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.
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.