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What is infidelity?

When people decide to get in a relationship, they will often create a relationship agreement. A relationship agreement is an arrangement made by the partners in the relationship that outlines the situations (if any) in which they can have sexual and/or emotional partners outside of the relationship. Infidelity in relationships refers to any behaviors which break the rules of a relationship agreement. For example, if a couple has an open agreement, in which they can have sensual relationships but not romantic relationships, going on dates or building an emotional connection with partners may be considered infidelity. Infidelity is unfortunately a common issue within relationships and can be very damaging to relationships. However, people can (and do) overcome infidelity in relationships.

What are the effects of infidelity?

Infidelity can have many damaging effects in a relationship. Infidelity can not only affect the relationship but can also affect the partners individually. The partner who was unfaithful may often feel guilty, sad, embarrassed, and angry with themselves. The other partner may feel betrayed, angry, hurt. Infidelity also destroys any trust in the relationship. Many times, infidelity is considered an irreconcilable difference and the relationship ends up terminating. Other times couples attempt to push through it. However, when the issue isn’t fully addressed it can continue to come up throughout the duration of the relationship causing even more issues and ruptures in the relationship.

How to move past infidelity?

Moving past infidelity can be very difficult because there are a lot of hurt feelings involved. One of the best things that people can do is to create a relationship agreement with specific rules with what is allowed and what is not as well as a plan of how to communicate infidelity or an otherwise broken agreement. Learning to let go and trust your partner can be very difficult but if your goal is to be in a relationship with your partner, then it is very important to learn how to forgive and let go so you can move on. Finally, it can be very difficult to navigate moving past infidelity, therapy can be helpful in doing so. Your therapist can provide a space for you to process hurt feelings and broken trust as well provide skills to help you move forward.

This page is also part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.

While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.