Why Infidelity Is The Ultimate Relationship Wake Up Call

Affairs are a common way people are forced to face how they are living and relating.


When a person experiences the infidelity of a partner in a relationship, it can really rock their world. Finding out your lover transgressed the commitments they made to you and to your relationship can feel like a big betrayal.

Women often go into a place of inadequacy (Why wasn't I enough?), comparison (What does she have that I don't?), victimization (Why did they do this to me?), insecurity (totally understandable—the relationship does feel unstable at that point) and low self-worth (I'm not enough).

Being “cheated on” sucks. Especially if you have been putting your all into the relationship, working on improving it and showing up fully.


To find out your partner was lying and not showing up with you feels lonely and even despairing. Yet, often, it's a wakeup call for how much both people were not fully showing up.

Many women come to me in my sexual empowerment coaching practice and disclose either having been cheated on or having had an affair themselves. I don't judge people for having affairs.

There is not a blanket meaning to attach to an affair (although from the way the culture treats affairs, you would think so). Affairs relate to many things and they are always an opportunity to learn and grow.

We tend to do our deepest emotional work when a breach happens: a crisis, a traumatic event or a rupture that forces us to look at what is really going on within us and in our relationships. Affairs are a common way people are forced to face how they are living and relating.


Each player has a role in an affair. People who have been cheated on often don't like to hear this if their victim self is being activated. We all have that victim part of ourselves and we all have to keep it in check because it will never empower us.

The victim self thinks things and life happen to us and that we have no control or agency in what happens to us. However, there is a deep grief and sadness that is natural for someone whose partner cheated, lied and hid.

There is a true loss and a deep disenfranchisement from the love they thought they had. And you may have it, just not in the form you thought you did.

It takes time to move through that deep grief and anger, and it can ultimately be productive, no matter how painful it is now.

When an affair is disclosed, after the initial shock, anger or rupture, it's important to get down to work. What was this affair really about? The culture tells us that cheaters are awful people, not to be trusted.


We shouldn't stay with a cheater. We shouldn't forgive them because it's just so unforgiveable.

Yet, that cheater came to teach you something and when you shift into being curious about what that is, your perspective changes, and it's a much more empowering way to view the situation.

I'm not saying it's okay to lie and consciously betray the person you love. What I am saying is that people cheat for many reasons.

For instance, if a monogamous partner refuses to have sex anymore (something I see a lot), then the partner who wants to express their sexuality and doesn't want a sexless relationship gets backed into a corner where it's choose their partner or choose their own sexuality.

In that case, monogamy may no longer be the relationship structure that can support both people to get their needs met. But few people understand how to do relationships differently so, often, people just cheat and do it under the table instead of being above board with their real needs and desires.

If sexual issues or other issues in the relationship are not being addressed, people start to hide from each other. They stop talking. They stop advocating. Or maybe they never did so to begin with, and denial and avoidance have been present in the relationship from the outset.


If you are avoiding dealing with your dissatisfaction with your relationship and what is really going on, the truth will come out in some way...and sometimes it comes out in an affair.

In a monogamous long-term marriage, there is a lot of pressure on each person to meet the other's needs. The reality is that it is hard to keep a long-term relationship juicy and hot.

It's possible, however, and it requires attention and commitment by both people to keep it flowing and to continue to create exciting sexual experiences. It won't happen by itself. There are real reasons why people do not address sex, and we all need help learning how to do so.

The easy way out is to just go have sex with someone else. Often people choose the easy way.

Too many couples start to put their relationship on autopilot in a way that is boring and unsatisfying. Domesticity, the sharing of daily chores and mundane life dull eroticism and can feel imprisoning for some people; they wind up wondering, “Is this all there is?”

I don't think that lets people off the hook for breaking their relationship agreements, but I do think we need to be honest with ourselves about how desire works—and doesn't work—within relationships; and frequently, that is at odds with the myth of romantic love that we get sold.

The chance to be unknown or be a new fantasy or a new exciting sexual person to your partner (and not that person doing chores all day long) can create a new resurgence of desire, and tapping into desire feels life-affirming.


Sometimes people are seeking that—not just newness in the new partner, but a newness in themselves.

Who am I erotically now? How does a new person respond to me? Am I still desirable? It's not all about the other person; it's about tapping into your own sexuality and desire again. We all want to feel desired.

I have a friend who had an affair and she was so charged up by it and felt she was desirable to someone else for the first time in her adult life, that it gave her a total confidence boost. She never told her partner and they are still relatively happily married.

Should she have told him? Would it have helped anything? That affair served an important purpose for her and I don't judge her for that. It made a lot of sense. It helped her show up anew in her own relationship. Sometimes it happens like that.

Affairs are not black and white. Sometimes people do it in crappy, disrespectful ways and there is just no way to clean up the mess they create. And then it's on the person who was betrayed to heal, learn and move on.

I am always an advocate of owning your part in the drama and figuring out the lesson. Often times there is something you weren't seeing or chose not to see and now the universe is making it abundantly clear so you can see what is happening and learn from it.


And free yourself! It's humbling, however painful. It is also a challenge to respect and love yourself enough to demand more and to stop settling.

Often, people know they are settling and the affair comes out and it is a blessing because it wakes them up from the stupor that was keeping them accepting crumbs when they could have had gold.

Each person has to weigh what is possible in terms of growth and maturation as a way of deciding whether to stay or leave. The betrayal may be too much to mend. It may even be unwise to try. Affairs are almost always an alert that something isn't being dealt with.

Sometimes a deep compassion can develop between partners when they heal from a transgression that shook up the relationship.


Sometimes the outcome is that they get back in the driver seat, take the relationship off autopilot and begin to consciously create the relationship they each really want.

They address the unspoken or unmet needs that were being swept under the table before. When that happens, it serves a powerful purpose.

When we stop having so many assumptions about our relationships, we can really begin to have authentic relationships where each person shows up fully with all of their flaws and can love one another anyway.

It is the difference between choosing to show up and be in that relationship every single day, rather than just assuming that it will be there as we move about our daily trance.

None of us are beyond making a choice that will hurt someone in service of our own growth. The more we learn emotional and communication skills, the less we hurt other people and the more honest we can be as human beings.


Inspired by The Betrayed Wives Club