Rumors Are Ruining My Life!

You don’t mean to, but you overhear people talking about your friend’s girlfriend or boyfriend.  They saw what?  With who?  Last Friday?  At Steve’s party?  You suddenly feel outraged and want to immediately tell your friend.  Suddenly a rumor is started…

Sometimes rumors are spread with innocent or good intentions.  However, it can be devastating if you don’t have all the facts straight.  Lots of arguments and break-ups happen because someone started spreading misinformation.  What makes it worse is many couples don’t feel entirely confident with themselves or the relationship, so any hint that someone is cheating can cause a lot of drama.

Sometimes rumors are spread with evil or bad intentions.  Camera phones and social media have made it even easier to get revenge or ruin someone’s relationship without trying too hard.  If your boyfriend or girlfriend is talking to someone of the opposite sex even just to say hi, it can be caught on camera and uploaded to Facebook in 2.5 seconds.  Someone with intentions to screw up your relationship can post the picture so you can find it easily when you log on to your Facebook page.  The logical part of your brain says not to worry, but the emotional side of your brain can’t help but panic and wonder if your boyfriend or girlfriend is possibly cheating on you.

Rumors start whether you want them to or not.  People talk and social media makes it even easier to spread crap around.  So how should you handle it if it happens to you?  First, consider the source.  Is your source an eye-witness?  If they are a friend to you and they were an eye-witness, then the information may be more credible.  However, before you jump to crazy jealous land, slow yourself down and remember you still need to talk to your partner.  If you love them, they deserve to be able to share their side of the story before you allow yourself to go all Jersey Shore on them.  Why waste a bunch of energy if you don’t have to?  There will plenty of time for a freak out if you come to the conclusion that the rumor is true.

If your source is a friend, but they weren’t an eye-witness, try to find out who was there to confirm the rumor for you.  Do your best to get your facts straight before confronting your boyfriend or girlfriend.  Your friend may be trying to help you, but if they only heard something second or third hand, it still may not be reliable information.  Again, remember to not let yourself freak out until you’ve heard the whole story.  The whole story includes your partner’s version.  You will hurt your partner and your relationship by jumping to conclusions.  It is easy to overreact to a rumor.  Work on being more confident in yourself and in your relationship.  It takes time and effort to work on being more confident, but it also takes a lot of time and effort to worry about something that probably isn’t true.

If the source is someone who wants to get with your partner or doesn’t like you for other reasons, you should be very skeptical.  Most likely the information coming from this source isn’t true at all.  Stay calm and try to find out more information from a more credible source if possible.  If that isn’t an option, then continue to stay calm while you relate the details of what you saw or heard to your boyfriend or girlfriend.  Try to keep paranoid accusations out of the conversation because this will only make your partner defensive.  Try to be factual with the information and then listen to what your partner has to say about it.  Hopefully they will be able to put your fears to rest and you can move on with your life.

What if the rumor turns out to be true?  Well now it is more acceptable to be upset within reason.  It doesn’t give you permission to be emotionally or physically abusive to your partner.  It is devastating to find out your partner has been cheating, but do your best not to make a horrible situation even worse.  Realize that you do have some power to decide which direction your relationship is going to go in.  You can break-up and start to move on by yourself, or you can give your boyfriend or girlfriend another chance.  Either choice is going to be hard.  If you decide to give them another chance you will have to find a way to deal with your hurt and angry feelings.  Many people choose to stay but don’t let go of the anger and resentment.  This will only kill your relationship slowly over time.  You will need to find a way to forgive and trust again for it to work long term.

Rumors can be very deadly, but you don’t need to let them ruin your life.  Remember it is easy to overreact to something you hear.  Try to keep yourself from jumping to conclusions.  Rumors are often not reliable and it is worth the effort to find out more information before letting yourself get so upset.  Anger is a powerful emotion that sucks a lot of energy.  Energy you desperately need.  Try not to waste it on something that may or may not be true.

Sometimes you have to live with the fact that you will never know the whole story.  Sometimes it is a matter of he said/she said.  If in doubt, believe your partner.  You chose to love them for a reason.  Rely on the history of  the relationship to decide what further action to take because history has a way of repeating itself.  If your partner has always been faithful, try not to let your fears get the best of you.  Work on that confidence to keep you from causing unnecessary drama.  Trust me, if the rumor was true, it is only a matter of time before things will start to add up to confirm your fears.  If it becomes obvious for other reasons that your partner is cheating then you can deal with situation.  Until then, hang tight and don’t let others rob you of your happiness.

Once a Cheater Always a Cheater

True or False?  Is it possible the answer could be both?  I think so.  I do believe some people out there will always take the opportunity to cheat and not think twice.  They can’t commit or tell the truth to save their life.  However, I do think some people out there make a huge mistake that may be out of character for them.  Afterward, the shame and guilt is enough to keep them from ever making that same mistake again.

So, how do you tell the difference?  I think looking at the overall character of a person and their past track record is important.  As some of you may know, I’m an avid reader.  Right now I’m reading a book by Anita Shreve called “Testimony”.  The basic plot of the book is that three teenage boys, who are eighteen years or older, have sex with a fourteen year old girl at their boarding school.  Someone else videotapes the incident, and the book is about the fall out of being caught.

Cover of "Testimony: A Novel"

Cover of Testimony: A Novel

Two of the three boys are very different in character.  One boy, James, is known for getting into trouble in the past.  He was already expelled from one school and is trying to finish up one more year in order to get into college.  He likes attention and expects things to come easy for him.  The other boy, Silas, appears to be reliable overall.  He has been awarded a scholarship and works hard at school.  He is also a great athlete.  He has never gotten into trouble and has a long term girlfriend.

After they get caught the story goes on to narrate from each person’s perspective.  Silas is very distraught and ashamed.  He feels horrible about ruining his future and hurting his girlfriend.  He realizes now that one night can erase all the hard work and energy you’ve put in for years.  He is very remorseful and is determined to learn from his mistake.  James blames the victim and doesn’t take any responsibility.  He minimizes the incident and believes everyone is making too big of a deal out of it.  He doesn’t admit he is part of the problem, so he is less likely to change.

If this book wasn’t fiction I would bet money in Vegas that Silas would never cheat again and James would.   As a reader it is easier to feel sorry for and forgive Silas than James, even though both boys did something horrible.  This isn’t always true in real life.  Sometimes it is hard to tell who really feels sorry and won’t do it again, and who is still lying even after getting caught.  I do think that actions speak louder than words.  This is usually the only way you can know if someone is being honest.  Anyone can apologize and swear they will never do it again.  Only a few can actually follow up those words with actions that show you they really are sorry and want to prove to you it will never happen again.

If you’ve been cheated on, I suggest looking at all the other things in your relationship to tell you whether you think they will do it again.  Has this person treated you well for the most part in your relationship?  Are they respectful of you and give you their time and attention when you need it?  How are they with other people in general?  Can you count on them for other things in your relationship?  Do they follow through with what they say they are going to do?  If the answer is no, it could mean the cheating is just the tip of the iceberg.  If you have a lot of other issues in your relationship, the cheating could be only one symptom of many things wrong in your relationship.   If the answer is yes, it may be worth it to give them another chance.  If this act was completely out of character for them and your relationship seems to be pretty stable otherwise, then there may be hope.

Sometimes people aren’t aware of what they are capable of.  I’ve heard some people say they would never cheat.  However, the right situation mixed with certain emotions can put anyone in danger.  None of us is perfect.  Once it’s happened to someone it makes them more aware.  They may choose to not put themselves in certain situations with a false sense of security.  Pain and loss are the toughest teachers.  Some of those lessons are never forgotten.  Seeing how their actions can really hurt and effect others can be enough to make some people a lot more careful in the future.  This makes it possible to build trust back.

Then there are the people that don’t take responsibility in the first place.  They blame someone else or they minimize everything.  They say to themselves and everyone else, “It was only one time.  It wasn’t that big of a deal.  It didn’t mean anything.  I was drunk.  He or she came on to me.”   All those are excuses.  I love when people say, “It didn’t mean anything”.  Like that is helpful.  Something that doesn’t mean anything isn’t hurtful!  The act of cheating does mean something, and it can help build trust back in the relationship if the person who cheated can figure out what led up to it.  Even if it is just to discover how vulnerable they are in certain situations or when they feel certain emotions.   If someone doesn’t know why it happened in the first place or blames someone else, how can they promise it will never happen again?  They can’t!!  The person who can’t own up to it has a greater chance of lying to you again in the future.

Anyone who chooses to stay with someone after they have cheated is taking a risk.  Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.  You aren’t stupid for giving someone another chance.  Only time will tell, and if they hurt you again, you have the choice to leave at that point.  No one else can tell you when it’s the right time to leave a relationship.  Everyone is different, and most circumstances are different.  Trust your instincts.  I do believe in my heart that once a cheater, always a cheater isn’t always true.  So, try to look at the relationship as a whole to help you decide if you want to stay or go.

What Was I Thinking??

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!

Weiner Addiction

Okay, I couldn’t pass up the headline from the last couple of days about Representative Anthony Weiner.  What is interesting to me about this story is that Rep. Weiner stated that his wife knew about his online behavior before they were married but was under the assumption that he stopped once they got married.  However, the whole world knows now that he did NOT stop the behavior.

As a counselor I hear about this a lot.  Students or former clients of mine have admitted that they went on porn sites or sent and received naked pictures of themselves to people when they were single.  They also admit to thinking they would be able to stop the behavior once they were in a committed relationship, but find they can’t stop.  Some come into counseling because they are worried their partner will find out.  Some people come into counseling because their partner did find out, and in an attempt to save their relationship they agree to see me.

A lot of people I see are surprised that they weren’t able to control their urges to go into sex chat rooms, look at porn, or send naked pictures of themselves.  They almost always admit that they love their current partner and don’t want the relationship to end.  They almost all admit as well that they wouldn’t be happy if they found out their partner was going into chat rooms, sending naked pictures or going on porn sites behind their back.  They realize they can stop for a while but at some point the urge comes back to continue the old behavior.  I explain to them that this usually happens because of a couple different reasons.

One, it is a stress reliever.  Flirting online with someone creates a fantasy world.  It is an escape that helps a lot of people deal with stress.  When you are single it isn’t hurting anyone else and it is a good way to unwind without using alcohol or drugs.  It also helps single people feel less lonely.  This is why it is hard for people to understand why someone would continue this once they are in a good relationship.  They shouldn’t feel as lonely or sexually frustrated, and most of the time they don’t, but the escape is still a stress reliever.  Talking to your partner can be helpful, but sometimes a relationship adds stress.  Sometimes people avoid talking to their partner about their stress and pretend everything is fine.  When this happens it is then easy to turn to sex on the internet as a form of relaxation like you did in the past.

Second, it is an adrenaline rush.  Taking a risk and sending a naked picture to someone can get the blood pumping.  It can be a turn-on to send a naked picture to your boyfriend or girlfriend, but you lose some of the risk and excitement involved.  In yesterday’s post I talked about it being very tempting to be able to get away with something.  I think it is even more of an adrenaline rush to send naked pictures, sneak into chat rooms or porn sites while hiding it from your partner.  This can become very addicting in the sense of the rush you feel when you get away with something you shouldn’t.  Something that was exciting when you were single is even more exciting now that you are in a relationship.  Some people avoid taking risks, but others can easily become addicted to it.

So, what do I tell the people who come in to see me that are going through what Representative Weiner is going through?  I reinforce to them that at first it is going to be easy to resist.  If you watched Rep. Weiner on television you know that he is horribly embarrassed at this moment and feeling deeply regretful.  Those feelings will carry people going through the same thing a few months and they won’t be tempted at all to send any naked pictures.  At some point though, the feelings of embarrassment and regret will fade.  Most people in this position will be tempted again when their partner’s guard is down and their stress is back up.  It could be months or a year down the road, but at some point they will be tempted again.  Having awareness about the patterns of behavior is a huge step to avoid future temptations.

When temptation does arises, I encourage people in this position to have other ways to reduce stress.  If you are a natural risk taker, find ways to take risks that don’t put your relationship in jeopardy.  You have to replace the behavior with something else or your brain will betray you to get what it needs.  I also recommend finding ways to connect to your partner and being able to communicate to them when you are feeling stressed.  If you have been tempted to hide problems from your partner in the past, I recommend being more open in the relationship.  Both partners need to be aware that this problem won’t just disappear.  It will get easier in time, but there may be times when it is hard to resist.  If your partner is willing to forgive you and stay in the relationship it is very helpful if they understand that it is easier to resist temptation if you can talk through those rough moments with them.  Working through it together can help you get through them without falling back into old habits.  Some people have had their partner keep them accountable by checking the history on their computer or opening up their phone and phone bill to them if needed.  Admitting that you can’t always control your urges is so helpful.  When you think you can handle everything on your own is when most people get into trouble.

As a disclaimer, I am not stating the Representative Anthony Weiner has a sex addiction.  I am not diagnosing him.  I also haven’t diagnosed many of my former clients with a sex addiction just because they struggled with sex online.  Just like some people don’t have an eating disorder, but they definitely have issues with eating, I believe it is the same way with sex.  You can have sexual behaviors that definitely harm your health or relationship, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have an addiction.  I only want to make a point that a lot of people who start something when it seemed harmless as a single person have a hard time stopping later when they thought it would be easy.  I think awareness is the key so I’m using Representative Weiner’s story as an example of why this behavior happens even if a person is in a great relationship.

Sneaky Sex

What is it about getting away with something that makes it so fun?  Is it that we feel powerful or in control?  Is it because it makes us feel smarter?  Or is it because of the challenge?  Something about taking a risk gets our blood pumping.  For whatever reason, I believe having sex when you aren’t supposed to makes it that more dangerous which makes it that much more of a turn-on.

When something feels forbidden, it seems more alluring to us.   People also do this with food.  The things they tell themselves they shouldn’t eat are the things they sneak when no one else is looking, but feel guilty about it later.  People hate to be told they can’t have something.  If there is someone they know they shouldn’t have sex with, now that person is the only thing they can think about.  Lots of people report that doing something on the sly and sneaking around makes for some really hot sex.  This is why a lot of times an affair can be an illusion.  It isn’t based on reality.  A lot of people will argue and state that a lot of people are now dating someone they cheated on their ex with.   I agree, sometimes, people are in the wrong relationship to begin with when they meet a great person.  Instead of breaking up with the wrong person first, they cheat.  After a certain amount of time or after getting caught they finally leave one relationship and move on the next.  However, most of the time, this is not the case.

The illusion of sexual chemistry while having an affair can fade if the relationship becomes real.  Once you no longer have to sneak around to see each other, the sex can lose its edge.  You may find many other faults with this person you didn’t see while you were sneaking around.  A lot of people report cheating again because they want to capture that feeling of having illicit sex.  Having sex with someone they are in an actual relationship with just doesn’t measure up to the sex they have when there is an element of risk and the danger of getting caught is involved.  Some people even become addicted to this type of sex and are never satisfied in a normal sexual relationship.

Most of the time I hear stories about people who are in love with their partner but are still tempted to cheat.  They meet someone they have sexual chemistry with and can’t let it go.  Stolen glances, touches and kisses lead up to a lot of built up sexual tension.  It is something about sneaking those glances, touches and kisses that make a person want even more.  They’ve gotten away with it so far.  The challenge can be too much for some people to walk away from.  They may have a great sex life with their current partner but still be turned-on by the sneakiness of the situation with another person.

I also truly believe most people think they are smart enough to get away with cheating.  They think they won’t get caught and their egos tell them what they are doing is okay because no one is going to get hurt.  For a while most people do get away with it because their partner is unsuspecting.  However, over time mistakes get made and once your partner becomes suspicious, it is really easy for them to catch you in a lie.  Technology these days makes it easier to cheat, but it also makes it easier to get caught.  There are ways of finding proof of an affair that never existed before.  Emails and texts can be tracked and brought back even after being erased if you have the right resources.

The risk may not be worth it.  If you have a great relationship, don’t let the temptation to get away with something draw you away.  Many people report having regrets after they cheated and got caught.  They admit they were caught up in the moment and weren’t considering the consequences.  Most people admit wanting to work things out in their current relationship and don’t leave their relationship for the person they cheated on with.  The element of sneaking around may heighten the sexual experience but most people will say it isn’t worth it once they have to deal with the fall out of their actions.  It may be wiser to find other ways to spice up your sex life with your current partner.  Find ways to make it fun and daring without having to step outside of the relationship.  Have sex outside or in a semi-public place.  Bring in different sex toys if you need a change.  There are ways to challenge yourself and take risks with sex without having to cheat.  Try being more creative and not falling for the easiest mind trick in the book which is always wanting what you can’t have.

Building Trust After Cheating

You never thought it could happen to your relationship right?  But then you find out your boyfriend or girlfriend cheated on you.  How do you recover?  It isn’t easy, but it is possible.  If you stay in the relationship both parties need to be on board because it isn’t an easy road to navigate.

My suggestion for the cheater is to be more transparent.  When you’ve gotten caught cheating then you lose the right to privacy at least for a while.  The best way to build trust is to open up your life to your partner.  If you have nothing more to hide, this should be a simple step.  It is humbling, but a little humility can go a long way to repairing your relationship. If you did the crime, now you have to do the time.  If you love your girlfriend or boyfriend it is definitely worth the effort to prove to them that you are now an honest, trustworthy person.  You can’t expect your partner to trust you blindly anymore.  You lost that privilege.  For a good long while, you are going to have to prove it.

This means opening up your cell phone.  You shouldn’t have to keep it on your person at all times like its worth a million dollars.  If your partner is feeling insecure and asks to look at your phone, you should let them.  If you have nothing to hide this will make you feel good to show them that you aren’t do anything wrong.  It also means opening up your email and Facebook accounts to them.  If you do break up later, you can always change the passwords again.  You should agree to cut off all communication if possible with the person you cheated on them with.  If you do still have to see this person in class or at work be very open about your interactions and try to minimize your interactions with this person as well.  Relationships are work and repairing a broken relationship is even more work.  Don’t expect to build trust back in a few days or weeks.  It will take some time to recover, but don’t give up trying to prove that you are now being loyal.

Tip:  If your cheating partner remains very defensive, be aware that they are most likely still hiding something.  Defensiveness means they feel guilty or insecure about something.  They should want to prove their honesty to you if they are in fact being honest.

If your partner is being open and transparent with you this will help you move forward and gain back some confidence in yourself and in the relationship.  You also have to work at building trust.  It is going to be easy to want to exact some kind of revenge to pay them back for your heartache.  Try your best to resist being negative or hurtful.  This will only hurt, not heal your relationship.  If you have unresolved anger, try to figure out healthy ways to work through it.  You have a right to feel angry, but if you want to keep your relationship intact, you can’t just go off on them any time you feel like it.  There is a time to vent your frustration and hurt.  It will help your partner to hear about the hurt feelings underneath the anger.  True feelings draw people together, but anger pushes them apart.  Help your boyfriend or girlfriend understand your feelings instead of shoving your anger down their throat.

You also have the right to go through their emails, Facebook pages and phone for a certain amount of time.  You are wiser now, and will be able to recognize the signs better if they decide to cheat again.  After a certain amount of time, you should know whether you can trust your partner again.  You won’t have to be so vigilant and check up on them as consistently.  Don’t be afraid that you will be taken for a sucker.  Be smart and if some old behaviors return have a discussion and try to figure out what is going on.  If your partner starts to be secretive or overprotective of their privacy at some point again in the future, that is a huge red flag.  You then have a decision to make and it doesn’t make you a sucker for trying to give someone a second chance.  Some people are going to use that second chance to prove to you they do really love you and some people are going to blow it.  If they do blow it, you still can hold your head high that you did everything you could to make the relationship work.

Some people are more private than others.  I’m not saying you don’t have a right to privacy in a relationship.  However, the person you choose to make an intimate partner should know a lot more than other people in your life.  They have the privilege of getting past some of your walls.  If you are dating someone who is very private, even with you, be cautious.  If they guard their phone like Fort Knox, be cautious.  If they get defensive easily, be cautious.  These things aren’t healthy in a relationship.  Ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power.  The more time you spend together and the more you are able to share your thoughts and feelings with one another, the better.  If you choose to stay together after one of you has cheated, you will need to spend time together to build back the intimacy.  You don’t have to spend every waking moment with one another, but it helps if you start paying attention to each others needs and put each other first for a while.

Lies, Lies and More Lies

When a person gets caught cheating their first instinct is to lie.  If not completely, then they definitely try to minimize the damage.  There are a few reasons why the lies comes so quickly.

Some people who get caught immediately freak out.  It is like catching a little kid with his hand in the cookie jar.  Fear causes them to at first deny they are doing anything wrong.  When they realize that isn’t going to fly, their feeling of shame and embarrassment persuade them to downplay the details.   They may feel convicted in some ways to tell the truth but are afraid of the consequences.  This person wasn’t born to be a con artist, but fear motivates them to be really creative in the moment.  If this is their first time getting caught your gut says not to believe them, but your heart overrules your gut and chances are you will want to believe them.

This person may never cheat again because getting caught scared the crap out of them.  You may always wonder if they lied to you, but you have no further need to press the issue.  For some people, cheating was a stupid mistake and the anxiety of getting caught is enough to keep them from doing it again.  This isn’t always the case.  If they think they got away with it because you believed their story, they may continue to cheat.  Then it is only a matter of time before they make another mistake and it gets harder to downplay the details.  It may take weeks, months or years for all the details to come out, but if they continue to cheat those secrets have a way of coming out in time.  When you finally realize the extent of the cheating then you can make an informed decision about whether you want to work it out with them or not.

Some people lie because it comes easy to them.  They have no intention of owning up to anything or taking any responsibility.  If they do get caught red-handed, they almost always will blame the other person, circumstances or even you for why they cheated.  This person can also be very persuasive in their lying and you may find yourself believing them because they seem so sincere.  They then feel like they can do anything and be able to talk themselves out of it, because 75% of the time, they can.  They get a rush from being sneaky and getting away with it.

This person’s weakness is that they are too cocky.  They go on to cheat again because they think you will always believe their story.  You will catch them again.  They will lie again, and you will want to believe they can change again.  This cycle will repeat 2-100 times depending on the power dynamic of the relationship.  Once your gut overrides your heart, you will be able to leave this relationship.  Some people even break up with this person and then become the person their cheating with in the future.  This is sad, but does often happen.  Some people have the charm, charisma or sexual chemistry that make other people agree to do some really irrational things.

Again, your rational brain will say that you deserve better and to leave the relationship after the first time you catch your partner cheating.  Your emotional heart may convince you to give them another chance.  Sometimes that works out.  If they do cheat again you may decide you’ve had enough at that point and leave.  No one can tell you when its the right time to leave.  There really is no black and white answer.  It is hard to say what you would do in this situation until you’re faced with it.  You have to remember that cheating damages self-esteem and pride.  This causes people to make odd choices.  Some people only stay with their partner so the other woman or man won’t get them.  It is out of jealousy and wounded pride that some people stay in the relationship.  Is this the best choice?  Obviously not, but again, our minds aren’t rational when we are hurt.  Give yourself time to figure it out and don’t beat yourself up for making irrational choices in the moment.  Just do the best you can with what you got.  You will get there and someday you will be able to stand up for yourself again.

If you are struggling with your decisions or feel like your self-esteem is in the toilet, talk to someone who is non-judgmental and empathetic.  They can help you though your thought processes without making you feel worse.  They may also be able to encourage you to break through bad patterns in your relationship.  You aren’t alone and is there is hope.

P.S.  Not everyone out there is a cheater so don’t give up on finding a loyal, committed, kind person!

T.M.I.

You did what with who where when and how many times?

Do you really want to know the answer to those questions?  Your heart is saying yes, but I’m here to let you know, your mind can’t handle the truth.

When you have caught your boyfriend or girlfriend cheating, it becomes an obsession to find out all the details.  Questions blow through your mind at lightening speed.  You want to know what that other person looks like, how long they’ve been hooking up, where they have been hooking up.  You want to know how it started, what your boyfriend or girlfriend said, what the other person said.  You want to know what positions they did it in, if oral sex was involved, how many times did it happen.  Details, details, you want all the details!!!

I’m not saying your boyfriend or girlfriend who just betrayed you should get off the hook.  But if you have any chance of repairing this relationship, you really don’t want all the details.  The brain isn’t capable of handling the explicit sexual details.  You will start to imagine everything they tell you over and over and over and it will cause you much suffering and heartache.

What is appropriate for you to know is this.  Who did they cheat on you with.  How long has it been going on.  Was it just an emotional affair, just sexual, or both.  How did it start.  What feelings are involved at this point.  Did they use a condom.  And the most important, it is really over.  In some cases if there are multiple people, you want to know how many people they have cheated on you with.

These answers are important because it will tell you what chance there is to forgive them and move forward.  Everyone has their limits and these answers will help you know if your boyfriend or girlfriend just crossed them.  Lots of people state that if their boyfriend or girlfriend cheated they would be gone in a heartbeat.  I have witnessed otherwise many times.  It really depends on the situation and you really don’t know what you will do until you are actually dealing with it.  Love is a very strong emotion that doesn’t use rational sense to make decisions.  You may be surprised how much you can forgive sometimes.

Do stay away from all the sexual details.  You don’t really need or want to know who was on top or how proficient the other person was at giving oral sex.  You may disagree and state that your imagination is probably worse than what your partner could reveal.  From counseling many people through this I can tell  you that it isn’t true.  Once you know certain things, you can’t un-know them.  I find the details cause more harm than good in the long run.  If your imagination is continuing to run wild, you may want to talk to someone to find out how to stop torturing yourself.  Some people are more imaginative and obsessive than others.  If you happen to be plagued with obsessive thoughts, please see someone to help you figure out how to manage them.

Being cheated on is a devastating thing to go through.  It completely knocks the wind out of you and the recovery process takes time whether you stay in that relationship or not.  If you choose to stay in the relationship find a way to rebuild trust.  The urge to pay the person back by either cheating on them or hurting them in some other way will be great.  You will go through periods of denial, depression, anger, bargaining and then finally acceptance.  It is normal to go through all those emotions in one day, one week or within a month or so.  It is only a problem if you find yourself getting stuck in depression or anger.  You are then effectively letting this person control you and hurt you far longer than they deserve.  The goal is to move forward no matter what.  You still have your life to live.  It doesn’t stop because this person was an idiot.

Also, stop blaming yourself!  It is not your fault that someone cheated on you.  If you feel that there are things you did wrong in the relationship, work on correcting them.  That still doesn’t excuse your girlfriend or boyfriend’s behavior.  If what you were doing was hurting them, there were other ways for them to communicate that to you other than stepping out with someone else.  So try to stop obsessing, blaming and hating.  Those emotions are draining and they don’t change anything.  Figure out what your choices are and do your best to make the best choice for you.  Hang in there!

Cheating with Technology

It has become so easy to cheat these days.  It is hard to be confident and trusting in your relationship when there are so many new ways to be sneaky.

For example, if my dad wanted to cheat on my mom back in the 1980’s, he would have had to go to a lot of extra lengths.  There was only one home phone which you had to talk out loud on to get your message across.  So unless no one else was home, he couldn’t call some other woman very easily.  Plus my mom would have gotten the phone bill in the mail instead of electronically and more likely looked at the numbers being called on the bill.  There was no email back then either.  So it was harder to write love notes back and forth all day to another woman at work.  No Facebook, no chat rooms, no internet dating sites to make it easier to find or stay in touch with someone.  So unless my dad met someone at work or was traveling for business a lot, it wasn’t as easy to cheat back in the day.  Not that it didn’t happen, it was just harder to keep cheating a secret.

It is easier to be secretive today.  You could be out to dinner with your significant other and have no clue who they are texting.  Unless you want to be going through their phone every five minutes.  Also, it is so easy for someone to meet you, start texting as a friend and then slowly ease into “sexting” and photo sharing.   With the internet it is also easier to stay in constant touch with someone and keep it a secret.  I blogged about confidence a couple of weeks ago.  How confident do you have to be these days to not be tempted to stalk your partner’s Facebook, email, or phone?

I believe relationships need to be more open now to build trust.  I am all for privacy, but if you are in a committed relationship, you may have to make some sacrifices to reduce conflict.  You won’t need to stalk the one you love, if they are being open already.  If you have nothing to hide, it shouldn’t be too big of a sacrifice to be more open.  Are you someone who takes your phone into the bathroom with you when you shower?  Or do you leave it out?  Do you only open your email or Facebook page when you are alone?  Or do you open it no matter who is sitting around you?  If you have developed those habits of secrecy, it is going to be hard for your boyfriend or girlfriend to trust you.  I am not saying you have to let your partner go through your phone or email any time they want.  I am saying that it would make it less suspicious if you didn’t horde your phone 24/7 or close down your email when they walk into the room.  You shouldn’t be afraid or defensive if they happen to look at your email or your phone on occasion.  This is the person you love and want to be with right?

It is one thing if you are open and your partner has trust issues.  That is a separate blog, that I will keep addressing.  It is a whole other thing if you are a secretive person and expect everyone, especially your boyfriend or girlfriend to just trust you completely.    You have to earn trust, and then you have to keep being open throughout the relationship to keep it.  When you tend to hide things and are sneaky, for whatever reason, it looks suspicious.

When you enter into a committed relationship, you give up some control.  If you want to be private and have total control over who goes into your phone, email, or Facebook, then stay single and date casually.  If you want the security of a committed relationship, then you have to be willing to let that person in.  It works both ways.  Won’t you also feel better knowing your partner is being open with you in return?  It can build trust and confidence over time if you are willing to give up a little of your privacy for the one you love and have chosen over everyone else in the world.

Being CONFIDENT in your Relationship

Are you “stalking” your boyfriend or girlfriend on Facebook?  Confidence is something I find lacking in a lot of people I counsel.  Especially in relationships.  People are always second guessing their decisions or wondering what the other person is thinking.  I hear a lot about Facebook status.  I have students who will tell me what their boyfriend or girlfriend’s status is and ask me what I think that means.  Facebook has been great for Egypt.  A man even named his baby daughter, Facebook because of its impact on his country.  But in college, I feel it has a negative impact on people’s confidence.

Often I have people who talking about who their boyfriend or girlfriend is “friends” with on Facebook.  Every post is analyzed to see if that person is interested in someone else.  It takes a lot of energy to stalk the internet and be a creeper on people’s Facebook pages.  It might be better to use your energy to improve your confidence or deal with the trust issues you may have.

There are a couple of reasons it is hard to trust.  One, because you may not believe in yourself.  I know people who think they aren’t good enough and are afraid their boyfriend or girlfriend will leave them.  It  causes people to over analyze every interaction their boyfriend or girlfriend has with the opposite sex.  Two, you may have been betrayed in the past.  If someone’s ex cheated on them, it is going to be hard to trust in the next relationship.  It also adds to feeling not good enough.  Three, your boyfriend or girlfriend could be spending too much time talking to someone else.  Their actions could lead you to feel less trusting.

The truth is that you are good enough.  In a relationship you only control 50%.  That is the risk of getting involved with someone else.  You could get hurt!  If you want to avoid being hurt, stay single.  All you can control is being the best person you can be in the relationship.  Being close to perfect won’t guarantee that person won’t leave, cheat, or in rare cases, die.  It could happen even you are the best girlfriend or boyfriend ever.   But YOU are the only person in the relationship YOU can control.  If you treat that person well and give them all the love you have, then they would be an idiot to lose you.  If someone doesn’t want to be with you, let them leave so you can be free to find someone who does.  Don’t settle for someone who doesn’t really want to be with you.  The rejection does suck, but when you know you have put your heart and soul into the relationship, you can be confident that you weren’t the one with the problem.  Sometimes you find people who can’t commit, find it easy to lie, or haven’t grown up yet.  It is hard to live and learn, but I find every relationship experience we have teaches us something.  I am a wiser person for being hurt a few times.  Those mistakes then lead me to the right person.

It is hard to trust.  The only alternative to not trusting is to control someone.  Controlling someone usually makes that person resent you and want to spend even less time with you.  If you are feeling insecure in your relationship be careful that you aren’t becoming controlling.  It will only ruin your relationship and you will lose the person you are trying so hard to keep.  The more trust you have in someone, the less control you must have.   If your boyfriend or girlfriend has broken your trust, you have a couple of choices.  You break up with them or you forgive them and find ways to repair the trust.  Most people will give someone another chance, but they don’t forgive and they don’t work on repairing the trust.  This leads to a controlling relationship.

Is it worth the effort??  If the person is truly sorry, they will find ways to prove to you they are now an honest person.  If they aren’t truly sorry, it will happen again and you will have another choice to make.  Just remember, if someone cheats on you or lies to you, that doesn’t mean you are the problem.  If you think you are part of the problem, find someone who can help you work on the things you want to change.  Otherwise, be confident and move on!