What Is Infidelity?
Infidelity (also known as “cheating” or “having an affair”) is considered a breach of the expectation of relationship exclusivity. Extramarital affairs have an impact on the dynamic balance of a marriage. The role of an affair can create emotional distance within the marriage. Infidelity is breaking a promise to remain faithful to a sexual partner. That promise can take many forms, from marriage vows sanctified by the state to privately uttered verbal agreements between lovers. As unthinkable as the notion of breaking such bonds may be, infidelity is common. And when it does happen, it raises thorny and painful questions. Should you stay? Can trust be rebuilt? Can you and should you forgive? Can you move on?
Infidelity can be a violation of physical or emotional intimacy but what constitutes infidelity varies between cultures and relationships. Even within an open relationship (one in which one or both partners agree to engage in extramarital sexual relationships), infidelity may occur if one of the partners acts outside of the boundaries of their relationship.
Generally, infidelity is a mixture of both physical and emotional intimacy, but occasionally an affair can be strictly emotional or physical.
What Are The Types of Infidelity?
Cheating isn’t just about having a physical affair—there are all kinds of emotional cheating that can cause major road bumps in your relationship. We all know what physical cheating is, or at least we think we do, but often we are at risk before we are even aware. Those less obvious signs of cheating are something that can be harder to recognize and can sneak up on us.
Opportunistic infidelity occurs when a partner is in love and attached to a spouse, but succumbs to their sexual desire for someone else. Typically, this type of cheating is driven by situational circumstances or opportunity, risk-taking behavior, and alcohol or drug use. The more in love a person is with their spouse, the more guilt he/she will experience as a result of their sexual encounter. However, feelings of guilt often fade as the fear of being caught subsides.
This type of infidelity is based on fear. Fear that resisting someone’s sexual advances will result in rejection.
People may have feelings of sexual desire, love, and attachment for a spouse, but end up cheating because they have a strong need for approval. This need for approval can lead them to act in ways that are at odds with their other feelings. In other words, some people cheat, not because they want to cheat, but because they need the approval that comes along with a having the attention of others.
This type of infidelity occurs when the cheater has little emotional attachment to his/her spouse.
They may be committed to their marriage and making it work but they long for an intimate, loving connection with a member of the opposite sex. More than likely their commitment to the marriage will prevent them from ever leaving their spouse. Romantic infidelity means pain for the other man/other woman and the cheating spouse.
Rarely does it turn into a long-term, committed relationship. Marital problems have to be quite severe before a spouse will leave the marriage for another person.
Conflicted Romantic Infidelity
This type of infidelity occurs when people experience genuine love and sexual desire for more than one person at a time. Despite our idealistic notions of having only one true love, it is possible to experience intense romantic love for multiple people at the same time. While such situations are emotionally possible, they are very complicated and tend to create a lot of anxiety and stress. In this case, cheating spouses, in their attempt not to cause anyone harm, often end up hurting everyone.
This type of infidelity occurs when people are in a committed relationship but have no feelings for that person. There is no sexual desire, or love or attachment, only a sense of commitment keeps a couple together. These people justify cheating by telling themselves 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 fulfill their needs outside the relationship.
An object affair can be described as pursuing an outside interest that may reach a point of near-obsession, where the interest leads to neglecting one’s relationship. A healthy balance of outside interests are perfectly fine, normal and encouraged in a committed relationship, but when one is so consumed with the object or if the interest takes top priority, that is when the problems arise. By choosing interests in which both partners can participate, the object is more likely to bond the couple than hurt the relationship.
A cyber affair occurs entirely online. The acts of sexting, texting, chatting or video chatting with a sexual context, without your spouse, are all considered to be a cyber affair. Cyber activities with one’s partner can be very healthy for a marriage. Sexting with your partner can be great foreplay as well as watching pornography together. A wonderful way of staying connected throughout the day with one’s spouse is texting.
An emotional affair occurs when one partner becomes emotionally attached to someone other than his or her spouse. One may spend a great deal of time communicating with this other person about deeply personal things or have inside jokes with the non-partner. Sharing problems, issues, life dreams and goals with someone other than your spouse or partner takes attention away from your relationship and is considered an emotional affair. Sharing the ups and downs and ins and outs of daily life with your significant other is essential in a successful relationship as it promotes closeness and nurtures the partnership.
Intimacy Avoidance Affair
These people are frightened of getting too close, so they keep the barriers high. Conflicts are a barrier, as are affairs. The emotional connection is through frequent, intense conflict. Often each spouse ends up in an affair.
Conflict Avoidance Affair
Those who engage in these types of affairs are afraid to be anything but nice, as they’re afraid that conflict will lead to losing control or abandonment. They don’t know how to properly manage conflicts within a marriage, so they cannot resolve their differences as the marriage erodes.
Sexual Addiction Affair
Sex addicts use repeated bouts of sexual intercourse to numb inner pain and emptiness.
These people have tried to do right by their marriage. Both partners have sacrificed their own feelings and need to care for others. The deprivation has caught up with them. The affairs are serious, long-term, and passionate. The unfaithful partner focuses on deciding between the marriage and the affair partner and avoids looking at the inner split.
These people are, underneath it all, conflict avoiders, but they take it further. One spouse has decided to leave the marriage; the affair provides the justification. The partner blames the affair, not the crumbling marriage.
What Is Emotional Infidelity?
Sexual infidelity is pretty clear cut; someone steps outside the bounds of a relationship and engages in some form of sexual contact with another person. Although the implications and consequences are similar, emotional infidelity as a construct is a bit more murky, as it does not simply apply to sexual or romantic interpersonal relationships.
Emotional infidelity refers to the behavior that one partner engages in which fosters emotional intimacy in the here-and-now with someone else, and sometimes promotes the possibility of sexual intimacy in the future. Many people maintain secret or semi-secret friendships when there is a clear mutual interest or attraction, while others may not be interested, but encourage others’ interest in them for the sake of boosting their own ego or distracting themselves from a sense of boredom with their partner.
An emotional affair begins with the exchange of personal information. As the people involved become more acquainted, the information becomes more personal. Some argue that an emotional affair is harmless because it is more of a casual relationship than traditional cheating; however, the intimate nature of the communication, plus the emotional investment made by the people involved, places an emotional affair on the same level or worse as traditional cheating.
The notion of emotional infidelity can also apply to platonic same- or transgender relationships, as well as activities, work, ex’s, siblings, extended family, hobbies, and even kids. Emotional infidelity is any situation that creates or causes some degree of emotional unavailability on the part of one partner that interferes with one particular aspect of the relationship, along with the quality of the relationship as a whole.
Obviously, the most salient form of emotional infidelity is that which involves another person and engages that person in a pseudo-romantic or pseudo-sexual relationship, whether proximal or at a distance.
In the strictest sense of the term, an emotional affair excludes physical intimacy. It’s a reciprocated crush that is not demonstrably acted upon.
Regardless of the rationalization behind it, emotional infidelity is an expression of either the need or the desire to distance from your primary relationship, without actually leaving that relationship. Therein lies the core of the issue, and it is what defines emotional infidelity as if not exactly the same at least the social equivalent of sexual infidelity.
Whether you are physically engaged with another person or not, when you are absent from your primary relationship you are taking your attention away from that relationship in a way that interferes with it. It all comes back to emotional availability.
Emotional infidelity is often considered “not really cheating” in the mind of the cheater, because without any physical transgressions, they do not feel it is really hurting anyone. Emotional infidelity can cause as much, if not more, pain and suffering within the relationship.
The sad reality is that emotional infidelity is often totally hidden, to the extent that you may not know if or when your partner is emotionally cheating. Because the connection is not sexually based, there are fewer opportunities to detect the infidelity. For example, when there’s no need for a hotel room, it’s difficult for anyone to find proof of the betrayal upon review of a credit card bill tossed in the trash.
It is much more dangerous to a marriage if your spouse connects with someone emotionally rather than physically. Anyone who finds himself or herself drawn to another person on an emotional level should consider the possible consequences of such an affair. Emotional affairs are just as likely to lead to divorce and physical affairs.
An emotional affair is the expression of the need or desire to be absent from one’s primary relationship without having to actually leave it, however, it’s common for emotional affairs to turn physical.
While it is healthy and normal for people to have friendships outside the marriage with men and women, an emotional affair threatens the emotional bond between spouses. Friendships are based on attraction. We are drawn to the various qualities of our friends.
Healthy friendships and attractions don’t need to threaten a marriage at all but add richness and enjoyment to life. When an attraction turns into an obsession or into an affair, it can become harmful to everyone involved and nothing is more harmful to a marriage than the breakdown of the emotional bond marital partners have for each other.
Is Emotional Infidelity Worse Than Physical Infidelity?
Many people who have dealt with an emotional affair believe that emotional infidelity can be far more damaging to a relationship. Here are some reasons why:
Real feelings are involved. As painful as physical affairs may be, they don’t require deep romantic feelings. Emotional affairs, however, can feel far more personal because they imply that your partner liked someone else more than you. It hurts so much more than the idea of your partner having physical sex with another person
Now you see it, now you don’t. It’s usually far harder to spot an emotional affair. A physical affair usually involves texts, secrecy, and dramatically angling his or her body away from you every time he or she looks at his phone. Emotional cheating can be as simple as your partner religiously paying attention to the life, feelings, and emotions of another person.
You feel manipulated. While physical cheating is as cut-and-dry as an affair can get (you either hooked up with someone who isn’t your partner or you didn’t), emotional cheating is so much easier for a partner to be in denial about. “You’re being crazy, it’s nothing!” they scoff as you ask them why they don’t invite you to hang out with his “totally platonic” best friend, who they take long, scenic sunset walks with. This is called gaslighting and it’s psychological manipulation.
Lasts way longer. A physical affair can happen one night and be over. while an emotional affair, on the other hand, can last much longer.
It’s hard to learn from your mistakes. While most can probably recognize at least some of the red flags of a physical cheater: insecurity, secretiveness, etc. But having your partner fall in love with someone else doesn’t exactly teach you lessons you can lose: you can’t expect your future partner to avoid his or her social life (Facebook, texts, emails, work) if that’s where the emotional infidelity began.
It’s really hard to get over. It may be a while before you realize that, even though your ex never slept with another person, they also weren’t completely honest about their relationship with you. It’s hard to “live and learn” from such behaviors and it may make you wary of future relationships.
What is Physical Infidelity?
Physical infidelity (or sexual infidelity) can occur as a one-night stand or a long-standing affair. In physical infidelity, the person is sexually involved with a person outside his/her committed relationship. In such a situation, the person starts giving physical attention to someone other than his or her partner.
The main difference between physical and emotional infidelity is physical contact. In physical infidelity, the person shares a sexual affair outside of his or her existing relationship. On the contrary, in emotional infidelity, people may have met online or known each other over the phone.
For most people, there is no difference between emotional and physical infidelity as both of them involve cheating with the partner. Emotional infidelity has the same behavioral component and a similar end result when compared with physical infidelity.
Emotionally cheating is not considered as infidelity by some people. The rationale is that since there is no physical contact, the behavior can’t be considered cheating.
What’s The Impact of Infidelity on a Relationship?
As devastating experiences go, few events can match the emotional havoc following the discovery that one’s partner is having an affair. Atop a suddenly shattered world hover pain and rejection, doubts about one’s worth, and, most searingly, the rupture of trust.
The trauma of betrayal can also trigger memories of buried or unresolved emotional and spiritual damage from the past. When those prior traumatic experiences are triggered and re-emerge, they significantly complicate the healing process.
For there to be any chance that the couple undergoing this situation can ever transcend the distress of broken trust, they must deal with two simultaneous challenges: The first is to understand and work through the combination of both current and re-emerging trauma responses of the betrayed partner. The second is for both partners to commit to specific roles in the healing of their mutual distress. The following are areas that can emerge after an affair
1. History of Prior Trauma
When people experience a life-threatening event earlier in life, they create defenses that allow them to survive those traumas. Those defenses can be either barricades to future pain or unconscious seduction to recreate what is familiar. If a relationship partner has been harmed by threats of loss or harm in the past, he or she will have a stronger and more persistent trauma response to a partner’s current betrayal. Dependent on how much they appear similar to what is happening in the present, they will mesh with the current pain and make recovery that much harder.
2. Emotional and Physical Resilience
Whether born into a person or learned throughout life, resilience is the conqueror of prolonged sorrow. Though grief must not be denied, those who are lucky enough to be more resilient can endure it without falling prey to extended emotional heartbreak.
Resilience after a betrayal is also buoyed up by the kind of social support a person has access to. When infidelity is discovered, it is easy for traumatized partners to lose sight of their own worth. Authentic, caring, and responsive others are able to remind them of who they were before the trauma and help them to regain emotional stability.
Sadly, the most common excuse many unfaithful partners give when they stray is that they were unable to get their needs met in the relationship. Those accusations increase the anguish of the betrayed partner.
3. The Strength of the Relationship
When people have a strong bond, both partners openly talk about their needs and disappointments as they occur in their relationship. They know that outside temptation is always possible, but they are committed to making their relationship stronger if they arise.
If a relationship is wavering and the people within it are no longer as bonded as they once were, one or both of the partners may be searching for meaning outside the relationship. If those yearnings are not shared and the relationship goes unresolved, they are more likely to transform into actions.
Some relationships feel more okay to one partner than they do to the other. If those feelings are not shared and an affair happens, the unknowing partner has had no opportunity to intervene. They feel they are doing everything right, that their love is intact, and that trust will never be broken. That partner is understandably more demolished when an affair emerges.
4. Infidelity Is With a Known Party
Besides the experiences of humiliation and anguish, an even more destructive heartbreak occurs when the third member of the triangle is a close and trusted friend or a family member.
When the betrayed partner discovers that two deeply trusted people could collectively collude behind his or her back is almost unfathomable. In these cases, there are often others who know what is going on causing even more potential loss of relationships when the affair emerges. Those who have remained silent may then pull away for fear of being seen as accomplices.
5. How Long The Affair Lasted
An affair that is quickly confessed along with true remorse and the desire to do whatever is necessary to help the betrayed partner heal, has the best chance of success if it never happens again.
On the other hand, a partner who finds out that the betrayal has been going on for weeks or months, or even that it is still active, is fundamentally more damaged and finds it much harder to heal. For most women, it is not just a passing affair anymore. It is a fully developed relationship of secrecy, passion, and emotional connection, stealing love and commitment from the existing partnership. For most men, it is the sabotage of being cuckolded by another male who has taken his woman from under his eyes and sold him out as a “brother.”
The person outside of the primary relationship, who has been willing to be a co-betrayer, often feels that he or she has claimed possession of the infidel. That individual may not be willing to be dismissed and can become a deterrent to a relationship’s potential healing.
What Are The Emotional Stages Following Infidelity?
Stage One: Roller-Coaster and Crisis. This is a time filled with strong emotions that range from anger and self-blame to periods of introspection and appreciation for the relationship.
The first phase of affair recovery happens when an affair is disclosed or discovered. The initial shock and deep betrayal can rock your confidence, and make you feel like everything you have ever known is collapsing. It is important in this phase of the recovery after an affair to recognize that this is a phase — you will get through this. This really difficult time will pass, and you will move into another stage.
Don’t make any decisions now about what to do with your relationship. Take care of yourself and your family and hold onto those major decisions for a while. When the chaos has slowed down enough for you to breathe and look around, you may start to think more about whether or not you want to stay together and rebuild a monogamous relationship.
Initially, after infidelity, it can be difficult for you to envision a new, shared future. The one person you turned to in the past for support when you were in pain is now the person causing you pain. It can seem as if there’s no one to turn to. You may now think of your relationship as a liability instead of your strength. You may feel lonely and confused. You may long for the partner who always served as the support system in your life, and that time of innocence before you discovered the affair.
There is a time-lapse in the grief process. The person who had the affair has known about the infidelity ever since it began. If you are just now discovering the affair, you are at a totally different point in the process than your partner is. You have only begun to catch up.
A grieving process is normal after an affair. As you move through the grieving process, many emotions will emerge, possibly including anger, fear, denial, and eventually acceptance. You can feel as if you are grieving a death, and in many ways, you are. You are grieving the old vision of your marriage or relationship. This is true whether you decide to stay together or move on.
Both partners must grieve their losses if they are to build a new marriage. Grief is triggered by the loss of the future you thought you were headed toward together. Whatever ideas you had about how you would grow old as a couple, retire, have grandchildren, rock on the front porch together, or travel the world, the affair has now challenged that vision of a shared future. Grief is a process of letting go of that vision. And, interestingly, grief has a way of making room for a different future if you choose to create that possibility going forward.
Stage Two: Moratorium and Insight: This is a less intense period in which the faithful spouse attempts to make sense of the infidelity. They may also obsess over the details of the affair, retreat emotionally and physically from the relationship, and reach out to others for help.
The second phase of affair recovery is the understanding (or insight) phase, and you will recognize when you are entering this phase when you start to look at how the affair happened. This second phase of affair recovery comes after the crisis has ebbed and you are moving past intense anger and confusion. Although it can be a difficult time, this phase will help you to experience empathy for each other and can give you hope for the future if you decide you want to stay together. You may still not know whether you want to make things work for the long run, but you will be able to do some of the work on your past to find out.
Understanding the affair and how it happened will help you to get clearer about what led you both to this point in your lives. This means you both need to explore the meaning of the affair. During this second phase of affair recovery, you may begin to wonder where your responsibility lies for what happened in your relationship. This is not about assigning blame, but a time to deconstruct the affair and the history of your marriage or relationship, to find out where the roots of the infidelity began.
Starting to understand the affair can answer many of the questions that you may feel are still unanswered. Some of your frustration may be relieved at that point, and you may be ready to make some decisions about your relationship going forward.
If both partners are willing and ready to move into healing, you will notice a shift happening. Instead of feeling polarized into the good spouse and the bad spouse, the two of you will begin to realize that you each share responsibility for what happened in your relationship before the affair. There was most probably a dynamic in your marriage that contributed to the affair. When you start becoming aware of this shared dynamic, the recovery process becomes a shared experience between the two of you. The affair may even eventually move from being “his affair” or “her affair” to being “our affair.”
When you start to feel this shift, it means you are moving into the next stage of your affair recovery. You are moving from the Insight phase into the Vision phase, where you are ready to look at a new future and monogamy, together.
Stage Three: Trust-Building. This is the stage in which couples who have decided to stay together and make their marriage work begin showing commitment to the relationship. The injured parties begin to forgive and build trust.
When you reach the third phase of affair recovery, the vision phase, it is time to make some decisions about staying together or letting go and moving on. Here you can decide about whether or not it is possible to create a new future together. To do this, you should be clear about what your new monogamy will look like.
Monogamy as we know it is changing in our world and in our culture. Our ability to remain monogamous is becoming more difficult in an age when cheating is easier than ever. Marriage as we know it will be totally different by the end of this century. The couples that manage to stay together and make it work will be the ones who decide to create fluidity and flexibility in their partnerships and find ways to make monogamy work for them.
Signs Your Partner May Be Unfaithful:
In the spirit of trying to help the public recognize the warning signs of infidelity, here is a list of changes and behaviors a spouse or loved one may display – indicators that, put together, can often mean he or she is cheating:
Suspicions of infidelity usually begin with circumstantial evidence, such as when:
• The spouse comes home smelling like different perfume/cologne
• Unnecessary or inexplicable birth control is discovered
• Unexplained scratches or bruises on the spouse’s body
• The spouse is caught in a lie about taking a sick or personal day
• The spouse is caught sneaking in or out of the house
• Unknown credit card charges
• Excessive telephone call “hang-ups” or “wrong numbers”
• Long calls to unfamiliar number(s) show up on the telephone bill
• The spouse is caught in obvious lies about their whereabouts, activities, finances, or other issues
When infidelity arises, one of the first changes to occur in a relationship involves communications (or lack there-of) with the spouse. They may begin to, demonstrate or become:
• Emotionally distant – ignore or appear disinterested in the spouse and family
• Engage in an overall reduction in communications of all kind with their spouse
• Easily angered or irritated
• Moody or “touchy”
• Overly critical of their spouse
• Make hurtful and or cruel remarks
• Deliberately pick fights and storm out of the house
• Overly evasive or defensive when asked questions
• Cease confiding in and asking for advice from the spouse
• Develop sudden interest in the spouse’s daily schedule and track their comings & goings
Another key indicator of infidelity is that your sex life changes on a fundamental level. For example, there is often:
- •A general reduction in acts of intimacy on all levels
- A sudden increase in acts of intimacy, paradoxically
- •A sudden interest in wanting to try new/different acts of intimacy
- •Demonstrated new intimacy “talents”
A cheating spouse’s overall behavior will change. In particular, they may:
- Spend an excessive amount of time on the computer alone
- Increase occasions of “going out with friends”
- Become overly flirtatious with members of the opposite sex in public settings
- Stop wearing their wedding ring
- Silence, ignore or delete phone calls/texts/caller-ids and voicemails
- Leave the room when taking a phone call or whisper on calls
- Abruptly hang-up when the spouse enters the room
- Suddenly make it clear that they do not want you to show up at their office unexpectedly
- Take much longer than expected to do simple errands or other local trips
- Shower inexplicably when returning home from work or a business trip
- Develop a sudden interest in helping with the laundry or hide some of their laundry
- Engage in other, unexplained, unusual or erratic behavior
When a loved one suddenly demonstrates a keen interest in improving their appearance – i.e. attempting to look, dress, smell and groom themselves to impress or attract – there could very well be an infidelity problem. Specifically, a spouse may:
- Develop a sudden interest in fitness – getting into shape and losing weight – when there previously was little or none. The spouse often joins and/or spends a lot of time at the gym or they become involved in other physical activities or sports for fitness purposes
- Buy new clothes, intimate apparel/different underwear, & jewelry – and pays more attention to dressing and appearance
- Suddenly be much more attention to personal grooming, shaving, makeup and preparation
- Change their hair-style drastically
- Wear more or different perfumes/colognes or scents
An affair also requires time so a cheating spouse will need to create opportunities by appearing to work much longer hours and go on more frequent and prolonged business trips. There will almost always be:
- A dramatic increase in work hours and frequency of staying late at work
- A sudden increase in business travel – including more prolonged trips
A cheating spouse will necessarily attempt to hide their infidelity by protecting the means of communication with their paramour. For example, they may:
- Suddenly password-protect their electronic communications devices, including cell phones, computers, and tablets
- Have secretive phone calls which they pawn off as work-related or a friend in need
- Open secret e-mail accounts
- Not allow any access to their computer
- Open a post office box unbeknownst to their spouse
- Buy a prepaid mobile phone or open a new cell phone account without informing their spouse
- Delete call histories, voicemails and caller-id records on their cell phone(s)
- Delete e-mails & web browsing histories on their computers
Cheating requires funding and funding such activity means there will be indicators – not to mention less for the family. But certain changes may be exhibited, such as:
- A sudden increase in or changes to their spending habits
- A new credit card is taken out in only the spouse’s name
- They start to have certain bills, like credit card and telephone bills sent to the office
- Reduced deposits into the family checking account and an apparent reduction in overall income
- An increase in their ATM withdrawals – both amounts and frequency
- Inexplicable credit card charges
Cheaters will often take on the hobbies and interests of their paramour as well as display an overall interest in trying new things. They may:
- Display more energy/zest for life
- Develop new hobbies & interests
- New musical tastes
- Develop a sudden new interest in a particular sport(s)
- Start reading genres previously ignored
Why Do People Become Unfaithful?
Infidelity – emotional or physical – is often a matter of opportunity. Despite what a cheater may claim, affairs don’t “just happen.” Affairs require careful planning and decision-making. Being unfaithful causes infidelity.
There are usually three kinds of forces that work together to create an affair. There’s no one reason people have an affair.
- Forces within the individual that pull them toward affairs – attraction, novelty, excitement, risk, challenge, curiosity, falling in love.
- Forces within the individual that push them toward affairs – desire to escape a painful relationship, boredom, need to punish their partner, to fill a gap in an existing relationship, attention.
- Society factors – glamorous portrayal of affairs in movies, television, and books.
Infidelity and The Internet:
The rise of the Internet has created new challenges for couples. Internet chat rooms, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs have allowed for a number of ways for those in relationships to stray into the murky grey area of unfaithfulness. The Internet has allowed for:
- Behavior Rationalization: The reasoning that using the Internet to fulfill a sexual or emotional need is “innocent” and “harmless” despite the secrecy and highly sexual nature
- Anonymous Sexual Interaction: The allure of anonymity on the Internet allows for the expression of fantasies and desires without being known.
- Effortless avoidance of psychological discomfort associated with exchanging sexual messages with strangers.
Moving Past Infidelity:
Be honest. Discuss the affair openly and honestly, no matter how difficult.
Be accountable. If you were unfaithful, take responsibility for your actions. End the affair. Stop communications and interactions with the person you were having an affair with.
Figure out what’s next for you both. It’ll probably take time to sort out all of the emotions surrounding the affair; but when you’re ready, if you decide to reconcile, realize that fixing the marriage will take energy, time, and commitment.
Find a good marriage counselor who specializes in infidelity to put the affair into perspective, identify issues that may have led to the affair, and learn how to rebuild and refortify your marriage.
Restore trust. Counseling can help affirm your commitment to marriage and prevent further secrecy. If you were the one who had the affair, remember that while you may be ready to put it behind you, your partner has their own timetable for healing.
Forgive. Affairs are emotionally devastating. Forgiveness won’t happen overnight, but it may get easier over time.
Infidelity Resources – A website devoted to those who fear infidelity and are looking for concrete, useful information about infidelity.