Overcoming infidelity: is it possible?

Infidelity has hurt many people from Louis XVI to Uma Thurman. Surprise, treason, pain, lies and fear…  An overview on infidelity, this very complicated subject.

What happened? Am I too old? Is our family life scaring him away? Is it sexual? Is he unhappy? Adultery affects both men and women and forces us to rethink our life in a way that we would have gladly avoided.

Love is as complex as the human beings it inhabits. Most of the time, cheaters, cheated and lovers suffer all the same. I can hear you from here “If there’s one thing I don’t care about right now, it is that b****h and her feelings!”. Indeed, hatred is our distress’ best friend as we are helplessly witnessing the erosion of 5, 10, 15 years of what we believed were happy times. Our scale of values collapse, our family is not the same and our heart empties…

First, what is infidelity?

He talks a lot with his ex-girlfriend, he slept with a colleague, he kissed your best friend or he is secretly in love with the secretary… For some, being in love is the worst thing that could happen while others only take physical acts into consideration. In general, people who forgive tend to do it more easily after a one night stand that when there is the slightest glimpse of a love story.

Infidelity is NOT a new phenomenon. It does not exist because of the Internet or a workplace and adultery stories are as old as the hills.

On one hand, the Old Testament tells us stories of adulteresses who died in unspeakable violence and on the other, the French royalty and poets always gave a lot of credit to the mistresses who were viewed as treats rather than threats. Adultery freed people from unhealthy relationships and let others die of love.

But why?

According to Gérard Leleu, French doctor and sexologist, infidelity stems from legitimate and unmet needs:

  • When one makes the other’s life impossible (41 %)
  • When one lacks attention and tenderness (36 %)
  • When one loses desire (23 %).

But what should we do when we don’t want to be with someone anymore? Or when we don’t love anymore? For some, cheating is a shortcut that allows breaking up without dealing with the promises of making things better when we know that no effort can bring back the love that no longer exists.

It is probably because of a lack of courage that someone decides to sabotage their couple. It is not very brave of course but we aren’t all natural born heroes. Other reasons, like repressed homosexuality, may lead to another kind of infidelity. In this case, there is no room for couple therapy.

We like to find a culprit and to identify the source of our problems in order to eliminate it, even in a figurative sense, but sometimes it is nobody’s fault. Sometimes, we must just let go and accept that our cherished relationship is truly over.

A choice you have to make

What is mostly wrong with infidelity are the lies, the element of surprise and the way we see it. When we just heard that our husband (or wife) cheated on us, we don’t know how to react. At first, we feel both humiliated and angry but those feelings fade with time. If your partner asks you for forgiveness, you have a few options. You can leave temporarily to see more clearly, leave for good or stay. Whatever you choose, people who discuss calmly have better chances to find happiness together or separately.


If you understand the situation and if, for example, you already knew that there was something wrong in your relationship but you didn’t want to fix it or if you think that this shock can put your problems in perspective, then you are ready to forgive. If you do, you must try to understand the causes of infidelity so that it does not happen again and avoid sinking into paranoia. What is important is to rebuild a future without looking back.


If you believe deep inside that you will always resent them for what they did and if you want to make their life a living hell because you think that they do not deserve to be happy after what they did, leave. You do not want to become a bitter and unhappy person simply because you can’t accept that you are not a great couple. In this case, you will be happier if you leave.

Also, if you think that they will do it again if you don’t watch them closely, leave. Don’t read their emails, smell their clothes, call at work, ask questions or have them checked. It is not useful to read forums until you find hints of your story either. You have suffered enough and even if it seems like you have lost everything, you still have some dignity and the least you can do is keep it.

Plenty of fish in the sea…

In an ideal world, people would think twice before kissing someone and choosing a new partner. Getting under someone to get over someone else is not the wisest thing to do. When you carefully choose a lover from the beginning, you have better chances to make each other happy. Even in fairy tales, heroes take some time to get to know each other before getting married and having many children.

When you meet new people, try to be yourself and don’t hesitate to say what you really want. It is useless to play the sexy card if you are looking for the father of your children and don’t play romantic if you are not. You could also consider being single for a while to think about what you want to do with your new life.

Sometimes people are afraid of being alone and choose the first comer. Others choose comfort over love. Sometimes we choose true love and it may be shared… or not. What really matters is to take your time and to keep in mind that it is better to be alone than in bad company.

Image de Anne Costisella

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