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Sunday, July 22, 2018

My Partner Cheated On Me, Now What



I was inspired to write this article in response to someone's Facebook post, asking people their on opinion on "what now"? In short, my reply was that there's no generic answer. Each case is unique, which means each case needs to be addressed individually. It's all good to say "he/she cheated, kick them to the curb". But, that's not always the best solution. Sometimes, it's the easiest. Because working on the relationship after the trust has been broken is truly difficult. Sometimes, it's worth putting the effort in. It all depends on the reason behind the action.

There are a multitude of reasons that people cheat in relationships, but it often boils down to one of two:
1. They are having problems in the relationship/in themselves and don't know how to fix them
2. They have a wandering heart

As someone with a wandering heart, I know first-hand that sometimes, there's no reason for cheating. Although, if you sat down in a room with me, an ex and a psychiatrist, they might say "a wandering heart is a sign you're missing something in yourself." Hell, it sounds like something I might say, too. But the fact is, there is such thing. The same people who like to constantly change their environment, switch jobs and even move into different cities. People like me, who are always following a calling the wind that leads us somewhere other than we are. It's a wanderlust. If that's your partners' reason for straying, it's time to evaluate what the relationship means to you.

The first thing you should keep in mind is that just because someone cheated doesn't mean they don't care about you. It doesn't mean they don't value you as a person or that they don't care about the trust you put in them. Sometimes, it's just a reflection of their own inner self. That doesn't mean you should simply shrug and look the other way, either.

When someone cheats, it is a game changer. Regardless of their reason. You'll both have to accept that nothing will ever go back to the way it was. There are going to be trust issues between the two of you. There are going to be communication issues (which were likely already there to begin with, so it's only going to get worse). You're both going to look at the relationship a different way, maybe lose focus of what you were working towards together. These are the things you'll need to consider before making the decision to fix the problems or walk away.

If there is a bigger problem, such as communication or their are unhappy with themselves, you both need to address those issues. It's not always easy to tackle on your own though, so it may be wise to seek external help. Get involved in couples counselling and see if you can't get to the root of the issues that led them to stray. Remember that throughout the process of repairing a broken relationship, both parties have to be completely honest. With each other and themselves. If deep down you know you'll never truly forgive them for breaking your trust, don't waste the energy trying. Walk away with your head held high and your hope set on a brighter tomorrow. Work harder in future relationships to prevent communication errors from causing the same ripple. If you believe you can work through it, try your hardest to push past the initial feelings of jealousy and inner turmoil.

It's healthy to talk about what happened and get everything out in the open. But once you've done that, drop the subject. Don't talk about it all the time. Don't ask a million questions. If you're moving past it, move past it. Leave the past mistakes behind you and focus on a future with better communication. You may think joking around about it or bringing it up "casually" is alright, but it's not. It means that you are consciously holding on to what happened.

When you can't let go of the past, you will not have a future.

While we're on the subject of letting go - Make sure all communication has been severed to the other side. Meaning, your partner isn't still talking to the person they cheated with. If this was a co-worker, or someone they will have to see regularly, it's something to talk about in a therapy session. After all, your trust is broken. Your partner can't say "I won't make the mistake again", because you won't believe them anyway. Not at first. Over time, you can start to repair the broken bridge. But everything takes time.

Don't rush yourself. Take the time you need to heal and move on from this. You may even need to take a "break" from your partner and the relationship. Evaluate what you want. Know what the relationship meant to you and what it means to you now. If you simply can't see past what happened - don't. Forcing yourself to try will only lead to animosity towards your partner and likely a bit of hatred towards yourself for not walking away.

With all of this said, I feel I have to emphasize that I am not making excuses for those who are unfaithful. While everyone has a reason, it is often nothing more than the lack of self control, which I believe falls into the "wandering heart". Those who know they can't be faithful: Don't get into a relationship. If you're going to, make it a polyamorous one, so you know you're not going to destroy the trust of someone who blindly put faith in your love.