Krisanna Jeffery
Registered Clinical Counselor, B.S.W, M.Ed

Sexual Affairs: To Tell or Not To Tell 

How honest can we be in relationships? This is a common concern among couples striving for intimate relationships.

 Couples often discuss the importance of being honest and truthful within their relationships. A common question I’m asked is: “Should I tell my partner about a sexual affair”. While dealing with the issue of affairs is a common theme in couple counselling, I would not advise a client to tell their partner about an affair, even if I believed that to be the best course of action. However, I will always give them the following information to help them make their choice.  

First of all, secrets are very destructive, whether the topic is abuse, addiction, or sexual affairs. Secrets within families are responsible for many of our psychological and emotional problems. With secrets in the way, family problems do not get addressed. And when they don’t get addressed, they fester from one generation to another. They also have the potential to make people ill and create neurotic behaviors, simply because of the worry of being “found out”. 

In specific regard to sexual affairs there are of course other factors to consider. The fact that the affair occurred in the first place, often indicates a lack of intimacy in the relationship.  One hopes to find missing closeness by going outside the relationship. One rarely does find it because the capacity for intimacy lies within our own ability to be open and honest with ourselves and others. So searching for another partner to meet this need, rarely works. Adding another secret to withhold only creates more distance in the relationship. 

I would then go on to help a client see the consequences of either continuing on with the secret or becoming honest about their behavior. For example, it’s important for people to understand that telling about an affair can cause the end of the relationship. Obviously, this is a very difficult choice to make, especially where children and finances are involved. On the other hand, I don’t believe the relationship can become healthy with secrets in the way. Usually, people already are aware of this. That’s what brings the subject up to the counsellor in the first place. Deep down, most of us know the destructiveness of secrets and lies.  

Sometimes, when this information has been shared, people decide in favor of truth and are willing to face the consequences of their behavior. They don’t do this because of what I’ve said, but because living with secrets and lies is simply too difficult. 

At other times, people opt to stay trapped in their secrets. They accept that the consequence of this will be a more distant relationship. They decide to settle for less intimacy in order to reduce the risk of ending their marriages.  I honor both courses of action because my goal is to help people make more informed choices in their lives.


For more information, please contact Krisanna Jeffery
1348 Gabriola Dr. Parksville, BC
Canada V9P 2X8

Tel (250) 951-2299 between 9-5 Pacific
fax (250) 947-9920 anytime

Copyright 2003     Krisanna Jeffery