Sexual Intimacy after an Affair

 For anyone who has experienced this first hand, you will likely be able to relate to the information in this post.  Plain and simple, sexual intimacy can be affected in many different ways after an infidelity.  With that being said though, there are two extremely common ways sex is impacted after an infidelity: sex becomes extremely passionate or sex becomes non-existent. 

Sometimes after an affair, sex becomes “better” and occurs more often than it has ever before.  This reaction to an affair is often fueled by the need to provide sex to a partner so that they will not “need” to cheat again.  Linda and Doug hit the nail on the head when they describe this type of sex after an infidelity: “The problem in this scenario is that typically the sex is motivated by this intense pain, and usually the betrayed spouse is trying to prove their sense of masculinity or their sense of femininity. They’re comparing themselves to the other person. They’re wondering if they’re sexy or desirable.” (Link

After an infidelity, sex can also become non-existent.  Often times partners are grossed out, too hurt, and/or disappointed to imagine being sexually intimate with a partner who has cheated.  This is understandable because boundaries have been crossed and until some form of healing has occurred, a partner will likely not feel comfortable being sexually intimate.  Janice Spring, a prolific writer on infidelity, notes that “often, a couple feels like the other person is sitting in between them, like a ghost, and that conception strains sex.”  Another reason for the non-existence of sex after an infidelity is that many partners believe that having sex again is the ultimate act of forgiveness.  And, it might be for you, personally!  But, I would also like to normalize the idea that you can have sex with your partner and still not have forgiven them!  Having sex with your partner does not have to mean that the process is over and all is “right” again in the relationship.

If you and your partner have experienced an infidelity, but sex was not affected in these ways that is absolutely okay, too!   One of the most important things to remember is that there is no “right” way to respond sexually after an infidelity, these are simply common experiences.  Honor the emotions that you and your partner are feeling, and try to communicate those emotions non-defensively to one another (assuming the two of you have chosen to work on your relationship). 

One important thing to understand is that neither of these sexual states last forever.  If you and your partner have experienced an infidelity to your relationship and are struggling to move forward sexually, reach out to me at katiemitchell@heightsfamilycounseling.com.  Just as Janice Spring states, “It takes time to rebuild physical intimacy after one partner has slept with another person.” Let’s work together get the two of you in a better place sexually and emotionally, so that you can be experiencing the “best” sex of your lives, together! 

Written by Katie Mitchell, M.A., CST-Candidate

Katie Mitchell is a counselor and Certified Sex Therapist-Candidate at Heights Family Counseling. She believes in using a solution-focused therapeutic approach to therapy, in order to empower clients to discover more effective solutions to their problems. Katie aims to foster a non-judgmental, accepting environment that helps clients to feel comfortable sharing their deepest thoughts and self-reflections. Katie enjoys working with a variety of clientele, such as individuals, couples, and families.  She also enjoys working with both individual and relational sexual concerns.  She understands that an active sex life is incredibly important for most individuals, especially those in a relationship. Learn more about Katie by visiting, https://heightsfamilycounseling.com/amy-rollo/, or learn more about our services at, https://heightsfamilycounseling.com/services/