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This blog is about---You! Each and every post is about you. Use it to challenge your usual patterns, as a tool for self-discovery, to stimulate your thinking, to learn about yourself and to answer your questions about others.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Emotional Intimacy , Trust, and Pair Bonding

Have you been unfaithful?  Has your partner cheated on you?  Here' a little information about that difficult topic.

 2. Resisting Infidelity Depends on Sexual Personalities. Lots of studies have shown that our personality traits—like extraversion and impulsivity—are related to whether we cheat on our mates or stay faithful. In 2011, researchers found a feature of our personality called "executive control" is really important for sexual fidelity, especially in terms of our ability to resist flirting with attractive members of the opposite sex (Pronk et al., 2011). On the opposite side of the coin is the trait of avoidant attachment, as people who are romantically dismissing tend to pay more attention to attractive alternatives to their current mate and such people also stray more over time (DeWall et al., 2011). Finally, Mark et al. (2011) found that among women (but not men), being dissatisfied with one's relationship matters as much as our personality in predicting infidelity. Being able to stay focused, feel real intimacy, and chose a satisfying partner all seem to be keys to unlocking our most faithful sexual selves.
Psychology Today excerpt

According to these studies, infidelity results from a combination of personality traits with/and, the individual's level of satisfaction with their relationship.  To complicate matters further, I would add that culture or social influences are also in the mix.  In other words, is it expected in your social group that married partners will stray at one time or another?  Is it believed to be 'natural'  to seek sexual variety by engaging with people other than one's primary partner?  If you are a member of a social group that supports marriage, extra-marital sex will most likely be frowned upon.  These social mores have an influence. 

So, as you consider these three aspects, who are you thinking about?   This is information you can use for evaluating yourself.  Most people, while reading the above excerpt, will be analyzing their partner.  But, in marriage, and in long-term, committed relationships, you are what you can control.  You are the whom you can change.

Last night I watched the movie, Unfaithful.  It is a compelling story about a person who becomes involved in two intimate relationships at once.  At one point in the film, this character's friend foretells doom.  She says:  "Affairs always end in disaster."  It is the case in this story.
It isn't always true in life but, often it is.
I have seen couples, in my practice, make their way through discovered secret liaisons of one partner and back, to a strong bond with one another.  It takes both people wanting the relationship, a sense of value not only on the relationship but on oneself, the ability to forgive, a willingness to learn, and the devotion to really work at figuring out together how the problem happened and how to re-build trust.

There have been entire books written on this subject and, yet it is still so difficult to talk about.  For those who believe that they are in an exclusive relationship with another and find that they have been betrayed, the hurt is searing.  So, it is a sensitive topic.  But, if you have not had this unfortunate experience, it may be prudent to do some thinking about it,  as a preventative.  For those who have been through this loss, I encourage you to have hope.  Even a wound this deep, can be healed.
Please comment.  Your sharing your thoughts or feelings here may be helpful to you and will be helpful to other readers.

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