You’re going to need to trust me on this one.
Telling your significant other that you’ve cheated on them – whether that’s anything from a kiss to an all-out affair – unleashes a world of pain, trauma and confusion. The only silver lining (if you can even call it that) is that you will feel marginally better; Because you’ve lifted the guilt off your shoulders and placed a crushing weight on top of the person you supposedly love.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am in no way condoning cheating. It is, obviously, one of the worst things anyone can do in a relationship, right up there with leaving someone at the altar or living a secret double life. But just because it is one of the worst things you can do, that doesn’t mean you should always be honest about it. And this is coming from someone who’s been cheated on in the past and who has cheated. So yeah, I know what I’m talking about.
Just to clarify, honesty is one of the pillars of a healthy relationship. Secrets, lying, sneaking around are all incredibly damaging and pretty much a sure-fire way to ruin a relationship. The fundamental question you need to ask yourself when you’ve cheated is this: is this information going to cause more damage than not telling? And by that I don’t mean “if I tell them will they break up with me”.
I mean, are you only telling your bf/gf that you cheated because it will help soothe your guilty conscious, or are you telling them because they need to know? Psychotherapist Deborah Duley agrees with this: “honesty is not always the best policy – at least not 100% honesty – and sometimes, I find that a revelation to a partner about a hurtful event is more about easing the client’s conscience and less about helping the relationship”.
Denying that you’ve cheated, even to yourself, is toxic and if someone asks you outright then tell the truth. Every time. Because chances are, they already know. But the saying is “what they don’t know can’t hurt them” and when it comes to cheating, this is actually semi-accurate. If you’ve cheated and it was a one-time thing, with someone they don’t know (very key part right there), then don’t tell them. I’m not saying you’re a good person for doing this, I’m just saying that maybe sparing them the agony will be better for you both in the long run. If they’ll find out anyway though – tell them. And quickly because if they hear it from someone else and not from you? It’s over. Absolutely, categorically, 100% over and there’s no coming back from that. Oh, and by the way, if you want to stay in the relationship, this doesn’t apply to you. Own your mistakes and hope they are a better person than you and willing to try to work through this. You cannot stay with someone and lie to their face every single day; it’s never going to work out.
Cheating should always make you second guess your relationship anyway. Not everyone cheats because they’re unhappy, sometimes shit just happens. But at the end of the day, if you’ve cheated, how happy can you really be? And if cheating prompts you to end the relationship, I wouldn’t tell your SO; Just my personal opinion. Some people would rather find out because it’ll give them something to blame the end of the relationship on, but more often than not, it’s going to leave people with an overwhelming sense of “why was I not good enough”. Trust me. Unless you’re leaving them for the person you cheated on them with and you’re in lurrvee, then save them the pain. Chances are they’ll agree the relationship just wasn’t working out anyway.
PSA: I’m not justifying cheating. If you cheat, you’re an arsehole, end of. Just don’t put someone you love through absolute HELL just because you’re feeling guilty you fucked up.