How To Be A Loyal Partner If You've Cheated In The Past, According To Experts
Things happen, and people make mistakes. If you've been in a relationship where you've agreed to be monogamous, you might have had the experience before, perhaps once or multiple times, where you've stepped outside those boundaries of your contract, so to speak. However, if you've cheated in the past and want to learn how to be loyal to your partner, there are both habits you can instill, and behaviors you can avoid, that can help you to do this. A lot of them have to do with being honest and transparent.
"Cheating starts with insignificant secrets," mental health therapist Jenna Palumbo, LCPC, based in Barrington, IL at Evergreen Therapy, tells Bustle. "These secrets are things that you could tell your partner, but end up deciding it's not that big of a deal."
It can be helpful to pay attention to when you start reasoning with yourself or talking yourself out of sharing something with your partner, like running into an ex you still find attractive or DM-ing an online crush. Keeping everything out in the open can be a really effective way to both build trust, and to deter more action towards cheating.
"[Tell] your partner you're holding yourself accountable to not take [it] any further," Palumbo says. "You can preface it by saying something like, 'I don't think this is a big deal and I wasn't going to mention it, but it doesn't feel good to keep it a secret either, so I want to tell you that I saw my ex yesterday day at the store.'"
Below, take a look at some of the habits you can build, and habits you can avoid, if you want to stay loyal to a partner.
1. Discuss Your Urges With Your Partner
This one is not so easy, and can cause distress to both you and your partner. Especially if you are trying to fight against behaviors you've given into in the past.
Celia Schweyer a dating and relationship expert at DatingScout.com, tells Bustle that letting your partner know that you might have urges to step outside the relationship is important.
"You should communicate your state of emotions with your partner especially if this has already happened before," Schweyer says. "If you keep getting attracted to go down that path, certain areas about your life may be causing the problem. Discussing these feelings may even help you to pinpoint the source of this behavioral problem."
2. Be Open To Your Partner When Someone Tries To Get Your Attention
"No matter how you avoid temptation, it will always be there," Schweyer says. "What makes it more exciting is the fact that you are hiding it. So to cut it off right away, inform your partner immediately that you feel that someone is [attracting you], even if you do not feel any urge or interest yet."
This is another way you can reassure them that you are transparent, committed to honesty, and doing your best not to make the same mistake again.
3. Don't Chat With Random Strangers Online
Back away from the Insta DM's, people. A lot of relationships or flirtations start from sending messages on social media sites, Schweyer says. That's one rather annoying truth about social media, it's a lot easier to contact people you think you're attracted to online.
"Keep your profile private to avoid others who will try to flirt with you there," Schweyer says. "If it’s someone whom you are connected with, entertain only the messages with sense. You know yourself more than anyone else, and you would definitely feel if somebody tries to [flirt with you]."
Random friendship through social media is often just a cover-up, Schweyer says. Sometimes, they want more than that.
4. Avoid What Triggers You
Now comes some of the internal work. Look back and reflect on what made you cheat, Schweyer says.
"Were you drunk? In a heightened state of emotion? Longing for excitement? List down every single thing that made you act," Schweyer says. "You might claim it was accidental, but cheating will hurt no matter how much you say you didn't mean it."
To make sure this won't become a habit, be aware of your triggers, especially when you are in situations or around particular people that might tempt you to act differently.
"Whenever you find yourself in the same situation, do everything that you can to reverse it. Refuse that beer, diffuse that anger, and remember the excitement you felt when you first laid eyes on your partner," Schweyer says.
5. Try Not To Refuse Professional Help
One of the most beneficial things of all when you are trying to grow from behavior that no longer serves you is seeking professional help.
"With discussions on mental health becoming more open and accessible, you may dig up insecurities and deeply rooted pain that may be causing your infidelity," Schweyer says. "Discussing your feelings and thoughts is a helpful exercise that will allow you to improve and grow as a lover and a person. So don't put off scheduling a consultation."
Temptations are not an easy thing to ignore, and patterns are not always easy to break. But if you are intent on having a trusting, monogamous partnership, there is a way to overcome.