6 methods to keep away from temptation and infidelity

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I know your pain because I’ve heard about it so often in my sex therapy practice. You love your partner. You would never have thought in a million years that you would be tempted to cheat. Monogamy just seemed natural and right, something you were happy to choose for yourself.

And now you can’t stop thinking about … your coworker / your wife’s best friend / your neighbor / your ex. You feel guilty but irritated at the same time. Worried but so excited. What if you two are soul mates? You have held back, but the flirting seems to be increasing despite your best intentions. You dream about it when you masturbate, and sometimes even during sex with your partner.

You call me, desperate. Frightened. Confused. You are asking me for help in solving a seemingly impossible situation.

The temptation to cope is the struggle of humanity – whether chocolate, another cat, another pair of shoes or humans. Ancient religious doctrines address the challenge of temptation, as do programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Weight Watchers. To expect to sail through life relatively unchallenged is simply unrealistic.

So first of all, you know that you are in good company. Almost everyone you interact with today will be challenged by some temptation. How well they deal with it depends on many variables, including their emotional and physical fatigue, mood, connectedness and social support, as well as genetics and many other variables.

But let’s talk about you and sex, and how best to go about it to increase the chances of you making good decisions for yourself and your primary relationship.

Remember, the monogamous long-term partnership construct is a great concept, but not a biological mandate. This means that it is not necessarily inherent in human nature, nor is it supported by our evolutionary biology. As a result, many, if not most, find themselves challenged to some extent by the ideal of monogamy. This is not an excuse for bad behavior and does not mean that you are meant to be unfaithful. It just means that this can be viewed as a challenge that you must address regularly in your life.

Some strategies that can help you avoid the temptation to be unfaithful:

1. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes. How would you feel if you found your partner was unfaithful? It’s a complex situation that can make you feel less secure both in your relationship and in your life. You may trust others less, be ashamed of being cheated on, etc. By feeling these nuances, you can empathize with your partner and make the temptation less alluring to you.

2. Play through how your partner would react if you cheat and they find out. Literally imagine this conversation – word for word. What would your partner say, do, and how would you react? What would you think in those moments?

3. Destroy the imagination. Infidelity is far more enticing when you focus on the fantasy of connection rather than the harsh reality that is likely to follow soon. That reality includes the guilt that you will bear; the inevitable pain for everyone involved when either someone ends the affair and / or your partner learns about it; and the consequences with family and people close to you who would not support or understand your decisions. Remembering the almost inevitable pain that lies ahead of you can be enough to realistically refocus you.

4. Talk to someone you trust. Just the act of hearing yourself speak can help you find strength and clarity. A trustworthy, wise other can shock you into reality and tell you what to hear. Having an honest conversation will help break your denial and hopefully provide you with support during this painful time.

5. Force yourself to focus back on your current relationship. Fantasies about another keep you from channeling energy and effort into the emotional and sexual state of your current romance. Honestly look at what you need in your relationship, what you are not getting, and what you are not giving to your partner. We can all better cultivate our ability to give and receive love. Use this experience as a wake-up call so you can take your romance on a better path. All long-term relationships can benefit from reorientation and reorientation from time to time.

6. Re-plan your life so you don’t interact with the person you dream of. There is no safer way to avoid temptation than by not being in her presence.

Being human is not easy and temptation is part of life. Developing your temptation management skills is empowering – it feels good to be able to trust yourself and control your behavior. Long-term relationships offer us some of our deepest experiences of love as well as some of our deepest challenges in life. Gather your strength today so that you can look back on this moment with pride.

Facebook image: HBRH / Shutterstock

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