Infidelity and Divorce: When to Walk Away After Infidelity?

Infidelity is a very broad concept, ranging from one partner looking at others to the actual presence of some other person with whom they have a sexual relationship and share romantic feelings.

There can be different types of infidelity, including physical and emotional connection, constant intimate correspondence, and one-time sex. Sometimes, people may find that their partner is obsessed with someone else, but there is no sex between them. Other spouses may have an account on an online dating website. Options are numerous, and most of them hurt.

Since the phenomenon is quite widespread, we decided to investigate the issue of adultery in family life and share some conclusions with you. In this article, we will try to answer some crucial questions, such as: What is cheating in a relationship? Why do people cheat, and why do they decide to stay in this unhappy relationship? How many marriages end because of cheating? Finally, should you forgive your partner’s betrayal, and when to walk away after infidelity?

What is Infidelity? Why Does It Hurt So Much?

Infidelity is being unfaithful to your spouse or permanent partner. It may be of different types that can include sexual intimacy, emotional attachment, or other aspects. So, infidelity can manifest itself in various ways, but which of these acts and manifestations are considered unfaithful depends on the terms established in a couple.

Physical Contact

Physical infidelity is one of the most common types of cheating in relationships. In fact, it’s an obvious sign that the couple’s sex life has declined. It involves sexual intimacy with another person and, most often, leads to a breakup. That’s why physical infidelity and divorce have the closest connection.

Online Romance

An online affair is another form of cheating. This kind of relationship contains intimate and sexual overtones and develops online with text messages, calls, and video calls.

Of course, the participants in such an online affair may never meet, but their connection may affect their real-life relationships. Thus, cyber infidelity may be seen as a betrayal and undermine trust in the relationship.

Financial Infidelity

The spouse’s hiding their expenses or savings can also be seen as cheating. The reasons for such lies can be affairs with other people, gambling problems, substance abuse, and compulsive shopping.

Emotional Infidelity

Emotional infidelity is an emotional attachment to another person. This type of unfaithfulness is easy to forgive because it does not involve physical intimacy. Still, it can also destroy relationships.

Physical Connection without Sex

Many people ask, “Is kissing cheating in a relationship?” Yes, it is. You can’t avoid the consequences of your actions by saying, “We just kissed. We didn’t have sex.” A kiss is a manifestation of physical attraction eager to develop further.

Common Reasons for Infidelity

So, why do people cheat? Because they can. To some extent, this common joke makes sense. There are as many reasons for adultery as there are people in the world; each cheater has their own grounds for that.

Infidelity can be explained from the psychological, physiological, evolutionary, or anthropologic perspective. While every person has unique grounds for being unfaithful, some motives are more common than others. Let’s focus on the most widespread reasons why people cheat:


One may be dissatisfied at work, feel they have started to age, or realize that the marriage is cooling off. The problem with a long-term marriage is that attraction, passion, and adoration may fade away, and sex may no longer bring any pleasure. However, both men and women of any age want passion, pleasant excitement, and new sensations.


Some couples are forced to live apart for a long time if one of them works in another city or has frequent business trips and spends a lot of time traveling. In such a case, one or both spouses may be looking for an affair.

Falling out of Love

Unfortunately, feelings tend to change with time, and love frequently fades away.

It’s not always about the cheater, though. Sometimes, a faithful spouse stops exhibiting loving feelings, so the other party cheats out of anger or resentment, intending to arouse jealousy.

More often, however, a person falls out of love with a spouse and falls in love with someone else. The cheater may be afraid to break off the relationship before entering a new one or may simply lack time to do this before the affair is discovered.

Lack of Common Interests

Active joint activities are very important for family happiness, and common interests are crucial here. It’s okay to have different friends and hobbies, but you need to communicate with each other more to maintain a healthy relationship. Another person with shared interests may become a good substitute for a spouse.

Feeling Unappreciated

If the spouse’s attention is switched to work, hobbies, raising children, or other people, the other party may feel unnecessary, unappreciated, and neglected. Sometimes, it happens due to differences in spouses’ needs and expectations of each other, which pushes them to look for the required feelings and attention from other people elsewhere.


Low self-esteem is like a parasite that eats a person from the inside and can never get enough. These feelings push some people into depression, apathy, and despair. Others start looking for quick ways to feel better, including flirting and cheating. In fact, it does not solve the problem; it only exacerbates the current relationship situation. For a while, self-esteem seems to really rise, but after realizing your guilt towards your partner, it can get even lower.

Desire for Diversity and Adventure

Cheating for this reason is usually impulsive, accidental, and bearing no further development. Internal dissatisfaction or boredom in an existing relationship accumulates and, under the right circumstances, can push a person to adultery. Such infidelity is usually hidden or, if revealed, does not prevent the relationship from continuing if the betrayed partner is able to forgive a casual affair.

Lack of Commitment

A person may be incapable of building an adult-responsible relationship with one partner. Therefore, they prefer diversifying their personal life with numerous, non-binding affairs instead of working on a serious relationship.

Sexual Desire

A new relationship is a source of thrills, bright emotions, new experiences, and confirmation of one’s sexual attractiveness. Most often, sexual incompatibility with a regular partner drives people to look for new adventures. Being unable to get what they dream of from sex with a spouse, one looks for fulfillment in someone else.

Situational Factors

There can be many situations when a cheater says, “It just happened.” The circumstances made it possible, affordable, and desirable at that very moment. Such infidelity often does not lead to any development of the affair and only causes pangs of conscience.

Reasons Not to Divorce After Infidelity

Fully forgiving betrayal is mostly impossible. It is a certain point of no return in a relationship. After an affair, people often come to an agreement, reconcile, and try to start a relationship from scratch, realizing that it is easier to build their happiness on the old foundation.

But why do they choose not to divorce after infidelity? Let’s consider a few reasons:

Financial Issues

Divorce is always fraught with substantial financial losses. In addition to considerable expenses on the process, asset division will affect your marital estate, reducing your material well-being and thus diminishing your general quality of life. For this reason, many victims of infidelity choose not to divorce, even if the issue was not fully resolved in the most advantageous way and the loving relationship was not fully restored.


While staying together for the kids after infidelity may not be the best option, many couples use this fact as an excuse for their decision to reconcile and avoid divorce.

Of course, the negative effect of divorce on children cannot be underestimated. Their conventional world suddenly changes, and they are forced to get used to the new reality. They do not see both parents every day anymore and only spend some time with one of them occasionally. They move between two households and often need to change homes. They must adjust to a new schedule and totally new family traditions. Children often blame themselves for their parents’ split and develop a myriad of mental disorders, ranging from slight to severe, which impact all spheres of their life.

On the other hand, a marriage after adultery can rarely become fully happy again. Constant suspicions, mistrust, reproach, and rancor are very likely to set in between the spouses, making their relationship tense and unhealthy. So, perhaps it would be better for the children to watch their divorced parents happy when not living together?


Some cases of adultery may be situational or even accidental to some extent. After an affair, the cheater may feel guilty, realize and rethink the reason for this act, understand the partner’s feelings, and sincerely choose to do everything to preserve the relationship. In turn, the betrayed person may admit their own mistakes in relation to the loved one, understand what was silenced and suppressed, and choose to do everything to forgive and trust the partner again. In such situations, a productive, deep, and qualitatively new movement into the future together is possible.

Of course, a couple needs the help of a family therapist to work through all the stages of forgiving infidelity and get an opportunity to rebuild this relationship on the cracked foundation. A specialist will point you in the right direction to make you understand how to forgive your partner and restore the happiness you once had.

Can a Marriage Survive After Infidelity?

What happens after an affair depends solely on both partners’ desires. However, no one can forget that they were once betrayed. Let’s face the reality: things will never be the same. In fact, only 1 in every 4 couples survives adultery and keeps on living as a happy family.

The statistics on marriages that survived infidelity is extremely versatile. Couples Academy presents the findings from several reputable studies, whose results range from 15% to 60% to 80%.

Yet, the majority of investigations exhibit relative solidarity in their conclusions. The 2014 American Psychological Association research shows that 47% of couples who experienced marital infidelity stayed together after family therapy. In his 2013 book The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity, Dr. Scott Haltzman claims that more than half of marriages survive betrayal. According to an independent market research platform Gitnux, about 57% of marriages end in divorce because of cheating.

But is it possible to forgive infidelity? Of course, betrayal is shocking and painful, but if both partners decide to work on the relationship, its fact should be forgotten. You can give yourself the opportunity to heal; you should take responsibility for your relationship and realize that each of you deserves a second chance. Although the feelings of anxiety and fear will not disappear, you can try to come to terms with them.

Can cheating save a relationship? Cheating researcher Esther Perel argues that the presence of someone else can even strengthen the bond in a marriage. In this case, infidelity becomes a turning point in the couple’s existence but not the end of the relationship. Some people can even creatively rethink the concept of unfaithfulness and gain valuable experience from it, in addition to narcissistic suffering.

Some couples manage to start a new chapter in their relationship after an affair. Reconciliation can catalyze a surge of greater intimacy in the emotional and sexual aspects. The reasons for this can be the hidden fear of losing a loved one or all the conversations that helped a couple clarify the most important problems of their relationship.

Taking responsibility for yourself and your actions is important. This way, you can admit to yourself and your partner where you failed and what was wrong on your part, reveal your emotions to see what is left and what has gone forever, and understand what to do next.

Of course, a marriage is never the same after infidelity. However, you should remember that open communication is the key to a happy relationship. Demonstrating your inner self means talking straightforwardly, thus getting closer.

You’ll get a chance for a happy relationship if you perceive true intimacy as being close to, knowing, accepting, and being open and respectful of each other. You can achieve this if you allow yourselves to take off your masks and build intimacy, forgive each other for everything, and be together no matter what.