Before you pull the trigger - How to deal with infidelity in a relationship

  • By Sahana Rajan

What is infidelity?

Infidelity is the act of breaking a set of norms which characterize a relationship. Such an act leads to jealousy, rivalry, and other issues between couples. The norms do not necessarily have to be verbalized, but could also be implicit within the status of a relationship like marriage (where they are officialized through a contract) or a simple agreement between lovers. Infidelity primarily constitutes the violation of a commitment made by entering into a relationship with another.

What can be considered infidelity?

Infidelity is defined depending on the nature of the relationship that the involved people have. The infidelity could be of physical, emotional, or virtual nature. These three elements could also be integrated in a relationship: physically, a partner could have sexual relationship with another person; emotionally, there could be kind of a platonic love between a committed partner and another person; and lastly, virtually, a person could be sex chatting or emotionally getting involved with another person through e-mails and online video/audio chatting.

What are the effects of infidelity?

Feelings of anger and betrayal along with reduction in sexual urge and shattering self-confidence, with an injury to the self-image occur to the person whose partner had been involved in infidelity. These effects might be amplified if it becomes public, with negative verbal and behavioral responses from others. Often, the gender of the unfaithful individual decides the form and intensity of effects.

Future of Your Relationship -

How will you decide the course of action after the discovery of infidelity? The answer to this query will depend on how the people involved feel about each other after the experience of infidelity. Initially, it is natural to undergo feelings of rage, sadness, and betrayal. Here are 5 questions which will determine how you decide to direct your relationship after this realization :

  1. How does your partner respond to these? Does she/he understand your emotions?
  2. Do they agree to the fact that they have broken a promise and that this has been done knowingly?
  3. How is your love affected by this instance of infidelity?
  4. How does your partner understand the act of infidelity? What were the reasons?
  5. Assuming both of you love each other post the incident of infidelity, how do you both intend to see the relationship and work on it?

Write down your answers for these questions and depending on the nature of the responses (positive or negative), will decide how your relationship will proceed.

How to build your trust on the person again? If you have discovered the nature of your relationship holistically and have decided to continue with the relationship, there are certain steps you can take to recover your trust on your partner :

Did you know that infidelity does not necessarily imply an unhappy relationship? In a research done, it was revealed that about 55% of the men and 35% of the women consider their relationship as being 'happy' and 'very happy'. Thus, the role of genetics is significant in the act of infidelity.

Tip 1 - Nature of A Relationship

Every relationship goes through a series of ups and downs. Infidelity is one of the most intense downs a relationship goes through. Since the love that your partner and you share is strong enough to fight this war, remember that relationships are built on years and years of understanding and learning each other. Your partner committed a mistake. How do you intend to tell your partner about your feelings? Learn the reasons as to why this occurred and how much role each of you played in it. In what ways did either of you perpetuate the chances of infidelity? Under no circumstances is an act of infidelity acceptable. Honesty is the ground for any relationship. See the reasons why such honesty took a backseat and communicate with your partner about this.

Tip 2 - Do Not Compare With Other Relationships

Every relationship is unique with its own dynamisms. The context of a relationship is between you and your partner and should not be in comparison to another couple. While values of honesty, respect, and trust are universal to all relationships, the way in which it is applied depends upon the context. Refrain from comparing your relationship with any other and focus on the nature of your particular relationship. This will help you to become aware of the phases your relationship has been through and the benchmark it is at right now.

Tip 3 - Past Is Past

There is nothing you can do to change what has happened. Of course, this does not imply that you 'forget' it or do not take into consideration the infidelity while taking any actions regarding the relationship later on in life. The prime lesson in any case of infidelity is that we learn from it and remember it as a testimony for unbreakable love. It is to remind that there is a necessity to keep the lines of communication open in order to ensure that no moments of dishonesty creeps in.

Tip 4 - Be Aware

Stay alert of all the actions which constitute your relationship. Observe the behavior of your partner, how you both spend time with each other, the tone of verbal communication, and ways in which you both can jointly strengthen the relationship more.

Tip 5 - Understand Each Other

At every critical point in a relationship, try and understand each other. Do not let the past interfere with your capacity to understand what is presently happening. Learn from the past. Be cautious and be prepared for the future. Share your feelings with your partner. You could also consider marriage counseling or relationship self-help groups if you both feel comfortable with it and believe that the involvement and help of other people will help you both to grasp the problems of your relationship and resolve them better.

Stay alert of all the actions which constitute your relationship. Observe the behavior of your partner, how you both spend time with each other, the tone of verbal communication, and ways in which you both can jointly strengthen the relationship more.


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