Cheating is one of the biggest challenges that a relationship can face, but it is possible to get past the betrayal and repair the situation with some hard work.
No matter the circumstances, infidelity is one of the biggest challenges a relationship can face. If you are the person who was cheated on, your emotions might range from sadness and hurt to confusion and anger. If you are the one who cheated, the guilt can be colossal. Repair is possible, though, provided that you’re both willing and able to do the work.
Depending on one’s perspective and the boundaries that have been set for a particular relationship, infidelity can take many different forms. Cheating can include not just sexual activities, but flirting, sexting, kissing, cuddling, watching porn or “emotional affairs,” which are usually differentiated from close friendships by their secretive nature and emotional intensity. I’m not here to tell you what counts as cheating in your relationship; that can only be determined by the two people involved. The defining characteristic is a betrayal of trust or of predetermined agreements, which is why it is imperative to have conversations about what is and isn’t acceptable in your unique relationship before it becomes an issue. Cheating isn’t limited to monogamy, either. For example, in a non-monogamous relationship, if you agree to tell each other about new sexual experiences and then you don’t, that’s still a betrayal of trust, even though having sex with someone outside the relationship is permitted.
Everyone has the capacity to be unfaithful, and there are as many reasons for cheating as there are people in relationships. Some of the more common reasons include loneliness, boredom, someone’s needs not getting met, a change in attraction, a desire for excitement, self-destructive risk-taking, lust and simply getting caught up in the moment. Ethically non-monogamous people often notice that they had a pattern of cheating when they thought monogamy was their only relationship option. Whatever the reason, it’s never the fault of the person who was cheated on. You can have valid issues with your partner, but it is your responsibility to address them with kindness and clarity, up to and including ending the relationship if necessary.