Having an infidelity/affair means you have an extra relationship outside your committed relationship, which involves betrayal, deception, and lies that breaks the trust in the relationship. An infidelity/affair requires secrecy and becomes complicated to deal with. Therefore, an infidelity/affair is one of life’s most painful and often traumatic experiences, not just for the betrayed spouse/partner and their children but also for the extended family members, friends, communities, and even the wayward spouse and their lover. So, can a relationship survive an affair? Yes, it can, providing the wayward person ends the affair and the couple is willing to work on their relationship.


What causes someone to have infidelity?

There are some significant factors for an infidelity/affair to happen:

1. Unfulfilled emotional needs in the relationship

One of the major contributing factors to infidelity is the unfulfilled emotional needs in the marriage/relationship. Hence, infidelity/affairs may not necessarily start sexually, but often from a friendship, where someone starts sharing their personal life and relationship difficulties with another. When an infidelity/affair happens, the unfaithful spouse/partner is unaware of what is missing in their marriage/relationship until the affair reveals it.

2. Lacking boundaries

A lack of boundaries in friendships or work relationships is another common contributing factor that can lead to affairs. Often the wayward person doesn’t have limits on what they share and is unaware of what is appropriate to not share in order to protect their marriage/relationship. Some couples do not know how to set the boundaries around their relationship, so a third party can easily come into the relationship.

3. Too much trust in themselves

Sometimes, the wayward person trusts themselves too much in their ability to be faithful to their spouse/partner. They are confident and believe they are immune to infidelity, becoming more open to a new friendship, which can lead to an affair.

4. A lack of commitment

Some couples start to become blasé with their commitment in their relationship. They believe that once they get married, everything is secure, and they do not need to worry about their relationship.


When we hear the word “infidelity/affair”, we often think about someone in a committed relationship developing another relationship with another person.

However, there are other types of infidelity/affairs besides physical affairs:

1. Emotional affair

This affair is when you are in an emotional relationship with someone outside your committed relationship. Often people try to minimise this emotional affair because it is not a sexual relationship. An emotional affair usually happens subtly and slowly; before you are aware of it, you have gone too far and are emotionally engaged with the other person. An emotional affair is often done in secrecy and will destroy your emotional connection with your spouse/partner.

2. Visiting places

In the past, prostitution was the only place people went and had an affair. Nowadays, many other places like massage parlours are very covertly providing prostitution too.

3. Through social media

As we are now in the digital age, people have much easier access to getting involved in infidelity/affairs. There are many types of pornography, including texting and sexting, sending sexual pictures, voyeurism, upskirting, etc. Although some will argue that this kind of activity is not necessarily with someone in person, it is, however, a betrayal and deception that breaks the trust of your spouse/partner.


Some people doubt a marriage/relationship can survive after an infidelity/affair. Many believe that the marriage/relationship is beyond repair once you break the trust. 

However, with more than two and half decades of working with couples, I have seen many couples survive their relationship after an infidelity/affair, providing:

1. The infidelity/affair has to end.

The affair has to end immediately. It requires the wayward person to have the guts to end the affair. It is not easy because the other lover may not want to leave the affair, which can tempt the wayward person to return to the affair. To end the infidelity/affair, you need to be remorseful, open and honest, willing to have a transparent life, and take responsibility.

2. They seek professional help ASAP

As infidelity/affair is a complex issue, you may need professional help from a competent marriage/relationship therapist in this area. There are some underlying issues that you will need to work on, e.g. childhood issues, upbringing problems, grief issues, etc.

3. Restitution for your marriage/relationship

As a couple does not just face the issue of infidelity/affair, they must also deal with marital/relationship issues. They will likely have to deal with many issues, so they will most likely need professional help in helping them to bring restitution to their marriage/relationship.

A marriage/relationship Therapist will help you:

  • To understand how the affair happened
  • To end the affair
  • To explore the relationship’s issues
  • To prepare for marital/relationship recovery
  • To manage the hurt and resentment caused by the affair
  • To heal the wounds
  • To earn trust and to take accountability in the relationship
  • To renew the marital commitment
  • To prevent from falling back into the affair again.

Seeking professional help does not have to wait until you end the affair. While you are still in an affair relationship, counselling can help you find a way to deal with the struggles, dilemmas, confusion, hurts, and losses you and your spouse/partner experience. Sometimes Family Therapy is also needed to bring some recovery for the family members involved.

4. Build a healthy relationship

Besides getting professional help to deal with the hurt, pain and losses, you can take steps to start building a healthy relationship. Building a healthy relationship won’t happen overnight; the recovery process will take time as the relationship breaks down gradually. You must take baby steps and be willing to wrestle with the challenges ahead to rescue your relationship.


The power of secrecy in a marriage/relationship becomes the key to infidelity. Therefore, the wayward spouse/partner must earn trust and respect by proactively being honest and open. The wayward spouse/partner must be honest with themselves, e.g. when they are tempted to contact the affair person, their struggles, their dilemma and confusion, etc., to prevent them from falling back into the affair again. Remember, building trust is a long process that the couple has to understand. The hurt and the pain need time to heal. Therefore, you need to know that it is impossible to fasten this process.