If you are suspicious your partner may be cheating, your gut instinct may be correct, but it is best not to confront them until you have enough proof to get a confession. One practical tip is to imagine how she or he will respond to your accusations before you blurt out something you may regret. Will they be in denial or claim that it was just a harmless flirtation or will they blame you for overreacting?
Below is a top 10 list of what to Do and Don’t do if you find out your partner has cheated on you:
Don’t make any impulsive decisions about ending your relationship before you have time to reflect on whether your relationship is worth fighting for.
Do be prepared to experience an emotional roller coaster with feelings of shock, betrayal, hurt, disappointment, humiliation, rejection, bewilderment, foolishness, depression, jealousy and rage, all of which are natural reactions. So, take a deep breath and close your eyes so that you can think before you react.
Don’t blame or punish yourself over who or what caused the cheating by drinking, binge eating or starving, medicating or hurting yourself. This won’t change the circumstances and will only make matters worse by pushing your partner away and back into the arms of his/her lover.
Do think about this: as heartbreaking as cheating can be, it is a wound that can be healed and relationships can survive. Sometimes cheating can be a wake-up call to take a relationship to a higher level of understanding and intimacy. Not every relationship can survive, but if both partners have the desire and commitment to move forward, then the odds of success are much higher.
Don’t rush totell your family and friends about the cheating until you have all the facts. They may hold lasting grudges that cannot be repaired.
Do write down a “Profit and Loss Relationship Statement.” On the Profit Side list all of your partner’s positive qualities and the advantages of staying together. On the Loss Side list all of your partner’s negative qualities and the reasons why splitting up would be better. This is a simple way to determine if the good outweighs the bad in your relationship.
Don’t ambush your partner by attacking them physically because you will be perceived as a dangerous psycho (and be on the wrong side of the law), not to mention push your partner back into the arms of his/her lover.
Do write down all the questions you want to ask about the cheating, but focus on your relationship rather than the third party, at least in the beginning. For example, “What was missing in our relationship that made you want to cheat?” Then ask questions that focus on feelings such as “How did the other person make you feel about yourself when you were with him/her?” This is the most powerful question of all and will ultimately reveal the reason your partner cheated on you.
Don’t become obsessed with the other man or woman who cheated with your partner. Harassing them may actually drive them closer together instead of forcing them apart.
Do be willing to forgive your partner by writing a forgiveness letter to them. Writing a letter is the process of taking out your emotional trash and allows you to release pent-up pain. Write down your feelings, request an apology and end with your forgiveness and love. For example: “I felt unloved and unwanted when I found out that you cheated on me. I need to know the reasons that lead you to be with someone else so that I can forgive and love you with all my heart.”
For more information on understanding why people cheat, read my eBook: The Loveologist’s Guide to Understanding Cheating.