Relationship cheating is a very common occurrence. If you haven’t experienced it yet, there’s a good chance you eventually will. Slightly more than half of all married people will cheat on their spouses at some point in their lives. Men apparently cheat more often than women, but the gap isn’t huge. Most of the time cheating does occur, the other spouse doesn’t know about it, with women being in the dark slightly more often than men. That’s if you’re married. If you’re in a committed relationship but aren’t married, then imagine that the odds of cheating are even higher. Partly because cheating is more common when you’re younger and becomes less likely as you age.
Despite your best efforts, cheating can still occur. You may have control over your part of the commitment, but you don’t control your partner. Your partner remains free to make his/her own choices, including choices that may violate your mutually agreed upon commitment. It happens. If you suspect your partner of cheating, you’re probably right, even if you don’t have much objective proof. It’s certainly not uncommon, and when you’ve been in a relationship with someone for a while, you may intuitively or logically notice that something has shifted.
Quite often, however, even when clear signs of cheating are present, people go into denial. They don’t want to believe it’s happening. So in order to preserve the illusion of their monogamous relationship, they pretend everything is okay and try to avoid confrontation. If cheating should occur, or if you’re suspicious of cheating, it’s entirely up to you how you wish to respond to it. There’s no single right or wrong solution. Many people bury their heads in the sand and pretend it’s not happening. This usually doesn’t work so well. It may retain the frame of the relationship, but it kills your chances of lasting intimacy. It may successfully preserve your lifestyle and financial situation for a while though if that’s all you care about.
Some people confront and then forgive their partners. Much of the time the cheating pattern returns, often with the same person but sometimes with new partners. Some people leave the relationship. Quite often, however, they enter into another relationship where the same cheating pattern surfaces again. If you find yourself in this situation, take responsibility for it. You chose this particular partner. There were probably warning signs that you chose to disregard. You may have valued certain factors like security above happiness. You may have been excessively clingy and unwilling to accept the truth. You may be harboring the belief that it’s difficult to find good partners.
Simply take responsibility for your role in the situation, consider what lessons you learned, forgive your partner, and move on from it. Everyone is unique. Monogamy works very well for some people, while others thrive in open relationships. The key is to figure out what forms of connection work best for you, and then be true to yourself and honor who you are. It may take some experimentation to discover what’s most important to you, but each new connection will teach you valuable lessons about yourself, even those that end in heartbreak.
Sex Therapist and Relationship Expert