I am often asked - "What constitutes infidelity?" And... "Is the defining feature of infidelity purely having sexual relations outside of a committed relationship?" Or... Is there more to infidelity than just sex?
The answer is not easy because how infidelity is defined differs from one person to another. Coming up with a definition of infidelity is also based largely on people's values, morals and individual perspectives of life and relationships. So while some people may view infidelity as being strictly a breach of a sexual bond, others may view it more broadly by including a breach of emotional bonds.
The idea that establishing an emotional bond with someone other than one's spouse or partner as a form of cheating - commonly referred to as emotional infidelity has considerable validity especially considering the growing popularity of online chatrooms. Think about it, the idea of cybersex has its origins in two people who may be physically separated by hundreds or even thousands of miles, connecting on an emotional level through their computers.
There is no doubt that finding out that your spouse had sex with someone other than you is shocking, painful and devastating - and something that is not easily overcome. However, when pressed, most people will agree that it is the emotional connection that may have existed in that extramarital relationship that poses the true threat to a marriage.
The bottom line is - to avoid any kind of infidelity - be it sexual infidelity or emotional infidelity, it is essential to nurture the emotional connection you have with your spouse or partner.
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Dr. Reena Sommer
M.Sc. Family Studies Ph.D. Psychology &
League City, Texas 77573