Healing After Sexual Infidelity

Healing After Sexual Infidelity

Sexual infidelity – it’s one of the most painful and delicate issues for which clients seek couples therapy and needs to be treated with the utmost respect and sensitivity.  Whether you’re in the acute, immediate aftermath of recently learning about or disclosing an affair, or coping with the longer-term after-shock effects, healing from sexual infidelity usually requires some form of professional counselling or outside support to help you piece back together the relationship for sustainable, long-term durability.

Every affair looks different and is often the result of a number of different relationship dynamics.  According to Barry McCarthy, a renowned sex therapist and specialist in infidelity repair, some of the many reasons for affairs include:

  1. High opportunity
  2. For personal change or to resurrect a cut-off part of yourself
  3. To see if you are sexually functional if you are sexually dysfunctional in your relationship
  4. A symptom of depression or alcohol/drug abuse
  5. To get the courage to leave an unsatisfactory/unhealthy relationship
  6. To act out a variant sexual activity or fetish that you can’t within your current relationship
  7. Falling in love with a friend or work colleague
  8. Revenge affair
  9. To be sexual with someone of the same gender
  10. To deal with boredom or loneliness


Because of the multi-dimensional aspects that may lead to sexual affairs, treatment for relationship repair looks different for every couple.  In healing the wounds of infidelity, your therapist will guide you through a personalized process of supporting the two of you understand the meaning of an affair, the reasons for the affair, the impact of the affair, and the things that need to change to facilitate the rebuilding of trust and security in the relationship.  This requires making meaning from the perspective of the involved partner, the injured partner, and the relationship.

Some questions to consider which may guide meaning-making after an affair include….

  • Was this a primarily sexual, emotional, or comparison affair?
  • Was it a one-off, or on-going affair?
  • Is the affair truly over, or are there any emotional or physical or financial ties to the affair-partner still?
  • Did the involved partner discover any new parts about themselves during the affair?
  • What got in the way of communicating to the injured partner a desire to cheat before the cheating ever happened?
  • Did the affair clarify any thoughts or feelings about the primary relationship for the involved partner?
  • What role did sex have in the affair, and how does that relate to the role of sex in the primary relationship?
  • How will you know when you can trust again?
  • What are the reasons for re-committing to the relationship after the affair?
  • Can the involved partner understand the anger and hurt of the injured partner?
  • Is there the expression and acceptance of genuine remorse?
  • What is being done by the involved partner to rebuild trust and earn forgiveness?
  • Is the injured partner open to examining their role and responsibility in rebuilding relationship satisfaction?


If your relationship is struggling to heal from infidelity, you’re not alone.  Although statistics about infidelity are difficult to accurately gauge due to underreporting, research suggests that about 40% of unmarried couples experience infidelity, and 25% of marriages see at least one incident of infidelity1.  At Couples Therapy Melbourne, we’re a group of therapists with additional speciality training, licenses, and certifications in relationship counselling and can support you on the path to relationship repair following infidelity.  Contact us at 1300 784 184 or info@couplesmelbourne.com to see how we can help.



1 Blow, A. J., & Hartnett, K. (2005). Infidelity in committed relationships ii: A substantive review. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy31(2), 217-233.