What if you find out that he has cheated? What if you cheated? Well, before you kill off the relationship, consider that infidelity, while not the norm, is still fairly commonplace. The National Research Opinion Center at the University of Chicago showed that in 2019, that among married couples, about 22 percent of men and 13 percent of women admit they’ve cheated at least once. Basically, the same finding as in 2009.
What’s changed in the last 10+ years? Some authors believe that women are cheating as much as men but for different reasons. For example, Alicia Walker, in The Secret Life of the Cheating Wife, claims that women, more than men, are looking for better sex rather than intimacy. And they would prefer to stay married.
Even spouses who describe themselves as “at least pretty happy” with their marriages have reported that they themselves had an affair. Yet according to research on divorcing couples, most people don’t break up because of an affair; they separate because they’ve lost their feelings of closeness, appreciation, friendship, and connection. So despite the popular belief that to take him back is idiotic, many prominent couples therapists and researchers believe that you can get through the affair. In fact, you can build a stronger, healthier relationship.
What if He Has Cheated? Signs of An Affair
In my clinical experience, “Once a cheater, always a cheater” is just not true. There are many people who have learned painful lessons from previous mistakes and have gone on to become great husbands and wives. Couples that have decent chemistry and benefits for both partners can work through the crisis of an affair. Not only that, they can become closer and put an end to cheating once and for all.
Not everyone is worth your trust, though; there are players or sex addicts who will cheat and cheat again. These are the ones you truly have to watch out for. So if you are wondering, what if he has cheated?, here are thirteen red flags:
He’s less affectionate.
Spending less time with you. He may be “working late,” having “business dinners,” or “going to the gym” more.
He’s less interested in sex.
Suddenly taking trips you can’t go on.
He’s got new hobbies that don’t include you.
You get mysterious phone calls with hang-ups.
His cell is turned off at times you normally reach him.
You find credit card bills for unexplained hotel stays or gifts.
He’s more distant, angry, or picky.
Smells of perfume.
He has lipstick or a strange-colored strand of hair on his clothes.
He is defensive or lies if you ask him where he’s been.
You find romantic texts or e-mail messages from another woman on his phone or computer.
What if He has Cheated? How to Confront Him?
The last four signs in bold lettering are very telling and require immediate action on your part by taking these three steps:
Ask your partner if he has cheated and observe his reactions carefully. Be cool and watch his nonverbal and verbal behavior. Your partner may turn or look away, change the topic, or bite his nails. He may give you strong defensive reactions: acting like a victim, saying something like, “How could you say that after I’ve been so good to you?” or getting angry and even accusing you of cheating. He may even laugh disdainfully and say, “Are you crazy? I love you!” Not good! Because all of these verbal and nonverbal reactions may be signs that he has cheated on you.
If things don’t feel right, trust your gut and dig deeper. If you’re living together, make sure you know where all the money is—check the various bank accounts and other assets that you have access to in order to protect yourself. See if there have been any unusual withdrawals. Go through the joint credit cards looking for hotel or other mysterious charges. Look at phone bills and check repeated numbers you don’t recognize. Go where your partner is supposed to be—show up when he’s “working late” or “playing poker.” If you suspect a certain person, go to her house and look for your partner’s car.
Lastly, and assuming it is safe, get your courage up and present the evidence to your partner.
What If He has Cheated? Next Steps
If your partner has cheated on you, there are a number of steps that he needs to take. They include reparations or symbolic acts that you require in order to give him a second chance. Of course, promising not to see the other woman if she is still in the picture! In fact, if she is, you may want him to call her in front of you to end it. Other reparations may include:
Confessing all the details of the affair.
Listening quietly while you express all your disappointment and outrage.
Making a sincere apology.
Reassuring you that he will never cheat again.
Courting you and showering you with as much attention as you can handle.
Going to couples counseling with you or getting individual therapy.
Only you can decide what acts of reparation will help to make it right in your heart of hearts. But I’ve seen many couples get through the heart-wrenching firestorm of cheating and emerge stronger and better than ever.
What if He Has Cheated? Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?
Let’s say he is saying all the right things: He was an idiot for breaking your sweet trust; the fling he had was just a fluke, a colossal mistake; he wants you and only you. He is willing to make reparations, go to therapy, or even marry you. In fact, he seems reborn, like a new man. But you may be wondering, How do I know if he will cheat again?
You may feel torn, like you want to take your cheating partner back but feel like it is a point of pride not to. You think, Maybe I should just dive into that online pool, start looking for some great profiles, and forget all about it.
If you do find out your partner is cheating again, it’s time to protect yourself from any further heartbreak. Break up with this person. There are wonderful new matches waiting right there on your computer screen!
Remember, if your partner strays, it doesn’t absolutely mean he or she will do it again. Once a cheater, always a cheater isn’t necessarily true. Forgiveness and a new coming together are possible. If you have been betrayed but want to see if it can work, just talk to one of my expert relationship coaches and get advice right away!
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