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In the wake of a tremendous aftermath of an internet breach that had happened in the month of July a year ago, unraveled many data including names and personal details of numerous individuals, including top officials from across the globe, leaving many lives affected and shattered. The security breach and the hacking happened to an internet dating site called, ‘Ashley Madison’ that proudly provided a platform for the married individuals to have that extra thrill of the taste of an affair. In fact, the very slogan that they conveyed was – ‘Life is short. Have an affair’.  Data uncovers that more than 30 million individuals from 40 countries were affected despite the company’s assurance of protecting the identity of its clients while providing a purported discreet platform for them to indulge in affairs.

In an article written by Brian Krebs who interviewed many customers of this infamous website reviewed and expressed their experiences of the breach to be the worst nightmare. Numerous individuals admitted experiencing sheer fear and pronounced their decision to enjoy a little flair to be foolish and sick. A reasonable view into the mind of those caught up in the whirlwind of the leak, revealed their frenzied wild-eyed race to win back the little that is left of their marriage, their jobs, status in the society, their sanity and somehow lessen the impact of the effect of careless, promiscuous living.  For some others, divorce, shame, guilt, resignation and suicide were the result. In the guardian.com, Brian Krebs, the cyber crime journalist who broke the Ashley Madison Story in July 2015 says, “Maybe we need privacy disasters like this to help us wake up.”

But do we really? Do we really need a crisis like this to wake us up to the traumatic impact to quit fooling and get serious about relationships that actually matter and a lifestyle that is worthwhile?

If an affair provided what it promised to provide, the enthralling experience, intimacy, and gratification, how can it be that a life then ends in considerably more wretchedness and despair? It is said that stolen water is sweet and food eaten in secret is delicious, however, the sweetness transforms into bitterness and proves to be detrimental when an undesirable path is chosen for fulfillment.

Affair: A Better or a worse kind?

‘Z’, a mother of 2 children, caught her husband flirting with another woman online. Upon probing, her husband confessed that he had been talking with this other woman for 8 months for fun and it’s nothing serious other than a couple of times when they had exchanged bare pictures. He also said that he has not been involved with anyone else other than this woman whom he enjoyed chatting with. He also asked Z to not overreact since he has been faithful having not engaged in sexual relations the other woman.

There are several types of infidelity and we cannot really depict a better or a worse kind. Individuals tend to surmise that as long as the relationship does not extend to sexual involvement, it is not cheating.  Infidelity comes in different forms and it does not simply suggest a sexual liberality outside a marriage relationship. An emotional affair revolves around internet flirting, chatting, or a work relationship and a long phone distance relationship. This kind of betrayal is regularly ignored, underestimated, and unacknowledged as disloyalty. As per an India today article, forty- seven percent men think and feel that emotional infidelity is not considered as an extramarital affair, but about 30 % of women feel emotional and sexual infidelity is cheating. The fact of the matter is not to demonstrate who is correct or wrong in this or whether women should really be taking up that route or to persuade and convince men that emotional unfaithfulness is a form of an extra-marital affair or not. The point is to help us think of the outcome, the cost that we pay for an unhealthy choice, because significance and criticality now and again originate from the high value that one ends up paying, in this case, the tumult that emerges from the aftermath of a choice.

Rather than doubtlessly disregard the effect of an issue or tell a person, ‘at least he/she did not have sex with her/him’, it is important to recognize that the intensity of despair and disappointments that would contrast from person to person.  All things considered, it should be comprehended that any kind of disloyalty will undoubtedly leave a profound deep seated wound and scar in the marriage relationship.

Reasons for infidelity

‘R’ came in for counseling to get an understanding of why and how a happy, loving husband could have cheated on her. She couldn’t make sense of why in the world he would go to another woman and risk all that they had together. Now she constantly wonders where she had gone wrong. She wonders if it is because she is not beautiful, pretty or smart enough. What was the lack in her that he needed to go to another woman when everything appeared to be consummately happy and why is it that her husband is not willing to detach from this other woman?

These are customarily the questions that surface in a woman’s mind when she is attempting to make sense of the situation subsequent to having discovered a scene of infidelity. It is common to believe that infidelity is something that happens to your neighbor or to another person, but not in your own home. This does not imply that you begin doubting your spouse, but rather calls for finding a way and taking steps to make your marriage fool proof against affairs. There are distinctive reasons behind extra-marital affairs and one cannot presume that certain types of family or persons are immune to it. Infidelity is not only an imperceptible beast in miserable marriages, but it lurks behind and resurfaces for numerous reasons at numerous times.  

‘S’ had a love marriage and after being happily married for nine years, out of nowhere she started feeling bored. It was then that she got in touch with one of her college mates. Long chats prompted to talking over the phone, friendship over the phone led to brief social meetings and then eventually a one night stand. Her husband was devastated after finding out about this affair and now treats her coldly and maintains his distance with her.

Insights demonstrate that frequently for ladies, the explanation behind searching out an accomplice and excitement, is the absence of emotional connect with their spouse than the need for sex. Much of the time, women do not proceed with sexual inclination, but engage in emotional intimacy for the need to feel the fervor of becoming hopelessly enamored again and reliving the moments of being loved and wanted. It is possible that some may even give in to sexual requests or demands to ensure the continuity of friendship or relationship. Whereas for men, statistics show that it is the lack of sex that leads them to infidelity. Though this fact, across the spectrum, is more or less true, there are other factors that are paramount to be taken into consideration. It is one of these reasons or all in unison that causes people to discard the sanctity of a committed relationship –  be it boredom, incompatibility, mundane routine, lack of emotional connect, lack of intellectual connect, unavailability, conflicts, mid-life crisis, personality differences, influence of substance abuse- especially drugs and alcohol, and sometimes even children (when an excessive amount of attention is fixated on them and as a result one partner is neglected or because of empty nest- where young adults move out of their home and parents are thrown back together not knowing how to connect with each other again). However, the perilous sort of unfaithfulness is the sexual addiction, when a person engages in affairs merely for the thrill of it.

Recognizing the symptoms of infidelity & building boundaries to protect your marriage:

It all begins perhaps with a drinking session, a flirtatious colleague, and striking conversations. An affair may begin in unpretentious ways and set out toward a hard crash landing, on the off chance that one is not cautious to fool proof their marriage against infidelity. Below given are some simple and straightforward approaches to move toward adopting a healthy standard:  

  1. Check the impact: It is essential to perceive and tune into your own particular selves. Getting into the practice of examining and dissecting our own hearts, interests, and minds is a decent exercise to nurture. At first, it would be alarming and even surprising to discover and unearth your true sentiments yet laying them bare will give an idea of what areas to improve, change and fortify. If you feel that you are beginning to enjoy a conversation with another person, check whether these are the discussions that you can have before your mate or do you feel the need to conceal it from your spouse. Another question to ask, is whether there is anything to feel guilty about a friendship like this? Anticipating the time with the other individual, entertaining contemplation of closeness or obsessing over this relationship are all symptoms that could lead ultimately to an unhealthy decision and perhaps even a sexual experience outside marriage.

  2. Adapt solid way of life and a state of mind towards self and to your mate: In many cases, the propensity is to take a gander at what is turning out badly and to resign to one’s circumstances suspecting that things will never show signs of improvement. It is basic to assume that infidelity or fascination towards another person demonstrates the nature of a marriage relationship. However, it additionally uncovers a heart condition and more often low self-regard and poor inner experience which drives a man to be vigilant for anything that would give an adrenaline surge or worth and excitement. The saying, ‘misery seeks company’ holds true in this case. A cheating mate may attempt to take unpleasant happenings at home and utilize it as a reason and trade it for an additional conjugal undertaking. They may stonewall, start ruckuses, reprimand and accuse their spouse attempting to manufacture an obnoxious reason for their activities, at times. Some others may continue to be extra loving until they are caught in the act. It is vital to recollect that unhealthy circumstances cannot be changed by adopting another unhealthy habit. A sound approach to start what is absent in a relationship is to reproduce the excitement in the marriage relationship in straightforward courses, for example, truly searching for ways to reconnect with your life partner once more. A simple approach to adopt is to give mindful, compassionate affirmations, or compliments each and every day. The purpose of this activity plan is that you will start to acknowledge and see even the easily overlooked details, figure out how to change the nature of your correspondence, and its patterns. As you notice their emotional state and react empathetically towards them, you will build your affectability towards their necessities and start to comprehend the effect of your actions on them. Moreover, you may even build your own particular internal experience and embark on a journey to respect yourself.

  3. Change your mindset and refocus: This is simpler said than done particularly if the grasp of fascination towards another or the propensities are solid. In any case, difficult does not mean impossible and the main individual who can really bring about change is yourself. The mind is a very powerful thing which can take immediate cues from self and follow up on it. Our lives, of course, do not have a delete button, but our phones without a doubt do. Before the inclination becomes excessively solid, hit the delete button to erase the contact of the person and help yourselves to remember why an extra emotional connection or affair may not turn out to be so incredible. People often ask if some individuals are wired for a promiscuous living and if they have no other choice, but to be slanted towards settling on unfortunate decisions. Although we are all products of our childhood encounters and formative years, and to that extent predisposed to certain behaviors, we need not be destined to promiscuity. These are habits and patterns that get settled in throughout the years which can be changed by observing good role models, rewiring and restructuring of the thoughts and consequently putting into practice healthy habits.  

If these warning signs, indications, and action plans doesn’t do the trick, individual or couples therapy ought to be considered. If you are also a victim of either emotional or sexual infidelity, it is recommended that you see a counselor to be validated, understood and to help you get back on track.

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