- If you or someone you know keeps cheating, there are some things they can do to break the pattern.
- Identifying what drives your cheating can be an important part of conquering the urge to stray.
- Practice being open in your relationship to build trust.
- Seek professional help to help you fight the urge to cheat.
As much as most people would like to pretend that cheating is a rare occurrence, it’s a surprisingly common relationship problem.
According to the Institute for Family Studies, an estimated 16% of people have cheated on their spouse – and this doesn’t even account for infidelity in non-married relationships.
Whatever the reason for cheating, infidelity is painful – not just for the wronged party, but also for the cheater.
If you’re a person who tends to stray, here’s what experts suggest you can do to stop.
Research shows that once someone cheats, they are three times more likely to do it again
That’s the statistic uncovered by a 2017 study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour.
“Prior infidelity emerged as an important risk factor for infidelity in next relationships,” according to the study.
Researchers also found that gender or marital status didn’t matter – cheating once usually led to more cheating, regardless of demographics.
Figuring out why you cheat might help you stop
Identifying what drives your cheating can be an important part of conquering the urge to stray.
Psychologist and intimacy coach Lori Beth told Prevention that you should “analyse why you are cheating” to help you understand why you are finding it difficult to stop.
Beth suggests that the reasons for cheating are many and varied. Some people have a fear of commitment or are cheating to avoid sexual conflict with their partner. Individuals might also cheat because they are impulsive, want to sabotage their primary relationship, or want to retaliate against their partner because of something they did.
Others might be unfaithful out of boredom or even because they believe that having their infidelity discovered will infuse a stale relationship with new passion.
Figuring out exactly why you’re being unfaithful could help you solve the problem at the root of your cheating habit.
Practice being completely open with your partner
“It’s paramount to build trust back up again. That can take a long time but it begins with being completely upfront and ensuring that your words match your actions time and time again,” relationship expert Susan Winter told Elite Daily.
Winter suggests starting by giving your partner your social media passwords, sharing a calendar, and over-communicating about your daily life. Keeping your private life voluntarily on display might help you and your partner rebuild vital trust and deepen your connection.
Of course, any exchange of information between a couple should always be consensual. Practicing transparency does not mean infringing on one partner’s personal freedom.
Focus on making your relationship the best it can be
Instead of using infidelity to have your emotional or sexual needs met, try to make your current relationship into what you need it to be in order to stay faithful.
“The best defence against cheating is a great relationship,” therapist John Howard wrote for Lifehack. “When our needs are met physically and emotionally, we don’t have as much interest to look elsewhere.”
It’s important to note, however, that people will sometimes stray regardless of the current state of their relationship, and if your partner strays, it’s never your fault.
But if you’re looking to improve your current relationship, make sure you’re communicating well with your partner about what you need out of the relationship.
Put in the work by communicating and respecting your partner if you’re looking to improve your relationship.
Seeking professional help can be a huge step towards ending a pattern of cheating
If you’re sincerely committed to the idea of never cheating again, a good option might be to seek the help of a professional.
Going to therapy can “get to the root of the issue, and commit yourself to healing the obsessive need to cheat,” Winter told Elite Daily.
Whether you attend alone or with your partner, talking out loud about your infidelity, the reasons behind it, and your motivation to stop can help you identify strategies to help you break the cycle.
If you can’t change your ways, consider whether a traditional relationship is really what you need
It’s possible that monogamy might not be for you. If this is the case, it’s important to take a step back and decide what exactly you’re looking for in a relationship.
“Live your life in honesty, and accept this reality,” Winter told Elite Daily. “Making peace with the fact that you cannot or will not be faithful is a huge step in relieving the guilt and shame you’ve been carrying.”
Exploring options like ethically non-monogamous relationships or even polyamory might give you the freedom you need to be true to who you are without the lying and deceit that comes with cheating.
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