- If you had a one-time indiscretion and ended up cheating on your partner, chances are you have at least a bit of guilt. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should tell your partner about what happened.
- Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a 91-year-old sex therapist who’s been practicing for decades, said in most cases of one-time infidelity, it’s best to keep your affair under wraps.
If you cheated in a moment of weakness, feel guilty enough to swear off affairs for good, and feel happy in your current relationship, it could be best to keep your actions a secret and move on.
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If you had a one-time indiscretion and ended up cheating on your partner, chances are you have at least a bit of guilt. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should tell your partner what happened.
In fact, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a 91-year-old sex therapist who’s been practicing for decades, said that in most cases, it’s best to keep one-time-only affairs under wraps.
“I don’t believe in honesty at all costs,” Westheimer told Insider as part of her partnership with Hotwire, a website for finding affordable flights, cars, and hotels. She added that disclosing an affair could “make a bad impression” and ruin the chances of your long-term relationship lasting.
At the same time, Westheimer said that if your relationship is one you plan to have long into the future, you may at some point have to discuss your indiscretions so your relationship can positively evolve.
Just because you cheated once doesn’t mean you’ll do it again
Cheaters are often lumped into one large category of bad people when in reality, there are different types of cheaters who have affairs for a variety of reasons.
Some cheaters, for instance, may be “turned on by dishonesty,” Tammy Nelson, a psychotherapist and author of “When You’re the One Who Cheats,” previously told Insider. They have “inability to commit to monogamy but are also not honest enough to ask for an open relationship.” People in this category, serial cheaters, are likely to cheat again.
But other cheaters aren’t repeat offenders; they’re people who made one mistake.
There are also different reasons people cheat, and those influence whether or not they will do it again. According to Nelson, a person could simply enjoy the act of cheating may never change because it’s built in to their personality.
But others may cheat because, for instance, they’re lacking self-confidence; getting attention from a person outside their relationship can make them feel important and desirable. This type of cheater can learn to build their self-confidence and change.
People can also cheat because of a situation, not their personality: For instance, Westheimer said that if you cheat while under the influence of alcohol and regret it afterwards, it’s a sign you shouldn’t disclose the incident to your partner.
“If you did a one-night stand because you had too much to drink and never saw that person again, keep your mouth shut. Don’t tell your partner,” she said.
Disclosing your affair might not make your partner feel better
If you want to tell your partner about a one-time act of infidelity to make them feel better, that gesture could be misplaced.
According to Nelson, someone who feels guilty for cheating is usually better off keeping the affair under wraps. Although telling could make the cheater feel better for getting the affair off their chest, it could put their partner in a not-so-great position where they feel bad about themselves or like they can’t trust the cheater anymore.
“The details [of the affair] aren’t as important as the why [you did it],” Nelson said. That’s why she suggested asking yourself why you cheated and whether those reasons have to do with existing relationship problems.
If they do, it could be a sign you should tell your partner you cheated so you can work toward a stronger and healthier relationship. But if you simply cheated in a moment of weakness, feel guilty enough to swear off affairs for good, and feel happy in your current relationship, it could be best to keep your actions a secret and move on.
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