For some, cheating on a partner, is the worst thing one can do in a relationship. As someone who was cheated on, I can't help but agree. When that level of trust is broken, it's hard to get it back, even when new relationships come along.
It isn't exactly easy to get a true reading on infidelity statistics. Even if you have a group of people locked in a room with researchers on the topic, there's no guarantee that everyone is going to be honest about whether or not they've cheated, would cheat, or think about cheating. And cheating isn't the end of the world for all people. Because of this, some people are willing to move past the cheating and try to make sense of it all. Whether doing so by keeping the relationship together or taking a break, in the hopes of getting things back on track in the near future. What your next move is after finding out your partner has cheated varies for different people.
"The first thing to determine in the case of infidelity is whether you and your partner want to try to repair the damage," bestselling author and relationship expert, Susan Winter, tells Bustle. "Is what you have worth saving? If it is, both you and your partner must commit 100 percent to making the necessary changes in order to regain connection, and get yourselves to higher ground."
Here are seven others ways to handle infidelity in a relationship.
1. Bring In A Professional
No matter how much screaming and yelling that follows the discovery of cheating, you're not likely to get very far without a professional to, not just calm you both down, but add necessary perspective to the situation. Couples therapy can do wonders for some relationships; that is, if they open themselves up to it.
"Deep rooted issues of discontent and miscommunication need to be unearthed with the help of a professional," says Winter.
2. Commit To Change
With a professional to diffuse the anger, hostility, and heartache, it's then time to make a commitment to each other. Not just in the way of not cheating again but, as Winter explains, "a serious commitment to the process of transformation needs to take place for both parties." The cheater needs to commit to remaining faithful, while the person who was cheated on needs to commit to at least giving trust another try. This transformation takes two people.
3. Realize What It's Really About
"Sex is never just about sex," explains Winter. "Cheating is rarely just about sex." Since that's the case, it's paramount that you understand this aspect of cheating. It's also further proof that all that "unearthing," as Winter suggests, with a professional is necessary. You need to get to the root of it all.
4. Create A Relationship Model
Although easier said than done, Winter suggests creating a relationship model once you've gotten to the root of the cheating. That relationship model should reflect the people you are now, after the cheating, and how you're going to move forward, ideally, being cheating-free, as "new and improved individuals you've become" because of the cheating. For some, cheating can actually save a relationship, because it forces you both to examine your relationship and discover what might be lacking.
5. Don't Be Afraid To Leave
If someone cheats on you, whether you're in the early stages of a relationship or have been together for years, it's important to know that you're not obligated to stick around. This is most especially the case if you've done what you can, collectively as a couple, but you realize forgiveness or the ability to trust ever again is just simply not in the cards.
"If the physical act of cheating is simply one more straw that’s going to break the camel's back, it’s your cue to exit," says Winter. No, you don't have to stick around; you're allowed to leave. If that's the choice you make, don't think of it as a failure of having given up.
6. Understand That Cheating Is Caused By Something Else
Since cheating is rarely just about sex, it's important to understand the deeper meaning behind the action. "Cheating doesn’t happen in a vacuum," says Winter. "There are underlying causes that prompt the need to stray. If this feels like one more mess that’s been dumped in your lap (for which you must clean up), get out. This isn’t a one-off."
This may not confirm the once a cheater, always a cheater theory, but it is indicative of other things that just might not be able to be repaired.
7. Accept That The Problem Might Be Your Relationship
Eventually, whether you try to stay and work it out or opt for leaving, you need to accept a painful fact: The problem might be your relationship. "Cheating isn’t the problem," says Winter. "Your relationship is the problem. This partnership has flaws that require far too much work on your end, for the little satisfaction you’ll gain." Once you understand this, you'll know how to proceed.
Being cheated on can be insulting, heartbreaking, devastating, and can emotionally and mentally eff you up in ways that you can't really understand until it happens to you. But the thing with cheating is knowing how to proceed once the truth comes to the surface and doing what's best for you and your mental health.