Affair Help: The Business of Controversy

Infidelity is a growing and profitable business, predicted to continue on its upward trend.

In direct response to the continued growth in the number of available ‘clientele’, there are many ‘experts’ rushing to the trough to gorge themselves on ‘affair commerce’ in their own particular style.

The Business of Affairs and Infidelity

As I wrote in the The Affair Business:

It’s inevitable that someone will find a way to capitalize on the doubts and pain of infidelity - after all, therapists, life coaches, and counselors have been doing it for years. Television shows like Cheaters, or Unfaithful are popular ‘entertainment’. The myriad of chat shows that sensationalize affairs have all cashed in on the misery that affairs and infidelity can bring to a family.

So, someone added DNA testing of the suspected female cheater’s underwear to the trough? No biggie. After all, we already have that trough stacked high with tasty tidbits in film and television, in the newspapers (face it, sex sells), in psychology, and in cheating sites on the web … so sure, let’s add in a DNA testing assay. It’s not an unethical business model, it’s simply selling its testing services to the general public in response to a continued trend of affairs.

I am sure that there are a slew of other things that we can heft into the affair and infidelity feeding trough too. There’s plenty of fodder to go around.

Affair Help: Marketing the Myth

One increasingly popular trend is the infidelity and affair websites that sell their services to save your relationship. I took the decision to make this brand of online affair help freely available to anyone who chooses to look for it, but I am not living under a rock, subscribing to some Star Trek-esque idea of a utopian society free from the heinous capitalistic monster. I don’t hold a position against marketing items from a website like this, nor do I think that anyone should be prevented from creating an ethical business around their own work, experience or knowledge about infidelity.

I am completely in support of the concept of people making money! I DO though take a personal view against the sites that peddle unqualified infidelity advice for a fee, or that try to sell The Big Secret to saving your marriage, or that in some way hold infidelity support and information to ransom. I also take a position against selling controversial theories about infidelity, simply to secure a niche in the market.

Being Controversial

In the posts Affair Help: Do Affairs Save Marriages and Affair Help: Reaction and Response, I put the book deal in the crosshairs. Again, I have no problem with people making money from selling books, but let’s be clear: Being controversial sells. Being controversial and claiming to be an expert sells even better.

The jewel in the crown is being controversial, and claiming to be an expert while also being a psychologist … and this trifecta is really where this mini-rant was founded, because I think that people deserve some honesty about infidelity, especially from the professionals they turn to when they have experienced an affair in their relationship.

When I read posts like this from Dr Tammy Nelson (excerpted from her book) I find it difficult to believe that this isn’t partly (or perhaps wholly) a product of trying to find a new angle to sell.

“One of the first things you will need to do to heal from an affair is to explore this question of why it happened and to be open to hearing the real, honest truth. Most people want to blame the cheating partner. And the cheating partner does have to take responsibility for pursuing the outside relationship. But no affair happens in a vacuum.

Collusion in the Affair

Collusion means “secret cooperation.” The dictionary says that collusion is “secret cooperation between two people in order to do something underhanded or undesirable.” Many couples, if they are honest with themselves, may find that the partner who was cheated on colluded with the infidelity even if he or she didn’t participate directly in the affair. That means that on some level, there was some type of cooperation, even if unconscious, to make the affair happen.

This secret cooperation may mean the betrayed partner is doing something in the relationship to collude with his or her partner’s behavior, even if he or she doesn’t realize it. To be unconsciously aware means that on some level, the betrayed partner had an idea that their spouse was cheating.

In a 1995 study, two groups of practicing therapists described extramarital affairs they treated or were themselves involved in. They reported that 89% of betrayed spouses in the study were consciously aware of the infidelity or, even if they did not acknowledge it, really did know about the affair. The majority of the betrayed spouses behaved as if they were in collusion with their cheating partners, even when they said they were opposed to the affairs.”

Full article

Affairs: Collusion and Agreement

Affair ControversyI find myself reduced to sarcasm in the face of such a huge steaming pile of cretinous codswallop.

To be picky, the definition of collusion given in her own link does not state “secret cooperation” - instead it says “secret agreement”. Last time I checked, agreement to non-monogamy isn’t an affair or infidelity - it’s an open relationship.

Those who have experienced an affair in their relationship did not have the power of veto OR agreement, “secretly” or otherwise. The cheater made a unilateral choice without consultation with their partner. That’s not agreement even if I use the same dictionary as Dr Nelson.

Most people want to blame the cheating partner.

Yes, yes we do. We don’t just ‘want’ to. We do it, and we do it loudly and without apology. It’s asinine to apportion blame elsewhere.

This concept that the faithful partner is to blame somehow for their cheater’s affair is tantamount to blaming the dog for being kicked. Are we really going to start down the road where we ‘collude’ (hey, she used it first!) to blame domestic violence on the victim (“She made me do it”) or alcoholism on the spouse (“He drove me to drink”)? Really? We’re going there with our psychology Ph.D.s now?

… there was some type of cooperation, even if unconscious, to make the affair happen.

Yes. It was all the faithful partner’s doing. They somehow managed to cooperate by their very existence in the relationship, which absolutely compelled their partner to have an affair. They made it happen.

They created an environment that forced the poor misunderstood cheater to take the only path available to them - an affair. There were no other choices. No. There was no other way to either exit the relationship, or seek help for the problems, or to even talk about it. Newp. It was an inescapable path for the cheater, who was unavoidably compelled to take that road despite kicking and screaming in protest against it, at every step. (Excuse me while I mop the dripping sarcasm from my keyboard.)

To be unconsciously aware means that on some level, the betrayed partner had an idea that their spouse was cheating.

Tying this to her other points, Dr Nelson is postulating that by simply having an awareness of an affair, it creates a ‘secret cooperation’ with it.

What an impressive example of a non sequitur argument! Last time I checked, a valid argument requires that one or more basic premises have some logical connection. What Dr Nelson is essentially saying is that knowledge of a partner’s affair means agreement to it, and cooperation with it. Well, I am fully aware that my dog licks his butt when I am out of the house but I am damn sure I don’t agree or cooperate! (My apologies - inane drivel sometimes prompts me to respond in kind.)

Now, I accept that all of this is designed to plug her book. I understand that she had to find a new angle to sell. I am not criticizing her for making money by selling a book about infidelity.

However … I think that there is a schism of difference between suggesting that less than perfect interpersonal dynamics might make someone more willing to consider an affair and Dr Nelson’s assertion that a faithful partner secretly cooperated with an affair by their mere knowledge of it.

I understand that business is business. I just want the premise someone uses to sell a book, controversial or otherwise, to have an authentic foundation.

~ Wayfarer


“I'm not a teacher, only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead - ahead of myself as well as you.” ~ George Bernard Shaw