There are plenty of reasons why people cheat in relationships. But when is the right time to come clean? Whether it’s a drunken one night stand or a full blown affair, experts say there’s only one way to deal with the consequences if you still want to be with your partner – keep it to yourself.
Speaking to Refinery29, Megan Fleming, PhD, a marriage counsellor and sex therapist in New York City, explained why telling your partner about your infidelities can only cause harm. ‘You’re the one sitting with the guilt, and if [the affair] is over and done, you absolutely don’t want to then put that on your partner,’ she told the publication.
Instead, Dr Flemming suggests that individuals who have cheated on their partner should focus on themselves and identifying the reason behind the affair. ‘Obviously on some level your relationship was feeling challenged,’ she continued.
Naturally, Dr Flemming’s advice divided opinions as on one hand some readers believed that it made sense as it meant protecting your partner from unnecessary pain, especially if the affair is completely over. Meanwhile others thought that keeping such a huge secret would lead to a toxic relationship.
However, American author and relationship expert, Susan Winter, agrees with Dr Flemming’s methods to an extent. ‘The truth is that relieving one’s guilt comes at the direct expense of their mate,’ she told The Independent. ‘While honesty is indeed the hallmark of true intimacy, there are times when unburdening yourself results in cruel and unnecessary information that then burdens your mate.’
According to Winter, confessing should depend on the type of infidelity. For example, if the cheating was a one-off occurrence that was possibly fuelled by alcohol, Winter suggests refraining from telling your partner as it will only hurt them. ‘Think twice before revealing an interlude you can barely remember the next day,’ she advised. ‘This confession can only create harm, not good. Commit to moderation and learn your limits of indulgence.’
If you were having an affair, however, Winter explains that this is a different case entirely and recommends going to therapy before coming clean. ‘This was a choice made repeatedly that diverted your love and sexual expression away from your partner,’ she said. ‘[It indicates] a problem exists within the relationship, or within yourself.’
She added: ‘Express your personal needs within the relationship, and address the issues that are out of balance.’
She also explained that a therapist can help formulate the language to use if you ultimately confess.