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VIDEO: What Infidelity Looks Like

All Types of Cheating Have This in Common

Tammy Nelson

How do you define infidelity? According to sex therapist Tammy Nelson, author of Getting the Sex You Want, there are three qualifiers. There must be an outside relationship, a sexual element, and dishonesty. However, the degree of damage to the relationship also depends on how the individual participating in the affair reacts to their partner discovering their indiscretion.

"If the person has disclosed what they're doing versus the other partner discovering it, there's a big difference in how we'll approach therapy," she says.

Here, Nelson explains the difference between discovery and disclosure, and what it means for your work with couples recovering from an affair.


Tammy Nelson, PhD, is a board-certified sexologist, certified Sex Therapist Supervisor, certified Imago therapist, licensed professional counselor, and author of Getting the Sex You Want and The New Monogamy.

As Nelson goes on to explain, there are numerous forces shaping intimate partnerships today, many of which therapists didn't learn about in graduate school. What we need, she says, is to update our conceptualizations of partnership, commitment, personal autonomy, and sexuality.

"Marriage can no longer be regarded as a constant steady state, without variables or changes, which we automatically fall into once we've said our vows," Nelson says. "It's a relationship that's continually being renegotiated—even if we aren't conscious of the fact."

Don't miss Nelson's upcoming workshop, "Working with the One Who Cheats," at the 2019 Networker Symposium! Click here for details, and to register before time runs out!

If you enjoyed this video, you might also like Nelson's article, "The Intentional Divorce," in which she outlines best practices for helping partners split with dignity, or her Case Study, "Women Who Cheat," in which she explains the multiple reasons women may engage in affairs, and how you can help your female clients explore their motivations for participating in them.

Topic: Couples | Sex & Sexuality

Tags: affairs | boundaries | cheating | counselor | divorce | emotional intimacy | habits | imago | infidelity | intimacy | licensed professional counselor | mind-body | monogamy | New Monogamy | sex

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Monday, November 10, 2014 1:01:01 PM | posted by Reminder: Discount on The Changing Face of Marriage expires tomorrow @ Dr Tammy NelsonDr Tammy Nelso
[...] In the series, I discuss how you can help couples understand, define, and negotiate the personal boundaries of fidelity and betrayal. I’m joined by Esther Perel, William Doherty, Pat Love, Terry Real, and Joe Kort, who also present in the series. The Changing Face of Marriage covers the latest tools and techniques for helping struggling couples, and you can get $30 off of it by entering NELSON30 when you sign up until tomorrow night. Here’s a clip from my session. [...]

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 4:53:36 PM | posted by Discount Code for The Changing Face of Marriage @ Dr Tammy NelsonDr Tammy Nelson
[...] You can see a quick clip of my video conversation here. [...]