One of the topics couples most frequently ask me for infidelity advice on is sexuality. Is it right to have sex after an infidelity?
Well, my typical answer is that it depends on how you define sex. For most of us, when we think of sex we think of intercourse. Many couples, when trying to recover from an affair may find a sudden burst in their sex life. Couples who have not had sex for years or had a dull, infrequent or routine sex life prior to learning of the infidelity oftentimes find that they can’t get enough of each other. There is nothing wrong with this, in fact I would even say it’s quite normal. However, if this is the case for you, you might want to look at your motivations for the increase in intercourse that you’re having. Is it because you’re afraid that the other partner was better in bed than you and you want to prove yourself? Is it because your afraid that your partner cheated because of a lack of sex and you want to make up for it? Or is it out of a sincere, non-panicked desire to either stay connected or reconnect? In my experience, the more frantic or fear driven your motivations are the more likely it is that you will soon return to your old routine or become even more saddened and disconnected when you realize this approach isn’t working for you.
For other couples, the idea of having intercourse seems virtually impossible.
Regardless of where you are on the spectrum, my infidelity advice is that you change your definition of sex to physical intimacy and make that your goal rather than intercourse. If you are one of the couples for whom intercourse seems impossible its probably because one or the both of you feel undesirable to the other. As much as the hurt partner may want to reconnect s/he may feel too vulnerable to do so via intercourse. S/he may feel caught in the double bind of both wanting intimacy and wanting to protect him or herself from further harm. The partner who had the affair may feel similarly or may be dealing with anyone of a host of emotional issues. Even if you are a couple who are going at it like bunnies, you may have very similar feelings and are just trying to bury them. For example, you may find yourself feeling extremely exposed and vulnerable after intercourse or you may feel angry and want distance.
The best piece of infidelity advice I can give you is to remain in physical contact on some level, no matter how difficult it may feel. This can range from holding hands to snuggling to giving one another massages to simply holding one another while naked. Physical touch is one of the most important bonding rituals humans can engage in. It stimulates the release of oxytocin which is the neurotransmitter that is involved in making you feel close or connected with someone. I would suggest physical contact for at least half an hour a day and the more intimate (i.e. naked and snuggling) the better.
This may be very difficult at first, but try to think of your fear/discomfort with touch as a phobia (a fear that is disproportionate to the actual act itself, like being freaked out by house spiders). The way that phobias are treated are by exposing people to what they fear over a period of time. Eventually, their bodies learn that the fear is not what they thought and they begin to relax.
Regaining physical intimacy is the same. The longer you do it, the more comfortable and the more connected you will feel. It will help you to buffer those inevitable stormy times that are going to arise.
To learn how to save your relationship click here to watch your free introductory video.