I Cheat On My Partner Every Time We Argue

Every time we have an argument, I picture myself with someone else.

couple in a back to back stance Mladen Mitrinovic/ Shutterstock

By Amanda Vining

My significant other means the world to me. He is kind, compassionate, intelligent, witty, hardworking, and dedicated. He is everything I want a partner to be, except when he isn’t.

Like all relationships, we have our fair share of stressful moments that test us and push us. No matter how many arguments we have, I know that my significant other is the person I want as a partner in life. I would never set my sights on flirting with other men or crossing a physical boundary with someone else, but I do find myself subconsciously cheating on my partner during our tense and trying times.


How? By wishing that he was different.

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I can’t count the number of nights I have gone to bed after having an argument with my partner and thought, “What if I was with someone else? What if I found someone who does the laundry more often and who isn’t so grouchy in the mornings?”


In my post-argument vulnerability, I console myself by imagining different traits and qualities of my partner, or even wishing that he was another person altogether.

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Though self-soothing, these thoughts aren’t merely a temporary distraction. They are harmful to my relationship and very disrespectful to my partner.

By fantasizing about being with another person devoid of my partner’s frustrating quirks, then I am not allowing my significant other the opportunity to be himself in our relationship. I am prescribing a demand that he be the person I want him to be, rather than who he is. Where there could be room in our relationship for improvement and discussion, I am instead filling it with visions of an idealized version of my partner.


Conflict is hard. Resolving it is even harder. Being in a relationship with another person requires you to be humble, patient, and understanding.

It is easy to accept your partner when the two of you are having a blast on a weekend outing or cozying up on the couch at home. But it isn’t as easy when the grind of daily life brings with it stress, miscommunications, and two people each with unique perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds.

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In times of trial, it is comforting to give into thoughts of being with someone else, even if that other person is a fantastical being who possesses only positive, enjoyable qualities.


However, after the initial heat of the argument has faded, what is remaining is not a loving foundation of trust and acceptance, but a refusal to allow my partner to be fully present in our relationship and to offer his full potential in remedying and strengthening our bond.

I think of how hurt I would be if my partner came to me and said, “I want you to be different.” So why is it that this is the exact angle I find myself resorting to when our relationship requires me to be understanding and open?

I know at my core that my post-argument thoughts aren’t fair to my partner, to me, and certainly not to our relationship. I want our relationship to be a safe space for both of us, in which we are free and able to be ourselves complete with both positive and negative attributes. I want our relationship to be a place where we feel comfortable falling because we trust that we have the support we need to stand back up and try again.

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If this is the type of relationship that I want my partner and me to have, then building that foundation needs to start with me. It needs to be built not only when we are sharing laughter and joy, but especially when we need one another to be reminders of the love and acceptance that we both need in order to be our best selves.

It takes a great deal of courage and strength to be humble in the face of conflict, and it takes that humility to be open to accepting another person unconditionally and completely. Cumulatively, it takes all of these things to look at your significant other during times of stress and say, “I am not happy with the situation right now, but I accept you and love you for all of who you are.”

It isn’t easy by any means, but taking on the challenge of accepting my partner rather than giving into the fantasy of being with someone else is the promise that I am making to both myself and my significant other.


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Amanda Vining is a writer and activist focused on child welfare, gender equality, and abuse prevention.