Being cheated on is a heartbreaking experience. Knowing that someone you love and trust has been unfaithful can be emotionally shattering and cause deep pains. It may throw you into a crisis and even lead to depression. While the adverse mental and emotional side effects of your partner’s infidelity can stay with you for a long time, how you deal with a cheating partner can help you regain control of your life.
People react to the news of a cheating partner in different ways. However, you should not react by doing any of the following:
- Try to get even by having sex with someone else
- Blame yourself for your partner’s misdeed
- Tell the whole world what has happened
- Ignore the infidelity
- Make critical decisions in a hurry
If you want to know how to deal with a cheating partner, here are some things you can do.
1. Gather your facts and evidence
If you discover that your partner is unfaithful, don’t be in haste to confront them yet. The first thing to do is ascertain if they are truly cheating. You don’t have to jump into conclusions the moment you read flirty chats or receive a suspicious call on your partner’s phone or even notice a change in their attitude. You don’t want to destroy your relationship because of impatience.
Now is the time to gather your facts and evidence without drawing your partner’s attention. You can collect evidence by covertly taking screen captures of flirting text messages, naughty photos, conversations, dirty text messages, etc. Do not set a trap as it may backfire; instead, be patient in gathering your facts and evidence. While you’re at it, make sure you get tested for STDs.
2. Confront them and know why they cheated
If you are sure your partner is cheating, the next thing to do is to confront them. Tell them your suspicions and expect to receive an explanation. People generally are not quick to acknowledge their wrongs except they are confronted with proofs, so present your evidence if your partner doesn’t own up to their misdeeds.
Now that you’ve proven that they are guilty, you may want to know why they cheated so you can make an informed decision. Don’t assume it was only about sex; infidelity happens for several other reasons. It could be as a result of poor communication, desire for attention, craving for excitement, peer influence, etc. Be sure to understand why they were unfaithful.
3. Decide if you want to continue with the relationship
Cheating is an acceptable ground to end relationships and even marriages. The reason is that unfaithfulness destroys the trust that exists between couples and is a deep wound that takes a long time to heal. Aside from the fact that infidelity is a breach of trust, it can also make you feel inadequate to meet your partner’s needs.
You need to ascertain if your relationship is worth saving because good people sometimes make bad decisions. If you can forgive and let go, the relationship can blossom again; but if you can’t move past the hurts, the relationship is as good as dead. To help you make the right decision, here are some things to consider:
- Is your partner sorry for the infidelity?
- Did they tell you about it or you found out?
- Is it their first time or it’s a reoccurrence?
- Is their reason for cheating authentic?
- Are they willing to make amends?
- Can you trust your partner again?
While you may feel the urge to make a quick decision, it’s better to take your time to consider everything. You want to make a decision only after you’ve thought the entire incident through.
4. Talk and forgive only when you’re ready
If you decide to proceed with the relationship, you need to have a long talk with your partner towards making things work again. However, since you are the betrayed, you should decide when you want to talk about your hurts and grievances. You may also have questions to ask; so schedule two or three times each week to discuss with your partner. You don’t want to ask for details of the infidelity as it may worsen your hurt. Decide what you want to know as well as what you don’t want to know.
As expected, your partner may be apologetic and eager for you to forgive them. You reserve the right to decide when you want to forgive them, and the appropriate time is when you have healed to a reasonable extent. If your partner is pressing you with apologies and requests to forgive them immediately, let them know you can’t choose when to heal. Infidelity is a deep wound, and it may take some time to recover; so don’t rush the process of recovery.
5. Seek support
Forgiving infidelity is a long, steep road. You feel stabbed in the back by someone you love. Your confidence in your ability to meet their needs has been bruised. The trust you have in them is broken, and you now feel you don’t know your partner anymore. You are not even sure if there’s more they’re not telling you and if you can ever expect them to be faithful again.
Now that you feel betrayed but want to give your partner a second chance, you need to talk with a counselor. Seeking help from a counselor will not instantly fix the problems, but it will help get your relationship back on track. True recovery takes time; so the role of a counselor is to consider the situation from both sides and give useful advice to help you and your partner move forward.
6. Be considerate of each other’s needs
Recovering from infidelity requires that you and your partner take a critical look at how you meet each other’s needs. Encourage yourselves to be open with each other. Ask your partner what they want and how you can meet their demands and let them do likewise. After this, you can both work towards making each other happy again.
It’s also essential that your partner make amends by severing close ties with members of the opposite sex. It helps set healthy boundaries on how to relate with people outside your relationship. Outline things to do or not to do such as no one-on-one outing with people, no flirting or emotional intimacy with others, etc.
7. End the relationship if things don’t improve
Sometimes, a relationship may be too damaged by infidelity to be repaired. If after you’ve both tried your best to make it work and you’ve also seen a counselor and there’s still no progress, it may be a sign that the relationship is truly over.
Signs that a relationship is dead include constant fighting, repeated cases of infidelity, emotional disconnection, inability to truly forgive, continued suspicions, prolonged hurt and anger, etc. If these signs are evident in your relationship despite your efforts to make it work, it may be a sign that it’s time to let go.