Cheating in a relationship: Does it have to be the end?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Marian Hanson - Nu Journeys Counselling
2nd May, 20180 Comments
There are so many reasons why people cheat on their spouses and infidelity can occur in all types of relationships - newlyweds, long-term marriages, short-term and long-term dating, couples who live together and couples who live apart, long-distance relationships and relationships with people who live close by.
As a relationship counsellor, I have had met with various couples, all with their own experiences and stories to tell. An important thing to take into consideration is the definition of what constitutes cheating as this varies depending on every couple. For example, in some relationships, flirting with someone of the opposite sex, initiating a relationship even if you don't have one, with a member of the opposite sex, or even sending suggestive pictures, photos or texts by phone or online could be considered as cheating.
In other relationships, nothing other than kissing, sexual contact or sexual intercourse is considered as cheating.
The reason this is important is that it is something that all couples should make clear at the onset or during their relationship so that is known, accepted, agreed and understood by both parties. The act of cheating is one thing but the aftermath is a completely different thing and that is why each couple needs to make the decision for themselves about what they are going to do once cheating occurs.
The impact of cheating includes broken trust, self-doubt and loss of self-worth, confusion about the relationship and feelings of disillusion in regards to the relationship. Broken trust can affect couples but can also affect individuals who are not in relationships but have previously been cheated on and now struggle to trust others. Those feelings can also be compounded when multiple cheating occurs as the person who has been cheated on feels like they have worked through the issue but then it happens again. It is common for someone who has been cheated on to blame themselves. They may ask the following questions "Why am I not good enough?", "Did I do something wrong?", "He/ she cheated because I didn't do a, b or c". This type of thinking can lead to the person feeling low and in some cases, depressed. Within some households or cultures, those thoughts may be used as a way of protecting the person who cheated by taking the blame yourself (he is a good man or she is a good woman so if they cheated, it must be because of something I did).
It is also common for someone who has been cheated on to feel a sense of confusion and disillusion about the relationship - he/she is not the person I thought they were/ I didn't see this coming/my relationship was not real. If those feelings are not fully worked through, it can lead to a person feeling on edge within the relationship and feeling sad that things are not how they thought they were.
As a counsellor, I do not believe that cheating has to be the end. I believe that whatever decision a person makes about their relationship should be their decision and they have a right to remain in the relationship or to walk away without judgement. If the decision is to remain in the relationship once cheating has occurred, here are my three tips to consider;
Cheating affects both the cheater and the person who has been cheated on in different ways but it doesn't have to be the end of the relationship unless you want it to be.
About the author
I am a relationship counsellor with eight years experience of providing counselling to individuals and couples. I also have experience of providing counselling to children and women who have experienced domestic violence and I am in the process of becoming a confidence and self-worth coach and I have a passion for areas of personal development
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