Relationships have taken a hit over the last few months.
The stress of lockdown, fear over job insecurity and financial issues means that sadly, some couples have been struggling.
A journal article published this year said that the “social, emotional, and financial consequences of COVID-19” had lead to a rise in virtual cheating.
Whether you’ve been the victim, or perpetrator, of physical or virtual cheating you may be struggling with what to do afterwards.
Do you tell your loved one about your indiscretion or keep it to yourself to save them the pain?
Would you rather your partner told you if they had cheated or prefer to stay in the dark? Let us know in the comments section…
Do you forgive a partner who’s cheated or can there be no going back?
Daily Star Online spoke to Dr Tony Ortega, a clinical psychologist and author of two self-help books who specialises in relationships, here’s what he had to say:
The issue of infidelity has become a very sensitive one. In the age of open relationships and polyamorous relations, the lines can become quite blurred if communication is not crystal clear.
However, monogamous relationships remain a standard as well and dealing with infidelity can be difficult to manage.
Should the cheater disclose or withhold the cheating from their partner?
Does the cheatee decide to work on the issues and stay with their partner or leave the relationship altogether?
There is not one clear cut way to cope with infidelity for either party because of the myriad of factors involved.
However, there are options and the persons involved need to empower themselves to make the choices that are most in alignment with who they want to be and who they want to be with.
With regards to the cheater, should they disclose at all?
There are so many factors to consider here. Many individuals who cheat do so from a characterological issue. In other words, it’s kind of built into them to cheat.
This mimics any behavior that gives one the thrill and rush of getting away with something. They lean more on the anti-social spectrum as they show no remorse or empathy for their actions.
These individuals will likely never disclose their infidelity as it is part of the experience of it.
You also have individuals who cheat and it’s most likely a one time thing.
These are the folks who perhaps are traveling and get caught up in the newness of their environment and really aren’t thinking clearly. They may not even have the predisposition to be a chronic cheater.
Remove the novel environment and the infidelity may not have happened. Now, should they disclose?
If they have genuine remorse over their actions, I believe they should. This opens the doors for greater communication and thereby, strengthens the relationship.
Lastly, you have the individuals who cheat because there has been something progressively declining in their primary relationship that has been causing them some sort of distress that has gone unaddressed.
They then make an impulsive decision to feel something different.
This may be a one time thing so getting it out in the open not only stops a potential snowball effect but also get the couple to talk, and subsequently work on, the issues that contributed to the infidelity.
Relationships always have the potential to become stronger and better after a situation like this.
Disclosing infidelity in general may break any potential emerging pattern of it re-occuring.
With any behavior you get away with and not get caught, you will likely want to have that experience again.
This is no different for infidelity.
Does the cheatee leave their partner or stick it out?
Again, this is a dicey issue. With regards to the first type of cheater I identified above, I would like to suggest leaving since that type of person will have little to no remorse or empathy for what they did.
Whatever negative feelings this first kind of cheater has will likely be related to having been caught as opposed to the wrongness of their actions.
See your way out of that relationship if you can.
With the second and third types of cheaters described above, I would advise for some serious communication between both parties and, if needed, outside assistance from a mental health professional both in the form of couples therapy and individual therapy.
The hurt they feel is real and valid and needs to be addressed.
However, making a decision while experiencing these negative thoughts and feelings may not lead to the best outcomes.
They may want to leave after some processing but one should never make any decision at the height of a negative experience. In these scenarios, talk it out, communicate, seek professional help and then make a decision.
While others may think you are being stupid by not leaving, you need to make the choices that are most in alignment for you as a person.
The relationship could improve with the added communication and professional assistance. Or you can run free and find yourself a partner who has a stronger notion of monogamy.
Remember always that infidelity says very little about the person being cheated on and everything about the cheater.
Dr Tony Ortega’s latest book #AreYouHereYet was published by Free Association Books in February 2020, £11.99.