If your lover has cheated, you are far from alone. Experts estimate that as many as one-third of people cheat on a significant other at some point in their lives. Infidelity can be devastating, and can leave you wondering: is there any way I could have prevented this? Who is to blame for cheating in my relationship?
Many people blame themselves when a significant other goes astray. You wonder if you nagged too much, or if you were inattentive. You scrutinize yourself in the mirror wondering if you are still attractive to your mate. It’s easy to slip into spirals of self-loathing as you wonder why you weren’t enough for your partner, and why they were tempted to go outside the relationship. This behavior is not helpful, and you should stop yourself when you begin thinking this way.
It’s very easy to blame the other woman. The reason for this is that it takes the heat off your relationship: if you cast all the blame on a third party, then you can handily project all of your betrayal and anger onto her and not have to have these negative feelings toward your partner. However, this form of avoidance can be damaging in the long run. First, your partner needs to take responsibility for his own actions and avoid violating your trust in the future. Second, you need to face any negative feelings that you have toward your SO. Burying the hurt will only cause it to manifest later in less direct ways, and can damage your relationship.
It may feel logical and satisfying to place all the blame on the cheating partner. This is understandable; infidelity is, for most people, a massive betrayal, and intense emotions are a reasonable response. However, sustained rage can lead you to punish your partner in every interaction, and can prevent the healing that is needed in your relationship.
The truth is, there are many factors that lead up to infidelity in a relationship. Some people cheat because they crave a sense of connection that they are no longer feeling in their relationship at home. Others do it out of a quest for novelty, or as a way to avoid intimacy. You and your partner need to openly and honestly discuss why he cheated. Work together to fix the relationship issues that were the catalyst for the infidelity. And, get a commitment from your mate that he will not stray again.
There are times, after infidelity, that you may not want to work on the relationship, and will decide, instead, that you wish to leave your partner. You should not take back a cheating spouse if:
• He insists that you are to blame for his infidelity. While it is natural to blame ourselves when things go wrong in a relationship, it is unfair to hold our partners responsible when we do something wrong. We are each responsible for our own actions. If your partner does not recognize the issues in his own behavior, he is unlikely to change them.
• He is a serial cheater. The more times someone has cheated, whether on you or on someone in his past, the higher than chances that he will cheat again in the future.
• There are other issues in the relationship such as emotional or physical abuse.
You deserve to be loved, honored and treated with respect. Let your partner know that cheating and other disrespectful behavior is unacceptable, and that you will leave if it continues.
Repairing a relationship after infidelity takes work. It requires communication, honesty and forgiveness. But, if you feel that your relationship is valuable enough to work for, you and your partner can recover from infidelity and find that your relationship is stronger than ever before.
Lara Stewart blogs about dating, sex and relationships at Planet Love Match. Before that, she wrote the trivia column 10 Things You Didn't Know and answered people's relationship questions in her syndicated sex advice column Fetish Corner.