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10 Ways to Prevent Cheating in Relationship

10 Ways to Prevent Cheating in Relationship

Cheating in relationships is rampant. We can assume most partners will cheat at some point in a committed relationship. Why? I’m going to answer that question a number of ways, and then teach you how to guard against it happening. But first, some statistics. The U.S. divorce rate for first marriages is near 50%, and significantly higher if you include second and third marriages. Divorces don’t necessarily involve cheating, but the two are connected. Cheating is sometimes a cause of divorce and at other times as a symptom of a weakened relationship. An estimated half of married partners cheat on their spouse. If you include other types of committed relationships, the percentage of cheating goes up.

I don’t mean to imply that cheating is always a bad thing. Affairs can sometimes make a relationship stronger, as many in the affair recovery movement can testify. Whereas a couple may have been neglecting their sex life, not paying enough attention to their emotional bond, or not communicating honestly about needs and desires, an affair can sometimes spur a couple to get their act together and function more securely. Cheating can sometimes be a way to end an unhealthy relationship, or gain clarity about what is truly fulfilling. An affair can be a way to make a move in a stagnant relationship rather than hang out in limbo for years. But cheating is also generally a very painful experience for one or both committed partners.

I also don’t mean to imply that monogamous relationships are somehow better than other kinds of arrangements. To each his own. But by and large, most people in the Western world still choose to function in mutually agreed-upon committed relationships. So it makes sense to explore what prevents cheating and how to protect your relationship from it, or at least stack the odds in your favor. Especially because cheating can have a negative effect not just on adults in relationship, but on young children who depend physically and emotionally on the stability of adult relationships.

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1. Have Agreements

Dr. Stan Tatkin, author of Wired for Love, has written on the importance of having explicit agreements. “Everything that is assumed does not really exist,” he says. Agreements should be clear, and cover how to handle others’ advances, what information is shared (attraction to others), and how quickly you tell each other about romantic or flirty experiences. There should be a conversation on what constitutes cheating, because initially partners may not be on the same page. For example, one partner may think it’s fine to go out dancing with their friends, flirt with folks, and maybe even have some ‘innocent’ kisses on the dance floor, while their partner may consider that behavior out of bounds. Partners can have very different ideas on what constitutes an emotional affair, and if it qualifies as cheating.

2. Be a Rock Star

The best defense against cheating is a great relationship. When our needs are met physically and emotionally, we don’t have as much interest to look elsewhere. Examine how well you meet your partner’s wants and needs, and how well they meet yours. Make sure to step it up in areas that are weak, and to communicate honestly about what you need to feel fulfilled and fully happy.

3. Tend Your Garden

Do things together that challenge you to grow together. We all change as we age. It’s not enough to put our partnerships on cruise control and expect them to last. How are you going to keep up with your partner’s changing thoughts, preferences, ideas and desires? How do they keep up with yours? Read books together, attend seminars, or find a good online relationship education program to keep your partnership on the cutting edge of moving forward so you are continually discovering one another.

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4. Understand your Partner

Sounds simple. But it’s not. Your partner has all kinds of secret thoughts and feelings they probably don’t tell you, or possibly anyone. You need to be safe enough to your partner that you get the full skinny. How? Encourage honesty with alot of compassion and no judgment. Find out the few things about your partner that no one else knows. Use that information to ‘be on the inside’ every day in terms of their experiences in the relationship, at work, and with themselves. Know things their mom or friends don’t even know. This knowledge makes you valuable in a way few others can replicate.

5. Don’t Be Jealous, Be Better

If you suspect your partner’s attention may be drifting elsewhere, it may push them further away to become angry and critical with them. Jealousy is natural, but try to focus on wooing your partner even more with your talents and capabilities. Give them more of a reason to love  and value you. Being upset with them may frighten them temporarily into being more careful, but it’s not an effective long-term strategy, and often doesn’t work in the short term either. You can’t keep a partner around reliably or happily using threats and fear. Only the positive reasons for being together hold up as glue that will protect you from others getting in on the action.

6. Do Occasional Counseling

It’s the 21st Century. The old-time stigma of seeing a couples counselor is long-gone. Find a good, capable therapist, and see them for “positive and pro-active” relationship support. Go in before you have major issues. After is often too late for counseling to be fully effective. We all have blind spots in the way are with others. Some of those come from our family history, such as the things our parents tended to do in relationship, or more importantly, what they did not do with one another. Our map of healthy, secure relationship is usually only as good as what we have seen and experienced first-hand. Counseling, even a few sessions here and there, can help us develop a more comprehensive map of how to tend to our partnerships and share life together more enjoyably.

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7. Justify Your Existence

You have to be the go-to person. Anything you don’t provide in terms of emotional, intellectual and physical needs, your partner will look to others for. And they should. In other words, we all seek to meet our needs, and if our partner isn’t there in certain ways, we find others. Those others sometimes form the basis for an affair, or an emotional bond that replaces our partner, or takes energy away from the partnership that it really needs to grow and adapt. Think of being a partner as applying for a job every day. Why should your partner keep you around and not fire you? What do you do that someone else cannot easily do instead? You have to be so good that others can’t really compete. This is, more than anything, the secret to preventing separations and break-ups, and it works much better than fear and guilt.

8. Why Not Cheat?

We are not wired for monogamy. Biologically, there are many imperatives to cheating, beginning with the added immune system and cell protections that come from mixing the gene pool. So why stay true? Well, there have to be excellent reasons for staying committed. What could those be? After all, the physical lust center of the brain really thrives on novelty, strangers and the exotic. Left to its own devices, that part of the brain may act on desires with others besides our partner. Think of the benefits of commitment: A partner who knows you better than anyone else; someone you have shared history and life memories with; someone you can rely on; someone who, when our beauty fades, our youthfulness is gone, and our health and sex drive diminish, still wants to be our companion and share life together; someone to grow old with. You and your partner need to remind yourselves of the reasons for commitment so the animal part of your brain doesn’t run unchecked.

9. Limit Opportunity

Affairs and cheating are primarily an issue with the strength and satisfaction of our current relationship, so it’s always best to look there first before blaming others or circumstance. But in second place as a contributing culprit is opportunity. Affairs and cheating are often a function of opportunity. Traveling with a co-worker, being at a party late without your partner, spending lots of time alone, drinking too much, or having independent social circles and activities can create opportunities. So what to do? Pay extra attention to these types of situations. Try to do things together, so others don’t have as much access. Stay in touch during the day, and text if one of you is out late at night. Check in while traveling, and send loving care packages with your traveling partner so they feel connected to you. If others begin to text or call your partner too much, it’s fair to ask that some of that energy be directed back into the primary relationship.

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10. Push the Envelope

Talk frequently and openly about sex, fantasies and desires. Try new hobbies together to keep things fun, humorous and exciting. Laugh together, wrestle. Try an unusual class. Choose TV shows to watch together you’ve never seen. Ask other couple friends for ideas on trips and local experiences they have liked. Try new things in the bedroom. Do things that are a little embarrassing, but still within your comfort zone. New, exciting activities, especially in the area of emotional and physical intimacy, keep your interest kindled and help you bond.

 

The best protection against cheating and affairs is ensuring your relationship is too awesome to mess with. Being attractive to your partner every day works better than fear, guilt or threats in maintaining the security of your commitment. Keeping things fresh in your friendship and love life additionally stimulate the brain in ways that maintain attention within the primary partnership. And if you suspect your partner may be looking elsewhere for an erotic shot in the arm or a deeper emotional friendship than what you typically provide, take steps to up your game rather than threaten to leave or become too critical. Sometimes, moments of interest in other people and experiences can tip you off to where you need to turn on the jets as a partner or couple. Improving your relationship needs to be a constant. Keep the focus on making yourselves stronger, not worrying so much about others and the world ‘out there.’

Featured photo credit: 123RF via 123rf.com

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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