Let’s get one thing straight: Cheating is cheating. But some relationships are more complicated than others. Before you make any rash decisions, here are a few things you need to know.
Most people don’t cheat just for kicks
While there’s never a good reason for people to cheat, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t listen to what the offending party, aka your girlfriend, has to say. According to personality and relationship development consultant Nathaniel Chua, the offended party, aka you, also has to examine the root cause of the infidelity. “You cannot disregard the way a relationship is going,” he explains. Opportunity may play a big role, but “if there is some dissatisfaction in the relationship, then the chances of a person grabbing [said] opportunity will probably increase.”
Talk it over with your girlfriend and trace where the dissatisfaction is coming from. Is it because she feels like you’re never there for her or that she’s not your priority? Chua says that the lack of emotional support may have played a role in the deceit.
Red flags, however, are still red flags
Aside from looking into probable cause, you also need to consider the possibility that it could happen again. If this isn’t the first time your girlfriend has cheated on you (or on anyone), you may need to think long and hard about whether the relationship is worth pursuing.
The anger is normal, but sometimes it can be misleading
Geting mad is normal when you find out that you've been cheated on, but don’t let your immediate feelings make your decisions for you. According to Chua, men aren’t used to processing vulnerability. Your anger, while justified, could very well be masking the gut-wrenching sadness that resulted from your girlfriend’s betrayal—a more pressing matter that needs to be addressed.
Trust can be rebuilt
An error in judgment of this scale isn’t the easiest pill to swallow, but it doesn’t have to spell the end for your relationship either. In fact, in plenty of cases, it can even strengthen it, but only as long as both parties are willing to put in the work. For starters, the offending party has to cut off all ties with the third party. Talking about what happened, how it happened, and even when it happened can also help rebuild trust.
Chua also suggests seeking help from a professional. Having an expert help you sort through your issues can go a long way into helping you make your choice. In most cases, a trained counselor will guide you to a decision that you think is best for you. Whether you decide to save the relationship or go solo for a while, at least you’ll make your choice with a clear head.
For other relationships concerns, you may reach Nathaniel Chua, MA, personality and relationship development consultant, existential therapist, lecturer, resource speaker, writer, social critic via firstname.lastname@example.org or www.onelifeonly.net.