6 questions to ask yourself before telling your partner you cheated on them
- Before you tell your partner that you had an affair, it's important to consider why you cheated in the first place.
- "The details [of the affair] aren't as important as the why [you did it]," psychotherapist Tammy Nelson told INSIDER.
- Asking yourself questions about why you decided to cheat and what you learned from the experience can help you and your partner decide how to move forward in your relationship.
- For more, go to Business Insider SA.
If you cheat on your partner, there's a good chance you'll experience feelings of guilt and an urge to come clean about the affair. But before you blurt out your wrongdoings, it's important to consider why you cheated in the first place.
"The details [of the affair] aren't as important as the why [you did it]," Tammy Nelson, a psychotherapist and independent consultant for Ashley Madison told INSIDER.
Nelson suggested taking the time to ask yourself why you cheated in the first place and whether you learned anything from the experience,, because the answers will determine if and how you broach the subject with your partner.
These answers could also help give your partner closure and open a wider conversation about your relationship. On the other hand, simply telling your partner you cheated without a solid reason can make it seem like you're only admitting the affair so you feel better about going behind their back, according to Nelson.
Before you admit to cheating, ask yourself these five questions.
Is the affair really over?
Before sharing the details of your affair with your partner, you should think about whether you want the affair to continue. "If you really just want the marriage to be over, don't use the affair as the reason [to end it]," Nelson said.
Using an affair as the reason to dissolve a marriage or relationship adds a third party (the person you cheated with) into the scenario and according to Nelson, that's never a good idea. It's best to own up to your feelings and actions as an individual.
Cheaters typically put the blame on an affair if they're avoiding difficult relationship conversations with their partner, since blaming an external force is much easier, Nelson said.
What were you looking for in the affair?
There's no single reason why people have affairs, but there are some common themes.
Revenge, wanting to end your current relationship, and feelings of insecurity are some reasons people cite as an excuse for cheating. Each of these reasons can inform how you discuss the affair with your partner, according to Nelson.
If, you realise you cheated out of resentment, a desire for revenge, or wanting to end your relationship, it's probably best to simply end the relationship rather than disclose the affair at all. But if you recognise the cheating was out of a want for attention or experimentation, it could mean it's worth discussing with your partner.
Did you learn anything new about yourself from cheating?
According to Nelson, people often enter affairs because they feel a part of themselves is missing, and being with a new person could help them find that missing piece.
That's why you should think about how your sense of self changed during the affair and what aspects of the affair brought about that change.
Maybe you learned that you enjoy being dominant in the bedroom, or that you let other people's opinions of you determine your self-worth. No matter the take away, having solid reflection time will make disclosing the affair to your partner a learning experience rather than a directionless confessional.
Can you let go of the idea that your partner is to blame for the affair?
Although unhappiness with your current relationship could have played a role in your affair, Nelson said you shouldn't put blame on your partner. That's why it's important to ask yourself if you can take full responsibility for what happened before admitting what you did.
If you don't think you can or deserve to take all of the blame, Nelson said you should reconsider telling them in the first place. But if you can take responsibility, the conversation could be a productive one.
"Talk about who you became when you were in the affair, why you couldn't be that person in the marriage, and be clear about what you'll do going forward, even if you're ambivalent," Nelson said. "Always frame it around what you did, not your partner."
Can you imagine a new kind of relationship with your partner in the future?
It's important to be honest with yourself about the future of your relationship after an affair. Do you want to stay with your partner? And if you do, what changes can you make to ensure your relationship is improved upon?
"If you are willing to talk about it, you have to be honest about how far [the affair has] gone and what it means about your current relationship. Sometimes couples will talk about this and decide to open their relationship for a finite amount of time," Nelson said.
If you don't think discussing the affair can result in a new and improved relationship, it could mean it's not worth broaching the topic at all.
Can you think about how you need to change?
Before you and your partner collectively decide to repair your relationship after the affair or go your separate ways, it's important to think critically about your actions and how you can change them in the long run to avoid future affairs.
It's easy to blame external forces for your cheating, but if you can instead think about how your mindset and actions got you to the place you're at now, you're more likely to come out of the situation a better person.
Waiting for your partner to decide whether or not they're willing to stay with you after an affair isn't the only time you should think about acting differently. Rather, making the change for yourself will benefit you in the long run.
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