This is when you should tell a partner you cheated, according to experts

It is possible they may never trust you again

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Wednesday 05 October 2022 18:44 BST
When to admit to an affair (Stock)
When to admit to an affair (Stock)

There are countless reasons that people cheat in a relationship - but what are you supposed to do when the affair is over and you still want to be with your partner?

According to one divisive article, you should always keep the secret of your infidelity to yourself - as telling your partner can only cause harm.

“You're the one sitting with the guilt, and if [the affair] is over and done, you absolutely don't want to then put that on your partner,” Megan Fleming, PhD, a marriage counsellor and sex therapist in New York City told Refinery29.

Rather than sharing the hurt, Dr Fleming suggests focusing on yourself and identifying the reason behind the affair.

“Obviously on some level your relationship was feeling challenged,” she explained.

While it does make sense to protect a partner from unnecessary pain, especially if the affair is completely over, it also means keeping a major secret, and readers were left divided.

According to best-selling author and New York City relationship expert Susan Winter, who spoke with The Independent, there are times to keep the secret - and times to come clean.

“The truth is that relieving one’s guilt comes at the direct expense of their mate,” Winter told us. “While honesty is indeed the hallmark of true intimacy, there are times when unburdening yourself results in cruel and unnecessary information that then burdens your mate.”

According to Winter, deciding whether to tell your partner may ultimately come down to the type of infidelity it was.

If it was a “one-off,” possibly fuelled by alcohol, Winter suggests refraining from telling your partner - as it will only hurt them.

“If so, think twice before revealing an interlude you can barely remember the next day,” she advised. “This confession can only create harm, not good. Commit to moderation and learn your limits of indulgence.”

But it may be a different case if you were having an affair.

When the infidelity was actually a decision made on numerous occasions, it becomes a “more potent confession,” according to Winter.

“This was a choice made repeatedly that diverted your love and sexual expression away from your partner,” she explained - and it indicates “a problem exists within the relationship, or within yourself.”

In this situation, Winter recommends entering therapy before confessing to the affair - as it can first teach you the correct ways to “express your personal needs within the relationship, and address the issues that are out of balance.”

A therapist can also advise on the language to use when admitting infidelity to spare your partner unnecessary pain - and help come up with a “game plan for moving forward” if you and your partner are willing to do so.

However, if a partner suspects cheating and asks directly, it is important to tell the truth, according to psychologist and dating and relationship expert Madeleine Mason Roantree, who told us: "It's not easy to find out that one's partner has been cheating, but if a person suspects foul play, there's little point denying it."

"Covering up and lying about infidelity makes things worse, especially for the one being cheated on," she continued - so spare your partner additional pain by being as honest as possible.

Just remember - if you do admit to cheating, your partner may find it hard to trust you again.

This article was originally published in Novermber 2018.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in