Recently I sat down to watch The View – the U.S. daytime talk show (and my vice – don’t call me when it’s on) starring Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd, Barbara Walters, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
Each episode features a potentially fiery segment called “Hot Topics”, and on this particular day, it was “cheating”, specifically – whether you should tell your partner you cheated on them, if it happened only once, and that it was now completely over.
To my surprise the ladies offered a “no” with (unusually) little debate. I was flabbergasted (how great is that word?).
A bunch of successful women, all from varying backgrounds and ages, suggesting that omitting the truth was the kinder and consequently best thing to do. Wha…?
Their argument was that if it was just once, and it’s now over, what was the point? Confessing would only cause upset to your partner, and to the relationship, and, that the reason for telling – to get rid one of one’s own guilt – was selfish. Therefore, say nothing and move on.
This did not sit well with me – I was pulling my highly attractive “for real?” face.
First, I’ll clarify that I’m not averse to the tiny white lie to save feelings, e.g. “I love broccoli and every vegetable in the world so this vegetarian lasagna is so much better than the usual!”
However, when it comes to matters of the heart, I feel that you must tell your partner of an infidelity, for a number of reasons.
More than just because it’s the right thing to do…
REASONS TO TELL YOUR PARTNER YOU CHEATED:
1. You’ve tested the waters outside the relationship because you were able to forget the history you had made with your partner – anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, romantic evenings, funny traditions, and relationships with their family – for a romp with someone whose full sexual history you probably weren’t aware of. That’s a significant decision. And, suggests that you’re not fully invested in the relationship. Therefore, you owe your partner an ‘out’ also. They might have been quietly suffering, and the fairest thing to do is to present them an opportunity to leave. Why? Well, if you were unhappy enough to swap spit and other things with a stranger, chances are that your partner might be harbouring some unhappy feelings about the relationship too. Afford them the same opportunity – to consider life without the relationship – which you took without their knowledge and permission. It’s only fair.
2. Confessing the infidelity might actually improve the relationship. The infidelity itself won’t, but it will encourage a dialogue to reveal the relationship problems (i.e. what caused you to show your nipples to someone else), and, what can be done to address them, if you both choose to stay. This ‘staying’ road is not going to be beer and skittles, but couples have navigated it in the past (e.g. Hillary and Bill), and will again in the future…
3. Lastly, it’s likely that you’ll confide your infidelity to a friend or family member before you tell your partner. And, aside from that information being a huge burden on your confidant, especially each and every time they interact with your partner (think dinner parties, BBQs), it’s also a pretty rubbish situation that the person who has given themselves to you at their most vulnerable (both in the emotional, and birthday-suit sense) and seen you at yours – your partner – is being pitied without their knowledge.
So in sum – if I were on The View, I’d be saying – “fess up even if it happened just once”
(I’d also be asking Whoopi to sing one of the songs from Sister Act).
*Rebecca McGuire is a freelance writer. She has a psychology degree, and is studying to be a relationships counsellor. When qualified she looks forward to being the unmoustached Dr. Phil equivalent.