Avoiding Temptation: How to Stay Faithful to Your Partner
Cheating on a romantic partner, while socially unacceptable, is rather common. About 1 in 5 anonymously surveyed adults in the United States admitted to cheating. No matter how much you adore your partner, finding yourself attracted to another person is possible, and when it happens, your choices determine what happens next. A crush can remain just a crush, but it could turn into an affair.
If you find yourself tempted to cheat, you can still take steps to avoid inflicting emotional and mental pain on your partner.
Define cheating from the beginning
Surprisingly, couples can have vastly different definitions of cheating. Having an honest conversation with your partner early in the relationship about what cheating means to each of you can be a helpful guide for future behavior. For example, one person may feel more strongly about emotional cheating than physical, or vice versa.
Make sure you are on the same page and you can spare yourself heartache down the line. And if your partner defines cheating to include actions you think are harmless, you may ultimately be incompatible as a couple.
Dig down deep
If you are contemplating an action that your partner would define as cheating, some intense reflection could illuminate the reasons you are considering such actions. The temptation to cheat can be an indicator of issues within your existing relationship or even your own internal conflicts. Some reflection about why cheating appeals to you may reveal what needs are not getting met by your current partner. Maybe you feel neglected, sexually unsatisfied or angry, or maybe you've simply fallen out of love.
Once you determine your motivations, the next step is to address the underlying basis for your temptation. Depending on these causes, you have a few options. If the root of the problem lies in your existing relationship, communication is key. Talk to your partner about needs of yours that aren't being met, and work together as a team to see what changes may need to occur.
If the conflict seems too big to tackle alone, couples therapy is always an option. For cases where your temptation to cheat comes from a more internal source, such as low self-esteem, consider other solutions; maybe pursue individual therapy or research self-help techniques.
Finally, if you have fallen out of love with your partner or have discovered that the desire to cheat comes from overall incompatibility in the relationship, it could be time to let go. Although breakups are painful and difficult for both parties, the decision to end the relationship will ultimately cause less overall conflict and grief than cheating.
Techniques to curb temptation
If even after some self-reflection you still think you may cheat, there are other approaches to prevent you from making that choice. First, think realistically about the consequences. Cheating could cause irreparable harm to your relationship, hurt your partner and children, and put your own self-image and reputation at risk. The best way to avoid such pain is simply not to cheat. Putting the potential results of your actions in perspective can help you center yourself and resist the urge. You could even write out a list of reasons not to cheat to refer to when you feel the desire.
Another great option is to cut off contact with your crush. While difficult, if your primary relationship is truly important to you, the best choice is to eliminate the source of temptation. Avoid the individual as much as possible, particularly any potential one-on-one time. Unfollow them on social media, and even delete or block their number if the craving to maintain contact feels too strong.
Finally, you could try reinvesting the energy you spend thinking about cheating back into your existing relationship. Feel the urge to text your crush? Try diverting that impulse into communicating with your partner instead. If you are having sexual thoughts about another person, consider using that time to think about how you could improve your sex life with your current partner. Making a conscious effort to improve and honor your current relationship can help deter the temptation to cheat.
Commit to commitment
Even if your relationship is in a rough patch, cheating won't solve your problems and could make them worse. The chances that cheating will lead to a positive outcome are slim to none, and you will likely cause pain to yourself, your partner and potentially others in your life. Instead of cheating, take steps to reduce temptation and throw yourself into fixing the problems in your current relationship. With enough teamwork, you may find that the troubles that seem escapable only through cheating are ultimately issues you both can solve.