New Twilight Saga: Love Triangle
By Angela S. Taylor MA, LPC
The recent saga between Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson have many people asking the question again, “Why do people cheat?” While the lives of Hollywood actors feel very far removed from most of our lives, it still leaves many of us wondering why this seems to happen so regularly and what we can do to safeguard our own relationships from the destruction an affair can cause.
It’s estimated that 30%-60% of marriages will encounter some form of infidelity throughout the course of the relationship (http://www.truthaboutdeception.com/cheating-and-infidelity/stats-about-infidelity.html). While this may include anything from emotional attachment to physical intimacy, all can be damaging to a romantic partnership. When needs are met by someone other than your partner, one cannot fully invest in the relationship and/or marriage. We all know this, yet affairs are still so prevalent.
This again begs the question, “Why do people cheat?” Most couples tend to look at cheating as THE issue rather than a symptom of a larger issue between the two. Affairs typically do not occur in a bubble or a vacuum. If everything is going well in a relationship, people usually do not seek or respond to attention from someone else. When a couple is actively working to meet each others’ needs, affairs are much less likely. While there are those that are more prone to cheating (i.e. maybe a sexual addiction), there are typically others issues occurring for those individuals – low self worth, depression, etc.
So what can you do to safeguard your relationship from the temptation of another person? Communication is key. Make sure you’re talking with your partner regularly about your needs and what is and is not working for you. People tend to think that their partner should automatically know what they need and want from them. Couples need to remember that they are not mind readers. No matter how long you’ve been in a relationship, you still may not know the exact needs and desires of your partner.
Ask the questions, and be open and honest with your partner. The earlier you’re able to verbalize the issue you may be having, the less likely it is to become a bigger problem or a resentment. If you need more hugs from your partner, tell him or her. If you need more deep conversation, open up and express that need. If you need more excitement in the bedroom, talk with your partner about how you can both work to spice things up. Approach these topics in a non-threatening, non-attacking way, and you should get a better response. Remember, you are a team. The more you work together, the better and more fulfilling your relationship will be.
If your issues feel too complex or you keep discussing or arguing about the same points, it might be time to seek help from a professional. Couples counselors have seen and heard it all and may be able to help you navigate a problem that currently seems impossible. This may be all you need to get back on track and remember how excited and happy you are to be with your partner.
Cheating does not have to mean the end of a relationship. I’ve seen relationships become stronger after an affair because it has lead to identifying the problems between a couple that may have been shoved under the rug for years. When couples actively work to identify and heal the issues, they can grow and thrive together. They can also learn to tackle issues as they come rather than waiting for too long to address them.
While it’s always sad to see such a public affair thrown into the headlines, maybe it helps us look at our relationships and evaluate whether or not they might need some work. Hopefully, Robert and Kristen will find a way to get some privacy while they work through their own issues. It’s hard enough for us to actively work at our relationships, much less trying to work through those things under a magnifying glass. Let’s all be thankful we can address our problems in our own homes or within a confidential setting.