Advice For Cheaters And Their Partners
October 07, 2003
If you have repeatedly cheated, or are the partner of a cheater and can’t seem to forgive or break off the unhealthy relationship, Dr. Phil has advice.
Look at the statistics.
The chance of a successful relationship born of infidelity is not even one in 100. A marriage that starts in infidelity has no foundation. You go into it with guilt, shame, angst, worry, and all the baggage that comes with that. Add to that managing your ex and going through possible custody battles for children. Is it worth it?
Think of the children.
If you have children and you are cheating on your spouse, your children will suffer. You are turning their lives upside down, fracturing their family unit and destroying their peace and harmony.
Think ahead to what the courts might think of you as a parent. You may think your partner wouldn’t fight you on custody, but people change when they get into a divorce court. Your spouse might just decide that the person who stole his/her partner will not steal the children as well. If you enter the divorce arena in the midst of infidelity, you have put your children in play. Again, ask yourself, is it worth it?
If the person you are having an affair with is married with children, ask yourself, “What right do I have to fracture his/her family unit in which innocent children are growing every day, just to feed my need?”
Be honest with yourself.
Is the unfaithfulness over with? Moving forward, do you absolutely and unequivocally have nothing to hide? You’ll never get past this until you start being drop-dead honest. Remember, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If you don’t think you can stop on your own, get professional help.
Be honest with your partner.
By not being honest with yourself and your partner, you’re doing nothing but perpetuating the deception. If you know that you will continue to be unfaithful, and if you really care about your partner, you will let him/her go and get yourself some help.
Have the decency to tell your spouse in all honesty and candor that you own your choices. You’re the one who ran this relationship off in the ditch. This had nothing to do with your partner. If you want to fix your marriage, you have to accept responsibility and do whatever it takes to earn your partner’s trust back one step at a time.
Assess your commitment level.
Are you committed enough to your partner in order to do the work necessary in order to repair the relationship? However long it takes to get this relationship back on the road, is however long you need to work at it.
Behave your way to success.
Keep in mind, you can no longer be in contact with the person you were having an affair with. Avoid the places you know he/she frequents, change your phone numbers, and if you’re unsure of your strength in staying away from him/her, then move. If you’re so out of control that you’re like a moth to a flame, then get away from the candle!
Turn toward your partner.
When your life or relationship becomes rocky and affects your sexual relationship, that is the time you should turn toward your partner, not away from him/her because of your sexual needs.
Re-engineer your life.
If you are a sex addict, and you really want to change this, it’s not a quick fix. It’s an entire reengineering of your life, values, beliefs, thoughts, conduct and emotions. It’s about deconstructing your life, and reconstructing your future. Unless you get professional help, you’re going to continue to victimize everybody who you touch because you’re controlled by your impulses rather than your values.
If You Are Being Cheated On:
The best predictor of future behavior is relevant past behavior. What do you predict? If your partner has cheated on you repeatedly and now swears he/she will stop, what are the chances that this is true? You can't change what you don't acknowledge. Isn't there a point at which you say, "I deserve better. My children deserve better. He/She may not have any boundaries, but I do. And my boundaries say, 'You either treat me with integrity, dignity and respect or you don't treat me at all'?" Stand up for yourself and for your children. You've given your power away and you've got to get it back.
This is not your fault.
Stop beating yourself up about this. You have got to know that this has nothing to do with you. You are not the one who made the decision to break your commitment to your partner and cheat. You have nothing to do with your partner making the immature, inappropriate, self-destructive choice to turn away from you to someone else.
What is your payoff?
Do you want to get past this? Or is there a payoff you receive from the situation? Do you enjoy playing the victim or subjecting your partner to a life sentence? Do you fear that if you forgive a partner who truly is remorseful and has changed his/her behavior that you are "letting them get away with it?"
Assess your commitment level.
You can either handle being vulnerable with your partner again or you can't. And if you can't, you need to get out of this relationship and move on. And if you can, then you need to let him/her earn the trust back and start putting this relationship together again.
Consider the consequences.
If you have children, your decision will affect them as well. You do have responsibility here for what you do next. You have to make a decision about whether or not justice is best served by allowing your partner to re-earn your trust, or if it's better not to subject your family any longer to the current situation.
Decide if you can choose to forgive.
Forgiveness is a choice. It doesn't mean what your partner did is OK. How much you trust your partner is in part about what your partner does, and in part a function of whether you have confidence to handle it if he/she disappoints you. If you find out that he/she strays again, can you handle that?
If you can't forgive, let go.
When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences. If you continue to throw this in your partner's face, you will eventually run him/her off. Ask yourself if this is going to be a life sentence for your partner. Can you heal from this and forgive? If not, don't continue to live in anger and/or be with someone who causes you pain.