Relationships are complicated. And as many therapists know, infidelity is a distressingly common issue for romantic couples. Unfortunately, a lot of psychotherapy approaches view infidelity as a manifestation of broader underlying problems and rarely offer insights or interventions to specifically address unfaithfulness and the impulses behind it.

In this book, Lawrence Josephs argues for a new understanding of the psychological foundations of "cheating."

Drawing on research in social, personality, and evolutionary psychology that examines the crucial roles of attachment theory and "dark" personality traits such as narcissism and low empathy, Josephs offers a complex but intuitive model that explains how and when intimate relationships work, and don't work.

His integrative and compassionate approach to treatment is grounded in psychodynamic principles, yet uses interventions from a variety of approaches, including mentalization-based therapies, emotion-focused therapy, marital communication skills training, and mindfulness/acceptance techniques.

This is a thought-provoking book for individual, family, and couples therapists seeking insights on how to address infidelity.

Table of Contents



  1. To Cheat or Not to Cheat? The Evolution of Fidelity and Infidelity
  2. Too Close for Comfort: Attachment Style and Infidelity
  3. The Wandering Eyes of Men and Women: Sex Differences in Motivations for Infidelity
  4. Fatal Attractions: The Dark Triad and Infidelity
  5. Am I Sexually Desirable? Fidelity and Infidelity as Proof of Mate Value
  6. Sexual Possessiveness and Jealousy: The Psychology of Retaliatory Infidelity
  7. When the Best Sex Is Extramarital: Infidelity Throughout the Life Span
  8. The Problem of Begrudging Partner Sharing: When Cheaters Won't Leave Their Spouses
  9. Boys Gone Wild: Can Infidelity Be a Symptom of Sex Addiction?
  10. Marital Communication Styles That Predict Betrayal

Conclusion: Why People Remain Faithful



About the Author

Author Bio

Lawrence Josephs, PhD, is a professor of psychology at the Gordon F. Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies of Adelphi University.

Dr. Josephs has been an editor for the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, book reviewer for Psychoanalytic Psychology, and a manuscript reviewer for Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy. He has published articles in Archives of Sexual Behavior, Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, Self and Identity, International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Psychoanalytic Psychology, Psychoanalytic Dialogues, Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, and Psychodynamic Psychiatry.

In 2015 The New York Times published an op-ed piece written by Dr. Josephs called "When the Best Sex is Extra-Marital."

Dr. Josephs has a private practice of individual and couples psychotherapy in New York City.

Reviews & Awards

This book is detailed and sophisticated in discussing the psychological foundations of cheating. Individual, couple, and family therapists will find it helpful when looking for literature addressing infidelity and especially the relational dynamics involved in infidelity.
Doody’s Reviews

Josephs has conducted groundbreaking research on jealousy and infidelity in couples. This book is his magnum opus: a brilliant, accessible synthesis of social, evolutionary, personality, and relationship science and a thoroughly sophisticated discussion of clinical applications.
—John T. Jost, PhD
Codirector of the Center for Social and Political Behavior and Professor of Psychology and Politics, New York University, New York

Josephs approaches the cultural hot button area of infidelity by masterfully bringing together academic scholarship and clinical acumen. His breadth of knowledge and respect for ordinarily disparate areas of psychological research and clinical practice bring light to an area that has been shrouded in misunderstanding and contradiction.
—George Stricker, PhD
Professor of Psychology, American School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University, Northern Virginia, Arlington

Clinicians of all orientations will find this book to be an invaluable resource when treating both couples and individuals who are struggling with infidelity or tensions around conflicting needs for trusting intimacy and sexual excitement. Josephs balances clinical sophistication with practical utility in a text that is destined to become a standard in the field.
—Jeremy D. Safran, PhD
Professor of Psychology, The New School for Social Research, New York, NY