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Predicting Infidelity
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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD posted:
Being able to predict who will cheat is an ability that many people would love to have. Of course, no one can see the future, but researchers have tried to answer this question by suggesting ways to identify people who are more likely to stray.


One way they have approached this topic is to consider the attachment style of partners. This refers to the particular way in which a person connects with — or attaches to — others (especially significant others) in their lives. About sixty percent of people are securely attached. They feel good about themselves and also trust in their partners. All other people are insecurely attached and are classified in two ways. Some are avoidantly attached; meaning that they don't trust others to be emotionally supportive and so they remain emotionally distant. Others are insecurely attached; meaning that they tend to seek excessive reassurance from their partners.


The results of research in this area are mixed. But it seems clear that insecure attachment can put people at risk for being unfaithful. So, your relationship is more likely to remain healthy — and affair-free — if you each feel good about yourselves while also sharing openly with, and being there for, each other.


Although attachment theory is well researched, these are evolving ideas. So, how does this way of thinking about relationships and infidelity fit with your experience?






If you would like to read more in detail about this topic in my The Art of Relationships blog, click here.


Dr. Becker-Phelps's discussions and her responses in those discussions are for general educational purposes only. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.


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gd9900 responded:
I have a tendency to believe my ex didn't trust me to be emotionally supportive,even though he wasn't emotionally distant with me for a long time - I also believe his lack of trust was baggage he brought into the marriage. I say this for two reasons; I am compassionate and loving. I find it hard to believe I didn't do my part although yes I admit I wasn't a perfect wife. At times, life got in the way...I own my part.

When things got rocky between us, he told me having a father who betrayed him and a mother who abandoned him jaded his trust in people. His perspective was, how could he trust in others when the two people who were supposed to be there in supportive roles at a critical time in his life, weren't? Agreed however, what about finding his peace with it? Counseling wasn't a priority for him. The worst part is, he equated sex with love...filling the void?! To me, sex is an expression of love between two people, not the other way around. In other words, more sex does not mean more love anymore than less sex equals less love. Yes, there needs to be content in the bedroom as much as out of the bedroom, but this is a perspective I have contention with that I'm finding most difficult to make my peace with.

When he finally became emotionally distant, it was over his attachment to another in an emotional affair. This led to murky waters and a couple of separations. After our third and final separation he waffled with me, and 8 months later this girl left the country. Whether or not they engaged in a physical relationship I do not know but I believe they didn't. If she had put out, the waffling would have stopped...read on. Shortly after she left he pursued another and the waffling stopped. As a matter of fact he went completely off the radar. Two months later they became pregnant. Then he filed - what was going on in the background went unbeknownst to me until after the divorce was final and their child entered this world. BTW, I did not hear of this through him and later found out it was a big "secret".

My personal feeling is, if you are out of the marriage emotionally, end it before engaging in another relationship. No matter how one slices and dices it, our marriage was dishonored with his infidelity. I also have an issue with the concept of being "in love". I believe love and commitment are what makes a relationship last - "in love" gives an easy way "out of love". It's non-committal IMHO. Ok Leslie, I am not sure how all of this all relates to your post but I think there is some correlation here. I may have strayed in my comments a bit. Thank you for the insight!
 
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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to gd9900's response:
Thank you for sharing - it most definitely relates in that it offers how infidelity has affected your life. The open question is whether your ability to trust has survived this; whether you are able to trust in yourself, your ability to develop a strong relationship, and in a well-chosen partner rather than constantly fearing infidelity.


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