It is always painful to find out your partner is cheating. Infidelity is a major breach of trust and can be hard to confront. Before addressing the issue, make sure you have solid proof. Decide when and how you want to have the conversation. Try to remain calm. Express your feelings and decide, as a couple, where you want to go from here. If you decide to end the relationship, reach out to friends and family members for support. If you decide to stay, work on rebuilding trust between you and your partner.
EditDeciding How to Confront Your Partner
- Make sure you have evidence. You do not want to confront your partner without some kind of proof. Even if you are positive your partner is cheating, your partner may be inclined to lie or become defensive if you don’t have definitive proof. Going into the situation, present some kind of evidence.
- See if you can find anything that proves your suspicions. You may, for example, have received confirmation from a friend. You may also have stumbled upon incriminating evidence when cleaning the house.
- Evidence can also help you feel more relaxed. Confrontation is inherently uncomfortable. You will feel more at ease confronting your partner if you’re sure of yourself.
- Plan the confrontation. You do not want to run into the room angry and begin yelling at your partner. While imagining a wild confrontation may feel cathartic, it’s unlikely to go over well in real life. In order to get what you want out of a confrontation, you need to have a plan.
- Choose a time and place where you can both talk. You want a time that is not disrupted by outside commitments. For example, agree to talk on a weekend afternoon when you are both free.
- Plan on presenting your evidence rather than asking. If someone’s been cheating, they’re likely to lie rather than own up to the fact. Plan to start off by saying, “Your sister told me what’s going on. I know that you’ve been having an affair.”
- Think about what you want. You should have some goals in mind going into the conversation. You cannot predict how the other person will react, or what he or she will want, but you can have an idea of what you hope to gain from the confrontation.
- Where do you want to go from here? Do you want to come to a decision about the relationship, or have you already decided you want to end things?
- You may also have certain questions. You may, for example, want an explanation for the infidelity. You may want to know why your partner acted the way they did, and whether they want to work things out. You can, for example, ask something like, “Why did you go to this other person when I was right there?”
- Write down your thoughts. It’s very important to go into the conversation having a sense of what you want to say. You should write down your thoughts ahead of time. In difficult conversations, it can be hard to speak on the spot. If you formulate your thoughts ahead of time, this can help.
- Think about what your feeling. What are the best ways to articulate this? How can you best make your feelings clear? Try to figure this out as you write and rewrite your thoughts on the page.
- Also, consider what you want again. Do you have an end goal for the conversation? If so, include that here.
EditHaving a Conversation
- Find a good time to talk. You want to catch your partner at a good time. A confrontation about cheating is serious. It should not take place at a time when either of you are busy.
- Ask your partner ahead of time when a good time to talk is. You could even propose a time you think might work. For example, “If it’s okay with you, I would like to talk tomorrow night after dinner.”
- From there, work on eliminating distractions. Make sure, before the talk, you power down electronic devices like the TV and your phones. You want to give this kind of conversation your full attention.
- Release your expectations. You do not want to go into the conversation expecting it to go one way or another. This may affect your behavior, and make it more difficult to remain calm. Talking about cheating will be an emotionally draining experience. If you indulge fantasies in which your partner gets mad or defensive, you’ll go into the conversation on edge.
- Instead, embrace what you don’t know. Think to yourself, as you enter the conversation, “I don’t know.” Remind yourself, as the conversation begins to unfold, “I don’t know what is going to happen. I don’t know how my partner will react.”
- Try to remain calm. It’s important to stay calm if you want to address the situation in a productive fashion. You likely have questions you want answered and issues you want addressed. In order for this to happen, you cannot completely lose control.
- Take a few deep breaths before going into the conversation. You may want to even vent your emotions ahead of time, to someone else or in a journal, to get them out of your system.
- It’s okay to have emotions. You may cry or become angry. However, strive to keep these emotions from inhibiting your ability to communicate effectively. You can also act on your emotions after dealing with the situation.
- Use “I”-statements. “I”-statements are statements phrased in a way to lessen personal judgment. Instead of expressing an objective truth about the situation, you’re emphasizing your personal feeling. The have three parts. They begin with “I feel…” after which you immediately state your feeling. From there, you would explain the behavior that led to that feeling. Lastly, you would say why you feel the way you do.
- For example, you may be angry and sad. This could provoke you to say something like, “You completely disrespected me by carrying on this affair instead of admitting you were having feelings for someone else. We could have worked this out if you had talked to me.”
- You can rephrase that sentiment using an “I”-statement. For example, “I feel disrespected that you had an affair with your co-worker because if you had told me about your feelings for her we could have worked it out as a couple.”
- Address any reasons for infidelity. Infidelity usually has some underlying cause. While no one needs to take all of the blame, there may have been an underlying issue with your relationship. You should discuss this to figure out how to best move forward. This is particularly important if you want to salvage the relationship.
- Your partner may be hesitant to open up about why they cheated. Factors that lead to an affair are sensitive, and your partner may want to spare your feelings. However, underlying factors need to be addressed in a healthy fashion.
- As you address the reasons for the affair, go in with the right mindset. Do not think of it as any one person taking the blame. The two of you are working, collaboratively, on what may have gone wrong and whether it can be fixed.
- Decide if you want to stay. Infidelity is not always insurmountable. Many couples find a way to move on from an affair. However, infidelity is also a major breach of trust. After the confrontation, you may find the relationship is not worth salvaging.
- Remember, you need to know a lot about a situation before you can make an intelligent decision about what to do. During the confrontation, you should have uncovered a lot of facts about your relationship and your partner.
- Do not make a decision right away. Spend a few days thinking things over and weighing the pros and cons. Making a decision about whether to stay after infidelity is never easy. Take all the time you need.
- Commit to healing as a couple, if that’s what you want. If you decide you want to stay together, both of you need to commit to the healing process. Try to abandon feelings of blame and anger. Move forward together as a couple.
- Moving on together is reassuring for the partner who was betrayed. It is also encouraging for the partner who was unfaithful. You want to work on creating a new foundation for the relationship.
- Accept that it will take time for you to re-build trust and intimacy. Lay down some ground rules in regards to things like communication. For example, maybe it would be best not to address the affair directly right now. You could say something like, “I think we should work on having as normal a relationship possible. I don’t want to mention the affair going forward unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
- Get tested for STDs. Regardless of whether you stay or go, you should get an STD test. If you and your partner were sexually intimate, you’re at risk for contracting STDs if they were unfaithful. Make a visit to your doctor to run a full panel STD test.
- Reach out to others for help. It’s important to seek emotional support after a partner has cheated. If you need to vent your feelings, reach out to friends and family members.
- Remember not to be vindictive. You don’t want to spread negativity about your ex. Focus on yourself and your feelings rather than complaining about your partner. Talk about our own feelings. Say something like, “I feel so hurt by what he did” instead of, “He really hurt me because he’s a jerk.”
- Whether you decide to remain in the relationship or not, the support of others here is important. You deserve care, love, and support after having been betrayed.
- Consider therapy. If you decide to move forward as a couple, counseling may help. A qualified counselor can help you work through your issues and get back to a healthy place in your relationship. Ask your doctor for a list of couples counselors in your area or get a list of providers from your insurance.
- Try to find a counselor who has experience helping couples repair a relationship after infidelity.