- Gender and Relationships
Cheat a Cheater: Keep Cool When Dealing with an Affair
Affairs Can Make Our Thoughts Go Haywire
Recovering from a partner’s affair is no easy matter. We are forced to acknowledge that we’re less important in our partner’s lives than someone else – if only for a night. We learn that our partner is capable of being selfish enough to rip our family apart for a self-indulgence that he or she says means “nothing.”
Before we found out the truth, we felt as if we were losing our minds. We had a niggling gut feeling, and we questioned our partners and ourselves. We heard that we were being paranoid or were over-reacting, and because we already felt a bit abandoned by our partner, we stuffed our feelings deeper and ignored those whispers that warned us of things to come. Upon discovering that we weren’t wrong in the first place, we harangue ourselves for not paying attention and call ourselves stupid.
Finally, we have to decide how to interact with the cheater in the future: Do we stay together and try to make the relationship work? Break up or divorce? Can we even be friendly to each other once everything is blown into the open?
Affairs Create Anxiety and Depression in Relationships
Don't just wait and worry about whether your partner's cheating! First, we put your finger on the events that lead to those nauseating moments of doubt. Usually, something our partner has changed has triggered a fear: How she uses her computer, when he goes out with friends, shifting work schedules. For a list of behaviors that indicate a possible cheater, take a look at Dr. Robert Huizenga’s list, “46 Clues Your Partner is Having an Affair.”
Once you've pinpointed the behaviors that make you uncomfortable, address the problem, but first have a conversation with yourself. What outcome are you seeking? Your answer to this question will affect how to plan your course of action. Salvaging the relationship requires different steps than leaving it if you discover an affair. Further, if your values and boundaries are too different from your partner’s, it may not be salvageable in the first place.
Helpful Products for Keeping Sane
Stopping the Affair and Keeping Your Relationship
If you want to recover your relationship, make simple requests for changes in the behaviors you’ve identified. Avoid blame and refuse to accept criticism.
“I think trust is important to a relationship, don’t you agree? Well, I feel mistrustful when you leave the room when you take phone calls, so I’d like you to trust me enough to stay in the room when you’re talking.”
If your partner gets defensive (and a guilty guy or gal will respond defensively!) don’t let it push your buttons. If they respond with “Oh, so now you’re accusing me of …” statements, keep your calm and stick to the behavior.
“I’m not making an accusation. I’m saying that I don’t like feeling mistrustful of you because you’re important to me. I’d like to know that how I feel is important to you, too. Will you please stop leaving the room when you get a phone call?” Stick to the topic, even if you sound like you're stuck on the same sentence.
Because things are rarely as simple as examples written on a page, focus on the basic ideas mentioned above – simple requests, avoiding blame, and refusing to accept criticism. It may require efforts more than once on different matters. She starts accepting phone calls when you’re in the room, but adopts a habit of using the computer at odd hours. Indications like these are clues that your relationship is not salvageable.
If you found that your current partner was having an affair, would you try to save the relationship?
Leaving a Cheater
That brings us to the other possible outcome – leaving. You do not need proof positive about your partner’s infidelity to determine that his actions aren’t acceptable to you. If your needs aren’t being met, and aren’t going to be met, it’s time to start packing your bags. You can avoid being humiliated by the truth if you trust your own intuition.
Obviously, when children, property, or other third parties are involved, you may need to plan your exit strategy with care. Ensure that you have enough money, a place to go, and all the things you’ll need to maintain a new lifestyle. It won’t be easy, but it’s preferable to surrendering your self-esteem.
As Cheryl Hughes wrote, undiscovered lies can erode the quality of our life and how we feel about ourselves, but we don’t have to let them. By captaining your own life, even a cheating partner’s lies won’t erode our strength for long.