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A few friends and I were talking about the affairs we either experienced in our own relationships or that we knew of among other friends. And that’s the context in which a married former neighbor’s one-night, tequila-fueled fling while on a gals get-away in Cabo San Lucas was brought up.

“I think we’d all forgive a one-night stand,” I said, perhaps a tad too confidently as my friends nodded and mumbled in agreement.  one-night stand

But, would we?

Is a one-night stand really forgivable?

Yes, according to the engaged couples my-author and I interviewed while researching for The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels.  A one-night stand can most likely be worked through, they said.

They aren’t the only ones.

A quick Google search indicated that there are a lot of couple who wrestle with this. Still, many tend to fall in line with this woman’s thinking on Wedding Bee:

I’d be more likely to forgive a moment of weakness one night stand situation that he immediately admitted to, than say an ongoing sexual and emotional affair. If my SO went through great lengths to hide his infidelity and lie to me about it I could not forgive that. tweet

A one-night fling is not the same as a long-term affair, or multiple one-night stands.

So, it’s clear that there are many gradations of infidelity. Which is why listening to so-called experts on infidelity makes me nervous and should make anyone trying to sort out infidelity nervous. I always want to question, well, what makes this person an expert in X, Y or Z? Because a lot of  “experts” have nothing else to offer but their personal experience and the stories of people who flock to them because they, too, have a tale of sexual woe.

I have nothing against personal experience; however one person’s experience cannot possibly speak for the numerous shades of gray that infidelity encompasses, nor can it be used to guide someone through infidelity. I would appreciate a more broad-minded approach.

That’s not to say that we need to agree with therapist Esther Perel’s belief, that affairs can be transformative. But, as she writes:

Affairs have a lot to teach us about relationships — what we expect, what we think we want, and what we feel entitled to. They open the door to a deeper conversation about values, human nature and the fragility of eros, and force us to grapple with some of the most unsettling questions: How do we negotiate the elusive balance between our emotional and our erotic needs? Is possessiveness intrinsic to love or an arcane vestige of patriarchy? Is it really so that what we don’t know doesn’t hurt? How do we learn to trust again? Can love ever be plural? … Infidelity is still such a taboo, but we need to create a safe space for productive conversation, where the multiplicity of experiences can be explored with compassion. It might be uncomfortable, but ultimately that will strengthen relationships by making them more honest and more resilient. tweet

Yes, we do need to create a safe space, where compassion — not judgment and shame — has a place in our conversations about our experiences of infidelity. Only then will be able to have more open and honest partnerships. And isn’t that what we all want?

Interested in creating a specific kind of marriage? Read The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (Seal Press). Order the book on Amazon, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.


3 Responses to “Is all infidelity the same?”

  1. blurkel says:

    There is no woman who wouldn’t expect to receive forgiveness for a one-nighter yet who wouldn’t give it to her man for one. To women, men are property and not partners. Only a partner could be forgiven.

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