Why did my partner cheat? Is it my fault? Did I deserve it or do something wrong? Was it me?
Sometimes people cheat to experience passion and aliveness – something, for whatever reason, they may not feel in their primary relationship. They want the vitality of an erotic connection, and they seek out a new partner who makes them feel sexy and wanted. Or they have an affair to get the emotional connection that they’re missing at home.
Cheating might help temporarily. But when infidelity is an effort to reclaim a self-identity as a sexual being, as someone worth loving or being valued by another, it is often an empty comfort. Many times it is a temporary and unsatisfying way to manage frustration or boredom in a marriage.
If you are the one being cheated on, it is useless to blame yourself. Take a good look at the part you play in the relationship issues that came before the affair. Clarify for yourself what was happening for both of you prior to this injury. Then move on to some serious self care.
Focusing on the “why” can become obsessive and land you in depressed thinking and hopeless self blame. Instead, think about what you need to do to take care of yourself right now, while you are feeling betrayed and hurt, and put all of your energy into reclaiming your self esteem.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
What do I need to feel good about myself today?
What do I need from a partner to feel good in a relationship?
What makes me feel vital and important in the world?
These are big questions. Take the time to think about them, and even write them down. Don’t think too hard or judge your words.
Use the following as a journaling exercise. Write down the first thing that comes to your mind:
When you are done with your lists and feel comfortable, you may want to share them with your partner. You may notice that they read like a beautiful poem. They are the poetry of your spirit. You could do this exercise every day, and the list would be different. For today, this is your poem. Have compassion for yourself, and don’t judge yourself for the things you need and love.
When partners cheat, they do it for many reasons. Talking to your partner about what was happening during their affair will be easier and more productive when you are feeling strong, and discover your own inner strength.
Your future, whether you stay together or break up, will then include these new, stronger parts of you. You will have integrated the more self-confident, and tougher self and you can even bring that part of you into your new, updated and stronger relationship - together.
Dr Tammy Nelson is a sex and relationship expert and the author of The New Monogamy; Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity. She offers teleseminars on Creating Your New Monogamy, to help recover from cheating today, go to www.drtammynelson.comhttp://www.drtammynelson.com