When we think of infidelity as “mere cheating” we are often overlooking the many fears that go along with this. Infidelity may be due to fears and fears themselves may lead to infidelity. Why is this, and what can you do about this?
1. Fear of being trapped. One of the greatest fears of commitment is the fear of being trapped. When people feel trapped, their primitive brains start to rebel. As a result, their primitive urges may overpower their “thinking” brains and as a result, they may be unable to control their sexual impulses.
To Do: Talk about feelings of being trapped early on. Also, create a context for enough freedom for both partners in the relationship. See nights out with friends as protective to the relationship rather than obstructive. If uncomfortable about the latter, talk about this.
2. Fear of losing a partner. The uncertainty of relationships often makes people do they very thing they dread: which is to end it. When people have affairs because they can’t stand the tension of when the dreaded end will happen, this is very preventable.
To Do: Being able to air your insecurities is important early on in a relationship. Also, being able to recognize that you can focus on the positive rather than your dread is important.
3. Fear that pushes the other partner away. Your own fear of infidelity can push away your partner because your fear will reflect automatically in their brains due to their mirror neurons. They may not identify this as “your fear” but instead as “their” fear, and they may bolt as a result of this.
To Do: Talk about how fear can spread. Recognize that if one of you is fearful that this can impact the other. Teach each other counter-mirroring described in Life Unlocked and learn to distance yourself when necessary in order to protect the relationship.
4. Fear of losing power and identity. When people get close, they often lose part of what they were. This leads to the person feeling as though he or she is not able to be what he or she used to be. As a result, that partner may seek another context in which to recover this fear.
To Do: Expect yourself and your partner to change. Talk about the sense of loss of your old self and how you can recover that if you truly want it. If you used to be motivated and outgoing but now are a couch potato with your spouse, ask them to help you recover this way of being that you used to enjoy.
5. Fear of losing potency. The benefits of long-term relationships relate to comfort and paradoxically, trust. This, however, can be very boring as well. It is normal to be less excited than you were, and often, there is not enough energy in a day to be creative about sex. This says more about your comfort and tiredness than it does about your potency.
To Do: Make experimentation part of your sex life. While nobody wants to be forced into creative explorations at the end of a long day, know that you can have benefits of long-term relationships than short-term relationships seldom have. You can experience the pleasure of touch without expecting a full performance. You can be more tolerant of shorter love-making times from time to time. You can also strive to keep healthy together, thereby improving your potency.
Thus, these five fears can lead to infidelity but they are all addressable. Do not give up a meaningful relationship over these fears. Address them instead.
Srini Pillay is a psychiatrist and author of Life Unlocked: 7 Revolutionary Lessons to Overcome Fear. He blogs at Debunking Myths of the Mind.
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