How not to cheat

Cheating is a hurtful thing to do to someone you love, but the reasons behind it are never very clear. We ask two relationships experts what to do if you start fancying someone else.

man covering his eyes

Ben's method for staying faithful was on the basic side.

What is cheating to you?

Cheating means different things to different people, and it’s essential you and your partner are on the same page here. Otherwise heartbreak is almost inevitable. As a couple you need to define your boundaries – together – as one person’s drunken meaningless kiss may be another’s dealbreaker.

“Just having this conversation may very well break up the relationship,” says Dr Janet Reibstein, relationship psychologist and professor at Exeter University. “But it’s very important for couples to decide what their line is, before it’s crossed.”

Reasons why you may cheat … and how to tackle them

Reason for cheating 1: You don’t trust your partner, or they don’t trust you

Dr Diane Iveson is a relationship counsellor. She says the starting point for all successful monogamous couples is trust. “Trust is the basic foundation for all successful relationships,” she says, “especially when it comes to sex. Most issues within a relationship that could result in cheating can be traced back to a lack of trust.

“Usually one partner doesn’t trust the other to be faithful and decides to get in there first. Alternatively, one partner can feel so untrusted by the other (who’s constantly accusing them of infidelity) that they decide they may as well get on with what they’re always being accused of. This is why you should create and foster as much trust as possible.”

Reason for cheating 2: You’re feeling neglected somehow in your relationship

At the beginning of relationships, things are usually fan-bloody-tastic. But most of us are guilty of neglecting our partners after the spark has faltered. And this can lead to cheating.

Self-esteem is often one of the most neglected areas in a long-term relationship,” says Dr Diane, who runs fidelity workshops. “But if we start taking our partner for granted they may be susceptible to flattery from someone else, particularly if they’re not getting the attention they need at home. The fact that someone finds us attractive is a big factor in our attraction to them. So make certain your partner always knows just how sexy you find them.”

You’re not ready to settle down

When you’re young, there’s sometimes an urge to put your *ahem* fingers in as many *ahem* pies as you can. Fine. However, doing this and being in a relationship, simply isn’t fair on the other person.

“It’s a dilemma,” says Dr Janet. “At the beginning of a relationship, you have novelty and frequency in your sex life and, over time, this dwindles and almost never recovers. Instead, you build intimacy and, often, the sex is better – but without the excitement. It’s a trade-off, as you can’t have both. If you’re in a relationship, you’ve got to decide if you’re ready for this trade-off.”

If I fancy other people, does that mean I’m in the ‘wrong’ relationship?

Warning: we’re going to kill the romance for you here. If you still believe in true love and soulmates, look away now…

“There’s no single ‘right’ person out there for you,” says Dr Janet. “There’s no perfect fit for anyone. Ever. Different partners bring out different traits in you and it’s about your choice. You choose whether you’re able to put up with this particular person and if you’re ready to settle down.”

Fancying other people is totally normal, and not a sign you’re in the wrong relationship, as there’s no perfect relationship out there. However, if the feelings get stronger, it may be a sign you’re not ready to ‘choose’ the person you’re with right now.

Is it ever OK to cheat on someone?

What you do with your life is your choice. But the fact is it’s very hard for a relationship to recover from cheating. You’re also damaging your innocent partner’s faith in fidelity, which they could take into future relationships.

“Cheating, in the very meaning of the word, means ‘underhand’,” says Dr Janet. “It’s very hurtful. You have broken faith and behaved in an underhand way.”

If you aren’t ready to settle down and find your eye wandering it may be fairer to end your current relationship – even if losing the security frightens you.


Next Steps

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cheating| trust

By Holly Bourne

Updated on 29-Sep-2015

Photo of boy covering eyes by Shutterstock