Most relationships are assumed to be monogamous, unless explicitly stated otherwise. When infidelity occurs in such relationships, it can be very devastating for everyone. Infidelity involves breaking a promise to be completely faithful to your partner, and when it happens, it eradicates the trust that existed in the relationship. Dealing with infidelity can be very challenging and it raises many tough questions. Should you stay? Should you forgive? Can the trust be rebuilt? Will things ever be the same? Or should the relationship itself be redefined? If you’ve just found out that your partner has been unfaithful and you’re not sure of what to do, this article is for you.
It’s important to note that infidelity can occur in any relationship. We often think it’s never going to happen in our relationship, but existing statistics show that infidelity occurs in about a third of relationships, so if it happened to you, you’re in good company!
Why do people cheat?
People cheat for a variety of reasons, and it usually has nothing to do with the person that’s being cheated on. You might think your partner was unfaithful because of something you did or didn’t do, but that’s rarely true. Here are some reasons people cheat:
– To feel desirable or excited again (like in the beginning of the relationship with you)
– Impulse/Lack of self-control/”sex addiction”
– Impaired decision making under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Remember that none of these reasons is an excuse, and the person made their own choices.
Can a relationship survive infidelity?
Yes, it’s possible for a relationship to survive infidelity, but it means that both partners have to be willing to work hard at rebuilding the trust that has been broken, healing, and making the relationship strong again. It takes time.
Here are a few tips:
– Talk about the affair- It’s important for both parties to have an open and honest discussion about the affair. It also helps to talk to a relationship counselor together, and explore ways that you both can heal faster. Don’t talk about it all the time. Set aside specific time (e.g., in therapy) and use it to get the answers you want. Once you get them, stop asking. It does no good to dwell on the details, no matter how painful.
– Remember the good times- Cheating is painful, but it helps to reminisce about the good times and all the wonderful things your partner did for you in the past. Why did you fall in love with your partner in the first place? What qualities attracted you to them? Are they still present?
– Tackle old issues- Now is a great time to tackle all the underlying issues in your relationship and create a fresh start. That means that both of you can raise issues to work on and both of you need to be open to your partner’s suggestions. This is a two-way street.
– Practice radical honesty– Try to be completely honest with each other about how you feel and how you want to be loved.
– Set a timetable for recovery- Both of you need to be intentional about your recovery. Allow the betrayed parter ample time for healing, and honour the other person’s recovery process.
– Start a new activity together- Remember how excited you both were when you just fell in love? Rekindle that magic by doing an activity you both enjoy together, and incorporating more romance into your relationship. Having fun together is very important for maintaining a health relationship and healing a one that needs repairs.
– Reaffirm your commitment- There needs to be an understanding that infidelity will never occur in the relationship again, and a willingness to keep that promise by both parties. If unclear, it may involve (re)defining what constitutes fidelity or lack thereof.
If it feels like your relationships can never be the same again it may not necessarily be a bad thing. How would you like it to change? Introduce more personal time or couple time? Weekly date nights? Perhaps changing the relationships rules and boundaries is just what your couple needs to thrive? Although it’s still a taboo increasing number of couples choose to open up their relationship and establish very clear rules about what that means.
Whether you want to rebuild the relationship you used to have, change it or leave it altogether, make sure to take the time to truly explore your own thoughts and feelings on the subject. If you think having a safe space, structure and a knowledgeable guide to help you through this process can help, you are most likely right. Don’t hesitate to contact an experienced therapist for a consultation to check if therapy might be a good choice for you.