The deed is done. Whether is was from a wild weekend in Vegas or a steamy love affair, you have cheated on your partner and are feeling the deepening effect of regret. Most of the time when people cheat, they don't want to actually end the relationship. There is a reason that we stay in the relationships that we are in. You may love your partner, but had a period of carnal indulgence. You may feel guilt, shame, remorse, fear or sadness. Being human means that we make mistakes. Now the question is: “Do I tell my partner?”.
A survey by MSNBC showed that one in five people disclosed cheating on their current partner and half of all people surveyed admitted to cheating on a partner at some point in their life. That means 50% of people have cheated on someone. That also means that at least 50% of people have been cheated on.
As a girl, I would advise my friends to “be honest,” because “honesty is the best policy.” I push for personal integrity and hope that the “truth will prevail.” As women, we hope that our partners would be honest with us no matter what, and we feel that we “deserve” the truth.
Adages and cultural sayings regarding truth, integrity, honesty and love lead us to believe that telling our partner about our infidelities is the “right thing to do.” Is it the right thing to do? Is it the best thing to do? Who does the truth really benefit? Who does the truth hurt?
As a therapist, I have learned that telling the truth in this situation really benefits the cheater. If the cheater wants to remain in the relationship, the guidance that I have learned to give is to end the affair and move on in the relationship in a positive direction. If you are asking yourself if you should tell your partner that you cheated, ask yourself what function it would serve for you to do this. Most of the time, the reason boils down to that of a selfish one.
The cheater wants to relieve the desperate guilt that they are feeling. This guilt may show in many forms including anxiety, depression, paranoia and even dreams. These emotions become annoying, or even unbearable, and cause the cheater to want to tell their partner. Telling the partner will without a doubt be extremely hurtful to your partner and may end the relationship.
If you have gone off track on the road of fidelity, make sure you examine closely the pros and cons of telling your partner that you have committed this crime of passion against them. If it was just a one time offense and you are confident that it will never happen again, it is best not to tell.
Wanting to tell the truth is a noble gesture when genuine, but it is time to do some deep soul searching to find out if that is an intention that will benefit your partner, or just relieve you of the demons that are haunting you from your misdeed.
The best way to avoid this entire conundrum is not to cheat at all. Make an effort to communicate with your partner. If there is something missing in your relationship emotionally or sexually, asking for what you want may help you get it.
If you are on the verge of the late night booty call, the ex sex, the go back, or the drunken one night stand, ask yourself if the outcome of the guilt, compromised relationship or anxiety would be worth the moment of bliss. And who knows, maybe it is.
Amie Harwick, M.A. B | Elite.
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