The lights have dimmed low, you’re happy, you’re drunk, you’re engaged in a deep conversation with a thoughtful stranger about something emotionally important, and you feel a connection. Opportunity is a starting point for infidelity of any size or shape. You’re relaxed, you’re happy, and you’re feeling something that says keep going just for a second and figure the rest out later.
So, you kiss the stranger. And it feels good. Which is suddenly very confusing. Does it feel good because it was the right thing to do? If it’s the right thing to do, why do you feel so guilty? Do all the weird happy feelings you had with them mean that you aren’t happy with your significant other? Should you tell your significant other? Since you already kissed them, does it even matter if you kiss them again?
In my experience writing my thesis, I found that a lot of infidelity begins with a moment like this. Infidelity can mean that a bond with your partner has been suffering. Giving in to opportunity can be a sign that you’re not fully connected to your partner or there is an issue within your relationship that you’re not fully cognizant of. The following moments are the most important in determining what happens in your relationship.
A little infidelity doesn’t green light more infidelity
If you’ve made the mistake of kissing someone you shouldn’t have, don’t let that slide into further infidelity. Let yourself out of that situation as quickly as possible and think deeply about what gate opened that led you to that moment. At what point did you see the window of opportunity and what actions did you take that let the opportunity lead to action?
Understand the complexity of emotional and sexual attraction
We all have the ability to be emotionally or sexually attracted to more than one person. With opportunity, that attraction can begin to feel more powerful. Honor your relationship and your commitment to your significant other – in a monogamous relationship – by acknowledging these feelings. It’s human to feel things like this but it is unfair to yourself and your partner to give them opportunity to develop. Understanding that these feelings are normal can help you walk away from potential mistakes.
Tell your partner immediately
If you’ve been unfaithful it’s important to tell your partner immediately. In my research I also found that guilt and fear of being unfaithful can cause women to close up, become emotionally or physically detached, and potentially continue being unfaithful. Worse, it may cause women to stay in relationships they’re unhappy in simply because they feel guilty they cheated to begin with. This can cause further problems in the relationship and in the mental health of the woman. Don’t self-punish because a mistake was made.
Give the relationship breathing room
Your partner will likely be upset. Explain what happened as clearly as you can and articulate your apologies. Let your partner deal with this news for a few days. Spend this time thinking about why you were unfaithful and what led to this happening. Seek out personal counseling and if necessary seek out couples counseling to help mend the wound. If this infidelity has opened older wounds, determine with your partner how you’re going to work through these issues together so something like this doesn’t happen again. In some cases, infidelity can be a breaking point in a relationship. Some people have a zero tolerance policy for infidelity. Some people don’t know how they will react until it’s happened to them. No matter your feelings on infidelity, give the relationship a few days to sit before having any further discussions together.
Looking for a way out or looking for a way in
Sometimes infidelity is your subconscious time to get out card. Some women are unfaithful because they are unhappy in their relationships but are so comfortable within their relationship that they don’t feel unhappy. Sometimes infidelity can be a warning sign that you are unhappy and you need to change something. It can be a shout for help when you aren’t able to find the words to communicate that you are unhappy. No matter what the infidelity is, it usually means something. Determine what your kiss meant to you and use that to end – or heal – your relationship.
Every couple should discuss what infidelity is to them at the start of a new relationship. What are your boundaries? What are your partners boundaries? Are they they same? Different? Don’t expect boundaries to be obvious. Prevent easily avoidable mistakes by discussing with your partner. Follow the basic rule “If I wouldn’t want to tell my partner this happened, I shouldn’t do it.”
This post is a part of my ongoing series on infidelity. To read more about my studies of infidelity, click the “infidelity-thesis” tag in this post.
Do you have a question about sex or love? Submit at http://www.suggestivetongue.com/ask and I’ll answer it on my blog. Don’t have a question? Shoot me a writing prompt on a subject you’d like to learn more about, and let’s get cracking.