Open Relationship Vocabulary Lesson: Infidelity

Infidelity Counseling | Portland Couples Counseling | Couples Therapy Portland Marriage Counseling

Dear readers, 

I work with so many couples who are considering open relationships and so many of you have asked for some basic facts in polyamory, nonmonogamy and open relationships.  

I decided to start breaking down some of the most commonly used terms in the wide field of non-monogamy and healthy relationships.

Of course, every individual and relationship is different, so it is important to get clear with people about what they mean by these terms (especially if you're considering an intimate relationship with them).  

You could ask any of the following questions:

"Lots of people use that term, what does it mean in your relationships?"

"I know that can actually mean a lot of things, wow does {term} actually play out in your life?"

These conversations will also help you get clear about what to call your own relationship.  

I'll keep adding more terms over time so check back time to time to learn more.  

This week's focus: Infidelity

Infidelity happens in monogamous and non-monogamous relationships.  Though statistically, non-monogamous relationships often have stronger communication foundations in place to navigate the feelings that come up when infidelity happens.

Some basic general information on infidelity:

In sessions, I define infidelity as non-consensual intimacy (emotional, sexual or other) with additional people.  

Infidelity happens in all relationships, though it is most prevalent in monogamous heterosexual relationships. Estimates are 30-60% of monogamous couples experience infidelity.

Intimacy can be sex, sexual contact, dancing, or other flirtatious behavior.  It can also be sharing secrets, dreams, jokes and other intimate conversation.  

To avoid infidelity notice if you are avoiding sharing things with your partner.  Are you omitting information or hiding things?  If so, why?

Infidelity happens in open, polyamorous, and other non-monogamous relationships when secrecy or non-consent is involved.  

Infidelity does not have to end a relationship.  But, because it is a breach of trust (intentional or not) trust repair is essential to healing the relationship.

Infidelity Resources:

The Truth About Deception

An incredible wealth of resources and research-based information on infidelity in relationships put together by a group of interested scholars.  

The Gottman Blog

Dr John Gottman has been one of the leading researchers on trust and intimacy in relationships for a long time.  If you are looking for tools to repair your relationship and grow trust after an affair use the resources and reflections on this blog.

This is an incredible list of online and offline resources to rebuild your relationship after an affair or other infidelity.  


If you need help repairing your relationship after infidelity give me a call for a consult.  I am happy to help:

Couples Therapist Portland | Portland Sex Therapy

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

She can help you:

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).