The revelation of infidelity can bring  great emotional upheaval; everything suddenly feeling upside down and inside out.  The  relationship can feel shattered.  Yet, in spite of this, sometimes hope for the relationship’s survival  remains.  Many vow they would never stay with someone who crossed this line but when it’s real, it’s sometimes not that simple.    Sometimes, amidst  the relationship wreckage, love and passion survive.

Couples in this situation almost always experience changes in their sexual relationship.  Here are some common scenarios and the reasons behind them.

The person who had the affair is reluctant to engage in physical intimacy. 

  • They feel too guilty and undeserving.
  • They think they may have contracted an STD.
  • They have not completely  separated from their affair partner  on an emotional level and still feel torn even if they have made a decision that the marriage is more important.
  • The person who had the affair had felt sexually inadequate or not desired in the marriage to begin with.

The discoverer of the affair cannot stand the thought of reentering the sexual relationship.

  • They might not even be able to stand being touched by their partner.  The sexual relationship feels ruined now that someone else has intruded on it.  This can be an extremely intense feeling especially if the affair couple had sex in the married couple’s bed.
  • Withholding sex seems like a good punishment.
  • The discoverer of the affair is convinced that they are no longer genuinely desired.

The discoverer of the affair wants to resume sexual relations as soon as possible, and tries, but cannot bear the experience.  The encounter triggers flashback imagery of their partner being intimate with someone else.  Sexual encounters become emotionally charged scenes, sometimes resulting in conflict and/or tears.  One or both partners  may begin to avoid physical intimacy altogether.

The discoverer of the affair wants to have as much sex as possible.  This happens for many different reasons, but all have one thing in common.  These encounters are extremely intense, and frequently different in quality than before discovery. They can alternate with periods of sexual withdrawal.

  • Sexuality becomes a mode of expressing relief  that there are no more secrets.  The encounter feels more real and both partners feel much more present and closer than they have in a long time.
  • Revenge sex can  occur where the discoverer seeks to restore a sense of power, of having defeated the other person.  “You are mine, not theirs.”  Revenge sex can  take the form of a sudden interest in S/M, or a formerly timid or passive partner becoming aggressive and dominant.  This type of sexual encounter can feel confusing for the discovered, but also exciting.
  • Sex during this time can also be an act of desperation by the discoverer who might want to use it to get their partner to want them, and only them, once again.  It’s part of a bigger effort to make themselves more desirable.  The person who had the affair may feel the desperation and have their own reactions.  Sometimes both partners are desperate together.  They hope to restore their bond through their sexual encounters.  Usually they find out it’s going to take more than that.
  • Sex can actually become more exciting because it is now an encounter with someone who is, in a way, new.  It is true that one of the most painful parts of affair discovery is precisely this… of having thought you knew your partner but finding out you didn’t.  But in the midst of the devastation, or once the initial crisis is over, this “who are you?” experience can also spark new  interest.   It may sound strange, but sometimes the idea of a partner as someone novel can be very exciting.

What all of these alterations in sexuality have in common is that they are most likely temporary.  In my experience, for better or worse, after a number of months, the sexual relationship usually returns to the way it was before the affair was discovered.  Some couples can feel very disappointed when this happens because it is easy to believe, since the sex is so good, that the problem has gone away.  But sex alone can’t heal what has happened.

If you, or you and your partner, feel that you need assistance healing from an affair, and live in the SF Bay Area, feel free to contact me at (925) 948-0562 or

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Elise

    I just found out after 40 years of marriage that my husband has been addicted to porn, had an affair that lasted a year and visited a prostitute. I thought I knew him to be a moral Christian man, always preaching morals to everyone when all along he was leading a double life. We are older and I’m too afraid to be alone. He has repented and is very shamed by his behavior and says he loves me and desires me, does not want to divorce. I am so angry and disgusted and can’t seem to get over this even with therapy. I don’t think the pain of being deceived for so long will ever go away. How could I have been so blind to what he was doing all those years. The trust is GONE..

  2. Anonymous

    I just found out my wife has given herself to someone else three times since we have been separated. I asked if she loves and cares for him and she says no. But I don’t know what to do. I can’t bear to even see her naked. Just the thought of her loaning herself out to another guy burns my heart.

  3. Cindy Albarado

    Cathie: is it possible that he loves you but may have contracted an STD and he doesn’t want to infect you?

  4. Allen

    Every website states how great affair sex is. They say things like “it’s the best ever, married sex can’t compete.” Affair forums are full of cheaters bragging how great it was. So that being said, who would want a cheater back? I would not want the memory of how my spouse had the greatest sex with somebody else. Who needs that for the rest of their life?

  5. Joanne caliendo

    To add to my comment about my husband buying an apartment with his girlfriend… He couldn’t get a mortgage, so he brought her in. He admits he used her to get the apartment. She pays the mortgage and he pays the maintenance. Now he wants to sell and she doesn’t. They never had a plan on what do they do when it comes time to sell. This has hurt me and my kids.
    You would think when she found out he was married it would have ended. But she still wanted to hold onto her investment, hoping the stupid little wife wouldn’t find out. She’s on her third husband now and still doesn’t want to sell. Hopefully, the lawyer will work it out and get her out. Also, considering the circumstances, it ruined our marriage. He literally popped the apartment on me and I fell for his lie because I trusted him. We fought all the time about it. He was so mean and rotten… when we fought he would leave and retreat there, knowing the truth that I didn’t. I’d call him he’d tell me I’m hanging up or turning the phone off. He verbally abused me, yet maintains he wants to reconcile. It’s not happening. I had years of misery and am still in a lot of pain that a man I knew for 39 years would go that far and put me through all of this. He said he didn’t want to hurt me. He knew I would be devastated and thought that what I didn’t know wouldn’t hurt me. He never talked about his problems with me. He said it was because she was nice to him. Wow! I was unappreciated for all I did and left with our two girls in our place in Florida while he ran around with that women.
    Like I said, people should try to communicate their feelings and issues and seek a marriage counselor. I didn’t have that opportunity. He ran to another women, thinking that would fix or temporarily fix what was bothering him in his life. All you do is destroy a marriage, hurt your kids, if you have them. For what? It takes two to work on a relationship. Maybe it is possible to bring back some fireworks but when you don’t even try and give your spouse a chance…

  6. Joanne caliendo

    I learned on Mother’s Day of this year that my husband of almost 33 years had an affair back in 2011 for two years. It went as far as buying a co-op with her. The women thought he was divorced. My husband used owning the property as an excuse to move my daughter there, to a different school system. They ended the affair in 2013 when she found out he was still married. Yet she still has all of her furniture and belongings in the co-op, which they both still own. He does still live in it now, since I threw him out.
    This woman still does not want to sell. They both made such a mess and they continued to hide it from me for six years. Yet this women still does not want to sell. It is a very bad situation. Their co-op is up the street from the family home.
    I’m hurt and angry about the whole thing. He never planned on leaving his family. He has no feelings for her and wants me back.
    I’m not taking him back. They had unprotected sex. He left my twelve year old alone with his girlfriend at the apartment. I’m fuming about it all. I understand all the reasons that people do this but I’m not in agreement with any of them. If you can’t learn to communicate with each other and have to have an affair instead, that’s pretty bad. If you want out, then get out. If you don’t want your spouse to do that to you, then don’t do it to them. It’s a very painful violation of trust and creates a very sad world

  7. Patricia Brown

    My husband and I have been together for 15 years. We’ve been married for a year and a half. I just found out he cheated on me with a 66 year old woman he met on a chatline after 3 days of knowing her. He did not use protection and came back and made love to me. What do I do? I can’t have sex with him at all.

  8. Mary

    Well, I had an affair for two years. Mostly texting but we did meet three times for sex. Yes I was wrong. I hurt my husband of 25 years. It’s been three years now and he is still hung up on the affair sex. I never wanted to have sex I just wanted the kudos. The times we did have sex was awful. One he was very small downstairs, he didn’t know what foreplay was, he seemed in a hurry, had lots of ED problems and once he was drunk. I always felt used. I felt like he treated me like a hooker. The last time we met it took 20 minutes for the pain to go away. But my husband won’t believe that. Nope cause EVERYBODY on the internet says affair sex is mind blowing. So I gave up. I told the truth for three years and I really don’t care anymore if he believes me or not. Affairs really suck.

  9. Anonymous

    My husband of 20 years had an affair with a Licensed Vocational Nurse for 3 years. After discovering his affair I feel nauseated approaching him. I refuse to take a leftover back. They belong with each other.

  10. Anonymous

    I was not the best husband in the past, but a good father. I cooked and cleaned and loved my family. Then I caught her cheating and she ran like I beat, her which I didn’t. I then caught cheating again. I still love her. But I feel unloved.

  11. Anonymous

    My husband had an affair with another woman, but we try to overcome and forget the past. But until now he won’t have sex with me. It’s almost two years since he had the affair. And they are having communication but I know that the affair is over. But we don’t have sex, just kisses and hugs. Please help.

  12. Anonymous

    I been with my husband for 8 years and 3 years of marriage. He cheated the first time in our relationship and all went down. I try to recover from that affair and I have been by his side thru hard times and the good ones too. I have been faithful and I always take care of my home, my self and him. The last year was horrible he cheated on me with 2 women, if you can call them that. They are 10 years older, and he lied after I found out about it. Then I found out he was hanging around with lots of girls and lying to them about me being abusive. He even posted nasty stuff on his Facebook page. I have no friends, and no family. I have been by my self for 20 years now. And he has been my whole world, my family. What he did to me was a horrible thing. And I have been trying to move forward and try to leave this behind, but every minute I see him fucking those people and I fall apart. I have been picking up the pieces but they just keep falling apart.

  13. Anonymous


    I just discovered my wife of 12 years cheated on me with a co-worker. I just discovered this two days ago, though I suspected for months.

    After she was caught, she admitted to her infidelity and I called the guy… (He hung up on me.) I plan on calling his wife to let her know as I would expect the same.

    My wife and I weren’t having sex for a variety of reasons… She as diagnosed with UC/Crohns in 2006. During her worst parts I was cleaning up after her when she couldn’t control her bowels. This took a huge hit on her sense of self worth, knowing what I saw and did to take care of her during this time. At the same time, I was on pain killers for arthritis (off them now thank God!) and that killed my libido. So…We just kind of stopped having sex.

    This went on for years. We would discuss it from time to time but we were so much stronger in other areas than most other couples we knew. We were best friends.

    I am trying to decide what to do now as she is staying at her sister’s house. I love her and I will forgive her… But there will be new ground rules if she is to come back. TOTAL (and sometimes verifiable) honesty is paramount.

    I also plan to see a therapist. You guys need to talk! It sounds like you want to but he doesn’t. Seek out professional help, alone at first perhaps, but then together. I have been reading for days on how to deal with this. Overwhelmingly I see… If the cheater won’t tell you EVERYTHING…. It is time to leave!

    Good luck! I know a little of what you are going through now.

  14. Anonymous

    This all makes sense to me (after my husband’s affair at one point I wanted as much sex with him again as possible), however, here’s my situation for the past 4 years. After my husband had at least 2 serious affairs we have been back together for four years. He claims what he did was wrong and stupid and that he does love me and that we should be together for life now.
    Problem is that he won’t have sex with me again no matter what. I’ve tried to plead, talk, ask him to go to therapy and he just shuts down and says he “can’t” and it stems from his guilt. I’ve even told him that I don’t want to be in a sexless relationship and that I plan on having sex again before I die (its been 6 years now)even if it has to be someone else. I’ve brought up having an “open relationship” and he just looks hurt.
    I feel there must be more to all of this than just guilt. I also know that he had a very strong libido and feel that he has to be having sex somewhere – he’s just learned to keep it very discreet. Am I crazy or should I follow my gut feelings, assume he’s still being unfaithful and do what I have to do for myself? And why, if he says he loves me and wants to be with me, is no longer attracted to me?

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