What are the main three components of every affair?

Tammy Nelson, PhD describes the three components of infidelity
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What are the main three components of every affair?

There are three parts to an affair. The first part is the sex. So if you have an erotic injury in your relationship, the sex that somebody has outside of your relationship could be sex on the internet. It could be masturbation to pornography. It could be sex with a sex worker. Or it could be an ongoing relationship that's almost a parallel marriage to your relationship. And how it's disclosed or discovered is going to determine what that erotic injury is in your life or in your relationship. And the second part of an affair is the emotional relationship outside of your marriage or your committed partnership. So sometimes people have what's called an emotional affair, which means maybe you're having a relationship with someone at work, what we call a cube-mate or your work-spouse, someone you spend all of your time with, maybe more time than with your partner or your spouse; someone that you share all of your feelings with. Maybe you complain to them about your partner, about your marriage. And that kind of disclosure, that emotional intensity with someone else outside of your marriage can be really a huge betrayal. It can be how come you don't come home and tell me how you feel? And how come you're sharing our most intimate details with someone else? For some people that emotional betrayal is bigger and more betrayal than the sexual betrayal. And the third piece is the dishonesty. And for a lot of people, getting over the dishonesty is more difficult than the sex. It's more difficult than the emotional relationship. And there's kind of a spectrum of dishonesty as well. Was the affair disclosed? Was it discovered? Did you open up your partners' emails and say, oh my God! You've been emailing this person for a year. And when you confront your partner, do they say, I don't know what you're talking about, that's not my email. And they make you feel crazy. that's a whole different experience than your partner coming home and saying, oh, I'm so sorry. I was away at a conference, or a business trip, and I sort of had a slip, and I made out with this person one time. And there's something terribly wrong in our relationship and we have to go to therapy right away and I want to work on it. That's a big wide difference. So whether it's disclosed or whether it's discovered whether it's denied, whether you're made to feel crazy there's a whole bunch of stuff in that pile of dishonesty that's going to determine whether or not you can get over an affair. So those three parts, the sexual relationship, the emotional affair, and the dishonesty really make up an affair or cheating. And which is the part that really is bothering you? When you're talking to your partner about their affair, be clear. This is the part that I'm not sure we can work through. Or this is the part that we really need to focus on if we're going to make this marriage work.

Tammy Nelson, PhD describes the three components of infidelity


Expert Bio

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Tammy Nelson, PhD

Psychotherapist & Relationship Expert

Tammy Nelson PhD is the author of several books including, “Getting the Sex You Want; Shed Your Inhibitions and Reach New Heights of Passion Together”  (2008) and  “What’s Eating You? A Workbook for Anorexia and Bulimia (2004)” and her latest  book “The New Monogamy; Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity” (January 2013) is receiving critical acclaim.  She has been a featured expert in New York Times, Washington Post, Self,  Glamour Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, MSNBC,  Shape, Men’s Health, Women’s Health Woman’s Day, Women’s Health, and a source in Time Magazine. She writes for the Huffington Post, YourTango and can be followed on her blog www.drtammynelson.com/blog/.

Tammy Nelson is a Board Certified Sexologist, a Certified Sex Therapist and an Imago Relationship Therapist.  She is an international speaker and a licensed psychotherapist in private practice with over 25 years of experience working with individuals and couples.  She travels and lectures internationally on her quest for global relational change.

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