The Relationship Between Infidelity And Addiction
Does the relationship between infidelity and addiction make any sense?
I cant tell you how many times Ive had a conversation with someone about their struggles with their partners affair and the addictive nature of infidelity is brought up in some way. Many of the unfaithful people I talk to also mention their addiction to the affair partner quite a bit.
The behaviors of an addict are almost the same no matter what the addiction. Thats why its easy for many people to spot an addict, or at least notice that something is wrong. Signs of addiction are right there in front of us, but we often judge too quickly and incorrectly.
So, I thought Id put together a piece on the relationship between infidelity and addiction.
Consider Working With A Professional
If you think you are addicted to cheating on your spouse and wonder how to stop cheating in my relationship, consider psychotherapy. A trained professional can help you uncover the root cause, patterns that lead you into cheating cycles and help you figure out how to avoid cheating. Whether you want to stay in the relationship or leave it, having a therapist work with you will make this process easier and more productive.
Furthermore, if your partner is aware of the affair and wants to stay together, couples counseling is preferred to individual therapy. Although you can both have your therapists, it is advisable to have a couples therapist help you deal with the affairs emotional turmoil. They can help you manage the crisis infidelity provoked, facilitate forgiveness, understand factors that contribute to infidelity, and bolster intimacy through communication.
How Common Is It
Many factors contribute to overeating. The abundance of fast food, junk food advertising, and the highly palatable ingredients of many processed foods can prompt us to eat whether we are hungry or not.
However, some people report a lack of control over their eating, beyond liking and wanting, and are seeking help for this.
Around one in six people report addictive patterns of eating or addictive behaviours around food.
While food addiction is higher among people with obesity and mental health conditions, it only affects a subset of these groups.
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The Causes Of Sex Addiction
One of the most common questions surrounding addiction is why do some people get hooked and others dont?
The causes of sexual addiction are complex and there isnt one single factor that determines whether a person will become addicted to it or not. An individuals risk for addiction is often influenced by a combination of biological and environmental factors however and this can therefore make them more or less likely to suffer from it.
In a survey of over 1,000 people suffering from sexual addiction, 97% had experienced emotional abuse, 83% sexual abuse and 71% physical abuse.
Being exposed to sexual abuse or emotional trauma can make people actively seek out sexually charged situations and actions as they produce the euphoria and escapism so often craved by those with addiction issues.
For many, addiction can also be triggered by an event such as the death of a loved one, divorce or losing a job. All of these are very stressful situations that are difficult to deal with, especially because a lot of people tend to isolate themselves at times like this. Stress and anxiety can make someone more likely to engage in more harmful behaviours such as drinking too much alcohol, taking drugs or participating in risqué sexual behaviours in order to cope.
Underlying psychiatric conditions
A history of unsuccessful relationships
Get Help And Repair Your Relationship
Facilities seek to treat not only the SUD but also underlying problems that cause it. Underneath the dependence can be anxiety, depression, or compulsions that need intervention. Counselors are available to provide emotional and mental assistance while patients in facilities receive medically-assisted detox. Many rehab facilities also offer counseling on how to rebuild relationships and regain trust. Contact a treatment provider today to discuss available treatment options.
Krystina Murray has received a B.A. in English at Georgia State University, has over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience, and over 15 years of overall writing experience. She enjoys traveling, fitness, crafting, and spreading awareness of addiction recovery to help people transform their lives.
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.
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All Signs Point To An End
Infidelity is devastating to the wronged partner. It is a wrecking ball that can quickly break down the bonds of trust that forged the relationship. The betrayed may feel anger, disgust, and guilt for not realizing such a significant danger to their partnership lurking just beneath the surface. Once the infidelity has been discovered, the blind-sided spouse may have flashbacks of times when the addict wasnt present for important family events or had to work late all of these instances will be woven into a timeframe of distrust. Every change in behavior and unexplained absence can be viewed as a sign of a continuing affair. This sudden destruction of trust is difficult to overcome.
Issues Related To Self
Affairs can also arise from personal insecurities. Low self-esteem can cause people to be very dependent on the attentions of othersand in some cases, the attention of just one person isnt enough. It may also cause someone to feel insecure in their own relationship, so much so that they might cheat as a way of rejecting rather than being rejected.
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How To Stop Online Cheating
There are several steps you can take to stop yourself reaching for the mouse and a chat room when you feel in need of a boost:
- Discuss strategies with your partner or therapist. Counselling can give support in looking at the underlying issues which might be fuelling your online addiction. For more information see the relationship help page.
- Seek technical advice on how to block chat rooms.
- Change certain patterns of behaviour and replace them with new habits. For example, if you always log on after your partner has gone to bed at night, you might have to start going to bed earlier.
- Think about what it is in the reality of your life that youre trying to escape from and how you can you improve your situation. Flirting online might give you a break from feeling inadequate at work, misunderstood by your partner, or bullied by a workmate, but it wont solve the problem. Is there someone else you can confide in about your issues? A friend? Your partner?
To see the full list of research references which have informed the content on this page, please see our research references section.
Page authored by Marian OConnor
Sex Addiction And Infidelity
Sex addiction involves repeatedly engaging in sexual acts despite negative consequences. If sex addicts are in relationships, their actions often harm their partners. People battling sex addiction can lose even more control when under the influence of alcohol. Their destructive behaviors may increase, and a once-healthy relationship can be further damaged.
Sex addicts look for highs through sex and can spiral into emotional lows and highs, possibly fueling an SUD. The mixture of substance abuse and sex addiction is a serious combination needing immediate treatment.
Break free from addiction.
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Serial Cheater Profile: 9 Personality Traits
What is a serial cheater?
Hello everyone this is Orlando again, Owner of this site. A serial cheater is what I refer to as people who are addicted to cheating. They struggle to confront the challenges head-on in their relationships or their own individual issues.
Instead, serial cheaters choose to avoid these problems.
Their habitual cheating results from not resolving their deep-rooted emotional needs.
Through research, I discovered that people addicted to cheating tend to share certain personality traits.
Yes, good people make mistakes too and fall to temptation, but personality flaws increase odds that a cheater will put themselves into situations to cheat and break your heart.
Are They An Addict
Rick Reynolds, LCSW says that The addictive process isnt physical dependence its not about abusing something or even daily use. Its about meeting the criteria of the four Cs. If it meets those criteria then its an addiction whether its food, anger, sex, love, porn, exercise, or whatever else might meet that criteria.
Some reading this might be tempted to define their mates behavior as an addiction because of the negative consequences of the affair to you or the marriage, but the four Cs are not just about the negative consequences.
For instance, a one-night stand isnt an addiction if theres no craving, compulsion, or a loss of control where each time they repeat the behavior it spins totally of control and they have multiple one-night stands in one night. Addictions have nothing to do with frequency. Even if the behavior happens only once every ten years, if it begins with a crazy craving which results in a compulsion that sends them out of control and ends up with serious consequences then its an addiction.
I also wanted to share a piece I found the other day on this topic. The following is a 3-part series in its entirety by Dr. Scott Haltzman for the website Hitched.
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How Can You Tell If You Have A Problem
Typically, food addiction occurs with foods that are highly palatable, processed, and high in combinations of energy, fat, salt and/or sugar while being low in nutritional value. This might include chocolates, confectionery, takeaway foods, and baked products.
These foods may be associated with high levels of reward and may therefore preoccupy your thoughts. They might elevate your mood or provide a distraction from anxious or traumatic thoughts, and over time, you may need to eat more to get the same feelings of reward.
For some people with addictive eating, food preoccupies their thoughts. Shutterstock
However, for others, it could be an addiction to feelings of fullness or a sense of reward or satisfaction.
There is ongoing debate about whether it is components of food that are addictive or the behaviour of eating itself that is addictive, or a combination of the two.
Given people consume foods for a wide range of reasons, and people can form habits around particular foods, it could be different for different people.
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Special Advice For Betrayed Husbands
You may have already heard about Kevin Jackson’s ebook Survive Her Affair.
His team emailed me a copy to review. Most of the book is spot on with how I feel as a man whose wife cheated on him. Kevin’s thorough research and personal interviews with marriage therapists and psychologists provide his broken-heart readers with hope.
If you are betrayed husband who desires to sort out the painful feelings associated with an affair then read my Survive Her Affair Review.
to read the review of Kevin Jackson’s book.
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How To Tell A Cheater From A Sex Addict
Many people, both men and women, cheat on the person they are in a relationship with at least 20-30% admit it depending on which data you are looking at and how the research questions are phrased.Some people cheat very rarely and others cheat a lot.
Some people cheat repeatedly but do not meet the criteria for sex addiction.
Others who cheat repeatedly use cheating as a sexually addictive behavior and can definitely benefit from being given appropriate treatment.
So how do you tell the two apart?
The generally accepted clinical criteria have to do with things like being preoccupied with and unable to resist the urges to do certain behaviors, escalation of the behavior over time, inability to stop despite negative consequences, and distress if prevented from engaging in the behavior.But many of these criteria would be hard for a spouse or partner of a cheater to see.
For sex addicts cheating, or having serial affairs, is part of a larger pattern of using sex as a drug.The majority of sex addicts who cheat usually have some other form of sexual behavior in addition to affairs, such as porn, internet sex, phone sex, flirting, sexual hook-ups, and so on.And in general they tend to view the world through sex colored glasses, sometimes without realizing it.
Some signs that your cheater may be a sex addict
Sometimes a cheater is just a cheater
Identify Why It Happens
As with any problem in life, understanding the reason for cheating is the crucial step to eradicating it. Ask yourself, Why am I tempted to cheat? What precedes cheating behavior patterns? To stop infidelity, you need to comprehend what leads to it.
If you are not sure, consider cheaters behavior patterns and see if you recognize yourself is any of them. Cheating can be a way to:
- Avoid becoming intimate or dependent on someone in a relationship,
- To punish your partner
- Escape from a relationship you are not happy in anymore, or
- Feel the excitement.
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Defining Addiction The Four Cs
A powerful desire to use or participate in your addiction. Craving can manifest itself physically through a feeling of restlessness, lake of sleep and lack of appetite.
At times cravings are triggered by situations associated with past acting out behavior, but they can also be triggered by the time of day, opportunity, smells, mood, lack of sleep, state of mind and countless other things.
Cravings are something we think about all the time and cant get off our mind. They are and cannot be quieted until we satisfy that urge. Maybe youve experienced a craving for chocolate after a spicy meal when nothing else will quite satisfy.
If the behavior is being driven by the pleasure-reward center and has been programmed into our very survival, it is no longer healthy. Whether its sugar, gambling, drugs, sex, food, pornography, alcohol, affair partners, or prostitution, compulsion drives us to do or consume more than we intended.
The urge is irresistible, and you do it despite not wanting to. There is less joy in the substance or activity. You now engage in this behavior simply because you must.
In Alcoholics Anonymous its said that one drink is too many and 500 is not enough. We tell ourselves we will use moderation as an excuse to partake in the behavior and then indulge ourselves. One potato chip becomes the whole bag and one last text becomes another 1500 to the affair partner.
What Counts As Infidelity
Different people will respond to this question in different ways. In the end, what exactly counts as infidelity should be decided upon between the individual couple. Common examples of activities that are often considered infidelity include:
- Engaging in sexual activities with someone outside of the relationship
- Spending time with or money on someone outside of the relationship
- Attending functions and social gatherings with an outside interest
- Hiding or lying to ones partner about spending time with someone else
- Seeking emotional or physical fulfillment from someone who isnt ones partner
- Developing an emotional attachment to someone who is outside of the relationship
In short, infidelity is anything that involves betraying the other partners trust in a way that causes emotional damage to the other partner.
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Is Cheating An Addiction
These days, people love characterizing everything as an addiction, from the frivolous to the frightening. In pop culture parlance, you can be a rage-aholic, a shop-aholic, and a choc-aholic. Addictions are serious things, but is cheating an addiction?
After Governor Mark Sanford abandoned his state and his family to be with his mistress in Argentina, people applauded his long-suffering wife Jenny for kicking his lying butt to the curb. Yet even as she denounced his affair, she gave him a big gift she called his cheating an addiction.
Addiction is the inability to discontinue reckless or harmful behavior. Addicts cant stop themselves from self-destructing, whatever their choice of poison may be. We dont fully understand addiction yet, but we do know that there are genetic components, as well as social factors, that can contribute to addiction. When people think about addictions, the most common ones are usually drugs and alcohol. We know that physical addictions to alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes can literally change a persons brain chemistry, shutting down certain areas of functioning. Physical addictions also alter nerve pathways to the brains pleasure centers, causing horrible withdrawal symptoms if people try to quit.
Stop With Behavior Patterns Leading You To Cheat
Different people consider cheating to be various things texting, sexting, kissing, sex, etc. Where do you and your partner draw the line? Knowing this can help you avoid, not just the act of cheating itself, but also the paths leading you to cheat.
Say that you and your partner dont consider flirting to be cheating. Although that is true for you, have you thought about how it plays a role in cheating? It might ease you into adultery the same way sexting would.
Crossing one boundary makes it easier to cross the next one, and before you know it, you might not know how to stop cheating. Be mindful of each step you take towards an affair so you can learn how to avoid cheating.
Watch renowned relationship expert Ester Perel offers her thoughts in the famous Ted talk for more ideas.
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Can Serial Cheaters Change
A reader posted this question as to whether serial cheaters can change. In thinking about it I realized the answer is not a simple yes or no. Many factors enter into the prognosis for serial cheating such as the characteristics of the cheater, whether the cheating is part of an addiction, the motivation to cheat and the motivation to change.
Cheating in general is so common that it further complicates separating out what is serial cheating and what is just the normal state of affairs . The statistics I have seen are from the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy:
Percentage of men who admit to committing infidelity in any relationship theyve had: 57% Percentage of women who admit to committing infidelity in any relationship theyve had: 54% Percentage of men and women who admit to having an affair with a co-worker: 36% Average length of an affair: 2 years
As if that werent enough, they also cite the following: Percentage of men who say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught: 74% Percentage of women who say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught: 68%
Defining serial cheating
So what constitutes serial cheating in the addictive sense?
Is it simply a pattern of repeated infidelity over time? Certainly someone who continuously seeks out extramarital sexual relationships or hook-ups seems to be by definition a serial cheater.
The Psychology of Serial Cheating
Prospects for change