‘The first thing us women need to know that is very important is that it is not all about the sex. And it’s not that the mistress looked like a nineties supermodel either.’
Can a relationship survive cheating? It’s a tough betrayal to forgive, but dating expert Frances Kelleher says the answer is yes. Here she shares her advice
Of course, it depends a lot on the circumstances – e.g. is he really sorry, was it multiple affairs etc. It depends on the relationship, and of course the couple. People cheat for different reasons but some of the main ones are:
1. Not being sexually satisfied
2. Falling for someone else
3. Boosting their ego
4. Feeling a lack of emotional connection
5. To end the relationship
The first thing us women need to know that is very important is that it is not all about the sex. The overriding theme I have heard the most from men that have had affairs was “It was the way she made me feel”. They said things like “It made me feel good that she looked up to me at work and this boosted my ego” or “My mistress would be there waiting in the lingerie, and never had anything to do but dote on me cause she had no school run to do or any of that day-to-day stuff.” Of course, what these men don’t realise is that if they helped their wives out more with the mundane things that needed to be done, they would get more action and adoration because the women would then be less stressed and have more energy. It was not that the mistress looked like a nineties supermodel either like most cheated-on women think. In fact, a lot of the women who are cheated on say “I was shocked. She was kind of chubby, nothing special. I was expecting a sex Goddess, she definitely was not that.”
Another thing you hear from most of the men is they felt emotionally disconnected from their wives. A lot of the men said that their wives were very accommodating in the bedroom and they had no complaints there but that “She worked so much she was never there to listen. ,I’d call her up and she ‘d have no time.” One man said, “We were arguing so much and I was so upset that morning that I confided to a girl at work and she became my mistress.” Another said that his wife “Did not initiate sex enough” and that he wanted to feel wanted. This is proof that men have the same needs we have, even though they might not admit or express it.
A key point that needs to be highlighted is that happy people cheat too. I know this is alarming, but it’s true. One man said “I was married 15 years and very happy in my marriage. It came out of nowhere. I am a moralistic person and if you asked me a month before it happened if I would ever cheat, I would have said no way. I was not prepared for it.” I think it is an interesting point that he said he was not prepared. A lot of the people that have not strayed I feel are on guard for the temptation to come knocking. The odds are that it will come. We are surrounded by people at every turn. It is how well we are on guard for it that could make the difference. When you think about it women find other men attractive every day. We are not blind. We are attracted to other men so why do we believe that our partners would not feel the same about an attractive female? It comes back to the saying you can look at the menu but don’t order.
The truth is, life gets in the way of our relationship. Taking care of the children gets in the way. Routines and work distract us. We must realise that temptation can come to all of us, so we must guard our relationship. Lucia O’ Sullivan, a psychology professor at the University of New Brunswick who conducts Canada’s most groundbreaking research on infidelity says people cheat when the opportunity and situation come along, not because of some major flaw in the person. This means all of us are vulnerable to cheating.
So, what do you do if you’re a victim of infidelity? Firstly, ask yourself, can you move on from this? If you will be forever living in the affair bubble, playing it over in your head and reliving the nightmare, unable to let go, then the relationship can never heal and begin again. People have to live in the now to thrive and grow. You have to be able to trust him again with time. Does what happened have to really be a deal-breaker? Think back on the history you have together, the life you have built as one. Are you willing to erase all the past for this infidelity? Is he truly sorry for what he has done? Is he trying his best to fix everything? Has he been there for you through very harsh and hard times, like a close death in the family or a very sick child? Is he fundamentally a good man who has given all of himself up to this? If you decide to stay or leave, there is absolutely no shame in it. It’s your life and you should live it as you see fit. Your life and how you live it is nobody else’s business. If you decide to go, then forgive him and fully move on. If you decide to stay, then truly forgive him and live in the present. Take an up-close look at the relationship and ask him what he needs and tell him what you need to recover. Ask him what he was getting there that he felt he was not getting from you. You have to be the captain of your ship and steer it in the right direction, even if you were not the one that sailed it into the hurricane.
I think, in contrast to popular belief, that cheating is not the worst thing a man can do to you. I feel being cruel to you and your children is worse. Emotional and physical abuse is worse. I am in no way condoning cheating. It is a deep and beyond hurtful betrayal. So hurtful in fact that some people simply cannot get over it. But I do believe people can forgive people they love after making colossal mistakes and even move on together.
By Frances Kelleher & Kayla Walsh Lifestyle Editor.