So you cheated on your partner, now what?
You can’t change it or take it back. Do you tell your partner or not? Was it a mistake? Should you leave or stay?
These are the questions I get asked by people that have cheated on their partners. From both men and women (did you know the statistics tell us that almost the same amount of women cheat as men?).
For some cheating was a huge mistake that they deeply regret and for others it isn’t. The answers to these questions are not straight forward but there is some general advice that I give to most people.
Should I tell my partner?
This is the main question I get asked. The answer it, it depends.
I usually ask what the reason is for telling them? Is it to relive your guilt and feel better? Are you planning to do it again? If it is a resounding ‘hell no’ then I question if telling is beneficial.
Telling will most likely devastate your partner. It will ruin the trust, damage the respect and may even end the relationship. People often tell as they think it’s the right thing to do without thinking through the consequences.
Then the question remains if you stay silent and they find out, will that be worse? Will not telling them impact the way you are with them and also damage the relationship?
There is no correct answer. No one has your life, your relationship or your dreams.
First though, you need to understand why you cheated
Infidelity has existed since marriage and committed relationships were invented, yet this extremely common act remains poorly understood.
Understanding why you cheated is a challenging question and requires soul searching and honesty.
There are many reasons you cheated, such as:
- The relationship is strained and unhappy
- There is little sex or physical connection
- You feel your partner has no time for you or you feel neglected
- You feel taken for granted
- You are the one doing everything for everyone without appreciation
- To explore the excitement of the chase and the sex
- Enjoy a type/s of sex that your partner doesn’t
You may also be looking for a way out of the relationship. You want out but are too scared to say that so if you cheat that will end it.
Understanding the ‘why’ is important for both parties, especially if you want to continue with your relationship.
Deciding what to do next
The next thing you need to decide is what you want. Do you want to stay in your relationship or leave?
If you want to try to repair your relationship the very first thing to do is end the affair. It may sound easy, but may not be. The person you connected with may threaten to tell your partner just to hurt you if you try to end it. Regardless, you need to stop it. Of course, if this person does threaten that, tell you must. Could you think of anything worse than them finding out from this person?
If the affair was nothing more than a mindless or drunken fling, take stock, be miserable and guilty and do all you can to make it up to your partner by being attentive, committed and loving. Rebuild your relationship better and closer than it was and swear to yourself, never again will you do something so mindlessly selfish.
If you decide you need to tell your spouse you cheated
If you need to disclose after the end of the affair let your partner know you need to have a discussion that may hurt them. Tell them you love them and the stupid thing you did.
The first question will be, are you still seeing this person. If the answer is no you reiterate this and explain you never intended a relationship or affair, it was a mindless and stupid decision, perhaps alcohol was involved, and you feel sincerely guilty.
Be sincere, apologise and be open and transparent. No doubt your spouse will want access to your messages, social media pages, anything you used to connect with that person. If it was a work colleague, then consider changing jobs. While this is drastic, you made a monumental mistake, so you need to suffer the consequences and if leaving your dream job is that consequence, so be it.
Avoid telling your spouse all the details or stories as this is precisely what they will want to know. However, knowing the particulars puts a worse picture in their mind and can damage any chance of recovery. Play it down, never mention love or lust, only perhaps opportunity and guilt from the affair.
Can your partner recover after you cheated
Recovery for your partner after they discover you have cheated is tough and will take time to heal. At first, they will be distressed, angry, aggressive and hateful to the other person. The multitude of emotions can be overwhelming.
Please consider professional counselling followed by couple counselling to rebuild your relationship. It may take years, perhaps forever, for your partner to regain the trust in you. Sometimes it can never return.
If you are genuinely sorry, then you should be aware always of their fears, anxiety and mistrust. Be open and transparent with your phone, emails, social media, bank accounts if that’s what your partner needs. You are the one that needs to gain there trust back .
Be prepared if to pay the price for your actions. If you genuinely love your partner then it should not be a challenge, it should be an opportunity every day to ensure your partner feels loved and secure.
Any affair redefines a marriage or relationship. It can also be an opportunity to grow and understand. Allow time for your spouse to recover and dissolve the memories if this is what you both choose to do.
If however, you want to end the relationship, or your partner decides to end it, then you can recover faster using an amazing hypnosis session from Virtual Hypnotherapy to aid your recovery. When the worst happens and the relationship is over, the faster you can recover, the better.
I cannot emphasise enough the importance of obtaining professional support during this time. If you did share the information with your partner then allowing them to work through their hurt is just as important.
Find a good relationship therapist and work through all issues that will present. The sooner this is done, the better the result.
Read more from Dr Karen