Infidelity, sleeping around, adultery, two-timing or ‘playing away’. Whatever you want to call it, cheating on a significant other typically results in significant pain.
Relationship coach and Corporate Cupid founder Renee Brown tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she is regularly faced with devastating stories of relationships ending due to a partner cheating.
“It’s the ultimate betrayal. Dreams are broken, families divided, and all trust is lost replaced by anger and resentment,” she says.
Here, she recalls a recent real-life example of an engaged couple she counselled in the wake of multiple instances of infidelity.
My most recent example was a couple who had been together for six years. They experimented with other people within their relationship in the past but recently got engaged. This was their time to settle down and get serious about marriage and having a family.
A few months in after the proposal they started having problems. Their relationship expectations and the future they said they had wanted started to change, so much so that the woman moved out to allow them both space to gain clarity about their future.
During this time the man cheated, and she found out.
I worked with them to redefine their relationship goals, values and expectations. They agreed to stay together and move forward under the conditions if either were to cheat again they would break up.
Not long after this, the man cheated again and openly admitted he wanted to see other people and wasn’t ready to commit to what he thought he originally wanted.
They broke up, and whilst it was painful for the woman she went through the grieving process and moved on quite quickly.
She was able to fast track the healing process because she knew her limitations, relationship rules and expectations, so once this was broken it was an immediate sign to move on with no questions asked, even though it pained her deeply.
What should you do when a partner cheats?
The most common question Renee is asked is if you can ever repair a relationship once someone has cheated.
While infidelity can be impossible to move past, it’s not all bad news. She tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the answer is yes - but only if both people are fully invested in the process.
If you’re faced with a cheating partner and want to know the best way forward, here are some things Renee suggests you consider:
The first thing most people want to ask is why. It’s understandable to want to make sense of it all to fully understand the action behind the cause of the pain.
Ask your partner to be honest with you, and to give some kind of explanation.
It’s important to understand that it’s not your fault, so don’t accept any emotional blame. You cannot control another person’s actions when they are responsible for the act entirely. You can, however, control how you choose to react.
Allow yourself time alone to grieve and process the pain. Surround yourself with family or friends who can offer you emotional support, or even a place to stay whilst you go through this process.
Don’t put or commit to a certain time frame whilst healing and processing.
We all heal differently, and the time differs for every person. Do what is right for you and take as long as you want. Don’t seek revenge, and do something you will regret just to “get them back”. Retain your values and stay true to yourself.
Think about what you want
Evaluate your options. Analyse both sides of the situation you are now in. Do you want to stay or leave? Can you forgive and move on or not? Once you have decided what you want, make a plan. If you are leaving then start planning your break up strategy.
If you are staying you need to redefine your new relationship with your partner. This means in order to move on there will be new relationship rules and expectations to be communicated and mutually agreed by both partners.
The bottom line
Overcoming cheating is sometimes a part of modern relationships. Every couple is different, so the recovery process and timeframe varies.
One thing for sure is dishonesty on any level in any relationship is not accepted. You need to ask yourself why? Why do you or your partner feel the need to cheat? There is always an underlying reason.
If you are unsatisfied don’t stay in a relationship out of convenience. If your love is genuine, and it pains you to live without each other, try your hardest before walking away.
People make mistakes, second chances are given, and remember forgiveness is very powerful, it’s not a sign of weakness.
Renee Brown is a respected matchmaker, relationship coach and founder of Corporate Cupid, which provides personalised dating services for time-poor professionals in Perth and Sydney.
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