What To Do If You Suspect Your Loved One is Cheating-Without Going Bonkers

by Yvonne Myers - Date: 2007-01-17 - Word Count: 3264 Share This!

First, calm down. Don't panic. When you first get that tingling in your gut that seems to say things aren't quite what they appear to be, calm down. Take a breath.

No matter what you learn, you will survive and you will be stronger and wiser for it. Most of us on this planet have either cheated or been cheated on, and most of us survive the experience. Finding out that your loved one has or is cheating will not destroy you.

So, since you suspect your loved one is cheating, again, take a deep breath, calm down. Here we go: 1. Recognize that just because you suspect something, doesn't mean it's so. Until you have more information don't do anything. 2. Ask yourself questions. What incident or incidents is causing you to suspect an affair? Write it out with as much detail as possible. 3. Write out how the incident or incidents made you feel with as much detail as possible. 4. Take a deep breath and give yourself a big pat on the back for taking the time to collect your thoughts before going off half cocked. 5. Talk to your loved one. Mind you I say "talk", not "confront". Your goal is discussion, not confrontation. Tell them about the incident/s and how it made you feel. Breath. 6. Listen to what they have to say. Really listen. Does he/she acknowledge your feelings? Does he/she have a reasonable explanation for the incident/s? Does he/she express a willingness to hear what you would like to have happen in the future to avoid any misunderstanding? 7. End your conversation with your loved one, and thank them for listening. Leave. Take stock of the conversation by writing down as much as possible. Are you satisfied? Did the explanation make sense? Were your feelings heard? Was there a resolution to handling similar situations in the future? If so, go to your loved one and give them a big hug. Thank them for listening without criticizing, and go make some sweet love! If the conversation was not satisfactory to you, what was missing? Do you still have questions that went unanswered? Did you feel shamed or wrong? Were you told that you were crazy, stupid, being overdramatic? Did you feel the explanation didn't make sense? If so, decide if you want to proceed, or just let it go. The choice is yours. If you're still feeling uncomfortable with the results of your conversation, and still want answers, it's time to bring in the trusted friend.

The Trusted Friend

The trusted friend is not the one who buys into your bullshit. The trusted friend is the one who tells you that no, leg warmers and baggy fuchsia tops are not your best look. The trusted friend is the one who tells when you have done one shooter too many, and it's time to go home. This is your honest, no bullshit friend. Your trusted friend is the one you are going to do a reality test with, to check if your concerns are valid.

Reality Test 1. Share with your trusted friend the incident or incidents that are causing you to suspect an affair. Don't embellish, don't leave anything out. Ask them how they might have perceived the incident. 2. Share with them your conversation with your loved one, what

was said and how you felt after. Get some feedback. 3. Ask your friend if they would describe you as someone prone to jealousy. Ask them to be honest, and be prepared for the answer. If at the end of the Reality Test, your trusted friend tells you that it sounds like you're making a mountain out of a mole hill, seriously consider that this may be the case. Maybe you're missing something in your relationship that you've been afraid to ask. Consider doing something fun together, learning something new together. Talk to your loved one and see if they'd be into doing one really fun activity this week. Maybe it's time you did something for yourself. Commit to doing one thing just for yourself this week. If you are satisfied after the reality test with your friend, make the conscious decision to drop your suspicion.

If after your Reality Test, you are not satisfied. For example if your trusted friend says, "He/She did what!" or "He/She actually said that!" Take a deep breath. Calm down. Over the next few weeks, begin a process of observation. There is a real possibility that maybe the two have just gotten a bit disconnected, and by observing your loved one, you may get valuable cues on reconnecting.

Observing your loved one 1. Are there changes in their appearance? Do they work out more, dress differently? Wear perfume or cologne when they never did before? This might be a good time to let them know you've noticed and give them a compliment. 2. Are there changes in your loved ones behavior? Do they come home later than usual? When asked (not confronted!) why they're late, do they give vague answers? Do they seem more distant than usual? Do they seem to get more calls than usual? Spend more time on the internet? Does your loved one seem irritable? Write down your observations. 3. Are there changes in your relationship? Are you having more or less sex? Are you spending more or less time with each other? Write down your observations.

After having observed your loved one for a few weeks, take stock. In and of themselves, even if your loved one seems more distant, less interested in sex, more focused on their appearance, these are not proof of an affair, only indicators. Time to talk to your loved one. Share your observations (don't freak them out by sharing your notebook!) with your loved one. Tell them that you care about them, and you'd like to know what's going on for them. Listen to them without criticism. Ask for what you want. Do you want more time together? Do you want a romance night? Do you want to know what time they'll be coming home? What change do you want to make? How did the conversation go? Maybe at this point they just break down and confess, "I'm having an affair!" and sometimes this is the case. If it is, well there it is. It's awful news to get, but at least now you know, and you can move on from there. It's heartbreaking, but like so many others, you will survive. Thank them for their honesty, have a good cry, and move on. Did the conversation go well? Did you feel acknowledged, heard, understood? Did your loved one express an interest in your wants? Did you listen to your loved one? Did you pay attention to your loved ones body language? Eye contact? What wants did they express? Did both of you share some new information? Write down what was said in the conversation, what was observed. You are working to become an expert on what your wants are, and what your loved ones wants are. Pay attention.

In the next few weeks, observe how your relationship is going. Are the changes one or both of you requested being made? Are you showing appreciation when those changes are made? How are you feeling? Pay attention. If nothing sets off alarm bells, let your suspicion go-if you, you(not your best friend, not your mother, whoever) are happy with your relationship, let it go. Keep connecting with your loved one. Keep connecting with yourself, and listening to the calling of your deepest wants and desires. May you continue to grow side by side and keep listening to each other! If in the next few weeks, you observe that the changes one or both of you requested (quick note here: these are reasonable changes, not could you please not dress so nice when you go out, or not notice someone who's attractive. If these are the changes you are asking for, you might have some insecurity about your own wonderfulness, and you might want to consider speaking to a counsellour. At the very least, acknowledge to yourself that for whatever reason, you're feeling a bit insecure) were not made, take stock. Assuming the changes requested were reasonable, a date night once a week, an hour less on the internet, coming home at an agreed upon hour, pay attention. Your loved one may be giving you cues that tell you how committed they actually are to a relationship with you.

If you still suspect that there is an affair, and that this is actually the underlying barrier in your relationship to your loved one, now is the time to investigate. Take a deep breath. Stay calm. Investigation

Now, keep in mind, you are snooping. If you are at the point in which you are finding it necessary to snoop, just acknowledge that affair or not, there are some trust issues in your relationship. Do you usually trust your loved one? Or is the distrust you're feeling a pretty new sensation?

Secondly, keep in mind, no one likes to be snooped on. You choosing to snoop may, in fact, be a deal breaker for your loved one. So, keep that in mind. What to check for

*Check pockets-any phone numbers? credit card slips for places you've never been to? Hotels slips? (Um, that's a pretty big yikes)

*Check the car-objects, articles of clothing, phone numbers? credit card slips for places you've never been to?

*Check phone records-same number appearing alot? unfamiliar number? You're snooping, so go for it-call the number.

*This one is sneaky-If your loved one says they're going to be somewhere at a certain time, show up and surprise them. How do they react? Who are they with? Just observe, do not react. You are just gathering information, that's your only job right now. If you tend to be hot tempered do not do this! If you think for even a minute, that if you find your loved one with someone you will lose it, do not do this! Talk to a trusted friend, explain your situation, and ask them to do this for you.

*Now, other people have done things like hire a private investigator, gotten their loved ones password and checked their e-mail accounts. Now, I'm not sure I agree with that. The choice is yours, but I do think if you're at that point, that's a big signal that either you are not ready to trust someone, or your loved one just isn't trustworthy.

If nothing sets off alarm bells, let it go. Seriously, let it go. Have a good laugh at yourself for letting your imagination get the best of you!

If you do find something that sets off alarm bells, talk to your trusted friend before talking to your loved one! This is very important, again, you don't want to go off half cocked on your loved one! Take a deep breath, discuss what you've discovered with your trusted friend. Do a reality test with them. Listen to their feedback. Practice what you want to ask your loved one. At this point, if you are feeling angry, hurt, engraged, do an unedited version of what you'd like to say. Get it out now, don't get it out on your loved one!

Before you speak with your loved one, do at least one thing to center yourself. You must do this. Take a bath. Meditate. Go for a walk. Do not go out drinking. Drinking will just fog your brain, when this is the time where you must stay absolutely awake and aware.

Tell your loved one that there is something important you would like to discuss. Ask them when would be a good time for them to speak together. Agree to meet them in a public, neutral place. Don't meet them at the edge of a cliff, or in a secluded park. Obvious reasons. Conversation *Maintain gentle, non-accusatory eye contact. Don't try to drill your eyes into their brains. *Share the information you have gathered, at least what you feel comfortable sharing. Acknowledge that you made a decision to invade their privacy, if needed. Acknowledge that you made the choice because you are experiencing feelings of distrust, if needed. *Ask questions. Imagine that you are a scientist, asking questions to prove or disprove a hypothesis. Do not accuse. If they are having an affair, they may be in denial about what they are doing. Any perceived attack on your part, will arouse defensiveness. If they are having an affair, on some level they are probably feeling pretty guilty about it. If you attack them, that guilt will probably arouse a need to protect themselves, and lead to more denial. *Listen to their answers. Pay attention to their body language. Do they seem defensive? Angry? Baffled? Confused? Ask them what they're feeling. *Breath. Remember to breath. *End the conversation. Thank them for listening and sharing.

Take stock. Write down everything that was said. How did you feel about the conversation? Relieved? Confused? Anxious? Heard? What was missing? What do you want to do now? Do you want to end the relationship? Do you trust your loved one? What is your intuition telling you now?

Here's where things get crunchy. Not everyone admits that they are having an affair, even when they are having one. If you still believe that your partner is having an ongoing physical or emotional affair, that your loved one will not acknowledge, make the conscious choice to stay or end the relationship.

When there's such a loss of trust, and such feelings of suspicion, I have to say, that I think ending the relationship is the sanest course of action. If you decide to stay despite your belief that your loved one is having a physical or emotional affair, be honest with yourself that this is what you are choosing to do. Hold on. Get ready for the rollercoaster. First, if you are deciding to stay, absolutely stop asking your loved if they are having an affair. If he/she wanted to tell you, they would have told you by now. This only invites argument. The arguments can be just as damaging as an affair. Make a firm promise to yourself that you will not, now matter how tempted you are, ask this of your loved one. Period. From personal experience, I can tell you what a waste of time of this can be. I spent almost a year and a half arguing with my loved one whether or not he was having an emotional affair or just a friendship. In the end, it was just a pointless back and forth about semantics. All it did was create positions of attack/defend, cementing that relationship even more, creating more distance in our own relationship.

Second, know that you are choosing to be in a relationship that will test the limits of your sanity. On one occasion, I was so fed up with how many times my loved one and his affair partner were calling each other, I threw a dish of spinach. They'd called each other 91 times in that month alone, besides working together and socializing outside of work. But I was the crazy one for throwing a dish of spinach. As crazy as you may be feeling right now, recognize that your loved one is probably crazier. They are in a delusional phase. So do not get caught up in it! Third, take action on your own behalf to get your wants met. Right now your loved one is not interested in what you want. Take this opportunity to take care of yourself. What's something you've always wanted to do, and haven't? Do it now! Every single day, do at least one thing, take one action that affirms your wonderfulness and makes you feel great. Take a class. Volunteer! Dance. Workout. Meditate. Walk. Take a weekend vacation! Make a list of all the things you've wanted to do, and start doing them. Find a good therapist! See how many ways you can nurture yourself that do not involve your loved one! Make yourself happy! Your tears will not move your partner to end the affair and recommit to your relationship. Period. Seeing you become more independent and happier on your own, might. And by that time you may not to continue a relationship with them.

Finally, recognize that your partner is in a state of ambivalence about your relationship. Don't kid yourself about this, don't freak out about this. Your loved one right now does not know if they want to stay with you or be in a relationship with the affair partner. They may want to have both for as long as possible. They may not verbalize this, but that's where they're at. Do not take this personally. Yes, your loved one is being a complete and total selfish, arrogant, coward. Don't kid yourself about this. Your loved one may very well be engaging in an exit affair. They may be too weak to end your relationship, without the security of having another relationship to step right into. Don't make their insecurity your insecurity. Stay wonderful!

If you get overwhelmed with feelings of anger, GET OUT! Again, that's a mistake that I made in my own relationship with my loved one. As months went by, I became angrier at being told everything from I was too insecure and not open enough, because I happened not to enjoy going out with my loved one and his affair partner for drinks and flirting. There is only so much a person can take. Know the limits of what you can take. Be honest with yourself! If you can't take it, get out. If you cannot continue a reasonable friendship with your loved one while they are in an affair, leave!

I hope what I've shared has been helpful to whoever is reading this. I can tell you from personal experience that it's very difficult, but I hope reading this will make your experience less so. I stayed in my relationship too long to the point of emotional bankruptcy. My loved one and I just wanted different things. He wanted to be with someone else, and I wanted him to be with me. See how that doesn't work? I had to accept that though my loved one could be a perfectly nice person, he did not have the desire or the skills to sustain a loving, nurturing with relationship with me. People who have affairs are emotionally immature, irresponsible, insecure people. They often prefer the excitement and drama of an affair. And that's perfectly okay. They have every right to live their lives according to their values and desires. Don't take their choice to have an affair too personally. Their choice reflects their values, not yours. If you've stuck it out this long, you're probably looking for a relationship that is based on commitment, mutual nurturing and sharing, and truth. Your loved one wants a fantasy. Let them have it, and wish them well.

I've been single for a year now and life without my loved one is alot more sane. I don't have to pretend I'm not seeing what I'm not seeing. I don't have to bite my tongue. I don't have to try to navigate through my loved one's crazymaking words, actions, and behaviours. I don't have to lie in bed at night wondering when he'll be coming home. I am alot happier, healthier, more fulfilled than I was in the last 9 months of my relationship! My only regret is that I didn't end my relationship sooner!

I wish you all the best, my heart goes out to you, whatever you decide to do. You are a wonderful, loving human being and you deserve to be with someone who sees that!

Related Tags: relationships, marriage, cheating, infidelity, affairs

Article written by Yvonne Myers

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