infidelity

What Counts as an Affair?

definition of affair | define cheating | infidelity definition

Hey y'all,

I've been working hard on the Opening Up Retreat I'm hosting and my online group coaching program (registration for both just opened- join us) so I haven't had as much time to write but I walked out of sessions tonight and made two quick videos about the most common question I've gotten lately. 

I thought they might be of use to you.  If you like them please check out my instagram because I'll be sharing more. 

More posts to come soon I promise!  - Gina


HOW DO YOU DEFINE AN AFFAIR?

WHAT COUNTS AS AN AFFAIR?

Please Watch This Interview on Love, Marriage, & Monogamy

love marriage and nonmonogamy | open relationship coach

Two of my favorite writers and relationship experts (Dan Savage and Esther Perel) have done a lot of shared interviews and I wanted to share the best of them with you.  

Here are a few things I love about this Q&A session:

In the very first couple minutes Dan outlines some of the most common reasons people cheat in relationships.  

Then Esther clarifies the difference between infidelity and non-monogamy.  

If you listen to nothing else, check in at minute 11:21.  Esther breaks down one of the most important issues in desire for long-term relationships.  She outlines the issue with being the "chosen one" for your partner and how it diminishes desire when we're together a long time.

When asked how she would re-design marriage (at 15:28). She posits that marriage isn't necessary in the same way as it once way.  This history of marriage and committed relationships is missing in most people's understanding of partnership. 

Later she dives into the critical balance between stability and novelty in long-term relationships (near 18:00).  "Too much novelty and not enough stability is chaos and too much stability without novelty becomes fossilized."  She says there is not enough fluidity in marriage- and I wholeheartedly agree.

Finally, early on in the interview Dan discusses the difference between default monogamy and intentional monogamy- the cornerstone of my work with couples considering opening their relationships.

Check out the full interview below and call me for a free consultation if you'd like to discuss these topics in your own partnership.


Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  I help people:

love marriage and nonmonogamy | open relationship coach
  • reconnect with desire & passion in long-term relationships
  • rebuild trust after an affair or infidelity
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage powerful emotions that show up unexpectedly
  • shift codependent communication patterns
  • open relationships & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and coach clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Myths of Mongamy

myths of monogamy | truth about monogamy

It is not uncommon for people to seek me out to prove to their partner either monogamy or non-monogamy is right or wrong.  They want me to settle the disagreement- and unfortnuately, on this I have to disappoint.  

I don't hold either relationship model to be inherently healthy or righteous and in ten years of supporting nontraditional couples I can honestly say I've seen people get hurt in both monogamous and open relationships.

All too often people default to monogamy because it's mainstream and accepted and they think it's easier.  But operating on these myths leads them to some of the bigger problems in monogamous relationships.  

Read through the most common myths of monogamy I see and notice which resonates for you.

Monogamy is morally right and ethically sound

You don't have to look far to see that assumed or default monogamy isn't working out well.  Statistics range from 50-80% of "monogamous" relationships experience infidelity at some point.  

Just saying your monogamous doesn't mean you'll be honest, respectful, or caring in your relationship. The ethical part shows up in how you communicate and maintain your relationship over time- not in how many people you connect with.

Monogamy is natural

Plenty or research has shown most animals in nature are non-monogamous.  But beyond that, most people will tell you "I can't imagine being with one person for the rest of my life."  

This doesn't mean everyone should be in an open relationship. But it does mean the mainstream definition of monogamy (I'll only be attracted to one person for the majority of my years) doesn't work.  

If monogamy is going to work out, couples need to discuss what their expectations and boundaries are if and when other attractions and curiosities pop up (because they are natural).

Anyone can do monogamy well

Again, the infidelity rates I mentioned above alone can squash this assumption. Just agreeing to be monogamous isn't enough. Relationships require work (even if you only have one at a time).

And monogamous or not, most of us aren't given lots of great tools to navigate healthy relationships.  Maybe we lack healthy relationship role models, or we're embedded in a culture filled with toxic relationship norms- either way, most of us need help and clarity to learn to do relationship swell.

Talking with a partner about what the specific boundaries of your unique monogamous commitment are is critical to navigating long-term monogamy and staying together.

Monogamy is reassuring

Monogamy agreements by themself cannot bring you the security you might wish for in intimate relationships.  This is often why even in monogamous couples partners feel insecure or need continual reassurance. 

Instead of just agreeing to a monogamous norm, have a clear discussion with your partner about what might happen if either of you feels attracted to another.  How would you hope a partner might handle that situation and respect the boundaries of your relationship?  

Getting clear together and then following through on your agreements is the only way to the security you seek together.

You complete me

The other way I hear this myth from folks is believing I can meet all my partner's needs.  This is ineffective and unhealthy for four big reasons:

1) It sets me us for failure because I cannot possibly be all those things.  

2) It sets you us to either avoid exploring some of your needs or hide them from me.

3) It increases pressure on both of us to offer more than we can. It can really drain our reserves if we're the only support for the other and we're less likely to have healthy boundaries between us.

4) It decreases the likelihood we'll create healthy nourishing friendships, collegial relationships, mentorships, and other relationships.

Even if you never choose non-monogamy, it is essential you have a rich social network of support beyond your relationship that "completes" you.  

Take a minute to consider these monogamy myths and which may have informed your views on relationships and let me know if you'd like to dive deeper into them 1:1.  I'm happy to talk with you!


polyamory vs monogamy | MONOGAMY EXPERT

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • resolve sexual disconnection
  • change unhealthy communication and codependent patterns
  • open your relationship and practice polyamory with care
  • keep passion alive in long-term relationships

Call me for a free consultation to rethink your relationship.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

If You're Facing Relationship Betrayal Stop What You're Doing and LIsten to This

cheating | infidelity | affairs | trust issues | cheat on me

Ugh, you guys betrayal in intimate relationships is just the worst.  It so often leaves both partners in a spiral of shame, under a heap of hurt, so far from the connection they so deeply long for to comfort them.  

It is simply one of the most painful experiences I see people through.  It's incredibly painful- and so deeply isolating.  What a terrible combination.

And because it's so isolating whenever I read or hear something really good about it I want to share it with you.  So when I listened to the most recent Where Should I Begin? podcast from Esther Perel, I had to share it with you.

The episode itself focuses on someone who believes he has a sex addiction and his wife.  He's been exploring his sexuality behind her back for decades and she's only recently found out and come to some clarity about it.  They're both hurting, and the therapist, Esther Perel, does an incredible job helping them through this painful time.

Even if sex addiction isn't part of the puzzle for you, the experience of betrayal is relatively universal.  If you've been on either side of betrayal I think a lot of the experiences shared here will resonate with you.

If you're dealing with the pain of betrayal in a relationship (whether you're the betrayer or the betrayed) find time to listen to this so you might feel a little less alone.

(Click the pink text above to listen on itunes)

And if you want to talk more about the betrayal you've been through I'm happy to help support you in working through it (whether you stay together or not).


betrayal in relationships | trust in relationship | trust issues | cheating

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • shift stuck communication & codependent relationship patterns

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

 

You Asked, I Answered: How to Get Over an Affair?

affair help | how to trust again | trust issues | cheated | infidelity

Lots of folks find me right after discovering their partner is having an affair. Here are some of the questions they ask.  

Read more of the most frequently asked questions by my clients here

husband cheating | wife cheated | get over an affair | trust issues

Can we get through this affair?

Even couple takes a different route through infidelity.  Some of my couples choose to split up- and in those cases I help them do so with respect and kindness.  

Most of my couples choose to stay together and though it isn't easy many of them make it through.  We work to repair broken trust and create communication that works for both of you moving forward.

Is infidelity normal?

Affairs happen in both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships.  Estimates range between 60% and 80% of all ("monogamous")couples experience infidelity.  So yeah, infidelity is pretty common. 

If you're asking is it normal to feel this way, please know it is completely "normal" to feel a lot of intense and conflicting feelings whether you are the partner who has an affair or the one who didn't.  Your feelings are valid.  Let me help you work through them with integrity.

I've helped hundreds of couples move forward after an affair.  I can help you repair trust no matter what you've been through. Set up a free consultation to see if we're a good match to work together.

I get asked a lot of great questions about my work.  Here's a short list of the most commonly asked questions from people who are recovering after an affair.  Read on to learn more.

Read more of the most frequently asked questions by my clients here

I feel crazy/overwhelmed after finding out my sweetheart/partner/spouse cheated.  Will this emotional roller coaster ever go away?

Finding out you've been betrayed brings up a surprising amount of intense emotions. Often they arise when we least expect and even more often they feel out of control. I offer this information to tell you you are not alone. Not at all.  

I've helped hundreds of folks get through all this intensity and I'm happy to help you stay grounded and clear so you can make decisions from a place of wisdom and connection- instead of unpredictable reactivity.

How do we rebuild trust?

I know the feelings that come up when trust is broken are intense and hard to sit with- but rebuilding trust takes time.  I recommend working with a professional to help you get a solid foundation laid or to patch cracks in that foundation with care.  I'm happy to talk more specifically about what you might need to build trust in a free consultation.


portland polyamory counselor open relationships sex therapy portland sex counselor

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

She can help you:

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move past jealousy, insecurity or codependent patterns
  • open your relationship or practice polyamory with care
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
  • break unhealthy communication patterns in your relationship

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).

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.

AftertheAffair.net

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).

Healing Your Heart After an Affair

Healing from an Affair  Uncommon Love Infidelity Counseling Portland

When an affair happens it can be difficult to sort out what to do next in your relationship.  Both the partner who has the affair and the partner who doesn't can get lost in confusing cultural messages, advice from friends, and strong rolling emotions.  

It is a difficult time for both parties, but not an impossible one.

I know it is really hard for both of you, but you will get through this heartache and you can get through it together.  

I work with couples every week who are working through the aftermath of an affair and have found the stages in After the Affair by Dr Janis Abrahms Spring really help couples move through the process of coming together in this difficult time.  I would love to read your comments about the book if you have read it.

I have added some suggestions of my own, but do recommend the book as a guide in addition to working with a relationship specialist (coach or counselor) for a bit as your decide how you want to move forward.  

Stage 1: Emotion Overload

It is common in the weeks (and sometimes months) after an affair is uncovered for both partners to be caught up in a tidal wave of emotions.  It is not unusual for both of you to feel anger, sadness, fear, shock and a whole range of other emotions during this time.  Conflicting choices, new questions, and loss may visit unexpectedly.  It can seem pretty overwhelming.

Taking time to notice, experience, and name the feelings you are going through can be very helpful in the healing process.  You are not alone in the sometimes extreme feelings you are experiencing.  

I recommend working with an individual counselor if not a couples counselor to help get clear and to have someone other than your partner or the person you had an affair with to share this experience.

It is also important to find a friend who you can talk to about your experience.  Choose a friend who respects you and your partner and who will help you take the high road instead of someone who will fuel your hurt.  It is important you don't go through this alone and both of you have community support.

Stage 2: Do I Stay or Do I Go?

Both of you may be unsure if you want to stay or leave, and you may have received mixed messages from your friends and families.  Unfortunately even in this confusing and overwhelming time, no one can choose for you.  

Take time to explore the following questions individually to help clarify what you want:

1.  What commitment expectations do you have for your partner?  How can you communicate those clearly?

2.  What draws you to your partner, how are they unique, how is your relationship special?

3.  What could have been improved before the affair?

4.  What history do you have rebuilding trust with partners, friends, and family?

5.  Are you willing to change the ways you interact with your partner?

I recommend working through these questions individually to become clear on your own: is this relationship a good fit for you right now?  Again, working with a professional can help in difficult and confusing times.

Stage 3: Rebuilding

If you two do decide to stay together and recommit you are committing not only to each other, but to a trust building process that will take weeks, month (maybe years).  

I recommend focusing on the following to help guide your relationship recovery (in no particular order):

1.  Say goodbye to the person you had an affair with.  Reassure the partner who didn't have the affair it is no longer occurring.

2.  Take action to increase open communication in your relationship.  Share your pain and be open to hearing your partner's pain.  Talk through differences of opinion, and dis-satisfactions so you can stay connected.

3.  Take specific steps to earn back trust and stay committed to the process.

4.  Develop a new shared vision of your future and create new ways to connect going forward.

5.  Forgive your partner and yourself.

Let me say it again: I know it is really hard for both of you, but you will get through this heartache and you can get through it together.  

I am happy to talk with you about options, help you find a counselor or therapist near you, or set up an appointment to help you and your partner reconnect after an affair.


gina senarighi portland relationship coach

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).