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According to a study by La Trobe University, three quarters of Australians believe that having sex with someone other than your partner when in a committed relationship is wrong. A similar study in the US found that although 90% of men and 94% of women believed that adultery was morally wrong, one quarter of men and one sixth of women admitted to have had at least one affair (needless to say there may have been more who didn’t admit to it!).
So it seems that despite our attitudes, many of us still engage in extramarital affairs. So the question is; how do you know if you are at risk of having an affair?
How to know if you’re at risk:
1. Feeling neglected'
It is far more likely that you’ll seek the attention of someone else if you’re feeling neglected at home. Feeling neglected doesn’t necessarily mean that you actually are being neglected, however. You might be feeling a little neglected because your partner is spending too much time at work, for example, but they may not be able to help it. Having an affair will not solve this problem; it will only provide a bandaid solution to your feelings of abandonment. These feelings are a sure sign to talk to your partner about your needs. Avoid playing victim such as complaining “you never give me enough attention”. Instead focus on solutions of how you could feel more connected such as “when we first met you made me feel so special because you organised great date ideas—is there something we can do to rekindle this connection in our relationship?”.
2. Being too busy
On the other hand, the growing divide between the two of you may be more a result of your own busy schedule than his lack of attention. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t want to spend time with your partner, but lack of quality time together can slowly deteriorate any relationship. Some people deal with this by seeking attention and excitement elsewhere—if this is happening—stop! Take proactive action immediately to make time for your relationship now before the divide grows any bigger.
3. Lack of romance
Even if you spend a lot of time with your partner, there’s the chance that your relationship can become a little lifeless. This is especially true of long-term relationships because we don’t tend to make as much effort as we did in the early days of love. This doesn’t mean that your relationship is ‘dead’ in any way; it just needs a new injection of life. If you do love each other, you need to make the effort to keep the spark alive. This means making the effort to engineer romantic situations instead of falling into a boring routine. Again, initiate this process yourself or if your partner is not responding talk to him or her about your concerns. Emphasise how much you value the romantic side of your relationship.
4. Family history
Our role models in life play an enormous part in influencing our own relationship patterns. If your parents were committed and monogamous, there’s more chance that you will be too. But just because your parents were unfaithful doesn’t mean that you have to be. By choosing to do what it takes to remain faithful you can commit to your own path of loyalty. If you feel you may be vulnerable to the temptations but don’t want to repeat the patterns it may be worth seeking help from a therapist or counsellor.
5. Hard times
David Buss, a psychologist at the University of Texas, has suggested that women in particular may be subconsciously driven to have an affair if their male partner is not providing for them, or has fallen upon hard financial times. Hence, financial difficulty may be a particularly important time to ensure your relationship with your partner remains supportive and connected. Financial problems are one of the leading causes of relationship breakdown so this is an important focus for a healthy relationship in any form.
Some people may say that flirting is harmless, but the chances are you are more likely to have an affair if you are a naturally flirtatious person or if you find yourself flirting with people at the office or in public places. It simply means that there is more opportunity to have an affair if you have a high-level of flirtatious contact. If you tend to be very platonic in your relationships outside of your partnership, then there is less likelihood that sexual tension will develop. Of course, many people are naturally playful and flirtatious and mean nothing by it. Self-awareness and self-honesty are key here -- be honest with yourself if your flirting leads to developing feelings for others’ beyond friendship.
Everyone fantasises about someone other than their partner; it is completely natural. Having fantasies about other people doesn’t necessarily mean that this will then lead on to an affair, but it does open the sexual floodgates. If you tend to fantasise about imaginary figures, you’re probably OK. But if you find that your fantasies are increasingly straying towards a particular person, you may be entering the danger zone.
More facts about affairs: The cheating gene
Author of De-stress Your Success: Get More of What You Want with Less Time, Stress and Effort, Sacha Crouch is a business, executive and life coach who helps people create the work and lives they love. For other free lifestyle resources visit www.activ8change.com.au
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