No matter how you discover infidelity in a relationship is discovered, it is an emotionally traumatic event. Perhaps you ran across incriminating texts to or from another girl or a recent business trip was confessed to be a cover for an affair. No matter how the cheating was discovered, it is never easy and always painful. Once you know, you then have to decide whether to stay or leave. Some people work hard, heal the relationship and stay together, but others choose to move on.
Fictional characters often forgive their partners of affairs when they realize that their whole relationship would be a waste if they leave. They would rather hold on to what is left, then sacrifice everything. In real life, it is not always that easy. There are always other factors to consider and either way it can be messy. Those in long term relationships may feel that everyone makes an occasional mistake and it could be forgiven, but others cannot handle the emotions that come knowing their partner has been unfaithful.
If you find yourself in this situation and cannot decide what to do, then here are some reasons to serious consider leaving an unfaithful partner and the reasoning behind each area.
They Denied It
Many times, cheating is discovered when one partner has a gut feeling the other is being unfaithful and then discovers evidence. If you shared your concerns and then had to corner your partner before they came clean and admitted the affair, it is going to be a long road if you stay together.
Cheating is hurtful no matter what, but when being confronted, if the lies continue then another layer has been added on. If your partner cannot admit to the cheating and show some remorse, this may be a sign to move on.
While the old saying of “once a cheater, always a cheater” may be an exaggeration in many ways, there is a bit of truth. Those who cheated in a previous relationship are three times as likely to cheat in another relationship. Cheating can become a habit, but only you can decide if your partner’s infidelity is habitual. Knowing that your partner has cheated before, on you or someone else, is a red flag that you must consider. Ultimately, the choice is yours alone to make.
Most times, you can trust your gut. Even if you are not aware of others episodes of cheating, if it feels like this may not have been their first time, then it probably wasn’t and will not be. This steals the security that is supposed to be in a loving relationship. That being said, if you aren’t sure, try asking your partner if this is a first offense and try to figure out what made them cheat. Though it will be hard, remain calm and get as much information as you can to decide whether your trust can ever be regained.
While you can leave, if you choose to stay, trust can be rebuilt, but it takes time and work. If your partner is unwilling to work on rebuilding trust then there is little point in staying.
People feel more betrayed at times when they are blindsided by an affair because there is such a difference in a cheater admitting an affair and being caught. The lying makes it worse in many ways. If you stumbled upon the evidence that your partner is cheating, then trust will likely be shattered beyond repair. You may always wonder what else has or will be hidden. This can be fatal to a relationship.
When cheating is discovered in this manner, the one cheated on may become obsessed with hunting down the truth. This may be focused on the partner or the one they were having an affair with, but it can be all consuming. Instead of barreling down this path without thought, take time for some self-reflection. If the relationship was struggling before the affair because communication had broken down or you were neglecting one another, then that could have been a trigger. This is just one explanation and it is not an excuse, but it can offer some closure for the matter. This also helps if you choose to leave the relationship so you do not carry the baggage into a new relationship.
Affects Your Self-Esteem
Few cheaters realize their choices affect others. If your partner’s cheating starts making you question your own attractiveness or abilities in a relationship, then it may be time to cut your losses and move on. It can be tough, but you must remember that your partner’s cheating could have had many reasons and justification, but they are not your fault. The blame is not yours to bear for their poor decisions.
If you feel like the current relationship has taken away your best self, then talk to your partner and explain how you feel. This is important if you plan on leaving, especially if they think you are going to stay. This gives them a chance to lessen the insecurities you may have, but do not assume this is what will happen. Be willing to listen, but do not take on the blame if the cheater begins putting you down.
Not all relationships will end when infidelity enters the mix. Many times cheating is a sign that something is wrong with your relationship and you must decide if you are willing to look for that issue and work toward a resolution. But, if you find yourself hurt beyond any repair or unwilling to even try, then move on. Even though mistakes are common, you deserve a significant other who makes you feel good about yourself, the relationship, and someone you can trust.
While it is important to try to seek help through a couple’s counselor or retreat at first, if it is not helping or your partner is not willing, then do what is best for yourself. Ultimately, you will be stronger from the experience and better prepared for whatever comes next.