Chronic Sexual Deception: Many Causes And Solutions

Chronic sexual infidelity can lead to terrible consequences. There are many reasons to explain why some people repeatedly engage in sexual deception. Effective counseling can address all of these causes and help bring healing to everyone affected by the destructive effects of ongoing sexual secret-keeping.

There Are Several Possible Causes of Repeated Infidelity.  Counseling Can Address Them All.

Statistics about sexual infidelity are hard to prove because of the secrecy involved, but several studies suggest that about 20% of men and 15% of women will be sexually unfaithful at some point in life.  Of course, statistics don't matter much if you are one of the people affected.

Healing from a single incident of infidelity is difficult enough, but what about those who cheat over and over? Why do some people keep engaging in sexual deception despite the potential for great harm this can bring to them and others?  As an experienced professional counselor who has helped many people with these issues I know that there are several possibile causes of repeated infidelity, and that counseling can address them all.

  • Some folks have never fully considered the consequences.

Just about everybody would agree that lying about sexual infidelity is wrong.  At the same time, some people have never truly considered the full consequences of their behavior.  They just haven't let themselves think about it until their world (or the world of their partner) comes crashing down. A few never received good lessons about sexual integrity to begin with, often because they grew up without sufficiently healthy caretakers to model this behavior.

How counseling helps.  This is the time to face the mirror and confront the person staring back.  I help clients look at themselves in ways they have never done before.  I ask questions and give feedback to provide a valuable perspective that can potentially have lasting impact.  Sometimes the best help is a trusted relationship with someone who can provide support and guidance for developing greater self-awareness and a deepened respect for the potential consequences of our choices.  

  • Some people have a diagnosis, chemical imbalance or substance abuse issue that makes it harder to control their sexual impulses.

An untreated bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder or attention deficit disorder can all influence a person's sexual behavior.  Substance use disorders can also severely affect a person's sexual judgement.

How counseling helps.  One goal of counseling is to determine the possible presence of an underlying psychiatric or substance use disorder.  During my assessment process I will evaluate if another diagnosis needs to be treated along with the sexual problem, since sexual behavior can sometimes be either a symptom or a way to manage a symptom.  In some instances this may result in a referral for a medication evaluation in addition to the counseling relationship, if the client agrees to it.

  • A (very) few people just don't care much about right and wrong.

Studies show that about 4% of the population doesn't operate with a strong moral code. That's not a high percentage but the idea that one out of twenty-five people will do what they want if they can get away with it is not a statistic to take lightly.

How counseling helps. Since secretive sexual behavior can be both a cause and effect of narcissism it can sometimes be difficult to determine which came first.  The "proof of the pudding" will be determined by what the person does over time.  A charlatan or sociopath may start out strong after the deception has been discovered but will not be able to keep up a charade over the lengthy period of time necessary for true healing to occur.  He or she will blame others, minimize the problem and try to rush through the counseling process.  Full healing from the relational damage of chronic infidelity demands a deep capacity for patience, responsibility and empathy.  The good news is that I have worked with clients who started counseling with barely a nub of these qualities who went on to abundantly develop them and other qualities of great character, conviction and courage.  This is why I say a breakdown can turn into a breakthrough.

  • Many people have some type of sexual turn-on they are too ashamed to admit which drives their behavior.

In our society filled with sexual shame this happens a lot. Repressed desires can only be acted on in secret, which can turn into a never-ending cycle of deception.  Many problems would be avoided if people would just say "this is what excites me sexually".  They can then manage their life, relationships and desires truthfully rather than being silenced by shame about their sexual interests and fantasies. 

How counseling helps. Counseling can be very helpful in sorting out such erotic conflicts.  Individual counseling can provide an opportunity to safely talk about different sexual desires that a person may never have been able to discuss before.  As a result, shame and confusion can be replaced with greater acceptance and understanding about the diversity of sexual interests. Couples counseling can help people communicate their sexual needs and desires more openly, avoiding secret-keeping and helping partners achieve greater sexual satisfaction with each other.

  • Sometimes this behavior is a way of “acting out” some kind of painful early life experience.

Some life traumas can contribute to the development of secret or risky sexual behavior that in some way reflects this past.

How counseling helps.  Counseling can be extremely beneficial in helping people resolve the effects of unfortunate life events that can result in sexual self-control problems.  Having a safe place to heal the effects of childhood traumas can be profoundly important in helping a person break the cycle of unhealthy sexual behavior patterns.

  • Sexual secret-keeping can be a symptom of an "intimacy disorder". 

This is a term to describe an extreme difficulty forming and maintaining a truly intimate emotional connection with a primary partner.  It is one reason why some people only feel strong sexual desire for someone they don't really love. There are lots of barriers to healthy intimacy, but ongoing sexual secrecy can be the most damaging.  

How counseling helps.  Counseling can help a person with an intimacy disorder understand the nature of the problem and work through the barriers that are preventing true intimacy from developing.  It is usually some form of protection learned in earlier formative relationships, often at a vulnerable age. Individual, group and couples counselingcan all help improve a person's ability to feel fully comfortable and safe in close relationships and express sexual and loving feelings with the same -- and only -- person. 

  • Finally, there are those who sincerely try but simply cannot control their sexual behavior, despite their best attempts. In other words, the issue is sex addiction.

Some people have truly lost the ability to effectively manage their sexual thoughts, urges or impulses. For them, sexual obsessions can be as strong as a drug addiction.  They are not able to consistently control their sexual behavior over time, no matter how hard they try. 

What's the solution? I've devoted an entire page, and much of my career, to this very important question, so move on to that if you haven't yet read it and are ready to do so.

In summary, a pattern of deceptive sexual behavior is a serious issue no matter what caused it, what it's called or what other problems are present.  At the same time, it's very important to have an accurate assessment based on the unique factors of each particular situation.  I'm available for confidential consultation, experienced guidance and a personalized plan of action based on a careful consideration of all relevant information, so I welcome you to contact me if I can be of assistance to you.

Thanks for reading this all the way through.  I hope it was helpful.

Bill