5 Things To Remember If You Think Your Partner Is Having An Affair

affair

If you suspect that your partner might be having an affair, then instead of blowing up on them instantly, you can keep a few things in mind that will help you deal with this, in a more constructive and healthy manner.

Key Points:

People define infidelity differently; don't assume you and your partner are on the same page with what constitutes a breach of trust.

Not talking about your fears will likely result in your feeling worse over time. Conversation is key.

Rather than opening the conversation with accusations, open with your fears. It's more likely to invite honest dialogue.

Some of the most painful moments I’ve witnessed in my sex therapy practice occur when a client suspects their lover of having an affair. Everyone knows relationships are challenging at times, but feeling that your partner is cheating takes these challenges to a whole new level of awful.

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers here. People proceed in a variety of ways, each more painful than the next. Sometimes, people snoop. They access their partner’s texts, search their laptops, secretly listen to their phone calls, and look through GPS records. People know that sleuthing is a bad idea, but they feel justified by their suspicions and that they have no choice.

Some accuse their partner, often waiting until they are desperate, so the conversation quickly becomes hostile. Spiteful arguments breed confusion and amplify disconnection between lovers. Some folks, afraid of such outcomes, chose to stay quiet about their fears—terrified that initiating a conversation will give them the proof they’d rather not have. For these folks, it’s easier to deny the problem than face it head-on.

Ultimately, though, relationship issues are like mold growing in your fridge. When ignored, a small bruising can morph into decay and ultimately decompensation in what feels like overnight.

Related: Can You Ever Affair-Proof Your Relationship

What Can You Do If You Suspect Your Partner Is Having An Affair?

Initiating a conversation with your partner is probably your best bet. Keeping these five things in mind will increase the odds that your conversation will feel more productive than destructive.

1. Before you initiate a conversation, determine what you’d like to accomplish.

Do you need something from your partner that you aren’t getting—more emotional connection or physical closeness, perhaps? Would you like your partner to agree to couples therapy?

Having goals for the conversation will help you keep what is likely to be a very emotional discussion on track and focused.

2. Rather than opening the conversation with accusations, open with your fears.

Yes, this is a more vulnerable place to start. But it’s also much less likely to put your partner on the defensive and thus more likely to invite honest dialogue. “I’m scared I’m losing you” is a good place to start.

Partner having an affair
5 Things To Remember If You Think Your Partner Is Having An Affair

3. When emotions are running high, it’s difficult to offer people the benefit of the doubt.

But try not to rush to judgment and assume guilt before you’ve had a chance to thoroughly discuss your concerns. This is someone that you love or at least care for deeply.

Fighting fair is good for you—it helps ensure that you will have no regrets about your own behavior down the road. When we are afraid, it can be easy to misperceive others’ behavior. What looks like infidelity maybe something different once you gather more information.

4. People define infidelity differently.

Don’t assume that you and your partner are on the same page with what constitutes a breach of trust. Is regular dialogue with an old lover OK? How about a virtual emotional or sexual relationship?

People mistakenly suppose that everyone defines infidelity similarly, and this is far from reality. It’s normal for couples who are willing to have this discussion to find themselves negotiating these terms.

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Marianne Brandon Ph.D.

Dr. Marianne Brandon is a clinical psychologist, diplomate in sex therapy, futurist, author, and lecturer with over 20 years of experience working with individuals and couples struggling to create more passionate intimate relationships. She is the author of Monogamy: The Untold Story, Unlocking the Sexy in Surrender: Using the Neuroscience of Power to Recharge Your Sex Life; co-author of Reclaiming Desire: 4 Keys for Finding Your Lost Libido, and numerous professional articles. Brandon contributes regularly to professional publications, and lectures to sex therapists, physicians, psychologists, and the public. Her more recent professional writing includes articles and chapters on female sexuality, female low libido, male and female sexual dysfunction, aging and sex, and the challenges of monogamy.View Author posts