Another type of Cheater—I like to refer to as Type II—is someone who is a more chronic cheater. This is a person struggling with issues that have little to do with what is or is not working in the relationship. The novelty of “new” love produces the release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the pleasure chemical that gives us that feeling of being “high” when we’re falling in love. It can be quite addictive. Once the initial pleasure of the new relationship subsides, Type II Cheaters crave that missing “high.” This includes those who qualify as sex or love addicts. It also might include someone with narcissistic qualities who have a strong need to feel admired and adored. Once that newness fades and the relationship takes on a realistic tone, these folks are going to find a way to feed their addictions.
Can a relationship recover from infidelity?
Contrary to popular belief, infidelity is not necessarily a predictor of divorce or separation. Research published by relationship expert, John Gottman of the Gottman Institute in Seattle states that the “major cause of divorce (nearly 80% of the time) is that people become emotionally distant and drift apart.” Of course, that drifting apart can be exactly what leads to infidelity.
If you discover that there has been infidelity (Type I) in your relationship, you and your partner will need to do some serious soul-searching. In her book, After the Affair, Janis Abrahms Spring describes three stages of healing that apply to both partners:
- Normalizing feelings.
- Deciding whether to recommit to or quit the relationship. And provided the decision is to work toward recovery, then begin to
- Rebuild the relationship
The process of recovering from infidelity is always difficult. Trust, once breached, is a challenge to regain. Questions will have to be answered by both partners from a very introspective position:
- What was going on in the relationship that created the opportunity for infidelity?
- What was going on that made it unsafe to discuss or explore the problems that had developed?
- Can I accept responsibility for my part in the problem that created this unsafe space?
- Am I willing to do what it takes to make my partner feel safe again?
The Type I Cheater is a bit of a chicken. Instead of taking a risk and showing up at dinner one night with a big “Hey, this isn’t working for me!” this Cheater drops a bomb on the relationship that forces the problems to the forefront in a rather dramatic way. Never mind that the problems are now multiplied by the infidelity itself.
It is easy to blame the Cheater. And honestly, the Cheater needs to accept that blame. Infidelity is no way to solve relationship dissatisfaction. But both partners must be willing to recognize their own part in the breakdown of connection that led to infidelity in the first place. Otherwise, there will be no recovery.