The greatest power I believe any of us have is the power to choose. Even when we find ourselves in uncomfortable, unfair, and painful circumstances I believe we can choose how we will react, manage, and the degree to which we will allow those situations to influence our lives. Finding out that your partner has been unfaithful is no different. You will have the power to choose whether or not it’s best the relationship ends as well as whether or not you choose to blame yourself, him/her, or the other person(s). I will go ahead and say that I hope you choose not to waste your time or energy in blaming the other person.
That’s right. I said it. There is no point in blaming the other person. When it comes to the unhealthiness of a relationship, whatever unhealthy looks like minus any type of abuse, both parties in the relationship must consider how they contributed to the unhealthiness. However, please remember the other person will have always acted with the person with whom you are in relationship with. That is the person, outside of yourself; I encourage you to choose to focus your time, energy, and attention on.
“They knew we were together.” So did your partner.
“That’s just disrespectful, coming between us like that.” You’re partner was disrespectful and I’m guessing your partner assisted in the provision of them coming between you.
“They ain’t better than me.” Nope, they’re just different. I’m guessing your partner needed or wanted something different.
“I hope they catch something.” If they do, your partner may have the same thing, and well….you might too. Go get checked.
I could continue the list of all types of statement I’ve heard from clients, girlfriends, and individuals on television whose partner cheated on them. However, you’ll notice, the other person really didn’t do anything they weren’t permitted to do by the partner. The issues you have with the other person are issues you need to address with your partner.
At the end of the day cheating is about getting a need, real or perceived, met. In healthy relationships needs are discussed so they can be met within the boundaries of the relationship when possible. Now, every need cannot be met within the boundaries of the relationship. I’m not saying then therefore cheating is okay. Hardly. What I am saying is those unresolved abandonment issues are issues your partner needs to see a therapist for to address. Not decide that every time you go on a business trip you are abandoning them and therefore justifying the need for the other person. You may want to consider inviting them along on the trip if that is feasible, but their unspoken emotional and psychological issues are theirs to take the lead on addressing and healing. It’s not your responsibility and it is no “go ahead and cheat” free card either.
Now maybe you are reading this because you did the cheating. In fact, maybe you did the cheating and can honestly say that you did share your needs with your partner. You expressed that you were tired of hardly seeing each other anymore. You didn’t like the negative remarks they made about you since you went back to school, started your internship, or got the promotion. The weight gain was fine, it’s the staying in the house and the mopiness that took a toll on the relationship. You’re not a fan of this whole “work-husband” or “work-wife” terminology and it seemed like your boo and their coworker were getting closer at the cost of you.
I hear you too. You too have been clients, friends that I am aware of, and definitely all over television. Cheating was a temporary fix for the bigger and deeper issue of an unsatisfying and unhealthy relationship. Unless that relationship was a marriage, if you communicated the need and concern and it fell on deaf ear, you had the power to choose to end the relationship. A broken heart is a broken heart. However, one broken by a respectful and honest person saying needs weren’t being met, the relationship is unhealthy, they don’t want to try anymore and it’s best to end the relationship heals better than a heart broken by the mistrust, betrayal, and infidelity.
Relationships are hard work. Let me repeat. They are hard. They are work. Grasp those two concepts, so that when things get hard, you will do the work. Not the cheating, but the hard uncomfortable vulnerability inducing conversations and the creative, inclusive, we- focused behavior changing work that is a part of having healthy mutually satisfying relationships.
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