Elphie Coyle offers 5 thoughts to consider before choosing to leave a cheating partner.
You place incredible trust and security in your partner and relationship and suddenly it’s shattered. Cheating can be a sign that it’s time to move on, or it may also be an opportunity to take note that a fundamental aspect of your relationship that needs working on.
Unfortunately society tends to push us many times unnecessarily toward the former. However, in both his TED talk titled Are We Designed to be Sexual Omnivores? and book titled Sex at Dawn, Christopher Ryan gives evidence that human beings are not actually programmed for monogamy. Given this information, it’s actually quite impressive when a monogamous couple manages to stay sexually exclusive.
Below are five reasons for not leaving your cheating partner when you both still want the relationship to work.
If the person who cheated is truly remorseful and does want to do the work necessary to rebuild the relationship, then consider the following:
1) You’ve made a commitment to being together. Whether explicitly through “Til death do us part” or implicitly through publicly declaring your exclusive relationship, you’ve chosen each other. Lean on this commitment through this mistake and start finding ways to rebuild trust. I’d highly recommend a counselor or a relationship coach to support you through this process.
2) Nobody is perfect. Perhaps you’re a bastion of monogamy and have never been tempted to stray. If you’re like most of us, this could have just as easily been you. They were presented with the perfect storm for a snowball of mistakes that made each following one easier than the last. If you traded places with your partner, what forgiveness and loving understanding would you be wanting from them? You might happen to be in the 4-8%, according to Dan Savage, of people easily able to maintain monogamy. If so, this is just one area you’re great at, so try having compassion for this fault of theirs, as they do for the areas in which you’re not perfect.
3) You’ve both invested in building a life together. Do you have shared finances, kids, friends and interests? How much intimacy have you shared together, deepening as it only can over time? All this takes a lot of effort to rip apart, so put aside for the moment the bias we’ve been given by our society and weigh the pros and cons for yourself. Is the entirety of what you’ve built together worth less than this breakdown?
4) They’re still here. If some big part of them really didn’t want to be with you, they wouldn’t have cheated, they would have just closed down the relationship and moved on. Talk to them and feel into their world, their guilt and shame. Ask if they’re willing to do whatever it takes, including fully considering your broken trust and living quite differently until it’s repaired over time. If so, then make the shared commitment to rebuilding your relationship the first thing that will in and of itself rebuild some trust.
5) Perhaps monogamy is not for you. This act may actually have been a blessing in disguise. The hurtful occurrence may have been what it took to realize that strict monogamy is not for you. Discuss your independent sexual wants and needs that overlay like a Venn diagram. If there’s enough crossover on what you really want, you may discover a model for relating that is more uniquely for you both. There’s a whole spectrum of relating outside of the classical sense, and if this sparks some interest check out my article on being Monogamish, which has the strength of monogamy and the variety of Polyamory.
The biggest thing to keep in mind is as much as it hurts right now, you can heal and in fact strengthen your relationship by working through this challenge together.
I wish you the best. Feel free to ask any questions below.
Photo credit: Flickr/7XnyyJ