Cheating happens in so many ways. When we first think about what cheating is we tend to think about spouses having sex outside of the relationship but it happens in many other ways as well. With this in mind be aware also that what is defined as cheating to one person might not be for someone else.
A recent magazine asked readers to define an extra-marital affair, with this result:
thinking about an involvement
dinner and drinks
kissing and petting
And some people even define it as chatting on the internet or phone messaging with people of the opposite sex or using porn without the partner’s consent or inclusion.
How do you define cheating? And how do you know if your spouse is doing it?
Here are three tell-tale signs to look out for:
When your spouse suddenly takes extra special care in their dress or personal appearance or suddenly adopts a whole new style in clothing or hair.
When your spouse suddenly starts staying back at work late into the night saying they are doing extra work.
When your spouse spends longer hours on the computer and/or phone and doesn’t want you to ask questions about or see what s/he is doing.
NB Be mindful that there may be perfectly legitimate reasons for all of these behaviors so be careful jumping to conclusions.
And by the way cheating is not necessarily a death knell for the relationship.
There are many reasons people cheat. The most important one though is that something is not working in the relationship that really needs looking at. This does not necessarily mean that you do not love each other anymore. What it means is that someone in the relationship is just not getting some of there needs met. This might be sexually or in friendship or in satisfying a need for some excitement in their lives.
Here is the short answer to overcoming an affair.
If you have caught your partner out there is obviously some decisions to be made regarding whether you should abandon the relationship or whether you can both recover from this error. That will be decided by many things the most important of which is your capacity to forgive your partner, and maybe even yourself, for allowing the affair to happen.
If you are the one having the affair, by the way, it’s sometimes wiser to not tell but to recommit and make amends as best you can. While it is said that honesty must be at the base of all relationships there are some things that may be best left unsaid. On deciding you have made a mistake, the most important thing is to acknowledge that to yourself and to do whatever needs to be done to get this relationship back on track. If you then decide to tell your partner have a good reason for doing so which is not based on your need to free yourself of guilt.
If you are in a relationship where you think there might be cheating talk about it. This may not be best introduced with a question about whether the other person is actually having an affair, but from the perspective of sharing your thoughts and values on the topic so your partner has an opportunity to respond. In this way they are not left with any doubt as to what you think and feel about the possibility of s/he having an affair. It just may give him/her a chance to change their behavior without having to put your whole relationship on the line. Remember s/he may not have the same definition of cheating as you do.
I’ll address this in more detail in my next blog post.
So until next time – Relate with Love