Infidelity is a topic on just about everyone’s mind at some point in their relationship. Whether it lives as a quiet fear, a desperate fantasy or a shame-filled memory, the occurrence of infidelity is so frequent and widespread that it is one of the cultural phenomena of love that holds us all. It is rare for illicit affairs to turn into the lasting relationships we envision when we begin them. The excitement and intrigue produced in the clandestine efforts for secrecy can turn mediocre sex passionate, but generally doesn’t translate well into the mundane action of making a life together. Besides that, the affair itself is often tainted with the pain it inflicts on others left in its wake. Still, the number of people who self report infidelity continues to rise, even in some unlikely relationship categories like newlyweds.
Surprisingly, the reasons behind most affairs are more similar than they are different, even spread amongst a wide socio-economic backgrounds and ages. Oddly it is our relationship promises that often become the trade-off in our collective drive for distraction and novelty. Shiny new intimate connections bring back youthful feelings of freedom and unbridled desire compared with the daily work of living in a routine with someone replete with challenges and overwhelming responsibilities.
Deep down, we all want to believe love is easy and spontaneous, which is how we often confuse our biological drives of attraction with real love. Long-term relationships require both intention and communication to keep them vibrant.
Infidelity, once considered uniquely a sexual transgression often begins with our emotional life. Long work hours with other co-workers can easily transition into shared intimacies by text. Many people report that they didn’t see the affair evolving, as they were unable to witness the process by which they were becoming increasingly distant to the partner that they lied to while becoming increasingly close to the person with whom they shared the truth. This is the nature of lies; they create separation in order to maintain them.
What is often overlooked is that the lies we tell begin inside of us. It is impossible to not betray yourself when you betray your most intimate promises to someone else. The distance one creates from their partner is a mirror of what is required internally to maintain the deception. The affair becomes a tiny respite where you can self medicate and justify the internal wounds of divorcing from the self you aspired to be. This is often the poison that kills the affair. Most people can’t live with this level of deception for long. It isn’t just the intimate promises that are broken; it is one’s very self image that cracks.
No one wants to be a liar. It is a painful life indeed to not be able to trust your own word. It is a kind of creeping self disassociation that spills into every area of your life and before long, looking in the mirror requires self-medicating too. People are adaptable though, and we all know someone who seems more comfortable with deceit than the truth. It is not a foundation that can bear much weight, which explains the 90% fail rate of repeated offenders in actually finding love that lasts. If love is a seed that lives inside of each of us, consider living a lie, like a dry internal desert, inhabitable to any seed of goodness trying to germinate in us.
The cost of infidelity reaches out in ever expanding circles, but it begins inside where the damage is most heartbreaking.