| Though what constitutes infidelity can at times be difficult to be certain about most people know when they are crossing a line that their partner would consider cheating. A simple kiss on the cheek or flirtatious act can be enough for some individuals to feel very uncomfortable; while others believe the situation must become extremely personal before considering it an act of infidelity. Whatever your feelings are about what kind of contact is inappropriate, it is important to voice these concerns to your partner to be certain that the guidelines are clear. There are many people who believe they are in happy, healthy relationships who are shocked and devastated when they discover that their partner has been unfaithful; others seem to know that it was coming, or at least suspected due to problems in the relationship. Preventing your partner from cheating by making sure that your relationship is strong can help a great deal, but there are people who seek out other partners despite the happiness they have with their current one.
Finding Out: This might just be one of the worst moments of your life, but the pain will eventually pass and know that these moments of discovery are usually the worst of it. Those individuals who find out because their partner reveals the information, tend to feel a bit better about the situation; it shows that your partner’s conscience is not allowing them to continue with this deceit; which can indicate that they will not repeat the same mistake. Finding out by any other means is often a great deal more difficult to deal with; the feeling of betrayal is intensified by the knowledge that your partner is currently still capable of lying to you. Confronting the situation, when you’re ready and feel calm, is the best way to get through this incredibly difficult step. It is tempting for many to ignore what they have learned and to continue on with life pretending that they have no knowledge of their partner’s indiscretions; this is often a horrible mistake that will emotionally cripple your relationship.
Confrontation: During this discussion you will be tempted to yell, cry, hit and generally abuse your partner in any way that you are able to; while a bit of yelling and name calling might help you to feel better at the time, it won’t solve the problem, so try to keep it minimal. Let your partner explain their point of view, even if you find it to be ludicrous, so that you might at least understand where your partner was coming from. You are under no obligation to understand or forgive, but hearing another person’s point of view can sometimes make the situation feel a bit less traumatic. When and if you feel ready, ask any questions that you can think of; though it may be painful to hear details, people often need to know this information in order to move on later.
Not knowing what experiences your partner was having might feel like the best way to deal with the pain, but often what you will imagine is far worse than knowing the truth. If during this talk your partner becomes agitated or continues to be secretive it may indicate that they are unable to continue discussing the problem, at least for the time being. Often those who continue to think of their own needs when their partner is showing obvious signs of distress are not ready for a real commitment; if your partner will not answer questions or discuss the situation with you, within a reasonable amount of time of your asking, it might be time to split up, your needs are not being met and your feelings are being ignored.
Should you stay or should you go: The decision to end your relationship or attempt to forgive after an act of betrayal is not an easy one. Many people boast about, (though few act upon it,) how they would never put up with such behavior; the reality is that if you are hurt in all likelihood you trusted your partner and though you feel angry and hurt, you do not want to dismiss them from your life. Don’t be ashamed of your feelings and always remember that it wasn’t your fault. Though in some cases you may have contributed to certain aspects of your relationship that alienated or hurt your partner this does not excuse them from this behavior. Some of the most important questions to keep in mind when making the decision to stay together or break apart:
- Will you be able to forgive your partner? Not at all an easy question to answer and not always apparent; often letting time pass is the only way to know whether or not you will be able to forgive. One of the best ways to estimate how you will feel after the initial pain passes is to place yourself in your partner’s position: can you see yourself ever acting as they did, or are you completely certain that in the same situation you would remain faithful? Often those who cannot relate in any way find it impossible to forgive infidelity. Others, though they might never allow themselves to cheat, can understand the temptation and are sometimes able to forgive because of this understanding.
- Will you ever be able to trust your partner again? Most likely the answer to this question will be no for a while, but after a time do you think that you are capable of giving your partner another chance? This is usually a simple equation of risk assessment: how much does the relationship mean to you verses the risk of being hurt again. No doubt you have heard the phrase once a cheater always a cheater; though this is not always the case, truly being able to trust your partner may only come after a long period of time has passed. In the meantime, if you wish to give them another chance, assessing the risk involved is a manageable way to cope with the situation. For some people, trust will never return completely after such an injury.
Often those outside of the relationship cannot understand why a person would remain in a relationship without complete trust and you may find this difficult to deal with. In some cases a person may decide to stay with their partner only to find that they cannot move past the event and are forced to split up anyway. Such situations can be very confusing and are filled with emotional turmoil. Often it is best to take some time away from your partner to figure out what is best for you and how you will feel about these changes that have been forced upon you.
- How did this happen? Though it might not be something you discuss with your partner for a very long time, if ever, it can be helpful to your healing process to know how your partner arrived at such a decision. Many people who cheat will simply say that they do not know why they acted in such a way, but often if pushed analyze the situation; many feelings will be discovered that can explain this behavior. Though the answers to these questions will be unlikely to justify the act itself, the understanding can be of great relief for everyone involved.
Moving on with suspicion: Whether you choose to stay with your current partner or move on without them, it can be difficult to deal with trust when it is needed. If you have given your partner another chance remember to do just that; living in a constant state of suspicion will injure you both mentally and in many cases physically; if this initial state of overly suspicious behavior does not pass within a reasonable amount of time it may be wise to consider the possibility that you will never feel comfortable in your relationship again. For those that choose to let go of their current relationship and move forward healing will often be a great deal easier. Without the obligation of learning to trust a person who has already once broken it you may find that within a few weeks or months that you are able to let go of the anger and resentment. Another problem that often arises after such an event is that when a person finds a new relationship they become suspicious of their new partner, without cause.
One of the best ways to avoid these feelings is to explain your concerns to your new partner. Though some people may become offended by these insinuations it can still be helpful to let them know how you feel; if your new partner cares for you, often they will understand your fears and will try to reassure you of the stability in your new relationship.
Despite the intense feelings of pain and confusion caused by infidelity most people are able to trust again eventually and are often able to forgive whether or not they remain in the relationship. During times like these it is helpful to have friends and family to rely on for comfort and important to remember that, though it can be humiliating; often these incidents are not a result of anything that you did wrong. When a person truly loves and respects another they will consider their feelings in nearly every decision that they make; perhaps your partner needed to learn that lesson or perhaps they never will, in either case try to make the right choice for your happiness and well being. Eventually you will smile again, don’t lose heart in the meantime.