Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The “Big Girl’s” Guide to Overcoming Cheating in a Relationship

You get tingles each time your partner calls your name. You still love their aroma. You’re happy and life is grand as you make plans to build a long, loving relationship together. Then suddenly you’re confronted with the horror that your partner has been unfaithful. What do you do? Most people will say that cheating is an automatic end to the relationship. Once your partner has cheated, there is no trust. Consider the following to make the decision for yourself.

Cheating is an emotional “crime” in a relationship more so than the very act itself. The intimacy and monogamy that existed has been penetrated. You feel inadequate and that you weren’t “enough” to meet the needs of your partner. There is the assumption that if (s)he has done it once, this will be reoccurring behavior. Let’s take this experience and delve deeper into the decisions that the two of you must make. How much time did the two of you spend getting to know each other before committing to a monogamous relationship? The answer could uncover some flaws in your dating and relationship habits. Taking time to learn about your partner is key to gaining insight into who (s)he really is and what (s)he is capable of. Asking the hard questions at the onset of the relationship will also clue you in to if (s)he has cheated in past relationships, how often and his or her definition of what it means to be in a committed, monogamous relationship.

How has the relationship been apart from the “crime?” Have things been good? Had this not happened, would you continue with the relationship? Is this the first time (s)he has cheated? Depending upon how you answer the questions, you may want to weigh your options and mend the relationship. Is it really worth it to throw away an otherwise potentially fulfilling relationship due to one mistake? The trust will have to be rebuilt whether with your current partner or another, honestly. And with the proper counseling, this experience could draw the two of you closer.

Consider how long you’ve been together. Is this someone you’ve dated since high school? One year? Five years? More? There are many changes that young people go through transitioning from high school to young adulthood. Joining new social circles can also introduce temptations that (s)he simply weren’t prepared to handle. Should you continue to grow with this person? Or is it time to cut the ties that have held you together up until this act? Give your partner credit for being human, realizing that your experiences dating other people have been limited. There is no perfect person. Millions of people have been cheated on. Millions have cheated. You are no exception.

Seek advice from others who have cheated and who have been cheated on to help you make the best decision for your circumstances. This could help you not make an emotional decision that you may regret once the tears subside. Don’t be ashamed to seek the assistance of a relationship coach, therapist, counselor or other behavioral health professional that can help you sort through what you’re feeling and assist in the process of rebuilding self esteem and trust.

Most importantly, whether you choose to remain with your partner or move on, grow from this experience.  Don't allow it to make you bitter or limit your ability to be and remain a loving partner in your relationship.  If you remain with your partner, work towards forgiveness without bringing it up with each disagreement.  Should you decided to move on, be careful not to project the hurt, disappointment and mistrust you have for your former partner onto your new love interest.  Take things at a pace comfortable for you, making sure you make your stand on the subject clear before the two of you agree to a monogamous relationship.

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