Psychotherapist, personal development specialist
All of us have somehow had something to do with the subject of infidelity:
• As children of infidel parents
• As lovers of someone married
• As accomplices of a good friend
• As professionals working with the theme
• As “traitors” to a marriage of “fairy tale”
• As the unfortunate “betrayed”
• As witnesses to the drama of those in the back block.
And in any position we have had to evade or face the emotional, social and sometimes physical dilemmas that may be involved.
Statistics in Western countries indicate that 60-80% of men and 40-45% of women have been unfaithful. While 95% of couples continue to marry or compromise with the agreement –explicit or otherwise – of mutual fidelity, the reality is somewhat different.
• Thus infidelities are committed by ordinary people: not all infidels are bad people, sick or wrong, or immoral. Even more, not all infidelities are made for lack of love.
• But the issue of infidelity has been commonly approached from a simplistic, moralistic and linear perspective: the explanation that usually accounts for the existence of a villain and a victim.
• It is based on moral parameters of goodness and evil, in a linear vision of the world where every cause has an effect and in puritanical perspectives where sexuality is seen as dirty, vulgar, and animal.
• The issue of trauma and betrayal has been extensively studied, but the complexity of individual human dilemmas, the relatable vicissitudes of couples and the social characteristics of the context has rarely been deepened.
• More comprehensively, it has been concluded that not all infidelities have to do with some pathology, dysfunction, problem, and malice, error of judgment, immaturity or “bad step.”
• An unfaithful man is considered an adulterer, a traitor, a liar, a destroyer of homes, a womanizer without values; and no longer says a woman – love and care of the neighbor – in such a situation! in a patriarchal system like the one we live in, what man “condones” the woman is condemned.
• Even so, it is not surprising that other behaviors that involve acts of economic, verbal, social abuse, or even extreme violence generate less disturbance than an extramarital relationship; such acts are more easily justified between couples, rather than overlooking a “betrayal.”
In general, infidelities are painful and traumatic, but not all are equally important. It is important to make distinctions because there are various elements that influence the magnitude of the effect they produce upon being discovered.
When can you not forgive?
• When the relationship has been of permanent abuse, lies and manipulations beyond infidelity.
• When infidelity is a habit and has been sloppy, recurring, blatant, arrogant, and pitiful.
• When there is an unrecognized or untreated sex addiction.
• Sustained immaturity of the infidel. The person does not have the ability to postpone gratification and tolerate frustration. Unstoppable and hedonistic pursuit of pleasure.
• When infidelity is the starting point of an empty and worn relationship in the face of the difficulty of ending it.
• When the injured person CAN NOT, BECAUSE HE CAN NOT. People who are committed to their own growth make the impact of infidelity, while remaining painful, better handled. Or it will charge forever.
When to forgive?
• When the infidel has clarity and awareness of what has happened, he is willing to work it.
• When it is an isolated event and not a permanent habit.
• When they arise from unmet personal needs that have not been addressed in particular: unresolved youth tasks, need to reaffirm the erotic and corporeal image.
• When it appears as an event that allowed the release of anxiety in stages of critical adaptation: as in the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, or in the retirement period.
• When they are a clear sign that the relationship is in crisis and it is time to do something different to renew it and try to stay: “what cannot be talked about, ends up acting.”
• When the effect of it, beyond the pain, generated a balance for the life of couple.
• When it is a transgression before a subjugation not worked and before an imbalance of power.
• When we understand that we are not monogamous by nature but that we choose to agree on exclusive relationships and manage sexual desire.
• When the dilemma includes the inherent contradiction between the domestic and the erotic.
• When there is an intention and desire to understand and repair
Perhaps all these situations of infidelity, without being easy to assume and transit, depending on their handling and resolution, can be crisis situations but also opportunities for personal growth and couple. That is, there are infidelities that point to improvement and evolution.
How to forgive?
• Infidelities are not forgotten, but they can be forgiven. To achieve this, we must understand that forgiveness is not an event but a process: it takes time and gives new and positive things to the relationship. To forgive is to give the other and yourself the possibility to change and update the relationship.
• “I want to forgive you and regain your confidence. I work so that what happened no longer influences me, but as a logical consequence you occupy a second level of trust. I do not know if you will ever be in the first, I wish it but for now I will keep certain precautionary measures that will be evident: not abusive, not persecutory, but care for my emotional integrity.
• Although I also assure you that I will respond to what you do now and not to what you did then. If I notice any prejudice against you I’ll let you know so I can talk it over.”