If you cheat on someone you're dating, you don't love that person. I'm sorry, but it's true. If you are unfaithful, you are not in love. I know people "make mistakes." I know we're "all human." But simply put, straying isn't something you do when you respect and care for your partner, and if you cheat on someone, then you don't love that person. Of course, some relationships can survive this kind of indiscretion and even potentially become stronger for it. However, infidelity may just be an indication that things should have ended long ago.
I should probably note I'm not a saint when it comes to relationships. In fact, I'm a notorious cheater. I believe that my past urge to cheat comes from never really wanting to commit to a relationship — but still selfishly wanting all the benefits of having one. As Dr. Susan Edelman, board-certified psychiatrist and author of Be Your Own Brand of Sexy: A New Sexual Revolution for Women, previously told Elite Daily, "There are many psychological reasons why a person has the urge to cheat, but the best explanation is one that Bill Clinton used in explaining his affair with Monica Lewinsky. He said he did it 'because [he] could.'"
In my bizarre and dreadfully muddled dating history, I was the glutton who wanted to have her cake and eat it, too. My ideal situation was to have my partner wait for me at home while I was off kissing strangers in sketchy dive bars. In this ideal world, my SO would understand my need to be free. But that doesn't happen in reality. Instead, I was forced to question what was so wrong with me that I felt compelled to cheat. I questioned why I never really felt guilty, either.
Here's what I came to realize: everything had to do with the tepid feelings I had for the people I was dating. I didn't care enough about my relationships to not risk ruining them. I didn't respect my partners enough to treat them like they were my partners. And unfortunately, that can't be fixed with an apology. "The person who cheated might be tempted to say, 'I told you I was sorry and I won't do it again.' It's not enough," Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love, previously told Elite Daily. "Words mean nothing, especially after the discovery of an affair."
It all comes down to respect. If you truly respect the person to whom you're committed, then chances are you won't cheat on them. You can certainly care for someone you betray. But you likely don't love them enough. The fact is, if you loved this person with all of your heart, then there should be no one else. As licensed clinical psychotherapist Dr. LeslieBeth Wish previously told Elite Daily, "Cheating is just another attempt to deal with inner turmoil, relationship discord, doubt, unmet sexual needs, and many other relationship issues." And one of those issues may be that you're not in love.
It's possible for a relationship to recover from cheating, but it takes work from both partners to make that happen. Oftentimes, if you know you're not in love and not willing to do the work, then you need to let your partner know before you cause any further damage. It's important to look inward as well, because it's likely not just a lack of respect that caused you to stray. "One common characteristic of people who cheat is that they avoid conflict," Chlipala said. "If they didn't speak up for their needs, they might have been resentful or felt unloved and unsatisfied in the relationship."
According to Dr. Edelman, some people who cheat have childhood issues that cause them to feel unworthy of love and afraid of intimacy. Another possible explanation is they might have issues with sexual addiction or have narcissistic or sociopathic personality problems. But your cheating could also come down to the simple fact that you're not in love with your partner, and that is sometimes the hardest truth to face.
Though your infidelity may have been an isolated incident, it's also possible a lack of love is what caused you stray, in which case that relationship may not be worth salvaging.
Dr. Susan Edelman, board-certified psychiatrist and author of Be Your Own Brand of Sexy: A New Sexual Revolution for Women
Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love
Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, licensed clinical psychotherapist
Editor's Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.
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