By Logan Cohen, Couples Counselor, Family Therapist & Psychotherapist - New Leaf Counseling Group - Charlotte, NC
This article is a "Part 2" for "How Cheating Hurts a Relationship". If you have not had a chance to read "Part 1", you can do so here. When it comes to relationship issues, many People are faced with healing from cheating at some point in their relationship - whether this is physical, emotional, or both.
Part 2 of "How Cheating Hurts a Relationship" will be covered in this article. We will continue explaining how cheating hurts a relationship, but can ALSO involve some potential “up-sides”.
There are some parts of healing from cheating that will be painful & uncertain, however that discomfort can be traded for new personal growth opportunities for each Partner in the relationship.
If both Partners in the relationship healing from cheating are willing to “show up & do the work”, the relationship can actually become stronger and more resilient through space to rebuild pieces that have often been out of place - even broken - for quite some time.
How Cheating Hurts a Relationship
#3 - How Cheating Hurts a Relationship - Reinforces Co-Dependence That Has Kept Both Partners STUCK
By the time cheating happens in a relationship, it’s never “random”. Someone doesn’t just fall down on accident and end up on the floor making out with someone they never saw before, or reach out for intimate texting with an “old fling” when they feel comfortable enough with healthy connection & intimacy in their own relationship.
There is ALWAYS something “off” by the time cheating hurts a relationship - not that it makes the cheating behavior more “right” in ANY way.
However with that said, the cheating was only a symptom of larger issues - sometimes the issues are solely with one Partner in the relationship, however it more often involves both Partners to some degree.
However even if one Partner has untreated mental health issues, the relationship dynamics over time take those issues into account & “adjust” to them - making the relationship AND both Partners in it - STUCK.
This is sometimes referred to as “co-dependence” - a harmful relationship dynamic where each Partner “enables” the other to stay inside of their comfort zones that are making them sick - all the while having the excuse to blame the other Person.
By the time cheating hurts a relationship, the Person who cheated has become “dependent” on someone even OUTSIDE of the relationship for special roles that should ONLY be reserved for their Partner in the primary intimate relationship.
A couples counselor who is experienced in supporting relationships that are healing from cheating knows this is happening as an underlying issue, but will not “go there” until some of the more urgent concerns are addressed and resolved.
How Cheating Hurts a Relationship
#4 - How Cheating Hurts a Relationship - A Reason to Re-Build
Ah, finally...my favorite part of this process. Soon after founding New Leaf Counseling Group 6 years ago in Charlotte, I realized that while cheating hurts a relationship BADLY in the short-term - the ideas held by each Partner in the relationship were NOT doing anybody favors before the cheating behavior even happened.
When the cheating is discovered, this experience “breaks open” the relationship for a FULL work-up and re-adjustment. As a seasoned Marriage & Family Therapist, I have also been an Approved Supervisor for the American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy (AAMFT) for several years.
While training provisionally licensed couples counselors & relationship therapists, I spent THOUSANDS of hours in intensive fieldwork & clinical training in the area of counseling psychology and healthy relationships.
With all of this time, I have grown to enjoy working with relationships who are healing from cheating because of what Family Systems theory calls its sheer POWER to “unbalance”
The process of “unbalancing” is the hardest part of being a skilled family and couples counselor because the clients are often reluctant to leave the safety of their “comfort zones”.