Would you cheat on a person you love? Can you (re) trust a foreigner? Can an affair be prevented? We talked about it with couple therapist Eric Hegmann.
An affair is for most the heaviest and most hurtful breach of trust ever. Nevertheless, many people have already had experience with it – whether as a deceived, cheating or single, who has committed to someone forgiven. ( Do not you think? Then check our community and see for yourself … )
We talked with the Hamburg couple therapist Eric Hegmann about the affair.
BRIGITTE.de: Hello dear Eric! In your experience, what are the most common reasons people even engage in affairs ?
Eric Hegmann: Sex therapists often say: Men seek closeness through sex, women need closeness for sex. That is, even if proximity is defined differently: it’s about proximity! Lack of closeness and attachment in the relationship, these are sought elsewhere . Conversely, one can say that distance between the partners creates the condition that the need for closeness with others arises .
What creates distance, so what should I possibly avoid, so that no distance between me and my partner arises?
Often, jealousy and desire for control are reasons why a partner distances himself.
In addition, distance within the partnership can also arise through exclusivity outside the relationship . For example, when a partner discusses relationship issues with others, the exclusivity of the relationship is limited. As a result, coworkers become so common because the slow approach and growing mutual trust creates proximity between them.
Can I somehow prevent my partner from searching for closeness and exclusivity outside of our relationship?
The best chance of an affair have to avoid couples who concentrate on each other and maintain their relationship in everyday life, eg. By:
- Facing communication,
- Appreciation of the otherness of the partner,
- Learning to deal with insoluble conflicts and
- Date Nights!
Anything that strengthens the bond between partners minimizes the risk of cheating. (Editor’s note:… Here are some more expert advice for a long and harmonious relationship, and here little things that happy couples do for each other )
When it comes to an affair and the partners decide afterwards to continue the relationship: What do both have to do for it?
As I said: One of the most important insights for couples after an affair is that the cause was almost always distance between the partners. Therefore, the deceived person, as hard as it is, must signal that she can seek and allow for closeness . Otherwise reconciliation, forgiveness and a new beginning will not succeed. The alienated person, on the other hand, should urgently get used to communicating their own needs to their partner in an open and honest manner and identifying conflicts with them – not out of the relationship.
Can anyone (ever) trust someone who once cheated?
At least there is no alien gene. However, anyone who fundamentally sets their own needs above that of their partner , as in the case of an affair, will probably repeat this prioritization even after the affair or in the next relationship . We should always give people a second chance – but at the same time bear in mind that old reasons for separation are usually also the new reasons for separation …
Does that mean the chances are bad that a happy relationship can develop from an affair? After all, at least one of the participants was obviously unfaithful!
It’s extremely rare for an affair to become a lasting, happy relationship. American therapist Shelly Glass and couple researcher John Gottman discovered that only a fraction of affairs break up a relationship and divorce 75 percent of all marriages . Optimistic prospects look different. But, of course, there are couples who are very unhappy in their relationships, find themselves as Affair partners, and later become happy together. Everything is possible in love – it’s just not all likely .
If that’s not the perfect ending, … Thank you, dear Eric Hegmann, for the interesting conversation!
As a therapist, Eric Hegmann offers support in the form of coaching, seminars and talks, among other things, how to deal with an affair and to regain confidence afterwards. In addition, he has developed an online course on this topic, which you can use to find out, for example, how high the risk of strangers is in your relationship. (Small spoiler: According to statistics, in every other relationship, at least one partner sooner or later engages in a sexual or emotional affair with a third person …)
Video tip: Survey shows: That’s why women are often strangers
Our expert: couple therapist and relationship coach Eric Hegmann