Step 1: ‘Careless Whisper.’
Ruh-roh! You cheated. Prepare to be pegged by Satan’s pitchfork in hell, sinner. I’m kidding. Cheating isn’t a considerate thing to do, but it happens.
An estimated one in five Americans cheats every year, so you’re not alone (obviously, because it takes two to tango). But when the hangover from that office party has worn off, and your work crush has become your reason to hide in your cubicle, what the heck do you do next?
Read on, pumpkin eaters.
Let’s backtrack for a second…
In case you’ve clicked because you’re considering cheating, but you haven’t gone through with it yet, take a mental smoke break. Why do you want to step out?
Are you miserable in your current relationship? Or are you perfectly happy but ideally you’d also boink your cute coworker? In a perfect world, you’d figure this shit out before putting your partner, yourself, and the third party in a compromising position. “Yes, it’s hard, but ideally, man up and don’t cheat in the first place,” says aptly-named New York City-based sex therapist Kelly Wise, PhD.
To do that, you need to have uncomfortable conversations with yourself—and then your partner. If you love your partner but you think you’d also love to see other people consider ethical non-monogamy.
People who practice polyamory and other forms of non-monogamy throw in the word “ethical” because unlike cheating, everyone knows what’s up. It sucks to imagine bae doing the dirty with someone else, but the worst part of cheating is the betrayal (and the STDs—more on that below).
“There’s nothing wrong with having multiple partners. It’s a matter of all parties understanding what’s going on,” Dr. Wise says.
Okay, so you already cheated.
Before we move on, sorry, but you still must think about why you did it. Sometimes cheating is a cheap way to get out of a relationship, Dr. Wise says because the cheater knows the cheat-ee will consider it a deal breaker and dump their ass.
It’s like purposefully always showing up late to work because you’re miserable and want to quit but are too scared (plus you want that unemployment), so you fuck up on purpose to get fired. That’s a pussy move.
If you cheated because you’re unhappy, stop being a wimp and end things. The shittiest thing you could do is make someone (who at least at one point, you really cared for) go through the emotional turmoil of giving you and then dumping them anyways. It’s not fair to hold someone captive in a relationship that you’re secretly dying to get out of.
Yeah, you should (probably) say something.
This might be a controversial opinion, but I think if you just drunkenly kissed some girl up in the club while partying at your best friend’s bachelor party, the decision to tell your partner or not is between you and your god.
Yes, to me kissing someone else while in a monogamous relationship is cheating. But such an instance might not be worth the hurt if you’re never going to see your Las Vegas makeout buddy again (or don’t even know their name). However, if it’s anything more than that, you need to come clean. First off, as we’ve discussed, women know everything. In the digital age, it’s more difficult to keep secrets than Mad Men would have you believe.
After you’ve done your mental pushups and figured out why you cheated, bring it up in a calm setting where you have space to talk it out, like at your apartment (you’ll get a drink thrown in your face at a restaurant) and prepare for tears and yelling. Set time aside for the discussion and be ready to listen.
Don’t drop the bomb that you cheated just as the cheat-ee is about to leave for work. And when you tell your partner, throw in a preface that you’re sorry and want to be honest, not because you forgot to use a condom and have come down with the clap (please, if you cheat, at least be safe). Be an extra good boy and get tested, and do not have unprotected sex with your partner until you know that you’re clean (and they know that you’ve cheated).
Cheating isn’t always a deal breaker.
Your partner may not agree with me on this, but infidelity doesn’t have to be the end. If you still love your partner, and you cheated because you were going through a rough patch, apologize until your tongue bleeds and try to use the opportunity to grow.
“Is it going to break you up, or is it going to shine a light on what’s going on in the relationship so you can have a conversation about your problems, and see if those things are workable?” Dr. Wise asks.
I’m going to assume your partner is smart, and if things have been tough, she’s aware of that. She may not even be surprised by your confession. If she still loves you, there’s a chance you can work through it.
But you do have to give her ample time and space to forgive. Buying jewelry, flowers, and massages certainly won’t hurt your case for reconciliation. (If she does forgive you, then when she’s ready to have sex again, you eat that pussy like your life depends on it.) I once had an ex who cheated literally sleep outside my apartment surrounded by all the bouquets he had bought me because I wouldn’t let him in.
I eventually gave him another shot.