All of you lying, cheating, dead-beating, two-timing double dealers are off the hook, if you follow the conceptions of psychologist and marital therapy researcher John Gottman, who argues infidelity is the symptom of a failing relationship, and not the cause of the initial issues.
Not only would country singers Patty Loveless and Carrie Underwood beg to differ, but psychologists, researchers and anyone
with a sense of self-actualization would argue this theory takes the responsibility of the behavior from the cheater and dumps it onto the cheated on.
Researchers Melissa Tafoya and Brian Spitzberg compiled 47 differing investigations of over 58,000 partners (most married and from the U.S.) in 2007, and concluded 21 percent of women and 32 percent of men admit they have had an affair.
Even though most participants agreed they do not have sexual intercourse with these extra partners after they seal
the knot, one out of five admitted to breaking that marital sanctimony. That’s a lot of infidelity to write off as being solely the symptom, instead of addressing the behavior, why it happens and establishing what type of people are more likely to
behave in this way.
Chronic cheaters are characterized by their fearful attachment style, which denotes being anxiety-ridden of rejection, developing a mistrust of others and suspicion of their partners’ loyalty. In fact, those who perpetrate infidelity are more
likely to perceive wrongdoings and disloyalty in their partners than partners who are monogamous and loyal (the “I’m doing it, so they must be, too” mentality).
Partners who cheat as habit are likely to be outgoing, attention seeking and flirtatious or manipulative and insatiable. Men are more likely to cheat, as they traditionally hold more positive attitudes toward casual sexual activity (more open sociosexual orientation) and often seek sexual variety, whereas women seek extra emotional connection and validation. This is not to say all men are dogs and women are chaste, it is just to say these are the statistics demonstrating sex differences.
Gottman fails to identify that even though infidelity can be a reaction to a failing relationship or marriage, participating in sex outside of a relationship is commonly the reason for aforementioned problems to even surface. According to nationally-recognized family therapist Gary Newman, the reason men cheat on their wives and partners is not to seek a prettier, younger, more sexually charged or a fit partner.
In fact, 92 percent of men that Newman polled who are currently engaging in infidelity stray to fulfill an emotional void. These voids are most often feelings of disconnect from their partner or feeling under-appreciated or not admired.
Not addressing these voids and emotional inadequacies within relationships is folly and even more irresponsible than not taking responsibility for infidelity and its consequences. Psychologists like Gottman should be teaching clients to become more self-aware and take action for their misdoings, and not validate attribution to the faulty relationship that lead up to that lusty night outside of the relationship. Take accountability for your negative contributions to your relationship and, over time, your partner is more likely to begin seeing your positive contributions once again.
Infidelity is not the end all always, but denial is.