Confessing Cheating To Your Partner: 11 Expert Tips

confessing cheating to your partner
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Sit with a group of friends, or even people you don’t know, and talk about monogamy. You’ll hear a lot of interesting thoughts, scientific research, insights, and personal experiences around the importance of both monogamy and non-monogamy, and even people’s experiences where they confess cheating on their partners.

As interesting as these discussions are, the practice of these concepts – whether monogamy or non-monogamy – is not fool-proof, and requires dedication and a lot of learning. Many people, who are in monogamous relationships, end up confessing cheating on their partners. Strangely, people in non-monogamous relationships do that too.

According to an article, less than 5% of the 4,000 mammal species are monogamous. Having said that, if you’ve entered an arrangement where cheating is forbidden, you can’t blur ethical boundaries. You can’t hurt your partner by saying, “Oh, but humans are not meant to be monogamous.”

To gain more insight, we talked to life coach and counselor Joie Bose, who specializes in counseling people dealing with abusive marriages, breakups and extramarital affairs. If you’ve been cheating on your partner, and wish to set the record straight and confess cheating, we need to tell you – it’s not going to be an easy journey. Let’s begin.

Should You Confess Cheating On Your SO?

This brings us to some of the things most people think about after they’ve cheated on their partner: Should I tell them? Is there a point in confessing to cheating years later? What are the pros and cons of telling them? What would be their reaction? Would they break up with me? Shouldn’t I try to salvage the relationship by hiding this mistake?

There’s no one rule that will fit every person who has cheated on their partner. Some relationships prefer a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Some people have an arrangement with their partner that “If you stray once, then I’m allowed to do that once too”. For some, cheating once is not a relationship deal-breaker, but more than once is. For some, it’s the ultimate betrayal, and you confessing cheating on them shatters them completely.

What is your partner like? In the initial part of your relationship, did you ever have a conversation around infidelity, and do you know their thoughts on cheating? You need to evaluate all of this before you decide to confess cheating on your SO.

Joie adds, “You have to be clear as to why you did it. Even if you don’t know the answer, be honest about it. If you’re planning to fabricate that, it will not work. So basically, you are also assessing the genuineness of the act for yourself as you prepare to confess. Assess what would happen if your partner didn’t know, and what their reaction would be if they knew it all. Be soft and gentle, and understanding and kind, when you ask for forgiveness.”

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We would say your partner deserves to be in an honest relationship, where they can choose to not be with a disloyal partner or choose to heal, forgive, and move on with you. They deserve to have that choice. If you do decide to tell them, we have 11 expert tips to guide you on this painful quest. Here’s how you can go about confessing cheating on your partner.

Related Reading: 8 Steps To Completely Forgive Someone Who Cheated On You

11 Expert Tips When Thinking Of Confessing Cheating

Now that you’ve decided honesty is the way to go, as painful as it may be, we’re here to make that process slightly easier for you and your partner. The first thing to do is to not beat yourself about it forever. Yes, what you did was insensitive and hurtful. But, you need to now forgive yourself for it, take as long as you need for that to happen.

You need to look toward the future and carry your distraught partner with you in the hopes that you both decide to heal and stay together. We hope these 11 tips help you when you’re thinking of confessing cheating on your partner:

1. When do you plan to confess cheating?

When are you planning on confessing cheating to your SO? Is it during their work hours? Is it during a time they’re extremely stressed? Is it right before an important event? We hope not. Please make sure your timing is sensitive and takes into account their reaction to the news.

Also, if you are confessing to cheating years later, you might be forgiven in some cases but it’s not necessary. Spence shares, “In such cases, your partner might take time apart in the relationship to come to terms with the fact that the person who you turned out to be is very different from who they thought you were. At least that’s what happened with my partner and me when I cheated on her once many years ago but told her only recently.”

2. How do you plan to confess cheating?

Will you text them to confess cheating? Will you speak face-to-face? Think about the medium, as it needs to be one in which a) you are able to put your point across coherently and sensitively, b) you’re able to mention what you wish for the future – separation or amends, c) your partner feels comfortable receiving the news

“I went through all the ways in my head and with two of my closest friends before I could make the confession. I have never been so nervous, but I knew I can’t just blurt out whatever comes to my mind,” shares Rita.

Related Reading: 8 Ways To Reconnect After A Big Fight

3. Content of the confession

Will you tell them all the details or just the basics? Are all details important when confessing to cheating? You can confess cheating, and maybe tell them who it was with. But wait for them to ask you the details. Allow them to process the betrayal before you add more fuel to their internal fires.

Don’t treat them as your confessional or your therapist. They are not here to make you feel better or to validate you. They will be going through enough trust issues now, don’t add to it. Rita goes on to share, “I wanted to tell everything, each and every detail, but was stopped by my friends. They told me I have no right to overwhelm my partner any further. So, we picked the information that was absolutely relevant for the moment.”

4. Tone of your confession

Your tone needs to be sincere and apologetic. Here are some of the don’ts to remember: a) Your tone can’t be defensive, b) It can’t be aggressive, c) It can’t be contemptuous toward your partner, and d) It can’t be so calm that you tell them in a matter-of-fact way.

Joie suggests, “When you’re confessing cheating, you might be breaking the heart of the person you have cheated with as well. Put a closure to that. The time you enjoyed was special as well. Do all you can to soften the hurt for both people.”

5. Intent of your confession

Make your intent clear. Do you want to make things work with them? Do you wish to leave them? Or maybe you wish to have a conversation regarding how you want an open relationship. But this would still require you to make amends because you did cheat and you wanting to have an open relationship now doesn’t undo what happened.

We ask Joie about this and she says, “When you’re confessing, be sure to talk about what you will do to prevent it further. Don’t leave the future steps hanging. It’s not the end of the world. Moving forward with a promise of a better and honest tomorrow is important.”

Related Reading: 8 Open Relationship Rules That Have To Be Followed To Make It work

6. Don’t blame the person you cheated on or with

It was your decision to cheat. You’ll need to take full accountability and not say things like, “she seduced me”, “I was drunk”, “you are not a good partner to me”, etc. If someone’s not a good partner to you, you leave cordially. You don’t cheat. Hence, don’t blame anyone.

Troy says, “My first instinct was to tell my partner that it was his fault. I don’t even know why, but I was so scared that all I could think of was washing my hands of all accountability. Thankfully, I took a few days to figure it out and didn’t play the blame game or indulge in emotional manipulation.”

Is my girlfriend cheating on me

7. Tell the person you cheated with that you’re confessing cheating

Joie says, “Whoever you cheated with should know beforehand that you are confessing cheating. Your confession may have implications for them as well.” Your partner might confront them. In such a case, them being completely unaware of your decision is unfair and could be harmful to them.

Also, if you plan to leave your partner and end the relationship to be with the person you cheated with, then you need to discuss this decision with them. So, are all details important when confessing to cheating? For the other person, they might just be.

8. Be generous with your apologies

Joie says, “Yes, ask for forgiveness and be prepared to go on asking till you get it. Be prepared to be persistent.” This isn’t a one-day job, you will need to show up with sincere apologies whenever you can and whenever your partner needs you to be sorry.

This can go on for weeks, even months, depending on the severity of the impact on your partner or how full-fledged your relationship with the other person was. Two things though: do not keep apologizing when your partner clearly needs space, and they probably will. Also, if your partner is being vengeful and wants to make you feel bad for months on end, then it’s time to draw a boundary and not let this incident affect your mental health.

Related Reading: I Need Space – What Is The Best Way To Ask For Space In A Relationship

9. Ask your partner what they need

Do they need amends? Ask them what you can do for them. Every person needs to process hurt, heal, and feel re-connected in different ways. You can’t bring them flowers every day and think that you’re doing enough, if that’s not the way they need you to make amends.

Do they need space? Then do that, give them space, and don’t keep expecting forgiveness in the meantime. You both might need couple’s counseling as well, and if that’s what you’re looking for, Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists is here to guide you through the process and paint a path for recovery.

10. Be there for your partner

Yes, be there for their emotional needs and healing. But this also means don’t disappear. They might need space from you, and you may need time to figure things out, but make sure you stay sincerely connected and do not abandon them. They already feel abandoned by you, don’t add to that feeling.

Troy shares, “My partner needed space from me for a few days after I confessed cheating. But I made sure I text him a few times a day, with his established consent, from the hotel I stayed in. I wanted to let him know I’m sorry, and that despite my flaws, I want to stay in the relationship if he wants that too.”

11. You’re accountable to your partner, not everyone else

Joie warns, “Before you confess cheating, please be sure of who all would get to know of it and how they will be impacted by the news. Prepare for a backlash from many people. Decide what you will say to them and what the path forward will be. You can tell everyone concerned that you will get back to them after the initial pacification.”

People from your family and the family of your partner might demand answers and accountability. In some cases, yes you need to answer their questions and pacify them as well. But in many cases, the only things that matter are your partner’s forgiveness, the space your relationship needs from everyone else in order to heal, and setting up new and realistic expectations from each other.

Yes, it is going to be a long journey ahead for both of you, but we are sure it will be worth the pains and the conflicts if you both make it through. Were these 11 tips helpful? Let us know if they worked for you, or if you want to add something to this list from your personal experience.

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