All About Infidelity, Part 1: Boundaries
We are humans, not robots.
We are biologically wired to notice attractive people. We are not bad or weak for that. If someone is attractive in your eyes, you will have an impulse to look and think about that person.
However, if you have committed to a monogamous relationship and you are acting on those impulses – that could lead to relationship problems. And if you are working hard to not act on those impulses, but you can’t seem to stay faithful, then you may need outside help/education/support.
Nothing is a problem until it’s a problem.
For example: If you glance at an attractive person, that is not necessarily bad. If you stare at an attractive person, that could be problematic. If you go get their phone number and have sex with them, then that could be a big problem.
The key is to have a conversation with your partner over what boundaries are okay for the two of you.
Different couples have different limits on what is okay. Both of you need to consent to what is okay for your relationship.
Here are some sample questions for you and your partner to answer:
Ask your partner what constitutes cheating in their eyes. What are they okay with? What are you okay with? What is absolutely off-limits? If your partner has a flirty personality, but has never and will never act on it – is that okay with you? Did they have that flirty personality when you met them? Or is this new? Have you always had the same boundaries when it comes to cheating, or have you changed?
Here are some sample questions that a couple’s counselor may ask you:
- What did both of you see during childhood about cheating and relationship boundaries? And does that past affect the present?
- What is your relationship history?
- What is your partner’s relationship history?
- Have either of you ever been cheated on?
- Have either of you cheated?
- What does it mean if your partner has cheated on you? Does it affect your self-esteem, your sexual desire, your trust levels?
- What do you need to work on and what does your partner need to work on to process this?
Approach this subject gently and from a curious perspective, not a judgmental or angry perspective.
This subject can easily lead to hurt feelings and wrong assumptions, so proceed with caution. Take a break from the conversation if you or your partner get triggered. Or wait to have these conversations until you can sit down with a professional. The goal of this conversation is to get information, not to accuse, attack, judge or criticize.
This is a 3 part series. Stay tuned for All about Infidelity, Part 2