The signs of infidelity might be there:
- The phone is suddenly locked and password protected. And always at his or her fingertips.
- Every errand, meeting, and walk around the block takes longer than it should.
- Sexual interest has waned or picked up dramatically.
- Your partner goes out of his or her way to keep you away from another person.
Something is going on. Maybe you are too angry or sad or afraid to confront it.
Maybe you do want to know. Now.
Suspicions of infidelity can be torturous, especially if you don’t know how to proceed.
Try these steps to help you move forward:
Check in with yourself before checking up on your partner.
It’s easy to react to your suspicion rather than really deal with your own inner anxiety. Be kind to yourself and patient as the emotions ebb and flow.
Whether your partner turns out to be faithful or not, your suspicions are important to understand. Scary. Painful. They can be a barometer of your true relationship. They deserve some time and consideration. Take that time before you accuse your partner of infidelity. It’s okay that you feel deeply and need to examine what this means to your life and relationship.
Don’t deny your feelings.
Resist the urge to squelch, clamp down, or bury your suspicions.
Notice how your body is tensed or shaking. Breathe through it. Stay in the present.
Mindfully examine what’s going on within you. If you can allow yourself to begin facing the fact that something is creating a serious disconnect in your relationship, acceptance of the possibility of infidelity will have less power.
Trust your intuition without jumping to conclusions.
Beyond refusing to be in denial, try to guide your thinking productively. You’ve likely seen some signs of trouble that are fueling your concerns, it’s okay to honor that sense. However, it’s also important to recognize that going on a search and destroy mission without concrete proof may seriously damage the relationship further. Until you have the full story, it’s best to give the benefit of the doubt and expect the best of your partner while preparing for the worst. Of course, this is a lot to expect of yourself. This may be a good time to talk to a therapist or someone very trustworthy to gain some perspective.
Consider the case for “proof.”
It is wise to consider how much proof you need to address your concerns. Generally, people who are hiding infidelity are not initially forthcoming. Being able to produce texts, photos, letters, and such may be what you need to move the eventual conversation forward. Keep in mind that whatever you discover will inspire a host of feelings you may need to brace for.
Conversely, if you find you either cannot find proof or spend an inordinate amount of time stockpiling proof of your partner’s betrayal, something else maybe going on with regards to your perception, your feelings about the relationship, or even your own self-esteem.
Prepare mentally and emotionally before confrontation.
Here again, you are turning inward. In order to prepare for whatever your partner tells you, mindful meditation, prayer, and journaling may help you feel more purposeful and mentally clear. Some worry and anxiety are natural, but you can manage them. Self care will help you mitigate overwhelming physical and emotional responses to the stress. Sharing or role playing with a counselor or trustworthy confidante can help you deal realistically and respectfully with the possibilities of your partner’s reaction to being confronted.
Expect to employ your anger management skills.
When confronted, someone who’s been keeping infidelity a secret often first defaults to lies, excuses, and blame. Sometimes they blurt everything out painfully. Your anger could understandably rise at that point or it might simmer under the surface, erupting later. Either way, having some anger management tools at your disposal could be extremely useful as you tackle this emotional issue and try to get some answers.
Allow and encourage honesty going forward.
Throughout this whole experience, ultimately achieving a clear and compassionate level of communication is important to secure interactions that are safer and less grounded in secrecy, denial, or disrespect.
Keeping the door open for civil discussion may help provide clarity and alleviate the torture of not knowing what your partner really feels about you and your future. You don’t have to decide where your future is headed now. Simply try to be present and honest about how it makes you feel to deal with the prospect of infidelity. Then, when the truth comes out, take the time you need to determine how you truly feel about each other.