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Sex After an Affair: How to Recover Intimacy

Sex After an Affair: How to Recover Intimacy

Moving on from being emotionally and sexually disconnected from your partner after an affair may seem impossible, especially if you are still in intense pain. This can be a very challenging time for you. If you choose to move towards forgiveness and stay together, working on your sex life will be vital to your healing process. Forgiving is one thing, forgetting is a whole different matter. Your mind will probably be all over the place when you become intimate with your partner, comparing and competing with the “other” person your partner had the affair with.

There may still be an emotional distance between the two of you and it will take time to close the emotional gap. You will need lots of reassurance from your partner and at times you will feel the need for a cuddle, to feel loved and needed.
Couples may find that what cannot be said out loud can instead be felt through touch. At first it may be difficult to reconnect erotically. You may still be unable to let yourself be vulnerable enough to touch each other intimately and make love in the ways that you used to.

It is easier for the cheating partner to become intimate again but at the same time, they will often carry the most guilt. Don’t push yourself too hard to become intimate out of fear that your partner may go back to the affair partner. It is normal to try and hold on to your partner after an affair, however sex shouldn’t be the only tool to reconnect with your partner. Let your partner know if you are not yet ready to be sexually intimate and that you are working on it and would appreciate patience and support.

Sexually connecting again with your partner can take some time. There are many ways to get closer to taking the first steps toward intimacy without having sexual intercourse.

Tips to rekindle your relationship:

  • Cuddle up in bed, on the couch while watching TV
  • Shower together, allow your partner to wash you
  • Hug often when saying goodbye
  • Kiss with passion

Make eye contact when speaking to your partner
Show your desire for them(men desire sex, woman desire general affection)

It’s important to understand some of the purposes of sex and intimacy:

  • To Heal
  • To Comfort
  • To Reconcile after an argument
  • To Build self-esteem (and a sense of masculinity in the man)
  • To Express love in a profound way, when words simply are not enough
  • To Connect on a deeper level
  • To Relax
  • To Please one’s partner
  • To Feel sexual or attractive

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to resume intimacy after an affair, just as there are no right or wrong answers to the many questions and dilemmas a couple must face after the revelation of an affair. There’s guaranteed not to be enough time to process all of the thoughts and feelings, questions and dilemmas at a time like this.

For the partner that has been betrayed, questions and thoughts like these will be come up:

  • Was I not good enough?
  • Does my partner not find me attractive?
  • How was sex with the other person?
  • What did my partner do different with the other person?
  • Did my partner share our intimate secrets with the other person?

You will go through stages where you are fully connected and enjoying the intimacy as if nothing ever happened, however there will be days where your memory starts to wonder off to your partner having an affair and you will feel like you are back to stage one.

Allow yourself to feel down at times and let your partner know when you are feeling this way. Do not go into a silent mode, this is not going to help you heal. Talking about it and releasing your emotions will help you move towards closure and release the trapped emotions. To help you with these feelings, think about what you have achieved so far and what you did that worked for you to become intimate with your partner again. Don’t give up, you’ve come this far by enjoying sex with your partner again and it worked right?

Allow yourself to become more intimate, more erotic and more passionate at a pace you are comfortable with. Reconnecting sexually after a partner has had an affair, will take time and a lot of effort. Don’t feel you have failed if it doesn’t come naturally, give yourself time to heal and process everything that has happened.

Tips for the cheating partner

Confess and talk it out
Understand that the period of waiting is likely to be long and you will be bombarded with questions by your partner who would want to know all the details of time and place, the nature of the sex acts participated in. Expect to be questioned, some partners may not want to know as it will hurt but for most, they would want closure. I’d suggest answering questions as honestly as possible.

Sensitivity in bed
Most likely your partner will be consumed with thoughts of the affair partner, it is imperative you go slow without demanding sex, be sensitive toward your partner which includes lots of verbal affirmations which are personal, intimate and loving. Be sure to let your partner know why you are with them, how much they are loved and how much you appreciate their staying in the relationship.

Admit you were wrong
By trying to avoid or down grade the affair as if it was nothing, is not going to help your relationship in any way, make it clear to your partner that you have regret. Blaming your partner for your affair will only place a bigger threat to reconciliation. Remember it was you that cheated, your choice and your actions. If it means you have to see a professional counsellor to help you with this, then do it, getting an understanding of why you did this, will help you overcome the guilt and shame.

Building trust again
You will feel at times that your partner does not trust you and may still harbor resentment and anger toward you. This is normal and you will need to compromise, reassure your partner of your love and devotion. You will also feel sexually frustrated as you may want your partner to forgive and forget and accept that what you did was not such a big deal, well think again, reverse roles and sight the despair, pain and rejection from a different angle. Your partner may not be ready for intimacy for a while and if you are going to push too hard to relieve your own sexual desires, you will certainly push your partner further away. The arousal in your partner will only become stronger with love, devotion, patience and trust. If at any time you feel the need to revert back to your affair partner because of lust or an easy way out to fulfil your sexual needs, I strongly suggest you seek professional help as a couple.

These factors are all necessary for the process of healing and forgiveness to begin. If you are serious about building trust with your partner, you will need to commit to fully understanding the grief and betrayal your partner is going through. Sex is a natural thing between two people and we almost feel our bodies are ONE, it’s not a pleasant experience knowing someone else has taken from us the most personal thing we share in life. It is not being overlooked that the couple will experience similar feelings about themselves and toward their partners, such as blame, guilt, failure, rejection and feeling unloved. Reconnecting with each other to overcome these feelings through professional help and commitment is very possible.

Author: Lyn Lovering, Counsellor and Relationship Coach for i-Soul Search Counselling

Lyn is a counsellor specialising in Relationships, Divorce, Blended families and Mental/Physical abuse. She takes a natural approach to understanding her clients with a strong emphasis on the therapist-client relationship as a healing tool.

You can follow her at

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