Cheating can serve some strange purposes in our lives

Photo credit: Mia Harvey

People cheat for all kinds of reasons

Sometimes we’re pretty conscious of our reasons for cheating — or some of them, anyway — and sometimes our reasons for cheating aren’t totally clear to us.

Sometimes, one of the reasons we cheat is that the excitement and danger and drama of the whole business is intoxicating in and of itself, above and beyond or in addition to our feelings for whomever we’re engaging with.

And this does not have to be a bad thing! …

I hear you, Beth! Sometimes the pain of loss stays with us for a long time. Does the pain feel like part of the beauty of life to you, or does it feel hard to bear?

In a word, yes. But then what?

Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

After they’ve gone

Sometimes clients seek my assistance because they’ve had an affair, and the affair is over… but they miss their affair partner TERRIBLY.

Like, excruciatingly, intensely, I-can’t-think-of-anything-but-them-and-I-can’t-concentrate-on-anything-other-than-my-pain-for-more-than-two-seconds terribly.

And whenever I talk to folks in this situation, my heart goes out to them, because missing someone you love and have been separated from is such a singular experience of pain.

And often, missing an affair partner is a very PRIVATE experience of pain. Maybe your affair was a secret, and no one but you and your affair partner knew about it… and now that it’s over, no one knows about your…

Sometimes the evidence is incontrovertible. But sometimes it isn’t.

Here’s the good news and the bad news. There aren’t any 100% certain, telltale signs that your partner is definitely cheating on you.

Sometimes where there’s smoke there really is fire.

Sometimes a change in your partner’s behavior, such as them starting to work late on a regular basis, or spending more time in their home office with the door closed (i.e., to chat with an affair partner, or to look for an online romance) is indeed a sign that something is amiss.

But sometimes people really do have to work late. Sometimes people do take up new exercise routines…

Well, you don’t HAVE to do anything

The affair is over… do you have to confess? (Photo: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock)

If you cheated on your spouse or your partner and you’re trying to figure out whether you should tell them what happened or not, I have good news and bad news:

You don’t HAVE to do anything. You get to CHOOSE whether or not you tell them you cheated.

I know there are plenty of relationship experts out there who will tell you that you SHOULD tell your partner you cheated, or that you HAVE to tell them — and why you’re a terrible person if you don’t, or why your relationship will be doomed to fail if you don’t…

Cheaters get a pretty bad rap.

Infidelity isn’t something most people have much empathy for — unless you’re the one who was cheated on. Most of the advice out there on the subject of dealing with an affair tells you how to an affair you have one, or how to repair a relationship the affair is over and done with.

But what if you’re having an affair, and have no idea what to do about it?

You have rights too, even if other people see what you’re doing as categorically Bad — or maybe even see…

You’re engaged to be married. And you’re starting to realize you have very mixed feelings about this state of affairs.

You you wanted to get married. You you wanted to spend the rest of your life with the person who is soon to become your legally wedded spouse — if you, um, go through with the wedding, that is. You that having a wedding would be great.

But then, somewhere along the line, you started to feel slightly nauseous every time somebody congratulated you on your engagement. At some point, you noticed yourself twitching a little bit every time someone asked you how the wedding planning was coming along. …

They say marriage is all about finding that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.

There are two dominant narratives about romantic relationships in our culture. Either they’re REALLY good and if so, that’s great — or they’re BAD, and if they are, that’s a PROBLEM.

We have an extensive shared vocabulary for talking about all of the wonderful aspects of relationships. We celebrate the joy of connection and intimacy. We love the idea of there being a “soul mate” or “true love” out there for everyone. We recognize the beauty and value of the support and stability a long-term relationship can provide — as long as the relationship is continuously “happy,” or “fulfilling,” anyway.

Sometimes, when we think we did something wrong in the past — or think we failed to do something that we should have done — we beat ourselves up for our past (in)actions because we think we have to “hold ourselves accountable” in order to make up for whatever we think we did wrong.

But so often, “holding ourselves accountable” translates into mercilessly blaming and shaming ourselves, over and over, long after our supposed misdeeds or failings took place.

Sometimes we do this because we think we’re deserving of blame. Sometimes we do this because we think we’ll repeat our…

Your significant other, with whom you are in a very committed, very monogamous relationship — or thought you were, anyway — just told you they are having an affair.

Or maybe they didn’t exactly you. Maybe you’d suspected that something was going on for a while, then you finally discovered irrefutable evidence, so you confronted them, and they reluctantly admitted you were right.

And… your world has effectively been turned upside down. You thought everything was fine. You were happy and content and excited about your relationship and your life. You had no idea that anything was wrong.


Marie Murphy, Ph.D.

Relationship coach, specializing in helping people who are having affairs decide what they want to do. No judgements.

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