Today I’m going to get a little bit deep with you all and talk about Infidelity. More to the point I’m going to talk about fronting up and admitting when you’ve made a mistake. This isn’t a little mistake like forgetting to pick up milk on the way home from work or sending a message to the wrong person; this is the BIG on. The monumental, life changing mistake that takes a whole lot of courage and intestinal fortitude to confess and atone for.
The easy path may seem to be to cover your own backside, lie through your teeth and hope no-one discovers the truth. But that is the biggest lie of all. While it may be terrifying to be honest; the guilt, shame and paranoia that comes from keeping this secret will do more long-term damage to not only your mental health, but also to those around you. No matter how you try to behave like nothing is different, you will, subconsciously or not, withdraw from them. You’ll become more closed off, more suspicious of others (if you can have a big secret, who is to say they don’t) and eventually the truth will out. Either now, or down the track, it will.
I know there will be some of you reading this, thinking “But Alex, I’m sparing them pain by not telling the truth”. You might even be trying to justify that to yourself “because I’m just trying to soothe my conscience; telling them would be selfish”. Sorry folks but that is FUCKING BULLSHIT!!! Sorry, but that is a cop out of immense proportions. What you are really doing is delaying and intensifying their pain by lying to protect yourself from the inevitable fallout from your behaviour. That’s adding insult to injury. By not fessing up to your mistake all you’re doing is proving that not only were you unfaithful, you also don’t have the guts to admit it and take the punishment you obviously deserve.
Now you’re probably saying “Easy for this guy to say, what does he know?” So, let me be straight with you. When I was much younger, my significant other at the time slept around on me and I didn’t find out till much latter. It eventually destroyed that relationship. But here’s the big thing, I have also cheated. I cheated on a woman who had, in a short time, made my life infinitely better and created a space for me in her life, because she saw in me what I see in all of you. The potential to be better than we currently are.
I betrayed her love by cyber cheating 4 times, and sleeping with somebody that wasn’t her, five times, all in seven months. Do you think I wanted to tell her what I had done? Of course not!!! I was certain that I would lose the best person to walk into my life in a very long time, because of my own insecurities and unresolved issues. But here is the thing, our relationship was meant to be based on openness and honesty so I knew that if there was to be any chance of us surviving, I had to be completely upfront about what happened and how I felt about it. It was not an easy conversation to have but it was necessary for us to be able to move forward and decide where to go from there.
Fair warning: this may not turn out how you want. If the underlying cause of your infidelity was an inability to confess your unhappiness and a desire to end the relationship, do not think for a minute the injured party will automatically dump you for this. You need to be prepared to end it anyway, if that is what you want. Conversely, if you realise your behaviour was a terrible mistake and you do not want things to end with your other half, being honest about your indiscretions won’t guarantee you’ll end the conversation still in a relationship. You may still get your arse dumped and rightly so. Don’t for a second think there is any justification for what you have done and the pain you have caused.
If, and it is a BIG if, you were lucky like I was, and you are given a second chance, FUCKING WORK AT IT. Sorry, but I need to be blunt here. Do what is asked of you to rebuild the trust and don’t get impatient. This will not be the only conversation you have about it. This is going to be an ongoing dialogue until you partner feels they can rely on you, your word and your relationship.
If both of you are willing to give it a real go, by which I mean actually work at your relationship, not just pretend everything is fine, spend the time and energy on your own issues and the ones in the relationship. If you do this you may well find your relationship ends up being stronger than you ever expected, if you can rebuild from this you can rebuild from pretty much anything. That being said, you may also find you cannot rebuild, if this is the case, don’t blame your other half. They tried but they couldn’t get past it. They gave it a go but the damage you did was to much. At least they tried.
You will also have to be honest about what has happened to those close to you. They will be able to tell if something is up between you and your significant other, so there will be questions. There will be backlash, simple as that, but don’t think you should or have the right to defend yourself and your actions. You screwed up and this is part of the penance you must do for your betrayal.
Now here comes the hardest part. That is, it’s the hardest if you are truly remorseful for what you have done. Your cheating has not just touched your other half, but the person you slept with (who may have had real feelings for you), your friends and your extended social group. They are all affected by this. You now must face up to yourself every day, knowing what you have done. You will look at yourself in the mirror and know what you are capable of. That you are not incapable of hurting the ones you profess to love the most.
Hopefully, this will drive you to bettering yourself, through self-evaluation, conscious recognition of your issues and eventual growth. This will not be a quick or easy process; nor should it be. This is the final and most gruelling of all the steps to your redemption.
I’m not saying beat yourself up forever, that will reduce your capacity to grow, but do not forget it happened, and the pain it caused. Your partner certainly won’t. Learn from it, grow from it and hopefully one day you can forgive yourself for it, but do not forget it.
And obviously NEVER DO IT AGAIN!!!! Not only will you prove you are untrustworthy to you partner, but you will almost certainly lose your relationship.
So, Do The Right Thing, Front Up, and Take The Consequences