When we chatted with one of Silicon Valley’s top divorce attorneys, we briefly discussed the dangers of various types of infidelity — and not just the classic f-ing around during the out-of-town conference. To dig into that a little farther, we reached out to local relationship coach Katherine McCaskie. “When you hear that someone you know was caught cheating, you usually think of a sexual affair,” she says. “There are other ways, though, to wreck your marriage. Because they aren’t physical, they might seem less ‘wrong’ at first — but have no doubt, they are equally if not more destructive.”
We’re all taught from an early age that “cheating” is bad — but the same stigma rarely applies to non-physical forms of infidelity, whether the “office girlfriend” is becoming your emotional go-to or you’re beginning to disguise unsavory details of your shared financial life. But these later two can, it turns out, be just, if not more injurious — perhaps because they’re less expected. It hurts more when you don’t see it coming.
Below, a deeper dive, from McCaskie, on the many different ways to cheat. She works with South Bay/Silicon Valley families and partners looking to get closer; reach out for information on working with her.
“There’s a scene in that Netflix show, Girl’s Guide to Divorce, in which the lead character finally consummates what had been, up until that point, a series of hot and steamy emails and texts, and guess what — there was no physical chemistry. But what they did share was enough to help push her marriage to divorce. An emotional affair is when you are already in a committed relationship and you develop a connection with someone else. You start spending time together (in person, email, text), flirt and even fantasize about each other. You definitely keep it a secret from your partner, and overtime all of your emotional energy gets spent on someone else. Emotional infidelity can cut way deeper than a sexual affair.”
“Money issues are never just about money — in a relationship, it’s all about power. It’s no surprise that money is one of the top causes of divorce. Financial infidelity is when one partner makes major financial choices without telling the other. It can be particularly destructive because it can start small and build, and end up leaving the other partner not only brokenhearted but without a home or financial security. Partners choose to make all kinds of decisions about how to manage finances — shared accounts, separate and shared, etc.— but no partner should ever leave it up to the other to completely control the knowledge of or management of a family’s finances.”
“The classic case of infidelity: the hotel room, the “late nights at work,” the lipstick smudges. This breach of a commitment often leads to the end of a marriage, but it may not be the cause. A sexual affair is sometimes the symptom of other problems in the relationship. Just as with an emotional affair, however, the violation of trust can be too painful to work through and the relationship ends. Making concrete efforts to stay connected intimately even when faced with young children, full-time work, or just life’s mundane hassles will help ensure that any decisions that are made about the relationship are made by both partners together through honest communication.”