When we think of affairs we often assume that this implies a sexual transgression in the context of a romantic relationship. This notion has been popularised by movies titles such as ‘Love Affair’, ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ and ‘An Affair to Remember’ and whilst often the case, the definition is not so clear cut.
An affair happens when one party seeks out sexual or emotional relationships outside of their primary relationship, without their partner’s knowledge. Therefore, what may constitute an affair for one person or couple, may not for another. Whether or not an affair has taken place is dependent on the relationship boundaries, or agreement, between the couple in question. For one couple it may be perfectly acceptable to have close friends of the same sexual orientation, whilst for another this may constitute an affair.
If a couple or an individual comes to talking therapy, we are firstly interested in understanding their experience of what has happened and why they feel betrayed. The level of betrayal is generally related to the boundary transgression, rather than to the social attitude to the event. Put more simply, for some people emotional closeness to a third party can feel devastating, whilst they can cope with a sexual transgression. And for others this can be the other way round.
How we feel about an affair will also depend on how safe we feel in the relationship and how easy it is for us to form attachments with others. So, being lied to by the one person we have ever grown to trust, irrespective of the magnitude of the transgression, can feel devastating. Whilst for someone else, they can find the resources to process their sense of betrayal more easily.
How we can help
Whether we work with you as an individual or a couple, we will non-judgementally seek to understand the inner workings and boundaries of your relationship and enable you to gain insight into why you felt triggered and to then work through your full range of emotions. If appropriate, we can then help you rebuild your relationship.
If you’d like to know more please contact us and we’ll be happy to arrange an initial consultation.