Studies show a variety of results on infidelity, but the general consensus is that 30–40% of men and 20–30% of women will cheat on their partner at some point in their relationship. Don’t let those numbers cause despair! You don’t have to be resigned to the fact that you will cheat or be cheated on. Talk to your partner and try these seven things to protect the relationship from infidelity.
1. Be honest with yourself about your weaknesses.
If you go out to a bar with friends and have a few drinks, do you get a little flirty? If so, be honest with yourself. Don’t let yourself drink enough to get to that point, or stay with your group of friends instead of letting your eyes roam. If you play off your weaknesses as just harmless things that happen, you’re more likely to easily write off excuses for further indiscretions. You have to call yourself out on what potentially negative habits you have and keep them in check, otherwise they could pick up steam and turn into a mistake you’re going to regret.
2. Discuss your boundaries.
Talk with your partner about what fidelity means to you. Does flirting count as cheating? Can they have close friends of the opposite sex? If they talk on the phone for hours with that friend, are you confident that it’s only a friendship? What about reconnecting with exes on social media? Make sure you both want fidelity in the relationship, and set guidelines for what that fidelity entails. If you don’t agree, then you might need to rethink the relationship. Make sure to keep an even playing field – if you think flirting is infidelity when your partner does it, you can’t do it either, even if you know it’s not going anywhere.
3. Avoid tempting situations.
Don’t put yourself in a situation where you’ll be alone with an attractive member of the opposite sex, or where you’ll be drinking without your partner, but with some cute bar patrons. You might think you’ll have no problem turning anything down, but once you’re already in the situation, it’s incredibly easy to keep going with the flow – the flow that might lead to a mistake that ends your relationship! It’s much harder to get yourself out of a tempting situation once it’s started, so it’s best to avoid them completely.
4. Talk to friends who will hold you accountable.
If you’ve had a fidelity problem in the past, or think you might cheat on your current partner, surround yourself with friends that can help you through. Make sure you trust them completely and know that they won’t just say they’ll help you through, then egg you on once you’re knee deep in the tempting situation.
5. Make better choices.
This goes hand in hand with being honest with yourself about your weaknesses and avoiding tempting situations. Making better choices means you’re consciously making the effort to better yourself and save your relationship. Any time you find yourself in a questionable situation, or having thoughts that might lead you astray, you need to make a decision to stay on track and do what’s best for your relationship.
6. Don’t keep secrets.
Being honest with your partner is just as important as being honest with yourself. You don’t need to tell your partner every time you think about someone other than them, because that will just hurt their feelings and bruise the relationship, but do tell them if you’re having the thoughts in general. Tell them if you’re worried about going out with certain friends because of the environment and mindset everyone will be in. Don’t keep secrets about things that happened during your work day, even if it involves your attractive coworker. Keeping secrets about even the smallest things makes it easier to keep the big issues quiet, too. Keeping secrets of any kind is the first step towards damaging a relationship that used to be strong.
7. Communicate openly.
Make sure you can communicate openly with your partner. Don’t get angry when they tell you their thoughts and feelings, and let them know you expect them to stay calm when you talk, as well. Tell them whatever’s on your mind regarding yourself, them, your relationship, and your hopes and dreams for the future. Sharing everything and making sure you’re on the same page about your relationship and how it’s progressing will make you feel closer, and feeling closer will make you less inclined to cheat because you’re happy with what you have.
Featured photo credit: Guian Bolisay via flickr.com