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Cheated On In A Relationship? Stop Beating Yourself Up!

Updated on July 5, 2017
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As a psychology major at the University of North Texas, C. E. Clark found, and continues to find psychology endlessly fascinating.

Trying to Make Sense of Infidelity

You’ve just discovered your girlfriend/boyfriend, significant other (SO), lover, or spouse has cheated on you. (For the sake of expediency I am going to refer to all of these people as SO -- significant others--throughout this hub.)

You are hurt and angry. You fluctuate between the two, one minute crying from the emotional pain, the next minute angry and seething that someone who has sworn they love you has betrayed you this way. You feel like someone has kicked you in the gut, hard. You are thrown completely off balance because someone you have bonded to so closely and whom you have trusted so completely has acted in a way that was totally unexpected.

The next thing you are trying to think of is if there had been signs or hints that your SO was messing around and you had somehow missed those signs. What about that time he said he had to work late? What about that time she said she was not feeling well and was going straight to bed?

Your mind races back in time trying to think of all the times in the past when your SO made excuses not to be with you, or when s/he did something that seemed a little out of the ordinary at the time.

You Want To Know Exactly What They Did Together

Next you start feeling insecure. Did you do something wrong? If you’re a man: Don’t you make enough money? Maybe you should have agreed to go shopping with her more often . . . If you’re a woman: Aren’t you pretty enough? Maybe if you took more of an interest in football . . .

Chances are that nothing you did or did not do had anything to do with your SO cheating on you. More than likely circumstances converged that made the temptation very great for your SO and it was a weak moment for them.

What circumstances you ask? The other person was available and willing and extremely attractive to the eye of the beholder, or maybe they just appealed in some unexplainable way at the moment, the time was available, the location seemed safe, and your SO did not believe, for whatever reason, that s/he would be ‘caught.’

And can I be honest? Some people love risk. They get high on risk. They love the idea of doing something bad, something very naughty, and they love getting away with it! They love bucking the system.

The Question I Have For You . . .

What difference does it make what they did together? Why do you want to know all the gory details? You will only torture yourself with these details if you know them, and you know that is true.

No, it is not likely that you could have prevented the infidelity from happening. Not everything is about you. Sometimes it is about your SO. Maybe this is a weakness that person has that you did not notice before. Maybe this was a behavior that your SO had all along and you simply did not notice because love is blind. Perhaps your love for this person who has hurt you blinded you from the truth of how they really are, or perhaps you really knew all along but were in denial?

Why Do the Details of the Infidelity Really Matter?

The fact is, if indeed you know for a fact that an infidelity took place, that what really matters is that your SO betrayed you. Unless it was with your best friend, your worst enemy, or a close relative, or someone else important in your life, what difference does it make with whom s/he was unfaithful? What difference does it make what they did together no matter who it was so long as they were of legal age and sound mind?

What should matter is that your SO was unfaithful – period. What should matter is that your SO betrayed you and now your bond with that person is broken and your trust with them is shattered. The bond and the trust must be repaired or your relationship is going to be very unhappy if it continues.

Learning the details, which you know you will only use to make yourself more miserable, is not necessary or useful. It is not at all productive. All you need to know for sure is that your SO was unfaithful and broke your trust. If you know that to be a fact, then it only remains for you to decide what to do as a result.

Findings From Recent Marriage Studies

A study released in May 2012 by the University of Florence found that infidelity outside the home was associated with a higher risk of major cardiovascular event, including fatal heart attacks, for men.

A University of Michigan study found that the likelihood of divorce went down by 20% when a husband had a good relationship with his wife’s parents. However, when a wife had a good relationship with her husband’s parents, the likelihood of divorce went up by 20% !

“Living together before marriage is no longer a strong predictor of divorce, [when couples are engaged to be married] according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in early 2012." However, couples living together who were not engaged were not as likely to stay together for 10 or more years.

Couples who share or divide chores have a 50% higher divorce rate than couples where the wife takes responsibility for all or most of the chores according to a Norwegian Study. It is thought that this is due to ‘modern’ attitudes and values that tend to regard marriage less seriously than previous generations.

. . . . from the Huffington Post

The More Important Questions

The more important questions are, can you put your relationship back together again? Can you rebuild the trust? Do you want to repair your damaged relationship, or end it? To help you find the answers to these questions, ask yourself, "Is my life better with him or her in it? Or would my life be better without him or her in it?" Be honest with yourself, and that should give you the answer to whether you want to do all the work it will take to rebuild the trust.

If the answer to the above questions is no, then it is really just a matter of ending the relationship, mourning for a little while over the loss, and then moving on. No stalking your SO to see what else they may be doing. No trying to find out through sneaky methods whom s/he was unfaithful with or where their rendezvous took place, if you do not already know this information.

For your own sake and peace of mind, do not continue to replay in your mind what you think may have happened between your SO and the other person. Do not try to learn intimate details by any means. They really do not matter. The only thing that matters is that your bond and your trust have been broken.

Instead, enjoy some of your favorite comfort foods for a few days. Get some counseling in an effort not to have a replay with your next love interest. Get a new look, buy a couple of new outfits, work out, and use that negative energy to make yourself look and feel fabulous!

Refuse to think about the details because that will just bring you down and make you feel angry and hurt all over again to no avail. Essentially, refuse not only to beat yourself up more by learning unnecessary details and replaying in your mind, but also, refuse to allow what has happened to taint your future. Mourn the loss, and then start over fresh leaving the disappointment, anger, and hurt behind. No, it will not be easy, but the sooner you get back to living your life, the sooner this too shall pass.

Yes, You CAN Control Your Thoughts and Feelings

Yes, if you are of average or above intelligence and mentally healthy, you CAN control your thoughts and your feelings. It may not be easy, especially in the beginning, but the more you practice doing it, like anything else, the better you will become at controlling your thoughts and feelings. You will find this skill to be an advantage in all areas of your life, not just your love life.

You Want to Try to Save Your Relationship

If like some people you choose to try to save your relationship, I definitely recommend you seek counseling. Ideally both you and your SO will attend. One of you getting counseling is better than neither of you getting it, but the ideal is for you to get counseling together.

Counseling can keep things on an adult level and bring a new perspective to the equation from someone who has experience with these issues and who can be objective and fair to both of you.

If you are serious about saving your relationship or marriage, counseling is essential. Otherwise one or both of you will develop resentments that will further poison the relationship. Resentments because one of you feels s/he is giving in more than the other. Resentments because one of you thinks the other is not respecting their feelings, or not ‘getting it,’ where the other’s feelings are concerned.

If you really want to save your relationship, go the extra mile and get the counseling. Your relationship is either worth that or it is not worth that. If you think it is not worth that, then stop playing games and end it as per above.

Continuing to walk on a broken leg without having it professionally tended to so that it heals properly will only insure that it gives you grief for the rest of your life and may in fact never completely heal.

Many more marriages could be saved, according to John Gottman, psychologist and founder of The Gottman Relationship Institute; if couples would seek counseling and help before problems become so huge they threaten the relationship.

Whether or not you choose to try and put your relationship back together, stop chasing down information that is essentially irrelevant, and that will only give you more pain and which you will only use to torment yourself. Stop beating yourself up!

© 2012 C E Clark


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