It's important to understand that what constitutes infidelity may differ from one person to another. It's essential for partners to discuss their boundaries and expectations openly. 

Addressing Infidelity in Relationships: A Therapist's Guide

navigating infidelity in relationship by radhika-gupta

Are you feeling somewhat betrayed or hurt by your partner's infidelity? Or perhaps you fear that you or your partner may be at risk of being unfaithful? From communication breakdowns to emotional disconnection, we break down some of the root causes of infidelity and explore practical ways to prevent it from damaging your relationship., In an exclusive interview with Counseling Psychologist Radhika Gupta joins, Baely’s Consulting Editor Mahima Sharma for an eye-opening conversation on infidelity and learn how to protect your relationship from its repelling effects.

What are the different types of infidelity in a romantic relationship? 

Radhika: Infidelity is a breach of trust that occurs when one partner in a relationship engages in activities or behaviors that are considered a violation of the mutually agreed-upon rules or expectations from each other as a couple. Some most common types of infidelity that can occur in a romantic relationship could are…

  • Physical Infidelity: This involves engaging in sexual activities with someone who is not your partner. It can be a kiss, one-night stand to a full-blown affair. 
  • Emotional Infidelity: Emotional infidelity occurs when one partner forms an emotional attachment to someone outside the relationship. This can include confiding in someone else, seeking emotional support or validation from someone else, or feeling an intense emotional connection with someone else. For example, a married person confiding in a coworker about personal issues, and eventually developing a close emotional bond.
  • Cyber Infidelity: This type of infidelity involves engaging in sexual or emotional activities online, such as sexting, sending explicit photos or messages, or engaging in virtual sexual encounters.
  • Financial Infidelity: Financial infidelity involves lying or hiding financial information from your partner. This can include secret bank accounts, hidden debts, or overspending without informing your partner.
  • Micro-cheating: This refers to small, seemingly harmless behaviors that may be perceived as a breach of trust or loyalty by one's partner. Examples include flirting with someone other than one's partner, keeping secrets from one's partner, or maintaining a close friendship with an ex.
It's important to understand that what constitutes infidelity may differ from one person to another. That's why it's essential for partners to discuss their boundaries and expectations in their relationship openly. 

So Radhika, my next question obviously would be how can a couple set boundaries via communication? 

Radhika: Please let me explain with a real life example. David and Mary (names changed to maintain privacy) have been in a committed relationship for three years. However, when Mary saw David hugging a female friend, she felt hurt and betrayed, while David did not see it as a big deal. In therapy, I worked with both David and Mary to explore their individual beliefs and feelings about physical touch. I helped David understand why hugging is ok to him and also helped him recognize that Mary has a different perspective. At the same time, I helped Mary explore why she viewed hugging as a form of infidelity and helped her understand that David has a different perspective.

Through this process, they established clear boundaries that met both their needs, such as hugging friends of both genders only in public places. By respecting each other's boundaries, they strengthened their relationship and built a deeper level of trust.

People also have asked, what can a partner do if he/she thinks or finds out the partner is cheating on them? 

Radhika: See Mahima, discovering or suspecting infidelity in a partner can be a painful experience, so it's crucial to take time to process emotions before taking action. 

  • Seek support from a trusted friend, family member, or therapist to help navigate this difficult situation.
  • When discussing infidelity with your partner, approach the conversation with honesty and empathy. Express your feelings using "I felt ____ when you did ____" statements and share your concerns in a calm and respectful manner. 
  • Listen to your partner's perspective and try to understand their point of view.
  • If your partner confesses to infidelity, take time to process your feelings before making any decisions about the future of your relationship. Seek support from a close family member, friend, therapist or counselor to make decisions that are in your best interest.

Based on your experience, what could be the common reasons people engage in infidelity? 

Radhika: In a case study of a couple , Simran and Karan (names changed to maintain their privacy), we see how infidelity can arise due to differing needs and unclear boundaries. Simran's outgoing personality led her to form an emotional connection with another man, which she didn't see as cheating. However, Karan discovered the messages and felt betrayed.

In therapy, Simran and Karan established clear boundaries, including compromises that met both their needs. They worked on communication and finding ways to appreciate each other's differences. Through this process, they strengthened their relationship and avoided future infidelity.

Now, let's talk about some common reasons people engage in infidelity:

  • Lack of Communication: When couples don't communicate their needs and desires, it can lead to feelings of resentment and dissatisfaction. This can cause one partner to seek fulfillment outside the relationship.
  • Boredom: If a relationship becomes routine and lacks excitement, one partner may seek out something new and exciting.
  • Emotional Disconnection: If one partner feels emotionally disconnected from the other, they may seek emotional intimacy elsewhere.
  • Low Self-Esteem: Individuals with low self-esteem may seek validation and attention from others outside the relationship.

You gave us so many reasons why people could cheat on a partner. Please share things couples can do to strengthen their relationship and prevent infidelity from occurring?

Radhika: Sure, one must know some basic techniques to prevent infidelity. I am sharing are a few below:

  • Establish clear boundaries and expectations from the beginning of the relationship. This includes discussing what behaviors are acceptable and what is not.
  • Make time for each other and prioritize the relationship. Spending quality time together can help strengthen emotional bonds.
  • Communicate openly and honestly with each other. This includes expressing your needs and desires and actively listening to your partner.
  • Practice forgiveness and work through conflicts together. Every relationship has its ups and downs, and couples who can work through challenges together are more likely to stay together.

Another question that has come from one of our readers, what are the emotional implications of infidelity, both on who cheated and who was cheated?

Radhika: Infidelity can have significant emotional implications for both the person who cheated and the person who was cheated on. As a therapist, I have seen many couples who have struggled with the emotional fallout of infidelity. For instance, John and Sarah (names changed to maintain privacy) had been married for 10 years when John had an affair with a coworker. Sarah found out about the infidelity and was devastated. Let’s take a look at some emotional implications for both John and Sarah:

For the person who cheated:

  • Guilt and shame: John felt guilty and ashamed of what he did. He struggled with self-blame and negative self-talk.
  • Fear of consequences: He became afraid of losing her and their life together. He became worried about the impact of his actions on their relationship and their future.
  • Confusion: He became confused about why he cheated and what it means for him and his relationship.

For the person who was cheated on:

  • Betrayal and hurt: Sarah felt betrayed by John's actions. She struggled to trust him again and feel hurt by his betrayal.
  • Anger and resentment: She felt angry and resentful toward him for breaking their trust and risking their relationship.
  • Insecurity and self-doubt: She started questioning her own worth and desirability. She started to wonder why he cheated and what she did wrong.

Where does one go from here - do you break the bond or try to fix it? Do you wonder how you can rebuild trust and strengthen your relationship with your partner after such a traumatic experience? Are you curious about the steps you can take to rebuild your self-esteem and self-worth after infidelity? Continue Reading ....

How can couples work through these issues if they arise? Can trust be re-established, if yes how?

Radhika: If a couple experiences infidelity in their relationship, working through the issues can be a difficult and complex process, but it is possible to rebuild trust and strengthen the relationship. Here are some steps that couples can take to work through these issues:

  • Acknowledge and take responsibility: Take responsibility for their actions and the harm that they have caused to their partner and the relationship.
  • Express feelings and concerns: Both partners should express their feelings and concerns about the infidelity and how it has impacted the relationship. Discuss it all - hurt, anger, betrayal, and insecurity.
  • Healing and re-strengthening the relationship: A critical step in the healing process. The partner who cheated can work to rebuild trust by being transparent, honest, and consistent in their actions. This may involve being more accountable, keeping promises, and communicating openly and honestly.
  • Create a plan for moving forward: Couples can work together to create a plan for moving forward, setting clear boundaries and expectations for the future of the relationship. This can involve establishing guidelines for communication, addressing any underlying issues in the relationship, and identifying ways to strengthen the relationship moving forward.
  • Seek professional support: A therapist can provide a neutral and supportive space for both partners to express their feelings, explore underlying issues, and develop strategies for rebuilding trust and intimacy.
Having said this, I would like to assert this, that if the relationship becomes toxic or the infidelity continues unabated, it is okay for your mental health to move away from such a toxic bond. It's perfectly okay to move on, after giving the infidel partner and the relationship a chance.

How can someone rebuild their self-esteem and self-worth after experiencing infidelity?

Radhika: Rebuilding self-esteem and self-worth after experiencing infidelity can be a challenging process. Here are some steps that can help:

  • Practice self-care: prioritize physical exercise, healthy eating, and doing things that bring joy.
  • Seek support: talk to trusted friends, family, or a therapist to process emotions and experiences.
  • Challenge negative self-talk: develop a positive self-image by creating a list of positive qualities or practicing affirmations.
  • Take time to reflect: identify patterns or behaviors that may have contributed to the infidelity to learn from the experience.
  • Set boundaries: establish boundaries with oneself or a partner to rebuild trust and prevent future infidelity.
Rebuilding self-esteem and self-worth takes time and effort, but with patience and support, it is possible to heal and move forward in a positive way.

India abolished its law against punishment for infidelity. What’s your take on the same?

Radhika: The criminalization of adultery in India was a contentious issue, and its abolition was a significant step towards promoting individual autonomy and gender justice. While the law was criticized for being discriminatory, its removal does not mean that infidelity is acceptable without consequences. As a therapist, I believe that compassionate counseling is crucial in helping individuals and couples navigate the emotional and psychological implications of infidelity. Criminalization was not an effective solution to address the root causes of infidelity, which can involve personal and relational factors such as communication, emotional intimacy, and personal values. We must acknowledge the trauma that infidelity can cause and provide support to help individuals rebuild their self-worth and self-esteem.


Ms. Radhika Gupta has pursued her post-graduation in Clinical Psychology from Amity University and also holds an advanced diploma in Guidance & Counseling from Jamia Millia Islamia University. Over the years she has gained hands-on experience at various prestigious organizations.


The opinions expressed within this interview are the personal opinions of the protagonist/protagonists. The facts & statistics, the work profile details of the protagonist/ protagonists do not reflect the views of Baely or the Journalist. Neither Baely nor the Journalist hold any responsibility or liability for the same.

About the Interviewer
About the Author
Mahima Sharma
Mahima Sharma is a Senior Journalist based in Delhi NCR. She has been in the field of TV, Print & Online Journalism since 2005 and previously an additional three years in allied media.
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