Nothing changes the dynamics of a relationship like finding out your partner cheated. It’s a stressful situation because you go through a range of emotions and everyone offers their advice. But before you make what seems like the obvious decision of breaking up and leaving, make sure you have the answers to these extremely specific questions.
- Did he truly cheat? When did the incident happen? Were the two of you officially exclusive? Did you two have the discussion and agree that you were a couple or did you assume? These are important questions because sometimes ladies have an unreal expectation that from the minute you express interest in them that you owe them monogamy. It’s unrealistic to believe that after one interaction you should be the only one in his life. If it happened before you got together officially or if you were broken up/taking a break, in most men’s minds, it doesn’t count
- What were the circumstances? It always hurts but there are levels of disrespect. How did he cheat? Did he get himself caught up by inviting attention, and then things got out of control? This suggests irresponsibility and not thinking, or thinking with the wrong parts. Or did he plan it knowing full well what he was doing and what was at stake? Did he admit to it or did someone else tell you? How long was it secret? The cover-up is often worse than the crime. Additionally, who matters? There’s a huge difference between cheating with some random once while out of town and cheating multiple times with someone you know.
- How long have you been together? Does your relationship have equity where you could possibly give the benefit of the doubt based on earlier behavior? Is what he did bad enough to wipe out everything you’ve been through and everything you planned for the future? Does one act outweigh years of faithfulness? Is this something you can go to counseling for?
- Do you believe in redemption and how strong is your forgiveness? Is he sincere? How good is he at follow through? Does he just say the words or does he live the apology? These are questions that determine if he can ever be trusted again and if he’s regretful. How strong is your forgiveness and do you believe he can ever redeem himself? If it’s going to bother you forever, if you’ll never trust him again, just let him go.
- Is it not only what he did, but also what he didn’t do? It matters to a man if he was about to do something, then stopped. It matters to what extent it’s done. There’s a difference between flirting and getting a number; between kissing and sex. In his mind, he wants and probably needs every bit of credit.
By no means is cheating being advocated for; it should not be condoned and in no way are women being blamed for men’s infidelities. But before jumping to conclusions and decisions, talk first and get some answers. Relationships begin, end or survive the same way that affairs begin– with conversations. One of the reasons our generation doesn’t have lasting relationships like our grandparents is we don’t forgive and we end relationships with the quickness. You can never have a relationship that can survive anything if it never goes through anything.
Written By: Johnny Brownlee II
Follow Johnny on Instagram: @slin_k_polymath