Celeste & Danielle Offer Sex and Relationship Coaching for a Passionate, Connected and Fulfilling Life

​OK, let us start by saying that these may not actually be easy, but neither is having an affair and all of the residual problems that follow which can lead to a break up that neither party truly wants. So now that we have been honest with you, we think you can tackle number 1.

​1. Be honest – The best way to avoid an affair is to be honest about your desires up front as soon as they arise or once you have overcome your sense of shame for having them. For this to work best, you and your partner must create an ethic of acceptance around each other’s desires, even those that are scary or threatening. Some people are afraid to even share their sexual desires or talk about the possibility of being with someone else because they fear that their partner will judge them, stop loving them, resent them, or begin watching their every move to make sure that they are not seeing anyone else.

​2. Negotiate your Relationship Contract – Evaluate your Relationship Contract frequently and look at the boundaries you have set in your relationship or your resistance to certain sexual desires and practices. See if there has been any movement in those boundaries or if you are willing to explore the possibility of shifting them. If you do decide to expand your boundaries, it is important to do so slowly and with lots of communication. It is also important to remember that trying something out to see if it is okay with you does not mean agreeing to it forever. When working with couples on shifting boundaries, we always emphasize how important it is that people not go beyond their boundaries and shift into resentment.

​3. Make room for disappointmentt – Make room for each other’s disappointment when yours or their needs are not being met. Often, if you are merely allowed to openly and shamelessly ask for what you want and receive the support of your partner in having those desires, that can be enough. Then, even if it is beyond your partner’s capacity to allow you to meet those desires out in the world, they at least understand that you are disappointed, and you can feel loved and accepted by them.

​4. Turn a threat into an opportunity – You might also see if there is any part of your partner’s desires that you can play with or explore through fantasy and role play. If your partner wants to have sex with other people, you might dress up, pretend you are someone else, and have them pick you up for a night of sex. You might have a secret affair with your partner, complete with afternoon rendezvous, or you might go out cruising together and check out whom you’d each like to pick up. If your partner desires threesomes or group sex, you might come up with a hot threesome or group-sex fantasy to whisper in their ear during sex.

For some people, just having their desires heard and accepted will be enough. Others might not be satisfied with this solution, and their partners will need to listen to their disappointment or discuss outsourcing. The longer desires go unspoken and unheard, the stronger they are when they come out, so early acceptance is important.

Not everyone is attracted to people other than their partner, but it is normal and common when people are. The idea of being attracted to others or that your partner is attracted to others might scare you, or might feel like something you don’t want. The fact is that many people are attracted to different people other than their partner, emotionally and sexually. If you look at it as a fact of life, talking to your partner about your attractions to others can actually enhance intimacy. You can share what you feel about these attractions and any insecurities or fears that hearing about each other’s attractions might bring up. It is also okay to set boundaries around what you do and don’t want to hear about your partner’s attractions to others. When you make room in your relationship to honor the possibility of outside attractions and the feelings they create, it can help you stay connected and engaged with each other instead of developing separate lives where you keep your attractions hidden. This may help prevent affairs from happening.

Some people are comfortable with monogamy while others feel much more themselves in non-monogamous situations. They may feel fully satisfied with their partner and still want to have sexual or emotional connections with other people. But because there is limited social acceptance of non-monogamy, these people usually feel that they have no choice but to agree to monogamy if they want a long-term relationship. Some people don’t realize that they want to be with more than one person until later in life, when they have already entered into a monogamous marriage. Eventually, their desire to be with someone else may win out and they may end up having an affair.

No two relationships are exactly alike, yet we often make assumptions about how relationships are supposed to be. There is a lot of societal pressure, for example, to have a relationship where your agreements are assumed instead of overtly communicated and where you are expected to follow a particular relationship trajectory: you fall in love which generally includes meeting, dating, and becoming monogamous, then you solidify the relationship by moving in (and sometimes getting married), then you become a family (which may include children), and then you stay together into your old age.

The more relationships we see in our sex therapy and relationship coaching practice and the more we read the research, the more we are aware that this particular formula does not work for everyone (or even the majority of people). Yet, people judge themselves and their partners on their success or failure based on their ability to make the trajectory happen. We help people replace this static, assumption-based approach to relationships so that people can honor their unique and changing desires and boundaries in service of having sustainable, loving relationships.

We suggest you start with the following assumption: There is no right way to have a relationship and the most successful relationships account for the beautifully unique needs of the people in them. For example, we have seen wonderful marriages where the couple does not live together, delightful relationships that never result in marriage and generous couples who decide that the most loving, supportive thing they can do for one another is break up. We have seen relationships revived by an affair, and ones that were ruined by the monotony and boredom of trying to fit into society’s mold.

We invite you to examine the contract you have with fresh eyes and creativity and to be willing to continue to look at it throughout your relationship as you change and grow. Notice all the ways you have let yourself fall into default settings and see where this is or is not serving you. Even if you want aspects of the trajectory, bring them up and make sure you and your partner’s needs are both heard. Here are a few questions that might help you make your contract more transparent:
* How have you decided to share money?
* How do you approach attending social engagements (together or separate or both)?
* How do you sleep (i.e. in the same bed or not, at the same time or not)?
* Do you assume there is a right way to do some things in your relationship and get angry and blamey if it is not happening the way you want it to?
* What things do you really want that you have decided, consciously or unconsciously, not to ask for because it might upset your partner or it “just isn’t done”?

Once you approach your relationship contract as a dynamic, negotiable and non-judgmental process, we believe you will have a lot less undue suffering and frustration and a lot more of what you really want your relationship to be! Let us know if you’d like some help.

In popular culture, affairs are portrayed as the ultimate, unforgivable relationship sin. The person who cheats is thought of as untrustworthy at best and, at worst, as downright evil. Yet, affairs happen all the time in relationships. In our work, we have found cheating to be more of a symptom rather than the problem. And while it is easy to blame the people who have affairs as the one who has betrayed the relationship, in our sex therapy and relationship coaching practice, we have found that people don’t cheat because they are bad people. But, they do cheat and they cheat for many reasons.

Sometimes people have affairs because they feel that something is lacking in their current relationship and they don’t feel that it is ok to ask for what they want. Sometimes they want to but are afraid to ask to be with someone else. They may still love and want to be with their partner (or they may not), but whatever is missing is something they feel they can’t live without, something that makes them feel truly themselves. Sometimes their partner has refused to have sex with them for years, but still expects monogamy. For some people, cheating is an expression of desire to be seen in a different light that they are perceived in their relationship or to explore a different aspect of themselves that isn’t expressed in their relationship.

Many people have affairs to make up for a lack of emotional or sexual connection. It may be that they don’t feel accepted or desired by their partner, or they may desire sex that is different from the kind they can have in their relationship. Maybe the sex they are having is not arousing to them, or there is little or no sex at all in the relationship. Some people simply have a strong desire for novelty and excitement despite a great sex life and connection with their partner. Cheating can be a way people fight the boredom and frustration that can arise when you are with one person for a long time.

For some people, affairs are a way to escape the responsibilities and criticisms of daily life. They want to feel, for a moment, that there is nothing they have to do and that someone is crazy about them just as they are. Some people have revenge affairs to get back at a partner who has cheated. Others have affairs to make up for a feeling of having been taken advantage of or as an expression of their unexpressed resentment. For example, if you feel pressure to provide and make everyone in your family happy, you may feel that the burden is unfair but not share your needs and feelings about it. Instead, you feel justified in getting your emotional and/or sexual needs met somewhere else.

Stay tuned for our next installment on how to avoid cheating!