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Infidelity – It’s More Than Just Sex

Man turned away from wife sitting next to him on couch after arguing during therapy session

what counts as infidelity?

There is sometimes disagreement as to what “counts” as cheating. Even persons not involved in the infidelity can have different opinions as to where the line is that once crossed, means you have been unfaithful.

Having seen so many of these cases, this experts opinion is that the line is drawn where the person that is breaking the expectation of faithfulness is interacting in a romantic or sexual way with a real person, by in person or electronic means, who is not paid to participate in the behavior, where there is two way communication, and there is at least some remote possibility these persons could meet in real life.

Myself, and many other clinicians who deal with these issues, recognize that you do not have “have sex” for it to be cheating. For a parallel, a mental health professional will lose their license for sexual misconduct with a client, where that therapist did not actually have sexual physical contact with the client, a course of conduct that includes verbal sexual expressions “counts” as sexual misconduct. A work superior’s behavior towards a subordinate is the same, and relationships with spouses as well.

The line is drawn where the person that is breaking the expectation of faithfulness is interacting in a romantic or sexual way with a real person, by in person or electronic means.

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types of cheating

Sexual Affair: Simply put, sex outside the relationship with little emotional attachment to that third person and no planning on leaving their marriage and so on. One could call it “The Classic”, it has been around forever.

Cyber affair: This is cheating done via some App or webpage, which stays on the internet, and does not involve in person contact. It is infidelity despite the any debate by the unfaithful.

Pursuit Affair: This is the conscious behavior of actively trying to obtain a particular outside love or sex interest. The pursuit may be realistic and semi nonchalant, or completely unreasonable as to who this person trying to cheat could court, and could involve a self embarring level of obsession.

Emotional affair: This is when a partner becomes emotionally invested with someone other than their partner. The partner might spend hours talking with this third person in person or on the phone. This interaction between the two may be emotionally symmetrical, where both parties seem relatively equally invested, or one of the two may engage in otherwise ridiculous favors and chores for that other person, obviously trying to win them over to their level of emotional investment. The partner lost in this emotional affair may abruptly direct their time and attention to this other person in a very obvious in its now absent in the primary relationship way, where it in real time the change can be seen where time and attention leaves the “real” relationship. Sex is often missing from an emotional affair, and some suggest this is out of ambivalence underneath the powerful and sometimes overwrought emotions and talk.

Secondary relationship and/or progressing to “secret family”: Some extramarital affairs progress to a nearly full size “relationship”, which may become more important to that partner.

In much more rare cases these relationships remain secret and produce children pretty much simultaneously in both relationships, with these two family’s living and growing up not far apart. The more appropriate parenting expectations placed on fathers nowadays, social media connecting and informing people intentionally and otherwise, and women/wifes having the right to be involved in financial matters in the family have all reduced, but not eliminated, the ability for persons to have the secret families.

Some extramarital affairs progress to a nearly full size “relationship”, which may become more important to that partner.

what are the methods of infidelity?

The internet added many behaviors that can be both methods of being unfaithful, and behaviors that some can debate as not “counting” as infidelity. Then Smart phones led to App development which created even more avenues for infidelity, and maybe more importantly, being the behavior can be conducted on a phone with an App, and one does not need be at a computer, and therefore can act out this behavior many more hours per day and from almost anywhere there is cell service.

This latest change has added to the massive amount of time people put into this behavior, and the time investment itself can create consequences of their own. Important activities are at times ignored while time and attention go into the App based behavior.

Couple at Superior Sex Addiction receiving counselling for sex addiction treatment

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