While surfing the web the other day, I came across the following article which discusses how a study suggests that women have a harder time accepting emotional infidelity, while men have a harder time with sexual infidelity.

In our own circumstance, I can attest to the fact that on more than one occasion, Linda has said that she could accept a sexual affair more so than the emotional affair.  I believe it stems from the fact that she and I have had such a deep-rooted relationship spanning some 30 years with many, many emotions, trials and tribulations shared together, and that she felt a high level of security within our marriage and relationship.

In my case, I would think that I would have a harder time accepting an emotional affair as well, for many of the same reasons.  However, I don’t think I’d be all too happy about a sexual affair either!  Which one would be worse?  I guess it’s tough to really tell unless you actually  have to live through the situation—which I hope I won’t have to!

After reading the article below, I’d be interested in any comments you might have on which would upset you more…emotional infidelity or sexual infidelity, and why.

“Men get jealous over sex & women emotions”

The Times of India

ANI, 27 January 2010, 02:05pm IST

While it has been noted that women cannot digest emotional infidelity and men fail to accept sexual infidelity, new research has suggested that this difference in jealousy goes beyond gender differences.

The researchers said that such differences have more to do with how two people are attached in a relationship. Research has documented that most men become much more jealous about sexual infidelity than they do about emotional infidelity and women are the opposite. The prevailing theory is that the difference has evolutionary origins, men learned over eons to be hyper-vigilant about sex because they can never be absolutely certain they are the father of a child, while women are much more concerned about having a partner who is committed to raising a family.

See also  Whose Job Is It To Prevent Another Affair?

But now, new study has offered an alternative explanation. The research does not question the fundamental gender difference regarding jealousy, indeed it adds additional support for that difference. But the new science suggests that the difference may be rooted more in individual differences in personality that result from one’s relationship history but that can fall along gender lines.

Pennsylvania State University psychological scientists Kenneth Levy and Kristen Kelly doubted the prevailing evolutionary explanation because there is a conspicuous subset of men who like most women find emotional betrayal more distressing than sexual infidelity. The researchers suspected that it might have to do with trust and emotional attachment. Some people, men and women alike, are more secure in their attachments to others, while others tend to be more dismissive of the need for close attachment relationships. Psychologists see this compulsive self-reliance as a defensive strategy-protection against deep-seated feelings of vulnerability.

The researchers hypothesized that these individuals would tend to be concerned with the sexual aspects of relationships rather than emotional intimacy. They asked men and women which they would find more distressing-sexual infidelity or emotional infidelity. Participants also completed additional assessments including a standard and well validated measure of attachment style in romantic relationships.

Findings confirmed the scientists’ hypotheses. Those with a dismissing attachment style, who prize their autonomy in relationships over commitment, were much more upset about sexual infidelity than emotional infidelity. And on the other hand, those securely attached in relationships, including securely attached men were much more likely to find emotional betrayal more upsetting. The scientists state that these findings imply that the psychological and cultural-environmental mechanisms underlying sex differences in jealousy may have greater roles than previously recognized and suggest that jealousy is more multiply determined than previously hypothesized.

    12 replies to "How Would You Accept Emotional Infidelity?"

    • michael

      I have found this website at a great time. I am dealing with the discovery of my wifes infedelity for two months now. In an emotional breakdown in early dec she confessed to me about a month long hidden relationship that had progressed to a point where she new something was not right. And it is only been a couple of weeks that she has admitted to me that she was sorry to do this to me. I had what I thought was a deep secure relationship with her. And this has had a devistating inpact on me. I know its going to be a long process. But I’m in it for the long run. Keep up the blog. I like to hear both sides of this. Allthough I know my case has other, deeper issues.

      • admin

        Michael, Thanks for the kind words. I guess the good thing is that her relationship was only a month long. Perhaps the emotional attachment to the other person isn’t so strong, thus allowing you both to recover faster. Feel free to comment more, or email us if you’d like to discuss your situation further.

        • Michael

          Then again, Maybe not…. 9 months after this, and she still has nothing to say about the affair.

          Looking back at things I wrote on here early on. It’s hard to think time has gone by so quick.

          • Paranoid Android

            I’m sorry to hear that. She is still refusing to talk about it? Has she become hostile every time you bring it up?

          • Holdingon

            Good luck getting her to talk about it, my wife’s EA went on for almost 3 years, with her first love, she says they never met, I did everything I could to work through it, but she acted like I was invading her privacy, and what she did tell me was a lie, she ended a 23 year marriage for a guy that’s been in prison for years with no job or money. She wanted to go on like nothing happened. So I let her, alone. I sure hope you have better luck, I lost mine before I knew anything was up. We were close I thought, we always got along, no major fights our whole marriage, then bam, that was it before I knew anything was wrong.

            • Holdingon

              Oh yeah, she is the love of my life, I’m 50 and I’ll never start over with someone new, I’ll never want anyone but her, it’s a choice I can’t make, that would be like choosing to not love one of my boys, I’m stuck in hell.

    • Jerry Cook

      I think this is a timely post. My own bias is that any kind of infidelity is a threat to the marriage, and that couples need to set boundaries so they never even get close. Boundaries are the lines that couples draw so both are clear when they are crossed. Forthcoming author of “Growing Your Marriage by Leaps and Boundaries” @marriagemanager on Twitter.

    • Tricia

      Funny, I thought the contract of marriage was the boundry and should have never been crossed in the first place. Silly me but then again I was not the cheater just the cheated on.

      • Healing Mark

        Marriage alone cannot, in my opinion, be a boundary. So now that I’m married, what can I do with other women, and what can I not do with other women (assuming a heterosexual marriage, but let’s not go there!)? A boundry that my wife and I have agreed to (she had the EA), and really shouldn’t have had to agree as it makes perfect sense, is that nothing should be done with or said to another person that you wouldn’t care if your partner saw or heard. Sure, things happen or are said that in hindsight you know you would not like your partner to know, and are hopeful that your partner will never know about them. But if this occurs too much, there is something you likely need to address in your relationship and something you need to consider with respect to your character since doing or saying things that you know your partner would not like is disrespectful and damaging to the marital relationship.

        Another “boundary” is honesty. Sort of goes without saying that you should not lie or deceive your partner. Again, there are certain lies/deception that are not really harmful and most acknowledge are acceptable (wife’s favorite sweater is one that I do not particulary love, although I like it, but when she asks me how she looks when she is wearing it I say that she looks great and compliment the sweater that I know she loves).

        A final important boundary for my wife and me is to keep “marital issues” just between us. This kind of follows the first boundary I noted above, at least for me. I do not have a problem with this boundary, as I have no desire for my friends to know anything about my wife that might cause them to think anything less of her. Is this something that others out there share with me? My wife only sort of share this with me. She feels the need to “bitch” at times to her best friend and her sister about things that are not at that time just right between us. I get this and live with it. One of the real problems that came about as a result of her EA was that she share such issues with her AP who, as you might imagine, was a bit biased in terms of how he chose to respond to her thoughts/questions. Was she ever “wrong” or was I ever justified with respect to disturbances/disputes between my wife and I? Of course not, regardless of whether she was or I was. The AP has his/her own agenda and we all know how this affects any discussion about marital discord.

        One potential boundary which is, in my opinion and my wife’s opinion, impossible to not cross, is to not have feelings of attraction to a person of the opposite sex. It just happens sometimes (if you are very lucky, it won’t, but I refuse to accept that it won’t happen). The key I think is that you don’t let these feelings, which are real feelings, cause you to cross boundaries such as those described above. There is one wife that is a mutual friend of my wife and mine that is amazingly hot and has a fantastic personality. I would go after her in a heartbeat if I met her when we were both single. As it is, I am perhaps less friendly with her than I am with other female friends, and I NEVER do or say anything to her that my wife would have even the slightest problem with if whe knew about them. I do not need to attempt to establish a relationship with this wonderful woman that would somehow “meet some of my needs” or otherwise make me feel “good”. Unfortunately, my wife developed feelings for a good (Ha! And fomerly!) friend of mine and then chose to develop a relationship with this guy much as she would if she was looking to get him to date her, and also share so much personal information about herself and our family that she and her AP grew quite close. Luckily for me, they both recognized that they had gone too far and needed to back off. Unfortunately for me and my family, much damage was done while the EA was hot and heavy and discovering the EA was even more damaging.

        The EA is over and my wife and I are in a great place. However, the EA will always be there, and we have learned over time how to deal with that fact and not let it impact how happy we are together going forward. Forgiveness is HUGE! But so hard to get to. Oh well. Best to all who are trying to survive and EA/PA.

      • Holdingon

        That’s what I always believed, that marriage is pretty much the ultimate contract, why should a married couple need a contract to not cheat, that should be a no brainer.

    • Gizfield

      I must be a man, lol, cause to me sexual infidelity is much worse. And truthfully, I think if your spouse is at the point of having sex with someone else, unless it’s random or a one night stand, they are usually doing the emotional stuff as well.

      It’s hard to say unless it’s happened to you. Like people, and there are many, in domestic abuse situations who suffer “emotional abuse” and will say I wish he’d just hit me instead of this mental stuff. Trust me there is no “instead” just in addition to. You get both. To me, that is not better.

      • Holdingon

        I must be a woman, my wife telling another man that she loves him, or even sharing deep passionate kisses would be way worse then emotionless sex, but me, I can’t have emotionless sex, I’m not made that way, if I don’t love a woman I won’t touch her, won’t even be tempted. Sex without love can’t feel as good, I wouldn’t think anyway, maybe I should try it once. But I don’t think that’s possible for me.

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