In his book, Out of the Doghouse, Dr. Rob Weiss lists seven common behaviors cheaters engage in after their infidelity is uncovered that make the situation worse rather than better. One of these, and probably the most obvious, is that you should not continue cheating.
That you should quit being unfaithful seemingly goes without saying, right? It’s just very basic information. However, Dr. Rob includes this in his list because a frighteningly large percentage of men and women just can’t seem to stop cheating, no matter the consequences. In this way, some cheaters are like drug addicts: they lie, cheat, and keep huge secrets, all to continue their behavior. And they do this even after their behavior (or part of it, anyway) has been uncovered and their world is crumbling around them.
If you’ve cheated, it would not surprise us if you told us that you are feeling a strong urge to return to cheating right this moment, even if you’ve stopped and fully intend to stay stopped. And we get it. After all, the high of illicit sex is intoxicating and hard to let go of. It’s possible you’re worried that your life will be mundane and boring without this thrill. Or maybe your partner is being particularly vengeful and unpleasant in response to your cheating, and you think that your partner’s nasty behavior is a reasonable justification to go back to it at least one more time. It’s also possible that you are sexually addicted, which makes stopping cheating behaviors quite difficult.
Some (but not most) of the people who cheat are indeed sexually addicted. For them, cheating is part of a larger pattern of compulsive sexual behavior, engaged in regardless of consequences. In such cases, stopping the infidelity is not likely to occur without outside assistance of some sort. Just as alcoholics and drug addicts go to rehab centers, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous for help, sex addicts seek treatment from certified sex addiction therapists and social support in 12-step sexual recovery groups like Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, and Sexaholics Anonymous.
If there has been an emotional component to your cheating, as with a long-term affair (or even regular booty calls), letting go can be difficult—primarily because you probably care about your affair partner and don’t want to cause that person pain. You might even decide that you can surreptitiously stay in contact, continuing the relationship but being a little more careful from now on. In other words, if you are emotionally attached to the other person (or people), you may have a strong desire to continue lying and cheating, but to ‘do it better’ this time around.
Of course, this solution is no solution at all. In fact, it will only make things worse. Even if your significant other initially believes your lie (that the infidelity is over), he or she will inevitably find out the truth, and your continued breach of relationship trust will cause your partner incredible pain and anguish—much more than what has been experienced already. It might be enough to turn your partner away from you permanently. So before you continue cheating, I strongly advise you to think this idea through to its logical and extremely unpleasant outcome.
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If you or someone you care about is struggling with sex, porn, or substance/sex addiction, help is available. Seeking Integrity offers inpatient treatment for sex, porn, and substance/sex addicts, as well as low-cost online workgroups. At the same time, SexandRelationshipHealing.com offers a variety of free webinars and drop-in discussion groups, podcasts, and more.