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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 November 11, 2019

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

You know how this looks:

  • Parents constantly comparing children.
  • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Adultery…
  • And many others.

For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

How to fix a dysfunctional family

In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

Dysfunctional… Or just average?

Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of interest and time spent together
  • Sexism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Lack of empathy
  • Unequal or unfair treatment
  • Disrespect towards boundaries
  • Control Issues
  • Jealousy
  • Verbal and physical abuse
  • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

How to turn it around

When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

Correction is possible

In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

Verbalize it.

All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

Putting it to work in real life

In real life it would be something like this:

“OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

Or:

“Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

Or:

“Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

This is what you have to remember:

1-Stop.

2-Why it’s wrong?

3-What you need.

And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

It’s a family thing

A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

In other words, you will need cooperation…

So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

It’s not a free-for-all battle

In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

The method

1. Drop the ego

Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

2. Not blame, but responsibility

When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

You will do something like this:

“Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

What happened here?

We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

3. Doing the work

What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

“When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

Love is all you need

You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

And what happens if it simply is not there?

What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

There is only one thing you can do:

To break away.

Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

“We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

Putting distance

So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

What do I mean?

Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

I choose my peace of mind.

And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

How to prevent it

There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

  • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
  • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

Priorities and clear thought

You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com

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