Loyalty to a spouse or partner is the respect of sexual exclusivity. However, they are different forms of infidelity from a long term affair to lack of sexual life at home. As the Inuits have different words to designate the word snow according to its nature: powdery, heavy, wet, etc., we should have different versions of the word “infidelity”.
There is a huge difference between each type of infidelity and many subcategories to each. A “loyal” unfaithfulness over a long period of time is different from long term multiple unfaithfulness. What is a long time anyway: a week? Two weeks? A month? What about short term infidelity, for instance a quickie in the park? A night shot? A weekend? And then, can we label the abandonment of the conjugal room for the sofa, the computer or the office as infidelity?
The basic concept is that faithfulness involves the body and the mind. Therefore, infidelity is the scission of the mind and body. When the scission is prolonged, it creates a new dimension, a journey that influences and changes the couple’s reality. It endangers the intimate connection because it brings in a new element. Even if love subsists for the regular partner, the initial couple as a protection against the world has now lost its primary function. On the contrary, a short escapade as identity reinforcement or an exception to the rule may reinforce the couple especially when guilt is involved.
A partner involved in a long term love affair may save the couple by showing love, preference, involvement and protection to the regular partner. However, the erosion of the couple is unavoidable when faced with half lies, compromising information, prolonged absences, unusual expenses and absentmindedness. Overall, couples seldom resist long term infidelity because it destroys the assurance of knowledge and beliefs that were patiently build up. Trust is a long term construction that can be destroyed extremely rapidly and definitively.