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The truth about cheating and how to deal with it

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Cheating and how therapy can help

Regardless of whether you are cheating, have been cheated on or are aware of someone cheating, you likely have some strong feelings about the situation and may not know exactly how to proceed or what to do moving forward.

Clients come in from all ages and walks of life and tell me they are involved with, are a victim of or are aware of cheating. Cheating is a major issue in relationships and like the Domino Effect, can lead to a plethora of side effects involving others and their feelings and moreover their lives.

No matter what role you may have in cheating, it brings about strong feelings and often involves making decisions that will affect the lives of others. As with any important decision, talking it out with someone is very beneficial, and strange as it may sound, finding someone who is totally unrelated to your life, a stranger in a sense can be far more productive than talking it over with a friend, co-worker or family member.

While people in our lives may care about us, they often have vested interest in our decisions and choices. Though not necessarily with intention, their feedback and advice are subjective vs. objective  feedback from a therapist or life coach.

They may have disliked our partner from the start or in some other way have a bias in one direction or the other. A therapist is able to take what I like to think of as a bird’s eye view of the situation.

Looking down on it from above, so to speak, provides a broader view of the situation, issue or relationship itself. The therapist’s goal is to help the client also gain access to the bird’s eye view. Together we can take a look at what is going on and look at options.

You may fall into one of the above categories, or have experienced cheating from multiple standpoints so we will tackle this difficult issue from several perspectives…

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You have been cheated on.

Arghhhhhh…ughhhh….it’s that sick feeling you had when you found out your partner was cheating.

You may have become aware by mistake, been playing private investigator for months or perhaps caught them in the act – walking in on them like in the movies. Often clients tell me they snooped/are snooping through their partner’s phone, text messages and email.

Sometimes the truth is revealed in the bank or credit card statements. Regardless of how you found out, you are likely experiencing thoughts and feelings that are probably pretty intense and maybe disconcerting.

You might be racking your brain trying to figure out how or why this happened. You may want to figure out what role, if any, you may have had in the situation. You may be wondering how it went on without you noticing.

There is often a sense of guilt and can we may also experience low self-esteem when we find out we have been cheated on. In addition to processing those thoughts, feelings and emotions, you may have a decision to make.

Whether you are trying to forgive, are planning to move on, or have no idea what to do discussing it with someone is helpful.

Together you and your therapist can sort out the thoughts and feelings you have been experiencing since you found out as well as discuss your options moving forward while making plans and laying groundwork to help you find happiness in the future.

You know of someone who is cheating.

People don’t always realize the burden they are laying upon another person by letting them know they are cheating. While it may feel cleansing for a friend to tell you he or she is cheating on their partner, it can have the opposite effect on you.

When we find out that someone we know is cheating, it can bring about feelings of anger, sadness, frustration or confusion. Perhaps we know and care for the person being cheated on.

Maybe the cheater is a loved one and we know this will destroy their relationship. Having to keep someone’s secret can be incredibly stressful and the side effects of stress can take a toll on your physical and/or mental health.

Like a person who has been cheated on, possessing this type of information and being expected to keep it quiet is something you may consider discussing with a third-party. Keeping secrets can be extremely difficult.

A therapist or life coach does not know the parties involved and has no bias towards what you decide with regard to how to handle the information. Coming in for a few sessions just to process the situation is typically all a person in this position needs.

Together we can decide what is the best course of action for you as well as process the feelings you are dealing with.

You are cheating.

Of the three positions mentioned here, this is the most likely scenario in terms of my caseload. At any given time, it seems I have a handful of clients who are cheating on their partner.

Disclaimer: I do not condone cheating. I encourage clients to be open and honest in their relationships. However, I realize that multiple factors can affect someone’s decision to cheat on their partner.

These can include “irreconcilable differences,” lack of affection or attention, changes in personality/ideals/beliefs over time, environmental or situational factors, mental and physical health of you and your partner or maybe something else…something specific to your life and situation or you personally that has led you to this point.

If you have cheated, you may be feeling guilty, angry, excited, confused, sad or some combination thereof. Processing those complicated feelings alongside a therapist makes it much easier.

I can give you a safe, comfortable place to process the situation and relationship and help you clarify your options moving forward. In some cases, we have brought the person’s partner in and worked through the infidelity.

Sometimes, cheating followed by therapy and some work from both people in the couple can actually result in a stronger relationship. Other times in therapy it becomes clear ending the relationship is the best idea and when that occurs, we will work together to figure out how to come to terms with and handle that realization.

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Talking to friends and having close relationships where you open up to others in your personal life is extremely important. I always ask clients about their support systems because I believe heavily in their necessity.

People in our lives are often looking out for our best interests and can be great in talking things out. Some issues though are best dealt with alongside a trained professional.

Therapists have more experience than friends in helping people work through difficult situations and feelings that stem from them. Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) are trained and have gone to school to learn how to help people through cheating or other relationship issues.

I am experienced helping clients deal with cheating regardless of how it is affecting them or what role they play.

Working with couples or individuals in order to give them healthier relationships and find happiness, is truly a passion of mine. Click to book a session with me in Blue Ash or Hyde Park either by yourself or with your partner.

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