Hysterical Bonding After An Affair
By: Chelsea
April 1, 2024

Hysterical Bonding – The Urge To Be Intimate After An Affair

You recently discovered that your partner had an affair. You are devastated and heartbroken. You are confused on what you should do next. However, you realize that you and your partner are being more physically intimate that you have in a long time. Something that you never would have expected. This is hysterical bonding – something that I see a lot of in my couples when working on affair recovery. But, why?

Hysterical bonding describes what happens when a person is cheated on, or broken up with by their partner, and they want to do anything to win back their ex’s affections. This is something that many couples go through after an affair. Increased sex is a part of that process. Infidelity bring out an overwhelming amount of emotion. The betrayal leads to sadness, anger, confusion and grief.  Most people will turn to their partner when they have experienced turmoil or a trauma. It is a way to feel comfort that your partner has been able to provide is the past.

When infidelity is involved, the person who has been betrayed can have a need to feel wanted and desired. This can prompt an urge to connect sexually. The sex can also look different than before, whether it be the frequency or taking new risks in the bedroom that you maybe wouldn’t have before. There can also be undertones of desperation with hysterical bonding out of the fear of your partner leaving and wanting to connect at all cost.

“While sex promotes a renewed connection in the moment, this feeling later complicates their misery when unpleasant memories of the cheating resurface,” (Raypole, 2020). Something that you should be aware of if hysterical bonding is happening is asking yourself if you are wanting to be physically intimate or if you feel like you are needing to be. If you are having sex with your partner because you feel like you are needing to, that can potentially cause more harm for you emotionally. While the sex may feel good it in moment, and you feel a revival of the love you felt for your partner at the beginning of your relationship, that feeling may not last.

Monika Cope-Ward, a clinical social worker, states hysterical bonding will not repair or sustain the relationship. You have to be able to address the infidelity and not only lean on the physical side. The relationship after infidelity has changed. As a couple, you have to work on the healing process from an emotional piece as well. The impotence of being vulnerable, open, honest and transparent in this recovery is imperative. If not, there can continue to be a disconnect in the relationship that can cause more heartache.

Hysterical bonding is not uncommon after an affair. If this is something that you feel like you are identifying with, just know that you are not alone. The emotional flooding that you are experiencing can be overwhelming. Whether you decide to stay with your partner or separate, take the time to focus on what your needs are during this healing process.