To deal with infidelity, first understand its causes

A relationship counsellor identifies the various reasons and forms in which infidelity occurs, and the mindset of the one who strays


When the exclusivity of a man-woman relationship is eroded, when either one of them seeks the bedroom intimacy—emotional, physical or both—elsewhere, it could be termed as infidelity.

The causes

In working with hundreds of couples, with many of them having approached me because of infidelity on the part of one of them, I have identified the various reasons and forms in which it occurs, and the mindset of the one who strays.

Self-disclosure on their part has revealed the following causes:

Boredom, where they believe they ‘must have’ excitement, variety and stimulation at all times.

Sunil was a porn addict since his teenage years. His ‘real’ relationship never matched up to the stimulus that porn created in him, and he preferred porn sites and sex chat rooms to his wife.

Entitlement, where they believe they ‘must have’ the right to choose their life partner, and not be forced into a relationship by parents/circumstances against
their will.

• Mahesh, who briefly dated his wife, was forced to marry her at a very young age by their conservative parents before he could get to know her well; Ketan was guilt-tripped into an arranged match decided by his grandmother when she was terminally ill. Both these men resented their present relationship as it reminded them of being deprived of ‘free will’, and engaged in intimacy outside the marriage as an assertion of their ‘choice’.

Discontment, where they believe they ‘must have’ marital happiness free from emotional/verbal/physical abuse.

• Jia’s husband was an alcoholic and a wife-beater; Kamya’s husband was controlling and verbally abusive; Rohan’s wife would threaten and attempt suicide whenever she would not get her way and was on anti-depressants under psychiatric care. All these spouses felt deprived of fulfilling companionship and sought it outside the marriage.

Reassurance, where they believe they ‘must have’ the magnetic charm and the ability to forever impress and attract the opposite sex, in order to feel ‘good enough’.

• Jatin, a successful businessman, had multiple affairs with his numerous secretaries, his clients, his friends’ wives and others, to reassure himself of his charm and attractiveness.

Old Flame, where they believe they ‘must have’ the hormone-driven rush of a teenage romance forever, with secret rendezvous.

• Tasneem, who escaped into romantic novels from her ‘regular’ world as a stay-at-home mom, traced her ex-boyfriend through Facebook and had a torrid affair with him, which wreaked havoc in both their homes and families.

Online flirtations, where they believe they ‘must have’ the right to have a private fantasy life without any outside interference.

• Karan, as a shy child, was used to escaping into his fantasy world, when academic stress or pressure of being the ‘good son’ got the better of him. When he logged on to the online world as a teenager, he found an easy stress-buster in virtual affairs with multiple women. This, of course, was at the cost of intimacy with his wife. When she protested, he saw her as an ‘outsider’ in his life and an intrusion on his ‘insider’ relationships online.

Mood disorders, where they believe they ‘must have’ instant gratification of their emotional [romantic] and physical [sexual] needs and see such gratification as normal, natural and necessary.

• Sohan was diagnosed with a bi-polar mood disorder but refused medication in the form of mood-stabilisers. He would get in and out of sexual relationships and view any reasoning on the part of his spouse as an impediment in his natural living.

A common mindset in all the above is a ‘demandingness’/’must have’ and a belief that they ‘deserve’ what they demand, and that there is ‘nothing wrong’ in pursuing a relationship outside marriage, except that it is not in keeping with social ethics and the law of the land.

Magnifying lens over an exclamation markSpot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!

Minnu Bhonsle
Dr Minnu R Bhonsle, PhD, is a Mumbai-based consulting psychotherapist and counsellor. She conducts training programmes in Personal Counselling [Client-centred Therapy] and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, and also workshops in Stress Management, Art of Listening, Couple Therapy, and Communication Skills. Minnu has co-authored the book, The Ultimate Sex Education Guide along with Dr Rajan Bhonsle.


  1. Many therapists offer their sessions over video calls. Their fees remain the same as they charge for their time. Charges will differ from therapist to therapist but is usually in the range of 2k – 3k per hourly session.


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