There’s few things more painful than being in the victim of infidelity. There are a myriad of drivers as to why people cheat – both men and women alike do it. Some say they get bored or want more variety in their lives. We’d like to offer a different perspective. As we are all powerful people who get to make choices in our own lives, chances are, something is amiss inside the person. Chances are also that this thing (or things) has absolutely nothing to do with you. In the end, whatever is stirring in them never justifies a betrayal. However, long before infidelity is even a possibility, do your part to take care of your relationship. See if what you think may be long-term will really last.
Sometimes we just miss cues or don’t know how to convey our feelings in a way that the other person can receive. In essence, it’s like we are speaking different languages. Or sometimes we are looking for more in the person than they can give us – this is common. So here are ten ideas to get your mind percolating on how to take care of the relationship you are in – ways to keep them from ever thinking about cheating on you…
#1 Be willing to please the other person first.
Whether this is cooking, watching TV or having sex, putting the other one first is key. Once it’s a known that the other person can count on your opinion mattering as much as theirs does, it takes the scariness about making decisions and removes the fear that one will not be heard.
#2 Being open to trying new things.
It is easy to develop comfortable habits – the more one can count on, the better it is for some. But for others, they constantly want to learn new things. It’s a good idea to have already gauged where the person is on their adventure-o-meter. If you haven’t, try it out.
#3 Be watchful for over accommodating behavior.
One who accommodates the other eventually burns out. They feel their voice is never heard or does not matter, so they never speak up. Eventually, it is possible for the person to lose themselves – as in, no longer be in touch with who they truly are. Sadly, this also leads to the loss of what attracted the other person to them in the first place. Stay in touch who you are, what your preferences are and learn to keep the discussions respectful so you don’t feel run over. Moreover, not only will you feel better, but the other person is not likely to look elsewhere.
#4 Be watchful for behaviors that are too controlling.
The controlling personality is just as dangerous as the over-accommodating one. People who feel the need to be in control are really, underneath, very much afraid. This opens all sorts of doors to insecurity to multiple areas. Be watchful that you are aware of your weaknesses and triggers. If there is anxiety driving your behavior, better to know that and get a handle on it before it drives the other person out. Our goal is never to change the other person – the only one we can change is ourselves.
#5 Make sure each other knows how much they are appreciated.
So many times, we get into relationships and after some time, take each other for granted. It’s a natural temptation, yes, but is also easily overcome. Not feeling appreciated by the one closest to you is the worst feeling. Relationships are voluntary – not mandatory. You are both there by choice. So make it easy on each other by making it nice to be around.
#6 Know your tendencies and cycles.
There are various opinions about men and women being from different planets – but we’ll highlight that there are some truths in those publications. Generally speaking, and even anatomically, women go through cycles. They collect, nurture, purge, etc. on almost a rhythmic timeline – and I’m not just talking about the monthly thing. Women are rather wave-like. Men on the other hand, are more like rubber bands – can’t disagree with that. They get close and then need space. When they are ready, they get close again. In out, in out. Women up down, up down. The trick is to be aware of yourself, your tendencies and where you are in your “cycle” of things. Moreover, where is the other person and how do you develop language to separate what is actually part of your normal rhythm versus a real issue? Wisdom in discerning this is key. Talk about it…you may be surprised what you find out. Give each other the space to run their course.
#7 Let him do his thing; Let her do her thing.
The worst thing you want to do is lose touch with who you are and what you like to do. We each all have hobbies and things we love to do. The person we love just not might want to hike 150 miles or spend 6 hours at the spa. Ok, great, good to know. Celebrate your differences and enjoy doing what you like. This also gives a means to maintain relationships with close friends – something else that restores health in a relationship and keeps folks from wanting to wander off.
#8 Watch the Emo button.
Emotions are awesome – when used the right way. They are great thermometers in that they send us signals that things are okay or not okay. Our job is not to let emotions be thermostats, setting the tone of a room, but indicators that we should ask ourselves questions. If we are feeling happy – we can ask, why is this? Perhaps the person you are with makes you feel happy and gooey inside. Great. And if you are feeling suddenly irritated – why is that? Perhaps they said they would do something and have now completely disregarded what they said they would do. The trick to manage your emotions – not let the manage you. Treat them as signals – they are not weapons to be wielded around. Else, one becomes controlling or over-accommodating and we have to go back to #s 3 and 4. One last thing on emotions, be mindful of what you feed on – if you are watching TV shows that cause you to have negative emotions afterward, try not watching for a week and watch your mood improve overall. What we feed on does indeed affect us in ways we are not always aware of.
#9 Prioritize the relationship.
When you are together, be fully present. If you are in a discussion, that’s not the time to take the lower-priority phone call, check Facebook status or tweets. Protect the emotional investment you have and give it your all. If the other person is doing something and saying, “I’m listening” that might not be enough – it is your job to recognize the truth about yourself and vocalize. For example, someone I was dating once did this to me – they were on the internet. So I gave them a choice, “I need to leave in about 2 hours. I’ll let you choose when we discuss this, but it needs to be sometime before I leave and I need your undivided attention.” About half an hour later, I had the face-to-face discussion I needed. This was a good compromise in that we both got our needs met. Keeping the relationship in proper perspective and keeping the longer-term in mind is a key to success. After all, no one wants to feel they are second-best – whether that’s to someone’s interrupting phone call, text or task.
#10 Learn each other’s love language.
Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages is essential. In it, you will find yourself, your family members and your significant other. You will realize how you are wired – but more importantly, how others may be wired. Now you have something you can experiment with to ensure the other person feels appreciated (#5) and loved. For example, if words of affirmation rock your world, then her leaving little gifts here and there is “neat” but not getting it done. If her love language is acts of service, then him not taking out the trash is not only potentially a division of labor issue but also sends her the message “I don’t love you.” Imagine that gentlemen – you could kill two birds with one stone in this case simply by taking out the trash! Come on! That’s so good!
#11 Know each other’s tendencies and patterns.
If he or she is constantly looking at other people, that behavior is not likely to stop. If that is not something you can live with, you might want to give your relationship a long hard look. Saying that one is not “naturally monogamous” is like saying one has no self-control. One chooses to get out of bed, take a shower, feed themselves, etc. Choices. This is no exception – it’s a cop-out for the lack of self-control. If he or she “cannot control themselves” in general, then don’t expect them to do so in your relationship. That’s just a bad plan waiting to happen.
Remember, the only person we can change is ourselves – how we act, the choices we make and how we choose to respond to the words and actions of others. If the other one chooses to wander away, that was a choice they made – carrying the “fault” of someone else’s decision is not healthy or wise.
If you have been unfaithful or been on the other end of someone else’s infidelity and you want to remain in the relationship, there is hope. It requires both of you to be continually honest with each other and choose to move on. It is possible.