It’s time to open up about cheating. Despite popular belief, cheating is not simply a negative choice made by individuals looking to hurt someone. At least, not in all cases. Cheating actually conveys many different messages depending upon the situation. Whether you’re the cheater or the one being cheated on, here are a few general insights to help you deal with the aftermath.
It Unveils an Underlying Problem in the Relationship
Being cheated on is undoubtedly one of the worst outcomes of a relationship. Still, in an effort to make lemonade out of lemons, let’s look at the deeper meaning of what could be behind the actions.
In a way, being cheated on provides you with valuable insights that can be utilized to build more successful relationships in the future. The insights are entirely dependent upon your situation, but they’re always there.
For instance, if your significant other cheated on you after several months of an intimacy dry spell, it pretty blatantly highlights the lack of physical affection or sexual compatibility. It also forces you to look deeper at why that intimacy was lacking in the first place. Are your sex drives as a couple just not a good match? Is there a deeper issue going on that is affecting how affectionate you are with each other?
While your immediate reaction may be to leave and never look back, and that’s completely your prerogative, having a discussion first and getting to the root of the issue, difficult as it may be, will help you in relationships down the road.
Most importantly, we don’t want to feel like it’s Groundhog Day. If you never get to the bottom of why the cheating happened, even if it wasn’t because of anything you did, how will you know how to prevent it from occurring in your next relationship? By having that all-too-difficult conversation, you can decrease your chances of choosing another partner who doesn’t respect the boundaries of your relationship.
It Does Not Always Mean a Lack of Affection
One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding cheating is that, if a person cheats on you, it means they never really loved you in the first place. As much as this one may feel true, it’s not always true. More often than not, it’s untrue.
Cheating, at its core, is a weakness often elicited when something is missing in the eyes of the cheater. This can be something deeply personal to them, or something grander that is directly tied to your relationship.
Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that there usually is a reason, which isn’t to say that they don’t care about or love you. Most often, they step outside of a relationship because something is missing (whether internal or external), and unfortunately, your feelings are collateral damage.
Disclaimer: To be clear, this doesn’t make the act “okay.” Instead, it suggests that human beings are complex, and therefore our reasoning likely is as well.
It Is NEVER the Victim’s Fault
It’s also super important to follow that last point up with the most important on this list: the victim is NEVER at fault for their significant other’s transgressions. It’s a common defense mechanism to throw blame at the victim for driving the cheater to their transgressions, but that’s not how it works.
More importantly, if the cheater tries to blame you for their choice to cheat, you’re probably better off walking away. In many unhealthy relationships with cheaters, the victim is gaslit into thinking they’re the problem. The victim didn’t drive the cheater into the arms of another, regardless of the state of the relationship before the cheating event.
That being said, relationships are a two-way street, so don’t discount the events that led up to the infidelity. Take accountability for the part you played in the decline of your relationship, but the choice your partner made to cheat? That’s not on you.
There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Coping Method
When it comes to dealing with being cheated on, everyone is going to cope differently. You may have friends that were able to forgive and forget, but that’s entirely dependent upon your personality. For some individuals, cheating is a deal-breaker, and for others, it’s a stepping-stone to building a stronger bond. Both perspectives are valid.
However, if you do decide to go the forgive and forget route, it’s important to note this is easier said than done. This method only works with effort, dedication, and honesty. Even then, it’s easy to fall back on these emotions in the heat of an argument. If you don’t think you can move on without referring back to the event when you’re mad or upset, it may be healthier for you and your significant other to cut ties.
While you’d be hard-pressed to find the good in cheating, that’s not to say positive insight can’t come out of the situation. Before you shut down and run away, dive into the more difficult observations and learn from them, regardless of whether or not you are the perpetrator.
Building a strong relationship requires reflection and growth, and, painful as it is, these situations typically offer insight that leads to the most stable of foundations if used properly.