As a therapist, I have rarely seen a person get away with cheating for long. And those who have (so far), harbor guilt and regret more than they feel good about getting away with it.
When our relationships start to derail and we feel ourselves turning away from our partners, we need to become aware if we are seeking validation through others. If we don’t, we can end up making a decision that we may regret.
Here are a few tips to help make balanced decisions when we find ourselves in this situation:
1) Think of how your partner would feel. Assume your partner will absolutely find out. Imagine how your partner will react.
2) Think of consequences. What will happen to your current relationship? What other areas of your life will be impacted if you’re caught, or even if you get away with it?
3) Identify what the “other person” is bringing to you that your partner isn’t. If you’re turning toward a person outside of your relationship, there’s a reason for this, whether they make you feel good, sexy, smart, admired, and so on. Figure out what this is for you.
4) Talk to your partner. Communicate what you feel you’re missing in the relationship. People tend to wait until boiling over before having these important discussions. For some, cheating feels less risky than direct communication, and some also use cheating as a way to get out of a relationship. But if you feel unhappy with your relationship, communication will be necessary if you want improvement (or if you want to end your relationship).
5) Personal or couples counseling. Couples counseling can help re-orient your relationship by identifying where things are going wrong, help with communication, and get your relationship on the right track again. Personal counseling can help sort out the urges, temptations, and emotions we’re struggling with.
Ideally, before making a decision that we may regret or that may come back to haunt us, we want to be able to make a thought-out decision and use our best judgment. It may not always be easy, but the hope is that we can understand the consequences of our actions before we do behaviors that cause regret, guilt, and hurt to ourselves and our partners.