Infidelity Questions With No Easy Answers
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Gray Area1 of 12
As much as we'd like to think otherwise, cheating is rarely a black and white situation. To help make things a little less complicated, we've asked experts to weigh in on some of the trickier infidelity-related dilemmas.
The Dilemma2 of 12
If you cheated early on in your relationship but never got caught, should you fess up once things get more serious?
YES3 of 12
"Generally, it's a good idea with the understanding that you can't control how it will turn out," says Lisa Bahar, a marriage and family therapist in Newport Beach, Calif. "Many times, the build-up in your mind about your partner's reaction is worse than what actually occurs. Ultimately, if your intention is to build trust, then telling will pay off—no matter the outcome."
NO4 of 12
"I have a rule of thumb when it comes to dating that really helps clarify this situation: During the first three months, you should assume that he's dating other people," explains relationship advice expert April Masini. "During these three months, you're deciding if you want to continue seeing each other. If you do, the next three months of dating are to figure out if you want to be monogamous or not. So, if someone had sex with another person during the first six months, it isn't cheating. It's part of figuring things out."
The Dilemma5 of 12
If you or your partner has cheated, is it best to disclose and discuss the details of the affair?
YES6 of 12
"I have found, from my clinical experience, that when a partner finds out that she (or he) was cheated on, the betrayed partner cannot move on unless they know more of the details, including who, what, where, when and how," says Todd Creager, a couples therapist and author of The Long Hot Marriage. "Once you know about the infidelity, trust can only happen when infidelity is followed by total transparency.
NO7 of 12
"I find telling the details is like feeding an uncontrollable fire," says Bahar. "The person that has been cheated on will never be satisfied by knowing the details. After disclosing the basics, then there is generally a line that needs to be drawn."
The Dilemma8 of 12
Should you tell the kids?
YES... ish9 of 12
"As far as discussing with children, it does more harm than good," says Alicia Clark, a psychologist in Washington D.C. "On the other hand, there may be times when it is appropriate and in a child's best interest to be honest, like in the case of an adult child who asks you directly. Again, the trick is to think of the needs of your family members first in making this judgment call, and act accordingly."
NO... ish10 of 12
"Infidelity may be the catalyst to end a marriage—which will obviously directly affect the kids—but it isn't the only thing that brought the relationship down," says psychologist Ramani Durvasula, adding that "cheating does not occur in a vacuum." Durvasula continues: "Parents will need to be parents, and these disclosures can undermine that role and be downright confusing or scary for a child. If they do find out or witness it, then what's going on should be gently explained—without lots of accusations being hurled about."
The Dilemma11 of 12
Is cheating online (via emails and texting) just as serious as face-to-face cheating?
Almost12 of 12
"Online infidelity is not as bad as actual physical infidelity, but it's close," says Dr. Clark. "Infidelity is on a continuum and online infidelity or emotional affairs are real, and a threat to any relationship. Online infidelity can lead more easily to physical infidelity as someone gets used to maintaining dual relationships and secrets. Connecting in an intimate way—either emotionally or sexually—to a person outside your relationship is a betrayal of the intimacy and trust two partner's share."