If you are in a committed relationship, I suggest you tell your partner when you are flirting with someone else. And certainly, if you are cheating. That is, if you want the relationship to be deep, loving, connected and lasting. But actually even if you don’t. I’ll explain why below.
I know what you’re thinking:
– It’s harmless.
– It would only hurt him/her to know.
– It was only that once (or those six times/isolated).
– He/she deserved it/I deserved it under the circumstances.
– I was filling a void he/she left.
All of these are lies. And sadly, they are lies that will keep you from believing in lasting monogamy and creating lasting monogamy. I know monogamy isn’t all that “natural” for us and we don’t have many great examples. Yet, most of us dream of it somewhere deep down. If only we knew how to make it happen. It has to be some different way than how we’ve been attempting it. Let’s try radical honesty, not to hurt or burden your partner, but to keep the partnership “senior” to your momentary, individual, ego-driven impulses and desires. This may fly in the face of relationship “wisdom” you’ve heard, but as a woman who has come back from standing on the edge of divorce, hear me out.
TELLING ON YOURSELF:
Is a Deterrent- If you know you are going to tell, the flirting or cheating just isn’t that sexy. It’s the power that’s at least half the fun. Choosing someone over your partner plus keeping it a secret is a double power play. It gives you power (maybe revenge?), but it won’t give you lasting, deep love. If your justifications are strong enough (and you have one, or five) you will excuse your behavior. If you don’t excuse yourself, you will have to deal with whatever complaints you have in your relationship quickly. Good. That’s the point.
Keeps You Vulnerable, and That’s Hot- Let’s face it, it is going to be embarrassing to tell, and hard. I know this from experience. But that means vulnerability, and vulnerability means intimacy. That intimacy means closeness and probably hotter sex with your partner (unless there are long-held grudges, see above).
Keeps You Right with Yourself and Your Self-Esteem High- If your ideal is monogamy, then staying honest about even the smallest stray, like telling your partner who else you think is sexy, keeps you in alignment with your ideal. When you live true to your ideals, you feel good and proud, no matter how embarrassing it may be at times to admit that you are human. And to look at people other than your partner and feel attracted is certainly human! We are not debating THAT, right?
Puts Your Partner on the Top “Rung” and Keeps Your Partnership “Senior”– I help a lot of people through divorces and break-ups. Invariably, we can trace the beginning of the end back to when the partnership stopped being “senior” to the needs of the individuals. When we are saving a marriage, the first thing we do is ask the couple if they are willing to start putting the partnership/each other on the top rung again. When you flirt with someone else, cheat with someone else, or even keep any kind of secret with someone else, you are putting them on the rung above your partner. Not cool. This hinders intimacy in your relationship, but telling changes the power dynamic and brings intimacy back.
Will Break You Up if it Should- Sometimes cheating or flirting is your lame way to get out of a relationship. If only this left you feeling good about yourself and the possibility of love, but it doesn’t. It actually erodes your trust in people, yourself and love itself. So, the sooner you tell, the sooner you can deal with your real issues and how to break up lovingly, if that is the right course of action.
And for those of you who are saying: “But Laurie, I am making (or have made) my open relationship work and it is beautiful and honest.” Hot! Seriously, I love your utopian heart, I do. But I ask you this: have you deeply examined your parents’ marriage (or lack of it) to see if you are really being original and creative in your veer away from monogamy? Just in case the philosophy falters a little when you want to raise kids, or the nursing home won’t let you room with your whole posse, I want you to consider polyamory MAY be a cop out to deep love. I am truly open to being wrong about this.
Write into the blog and tell me where you are in your journey.
– Working on believing in lasting love at all?
– Working on keepin’ it real with your current partner?
– Getting over past crimes?
– Making it work with multiple partners?
PLEASE SHARE so we can all learn from each other.