Why is it that some things seem so smart in the moment but later you think to yourself, “Why the hell did I do that”? The brain is a complex organ that never ceases to amaze me. When it comes to sex and relationships the brain does things even crazier in my opinion. I have had a lot of people come into my office and ask me why they did something that seemed so out of character for them. Most of the time this question centers around cheating. I have had many students ask me why if they love someone are they attracted to someone else or wonder why they are tempted to seek comfort from someone who isn’t their partner. The answer isn’t always black and white or very simple to answer.
Our emotions have a lot to do with why we act certain ways at different times. If you have been in a relationship for more than a few weeks you know that it isn’t all lovey and fun all the time. You have moments of anger and disappointment with the relationship and with one another. It is in these moments that all hell can break loose in a relationship. Some people will find that they did something impulsive in a moment of anger or frustration that will alter the course of their relationship if it ever became known to their partner. The temptation to turn to someone else can be very alluring when you are angry with your boyfriend or girlfriend.
Sometimes people don’t necessarily have sex with someone else in that impulsive moment, but they may have texted some things they now regret or said something to someone else that would be seen as a betrayal to their partner. If you are feeling angry or upset it is very easy to convince yourself that you deserve to have this little bit of comfort, or that your partner deserves to hurt like you’re hurting. You can justify any action in the moment. It is only later when you feel calm or less angry that you may regret that action you took. When the dust settles and your anger goes away then the love for your current partner comes back. This can make a person feel very selfish and guilty for cheating either emotionally or physically while they were angry.
The crazy thing about the brain is that it forgets that moments pass. Anger usually fades with a little time and perspective. You wake up the next day and decide you still really love your partner and want to stay with them. What do you do now? Do you tell them about your momentary mental lapse in judgment? Do you let it slide and pretend it never happened? I can not answer this question for you. I can tell you that you take a risk if you don’t say anything because it may come out to your partner anyway. I can assure you being caught in a lie is definitely worse than coming clean. Although, either way, your relationship will never be the same again. Only you know what decision you can live with in this circumstance. Of course from the outside, it would be easy for me to say be honest, but I’m well aware that it doesn’t always make everything okay in the end.
The one answer I can give you is this…What is done is done. You can’t go back and change it. We all make mistakes we have to learn from and forgive ourselves for. The brain is just looking to make things fair. If we’ve been hurt it is easy to justify hurting someone back. The biggest thing to remember is that life isn’t fair and hurting someone else doesn’t usually take our own hurt away. Anger is a gift that keeps on giving and usually ends up biting you back in the end.
It is better to deal with your anger in other ways that won’t hurt you or someone else. I like to write, so I tend to write down my feelings and then rip them up so no one will read them. I also like to run or walk to get rid of my frustration. Sleep also helps me a lot. There are a lot of healthier ways to deal with your feelings rather than turn to someone else. Once I’ve dealt with my feelings then I can make better decisions about what to do about my relationship. Is there something I need to discuss or do I need to work on letting something go? The answer is usually more sane when I wait for my feelings to calm down.
I suggest talking to one person of the same sex who you really trust if you are having problems in your relationship, or talk to a counselor if there isn’t anyone you can trust. I recommend not talking about your relationship with everyone you know when you’re angry because you don’t want to poison others against your partner. It will be easier for you to forgive them than for your friends or family to do the same. If you can’t resolve your anger, it is better to leave than to cheat. Reaching out to find some comfort or love from someone else may seem like a good idea in the moment, but you may end up really regretting not waiting to see how you feel once that anger fades. Deal with your feelings before making any decisions that may have a huge impact on the fate of your relationship. The biggest thing to remember from this post is not to trust what your brain is telling you when you’re angry. Anger usually makes us more stupid, not smart!