Something feels off. Your relationship seems to have reached a point where you just aren’t sure what is going on. You wonder if the love has fizzled out? Or, maybe he or she is cheating on you? Regardless your gut instincts are telling you that something is wrong – but since you don’t have any proof of infidelity – you wonder whether you should just come forth and ask – accusing your partner of cheating – or wait it out and see if the dust settles?
Accusing someone of cheating is not something that should be done in jest or in anger. Just because the two of you have hit a lull in the relationship, or experiencing some sort of problems doesn’t automatically mean that your partner has resorted to cheating. In fact, the misplaced accusation, and the undeserved suspicion can easily become the end of a promising relationship if you are wrong, especially if it becomes an overused go-to response to any sort of dissention in the relationship.
Essentially, when you accuse someone of cheating – you are accusing him or her of lying to you. You are accusing them of being dishonest on the most primitive foundation of your relationship. The most natural and immediate response when you accuse someone wrongly of lying to you is for them to become angered and defensive. So often, although you may make the accusation because you are trying to figure out what is wrong in the relationship, you may inadvertently make matters much worse. Why? Because dishonesty and lying and cheating top the list of character flaws, and a false accusation – especially if it is not based on any sort of resounding proof – is attacking the character of your partner at a root level.
Additionally, when a partner becomes defensive or feels like you are attacking them – most people will react in an equally hurtful matter which does more to obscure the truth than reveal it.
So what should you do if you suspect a partner is cheating?
Before spouting off accusations and risk putting the relationship in further turmoil, do some homework. There are normally some pretty telltale signs of cheating. Have your partners habits changed profusely? Are they using their cell phone more? Are they more secretive than normal? Are they working longer hours at work? Do you notice discrepancies in some of the things they are doing that just do not seem to make sense? Some other signs that your partner may be cheating are going out with ‘friends’ more, changing their personal habits – such as wearing perfume or cologne when they normally don’t, working out excessively and an increase (due to guilt) or decrease in their desire to have sex with you. Have they suddenly been accusing YOU of infidelity without any real reason to do so?
If you notice sudden changes like these, then you might want to try on your investigative hat before making blind accusations. Check cell phone records; see if they are really where they say they are. In other words, find something, anything concrete that you can use to verify your feelings. Then, and only then – confront them with some of the facts so they realize you aren’t basing your accusation on personal insecurity. Then, pay close attention to their response. Are they defensive? Shocked? Surprised? Do they become immediately indignant, angry and begin blaming you for the things that are going wrong in the relationship? If their relationship seems out of character, or somehow ‘off’ or unreasonable, then your suspicions may be right. Even so, it is a very rare person that will actually admit that they are having an affair. Most people hide the affair, which adds to the excitement and adrenaline rush of the infidelity – until they are literally caught in the act. So if your partner IS cheating – they likely won’t admit it.
If you immediately think your spouse is cheating when the relationship seems off-kilter, you also have to ask yourself if this is more an internal response than one based on your partner. For instance, if you have been in a relationship that ended with infidelity, or have been otherwise personally affected by infidelity, there is a good chance that your internal hurt and pain may make you jump to conclusions of cheating too quickly. And the more you think about something, ruminate about the possibilities, the more the mind can begin to make something ‘look true,’ that really isn’t. Unfortunately, when emotions are so deeply tied to a situation it can be very difficult to step aside long enough to make common sense decisions.
The best way to confront a situation, or to accuse a partner of infidelity is to do so calmly. Try to view the commentary as a conversation rather than a conversation. Choose a time when both of you are feeling calm, and when there aren’t many outside distractions to deal with. And definitely have the conversation in private. You should also work hard to keep your emotions in check during the conversation. Most importantly, breach the subject by using YOUR feelings, rather than being accusatory. Instead of saying, “You always come home late from work, say “I miss you when you come home late for work and we don’t get to spend time together.” Own how YOU feel – rather than immediately put your partner on the defensive. You should also help your spouse understand that you are confused or concerned about the relationship and that you want to work things out.
This doesn’t mean that you will necessarily get the truth. However, the best way to fix things in a relationship is to talk about them together. And just remember, that your partner should be innocent until proven guilty.