Do you think you are one of those people who are immune to infidelity? Do you tell your friends and family, "that would never happen to me and my partner, we have a great relationship?"
Even the best relationships can fall prey to the lure of infidelity these days. The internet can feel like a gateway to a world of anonymous or casual sex. Everything from pornography to webcam sex to meeting an old flame through Facebook, the internet allows for a false sense of safety that increases the opportunity for cheating. In fact, one popular site hooks up married men and women for affairs. Their marketing slogan is "Life is short, have an affair."
With these constant temptations to stray, even the most faithful partners sometimes fall into situations that they regret the moment it begins. Janis Abrahms Spring, author of After the Affair, says that infidelity in fact now affects one out of every 2.7 couples.
Americans never think of themselves as being the "type" of person to have an affair. In 2004, 82 percent of respondents to a survey about infidelity said affairs were always wrong, and the rest said affairs were almost always wrong. In 2006, Americans said that adultery was worse than polygamy and human cloning. And yet there are some estimates that claim 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women will have an extramarital affair at some point in their marriage.
Monogamy is hard. Let's not pretend that it isn't. You may tell yourself and your partner that your relationship is special -- that you are soul mates -- and so it could never happen to you. And yet it does happen to a large enough population that you should be concerned, not just with what your partner might do, but with your own potential temptation.
Some road signs to watch for:
1. You haven't made love to your partner in weeks or even months. You find you avoid situations that could lead to sex. You lie to your partner and say you're tired or you have a headache. This disinterest could be a sign that you are stressed, tired, ill or that the relationship is disconnected. It can also be a sign that one of you is out the door.
2. You are on the internet trawling to meet other people. You find yourself looking up your old boyfriend or girlfriend on Facebook and sending them a "Friend" request. You look at dating sites for married people interested in anonymous sex. You download photos of sexual partners for hire. You masturbate to fantasies of other people you know more than you do with thoughts of your partner. This can indicate a wide variety of interests and a healthy sexual appetite. It can also be a sign that you are looking for sex or a relationship outside of your marriage.
3. You are emotionally connected to someone other than your spouse in more important and intimate ways. You tell them all of your problems and confess your dissatisfaction in your marriage to this outside person. You talk to them about your sexual issues. You find that you text them and call them throughout the day. You think of telling them about your private thoughts instead of your spouse. You fantasize about them and wonder if they think of you in as well. You don't include them in dinners or outings with your spouse but keep them to yourself. Don't kid yourself that you can have a friendship that is closer than the one with your spouse and has the added energy of sexual attraction and still hope that eventually it won't become sexual. Emotional affairs many times lead to affairs. You may already be halfway there.
If any of these signs are already in your path, talk to your spouse. Don't wait until your fall into the hole in the road and can't get out. If you can't tell your partner, talk to a therapist or trusted friend. Tell on yourself, and get real with your feelings. If there are problems in the marriage, close off the exit of these potential affairs and work on the marriage first, before you end up losing a partnership that you may not want to end.
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