Getting cheated on, or even cheating on someone you love, can be one of the worst experiences in life. But can infidelity add some color into the vast gray of your dull romantic relationship? Are there truly any benefits of cheating in a relationship?
Infidelity is a sad reality that numerous couples in romantic relationships and marriages have to face. But cheating or getting cheated on doesn’t necessarily have to be a curse that ends a relationship. In fact, it can act as a catalyst that ignites romance and brings back some love into your relationship.
Don’t get me wrong. Getting cheated on hurts like hell and it breaks you from inside. Trust me, I know. It eats away your self-esteem and makes you doubt your own self-worth. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be a dark pit of abandonment where you lose yourself. It can be a ray of hope that can not only transform your relationship for the better, it can help you become a better, stronger, wiser person as well. There are indeed many benefits of cheating in a relationship.
Cheating breaks your heart
The day my girlfriend of 9 years confessed that she was having an emotional affair for the last few months behind my back and wanted to break up, I lost it. I screamed, I shouted, I physically abused her, I reasoned with her, I begged her and I manipulated her so that she wouldn’t leave me. Why? Simply because she would take my self-esteem, my self-confidence and my sense of self-worth with her. I couldn’t let her go, not because I was in love with her (although I was), but because I was scared how empty it would make me.
It broke me from inside. It broke my heart. It broke my mind. It broke my spirit. It made me someone I never was – an abusive, manipulative person who desperately tried to hold on to a past – a past where I was in a seemingly perfect relationship – that didn’t exist anymore. It made me needy and clingy to a person who was not in love with me anymore. I felt betrayed, guilty, ashamed, and most of all, unworthy.
Add to that, the shock and pain of knowing that you are not good enough to keep your partner happy. The realization that you are simply NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Cheating breaks you. So how can there be any benefits of cheating in a relationship?
Cheating forces you to step up
After the initial shock, denial, anger, pain, negotiation and desperation, came introspection and awareness. And with it came true self-realization – I realized infidelity arises from unhealthy attachments and emotional insecurities in either partner.
I became too complacent and comfortable in the relationship. I stopped putting in any effort. Effort to show my love for her, effort to make her feel special, effort to show her how truly valuable she was to me. I took her for granted and took my relationship for granted.
I simply assumed that she knows how much I love her and there is no need of showing it on a daily basis. I assumed that she would assume I still loved her. I hope you can see how this can drive any woman into the arms of another man for the support, validation and approval she needs.
It is only when I stopped meeting her emotional needs, my partner went to someone else to get her needs met. It is only when she cheated on me, I realized the truth – I need to put in effort to make the relationship work.
Cheating heals you
The greatest effort I put in was to let her go. Realizing she was not happy and letting her go was not easy, but it made me a stronger, more empathetic and compassionate person. In a long time, this was the first time I acted selflessly.
Next I put in effort to improve myself and bring my life back in order. I started to get rid of bad habits and built new healthier ones. I put in effort to improve my health and my relationship with my friends and family. I put in effort to pursue my passions and learned new skills.
A few months down the line I became someone I always wanted to be, but could never become because I was too complacent. All thanks to emotional infidelity. It was the push I needed to realize that I was broken long before my girlfriend left me. It was the push I need to rebuild myself into a better person. These are the benefits of cheating in a relationship.
By this point in my life, I was happy with myself and full of self-love. I did not need anyone to make me happy. And that is exactly when my ex came back to me. Did I take her back? Yes, of course.
But we did not pick up where we left off. We started a new relationship with new hope. Yes, we openly communicated about everything that happened, but with acceptance and without judgment. And this time I made sure I put in the effort every single day to make sure she knows how important she is to me. And she did the same. This is how you make a relationship work after infidelity.
So can cheating be good for a relationship? Yes, it can.
What does infidelity mean in a relationship
According to a 2011 study, infidelity refers to involvement in sexual or “romantic relationships outside of one’s active committed relationship which result in a sense of relational betrayal.” While sexual infidelity in marriage involves sexual activities with someone other than one’s primary romantic partner, emotional infidelity involves “falling in love or sharing a deep emotional bond with someone other than one’s partner.”
And I think that is what hurts most – when your partner falls in love with someone else other than yourself. But this “love” can be a gift for you as it has been for me, albeit, in very different ways.
From break-ups to make-ups
Although most people don’t realize that there are several benefits of cheating in a relationship, infidelity is way too common across the globe. Over 20% of married couples and 70% for unmarried couples engaging in extra-relational and extramarital affairs.
“Relationship infidelity is usually damaging,” claim researchers. But it doesn’t have to be. Psychotherapist Esther Perel believes that even though infidelity can spell doom for most relationships, for some, it can strengthen the bond shared by the romantic couple. She claims that break up or divorce is not the only outcome when one partner cheats in a marriage or a long-term relationship. Although each relationship is different and all of us deal with infidelity in our own way, the choices and consequences of our decisions solely rely on us and our relationship history.
Divorce can not only break up two people who care about each other, but it can also destroy families, explains Esther. But if we analyze the entire situation without being judgemental or emotionally reactive, emotional affairs can actually ignite passion and strengthen relationships. “Sometimes the relationship that comes out is stronger, and more honest and deeper than the one that existed before, because people finally step up,” she says. “Many affairs are break-ups, but some affairs are make-ups,” adds Esther.
Benefits of cheating in a relationship
I know it sounds weird when I talk about the benefits of cheating on your girlfriend or boyfriend, but if you are still wary about the silver lining that shines through the darkness of infidelity, here are a few benefits of cheating in a relationship –
1. It helps you reassess the importance of your relationship
Yes, it’s sad that it takes something so damaging to make you reevaluate the value of your relationship, but it works. Infidelity shakes you up so much that you can’t help but analyze what your relationship means to you. If you feel that your relationship has lost steam and it’s not worth putting in the effort to make things work, then it can be a heartbreaking but liberating experience. If there is no love left in the relationship, then cheating can actually serve as a great wake up call to help both partners move on and find their own happiness.
However, if you feel that there is still love somewhere in your relationship buried deep under uncommunicated and unresolved issues, then infidelity can help you sit up and take action. Cheating on spouse is a way to seek what we don’t have in the relationship anymore – whether it is love, attention, support, validation, respect or even laughter. Cheating can help you identify the true value of your relationship, figure out the nagging issues and put in the effort to make things better. This is one of the greatest benefits of cheating in a relationship – honest realization.
Whether you decide to stay and improve your relationship or decide to walk away cause your partner isn’t the best person for your mental and emotional well-being right now, cheating can help make the decision and move forward in the right direction.
2. It makes you mature emotionally
Regardless of what you decide about the future of your relationship, infidelity can help you become emotionally stronger. Going through an experience like this can take a serious toll on your mental and emotional health, and once you come out of it (and you will find your way out of that dark pit), you mature emotionally.
Sorting through difficult emotions like betrayal, rejection, abandonment, shame & guilt, emotional pain and finally learning to let go (whether of your partner or the pain in your heart) can help you grow old emotionally in a matter of a few days. You become more considerate, empathic, compassionate, positive and most of all, confident in yourself.
Dealing with pain is never easy, and those who work through pain and find the strength to heal themselves and their relationships are some of the emotionally strongest people on this planet. If this isn’t one of the benefits of cheating in a relationship, I don’t know what is.
3. It helps you identify the real problems
When you have been in a close romantic relationship for a long time, there are bound to be some issues that you avoid. These problems become a normal part of the relationship that keep getting dusted under the carpet because neither you nor your partner want to get to the root of it and get it sorted. Why? Because it takes effort. What’s more, accepting that there is a problem in your relationship can shatter the illusion that your relationship is perfect.
But nothing is ever perfect, is it? When one partner has an emotional affair outside the marriage or the relationship, the carpet gets blown off and the dust gets scattered all over. And you’re left with no other option than to clean up the mess. Cheating points out all the issues we have in the relationship. It holds a mirror to your face and shows you what you have done wrong, like –
- Focusing too much on your career
- Not spending enough quality time with your partner
- Not meeting their emotional needs
- Invalidating them constantly
- Not having fun
- Not talking about the future
- Becoming too complacent
But what matters most is what you do next. If you accept your flaws and mistakes and make an effort to rebuild the relationship, it can get better and strengthen your connection. It can change your perspective about your partner and help you save your relationship. Cheating can make your marriage stronger.
But only if you’re up for it as working through the mess of an affair will require deliberate effort and commitment from both partners. Shouldn’t this be considered as one of the benefits of cheating in a relationship?
4. It helps you walk away and move on
A silver lining may not necessarily mean making your relationship better after an affair for everyone. For some, it can mean the end of the relationship, especially if you were needy, insecure, codependent and were unable to find the courage to walk away from the already toxic relationship. Sometimes being apart can make both partners happier than staying together and infidelity can help you get to that point, especially when your relationship is more of a habit, than a partnership.
People cheat when they lack genuine connection in their primary relationship, and when you have already lost the connection, it can be better to take a hard look at yourself and call it quits. Sure, it will be difficult and it will take a lot out of both partners to walk away from their relationship which they have built brick by brick over the years. But in the end, both of you will be happier and move on to find new love – love that you truly deserve. Sometimes a healthy breakup can be one of the understated benefits of cheating in a relationship.
Infidelity is not a curse, it’s a blessing
Yes, getting cheated on is a horrible experience. But it can also be a blessing in disguise, although you may not see it like that right away. Here are some other ways that cheating could actually benefit your relationship –
- Improves your ability to communicate more openly with your partner
- Motivates you to set new and healthier boundaries in the relationship
- Helps you be more empathic and forgiving
- Encourages you to find new ways to keep the relationship exciting and positive
- Kicks you out of your comfort zone, stops you from taking your partner for granted and being complacent
- Rekindles desire and attraction making both partners learning more about each other by accepting change
- Makes you more mindful and aware of how your behaviors and actions affect your partner and your relationship
- Builds a stronger future by addressing issues and rebuilding trust, intimacy and love
Cheating is devastating. But the benefits of cheating in a relationship can help you steer towards a better future.
Cheating doesn’t have to mean END
Is infidelity good or bad for relationships? Anyone who has been cheated on will never tell you that it’s a good experience. Sometimes death feels like a better option than heartbreak. But there are some benefits of infidelity.
Honesty, trust, loyalty and faithfulness are crucial elements of any relationship. So when that trust is broken, the relationship may look like a failure making you question your worth. But life is a lot more complicated than we believe and none of us are perfect. We learn and grow as humans, as partners, by making mistakes.
Cheating on your partner is a mistake. But so is not caring enough about your partner. When you don’t show how much you love your partner, they can feel isolated and lonely which can make them seek comfort and love elsewhere. No one is right or wrong here. The important thing is that both partners value each other and are willing to put in the effort to make things right again, together.
Working through the obstacles can bring you and your partner closer or liberate you from dragging a relationship after it has run its natural course. No matter what you decide, it will make you stronger, wiser and better.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Can cheating make a marriage better?
Yes, it can when both partners want to heal the relationship and commit to strengthen the bond they share with each other. With effort, infidelity can lead to a deeper and stronger marriage through heartbreak, realization and effort.
Why cheating is good?
Cheating is never good for anyone, but it can lead to better outcomes for both partners. Affairs can help us identify glaring issues in the relationship, communicate openly, and commit better. However, it is crucial that both partners are honest with each other and are willing to improve their relationship.
How can cheating save a marriage?
A marriage can become stronger after an affair when you and your partner take a closer look at the hidden issues in your marriage. Infidelity is often caused by unmet needs and expectations in the relationship. When you heal these issues and do the work, your marriage can heal. Consulting a therapist or a marriage counselor can also help.