5 Questions To Ask Your Partner If You're Worried About Them Cheating
When you're in a relationship, it's totally normal to sometimes feel worried about your partner cheating on you — particularly if you've been cheated on in the past. Even if you trust your partner, we're all only human, and it's natural to feel anxious about even the mere possibility of being betrayed by someone you love. But if you want your relationship to be solid, stable, happy, and free of anxieties about cheating, it's important to address your concerns with your partner instead of letting your fears control you and affect your relationship.
"For many individuals, a fear of their partner cheating creates a deep anxiety that can lead to jealous and even controlling behavior," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "However, it’s a difficult topic to bring up because many people feel attacked and accused any time the topic turns to infidelity. But, if one partner has a history of being cheated on and has anxiety about possible infidelity, having an open and honest conversation about it can do wonders for the relationship."
Infidelity might not be the most fun conversation topic, but it's so important to be on the same page with your partner about what exactly cheating means to each of you, and to voice your concerns in a way that's constructive rather than destructive.
"If your partner is worried about you cheating and brings it up, realize that it could be a source of great anxiety and try to do your best to respond gently and without defensiveness," Bennett says. "However, if you’re initiating the discussion about cheating, make sure the conversation isn’t confrontational or attacking. Speak from your perspective, focusing on your own anxiety and worries rather than what you fear your partner might do."
So if you want to talk to your partner about your cheating-related worries, here are five questions that can help make sure that your conversation about cheating is a productive one.
1. "What Do You Consider Cheating?"
In order to assuage your fears of being cheated on, you'll need to first get on the same page as your partner about your relationship boundaries, and talk about what exactly each of you would consider "cheating."
"Many people have different ideas of what actually constitutes cheating," Bennett says. "Lately, micro-cheating has been in the news and, by that definition, many people are unfaithful on a regular basis and might not even know it. Having a conversation about the boundaries in your relationship can be healthy, especially if you have a particularly strict or loose definition of infidelity."
2. "How Can We Increase Trust And Transparency?"
The backbone of any lasting relationship is a strong, mutual sense of trust — and if you want to ease your anxieties about cheating, it helps to be proactive about creating more trust and openness in your relationship as a whole.
"It’s easy to get into a habit of secrecy and mistrust when you’ve been in relationships that involved cheating," Bennett says. "Having an open, frank conversation about trust and transparency can help clear the air and improve the relationship. Agreeing to be more open and honest, then coming up with ways to achieve that goal can really help ease anxiety about cheating."
3. "What Things Would You Consider A Betrayal Of Trust?"
Unfortunately, cheating isn't the only way that trust in a relationship can be broken, and it's worthwhile to discuss with your partner other ways that you could potentially betray each other's trust — like by confiding in an ex about your relationship problems, for example.
"Let your partner know how important it is that you both can trust one another," Davida Rappaport, speaker, spiritual counselor & dating expert, tells Bustle. "Discuss the many ways in which you consider your trust can be betrayed in a relationship. Find out what your partner considers a betrayal of trust."
4. "What Are Your Views On Flirting Outside The Relationship?"
While some people have no problem with a little harmless flirting within a relationship, not everyone is cool with that behavior — which is why you should have an open, frank discussion about flirting, particularly if you're worried about more serious forms of infidelity.
"Start a conversation, at an appropriate time, about flirting," Rappaport says. "Let your partner know if you consider flirting acceptable as long as long as all your partner is doing is flirting. If you are a flirt, make sure your partner is fine with it too. If you are both comfortable with flirting that makes you feel good, make sure you both do not view this as cheating. Going past flirting can lead to cheating; make sure you both are clear about your boundaries. However not all partners are comfortable with flirting — and you may be one of them."
5. "Have You Ever Been Cheated On, Or Cheated On Someone?"
Perhaps the most important thing you can ask your partner when discussing your fears of infidelity is about their personal history with cheating: have they either cheated on a partner, or been cheated on themselves?
"Ask your partner if they were ever in a relationship where their partner cheated on them," says Rappaport. "If so, ask them what they did when they found out. If they [say] they never cheated on anyone or experienced a partner cheating on them, you can drop the subject. If they [have], you can both discuss it and share your experiences with them. Once you know their past and they know yours, you can establish healthy boundaries and come to some sort of understanding as to what you consider cheating."
Knowing what, if any, experience your partner has with cheating can help you better understand their perspective on infidelity, and can open the door for the two of you to have a healthy, productive conversation that can (hopefully) clear the air and ease your worries. Sure, it might not be easy to start this kind of serious discussion, but being able to communicate your worries to your partner and tackle both of your fears about infidelity as a team will only make your relationship stronger in the long run.