I've been cheated on in the past, and ever since it happened, I assume that all of my subsequent partners will cheat on me, too. So when my last boyfriend started seeming disinterested in our relationship, I immediately assumed it was because he wanted out or liked someone else. However, I had to remind myself that it was most likely my old baggage making my way into my new relationship with a good man. So I started asking myself, what are signs he's not cheating, even if he might be distant and withdrawn in the relationship? It's important to stay grounded, especially when you're thinking the worst.
When we're in fear, it's easy for our minds to jump to conclusions. It's not like when there's turmoil in our relationship, we immediately assume the best. Usually, we connect the dots to issues that don't actually exist. But we need to take into account other things that are going on in our partners' lives and learn not to take them personally. Just because my significant other doesn't talk a lot at dinner one night, or we don't have sex for a week, doesn't mean they don't like me anymore... probably.
Just to make sure, I asked Susan Winter, relationship expert and best-selling author, the ways to tell your partner is still being faithful, despite potentially being forgetful in your relationship. Because it's important to differentiate between what's a real concern in a relationship, and what's your insecurity talking.
1. You Know Their Morals Are Aligned
I've been cheated on in the past, so I tend to bring that concern into all of my relationships. If someone doesn't answer my texts within a few hours, then they are definitely cheating! There's no other plausible excuse, such as work or a personal life issue. But then, I started dating a man who told me flat-out that he had never cheated before and would never cheat on me now or in the future. He was vehemently against it, and it was against his moral code. So I had no choice but to take his word for it.
"There're lots of guys that have a code of ethics that accompany them into their relationships," says Winter. "They're simply not cheaters. You have to know who your guy is at his core."
If you know deep down your partner is someone with a really good head on their shoulders, then it's best not to jump to conclusions and assume they are cheating.
Winter says to ask yourself, "What are his values? What is his attitude on the importance of trust and loyalty? If these are the principles he holds dear, then it's unlikely he'd compromise them with you."
Don't assume the worst in people, especially good people. Instead of jumping immediately to blame if there is discomfort in your relationship, try to approach the concern first with empathy and understanding, particularly if your partner is the type of person who deserves it.
2. They Likely Have Another Stressor On Their Mind
"In [a woman's] world, silence is an indication that something's wrong. In a man's world, his silence can simply mean he's decompressing," says Winter.
In my last relationship, it was actually the opposite. I crave a lot of peace and alone time, while my need for quiet actually made my boyfriend uncomfortable. He took it personally. But in relationships, it's important not to take responsibility for our partner's emotions and assume the worst.
"It isn't always 'about us,'" she continues. "We fool ourselves into thinking we're the center of our man's every waking thought and emotion. We're not. He could be distracted by something at work or considering what he's about to do next."
Sometimes, you take a bad week at work home with you, or issues with your family are plaguing you and affecting you in the bedroom. It's important to understand that, as individuals, we have a world that exists outside of the relationship, too. Take that into consideration if your partner seems withdrawn or isn't giving their undivided attention at all times.
"Don't assume his mood is about you, and don't turn it into a problem. Picking him apart by insisting that his silence or moodiness is somehow related to you or the relationship is a big mistake," Winter adds. "He may not know why he's quiet or distant. And if you give him a plausible reason ('it's the relationship'), he may just believe you."
By worrying and expressing our concerns through fear, sometimes, we create problems in our relationships that don't exist. It's always best to ask questions and communicate openly rather than making assumptions.
3. They Don't React Negatively If You Confront Them About Their Behavior
When you're lying about something and someone calls you out on it, your normal response is to have a huge reaction. You get upset that they're even asking you or accusing you of being unfaithful. You'll get defensive — angry. You'll make up some longwinded story to get yourself out of it. On the other hand, though, someone who isn't cheating will react calmly when asked such a question.
"If you decide to ask him directly, his first reaction will be confusion. His response will feel natural in its delivery," says Winter. "This is something that's come out of nowhere, and he doesn't have a pre-scripted answer. He'll have to organize his mind to take in what you are implying, so he won't be 'practiced' at his response."
So essentially, their reply won't feel rehearsed, but instead, it will feel truthful, because it is. "A guy who's cheating will immediately jump to the defensive. He'll feign righteous indignation," she continues. "He'll protest mightily and act wounded and upset that you'd ever think such a thing. Then, he'll do the turn-around and switch to the offensive. He'll begin attacking you, projecting that this is your guilt, fear, or insecurity."
When it comes to cheating, it's important not to assume the worst, even if there's distance in your relationship. People go through things in their personal life, and sometimes, you take it home into your relationship. Don't take things personally, or create problems that might not exist. But if you want to get to the bottom of the issue, come to the situation with love and empathy and openly communicate, rather than jumping to anger and accusations. Your relationship will be better off for it.
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