Does Your Partner Cheating Mean It's Over?
If you’ve ever thought about your list of worst-case scenarios for your relationship, chances are that your partner cheating is one of them. It’s certainly high up on the list for a lot of people I speak to in my coaching practice.
And if you were to tell anyone close to you that your partner has been cheating, most of the people who love you would tell you to walk away, that they don’t deserve you.
Cheating is one of the more universally accepted deal-breakers.
But does your partner cheating have to mean the end of your relationship?
There are two short answers I can give you.
"No," and "I don’t know."
One might seem as senseless as the other when it comes to the answer you expected from a relationship coach but both are applicable so let me give you the longer version.
I Don't Know
I really don’t know, despite what I know about relationships. I don’t know if your partner cheating is a true deal breaker for you or if that’s how you feel in theory, but in practice you would be back in their arms with the first “I’m Sorry”.
I don’t know if, for you, cheating is the guaranteed end of your relationship, with all trust and respect dashed by your partner’s indiscretions or if you’re willing to work through the betrayal and try to restore what was lost.
I also don’t know what you deem as cheating. Is a drunken kiss serious enough to cause you to end your relationship? Or is that just a silly mistake that you can let go of with a bit of time?
Added to the list of unknowns is whether keeping your relationship for your children is important to you, or if you have other social, cultural, moral or financial reasons for wanting to work things out, even though love might be further down the list right now.
What I do know is that cheating doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship if you don’t want it to. It doesn’t have to mean the end if you believe that, fundamentally, you have a good relationship, that you are deeply in love with this person and that there’s something worth saving with the right commitment and effort.
Which is why my first short answer was a No.
No It Doesn't Have To Be Over
No, your partner cheating doesn’t have to mean you walk away, giving up on the love you have, or had together.
It doesn’t mean all is lost.
What you have though are some serious cracks in the foundation of your relationship. The strongest footings for your partnership are trust, honesty and loyalty and those have been severely undermined.
But they can be restored, as long as you’re ready for some hard work, and depending on a few factors:
- Has the cheating ended?
- Do you genuinely want to be together?
- Are you entering into reconciliation of your own decision and not because you have been coerced into it by your partner, family, friends or any other person?
- Is there remorse and a willingness to fix the relationship from your partner?
- Are you willing to move on once you have worked through the damage done?
- Do you both agree on what is deemed to be cheating in your relationship going forward?
You can’t redeem a relationship when one half of a couple intend to continue to do what they’ve been doing, with no remorse or understanding of the damage they have done.
And you can’t move forward if the other half wants to hold onto their hurt and treasure it like a prized jewel, bringing it out of it’s box whenever they feel the need.
If you're not sure if you can let go of the infidelity, and you want to dwell in the pain and the drama forever, then you need to consider that perhaps cheating brings too much of a burden to the relationship for you to carry and that it may be better to move on.
But if you both decide that you do want to repair your relationship, and that you’re both willing to do whatever it takes, then you need to be prepared to do a full postmortem on your past relationship and ascertain what caused the ‘death’ of it. What led to your partner making the decision to cheat? What was going on in your relationship that meant you were disconnected from each other? What could have been happening differently to give you the most loving, intimate, secure and strong relationship?
This isn’t about placing blame. This about finding out what you can do differently, better, to avoid your relationship being jeopardized again.
It’s also not about taking the blame from your partner. No one makes another person cheat. Regardless of whether you’ve been having less sex, or working too much, or you’ve gained weight and perhaps lost a bit of your old zest for life, none of these factors made your partner cheat. THEY made the decision to cheat. THEY choose to stray from your relationship.
They will though have their own reasons for those choices and they might not be what you think. Rather than a desire for more sex, cheating in a long term relationship is usually more about a desire for love, attention, understanding and a lack of self esteem. Therefore, the partner who cheated needs to actively make the choice to address these areas of their life while they also work on their relationship.
So cheating doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship but it’s certainly a big obstacle to overcome for any couple. Whether or not you want to take that journey together is something only you can decide, individually, and then as a couple.