Infidelity

Stephen Snyder, MD

Sex and Relationship Therapist New York, NY

Infidelity can break trust in a relationship and damage your intimacy. But couples who choose to move forward together after infidelity can emerge stronger and more connected. Infidelity issues, including so-called “sex addiction,” have been an important part of my Manhattan sex therapy and relationship therapy practice for over thirty years. If you’re struggling with an affair or infidelity, contact me at Stephen Snyder MD to discuss what strategies might be best for you.

Infidelity Q & A

What is “infidelity,” exactly?

People in committed relationships engage in a vast range of extra-marital behaviors -- from full-on love affairs, to relationships that are exclusively about sex, to casual or anonymous sex, to “emotional affairs” that never become physical, to “cyber-infidelity” where the action is all online.    

Sexual affairs and so-called “emotional affairs” can activate a wide range of powerful emotions. Discovery of a partner’s infidelity can be extremely traumatic, and can have long-lasting effects on both partners and on the relationship.

How common is infidelity in marriage and other committed relationships?

No one knows, since there’s not guarantee that respondents to surveys are giving honest answers.  

Male infidelity has always been very common, but women seem to be catching up in this regard — possibly due to increased economic independence and greater participation in the workforce.

We now live in an “age of transparency,” where infidelity is much more likely to be discovered. Among couples who see me for infidelity, most often it’s been discovered by text, email, or some other electronic data.

What causes infidelity?

Every couple’s story is different. Sometimes an extramarital relationship can be motivated by something missing in your marriage, or by unresolved personal issues.

But infidelity can happen to happy couples too. It doesn’t necessarily mean there was anything wrong with your marriage. Sometimes infidelity can just be the result of a series of bad decisions.

That being said, if you find yourself being repeatedly unfaithful, there may be something in your emotional life that you need to pay attention to.

What are the most frequent mistakes people make after they discover their partner’s infidelity?

  • They conclude that the relationship “was all a lie.”
  • They assume the relationship is over. (In fact, most committed relationships survive infidelity).
  • Or they assume there’s something wrong with them for still wanting to stay in the relationship. (In fact, most people in this situation still choose to stay together).

What are the most common mistakes unfaithful partners make after their infidelity has been discovered? 

They deny their infidelity. Or they admit certain parts, but not the whole thing. This can lead to much worse feelings of mistrust and betrayal when additional details are discovered.

What can I expect from a first consultation after infidelity?

The first objective is usually to come to an understanding of what happened, and to provide a safe space for each partner to express themselves about it. 

Often I’ll encourage the betrayed partner to be clear about what specific conditions they might need in order to stay in the relationship. This gives the partner who’s been unfaithful a chance to demonstrate sincere repentance and commitment, and the betrayed partner a chance to “stand their ground” and advocate clearly for themselves.