Finding out that your partner cheated on you can be crushing. It shatters the illusion that your relationship was immune to such hurt and betrayal, causes the trust between the two of you to dissipate, and alter your idea of what your relationship is. Cheating can happen even in relationships that people think are happy ones — it's not relegated to relationships that are clearly unstable, unhappy, or unhealthy. You might be surprised to find out, however, that there can also be some shocking ways that cheating could actually benefit your relationship. That's right, there can actually be a bit of an upside to discovering that your partner has cheated on you. While it might be difficult to acknowledge them as such right away, over time, some of these benefits can become clearer. From the way you approach relationships in the future to the way you communicate within your current relationship, there are some good things that can ultimately come out of what's undoubtedly a terrible and devastating situation.
Because there's no one definition of what cheating is, it's hard to know exactly how many people do it, but it's safe to say that it might be more common than you thought. Anita Chlipala, a licensed marriage and family therapist and a dating and relationships expert, told Refinery29 that she thinks that cheating might be contagious, so, essentially, if you're around a lot of people who think cheating is OK, you might be more apt to cheat as well.
Whether that's true or not, it's hard to argue with the fact that whatever behavior that you'd define as cheating can feel earth-shattering, but there also just might be a silver lining to it after all.
1. You Might Find Out Sooner That This Wasn't The Relationship For You
While some couples stay together and work through their issues, others decide that it's best to separate after finding out one partner or the other cheated. If you decide that your relationship is over after finding out that your partner cheated on you, you might actually be saving yourself some grief in the long-run (as silly as this may seem) if the two of you weren't going to work out anyway. Finding out that your partner isn't right for you now rather than finding out years down the road could potentially be a blessing in disguise. Deep, deep in disguise, but a blessing nonetheless.
2. Women Will Be Emotionally Stronger Because Of It
Apparently, women actually can get emotionally stronger after being cheated on if the relationship doesn't last. Researchers from Binghamton University and University College London found that while breakups are typically harder on women than they are on men, because women tend to talk about, think about, and work through those feelings post-breakup, they're able to actually work through the feelings and move on.
3. You Might Make Positive Relationship Changes
In a post that she wrote for HuffPost, Betsy Ross, a psychotherapist, divorce and relationship coach, and mediator, wrote that some people look at infidelity as a symptom of bigger issues in your relationship. If you're able to concretely identify what these issues might be, you'll have a better shot at addressing them. Whether you decide to stay in the relationship or not, recognizing that these issues existed and knowing that neither of you are perfect can make either your current or future relationship stronger.
4. You Might Look At Your Future Partner Differently
If cheating means that your relationship is definitely over, you might, at some point in the future, find yourself looking for another partner. Being cheated on can change how you approach potential partners and relationships, however. In the aforementioned study from Binghamton University and University College London, researchers found that women who had been cheated on claimed that their emotional intelligence was higher as a result. They were able to pick up on hints that might indicate that a partner is cheating because they're better able to intuit when something's off.
5. You'll Communicate Better
If you and your partner decide to stay in your relationship and attempt to work things out, you'll probably need to work on your communication skills. In an interview with Reader's Digest, Peggy Vaughan, an affairs expert and the author of The Monogamy Myth: A Personal Handbook for Recovering from Affairs, said that the way to rebuild the trust in your relationship is to talk about the affair and the issues in your relationship and answer any questions the other partner may have. You might think that it's better to not know, but if more information about the affair or the events immediately before or after it comes out later, it can set you back.
6. It Can Validate Your Decision To End The Relationship
Ending a relationship can be a tricky business. It's hard to disentangle your lives, to leave the routine you had with that person, and to sort out your feelings. Essentially, you can sometimes start second-guessing if ending things is the right thing to do. In some cases, finding out that you've been cheated on can validate that your decision to end the relationship was absolutely the right one, as writer Courteney Larocca wrote in a piece for Bustle. That validation can make it easier for you to move forward.
7. You'll Learn A Thing Or Two About Forgiveness
Whether you find yourself able to forgive your partner or not, chances are you'll learn something about forgiveness after finding out about cheating. Some people find that they need to forgive themselves for the blame and guilt of feeling like they "caused" the affair. Others find that they absolutely must forgive their partner or someone else. And still others think that forgiveness just can't happen, at least, not right away.
In a piece for Psychology Today, Dr. Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., a psychotherapist, speaker, and writer, wrote that "forgiveness is not mandatory or necessary." While forgiving your partner can be a healthy and important step to take in order for you to move on (together or apart), it's ultimately more important that you forgive yourself.
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