About 21 percent of American men and 19 percent of American women admit to cheating on their partners, according to polling company YouGov. Not a massive number, but still big enough to raise our brows. So what can we do when we suspect our partner is stepping out with a sidepiece? Before you take that Louisville slugger to both headlights, consider these effective ways to confront the cheater in your life.
1. Prepare Yourself For Immediate Denial
If you’ve ever been cheated on and confronted your partner about it, you already know what the immediate response is: “I’m not cheating on you.” It’s human nature to lie in the face of confrontation, especially if we know we’re wrong and that whatever we did could have serious consequences. So prepare for it. If you know for a fact that your partner hasn’t been faithful, present solid facts. Your partner will change their tune quickly when they know they’ve undeniably been caught in the act – and that’ll give you the upper hand straight out the gate.
2. State Your Case With Evidence
There’s an abundance of life advice floating around out there that warns you against snooping on your partner. Fuck. That. A cheating partner is absolutely your business, and you owe it to yourself to get to the bottom of it so you don’t end up in an emotionally and mentally damaging relationship, or worse, with an STD. Considering the slim-to-none likelihood that your partner will readily admit to cheating, gather your evidence. If that means going through boo’s email and phone, get to it – because all bets are off when your health and future are put at risk. If they’re not respecting your well-being, you shouldn’t feel guilty about not respecting their privacy.
3. Stay Focused and Calm
When you’ve presented your case on your partner’s philandering ways, expect an eruption of emotion. You both may be simultaneously sad and angry – among a host of other emotions – but this problem will not be solved with a screaming match. That’ll be hard to avoid, depending on your personalities, but try to stay in control. If you fly off the handle, you run the risk of hurting yourself even more; your partner may use your emotions against you by calling you unstable or saying hurtful things like, “This is the reason I cheated on you in the first place.” Remember, their feelings will be hurt too – they may even be remorseful – but nobody likes to be cornered; they’ll attack back if you push too hard.
4. Resist the Wounded Puppy Routine
When your partner realizes the mistake they made, there will be an avalanche of I’m sorrys and I love yous. Don’t let that distract you. Brushing this situation under the rug won’t solve anything either. Ask why, where, when, and with whom – if these questions and answers are important to you. This may help you move on – one way or the other.
5. Don’t Allow Yourself to Be Guilted Into Forgiveness
Whether your partner’s cheating was a one-time mistake or a chronic problem, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready to end the relationship. Your relationship offers stability for both of you, and when faced with the reality that it might be over – and he or she could be looking for a new place to live by the end of the day – a guilt trip might ensue. Don’t let that cloud your judgment. You love this person (or did, at least), and they’ll play that emotion for all it’s worth to protect themselves. Stay strong and clear-headed to avoid being steamrolled into submission.
6. Make the Decision That’s Best For You
When the dust has settled, you have a decision to make – do you want to work this out or move on? The relationship doesn’t have to end if your partner cheated, but you also shouldn’t stay in a relationship where you’ve become a doormat. Personally, I have a zero-tolerance policy now – because I’ve stayed in relationships with serious infidelity issues and I can’t get over them no matter how hard I try – but that’s my choice, not yours. Only you know what’s best for you. If that means giving your partner another chance, reconcile that within yourself. If you need to kick the bum to the curb, however, hold your head high and never look back. Your heart will heal, you’ll love again, and you’ll wake up every morning knowing that you don’t have to worry about whose bed your partner may be in today. That’s liberating, to say the least.