Why You Always Think Your Partner Is Cheating On You — And How To Stop Worrying About It
If you've ever thought your partner was cheating on you — even when they weren't — you're not alone. While it may seem like trust issues are leading you to constantly worry your partner is cheating, experts and research say it could even be something deeper.
- They are cheating, or have cheated on this partner before, and are looking for an "excuse" to justify their own behavior.
- They inherently don't trust people based on past experiences like having been cheated on or otherwise betrayed before by parents, friends or past partners.
- They don't have enough self-confidence to feel worthy of love, so they look for reasons to tell themselves that the relationship won't work.
"When these are driving the paranoia, there doesn't have to be any actual evidence that cheating is occurring," Golicic says. "They will still manufacture them and cling to the simplest sign."
And as a recent small study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships of 96 heterosexual couples found, we project our attraction towards other people onto our partners. When the participants in the study were attracted to other people, they were much more likely to say their partners were attracted to others, even if they really weren't.
"Projection is a very low-level coping skill," Dr. Paul DePompo, PsyD, ABPP, author of The Other Woman's Affair, tells Bustle. "People that do things themselves like cheat, think about cheating, or have cheated in the past, project these thoughts of desire onto their partners. Their mind ends up creating a reality that their partner is cheating as well."
In a way, it makes people feel better about having thought of cheating or actually doing it. If their partner is cheating on them, it kind of makes it OK, right? Obviously not. But that's just how it tends to play out in our heads.
What You Can Do
If you always feel like your partner is cheating due to projection or because you've been cheated on in the past, the good news is that you can overcome it. According to Golicic, it's important to first explore what's triggering these beliefs. Are you still hung up over a past partner cheating? Do you feel confident in yourself? Do you feel that you deserve a good, healthy relationship? Whatever the issue is, it's important to address it and then communicate those issues with your partner.
"Telling your partner about the work you need to do for yourself will let them know this is a past wound that you want to heal to have a better relationship," Golicic says. "It also helps to be vulnerable and share any insecurities you have in a relationship. Your partner may be able to help you work on that and feel more secure."
So sometimes worrying your partner cheating can actually stem from legitimate truth, and sometimes it doesn't. The important thing is to recognize your feelings, talk it out with your partner, and above all, trust yourself to find the truth behind the situation.