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[OPINION] Is cheating the end of your relationship?

By Cai Antonio Published Oct 22, 2022 1:54 pm

Have you ever been cheated on?

I was sitting with Ella on the steps of our building as she broke down about her boyfriend cheating on her. Prior to this, Ella was constantly ranting about the hurtful antics of her partner. A week later, they broke up. And then there was Bryan, who was in what he calls the healthiest relationship he has been in. Two years in, and they still are one of the happiest couples I have come to meet. One night, he tells me his girlfriend admitted to sleeping with someone else. Three months later, the couple is still happily together.

I talked to Bryan and Ella about how they dealt with the infidelity they experienced, and the glaring difference I saw between the couples that make it through and the ones that don’t is that self-awareness, honesty, and willingness to forgive were at the center of the former.

Society would tell us that cheating is the ultimate act to break a relationship. And in many cases, it is. Although I would also argue that there are instances where cheating can be a pathway to valuable insight, important decisions, and if you’re lucky, a stronger partnership.

We are told constantly what cheating is – it could be the desire for another person, a reckless kiss at a bar, or even scandalous acts uncovered. Overall, we are made to believe that cheating is a monolithic act, without being urged to ask ourselves: "What does this actually mean for me? What are the feelings that arise, and what about the incident triggered these feelings?"

Society would tell us that cheating is the ultimate act to break a relationship. And in many cases, it is. Although I would also argue that there are instances where cheating can be a pathway to valuable insight, important decisions, and if you’re lucky, a stronger partnership.

In other words, we are rarely told to uncover what cheating actually means for ourselves, to get inquisitive, and to accept what arises without judgment. What we don’t talk about is how you gain strength in defining for yourself what you are and are not willing to tolerate. To understand how you see it from your own lens, rather than following what everyone says you should do in the event of cheating. Getting inquisitive paves the way towards an open and honest conversation with yourself, and soon, with your partner.

Whether or not you find yourself feeling that what happened was a mindless mistake that you’re willing to work through or that what happened is totally unforgivable, what truly matters is you did the work to know what you want for yourself, and out of your relationship.

To know and to speak your truth is the greatest service you can give yourself and to your partner.

The truth is what everyone wants. And if you look deep enough, the truth is often found in infinitesimal moments – it’s in the ways we communicate when someone forgets to do the dishes, the ways we celebrate the small and big wins, and ultimately, in the ways we confront differences in the relationship. It is the ultimate plot twist that uncovers what has been unsaid, undone, and unattended all this time. Ultimately, cheating is an event that challenges us to get to the truth – for ourselves and for our loved ones.