Learning of an infidelity can be one of the most shattering experiences of a person's life. The person that you thought you could count on forever may suddenly seem like a stranger, and your world is turned upside down. Deciding whether to try to heal and pick up the pieces of your relationship can be incredibly challenging, for both the person who was unfaithful and the betrayed party. Often well-meaning friends and family attempt to weigh-in, which can add further complexity to an already difficult situation.
I have years of experience working with infidelity, and have helped many couples pick up the pieces and create a relationship that is stronger than ever. I have also helped couples find honest and graceful ways to part after an affair. If you or your partner have had an affair, I highly recommend seeking professional help.
Some of the ways that I help couples recovering from infidelity include:
- Creating a safe space for the injured partner to share their pain without inflicting further damage on the relationship
- Supporting the betraying partner in finding strategies to heal the hurt they have caused
- Helping couples to explore underlying relationship vulnerabilities and identify the type of relationship they want to create moving forward
- Developing short and long-term strategies for re-building trust
What counts as an affair?
The short answer is, it depends. It depends on what you and your partner have established as the boundaries in your relationship, and the expectations that each person brings to the table. While most monogamous couples agree that having a sexual relationship with a person outside the relationship constitutes cheating (not all - more on polyamory and open relationships here), there is a growing understanding that it is possible to have an emotional affair, even without sexual contact. Some indicators that a friendship has crossed into an emotional affair include:
- Keeping contacts with the other secret from partner, minimizing the extent of the relationship
- Sharing details of the primary relationship with the emotional affair partner, particularly unflattering information about your partner
- Increasingly sharing more intimacy with emotional affair partner than with spouse / partner - worries, excitement, dreams, etc.
Still not sure whether your or your partner's friendship is an emotional affair? Take this quiz