I’ve Just Cheated on My Partner—Should I Tell?

I’ve Just Cheated on My Partner—Should I Tell?

Cheating is a hurdle that is difficult to get over.

Feelings of betrayal, resentment, and guilt can prove toxic to a once happy relationship. It is no surprise that for those who cheat, the reason that they do not come clean to their partners is due to a fear of causing damage that cannot be repaired, as well as having to come face-to-face with the shame that they have about their behavior.

So should you tell them about your behavior? Transparency is critical in a relationship and so is taking responsibility for your behavior. At the same time, the news to your partner can range from disturbing to traumatic. This is why we recommend going through a structured disclosure process with a trained therapist. This way you both can have an advocate help you navigate through the conversation while also helping your partner ask any questions that they have.

The reasons people often don’t want to tell their partners may seem valid for their own protection, such as:

  • Not wanting to hurt your partner’s feelings.
  • Fearful of the person leaving you.
  • The cheating didn’t even mean anything.
  • There are children involved who can also get hurt or taken away from you.

However, even though these intentions do not seem to come from a malicious place, keeping secrets such as cheating from your partner ultimately breaks the trust that holds a relationship together, adding to the damage.

If I tell my partner, won’t they be angry?

Yes, it is most likely that your partner will be angry. And yes, they may even call it quits right then and there. However, many partners want to work it out and restore the trust that was broken, especially if the person who cheated is coming to them with complete honesty and regret.

Healthy relationships build upon a strong foundation of respect and appreciation. Lying or keeping a secret from your partner undermines that foundation, bringing the whole relationship down.

I stopped cheating, so why are things not getting better between my partner and me?

Cheating is an indicator of something much deeper going on. Examples of this can be difficulties being open, problems with communication, discomfort in talking about sex, or even problems with a compulsive sexual behavioral problem such as a sex addiction . There can be countless other problems, but opening up, taking responsibility, and trying to move forward are important steps.

Overcoming broken trust.

Just because you have stopped cheating does not mean that there is nothing to repair. Regaining trust in a relationship takes hard work and patience.

Don’t be discouraged by the long road back to a happy relationship, though. Often, by the end of the journey, the relationship is stronger than it was before the cheating.

Ultimately it’s your choice.

Remember therapy is just a tool with a professional, but only you can make decisions for your own life. You have to decide what is best for you. Although people often report being glad that they have gone through the hard times of opening up about the betrayal, you and your partner have to decide what is best for you and your relationship. The main thing is that you explore what is best for you and make decisions that are in alignment with your values.

Rebuilding Trust

You make your own game plan as to how to begin the process of rebuilding trust. But here are a few pointers to start you off.

1. Rediscover romance

Intimacy and romance might be difficult for your partner after learning about your cheating. Take things slow and begin with small romantic gestures that let your partner know that you still desire and appreciate them. This can be as simple as cooking a nice dinner for them or surprising them with flowers.

2. Re-examine how you communicate

Along with the breakdown of trust, a breakdown of communication can occur between partners. This lack of communication is often the result of shame, resentment, and anger left after the cheating. Take time to sit down with your partner and discuss how you want to communicate with each other moving forward. In doing so, you’ll find that strong communication negates any confusion or secrecy.

3. Get professional help

When the trust in a relationship is broken, suspicion and resentment take over. It can be difficult to overcome those feelings on your own. Couple therapy can be a great addition to your journey because therapists are equipped with the tools to help with the process. Additionally, their office provides a safe space for both of you to feel comfortable being honest with one another.

4. Keep showing up

You can’t just say you want to be there, you have to do it. If you want your partner to trust you again, you have to show them that you are trustworthy. It may seem simple, but just showing up consistently will encourage your partner to see you as reliable once again. By “showing up,” we mean coming home at night, answering their calls and texts, doing what you said you would do, etc.

Clearly, cheating can be one of the most detrimental hiccups in a relationship and the process of recovering the lost trust is long and arduous. However, if you love and respect your partner, being honest about the cheating and having patience during the recovery is the only way to save your relationship.

If you’re in Texas and either looking for a therapist to help with a relationship betrayal, or looking for help to manage a situation around cheating, please feel free to contact me to discuss how therapy can help.

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