How To Handle Cheating In A Relationship
In almost every relationship that I’ve been in, my partner cheated on me. My first love (deep sigh) not only cheated on me, but got a girl pregnant! I found out because his best friend came up to me and said, “Congratulations C.D. told me he was gonna be a father…” I wasn’t with child but I was with heartache. In fact my legs gave out, my heart started pounding and my soul jumped out of my body. My other experiences with cheating aren’t worth mentioning.
I’m writing this entry for chronic cheaters, pre-cheaters and post-cheaters. Chronic cheaters, I want you to understand the mind state of your victim(s). Pre-cheaters I want you to really consider the stakes before you indulge. Post-cheaters, I want you to understand how your relationship is going to change and what you can do to repair it.
I have only cheated once in my life and that relationship was literally on the rocks. He was emotionally unavailable and we were both pretty much done with the relationship. I started “emotionally” cheating first and ended the relationship (including moving out), two weeks after I started emotionally cheating. I didn’t physically cheat until two weeks after I moved out (about four weeks after emotionally cheating). For most women, cheating is an emotional and not physical thing. For many men, cheating is physical.
HER STATE OF MIND
1. Most women will feel like they have some sort of problem or deficiency. She will ask herself what am I doing wrong or what am I not doing. She may feel like it was her fault.
2. She will have random moments of sadness because she will have flashbacks about what happened.
3. Beware of triggers. Her mood will change if she comes across one of the triggers. For example, if she learns that you cheated in the backseat of your car, she may not want to ride in it (or may even want a new car). If she found out from a text message, she may get suspicious and feel awkward when your text message alert sounds. When possible, try not to pull the triggers. If you had your rendezvous at the Hyatt on Michigan Ave. (and your girl knows it), don’t take your girl there for your anniversary.
4. She will question the value of the relationship. She will go through a period where she will question whether or not she wants to stay. For this, she may need some time and space.
5. Even the most confident woman will experience some form of insecurity after. Depending on how bad the cheating was, she will become suspicious/paranoid of you and her new partner (once she moves on). She will put up an electric fence around her heart. Due to her insecurity, she may decide she wants a makeover – a new haircut or new clothes. She may decide she wants to change jobs or even relocate.
6. Don’t try to justify it with biology, that will only make her mad. Even if you believe that men are biologically incapable of being monogamous, now is not the time to inform her of your theory. With cheating, it’s not so much the cheating that bothers women – it’s the deception. It’s insulting (especially after you’re OBVIOUSLY CAUGHT) and you try to lie about it and it’s insensitive.
ALTERNATIVES TO CHEATING
1. If you’re unhappy in your relationship and you want to stay – communicate that! Be specific about what it is that is making you unhappy and try to talk about it.
2. Counseling – if you’re uncomfortable talking about it with your partner, perhaps you need a neutral third party. Sign up for counseling and if you’re religious/spiritual, seek spiritual counseling/guidance.
3. Break the monotony – sometimes cheating happens due to sheer boredom. Change scenery. Take a trip. Enroll in an exercise or cooking class together. Do something to spice it up. Channel your inner Aaliyah and change positions, change positions.
4. Don’t harbor ill feelings or keep tallies. No one likes to be bombarded with a list of complaints (it will make your partner defensive). Create a policy where if something bothers you, you discuss it. Create a standing appointment where once a month or once a week, you discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your relationship. Be willing to ask your partner the tough questions, “Is there anything I can do to make our relationship better? “You seem upset, did I do something to hurt or disappoint you?”
5. Spend undivided, uninterrupted time together regularly. Turn off the cell phones, log off the computer, find a baby sitter for the kids and tune in to each other. Get on the same frequency.
6. Break up or divorce. Sometimes the best solution is to part ways. Rather than cheat – break up, discuss the fact that you’d like to separate or see other people. The key here is to be honest. Even if you’re not sure whether or not you want to stay together or leave, communicate that.
CONTINUING TO LOVE A (HOPEFULLY-POST) CHEATER
Your partner has cheated and you’ve decided that you love each other, have been through too much together and still want to make it work.
1. Transparency is everything. Initially, she’s going to be very paranoid about your whereabouts and your intentions. Be up front. Let her know where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone. Eventually, she will be comfortable enough where you don’t have to tell her these things, but when the wound is still fresh, be prepared to announce your agenda.
2. Reassurance goes along way. Increase your romantic antics. You know, the type of affection and gift giving that you do for holidays and special occasions. It’s not enough to just send her flowers after she finds out. Plan dates. Show her that she is important to you. Date her as if you’re going to lose her. Treat her like a queen. Tell her not only that you love her, but tell her why. Write her love notes, send her love texts.
3. Be prepared for the emotional roller coaster. She’s going to have moments of sadness. She’s going to be pissed at you and not want to talk to you at times. At other times, she will treat you like a king and rub your back. Fasten your harness!
4. Be prepared to play 21 questions. She may want to know the details. Answer her openly and honestly or even if you don’t want to talk about it, say that, but also tell her why. “Baby, I don’t want to talk about it because that part of our lives is over. I want to focus on our relationship and what we can do to make it better.”
5. Keep the kids out of it. Don’t use the children as small arms fire to hurt your partner. Try to keep them out of the arguments and don’t let them be within ear range of your drama. Step into the bedroom, close the door and use your six inch voice to handle the issue.
6. Try to understand why he cheated. Is it because he’s insecure and cheating makes him feel dominant or powerful? Is it because he thinks you suck in bed, and another woman knows how to get him there? (SIDE-NOTE: Love-making is a skill. Every body is different, if this is in an issue, work together. Study & go see a sex therapist). Is it because he didn’t really understand how much you meant to him until he almost lost you? Was he acting selfishly? Was it simply because he had the space and the opportunity (SIDEBAR: you can never be surprised at how easy it can be for men to cheat, especially if he has an inkling of power, wealth or charisma – women go out of their way to get men to slip in (pun intended) between their legs). This is a conversation that you must have with you partner.
7. Make your relationship the priority. The honeymoon phase disappears because you allow it to. You determine how much time to spend together and how high on your list of your priorities your relationship will be.
FOR THE VICTIM
1. If you decide to stay, you have to commit to doing the work to repair your hurt. You have to be ready to roll up your sleeves and accept the good, bad and downright ugly. Although you may not forget, you have to forgive.
2. Don’t throw it in his face every chance you get, because that will just push you further apart.
3. You can leave! Don’t be afraid. If you feel like that is the best thing for you, part ways.
4. Be honest about your feelings and communicate them (both negative and positive). When he does things that you like, tell him. When he does things that you dislike, also tell him.
Infidelity is one of the hardest things to deal with in a relationship but it is VERY common. Hopefully this blog gives you some insight on how to handle it if it happens to you.
DISCLAIMER: Analog Girl does not endorse “busting” windows out of cars, stalking, causing public disturbances or retaliation cheating. There are healthier ways to handle your hurt.