Join now Sign in
Home > Why Choose Us > Relationship Science > What Should I Do If My Partner Cheats On Me?
Relationship Science

What Should I Do If My Partner Cheats On Me?

Last updated on July 5, 2023

No relationship is ever a waste of time. If it didn't bring you what you want, it taught you what you don’t want

Cheaters don’t cheat by chance, they cheat by choice

     For those of us who have experienced being cheated on by a partner, we know how painful it can be. The emotional damage caused by someone cheating on us can cause physical issues as well. Having your partner be disloyal and disrespectful hurts because it is evidence that they no longer love or care for you as they did before. It also shows that they have no concerns for your feelings. It could be said that most victims of unfaithful partners would have preferred their partner to have told them the relationship was not working (for them) and that they were leaving. Yes, this would have still been painful to take but it would have hurt a lot less than discovering your partner has connected emotionally and/ or physically with someone else. 

In defining the act of cheat, we are entering into a rather grey area. It is important to consider whether your actions can be defined as cheating. It is also key to be able to tell if your partner is cheating on you and to consider the signs you might see. Some of these signs will be in your face, others not so much.  Cheating cannot be clearly defined as it can involve several things. In simple terms, cheating is being unfaithful to your partner. This adulterous behavior does not just have to be sexual. 

Before we consider what we should do if we discover our partner is cheating on us we must look into what we consider cheating to be. It could be said that men and women have different views on what cheating is but we will cover the overarching, common forms of cheating. Our reasoning for this is so that you can see the signs or be given an insight into what a cheating partner does. It is important to remember that if you accuse your partner of cheating without any solid evidence you could cause a problem that is not there. Make sure you are completely sure before making any accusations. Below are some of the actions that can be considered cheating.

  • The obvious one — Sexual actions. This is considered the most common form of cheating. This is when your partner becomes sexually intimate with someone that is not you, whether once or on a regular basis. This is the ultimate destruction of trust and fidelity. While this is an obvious sign your partner is cheating it is also a sign that may not be completely clear and easy to spot. However, one way of you being given a sign that it may be happening is if your sex life (yours and your partners) appears to have broken down or is non-existent anymore. If your partner is sexually intimate with someone else it is highly likely that they will not have the desire to be sexually intimate with you. 
  • Online relationships. Just because it does not happen in person does not mean it is not cheating. Online relationships have sexual undertones and are centered around texts, video calls, and messages as well as emails and other messaging services. This sort of cheating normally involves two people that have never, and probably will never, meet each other. All they will ever know is the basic information posted online such as age, profession, and physical appearance from photos shared. However, just because they may never meet each other does not mean a connection cannot be made. This connection will, of course, have a negative effect on their ‘committed relationship’. While any physical activity has not occurred an online affair can create feelings of jealousy, distrust, and anger. This is cheating because of the emotional connection, the desire to make a connection with someone else, and the possible sexual undertones. A way to spot this is to keep an eye on how long they spend on the internet or their phone, do they hide their messages or are they overly secretive about their online activity.
  • Financial infidelity. This form of cheating is not necessarily about becoming emotionally and/ or physically intimate with another person. This is when they are not open with you about their spending finances. They could potentially be overspending through buying gifts for their secret lover. This would mean that they would hide the bank statements from you. The other form of cheating here is more about cheating on your trust. They could lie about their finances as a form of hiding a gambling habit, substance abuse, or even compulsive shopping. A cheating partner will hide their financial information and even put you in debt. This form of infidelity breaks your trust. The main way to spot this is by taking a look at their bank statements. They will do their best to hide this information so you may have to be more sneaky in order to find out what is going on.
  • Emotionally unavailable.  This can hurt just as much, if not more than being physically cheated on because it can be a more meaningful connection. Sometimes when someone becomes physically intimate with another person it is due to being under the influence i.e. a mistake. However, becoming emotionally connected with another person is often seen as worse. It means the other person has lost their emotional connection with you. It also means, more often than not, that they have lost their romantic, loving connection with you. Emotionally cheating does not always mean that your partner has loving feelings for someone else. It could mean that they choose to confide in someone else rather than talking to you. When your partner suddenly stops talking to you about important issues it gives the impression that you are being put in the backseat of the relationship and that they do not want to discuss important matters with you anymore. This is sometimes easier to spot as your partner will discuss things with you less and less.

  • Pursuing a fantasy. Let’s be honest, we all fantasize about someone else once in a while, maybe a stranger we see in the street that we consider attractive. This is completely normal. However, it is when fantasizing takes up much more time and is focused on one person in particular that you have a problem. If someone sits for hours a day fantasizing about another person it can lead them to think or dream of acts that would eventually lead to cheating. These fantasies can lead to behavior that will have a negative, destructive impact on your relationship. As an example, let's imagine your partner fantasizing about a doctor they have recently seen. If they begin going to the Doctor more often or you discover they have visited there without telling you it will lead you to lose your trust in your partner. If you discover they are lying about their location and the real location is always the same then you could easily conclude they are cheating, whether in reality or fantasy. Another way to spot this is if your partner talks about another person more than what could be considered a usual amount. You may notice they have a lot of activity on the other person’s social media platforms. This could be them immersing themselves in the other person's life as a way of living out their fantasy. 

  • Physicality without sex. This is a question that pops up a lot, is kissing considered cheating? We only kissed, we only fooled around but didn’t have sex. At the end of the day if someone kisses another person that is not their partner this is cheating. If they participate in acts such as foreplay this is cheating. Perpetrators often think that because no sex was involved they are innocent but the truth is these acts are just as hurtful as if sex was involved. Unfortunately, the only way you will know if your partner has done this is if they tell you or they get caught.

  • Time and attention are powerful. Cheating does not always involve another person that your partner is romantically involved with.  It may seem strange but if your partner spends most or all of their time on a hobby, exercising or working (at weekends etc) rather than spending time with you this can be considered cheating as well. Now, having a hobby is not wrong. In fact, hobbies should be encouraged as long as they are done in moderation or, at least once in a while, they involve your partner. If one person in the relationship demonstrates obsessive behavior in relation to a hobby this can cause a rift in the relationship. The other person will feel less important, less desired, and less cared for. 

  • Micro-cheating. This form of cheating is very subtle and is often overlooked or missed by the other person in the relationship. Micro-cheating presents itself in many different ways such as stalking an ex-partner on social media, having an active online dating profile, or flirting with other people. This flirting with other people could be in person or via text/ instant messaging. More often than not micro-cheating is a secretive affair that will be difficult to spot due to its subtle nature and the fact it does not involve physical intimacy. The secrecy, lies, and betrayal are what cause the most pain and destroy a relationship. You may not necessarily notice that micro-cheating is occurring but there could be some signs such as your partner being secretive about their messages, hiding passwords to online systems, or being over-friendly with people when you are out together. 

  • Commemorative fidelity. In simple terms, this is when one person only remains in a relationship out of obligation rather than wanting to. This often means that they have fallen out of love with their partner and have no feelings for their partner. Now, this in itself is not cheating, it is more your partner lying about their feelings and not leaving you out of obligation. When this happens you will find that the partner who has lost their feelings will eventually cheat as a way of filling the void. They do this to gain a form of attachment, whether emotional and/ or physical, that they are missing because of their lost feelings for you. They justify this cheating by saying that the relationship, in their eyes, is over and that it is not wrong to look elsewhere. However, we know that this is not the case. You can spot this form of cheating as your partner will become distant, refrain from physical intimacy and be less emotionally connected to you. 

Being cheated on is hard enough but many people struggle with what to do next. Once you have been cheated on, in whichever way, you are left heartbroken, down, and feeling like your whole world has been ripped apart. Knowing what to do next can make things a bit easier. These won’t take any of the pain away but will help in healing your heart and getting you ready to move on with your life and find someone who truly loves you and will not hurt you. Below are some of the things you can do if you discover your partner has been cheating on you.

  • Allow yourself to hurt. This may seem like a strange thing to say but once you have discovered your partner is cheating on you, you need to allow yourself to cry or scream, whatever you need to do to release the pain. Most people allow themself to feel hurt but do not let it out. Give yourself the opportunity to cry, scream (into a pillow or otherwise) and let out all the hurt.
  • Friends are there for you. Do not allow yourself to suffer alone. Your friends are your friends for a reason. You trust them and they are there for you whenever they are needed. They will also talk to you in a way that you need and will listen to everything you have to say. However, make sure you pick a friend that will be supportive while not being judgmental. Sometimes close friends are quick to try and advise and start going on about how awful your partner has been. This is not necessarily positive though as it can cause confusion and cause you to lose sight of what you should do that is best for you. 
  • Get some understanding of what has happened. Now, it is highly likely that you will not want to know all of the details surrounding your partner's infidelity, especially if the affair is of a physical or sexual nature. However hard it may be to do you must listen to what your partner says and try not to speak or shout over them. This may take time for you to be ready to do this as the hurt will be too much in the beginning. It will be hard to listen to but you must hear what your partner has to say in order to fully understand why the infidelity took place. You will need to know what happened and why. They may point the finger of blame at you, which we will talk about later. If you feel that you may be at fault this will give you something to work on in future relationships. This conversation will also give you a better idea of what to look out for in the future, just in case a future relationship begins to venture down a similar path.
  • Assess the situation and think about YOU. When you have discovered that your partner has been unfaithful, in whatever way, your first priority should be you. You need to consider whether you feel comfortable still staying in the same place as your partner. It could be better for you to go and stay somewhere else, maybe with a friend or family member, so that you have a safe and secure environment in which to begin your healing process. The situation can become quite unstable when an infidelity has taken place and your safety and security are paramount if you are to heal and recover from the heartbreak. It could be that you would prefer to stay in a familiar environment. If this is the case then you may need to find a way of ensuring your partner leaves and can only return if you allow it. This could be very difficult to do but not impossible. This all depends on what your partner has done and how guilty they are about it. 

  • Your physical health is important. Now, this bit depends on the way in which your partner has cheated. If they have been physically intimate with another person you need to consider your physical health. If you and your partner have been in a long-term relationship and have become ‘fluid bonded’ (e.g. you are beyond using barrier method contraception. You may want to take the time to check in on your physical health. It would be a good idea to head to your doctor or local sexual health clinic and get yourself tested for possible STIs (sexually transmitted diseases).  You need to make sure that your heart is the only thing affected and that you are not going to become ill, whether in the short or long term. 

  • Understand who to blame. In many situations of infidelity, the victim often blames themselves for the deceit happening. The victim feels that they must have said something, done something, or not acted in a way that pleased their partner and that they pushed them into looking elsewhere for an emotional or physical connection. You must remember that it was the decision to cheat, they made the choice to commit infidelity. No matter what was going on in your life as a couple they had made a commitment to you, whether through marriage or entering into a relationship, and they should not break this commitment. You are not responsible for their choices, no matter what is happening in your relationship. They may try and blame you for their actions but it is important to remember that no matter what you have done, it is not your fault. Now, if they cheated because you cheated then this is a different matter. However, if they blame you for needing to work etc it is not a valid excuse. If there were issues in the relationship that they are not happy with they should have spoken with you rather than doing something that destroys the relationship completely.

  • Avoiding social media for the time being. This has only come up as a thing to consider in the last few years. Social media allows us to share our views with the world. However, if you have just been cheated on you should avoid using social media for a while. You shouldn’t post hate-filled comments aimed at your partner. This is because your bitterness should not be spread around for people to judge. In the same breath, you shouldn’t post over-the-top happy photos or statuses in an attempt to make your partner jealous or as a way of disguising how you really feel. Keep your business away from the online world and, if you need to vent or share, talk with trusted friends and family. 

  • Do not act vengefully. you know what they say, ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold’. During the early stages of your finding out about the infidelity, you will want your partner to hurt the same as you. You do not want to do something that you cannot reverse later on. At the end of the day, hurting your partner will not actually make you feel any better about the situation as you will eventually feel guilty about acting in a way that is not you. You will also feel that you have let yourself down, acting in the same way as your partner. Do not lower yourself!

  • Acceptance is key. This can be one of the hardest things to do but you need to accept what has happened to you. This can be hard to do as many victims of infidelity are often in denial about their partner cheating on them. They tend to push the problem to one side and pretend they have not just found out information that will shatter their whole world. It is important to accept what you have discovered and tackle the problem head-on. You need to talk with your partner directly and get everything out in the open. If you are in denial and ignore the problem you leave yourself open to being cheated on again and again as your partner will feel they got away with it. 

  • It is okay to ask for help. While talking to a friend or family member is definitely helpful it could be more beneficial for you to seek professional help. Talking with a psychologist, whether on your own or with your partner, is a great step in the healing process. If you are talking with a professional who is completely separate from the situation, i.e. with no emotional connection to you or your partner, they can give open and honest advice as to what to do next and help you heal. 

  • Don’t let fear guide your mind. If you have been in a relationship with your partner for a long time it can be a scary prospect to have to be single and on your own for a period of time. Some people stay with a cheating partner because they are too scared to be single and would rather be with someone who hurts them than be on their own. Fight through this fear and understand that being on your own for a while is far healthier than staying in a relationship with someone who doesn't care for you and happily tramples over your relationship.

  • Returning the favor is not the way to go. Some people have the mindset that if you discover they have cheated on you then you should do it back. There are a few reasons this does not work. The first reason that this is not the way to go is that if they have already done the dirty on you it is because they do not care about you, so why would they care if you did the same back? Another issue here is how you would feel later on. Once the dust settles how are you going to feel knowing you had a one-night stand just to get back at your partner? If you decide to return the favor you are actually only making yourself look as bad as your cheating partner. It is best to stay away from forming any close relationships, whether emotional or physical until you have had time to calm down and heal from the heartbreak. You should only enter into another relationship when you have healed and had some time alone to think about what you really want in life.

At the end of the day, what to do when you discover your partner has cheated on you depends on what they have done. However, if you choose to approach the situation you must make sure you take care of yourself and think carefully about how your decisions will impact your future. It is important to remember that if someone is capable of breaking your heart once it is likely they will do so again. You must not give them the opportunity to do so! Take care of yourself and remember, the right person is out there for everyone!


Only registered users can make comments