There’s a cliche that’s woven itself into our social fabric, a tired trope that is uttered after someone has an affair: “It was just sex.” And according to therapist Michele Weiner-Davis, this phrase is only going to make the situation worse with your partner.
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“Saying an affair wasn’t about one’s partner is painful because it’s excruciating to think that you weren’t on your partner’s radar when he or she made that decision,” she told Huffington Post. Weiner-Davis, the author of Healing from Infidelity: The Divorce Busting Guide to Rebuilding Your Marriage After an Affair, added, “It makes a person feel unwanted, unloved, unimportant.”
She says as irritating as this phrase is, cheaters often say it because it’s true: Those who cheat are usually thinking with their groins, not their brains.
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Another therapist, Caroline Madden, who specializes in extramarital affairs, tells HuffPo that the “it was just sex” line is minimizing and insensitive.
“Saying ‘it meant nothing’ comes across as, ‘I destroyed your world for nothing,’” said Madden, the author of Blindsided By His Betrayal: Surviving the Shock of Your Husband’s Infidelity.
To those who have an affair, she recommends coming clean to your partner and being honest about why you had an affair in the first place, and acknowledge that it was a big deal.
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“Once you’ve explained yourself, admit that it was a stupid, selfish choice,” said Madden. “If you can’t believe you could have destroyed everything you worked so hard to build because of lust and know this will be the greatest regret of your life, tell your spouse all of that.”