Does Infidelity Mean The End of Your Relationship?

Love, Heartbreak

Is infidelity an absolute dealbreaker? Couples today aren't so sure. Is it wrong to try to stay?

Many relationships “survive” infidelity. Current research estimates that about 30% of relationships touched by infidelity do not dissolve. Relationships are always fluid and surviving does not mean the relationship stays the same. A new relationship emerges when a couple decides to remain together. Some couples use the crisis as an opportunity to confront issues that interfered with closeness and commitment. These relationships have the potential to become better and stronger. Some relationships remain intact with significant emotional damage. The couple remains together because of financial issues, to keep the family intact for children or because of cultural pressures and the stigma of divorce within their particular environment.


Large scale surveys are frequently undertaken to try to determine the frequency of infidelity. Researchers believe that men tend to over-estimate their degree of sexual risk taking because that is perceived as manly and women tend to under-estimate their sexual behavior because there is still more social disapproval of non-traditional female sexual behavior.  Over time the rates reported tend to be converging with about 20-40% of married men reporting sexual relationships outside their marriage and 20-25% of women. Rates are higher in non-marital relationships as well as in people under 35 or over 60.

A 2006 survey of dating couples showed that up to 70% reported at least one incidence of sexual infidelity. More relaxed sexual norms account for this as well as a younger age group included in “dating couples.”

Modern research has also started to look at a wider definition of infidelity to include emotional infidelity, sexual infidelity with no romantic attachment and internet and online infidelity a la Anthony Weiner . The ability for a relationship to survive the various types of infidelity is also different.


The partner who has been cheated upon is usually consumed with this question when an affair is discovered and it is a very important one to ask. Many times the answer is simple; unhappiness in the current relationship, a lack of depth of feeling, an easy opportunity. Often the answer relates to mental health issues such as depression, poor self- esteem or even sex addiction. If the partner who strayed wants the primary relationship to continue one of the most promising signs is if they are truly willing to explore this question in depth. Will they go for individual or couples psychotherapy? Will they talk openly about their perception of how it happened? Will they answer their partner’s questions in a supportive and persistent fashion?  Focusing on sexual specifics is rarely helpful but time frames, logistics and feelings are important to share.
Infidelity and jealousy both seem to be hardwired into the human psyche. The fear of infidelity even when it doesn’t exist can infect a healthy relationship and the temptation to cheat can develop in even the strongest relationship. The problem is part of the human condition


This is a complex question that warrants careful thought and consideration by those who face it. In earlier times religion and society often compelled a couple to stay together “till death do us part” no matter how the parties involved felt about the problem. Young couples today are more apt to threaten “if you ever cheat on me, I’m outta here!!” The reality lies somewhere in between. When it comes to our lives there are no simple solutions. Each person, each family needs to weigh all the factors involved to try to develop the best solution for their circumstances. Many couples endure and are very happy about their choice-but that doesn’t mean it is the right choice for you or your partner. The best approach is to learn as much about the circumstances and what led to the infidelity. Be honest in assessing the willingness of your partner to face the issue forthrightly and willingly. Infidelity causes damage. Whether or not that damage requires the end of the relationship is only up to the people involved.