feel easier to find outside it. Secrecy, emotional connection and sexual alchemy bring back feelings of vitality – being “alive” – that are too easily lost in the prosaic management of home, children and work.

It’s an explanation but not an excuse. In most cases the betrayed partner will respond with “Do you think I was happy, that I didn’t want more? But I did not cheat, why did you?” Couples who can find the answers to those questions and a way to feel alive with each other may be able to reinvigorate a relationship that was previously unfulfilling for both of them.

Infidelity, however, is not a prerequisite for this change. As Perel says of people who cheat, “if they could bring into their relationships one tenth of the boldness, the imagination and the verve that they put into their affairs, they probably would never need to see me”.

Henry Sapiecha



Escaping Bride Groom
Escaping Bride Groom

There is probably no worse feeling in a relationship than suspecting or knowing that your partner is being unfaithful. The cold fingers of dread that creep up your spine and start to squeeze your heart so hard that it disintegrates into a thousand pieces.

Some might think I’m being dramatic, but for those who have felt it, you will know it’s an understatement of the wave of emotions that can hit us when we find out the person we loved and trusted has betrayed us. And with the boom of technology and social media, it seems that we have even more ways our relationships can be threatened these days.

Of course, relationships break down because for a variety of reasons and issues, but I’m focusing on why someone is capable of throwing everything away for a moment of passion with another?


Here are six possible reasons why people cheat:

1. Insecurity

Being unfaithful can often be the result of a person feeling very insecure within themselves. Whether they suffer from low self-esteem, depression or have past issues they haven’t dealt with, it can all manifest in a way that is detrimental to themselves and their relationships.

When people are insecure, they often cause drama in their life without even meaning to do so. However, more often than not they will use their fears or state of mind as an excuse for their behaviour and play the role of the victim (even though they clearly were the one in the wrong). So, don’t kid yourself… no matter how low or insecure they feel, they are still responsible for their actions, and what they have done is not justifiable.

2. Fear of commitment

For some people, being committed to someone means that they then have a certain expectation placed upon them which they feel they can’t live up to. They might see being in a monogamous relationship as an end of fun and freedom, or that you will, in some way, expect them to be more than they are.

Being in a committed relationship can also make people feel vulnerable, because it will essentially require a lot more of oneself than a one-night stand and it has a whole lot more consequences than a non-committed relationship.

3. They feel neglected

Your partner needs attention, romance and to feel loved and appreciated. Life can get busy, especially with children, work, cleaning and everything else, but the moment we start letting our priorities get out of order is the moment we start to invite temptation and issues into our relationship.

Your actions and words have the power to build your partner up or tear them down. They will also indicate what you think of your spouse and where your relationship lies on your priority list. No one likes to feel neglected and unappreciated as it can breed bitterness and resentment.

4. Needs are no longer being met

It’s not rocket science, nor is it a news flash: Men are physical and need sex, and women need affection and attention. This isn’t about having to be physically intimate with your partner every single day, because if that’s what they want then I’m afraid there is an even bigger issue at hand. *cough*

Regular intercourse will, however, help to create and keep that close intimate bond between you and it will satisfy his natural urges and needs, which, in turn, usually makes him a more desirable and loving partner.

Men also need to be aware that a woman needs to feel loved, romanced and valued, as well as physically fulfilled.


5. They love the chase

There will be people that are only in it for the thrill, and these are the ones who usually have a track record of the ‘hit and run’ method: they hit your heart — and your booty — hard and then run as soon as things become too serious and complicated. This person doesn’t want to commit because that represents the end of fun. Instead they get their kicks out of pursuing and chasing someone new and once they have caught them, they will instinctively look for another soon after to offer them the buzz they are after.

6. They have fallen out of love or feel your relationship has become complacent

Love is not just a feeling, it’s an action that needs to happen daily regardless of the situation or emotions you are feeling at the time. It’s no secret that you’ve got to work hard at your relationship so that it doesn’t become stale, one-sided or loveless.

Partners can and will cheat if they have fallen out of love or feel like their relationship has died. Does it make it excusable? No. Understandable perhaps, but at any rate, if a someone feels the need to have an affair after being faithful for a long time then clearly there were problems going on long before the act itself.


Henry Sapiecha