- Gender and Relationships
Sexual vs. Emotional Affairs
Which is Worse?
There are so many different labels placed on affairs these days that it seems our healing is "supposed" to be dependant on what type of affair our partner participated in. Affairs are often placed in categories such as: sexual affairs, emotional affairs, long term affairs, one night stands, online affairs, revenge affairs etc etc. While these labels all become important further into your discovery process what you really want to know initially is how deeply you have been betrayed by the one you love, meaning was it sexual, emotional or God forbid- both!! So, which kind of affair is worse?. Recent studies show that the answer to that question depends on who you are asking.
Men (Sexual)- studies reveal that men feel a deeper level of betrayal if their partners affair is a sexual one. This is most likely because men are more inclined to show affection and promote bonding with their partners through sex. Men are typically more sexual than emotional and often equate sexual intimacy with the couples level of closeness. If another man cuts in on his territory it is devastating to his ego. It all comes down to the "macho" factor, it is an extreme blow to a mans core being to think his partner needed to find sexual fulfillment with another. The irony of this is that women are emotional creatures and chances are if she is involved in an sexual affair that the level of her emotional attachment to her affair partner is very deep. This is also the biggest contributing factor to why a woman having an affair is more likely to leave her marriage. Usually by the time she and her lover have taken the affair to the next level (sexual intimacy) there has already been a strong emotional attachment formed making it more difficult for her to walk away. Her husband or partner is focused on the sexual aspect of her affair, not realizing that it's the level of emotional involvement which usually determines if they will survive as a couple.
Women (Emotional)- as mentioned above women are very emotional creatures. They are nurturers by nature and they invest a lot into the relationships they form. This is why a man having an emotional affair is a much deeper betrayal to a woman. It's more then she can bear to know her man has confided in and shared deep emotional intimacy with another woman. It's generally not the sex that is foremost in her mind. Although the pain of that is very real, she will more than likely have a more difficult time forgiving a man for an emotional infidelity. The thought that he has lived a double life, which caused him to lie to her over and over again is usually the deciding factor in whether or not the marriage can be saved. If she does manage to get past this type of betrayal, it will be months, maybe even years before full trust can be restored and even that is a huge maybe.
Betrayal of any degree is devastating but it is very interesting to see which type men and women most strongly react to. I just find it so interesting that men are more angry about the sexual aspect of their partners affair, yet the emotional aspect is what puts the relationship at risk. On the other side of the coin, women are most devastated about the level of emotional betrayal but often times a mans affair is more about the sex and the emotional closeness was just a means of keeping the sexual affair going (telling her what she needed to hear). In the end, it doesn't matter what his intentions were because the mere fact that he whispered sweet nothings may be all it takes to push his wife beyond the point of forgiveness.
Do you think the findings are accurate? Do you think it's the sexual or emotional aspect of a partners affair that puts a relationship/marriage at risk? Is it truly dependant on who we are asking, males or females? I'm thinking that although both types of betrayal play an important role in the recovery of an affair, that it's really going to come down to a cheating partners level of remorse, willingness to open up and answer all questions and most importantly the steps you are willing to take to restore trust. A cheating spouse who is trying to save their relationship is in no position to bargain, if your spouse needs things from you in order to heal you better be prepared to deliver.