This month’s episode of the This LoveWorks podcast is about the science of cheating – and how to work together to heal from infidelity.
It’s important to realize that if you’ve been cheated on, it’s not your fault.
When someone strays outside of a relationship, it’s usually because they think that cheating will give them some feeling they’re looking for – like excitement or happiness. Neuroscience actually plays an important role in understanding infidelity. When someone engages in behaviors that lead them outside of the relationship, they’re seeking dopamine – the brain chemical that makes us feel pleasure, satisfaction and motivation.
Another brain chemical, oxytocin, might also play a role. In men, oxytocin has been found to create higher levels of attraction for their mate and a preference for their mate, so you could see why lower levels of oxytocin in a man could lead him to cheat. However, it’s important to note that even though these chemicals can contribute to cheating, they do not cause it.
There are many reasons someone might cheat. For example, they might want something new or different in a relationship, or they could have low self-esteem. So while our brain chemicals do play a role, the reasons can’t be fully explained by them.
3 Things That Must Happen To Deal With the Affair as a Couple
You Both Must Decide to Focus on the Primary Relationship
Without the full acknowledgment of the affair and ongoing commitment, most relationships can’t heal after an affair, because the fear that comes after infidelity must be dealt with in a real and consistent way. You need to ensure that your person’s needs are being met. This means that if you’re the one who had the affair, you must let them know what happened in the affair if they need to know. It’s often better, as when people don’t know, they fill in the gaps themselves, and it’s usually worse than the truth, and ultimately harms the relationship.
Related: Making Marriage an Everyday Decision
Understanding and paying attention to relationship patterns you’ve both participated in, that lead up to the affair is important for determining what needs to be done differently. This does not mean that the affair is the fault of the person who was victimized by it, but that both parties can take responsibility for repairing the relationship. When they do, healing can happen more quickly and efficiently. While you must work together, the person who harmed the relationship with the affair must take the lead – by apologizing and reassuring, over time, and consistently.
Create Realistic Expectations
The time it takes for a couple to heal from infidelity will likely be at least a year. Both parties must be ready to do the work to heal – and they must be committed to each other and the relationship, and understand what’s expected from one another, at the beginning.
Healing From Infidelity – Together
Healing from infidelity can be done, but it does take sincere effort, openness, and a lot of hard work. But when couples address those problematic relationship patterns, it can actually lead to a more open, true, and intimate relationship with your partner that can create even more intimacy.
Are you ready to make your love work?