People cheat for many reasons. It might be that the primary relationship lacks physical or emotional intimacy. Another reason might be that one person feels unappreciated and seeks validation outside of the primary relationship. For more information on why people cheat, click here.
It is difficult not to take being cheated on personally. Trust in the relationship is missing and may be hard to repair. Here are some options and points to consider in an unfaithful circumstance or relationship.
1. Was your partner trying to hurt you or get revenge? If your partner had an affair to punish you, can you forgive this? Are they punishing you for having an affair? Or are they punishing you because you have not met some of their expectations? This is a conversation to have to with your partner to understand their motivation and if you can repair the relationship. If your partner cheated to hurt you to have more power or control over you, be cautious in taking them back.
2. Your partner is insecure in relationships in general: If your partner cheated because they are afraid you will abandon them, or they are insecure in relationships in general, they might always cheat. If your partner is insecure because you have not been appreciative, emotionally or physically available, then you can aim to work towards repairing the relationship if you have the desire to save it.
3. Your partner wanted new sexual experiences: Your partner may have cheated because they wanted a unique or varied sexual experience. If your relationship lacks sexual intimacy, your partner may have strayed to have their sexual needs met. The question to ask yourself in this situation is, why don’t I want to have sex with my partner and can we work and repair this? Am I ok with an open relationship? Do I also want new sexual experiences that we can try as a couple?
4. Your partner wanted validation: Does your primary relationship have gratitude and appreciation for one another. Couples often focus on what they do not have in a relationship instead of what they do have. If someone is feeling taken for granted, or neglected, they might rationalise having an affair. This is an opportunity to make your relationship stronger if you can see past the violation of trust and use it to build intimacy in your relationship.
An affair can break a relationship if the trust has been broken past the point of repair. If both partners are willing to work on the problems in the relationship, a relationship can become stronger after an affair. An affair might bring new appreciation to the relationship because it brings an awareness to how hurtful losing the relationship would be. If you believe the relationship is worth saving, focus on the other person as a person and not a possession. A marriage counsellor or therapist might be able to help both partners see the other person’s perspective and help the couple to communicate better.
Dr Monica Borschel is a US-trained Clinical Psychologist who specialises in loss and attachment. Reach out to Dr Borschel: firstname.lastname@example.org