Am I Talking to You?
First of all, I’m gonna put it out there that this article is written with a bias towards a woman who has been cheated on, frankly because it’s the perspective I can most identify with.
This article isn’t intended to give you some end all and be all advice. I wrote it because I’ve had people come to me who have experienced infidelity and are conflicted about what to do.
Remember, no matter what advice someone gives you, ask yourself this question, is this person going to step into my life and help me live out the advice they’re giving me?
Are they offering to walk by my side and help me raise my kids, pay my bills or provide emotional support? Take that into consideration as they give you their definitive advice.
For these reasons, I’m not advising you on what to do rather, I’ve put together some questions for you to consider along with your support system, a counselor or even your significant other.
How Common is Cheating Really?
Because of the level of vulnerability and intimacy you build with a person, to me, cheating is the ultimate form of betrayal within a relationship; and I say this from personal experience.
While dealing with the shock and heartache, you wonder, what should I do?
And you’re not alone in feeling this way. It’s a problem many people face.
According to a Refinery29 article called, “How Common is Cheating Really?”, a relationship expert they interviewed “estimated that 25% of men and 14% of women cheat in a lifetime” while a different expert estimated it closer to “between 20-60% of couples in a lifetime.” So according to these two perspectives, “infidelity could happen to a small sliver or the majority of people — it’s hard to say at this point.”
Anyway, I saw all of this to say, you’re not alone. You’re not the only one dealing with this.
So what questions can you ask if it happens to you?
What do you do if you find out you’re being cheated on?
First off sis, I just want to tell you I’m sending lots of love your way! And this is the first thing you should do.
Soak up as much love from supportive friends and family as possible! Love yourself. Be kind to yourself and put yourself in a healthy mental space.
Depending on your situation, you may feel stuck. You may be wondering if the two of you can get past this. Can you work it out?
Sometimes it’s not about love any longer, it’s just about what you can deal with. And it’s not always as simple as should I stay or should I go.
There are so many other things to think about.
1. What are my options?
This might be the simplest question of all, but it’s a good starting point. Understand the power you have in this situation. You may not like the consequences of those decisions, but start by considering them.
There may be many side decisions to the main decision, but the basic options you have are to stay or to leave.
Place both options on the table. Let yourself sit with them.
2. What is your intuition telling you?
As you consider the first question, ask yourself what your gut is telling you.
What was your initial reaction. I’m not saying you should follow through on this feeling. Sometimes we make really rash decisions in the moment. I just want you to get in touch with your intuition. They say a woman’s intuition is powerful.
I’ve been in several situations where things seemed off or were not adding up. Call it being observant, intuition or God’s promptings.
Sometimes, you have a deep feeling about what your next move should be. If you’re struggling with hearing it, go somewhere and get really quiet. Pray. Sit with your thoughts. Consult a wiser voice than your own and begin to listen.
In listening to your intuition, I want you to ask yourself, how did you find out about the cheating?
Did he confess or did you find out on your own? How does that impact your ability to re-establish trust? Does your ex seen remorseful?
The way your ex feels today can be a great predictor of how the relationship may pan out several months from now!
3. Are we both willing to put in the work necessary to restore the relationship?
Relationships are hard to re-capture after the trust has been broken. A relationship can only work after infidelity if both people are willing to put in the work. If you cheated, are you willing to do whatever it takes to re-establish trust with your spouse? Are you willing to answer the questions, answer the calls and be accountable for your moves? If you were cheated on, are you willing to extend grace to your significant other in a way that will allow the relationship to be restored?
4. Are we open to getting counseling?
Are you and your significant other prepared to get counseling? Are you willing to do what’s necessary to make the relationship work? Counseling is a great option for helping to get through this vulnerable time in your relationship. An outside person can see things you might be too close to the situation to see.
5. Are we married? How is this going to impact our marriage?
If you’re married you have made a serious commitment together. You have stuff together that might be hard to separate. Your vows encourage you to work things out in good times and in bad times…and this is what bad looks like.
Do you want to dig deep and try to get through this as a couple? What impact will this have on your family, mutual friends, children and pets?
6. Do we have kids? How will this impact our kids?
When there’s been infidelity in the relationship and kids are involved, I know more than one person who has paused before making the final decision.
Kids change everything.
They weren’t unfaithful, yet their lives will change in immeasurable ways because of it. While I’m not saying you should stay for that reason, it’s definitely something to consider.
While it will impact them dramatically to not have their parents together, if they’re observing infidelity and poor treatment, that will have a negative impact on them as well.
7. Logistically, am I able to leave?
Depending upon how deeply invested you are in the relationship, leaving can be logistically hard and sometimes near impossible. Are you set up to leave? Do you share assets with this person? Do you have kids together? Are you financially tied together?. Think through the logistics of leaving. Is it simple? Is it feasible? What steps would you need to take to make it happen?
8. Am I able to do this financially?
This is another major game changer. Many people stick around because they can’t afford to leave. Often women stay home to care for the home and the kids and find they’re not prepared to enter the workforce. They haven’t developed the resume and it makes it hard for them to hit the ground running.
Are you financially able to make it on your own or do you have a support system that will help you push through?
9. Can I do it emotionally?
Not only are there a lot of emotions surrounding infidelity, there are emotions surrounding breaking up as well. Don’t underestimate the impact of both on your emotional state. You don’t have to be strong all the time. Have you developed the emotional support system to help you through the months and years ahead? Do you have the support of a counselor?
10. Do we realize the relationship will likely change?
While you may love everything about one another, and have beautiful memories, are you aware that even if you do love each other, your relationship is likely to change. There will be a loss of trust in the relationship. You’ll need to re-establish respect and deal with any insecurities that may come up. Some people really struggle to let things go. Even when it’s 6, 8 or 10 months down the road, you may need to mentally prepare yourself that there may still be remnants of the hurt lingering behind in the relationship. Are you prepared to work through that?