Infidelity & Intimacy: A Post -Valentine’s Conversation , Wednesday, March 5, 2014

This Saturday, I’ll discuss intimacy and infidelity on the radio with Bernalillo County District Attorney, Kari Brandenburg. One question we’ll explore in our chat on her show, The Women’s Room, is, how are intimacy and infidelity related?

When many people think of intimacy they think of sex, but there are actually three vital types of intimacy: Self Intimacy, Affection Intimacy, and Conflict Intimacy. In order to stay true to one’s self and one’s partner, we need all three.

Approximately 33% of men and 19% of women admit to cheating on their spouses. How this affects the marriage depends on the couple’s capacity for emotional self awareness and ability to express their emotions (Self Intimacy); their capacity to share affection physically, sexually, through caring actions and verbal expressions (Affection Intimacy); and especially their ability to handle differences, tension, anger and negativity with high-level communication skills (Conflict Intimacy).

There are two main reasons for infidelity: lack of communication and emotional affection, and lack of sexual intimacy and pleasure. Some 71% of men who cheat say it was due to sexual boredom. But this is where we need to differentiate between a sexual lapse and a pattern of infidelity:

A single incident in an otherwise stable marriage is usually a signal for help. Some part of the relationship needs attention, and with expert help and mutual commitment, the relationship can grow through conflict intimacy to forgiveness and a stronger, renewed partnership.

With a pattern of infidelity, the cheating partner is demonstrating a problem with true intimacy and what we call, “attachment style.”

60% of people have a “secure attachment” to loved ones, where they are satisfied, connected and supportive of the other. This derived from having a secure bond with their mother or primary care-giver as children.

20% have an anxious, fearful or ambivalent attachment style, derived from a childhood of feeling insecure, unsafe and not responded to by parents.

20% have an avoidant and dismissive attachment style, which means they distance themselves emotionally from their partners. They may seek isolation, shut down their feelings, and dismiss the importance of the relationship to them.

The important thing to remember is that the “deal breaker” in a marriage is not necessarily infidelity, but an unwillingness on the part of one or both partners to address the underlying problems in the relationship and a response to the cheating that exacerbates the damage, disappointment and contempt that has corroded the marriage and prevents the ability to trust and love again.

But let’s end on a positive note. About 80% of women don’t cheat in their marriages, and up to 75% of men are true to their vows, too.

For a fulfilling and affair-proof relationship, practice having a secure attachment style through emotional awareness, effective listening, clear communication, compassion, and loving- kindness.

And you might just want to find some ways to spice up your sex life, too!

Join me and Kari this Saturday, March 8 on the The Women’s Room, from noon to 1, by tuning into to 770KKOB AM or calling 505-243-3333!



About Dr.Gail Carr Feldman

Dr. Gail Feldman, longtime psychologist, former assistant psychiatry professor, and award-winning author, has published six books, appeared on radio and television programs across the country, including Larry King Live, and has spoken internationally on creativity, resilience and the heroine’s journey. Her current passion is facilitating transformation through the Midlife Crash Course.
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