Why did he/she cheat on me? And how can therapy help?
Cheating is one of the most traumatic events for a couple and it compromises its balance and stability. In fact, infidelity represents a break into the couple alliance; a breach of the pact between partners and therefore a breach of faith.
The “us” part is destroyed and those who are cheated on can suddenly lose faith in their partner as well as in themselves. They would now question the life projects and the future of the couple.
It is very frequent for people who are cheated on to keep asking themselves “why” their partner would have done such a painful thing to them.
The answer to this question is certainly different for every single couple.
However, there are some triggers of infidelity that are common to many.
Even though cheating can appear out of the blue, couples have usually been experiencing problems for a long time, without acknowledging them. So the act of cheating becomes the way to actually express all the issues at once.
Quite often the partners tend to minimise their discontent in the couple because they don’t want - or don’t know how - to deal with the problems, or maybe because they want to save the appearances. Some partners may even think to preserve the couple by not talking about their issues and this actually produces the opposite effect: when someone cheats, it is devastating for the other partner as well as for the couple.
The elements that can bring a partner to cheat usually concern the ability of the couple to build an intimate, authentic, equal and supportive relationship.
In these couples we can see the tendency to avoid conflicts or to leave them open and unresolved.
Partners are usually not satisfied by their sexual life but, again, this is not addressed properly and the partners would just avoid intimacy.
This has a negative impact on the ability of the partners to share things into the couple and to create complicity. They become alienated and experience communication issues: they are unable to ask the partner for what they really need and at the same time are unable to listen with empathy.
Infidelity can then be seen as a symptom of a dysfunctional couple; it is the result of a deep and long-lasting discomfort.
Cheating would be a way of reacting to this situation; it represents a dramatic way of expressing the need to change things into the couple. People cheat because, for some reason, they can’t find a better way of communication.
Couple therapy can help couples to answer the question “why did he/she cheat on me?” and understand their own specific situation.
Cheating creates the - painful - circumstances to deal with the issues that were not addressed for a long time, such as intimacy, communication and reciprocate support.
Couple therapy can offer the right space to express all the negative emotions related to the betrayal and to face the issues that prompted one of the partners to cheat.
This path can be helpful whether the partners want to remain together or separate: people can find the answers they are looking for and therefore become able to put this event behind, finally getting the closure they deserve.
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