As a preface, I don’t believe humans are necessarily wired for monogamy. We have evolved to reproduce widely, and it’s natural enough to desire other sexual partners. With that said, however, if you are in a committed relationship and you have made it clear that you don’t go outside the marriage for sex, read this before you cheat.
As a couples therapist, I have seen the pain of infidelity first-hand. The purpose of this article is to help you to avoid such pain.
When you cheat and your partner finds out about it, it puts them in a tailspin. What your partner assumed was reality gets turned upside down. Trust is the bedrock of committed relationships, and when this breaks, the essence of the relationship is now in question.
Hurt partners often experience intense anxiety and depression.
If they were prone to anxiety and depression before finding out about the affair, these conditions become more intense. They may also begin to obsess about the affair, and seek answers that only lead to more anxiety and questions.
Thus, hurt partners end up in an agonizing place. Their reality is unsettled, and the place they go to for support – the relationship – is now mired in distrust.
Because of this bind, often hurt partners will reach out to whomever they can – friends and family members. As the unfaithful partner, you are now pigeonholed as a cheater to those people you will most likely see in the future if you stay together. This will tinge get-togethers and family reunions with an uneasiness you’ve created.
Then there’s your children.
What will you tell your kids if they’re old enough to know what’s going on? If they’re too young, will you tell them later?
And your workplace.
How will the affair affect your reputation and career if it gets out? If you cheat with someone at work and it gets out, you may need to transfer positions or leave your job.
If you are going to stay together after cheating, as the unfaithful partner you will be in the difficult position of being in the doghouse while proving you have changed and are worthy of trust if you wish to eventually heal the relationship. This could involve transferring jobs or handing over access to your email, phone, and computer – whatever your partner needs to begin to regain some faith in you.
Remember that when you are face to face with your partner’s pain, you are going to be in pain. Are you okay with your partner being in pain, facing the difficult aftermath of the affair, and working tirelessly to regain their trust? If that’s actually the case you should simply end the relationship before you cheat. Don’t communicate that you are unhappy by hurting your partner.
So here’s the takeaway question: Is the excitement and pleasure of the affair worth the pain of the consequences?
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