The 10 Best Books About Infidelity of 2021

How to cope with a cheating partner

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Our Top Picks

Healing From Infidelity

"Written by an acclaimed therapist, this book can help you work through the disbelief and anger of an affair."

Infidelity

"Dr. Rosenberg guides readers on how to prevent cheating, stop it in its tracks, and repair a relationship after the fact."

Out of the Doghouse

"Weiss offers insights through the lens of the betrayed partner, sharing their feelings and views of the situation."

The State of Affairs

"Mixing true stories with psychological and cultural analyses, Perel brings the taboos of modern marriage to life."

Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life

"It serves as a practical and relatable guide for anyone who's been cheated on and needs a friend."

When You're the One Who Cheats

"Taking a non-judgmental approach, Dr. Tammy Nelson advises readers on the implications of infidelity."

Conscious Uncoupling

"Author Katherine Woodward Thomas helps readers reframe the way they view the end of a relationship."

Infidelity: The Best Worst Thing That Could Happen to Your Marriage

"Written by an infidelity recovery expert, the book serves as a tool to help readers unpack and process a damaged relationship."

The Road to Reconciliation

"Offers advice on finding safety in a time of turmoil, assessing one's needs, making amends, and promoting change."

Anatomy of an Affair

"Gives both happy and struggling couples advice on healing from and avoiding infidelity."

Infidelity—or cheating—is increasingly prevalent in today's society. For those who've been in a toxic relationship with an unfaithful partner, there are a number of books that can offer clarity and guidance in an intensely personal and difficult time. While self-help books are far from a one-size-fits-all ideology, the right one could help launch you on your healing journey.

Here are the best books about infidelity for every type of relationship.

“A person who wants to heal from betrayal and work on self-growth can often benefit from two (or three) well-crafted self-help books that work in tandem. Infidelity can be life-shattering, so it’s truly important to do solid work from the inside-out to create deep healing.”

Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist and relationship expert.

Our Top Picks

Healing From Infidelity: The Divorce Busting Guide to Rebuilding Your Marriage After an Affair

What We Like
  • Aims to help couples heal

  • Offers practical, step-by-step advice

  • Caters to both partners

What We Don't Like
  • Not helpful for couples looking to break up

  • Places blame on both parties

"Healing From Infidelity" is the written version of a couples therapy session. This book serves as a powerful blueprint for wounded couples looking to work through the trauma of infidelity and restore their relationship.

Michele Weiner-Davis, acclaimed relationship expert and therapist, guides couples in a step-by-step program to make amends and rebuild trust following an affair. This interactive book includes sections on dealing with traumatic feelings, how to respond to questions after an affair, overcoming flashbacks, finding forgiveness, and more.

Infidelity: Why Men and Women Cheat

What We Like
  • Tackles different kinds of cheating

  • Science-backed

  • Helps repair marriages

What We Don't Like
  • Not helpful for couples looking to break up

"Infidelity" breaks down why people cheat and what to do when faced with a cheating partner. 

Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, MD, a psychiatrist specializing in addiction, guides readers in a science-backed journey to understanding all sides of infidelity. This book breaks down the three types of cheating—emotional, virtual, and phys­ical—as well as what drives one toward an affair, and how to process and heal from a cheating partner.

Dealing with subjects like what counts as infidelity and how to prevent it from ruining one's life, Rosenberg explains how to prevent cheating, stop it in its tracks, and repair a relationship after the fact.

Out of the Doghouse: A Step-by-Step Relationship-Saving Guide for Men Caught Cheating

What We Like
  • Aimed specifically at men who cheat

  • Explores digital-age infidelity

What We Don't Like
  • Heteronormative

  • Very prescriptive

In "Out of the Doghouse," author Robert Weiss, LCSW, gives men who’ve been caught cheating the concrete steps needed to rebuild trust, restore intimacy, and save their relationship following an affair. This book is brutally honest, delving into the mental and emotional flaws of men who cheat and covering the skills they need to build in order to mend a deeply bruised relationship.

Throughout the book, Weiss offers insights through the lens of the betrayed partner, sharing their feelings and views of the situation. This book also explores digital-age infidelity, which the author defines as ”[t]he breaking of trust that occurs when you keep intimate, meaningful secrets from your primary romantic partner."

Weiss is a therapist specializing in infidelity and sexual compulsions with specialties in digital-age sex, intimacy, and relationships.

The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity

What We Like
  • Includes true stories

  • Helps understand the motivation for cheating

  • Inclusive of polyamorous couples

What We Don't Like
  • Not as advice-filled as other books

  • Can be repetitive in places

In her book, "The State of Affairs," psychotherapist Esther Perel takes a 360-degree approach to relationships through the lens of infidelity. Addressing every possible stance, Perel dives into the deepest questions around love, lust, commitment, and affairs, like why people cheat—even those in happy marriages—and whether an affair-proof marriage is even possible today.

Mixing true stories with psychological and cultural analyses, Perel brings the taboos of modern marriage to life.

Written to be enlightening, honest, and entertaining, “The State of Affairs” leaves readers with a newfound understanding of the feelings, motivations, and uncertainty experienced in relationships.

Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life: The Chump Lady's Survival Guide

What We Like
  • For people who have been cheated on

  • Doesn't include victim-blaming

  • Helps plan life post-breakup

What We Don't Like
  • Not for couples wishing to stay together

  • Aimed at women only

  • Vulgar language used may be inappropriate for some readers

"Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life" is a middle-of-the-night pep talk from a close friend—the sassy straight-shooter to be exact.

This book does not aim to save one’s relationship after infidelity; instead, it's written to save one’s sanity. Full of wisdom and uncensored wit, the book serves as a practical and relatable guide for anyone who's been cheated on and needs a friend who "sits with you at 3 in the morning, pours you a bowl of Raisin Bran, and tells you to leave that cheater.” 

"Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life" is sprinkled with hilarious cartoons that satirize the arrogance of cheaters. Author Tracy Schorn is a journalist, cartoonist, and blogger who runs the successful infidelity blog "Chump Lady." She’s living proof that one can survive the nightmare of infidelity and come out thriving on the other side.

When You're the One Who Cheats: Ten Things You Need to Know

What We Like
  • Aimed at the person who cheated

  • Non-judgemental

  • Gives actionable advice

What We Don't Like
  • Not for couples

  • Title can give away that you're cheating

Unlike most books on infidelity, this one is tailored to the partner engaging in the affair. “When You're the One Who Cheats” helps readers find clarity and address the meaning behind their acts and emotions. 

Taking a non-judgmental approach, Dr. Tammy Nelson advises readers on the implications of infidelity, with exercises and actionable steps to move forward with their lives. This book addresses questions like deciding whether to tell a spouse about the affair and how to figure out if it’s worth staying in the marriage.

Nelson is a board-certified sexologist, a sex therapist certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, a licensed professional counselor, a certified Imago relationship therapist, and a licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselor.

Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After

What We Like
  • Helps couples break up in a healthy way

  • Includes actionable advice

  • Empowering

What We Don't Like
  • Not for people looking to repair their relationship

  • Not for couples that are unsure about next steps

Touted by Gwyneth Paltrow—who used the ideology to describe her divorce with Chris Martin—conscious uncoupling is a method used to end a relationship in a holistic and respectful manner.

In this New York Times bestseller, author Katherine Woodward Thomas helps readers reframe the way they view the end of a relationship. Through her five-step method, readers gain the skills and tools needed to turn the page and empower themselves to move into the next chapter of life. Woodward Thomas is a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Infidelity: The Best Worst Thing That Could Happen to Your Marriage

What We Like
  • A step-by-step guide to process damaged relationship

  • Provides actionable advice

  • Succinct

What We Don't Like
  • Some readers may feel like it places blame on the betrayed

For those reeling from the misery of an unfaithful partner, this book is a first step toward recovery. Talal H. Alsaleem, LMFT—infidelity recovery expert, marriage counselor, and researcher—leverages time-tested advice and innovative infidelity counseling methods for coming to terms with an affair, learning how to process it, rebuilding one’s self-esteem, and making an informed decision about the future of the relationship. 

This book serves as a tool to help readers unpack and process a damaged relationship and find the clarity and confidence needed to move forward.

The Road to Reconciliation: A Comprehensive Guide to Peace When Relationships Go Bad

What We Like
  • Easy to read

  • Clear chapters with sub-sections

  • Helps heal from more than just betrayal

What We Don't Like
  • Not just focused on infidelity

  • Prescriptive

"The Road to Reconciliation" is for anyone who has battled a relationship affected by selfishness, violence, abuse, addiction, or betrayal. Author Keith Wilson—mental health counselor and certified alcohol and substance abuse counselor—guides readers through relationship ambivalence with a personalized approach.

This book serves as a tool to help readers decipher their emotions and dissect the situation. Wilson also offers advice on finding safety in a time of turmoil, assessing one's needs, making amends, and promoting change.

Anatomy of an Affair: How Affairs, Attractions, and Addictions Develop, and How to Guard Your Marriage Against Them

What We Like
  • Written by a pastor and counselor

  • Teaches to recognize red flags

  • Includes exercises

What We Don't Like
  • Meant for Christians and religious couples, so may be alienating for some

  • Focuses on what to avoid

"Anatomy of an Affair" confronts the harsh reality that no marriage is safe from adultery. Leveraging years of couples counseling, author Dave Carder—a pastor and counselor specializing in adultery recovery and prevention—helps readers understand what drives a partner to cheat and how to recognize the red flags before it happens. 

This book takes a deep dive into infidelity and why people have affairs from a religious point of view. Carder shares tips for cultivating an adultery-proof marriage as well as providing additional insights with supplemental charts and personal assessments. 

Through real-life stories, clinical insights, and current data, "Anatomy of an Affair" gives both happy and struggling couples advice on healing from and avoiding infidelity.

Final Verdict

Ultimately, the best self-help book on infidelity for you will depend on what you’re looking for. If you want something to read with your partner, "Healing from Infidelity" (view on Amazon) and "Infidelity" (view on Amazon) are both aimed at helping couples work together to move past infidelity and repair their relationship; while “Conscious Uncoupling” (view on Amazon) is best for couples looking to navigate the emotional struggles of breaking up in a respectful, healthy way.

FAQs

What are signs of infidelity?

Infidelity in a relationship is not always obvious. Some affairs aren’t discovered until someone is caught or confesses. So you may not always be able to know if your partner is cheating on you.

“Depending on the personality of the unfaithful person, infidelity can be very apparent or very well-hidden,” explains Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist and relationship expert who has worked extensively with clients on their infidelity issues. 

However, there are some signs that could indicate infidelity — or at least, the potential for it. “Most partners who have been betrayed say their spidey senses tell them something is up with their partner, even when the other person denies it or fails to respond to attempts to connect or find out if everything is ok,” says Dr. Dana McNeil, licensed relationship, marriage and family therapist and founder of The Relationship Place in San Diego. 

For example, she continues, your partner might be “emotionally disconnected, changing or creating new habits of dress, spending more time away from home, or be on their cell phone more.” You might also notice that your partner has a dwindling interest in your daily activities or in sexual intimacy with you. 

“Other more subtle and harder to pinpoint signs are when a partner is being unresponsive to their partner’s emotional needs, is not open to hearing the other person’s feelings without getting defensive, or exhibits indifference to make amends when conflicts happen,” Dr. McNeill says.

Sometimes, the cheating partner might also be more easily annoyed, angry or short on patience. 

What is the main reason for infidelity?

The reasons why someone might cheat on their partner vary tremendously from couple to couple—and it doesn’t always mean that someone has fallen out of love. “Most of my clients are surprised to learn that the person who strayed can still very much love their partner and conduct an affair,” says McNeill. 

If you’re the one who was cheated on, it’s important to know you didn’t cause it and you don’t deserve it. “Although those who are unfaithful often blame their partners for their behavior, the core issues—overt dishonesty and betrayal—are the sole responsibility of the unfaithful person,” says Dr. Manly. “Two key issues often trigger infidelity,” she continues. “The first is a lack of integrity and the second is a lack of self-esteem.”

When someone feels low self-esteem, they often seek something out to make themselves feel better. 

“When a person no longer experiences themselves as someone who is funny, interesting, intelligent, or sexy, it is not unusual to be attracted to someone who mirrors back the traits they have been missing,” McNeill explains. “The person who has the affair so desperately wants to experience themselves as having those traits again that they make a choice that ...feels more akin to rediscovering themselves.” 

Other relationship strains can also lead to infidelity.

“Relationship difficulties such as libido differences and ongoing conflict can trigger a desire to be unfaithful,” Dr. Manly says, “but a person with strong self-esteem and integrity will work to resolve the issues with the partner. Psychotherapy can be a very helpful tool for resolving those relationship issues. However, an unfaithful person often chooses to go outside the marriage for fulfillment rather than addressing the issues within the marriage.”

What percentage of marriages fail after infidelity?

It’s difficult to know for sure how many marriages fail after infidelity, explains Dr. Manly, because “no concrete figure is available given that many divorced couples do not cite a reason for divorce.”

However, according to current research, “somewhere between 20 percent to 40 percent of marriages fail as a direct result of infidelity,” she says. “In working with couples where infidelity has occurred, it is clear that betrayals of this nature often lead to deep trust issues that are extremely difficult to heal.”

“The work required to heal the relationship [might] be too much for the couple to handle,” explains Alisha Sweyd, licensed marriage and family therapist in Pacific Grove, California. “This could be due to work schedules, family situations, or that the hurt goes much much deeper than just the indiscretion.” 

That said, infidelity doesn’t have to end a marriage. “A large [number] of couples make it through an event of infidelity,” says McNeill. “Many couples find they can get a fresh start on their relationship if they are able to work through the issues that made one partner feel like getting their needs met elsewhere.” 

“When the partner who strayed is able to identify the triggers that got them to the position of feeling like infidelity was an option and can simultaneously express genuine remorse and attunement with their partner’s pain,” she continues, “many relationships can weather the affair.

However, to get there, most need the help of a well-trained relationship therapist. “By working through the issues with an objective therapist, couples stand the best chance of healing the issues that lead to—and resulted from—the infidelity,” says Dr. Manly. “Without professional support, the intricate web of fears, mistrust, and resentment can be exceedingly difficult to untangle and heal.”

What Experts Say

“The best self-help books offer clear explanations of psychological behaviors, illuminating case studies, and actual exercises for couples to work through.” — Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist and relationship expert.

“A good self-help book [is] open and honest from the beginning that your relationship could be healed and mended OR it could end with separation or divorce. Any book that tells you one way is better than the other is not objective, and therefore not helpful.” — Alisha Sweyd, licensed marriage and family therapist

Why Trust Verywell Mind

Emily Stone is a Chicago-based journalist specializing in lifestyle content, nonprofit storytelling, and human interest stories. Emily has written for various publications and brands, including Better, Chicago Athlete Magazine, and POWWFUL. Emily is a born bookworm and only recommends books she believes will offer real value to the reader.

Additional reporting by Simone Scully.

As an experienced health and science reporter, Simone Scully understands the importance of making thoroughly researched recommendations. Her work has appeared in Well+Good, Healthline, Nautilus, and more.

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Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. America’s generation gap in extramarital sex. Institute for Family Studies.

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