Cheating is one of the most hurtful and disrespectful things a person can do in their relationship. Although it's common to
be attracted to other people, board certified clinical psychologist, Dr. Paul DePompo, PsyD, ABPP, tells Bustle that it becomes a problem when you're using those thoughts to escape the reality of your relationship. It's even worse if you're taking steps towards actually doing it. But there are some simple things you can do to avoid the temptation to cheat.
If you're thinking about cheating, it's important to figure out where this urge is coming from. Is there something going on in the relationship and it's causing a lot of stress and tension? Is your partner not fulfilling your needs? Or maybe you've always struggled with commitment.
"In essence, thoughts of cheating are often not really about wanting to be with the person that the fantasy is about, but more indicative of the internal conflicts the person has within themselves or their current world," psychologist
Kelsey M. Latimer, PhD, CEDS-S, founder of Hello Goodlife, tells Bustle.
Because of that, there are some things you can do to prevent yourself from going through with it. So here are some ways to resist the temptation to cheat, according to experts.
Think About What's Going To Happen After You Cheat
It's always good to
stay present and live in the moment. But when it comes to cheating, it's not a bad idea to project into the future. Specifically, what's going to happen after you fulfill that fantasy? "The eventual next image is either your partner finding out (as they often do), or this person continuing to come back wanting more and putting pressure on you," Dr. DePompo says.
It might even be helpful to visualize yourself breaking things off with your current partner right now. Imagine how you would do it, the logistics of moving out if you live together and how your life would look and feel during and after you end things. "If the idea of breaking up makes you feel relieved or happy, make a plan to end things with your significant other before you cheat," Amica Graber, relationship expert with
TruthFinder tells Bustle. "If the idea of breaking up makes you feel heartbroken — think twice. That’s your future if you act on your impulses."
Put Your Energy Back Into Your Relationship
If the urge to cheat stems from boredom in your relationship, try to rekindle things with your partner. "The willingness to invest energy and time in
building a conscious relationship will help you fight the temptation to cheat on your partner," relationship therapist Irina Baechle, LCSW, tells Bustle. This basically means making the effort to turn things around by communicating with your partner and finding ways to reboot the relationship. There's no need to waste your energy thinking about someone else.
Take Your Crushes Seriously And Eliminate The Temptations
When you're already in a relationship, it's easy to write off a crush as something silly or not serious. That's fine, if you're attracted to someone from a far. But if you find that you're spending a lot of time with that person or you're actively keeping up with them on social media, it may be a good idea to nip it in the bud before you get in too deep. Take your crushes seriously. "You shouldn’t be spending one-on-one time with a crush when you’re already involved," Graber says. " Unfollow them on social media, and stop giving yourself opportunities to cheat. If you’re feeling tempted, either end your primary relationship or end your flirtation with someone else."
Ask Yourself What You Think You'll Gain By Cheating
"For many, cheating is a way to regain control," couples therapist
Shamyra Howard, LCSW, tells Bustle. "When we couple this with the eroticism of engaging in illicit behavior, we can see why it can be hard to resist the temptation of cheating." So a good way to resist temptation is to ask yourself these two questions: What will I gain if I cheat? What do I need from myself or my partner that I'm currently not receiving? When you really stop and think about what you're looking to gain and what you might possibly lose, it can help to put things in perspective.
Take Some Time Out For Yourself
If thoughts of cheating are getting too real, ask your partner for some space to clear your head. "Get to know yourself and figure out what makes you feel connected to your partner," LGBT-affirming therapist
Katie Leikam, tells Bustle. "Is it more physical touch/sex, is it the emotional bond or a combination of the two?" Getting clear on what you truly need in your relationship to feel connected will help you identify the problem areas so you can work on fixing things.
Tell Your Partner You've Been Thinking About Cheating
This may be the absolute last thing you want to do, but being upfront and honest about your urge to cheat might be helpful. "I know this sounds really hard but having this conversation gives you a chance to figure out if this is the right relationship and to discuss possibly whether the relationship should end," Latimer says. It could also be a good opportunity for you to strengthen your relationship.
Your relationship may be going through a rough patch or you may feel like your needs aren't being met. But cheating is never the answer. Chances are, it's only going to cause you even more problems. But if you make an effort to recognize why you're tempted and put more energy back into your partner, you can resist the temptation to cheat.