A survey of 1,727 members of the Ashley Madison married dating site, conducted between August 5 and 10, 2021, revealed that for most adulterers, marital infidelity is the last resort after trying to resolve marital conflicts on their own or with professional help —31% of respondents said they take the lead in fixing the problem without any real effort from their partner, and more than half (52%) said they talk about the problem as a couple. The majority (65%) have someone in their personal life with whom they can be completely open and honest—a close confidant they can turn to for advice or help.
More than a third of members (38%) want to do couple therapy and 47% already attend the office weekly. Improving emotional connection and preventing separation are the biggest motivations. In fact, many couples arrive at the office far away, full of hurts and with the impression that they are no longer loved by their partnerships. However, it is also very common for them to reach the therapeutic process devising solutions. When faced with the complexity of marital dynamics, and with the work that involves reviewing behaviors, functions, in addition to having to touch individual wounds, some delve beautifully into the process, others remain on the surface, occupying the sessions with discussions that distract from the conflict main and there are those who give up.
When it comes to sexual complaints, although sex therapy is a targeted process of objective intervention, we often run into more complex conflicts. The dilemma of lack of eroticism in established couples is indeed a classic. I have seen it happen several times that an unfaithful person enters the process of couple therapy while keeping their parallel life a secret.
You can ask me if this person is there, misrepresenting your intention, and I’ll tell you that maybe some are, but most are there in a genuine way, harboring the hope of finding a way out and wanting to improve their relationship. According to Isabella Mise, Director of Communications at Ashley Madison, “their decision to join Ashley Madison is often a pragmatic choice and comes after a lot of thought.”
The decrease in sexual activity, the loss of enchantment, novelty and the disparity in the rhythm between the couple are common complaints, which lead people to seek extramarital relations. But it would be frivolous to place all the blame on the marriage for one’s desire to have sexual variation. It is much easier to justify betrayal than to take responsibility for the chosen path.
People are also unfaithful because they fall in love, out of revenge, to test their sexual orientation, out of curiosity, to experience eroticism with someone with whom they don’t play the roles of father, mother, wife or husband. For many, it is difficult to maintain interest when there is a lot of intimacy, because either it lacks grace and mystery, or sex becomes standardized, for lack of courage to explore it. Many people are afraid to deepen erotic communication with their spouses and reveal fantasies and desires, as they fear losing the love of the partnership.
And yes, the conversation about opening the relationship to turn into a non-monogamous contract is never easy. As much as we know that sexual desire for other people happens, it’s hard to let go of the unanimity fantasy. There is also the fear that someone will fall in love and the couple’s emotional bond will be seriously threatened. Not to mention jealousy, fear of being compared in beauty and sexual performance. Therefore, many adulterers are unable to tell about their desires, as they cannot imagine their partnerships with other people. The underground serves as a protective shield, a way to keep a secret for the emotional inability to deal with dilemmas. It’s not ethical, let’s face it.
There is a risk of naturalizing infidelity to the point of becoming a value. The longer the secrecy is kept, and the gimmicks work, the more people move away from important considerations about the emotional health of the partnership. It is often infidelity that puts them in contact with their less ethical side and, although they are haunted by their ability to lie, pretend and manipulate, they get used to it, making these characteristics a positive justification in the service of maintaining the integrity of the marriage and the feelings of the partnership.
“I didn’t tell you to deprive you of suffering”, although it may be a recurrent and true phrase, it walks alongside two others, which are the fear of having one’s own image scratched in front of other people, in addition to not having to give up nothing. When you least notice it, the betrayal is already happening inside your own home, with a close friend, a family member, entering the territory of the “sacred”, which is very painful. And it’s never easy to deal with pain of this nature.