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Surviving Infidelity

Infidelity Survival Tips: What to do when your partner doesn't consider a cyber-affair cheating!
By Susie and Otto Collins

It's tough enough to cope when your partner admits that he or she had an affair. There is probably some amount of shock, anger and even grief.

The road to rebuilding trust in cases like this is made less rocky, however, when the person who cheated confesses the infidelity and the couple decides to start rebuilding trust.

What happens when infidelity is discovered but the person in the relationship who is having the affair doesn't consider his or her actions to be cheating?

The one who made this upsetting discovery about his or her mate may feel even more angry or possibly doubtful about what was observed.

We're not talking about flat-out denial here. It's not so much a case of "This is not what it looks like..."  Instead, the two people might have conflicting beliefs about what constitutes infidelity in the first place.

In this age of the internet, cell phone texting, and other electronic forms of communication, having a cyber-affair is becoming more and more common.

The person who is visiting online dating chat rooms or trading intimate photos over a cell phone or via e-mail may actually not consider his or her actions to be a betrayal. 

So when the person's partner accidentally opens an e-mail or cell phone photo and finds out what has been going on in cyberspace, the aftereffects can be painful and upsetting on many levels.

Not only does the one person feel betrayed and hurt, he or she is also dealing with a partner who continues to plead innocence. "After all," the one who is having the cyber-affair might say, "it was only online."

We'll be perfectly honest here. When a person engages in intimate actions or talk with another person-- even if it was online or over the cell phone-- a sexual interaction took place. Just because no literal body contact was made does not mean it was "innocent."

It is still infidelity if an agreement has been made that the primary relationship will be monogamous.

Kenny doesn't see what the big deal was. His wife Casey is just overreacting over nothing, in his opinion. Kenny signed up with an online dating site specifically for married people. He was curious about the whole concept and thought he'd check out the women on the site.

His intention was to have some fun and enjoy himself. He didn't consider what Casey would think about him getting to know other women online because, after all, he'd never actually meet one of them face-to-face.

So when Casey walked into the room late one night as he was engaged in a very intimate chat with a woman he met on the site, Kenny was embarrassed but also a little surprised at her enraged reaction. Casey cannot believe that Kenny
actually thought this behavior would be ok with her.

She doesn't understand how Kenny cannot see this for what it is-- cheating.

Be clear.
Even if your partner has never had a cyber-affair and even if you feel a little silly talking about this, do it anyway. Get clear within yourself about how you define monogamy and fidelity in your relationship. Once you know what you want, talk about it with your mate.

Explicitly state what you want. Now listen to how your partner defines these same concepts and to what he or she wants.

You may have started out your relationship assuming that you both were on the "same page" about not dating others-- either in "real life" or cyberspace. If there is any question about this being a shared agreement, address it now.

The next morning, Casey returns home. She spent the night at a friend's house because she felt so furious. She and Kenny sit down together and she asks him to explain to her why he thinks that his online dating didn't constitute an affair.

Casey is still quite angry, but she listens anyway. She explains to Kenny her definition of monogamy
and makes it clear to him that she considers cyber-relationships as infidelity. She is not willing to negotiate about that. It feels to both of them that they are at a stalemate. Neither knows what their next move should be.

Decide what you want to do next.
Now that there is more clarity and understanding between the two of you about how you each define monogamy, it's time to consider what you want to happen next. Do you want to stay in this relationship or end it?

Take some time individually and together to talk about what you each want. Ask yourselves if your different values and rules about monogamy or relationships in general can change or be shifted to fit together.

It is essential that you be able to resolve discrepancies as core to a relationship as these issues are.

If you decide to stay together, it can be very useful to make new agreements or re-affirm previous ones around the topic of fidelity. Make sure you are open and honest with one another and don't agree to something that you don't feel comfortable with.

If you choose to separate for a period of time or end your relationship, it is still important to make a completion about the cyber-affair. Your unresolved feelings about the infidelity can hamper your future relationships and life in general.

Kenny and Casey decide to live in separate homes for awhile. They plan to work with a coach to see whether they can resolve their differences and begin to rebuild trust. Kenny is starting to see how hurtful his online affair was to Casey and really doesn't want their marriage to end.

Casey is not sure what she wants but, at this moment, she chooses to work with Kenny and the coach to see if they can turn their marriage around. She'd like to at least give it a try.

In order to survive infidelity, it is important that you each stay tuned in to yourselves and to what you want.  This may change as the healing process goes on. Remain open and honest with yourself and with your mate and allow for trust to rebuild.







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Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins
PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling 614-459-8121.
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