Cheating in a relationship is never pleasant, and how you handle being cheated on can help you heal and recover. Discovering that a spouse has cheated, or even entertaining the suspicion that a partner might be cheating, can be a devastating experience. A spouse’s infidelity often brings forth feelings of rejection, betrayal, anger, sadness, and doubt.
Decide if you want to re-establish trust. When a partner is unfaithful, it is a serious breach of trust. And it is something that may indicate that this person is not worthy or capable of a healthy relationship. Good people sometimes make bad choices and if they are truly sorry and can make amends, forgiveness can lead to an even better relationship. On the other hand, if you simply cannot trust that person again, the relationship is effectively dead.
KNOW WHY THEY ARE CHEATING
Understand the nature of your partner’s cheating. People cheat for many different reasons and it is not always about sex. Sometimes people cheat because they are seeking an emotional connection, trying to deal with a loss or crisis, or seeking an escape. This is not an excuse or reason for the behavior, however. Do not assume that your partner is cheating for a reason. Try to ask your partner to be honest with you and give you reasons for cheating.
Request that your partner cut off all communication with the third party. The third party needs to be out of the picture for the relationship to survive. Boundaries were breached, and they need to be re-established in a way that protects the relationship. That means asking your partner to break all ties with the person. It may be difficult if the third party is a coworker or someone else that your partner sees on a daily basis.
DISCUSS THE AFFAIR WITH YOUR PARTNER
Communicate with your partner when you are ready. Learning that your partner has had an affair will likely cause you to experience a high level of emotional distress. You may need some time before you can talk to your partner about what happened. It is important to discuss the affair in order to move forward in your relationship, but don’t feel like you have to discuss the affair with your partner right away. Take your time and talk about it when you feel ready.
Set boundaries about relationships outside of your marriage. Affairs often happen when healthy relationship boundaries are not respected. You have every right to make it clear what these are, even if the other person gives excuses or “reasons” for the affair.
FORGIVE ON YOUR OWN TERMS
Your partner may be extremely apologetic and desperate for you to say that you forgive them, right then and there. But true forgiveness and healing will likely take time. And there is no timetable on that. The person who cheated must understand that they do not have the right to dictate when the healing happens. It is okay if you need more time to heal before you forgive your partner. To help your partner understand, let them know that you are still too hurt to forgive just yet and that you need more time.
Seek help from a counselor. Dealing with a cheating partner on your own is difficult. If it is too hard for you and your partner to work through this process on your own, seek the help of a licensed counselor who specializes in marital issues. A marriage counselor can help you to deal with your emotions and have more constructive conversations.
UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER’S NEEDS
Be considerate of each other’s needs. In order to move forward in your relationship, you will both need to learn how to understand each other’s needs. The best way to uncover what your partner needs, and let them know what you need, is to talk about it. Ask questions about what your spouse desires. Meeting each others need can reduce cheating.
ESTABLISH CONSEQUENCES FOR CHEATING AGAIN