The New Infidelity: Are You Guilty?

This is an article from Men’s Health, January/February 2018.  Be forewarned, this article contains adult themes, ideas, and crude, sexual wording.  However, it also references an interesting book on affairs, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity by therapist Ester Perel and observations by therapist Marty Klein.  From the book, old myths of affairs are examined and thought provoking questions are posed.  Dr. Klein then shares 3 stories of affairs, provides intriguing views of each, and gives specific suggestions the participants are to consider.  The article closes with factors to consider and factors that suggest he or she could be unfaithful.

Worth a read!!

Ever sexted with a woman who’s not your partner?  Followed an ex on social media?  Shared secrets with a “work wife”?  Many women would call you a cheater, our exclusive poll found.  And a gender gap appeared:  Women are more likely than men to call given behaviors cheating.  Fair warning, men.

What’s clear:  Lust and temptation are eternal, and modern life makes it easier to succumb.  Of course, intercourse and oral are considered cheating by nearly 100 percent of men and women.  Kissing?  For 95 percent of women and 81 percent of men, yeah, that’s cheating.

But beyond that, it’s complicated.  Watch porn?  She’s probably okay with it.  Log on with a camgirl?  Not so much.  And cheating is not just a guy thing:  Plenty of wives and girlfriends cheat too.

There’s a new thinking about why we cross the line into a real affair.  Therapist Ester Perel sets out to bust myths in her new book, The State of Affairs:  Rethinking Infidelity.  Such as:  that an affair means the relationship is bad – or the cheater is.  The motive is often a yearning for a lost part of your identity.  “It isn’t so much that we’re looking for another person,” she notes in a TED Talk, “as much as we are looking for another self.”  Other myths, she tells us:  that men cheat out of boredom and that a marriage can never recover from infidelity.

Marty Klein, Ph.D., a California therapist for more than 30 years, says many of his patients want to make marital sex as exciting as affair sex.  “It isn’t a realistic comparison,” he says.  But you can learn from cheaters.  Treat your partner like a paramour:  Prepare for sex (prioritize, visualize), be present (savor it), embrace novelty (break your normal routine), and make your partner feel attractive, desired, and excited.  Start by reading some of his case studies on the next page. (below)

  1. The guy who keeps going back to younger women:

Joel had one or two affairs every year.  He took up with inexperienced young women impressed by his nice clothes and fancy dinners.  But he wasn’t just a jerk looking to screw younger women – it was more complicated.

According to Joel, his wife loved him but wasn’t impressed with him.  She knew him before his success and had plenty of sexual experience of her own.  And while Joel had no concerns about disappointing his girlfriends’ sexually, he was concerned about disappointing his wife.  The results:  performance anxiety, sexual frustration, and lower desire for his wife.

He needed a new attitude, I told him, one of “we’ll have fun in bed no matter what.”  First:  De-emphasize intercourse, making it one of many activities in bed.  That makes erections unnecessary, reducing pressure.

Joel also needed to understand that he is interesting to his wife.  I suggested he ask her what she liked about him – and to believe it.

He didn’t need to confess the affairs; he needed to confess his insecurity.  This meant opening uncomfortable conversations with his wife and choosing to be vulnerable, disclosing his lack of confidence.  “If you can do that,” I told him, “you’ll have plenty of erections and desire, and you’ll both enjoy sex more.”

He did, and they did.

What you can do:  Some Saturday evening when you and your mate have privacy, make a list of fail-safe erotic activities that you both enjoy:  dirty talk, stroking your own genitalia together, reading a hot story together, kissing for fun (not as “foreplay”), and asking questions.

  1. The guy who just wants some superhot porn sex, that’s all:

Claudio hadn’t had an affair – yet.  He loved his wife and thought she was hot.  But they couldn’t sustain a decent sex life.  They’d quarrel over sex, and then it was off the table for weeks.  Claudio was reaching his limit.

He wanted porn sex.  “Some deep throat once in a while,” he said.  “A little anal – not every day, but maybe once every month or two.  And she won’t even discuss a threesome with one of her girlfriends.”

“It isn’t helpful to think your wife is the problem,” I said.  “It’s a lot easier to change yourself than someone else.”  For starters, Claudio needed to realize that real sex doesn’t feel the way porn looks.  When we see porn as a manual, or expect our partner to be like the actress, that is a problem.

Instead of focusing on specific acts, I said, he should focus on how he wanted to feel during sex – and work with his wife to create that.  Some want to feel young or free or wildly attractive.  That’s what people create in affairs – sex that satisfies those emotions.

Like many people, Claudio wanted to feel manly, alive, desired, and as if the world had no boundaries – that he could do anything he wanted, without refusal by a partner or society.

He yearned to feel his wife’s enthusiasm for him.  This, of course, wouldn’t look like porn sex, something he needed to understand.  In real life, a little bit goes a long way.

What could he and his wife agree to do that would give him those feelings?  She was willing to send him a few sexy texts during the week.  He could pull her hair in bed as long as he didn’t hurt her.  They could have a soft light on, just not so bright to make her self-conscious.  She could be the one to reach for the lube, and she could stroke his penis without being asked.

What can you do:  Maybe you want sex to make you feel more desired.  If she says, “But I do desire you,” negotiate how she can express that.  She could look in your eyes during sex, use a pet name, text you during the day (“Can’t wait for tonight”), or ask during sex if you’re loving what she’s doing – even when she knows you are.  Invite her to negotiate like that with you.  Talk about what each of you can do to create the feelings you each desire.

  1. The guy who fears his wife’s judgment if he asks to get kinky.

Ted was having great sex, but the guilt and fear were killing him, so he wanted to end his five-month affair.  The sex in his marriage, though, was so-so.  “I’ve tried to leave my girlfriend, LaDonna, a million times in my head,” he said.  “But giving up a Mercedes for an old Chevy, I can’t do it.”

He loved a finger in his butt during oral sex – it made him orgasm like he had in college.  He loved playing a brother-sister pretend game with LaDonna.  And he loved lying on his back while she “climbed aboard.”

“We do other nasty stuff too,” he said.

And how many of these things had he discussed with his wife?  None.  He was sure she’d judge him, and idea he couldn’t bear.

“Maybe you’re judging yourself.” I said.  “It would be hard for you to imagine her accepting your sexual preferences – like a finger in the butt – if you didn’t accept them yourself.”

Self-acceptance is always easier in an affair than in a long-term relationship.  That’s because the stakes regarding rejection are so much lower.

I suggested he and his wife have a meta-conversation:  that they discuss how to share without fear.  They could agree not to ask “Where’d you get that idea?”  They could agree to be more curious when one partner suggest something new.  They could agree to take a few sexual risks together.  And he could start.

What can you do:  Tell your wife you want to make your relationship emotionally safe by each disclosing something that makes you self-conscious. (“You can be rougher with my nipples,” “Telling me you love my butt while we make love gets me hot!”)  Assure her that you’ll receive what she says without judgment.  Don’t tease her.  And do not compare her to other women, even favorably (“Your clit is more sensitive than most women’s”).