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Cheating happens with people of all ages. It’s hard to say what cheating is, as it’s different for so many people.
Most people in a monogamous (exclusive) relationship would agree that if their partner had full sex with someone else, that is definitely cheating.
For some people, a drunken kiss, sending flirty texts or sexting would count as cheating. For others, it could be finding out your partner spent an evening with workmates rather than with you, but lied about it.
According to a study by the relationship organisation Relate, more than one in 10 people said they suspected they have been cheated on, but had no evidence. The same study also revealed that a third of people admitted to checking their partner’s phone or social media without permission.
However, this behaviour is the virtual equivalent of going through someone’s pockets. And, over time, it can become just as damaging to your relationship as the cheating you suspect is going on.
Unless you have very good evidence that someone is cheating on you, be very careful of accusing them outright. If you’re wrong, it could lead to anger, denial and damage to your relationship.
Instead, try to have a calm conversation. Try not to scream accusations at your partner. It’s better to ‘own’ the way you feel by saying something like: ‘When you did this, I felt like this.’
It’s a good time to have a conversation (see our page on communication) about boundaries around cheating and what trust means to you both, as this could help your partner understand how you feel. Other things to try include:
There are many reasons that cheating happens and it can be in happy relationships as well as those with problems. Listen to what your partner tells you rather than focusing on what you have always believed about cheating.
Only you can decide if you are prepared to forgive your partner and work together to rebuild your relationship, and perhaps even make it stronger.
Some couples can rebuild their relationship after cheating with lots of hard work, which can be painful. It also takes time, perhaps a few months. If you do decide that you can forgive and continue to invest in what you have together, it’s important to be honest and open with each other.
It’s also important to understand why the cheating happened. Was it simply getting carried away at a party and things ‘just happened’? Or was it online flirting that morphed into ‘planned’ cheating. Either way, it’s key to communicate with each other about the reasons.
It’s also important to ask yourself if, given similar circumstances, would you have been vulnerable to cheating?
Here are some tips on how to get over your partner cheating:
If you find that jealousy over possible threats, even to things like a text or a ‘liked’ Instagram photo, is ‘eating you up’, you may be feeling insecure and anxious. Jealousy is a normal emotion, but try not to let it get out of control.
If you decide you can’t forgive – or forget – the cheating, or fear it may happen again, it may be time to break up, especially if there are other problems with the relationship.
It’s important to understand why the cheating happened, for both partners. This will help you to be better prepared for future relationships. Try to remember the good times you had together and allow yourself time before you start another relationship.
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