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Infidelity myths debunked by relationship researchers
By Dana Hudepohl for Redbook Updated: Dec 19, 2008

“Once a cheater, always a cheater.” “People cheat when they’re unhappy at home.” “If your mate cheats, you’ll know.” We’ve all heard these bits of conventional wisdom; they’re comforting, in a strange way. But they’re all wrong, say the experts who study infidelity. What’s worse, believing these myths can do a lot of harm, because it gets in the way of your preventing, spotting, and recovering from infidelity. (Yes, recovering — contrary to popular belief, an affair doesn’t have to destroy a relationship.) We’ve unraveled the latest research so you can protect your relationship with the facts.

Myth #1: There’s a “cheater” profile.

The reality: With the right trigger circumstances, anyone is susceptible to cheating. “There are as many different profiles as there are people who have affairs,” says Douglas Snyder, Ph.D., a couples therapist and a professor of psychology at Texas A and M University. Yet the myth persists that there’s a recognizable “type” of person who’s unfaithful. That’s why it took Linda Mitchell, 43, a personal trainer in Monroe, OH, by such surprise when she found out her first mate was having an affair. “He never did anything to lead me to think he would cheat,” she says. “He’d bring me flowers, tell me how beautiful I was and what a great partner I was.”

While some people are chronic philanderers, it’s more common to unintentionally wind up in an affair. “People who have accidental affairs have no thoughts of being unfaithful,” says Snyder. “It’s not even consistent with their values system, but the opportunity presents itself.” Maybe a coworker hits on you during a business trip when you’re stressed, or your cute handyman compliments you when you’re getting over a fight with your mate.

“Here’s the best way to prevent affairs: Rather than saying, ‘We will never have one,’ instead think of the kind of person, situation and mood that would make you vulnerable,” says Barry McCarthy, Ph.D., a marital therapist and author of “Getting It Right This Time: How to Create a Loving and Lasting Marriage.” Maybe you’re so nurturing that you’d be vulnerable helping a neighbor whose wife just died, while your fun-loving sister would be susceptible during a trip to Las Vegas. It may feel contrived or scary, but having this tough conversation with your partner can help you both recognize chancy situations and be on guard.

You can also stay in safe territory with friends of the opposite sex by not confiding personal things, like airing complaints about your mate, and not keeping anything about those friendships secret. “You know you’ve crossed a line if you don’t want your mate to know about whatever you’re talking about with this person,” says Tina Pittman Wagers, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist and instructor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “If it starts feeling like that, then you need to pull back and reestablish closeness with your mate.”

Myth #2: It’s men who cheat.

The reality: While baby-boomer men do cheat more, women in their 20s and 30s have affairs just as frequently as men their age, according to new research. One reason: More women are working. When you have a job, you’ve got more financial freedom, which could make you more comfortable taking a gamble with your relationship. You also have opportunity; around 46 percent of women and 62 percent of men who have affairs cheat with someone from work.

Myth #3: Long-term boredom leads to an affair.

The reality: Michael, 34, a lawyer in Tampa, says his wife started having an affair before the couple’s two-year anniversary. “I never, ever thought that would happen,” says Michael. Yet the so-called honeymoon period is actually a high-risk time for infidelity. “More people have affairs the first two years of marriage than any other time,” says McCarthy. Women may experiment with a comparison affair: Would I be better off with this guy? Did I make a mistake in marrying my spouse? Men, on the other hand, are likely to cheat for reasons that have nothing to do with their relationship. Thanks to their upbringing or their circle of friends, they may believe that’s just what guys do.

An early affair may be just a last fling that a couple can work through, but it’s more likely a wake-up call to a person that his or her partner has a fundamentally different model of monogamy, says Wagers. Still, newlywed affairs don’t have to spell doom. If both partners decide that they want to give their union another shot, it’s important to figure out what factors contributed to the affair and whether there’s any hope for changing them.

Myth #4: A man is driven to infidelity when he’s not happy in his relationship.

The reality: It’s true that the majority of women who’ve had an affair reported being physically and emotionally disengaged from their partners for at least a year before the affair. But more than half of men involved in affairs reported being happy or very happy in their marriages prior to cheating, according to a survey by the late Shirley Glass, Ph.D., noted infidelity researcher and author of NOT “Just Friends.” Lots of other factors weigh into a guy’s decision to start an affair, including chemistry, opportunity and poor impulse control. “I counseled a couple where the husband’s younger coworker made a pass at him when they were at a conference and he accepted,” says Wagers. “Even though he felt close to his wife and he felt like he had a good marriage, he was excited and flattered that this woman who was 15 years younger found him attractive.”

Many cheaters do blame their actions on a less-than-perfect home life, but researchers say they’re just rewriting history. “Often times these are retrospective reports that are now having to justify how it is that the partner violated vows,” says Snyder. Granted, lots of cheaters are unhappy on some level in their marriages. But so are many men and women who don’t have affairs. “Infidelity isn’t the only road,” says Wagers. “If you’re not satisfied in your marriage, you might also be driven to talk to your partner.” That’s why therapists say it’s so important to stay in touch with each other. For you, that might mean setting aside 20 minutes every night to talk about your day, your differences and your dreams. “It’s the whole idea of staying close to your spouse,” says Wagers. “The more disconnected you get from the relationship, the easier it is to slide down the slippery slope of infidelity.”

Myth #5: Adulterers find lasting happiness with their affair partners.

The reality: No matter how blissful they feel, affair pairings rarely get to happily ever after. A whopping 75 percent of affair partners who marry end up divorced. For one thing, the qualities that attract you to an affair partner — like impulsiveness or extravagance — might be the polar opposite of what makes you happy long-term. And during affairs, lovers are under the spell of chemical changes in their bodies that make them feel euphoric — feelings that are exaggerated even more by the secrets they’re keeping. They’re in a type of fantasy world, focusing only on each other and not getting bogged down in day-to-day stuff like bills and child rearing. “Somebody may seem like a soul mate when it’s all fresh and shiny,” says Wagers. “But you can’t assume the new-car smell is going to last 15 years.”

Myth #6: Betrayed partners know on some level when their partners are fooling around.

The reality: In many cases, the betrayed mate is totally in the dark. “A lot of cheating partners are really invested in keeping this secret and are very good at lying,” says Wagers. So true, says Dayle DeCillo, 39, a mother of five in Mission Viejo, CA, who had zero suspicion that her husband of 11 years was unfaithful — until she discovered him with another woman. “I was blindsided,” she says. “He was a paramedic and firefighter, and was gone a lot, either ‘working’ or ‘working out.’ I was never concerned he wasn’t where he said he was.”

DeCillo simply made the same assumptions most people do: You assume you’re trustworthy and your mate is, too. The possibility that he could stray isn’t even on your mind, so you don’t get suspicious if he says he has to work late or go on a golf trip with his buddies. Usually it’s not until the affair is out in the open that the betrayed mate can go back and give new meaning to history.

It’s also common after an affair is exposed for the betrayed mate to feel like he or she is facing a new truth: You never can be sure whether your partner will cheat. In reality, it’s a truth that was there all along.

Five essential tips to prevent infidelity:

1. Be each other’s number one confidant. You shouldn’t be sharing private thoughts with others that you’re not sharing with your mate.

2. Make time to connect on a regular basis. Daily moments of connection help you build a sense of togetherness and shared purpose.

3. Don’t let family time squeeze out just-the-two-of-you time. Relationships that are too child-centered are at high risk for an affair.

4. Recognize when you’re temporarily attracted to someone else. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with your relationship — or that you have to act on it.

5. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your relationship. If you’re ever tempted and don’t feel like you can tell your mate, you’ll have someone else to confide in who will steer you straight. And if one of you does stray, you’ll have a strong support network to help you put your relationship back together.

Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.

http://dating.personals.yahoo.com/singles/relationships/24187/dating-101-everything-you-know-about-affairs-is-wrong

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It doesn’t pay to cheat on your wife. Straying husbands take note, look what happened to this one. Now the world knows he’s a rat. Stay faithful, if you know what’s good for you.

Hanging around friends who stray makes cheating seem normal and legitimizes it as a possibility. The message he’s subconsciously telling himself: “My friend is a good guy who happens to be cheating on his wife. I guess even the best of us do it.” You can’t simply ban your husband from hanging out with Mr. Wandering Eyes, Neuman says, but you can request that they spend their time together in an environment that offers less temptation, like at a sporting event or a restaurant for lunch rather than at a bar or club. Another strategy: Build your social circle around happily married couples that share your values — it’ll create an environment that supports marriage.

40% of cheating men met the other woman at work.

“Oftentimes the woman he cheats with at the office is someone who praises him, looks up to him, and compliments his efforts,” Neuman says. “That’s another reason why it’s so critical that he feel valued at home.” Luckily, there’s a clear warning sign that your husband is getting a little too cozy with a colleague: If he praises or mentions the name of a female coworker more than he would a male counterpart, your antennae should go up — and it’s time for the two of you to set boundaries about what is and isn’t okay at work, Neuman says. Is it acceptable for him to work late if it’s only him and her? Can they travel together to conferences? Have dinners out to discuss a project? Ask him what he’d feel comfortable with you doing with a male colleague.

Only 12% of cheating men said their mistress was more physically attractive than their wife.

In most cases, he’s cheating to fill an emotional void,” Neuman says. “He feels a connection with the other woman, and physical intimacy comes along for the ride.” If you’re worried about infidelity, focus on making your relationship more loving and connected, not on getting your body just right or mastering how to please him physically. (But know that physical intimacy does matter — it’s one of the key ways your guy expresses his love and feels close to you, so be sure to keep it a priority.)

Only 6% of cheating men had physical intimacy with a woman after meeting her that same day or night.

Actually, 73 percent of men got to know the other woman for more than a month before they cheated. This means that you may have time to see the warning signs before infidelity occurs — you might even see it coming before he does. Keep an eye out for these common signals: He spends more time away from home, stops asking for physical intimacy, picks fights more frequently, or avoids your calls. Your gut reaction may be to confront him, but most men will deny even thinking about cheating, especially if nothing physical has occurred yet. Instead, Neuman suggests, take charge of what you can control — your own behavior — and take the lead in bringing your relationship to a better place. Don’t hesitate to show your appreciation for him, prioritize time together, and initiate affection more. Give him a reason to keep you at the front of his mind, Neuman says. And be open about how you feel about what’s going on between the two of you (again, without mentioning any third parties). Try “I think we’ve started to lose something important in our relationship, and I don’t want it to disappear.” In the meantime, commit to keeping tabs on your relationship and doing what it takes to keep it working for you.

Article: Hearst Communications, Inc.
Picture: http://www.lifeisajoke.com

The night before her wedding, a girl kneels down to pray. She prays for 3 things:

“Dear God, please make my husband faithful to me.
“Dear God, please keep me from finding out when he is unfaithful to me.
“Dear God, please keep me from caring when I find out he is unfaithful to me.”

Joke told in Degollado, Mexico, summer of 1996

Marital Infidelity – The Facts
The facts about marital infidelity (sexual unfaithfulness to a spouse) are astounding. Polls show that although 90% of married people disapprove of extramarital relationships, statistics from a national survey indicate that 15% of wives and 25% of husbands have experienced extramarital intercourse. These numbers increase by 20% when emotional affairs and sexual relationships without intercourse are included. Another source, The Monogamy Myth, authored by Peggy Vaughan, approximates that 60% of husbands and 40% of wives will have an affair at some time in their marriage.

Marital Infidelity – The Truth
Another term for marital infidelity is adultery. The New Encyclopedia Britannica reports that, “adultery seems to be as universal and, in some instances, as common as marriage.” In fact, marriage researcher, Zelda West-meads, states that although much adultery is never discovered, “all the evidence points to affairs being on the increase.”

These statistics are shocking, but what is even more alarming is that they do not even come close to exposing the strong emotional impact that marital infidelity has on people’s lives. Imagine the inconsolable grief and pain, not to mention the confusion, anxiety, and sleepless nights that are all wrapped up in these percentages. When all is out in the open, the faithful spouse may survive the nightmare, but his or her scars will not easily heal, and the damage done to the marriage may never be completely repaired. Extra marital affairs can also take its toll in some long-term consequences that both spouses will have to deal with for many years, such as sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

Marital Infidelity – Why it Happens
The reasons for marital infidelity are as many and as varied as the people involved. Emily M. Brown, LCSW, Director of Key Bridge Therapy and Mediation Center, has categorized the reasons for extramarital affairs as follows: conflict avoidance, intimacy avoidance, sexual addiction, split self, and exit. Many of the reasons outlined here fit into one or more of these categories.

Interestingly, marital affairs are not always a sign of a troubled marriage. Some spouses succumb to the lure of an extramarital relationship as the result of experiencing abnormal stress over a normal lifestyle change, such as becoming a parent or an empty nester. So adultery can occur in happy marriages as well as unhappy ones. In some cases, the marriage partners may appear contented to outsiders, but the husband or wife begins an affair because of their own low self-esteem, habitual conflict avoidance, or fear of intimacy. The faithful spouse has worked hard for the marriage; but no matter how hard they work, the unfaithful spouse is going to have an affair because of their own deficiencies. Other reasons for marital infidelity are typically symptomatic of an unhealthy, and often, failing marriage. These are things like the lack of affection between the marriage partners, the sexual addiction of one or both spouses, the feelings of sexual entitlement based on gender or status, and the means of exiting from an unhappy marriage.

No matter how marital infidelity is categorized, all of the reasons are like a disease that eats away at the roots of a healthy plant to eventually kill it. Marital infidelity can never be the cure for that disease. Instead, extramarital affairs cause the disease to metastasize like cancer, and soon the entire marriage is infected and extreme measures must be taken to save it.

Source: allaboutlifechallenges.org

As painful as infidelity can be, it can serve as an opportunity to work on and strengthen a relationship. Experts emphasize the importance of couples counseling and the support of loved ones when on the road to recovery from infidelity.

Hatfield (2003) provides the following nine steps for overcoming infidelity:

•  In order to move on, the infidelity must end.

•  Be ready for “ups and downs after infidelity.” It’s normal to have rough patches.

•  The partner who committed infidelity must open up and talk about the affair to their betrayed spouse.

•  Though it may feel uncomfortable or unfair, the person who had committed infidelity must be totally accountable to their spouse, providing daily details on where they go, who they see, etc. —whatever it takes to rebuild trust.

•  The partner who had an affair must be willing to renew his or her promise of faithfulness to their partner and provide genuine assurance that they will not commit infidelity again.

•  The person who was betrayed must be given as much time as necessary to move on, even though the person who strayed may want to move on more quickly.

•  The reasons and motivation behind the infidelity must be determined and used to create a plan for preventing infidelity in the future.

•  Both people in the marriage must make a commitment to rebuilding their relationship. Even the betrayed partner must consider how they may have contributed to their partner’s infidelity.

•  Try couples counseling or marriage education classes that address infidelity.

Of course, not all marriages survive infidelity. If therapy and efforts to reconnect and forgive fail, the best decision may be to end the marriage. Lusterman 1998 points out that it is healthy to end a marriage affected by infidelity when, having given it the deepest effort possible, it becomes clear that the relationship is can not work.

Those who leave a marriage in order to pursue a relationship rooted in infidelity will most often be disappointed. Lusterman explains that while affairs may feel like they are based on intensely powerful and real connections, such relationships are shielded from life’s realities such that one’s perceptions of the relationship and their partner in infidelity are distorted and unrealistic. Once the relationship is grounded in everyday life, the excitement of the relationship and idealized image of the partner quickly disappear.

Source: www. infidelity-cheaters.com


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