One controversial article proposes that keeping infidelity a secret is the better choice because telling your partner will only bring them pain and harm the relationship.
The only time to tell your partner you cheated - Experts
There are numerous reasons that people cheat in a relationship, but there are no guidelines on how to confess to having an affair when you still want to be with your partner. Should you tell them at all?
However, according to relationship therapists, it is better to strike a balance between revealing a one-time affair and an affair that ran for a long time.
Although the guilt from cheating might be eating away at you, take care not to confess in an effort to get it off your chest or have your partner offer you forgiveness so that you can feel better.
According to Megan Fleming, PhD, a marriage counsellor and sex therapist, the affair is an opportunity to discover the challenges that have brought you to cheat. Rather than involving your patner in the pain, focus on yourself and find the cause of the affair. “Obviously on some level your relationship was feeling challenged,” she says.
However, while keeping the affair a secret protects your partner from needless pain, especially in the aftermath of the affair, it means hiding something from your partner.
According to best-selling author and relationship expert Susan Winter, there are affairs that are better kept secret and others that require coming clean. Getting rid of your guilt does not have to come at the expense of your partner resulting in avoidable painful feelings for them.
So how do you know when it is the right time?
Deciding whether you should confess to your partner comes down to the type of affair that it was.
One-time affairs, especially fuelled by alcohol, are better left unsaid. If you can barely remember the affair the next day, confessing to it will only hurt your partner and not help you with your nightlife indulgences.
Resolve to moderate your alcohol and limit indulging in certain activities.
Romantic or sexual affairs
If it is a choice you made over a period of time to direct your attention, love and sexual expression towards someone other than your partner, that makes it potent to confess.
Repeatedly having an affair means that there is either an issue within your relationship or an issue with yourself.
For long-time affairs, going to therapy is the best place to start before confessing to infidelity. It helps you come to terms with the issues behind infidelity and give you the correct ways to communicate your personal needs in the relationship and establish why you are out of balance.
A therapist can also help you come up with a plan for you and your partner to move forward in the event that you want to, and the language to use so that you spare your partner hurt.
When a partner suspects you of cheating
If your partner suspects that you are cheating and asks you directly, come clean about the affair.
According to psychologist and dating and relationship expert Madeleine Mason Roantree, denying the affair can only cause your partner more pain when you eventually tell them.
Try and be as honest as possible. However, you should prepare for them to withdraw their trust.
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