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

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!

Here’s an excerpt from our upcoming book, Making Love Real: The Intelligent Couple’s Guide to Lasting intimacy and Passion. 

Move Beyond Damaging Myths

Before learning tools to enhance your sexual connection, you must first understand why sex can be such a challenging and contentious area in your relationship. There are so many confusing social messages and harmful myths about how sex is supposed to be and how men and women are supposed to behave sexually. Because these messages are presented to you from very early on, they become a part of you, like the air you breathe. Most people never question the validity of these messages and don’t realize how harmful they can be. We invite you to question them and see how they cause misunderstanding, anger, fear, and sadness and how they disrupt your connection with your partner. Once you gain some freedom and distance from these messages, you can begin to approach sex with much more realistic attitudes and expectations, empathize with your partner, and better communicate your sexual needs and desires.

Damaging Myth #1: Sex is supposed to happen spontaneously.
People often get upset at the idea that they might need to plan sex. They remember when they started dating and sex “just happened.” However, dating is essentially planning sex or erotic connection. By planning a date, you are taking special time out to focus on the connection between the two of you. You dress up, fantasize about meeting each other, prepare, and get excited. This isn’t spontaneous sex; it’s anticipated sex.

Once you have joined your life with someone else’s, time together has many purposes. You might spend time together where you are each doing your own separate work, or you might need to talk about money, kids, and all the day-to-day logistics of life. Most couples stop carving out time together where the focus is on building and enhancing sexual and emotional connection. When you live in a culture where there is a high level of shame surrounding sex, soon one or both of you will likely move sex to the bottom of your list of priorities. Just as you’ve made a commitment to each other, if you want your sex life to last, you need to make a commitment to consciously cultivate your sexual connection the same way you did when you were dating.