People define infidelity differently, and views on what is and isn’t unfaithful behaviour vary between people and individual couples. Some may see sexting and online affairs as cheating, whereas some may only class an act as infidelity when it involves physical or sexual contact. With pornography, online chat rooms, and even dating sites designed for affairs, it’s now easier than ever for curiosity to escalate into an online affair and a tempted partner to slip into an infidelity addiction.
Some may mistake an infidelity addiction for a sex addiction; although sex may be a part of the affair, it’s not what the addict craves. Like any other addiction, addicts may seek attention from someone outside of their relationship to mask problems they have in their life or current relationship. Addicts may even feel unappreciated in their current relationship, which can often lead to feelings of anger and resentment, which in turn, may result in seeking emotional or physical support elsewhere.
Why does a person develop an infidelity addiction?
The excitement associated with meeting someone new releases dopamine in the brain, creating a temporary high until the addict has to return to a normal life where feelings of guilt or shame may entail, leading to an addictive cycle.
In some cases, partners who engage in infidelity or who have an infidelity addiction will refer to sexual dissatisfaction or lack of sexual contact as the reasoning behind their behaviour. This may be because sex is no longer as fulfilling as they’d like and differs from the ‘honeymoon-phase’, or because they miss the high and excitement of sex with a new partner. You can compare seeking or engaging in infidelity to a drug, alcohol, or gambling addiction. These behaviours provide a quick fix and distraction from any problems they may be facing in their normal life.
Traits that may make a person at higher risk of developing an infidelity addiction are:
- A prolonged history of cheating or difficulty remaining in a long-term relationship
- Less emotional or physical interest in a stable partner
- A history or family history of addiction
Addicts will often go to great lengths to keep their affairs a secret from their partner, whether out of shame, fear that their partner will leave, or to prevent the devastation it may cause. This stress often leads to mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression.
Can a relationship last after infidelity?
Even if a partner has not engaged in physical activity with another person, an online affair addiction may still be present in the forms of sexting or emotional relations. This may be a way to escape or avoid real-life problems or issues with a relationship.
While physical and online affairs are short-lived, an infidelity addiction isn’t. All types of addiction can damage relationships with friends and family. An infidelity addiction can have a huge effect on partners or spouses, sometimes even leading them to need treatment themselves. Yet, like any other addiction, you can treat it and rebuild trust and relationships.
To begin recovery, addicts must first realise they have a problem. Addicts can then receive medical assistance to help deal with the mental health problems associated with an infidelity or online affairs addiction. They can also participate in talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), to challenge irrational thoughts and faulty thinking; thus, helping addicts to rebuild a healthy relationship.
For more information on the treatments services offered by Charterhouse Clinic for infidelity addiction, please visit our sex addiction treatment page.