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How & Why People Cheat

Dr. Lisa Lawless

Dr. Lisa Lawless, CEO of Holistic Wisdom
Clinical Psychotherapist: Relationship & Sexual Health Expert

finger puppets, sad couple, Why People Cheat in Relationships

In this helpful guide on affairs, we will explore the most common reasons why people cheat as well as how people cheat from physical to emotional affairs in person and on social media.

You will learn the signs that you are being cheated on or if you are setting yourself up for having an affair. In addition, we will review what happens when an affair is discovered and what some of the best options are in ending or saving the relationship.

The Five Common Types Of Cheating

There are a few ways to have an affair that can involve all or just one of the types of betrayals below:

1) Sexual Fantasies

It is common to have sexual fantasies about people you are not in a relationship with, such as a person you saw in a movie or even walking down the street. However, if your fantasies are about someone you know and interact with often, and you keep having them, this can lead to damaging and dishonest behavior and ultimately cheating.

Essentially, if your partner found out and would consider it was cheating, you are violating the relationship's trust. Discussing boundaries around what is acceptable for you to maintain confidence in one another at the beginning of a relationship is critical since various fantasies could be debated depending on the relationship's expectations.

2) Physical Cheating

Physical infidelity does not just mean sexual intercourse; it can mean any physical interaction from hugging, caressing, mutual masturbation, kissing, oral sex, and vaginal or anal penetration.

3) Emotional Affairs

Emotional affairs go beyond a platonic friendship and may not involve sexually fantasizing about that person at first. They can occur in person, via phone, messaging, texting, emails, and video calls. Many of those who have an emotional affair begin it as a harmless friendship. However, it can easily progress into communicating with this person multiple times during the day and ultimately more than with their partner.

The Stages of an Emotional Affair

Platonic Friendship With A Secure Relationship. Most affairs start as friendships while someone sees themself in a secure relationship and are not looking to make the friendship into an affair.

Intimate Friendship With A Insecure Relationship. The boundaries of the friendship shift slowly, where intimacy is being established. This is the stage when the bonding with a friend starts to become a priority over their partner.

Emotional Affair With An Emotionally Detached Relationship. This is the stage when the friendship becomes romantic in thinking. Obsessive thinking about this person is at a highpoint; sexual fantasies, flirting, and emotional intimacy are abundant.

Signs that someone is in this stage are that they are sexually excited by their friend's presence and feel better with their friend than they do with their partner. The meetings they have may be partially or completely secret, while emotional distance increases in the relationship between partners.

This stage is especially dangerous to a relationship if a partnership is already dealing with emotional distance, neglect, criticism, fighting, and cruelty. In addition, talking with the friend about the problems they have with their partner begins to make them look like a victim, unhappy, and potentially available to the friend. It sets the stage for loyalty to the 'emotional lover' over the partner.

Sexually Intimate Affair With A Threatened Relationship. The second the friendship becomes thoroughly sexualized; it is in this stage. These sexual betrayals do not have to be physical; they can occur through flirtation, sex talk, nude photos, video sex, phone sex, in addition to physical sex.

4) Secret Gifts & Sharing

Hiding spending habits from your partner can be a form of infidelity, especially if you are sending gifts to a friend without your partner knowing. This involves sending someone things under the guise of being helpful, creating intimacy and connection, and possibly hiding it.

This does not necessarily have to involve financial spending; this can come in the form of doing favors for someone that nurtures, helps or entertains them, like sharing funny memes, meaningful music or health advice.

5) Secret Social Media Activity

Social media cheating is a modern form of cheating where people engage in affairs through Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, webcams, and other media. This can occur from the comfort of the unfaithful partner's home on the phone, tablet, or computer and sometimes even when their partner is with them. Social media has changed the way people cheat and get caught cheating.

Social media cheating can begin as micro-cheating, which is anything that would not be condoned in your relationship and evolve into a fully evolved physical or emotional affair. Micro-cheating can easily lead to an affair on or off social media. It consists of small acts that would make your partner uncomfortable if they knew you were doing them.

Examples include liking someone's old photos, visiting their profile over and over, or sliding into their DMs (messaging them). Appropriate relationship boundaries can easily become blurry. Having rules about expectations in a relationship about micro-cheating can help prevent social media cheating.

Social media infidelity takes two forms:

Flirtation & Sexual Interactions. This can involve liking or loving all or many of someone's posts, telling them how attractive they are, expressing a longing for them nostalgically, present or under different circumstances.

It can also involve sending them private messages to comment about their posts to hide their admiration from their partner. Of course, it can include sexting, exchanging sexy pictures, phone or video sex, exchanging meaningful or intimate songs, and other media.

Prioritizing Too Much Time. This can involve spending a lot of time engaging with someone on social media, which is most likely significantly more than with their partner. It can include doing things such as wanting to share important parts of their day, current events, memes, videos, and other forms of connecting and building intimacy. The amount of time and the content of what is exchanged are not shared with the partner and may be hidden or deleted.

Why Do People Cheat?

Relationships fall apart for a variety of reasons. Cheating typically occurs when a relationship already has issues. Let's explore the key factors that may contribute to someone having a physical or emotional affair:

Sexual Desire

A desire to have physical sex, phone sex, or sexting with someone may be as basic as motivation as one can have. Even people who report having fulfilling relationships may still want to have sex with other people.

It is cheating when it is not something both partners agree upon. Open relationships that agree on shared intimacy with other people are not considered unfaithful, but breaking agreed-upon emotional or physical boundaries around an open relationship is a betrayal.

Unfulfilled Needs

When emotional and/or physical intimacy is unfulfilled for a long time in a relationship, it can lead to frustration and motivate a person to get their needs met elsewhere.

Many people may choose to stay in their relationship, hoping that things will improve, but after some time, that hope may dissipate more and more. This is especially likely when partners have different emotional needs, time schedule needs, sex drives or interest in sex. (Also, see our Sex & Communication Guide and How To Ask For Better Sex Guide).

An emotionally unavailable partner is not interested in what their partner thinks, feels, or says, Thus their partner may start sharing themselves with someone who does, leading to an intimate connection that resembles a relationship.

Commitment Issues

Those people who have a difficult time with commitment may be more likely to cheat. It may be a way of acting out the fear they have about committing to someone and sabotaging the relationship. It can also be around a lack of interest in a long-term relationship.

Wanting Variety

Someone who wants various partners or sex acts may seek out an affair physically, through phone sex, or sexting. This does not always have to do with sex; it can also mean seeking out different communication styles, lifestyles, and attraction to other people.

Attraction to many kinds of people does not necessarily stop just because you're in a relationship, and it may prove challenging to some people, not acting on those feelings of attraction.

Anger Or Revenge

A reason that someone may cheat is out of anger or revenge. Perhaps it is the anger of finding out that a partner has cheated, but it may be around feelings that a partner does not meet or understand one's needs, abuse, and/or neglect.

It can also be anger over unresolved arguments around a variety of things from political disagreements to household chores. Regardless of where the anger stems, it can act as a powerful motivator to create physical or emotional intimacy with someone else.

Falling Out Of Love

Love is not just an emotion; it triggers pleasurable chemicals in the brain. High levels of the hormone dopamine and norepinephrine are released during attraction to one another.

The chemicals can make us feel giddy, excited, and euphoric. They can decrease our appetite, cause us to sleep less (insomnia), and feel highly passionate. It is why just getting a text from someone whom you are falling in love with can make you feel a rush of passion and excitement. However, over time, the body stops producing these chemicals, and they dissipate after about 2-4 years.

So, instead of the '7-year itch', it is more often the 2-4 year itch when it comes to love chemicals in the brain. The most common time for a divorce to occur in years 1 – 2 and years 5 – 8 for this reason.

Falling out of love doesn't have to mean you don't love each other; rather, it means that you will have to depend more on your relationship's foundation, which involves a sense of a loving friendship, stability, and safety.

However, staying in a relationship without romantic love may lead to feelings of wanting to experience love again and motivate infidelity.

Low Self-esteem

Wanting a boost of self-esteem may motivate cheating. Having a physical or emotional affair with another person can lead to positive feelings about oneself, building up self-esteem. Many people who cheat because of low self-esteem may have loving and supportive partners, but they may question it or are used to it and desire reassurances elsewhere as that can feel different and exciting.

Situations & Opportunity

Having an easy opportunity to have an affair may make it more likely. It does not mean that everyone that has a chance to be unfaithful will do so, but it can be part of the motivation.

Perhaps a person is feeling the strain on the relationship or struggling with their self-esteem, and someone begins giving them positive attention. If only one of the factors were involved, the affair might not happen, but when multiple factors occur along with an opportunity, the chances are much more likely.

Examples of opportunities include receiving physical comfort after a stressful event, being in an environment where there is a lot of physical touching, having a lot to drink, or using drugs that may lower inhibitions.

Cognitive Dissonance In Affairs

Most people feel guilty when they engage in an affair. They know it is wrong, but the new partner's emotional or physical bond keeps them coming back. To avoid having inconsistent thoughts relating to behavioral decisions (cognitive dissonance), they begin to rationalize it to make it easier. Here are a few ways they deal with it:

Normalizing Cheating

They tell themselves that most people would relate to their physical or emotional needs to justify the affair and minimize guilt. They gloss over understanding that this discovery would dramatically affect their relationship and possibly destroy it, hurt their family, or financially cause suffering. They may also rationalize that many people cheat and so it makes what they're doing normal.

Wanting To Get Caught

Guilt can make people do things that do not particularly seem self-serving. Thus, someone may be stressed, tired, and unconsciously want the secrecy to be over. They may also be angry with their partner and what the partner to find out to hurt them.

Blaming The Partner

This is one of the most dangerous reasons one can give themselves for having an affair regarding their relationship's security. When an unfaithful partner begins to focus on the partner's faults and the current relationship, they rationalize that what they are doing is because the relationship was already doomed. This often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Signs Of A Physical Or Emotional Affair

While nothing is a definitive sign of cheating, there are many compelling clues to catch a cheater. Below are possible signs that a partner may be cheating:

  • They are hiding the frequency of contact with a 'friend' and most, if not all, the details of a friendship from you.
  • They begin comparing their friend to you.
  • Your partner may change security settings on their phone and/or computer.
  • They may take their phone into the bathroom or other private places more often.
  • They may withdraw and become critical or do the opposite by seeming unusually happy and chatty without any indication as to why.
  • They may be receiving more texts or calls than usual, especially at night.
  • They get nervous when they have their phone in view, or you are around their computer.
  • They may have a change in sex drive by having it decrease or increase. An increase in sex may be to release built-up sexual tension or to avoid you suspecting their unfaithful behavior.
  • They may not be as interested in finding out about your day, interests, or feelings.
  • They may stop showing affection through hugs, touching, or saying affectionate things, including: I love you.
  • They may be talking or texting more and scheduling times to spend with another person.
  • They may be disclosing more with this person than with you.
  • They may be sharing personal information with this person: things about their upbringing, likes and dislikes, stories of their past, sharing videos, memes, and other media to better get to know one another. They may bond around and share political, work, religious, and spiritual beliefs to share more of who they are and look for commonalities. If they have known one another from the past, they will discuss previous memories and bonding around those experiences. This can a form of courting especially the more information that is shared.
  • They may spend more time away from home, run more errands, spend more time at work, or a friend's house.
  • They may have less family involvement.
  • They may have interests in new activities, foods, music, and other different influences.
  • They may start working out, eating healthier, and buying new clothes.
  • Financially there may be signs such as privacy around spending, balances not adding up, more money spent on appearance.
  • One moment they may seem clingy, and the next, they may seem distant. Emotional withdrawal will be stronger in people who have strong monogamous tendencies, so they will tend to withdraw from you more based on their loyalty to the new partner with whom they are having an affair. Clinginess can be a form of guilt or to throw off their partner from suspecting them.
  • They may suddenly avoid social gatherings with friends or others.
  • They may suddenly seem forgetful and absent-minded. They may forget an important date, commitments to you or even an anniversary.
  • They may seem more irritable and easily agitated around seemingly insignificant things.

Signs Your Partner Is Cheating

There are many articles on how to catch a cheater. Here are some ways people typically find out their partner is cheating on them:

  • They check out their social media posts, likes, and other people who are liking their posts and leaving comments.
  • They gain access to their phone or computer and look at messages, texts, and calls.
  • They access the phone bill, check for data used as well as phone numbers called. They also look at changes in usage.
  • They access their social media accounts and check messages.
  • They check the mileage on the odometer of their car.
  • They count condoms or Viagra pills.
  • They check credit card reports.
  • They use a voice-activated recorder and put it in their car or bed.
  • They use an online background check to provide location history, contact details, arrests, social media profiles, links to blogs, and others.
  • They use the Find My iPhone feature to find your partner's location.
  • They open their browser history.
  • They hire a detective.

How To Test If Your Partner Is Cheating

Having open and honest communication is always an ideal way to deal with things; however, when a partner is lying, sometimes it can make getting to the truth challenging. Some people hire private investigators. Others try doing honesty tests and other approaches that can help reveal whether your partner is being honest with you in a non-confrontational manner.

Some people use what is known as the water bottle test. They buy a used water bottle at a thrift store and put it under the passenger seat of their partner's car to pretend to discover it while driving somewhere with their partner.

When they pretend to find the water bottle in the car, they use this exact phrase as they hand it to their partner: "Here is your water bottle."

If they have nothing to hide, they'll likely respond with something like, "That's not mine. I don't know who it belongs to."

But if they are cheating, they may act like the water bottle is theirs. This, of course, only works if they think you genuinely believe the water bottle is truly theirs.

Doing honesty tests like these is dishonest and is not ideal, and it may not even prove infidelity. However, many have exposed their partner's dishonesty by using this and other related tests.

The bottom line is that it's important to trust your gut instincts. If you feel something is off, pay attention to that feeling and take the necessary steps to investigate further.

Signs You Are Beginning An Emotional Affair

  • You begin contacting them frequently.
  • You find ways to communicate with them when your partner is not around.
  • You devote a lot of time texting, emailing, video calling, phone calling, and interacting on social media.
  • They become the first person you want to share things with and contact with news.
  • You aren't sharing nearly as much with your partner.
  • You share personal information with them to get to know them better and ask them personal questions about themselves.
  • This person is taking over your thoughts. You cannot stop thinking about them when you can speak with them and the things you want to share with them.
  • You begin thinking of your life in context to them and wonder what they would think of something that you do. You may also think of doing things with them or what it would be like if they were with you.
  • You begin to notice your appearance more and take more interest in it. You imagine this person seeing you and what they will notice about your appearance.
  • You believe this person really understands you and feel they may relate to you better than your partner.
  • You discuss very personal topics and may discuss your issues, challenges or complain about your current relationship.
  • You begin to compare this person with your partner and find yourself enjoying them more, growing more discontent with your partner.
  • You may feel angry at your partner for not being more like this person.
  • You begin to idealize this person overlooking their flaws and focusing on their positive traits.
  • You create excuses to check to see if this person contacted you or to contact them. You may run errands and find ways to get away from your partner so you can communicate with them in private.
  • You begin hiding your communication and start omitting things or outright lying.
  • You change passwords, put your phone on silent, and attempt to hide communication with them.
  • You are communicating things that if your partner found out about, they would feel hurt, betrayed, or mortified to hear.
  • You give more of your time and energy to this person than to your partner. You are more nurturing, care more about their feelings, and offer more support to them.
  • You spend a lot of time sending them media such as funny memes, videos, share songs, movie suggestions, and even give them thoughtful gifts.

The Biggest Sign You Are Having An Emotional Affair

When you share more intimate details about your relationship with a "friend" who begins to have more knowledge about your relationship than your partner has about your relationship with the "friend," you may be engaging in an emotional affair.

This can lead to hurt feelings and damage your relationship's trust and intimacy. It's essential to be mindful of the boundaries in your relationships and prioritize open and honest communication with your partner above all other relationships.

What To Do If You Want To Confess An Affair

Telling someone you have had a physical or emotional affair or even had inappropriate behavior with someone can cause a great deal of stress on your relationship. You need to understand that you may lose that relationship but the only way you can have trust, honesty, and healing is to be open about what has transpired.

Before you tell them, do some soul searching to determine what you want to happen. If you're going to leave your partner, then have that planned before you speak with them and review what will be required for you to make that as easy for both of you as possible. Be fair and responsible in your behavior.

If you want to end the affair and work things out with your partner, end it before you speak with your partner so that they know you are serious about wanting to work things out with them. Be honest about why you had it.

As yourself deep questions so that you are prepared to answer them for your partner. Ask what is lacking from your relationship and what you were seeking.

When you discuss it with your partner, allow them to be hurt and upset. Reassure them that they have a right to their feelings and express your willingness to work to recommit to the relationship. It is an excellent idea to involve a counselor before you discuss this with your partner.

Stages Of Discovery Of An Affair

These stages may occur out of order depending on both partners' behavior and desire for the relationship.

Suspicion

In this stage, the betrayed partner may begin to notice changes in behavior and mood causing them to wonder what is going on with their unfaithful partner. They may have also come upon some evidence making the intensity of feelings of distrust more pronounced. Emotions are adversarial, where the betrayed partner feels they need to know more and begins questioning the relationship's stability.

Confrontation

This may not occur until later, but if it occurs after suspicions or evidence is found, it is typically structured like an interrogation. Usually, there is intense anger from the betrayed partner.

What helps healing at this stage is for the betrayed partner to speak quickly and honestly about their feelings of discovery and expressing what they want to happen next. At the same time, the unfaithful partner should do the same.

Aggression and verbal abuse will make it challenging and can start a hostile dynamic that makes it difficult to move into a collaborative and healing phase whether reconnecting or the ending of the relationship is desired.

Information Seeking

This stage is after an affair has been discovered, and a discussion about what was involved in the affair is revealed. It is best for the betrayed partner not to harp on previous lies if they intend to heal the relationship.

The reason for this is that the unfaithful partner may have told those lies to shield the betrayed partner's feelings and protect the relationship.

Instead, talking about how the lies made the betrayed partner feel and what they need going forward is a better approach should both partners want to move forward with the relationship.

Troubleshooting The Relationship

A mutual understanding of what the affair meant and how the relationship will be different moving forward will be reviewed in this stage. The weaknesses of the relationship will be reviewed with strategies to strengthen those areas will be focused on.

This stage is about strengthening the relationship if it is desired to be saved. If it is not then this stage is about having healing that will allow for healthy closure of the relationship.

Typical Feelings Of The Betrayed Partner

Shock & Numbness

Betrayed partners can often feel a sense of disconnection from reality as the betrayal can feel traumatic. They may feel withdrawn as they experience the initial newness of the affair.

Relief

In some cases, a betrayed partner may feel a sense of relief. This can be for a couple of reasons. It may be that they have long suspected it, and finally, having proof can feel validating. It can also mean that they no longer wish to be in the relationship and now have a sense of freedom to leave it. Typically after an affair is discovered, the betrayed partner may feel anger, disbelief, and grief.

Obsession

Betrayed partners will often obsessively review the proof of the affair. This can lead to them trying to make sense of what occurred and may still be going on by connecting the dots. They may also emotionally feel like they are on a rollercoaster having a variety of emotions and thoughts as they try to make sense of the affair. This can mean they need to revisit things until they can feel more grounded in their feelings.

Endless Questioning

Betrayed partners often have a strong need to know all the details of the affair. Part of this is because they want to understand why it happened, but part of this is also trying to determine what their partner wanted that they did not feel they could get from them.

Doing this too much can cause more damage than healing, so making sure to refocus on ways to move on from the affair is where the energy should be more focused.

Unfaithful Partner's Reactions

Below are the most typical reactions by someone accused of cheating:

Denial

Most people deny any wrongdoing at first, even if there is evidence. This is one of the worst things someone who has had an affair can do because now there are two wounds that the betrayed partner has to heal from; the cheating as well as the false reassurances. This can also be a sign that the unfaithful partner is not yet ready to end the affair.

Partial Admissions

This is when the unfaithful partner only admits a fraction of the reality. It also is difficult to recover from as it leaves seeds of doubt in the betrayed partner's mind about what has been left out. It is difficult to heal this relationship until a full confession is received. 

Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse by manipulating a person to question their thoughts, memories, and events. When this occurs, the cheating partner tries to convince the betrayed partner that they are crazy for accusing them of cheating.

If an unfaithful partner does this, it can be a sign that they are not yet ready to end the affair. It is also a good indicator that the relationship will fail. If this keeps going on, it is typically best to leave the relationship because the betrayed partner is not just being cheated on but are also being emotionally abused. 

Typical Feelings Of The Unfaithful Partner

Because the unfaithful partner has betrayed their partner's trust, they may feel less deserving of support from friends, family, and professionals. However, to take responsibility for their actions and heal, they should seek support, and they, too, deserve it if they have remorse and wish to heal and grow.

Shifting Emotions

Defensiveness, aggressiveness, remorse, sadness, and fear are just a few of the feelings someone who has had an affair may have. What they feel will depend on why they were having an affair and what they were hoping would happen.

Who Should They Choose?

The unfaithful partner may feel conflicted about the old relationship and new. In addition, while they may have thought they wanted to leave their partner, but they may realize once confronted and facing the loss of it that they do not want to leave their partner.

Impatience: When Will This Heal?

When the unfaithful partner wants the relationship to work; they may have to deal with their own impatience for the relationship to feel good again for them. They may find their partner's need for reassurances and questions difficult and frustrating.

Grief: The Loss Of Someone

No matter who the unfaithful partner chooses, they will have to grieve the loss of the person they left behind. This can be very painful to witness for the betrayed partner, but this grieving process is crucial for the affair to be truly over.

Shame & Fear

The unfaithful partner may struggle with a lot of guilt and shame about what they did. Furthermore, they may be fearful of retaliation in the relationship or through a breakup or divorce. See more information in our Breakup & Divorce Advice Guide.

When the Cheater Keeps the Other Person Secret

Discovering that your partner has cheated on you can be incredibly painful, but it can be even more challenging when your partner refuses to disclose with whom they cheated on you. While the reasons why your partner may be withholding this information could be complicated, there are three common reasons they will refuse to share this information.

  1. The person they cheated with is someone you know.
  2. Revealing this could cause problems or harm to that person.
  3. They may love or have a sense of loyalty for the individual.

It will be nearly impossible to heal from this refusal to disclose the truth because moving forward requires honesty and trust, and not revealing this information is the opposite.

To Heal Or Not To Heal The Relationship

Many couples do not make it to this stage, nor should all couples try. Some therapists try to sell people the idea that couples should always try to stay together, but sometimes acknowledging when a relationship is no longer worth fighting for is the healthier approach.

This can allow both partners to move on and find what is right for them without wasting time trying to heal something that will never will work, be healthy or be what they want or need.

Even when children are involved, it can be better for them and their psychological health when they are with parents who are happier and healthier apart than unhappy and unhealthy together.

If partners do want to heal their relationship, it is certainly possible and may even allow them to discover even deeper and more profound feelings for one another making a stronger relationship than ever before. It can even retrigger chemical feelings of falling in love again.

Repairing The Damage

Cheaters typically do not want to hurt their partners and, in many cases, do not want to leave the relationship. It is part of why many go to great lengths to hide an affair.

Because cheating causes significant damage to a relationship, while it does not have to mean the end of it, there is undoubtedly a lot of healing work that must happen for it to go the distance.

It is typically not a good idea to discuss the nitty-gritty of sex acts, flirtation, etc. These are nearly impossible to get out of one's mind and make overcoming the betrayal very difficult to overcome.

Couples Counseling

Seeking out a couple's counseling may be a good idea, but make sure you shop around for a therapist that is a good fit for you. Therapists are like any other profession in that there are good ones that can provide you with tools that help you heal, and there are some that can make things even worse.

Find out the type of couple's therapy you are interested in and then seek out well-reviewed therapists that offer that type of therapy. Don't feel you have to commit to one therapist until you have had a few sessions, and you both decide that it is the right fit for you both.

Rebuilding Trust

This can take a very long time and may not fully be restored to the way it used to be before the affair. If the trust levels can get to a place where it feels comfortable for the betrayed spouse, the relationship may have the option of healing.

If they cannot, then it most likely will not be able to be fully repaired. If either partner is staying in the relationship out of obligation or fears of starting over, it will also not be likely that it will survive.

No Relationship Is The Same

Every relationship is different, and the reasons one has for having an affair can vary greatly—the adage of 'once a cheater always a cheater' is not necessarily true.

Many people who have an affair do not have one again. However, this depends significantly on why they had an affair in the first place and how both partners handled it.

Can A Relationship Be Stronger After An Affair

Working through infidelity can strengthen a relationship, but it requires both partners' willingness and desire to commit to honesty, communication skill-building, nurturing the relationship, and being consistent in that work of actively showing love and commitment to one another.

How To Nurture Yourself & Your Relationship

Prevention Of An Affair

Once the attraction of an affair starts, it is incredibly challenging to curb the desire. The obsessive thinking that attraction to someone else creates causes a lot of irrational behavior.

The unfaithful partner may be fully aware that their actions and thinking are not rational. Still, they feel compelled to do them anyway, even knowing that an affair can lead to a failed relationship (divorce), estranged children, or even financial ruin.

This is why it is crucial to have good boundaries in the first place and discussions at the beginning of a relationship about these issues. There should be a commitment to making it a priority by doing things such as being honest, forgiving, realistic, fair, listening to one another, and continuing to court one another through small acts of emotional support and kindness often.

See our Improving Relationships Guide.

Before An Affair

Even if you or your partner are not having an affair, the fact that you are reading this article may be an indicator that there may be something that needs attention in your relationship.

If you need it, make sure to take the time to find the support you need and explore ways to strengthen your relationship to make it what brings you and your partner the greatest happiness.

If You Have Been Cheated On

If you discover that your partner has cheated on you, please reach out to support systems such as friends, family, and possibly a counselor for comfort. This is a challenging betrayal, and you are worthy and deserving of support, no matter what you decide to do.

Nurture yourself, and find ways to comfort yourself through this difficult time. It is traumatizing to be betrayed by a partner, and it is an excellent time to ask yourself what you want, get empowered, and ensure that you take care of yourself. Below are some things to keep in mind:

  • You do not need someone's apology to heal. Don't wait for someone to permit you to move forward in your life.
  • Forgiveness does not mean that you have to let someone back into your life. When someone hurts you, make sure that something significant has changed in their behavior if you let them back into your life to avoid experiencing the same pattern.
  • Avoid wasting your energy on trying to have someone validate your feelings. You cannot control whether someone understands you or takes responsibility for their actions. The people who hurt us the most often won't admit that they have caused us harm. Don't allow their denial to set you back.

If You Have Had An Affair

If you are thinking about or have been having an affair, you also need support and guidance to help you minimize the damage that the affair will potentially create. Seek help to find a way to live your life more authentically and honestly in the future. You deserve better than sneaking around to get your needs met.

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