Studies universally suggest that somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of people in committed relationships sexually cheat on their spouse or significant other. Of course, in today’s world of chat rooms, webcams, instant messaging, and instant pornography, the concept of cheating is somewhat malleable and easier to deny than in the past, when cheating meant actual live physical contact.
That said, after working with hundreds of betrayed spouses and their ultimately remorseful mates, the answer to the question of what defines infidelity remains as clear to me today as it was when Monica Lewinsky first stored away that stained blue dress. Infidelity is the breaking of trust caused by keeping secrets in an intimate partnership.
In other words, with sexual infidelity, it’s more than the cheating itself or any specific sexual act that causes the deepest pain to a betrayed spouse or partner. It’s the betrayal of relationship trust caused by consistent lying that causes intimacy to crack wide open.