How To Confront A Cheating Spouse Or Partner
There is no romantic agony quite the same as discovering that your spouse or lover is cheating on you.
Few things are more universally painful than realizing the one you love broke his or her word — and your heart.
You may want to race directly to your spouse in a fit of rage and pain for a showdown.
But we advise some caution, forethought, and time before you do.
That’s why, hard as it may be, you need to pull yourself together, put together the facts, and confront the cheater the right way.
Quick note: Having good communication on a date and in a relationship is an important skill to develop. To learn more, check out this course that is helping couples learn healthy communication skills.
- Before You Confront a Cheater
- How to Confront a Cheater
- How to Confront a Cheater with Proof
- How to Confront a Cheater Without Proof
Before You Confront a Cheater
Here are some valuable steps to consider before you have the painful conversation.
Clear your head.
You need to maintain a clear head and calmly review the cold hard facts before you. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
The mere notion that the person to whom you have given your heart is throwing it away and betraying your trust is enough to move anyone to floods of tears or fits of rage.
Momentarily cathartic as they may be, however, neither crying in a corner nor screaming in your lover's face is likely to obtain your desired outcome.
Know what you want.
But what outcome is that, exactly? Are you looking to salvage this marriage? Is your relationship with them worth it – are they worth it?
You may not know precisely what you want until after you have the conversation about the adultery.
In fact, you may not know for weeks or months, as your emotions will run the gamut from rage to despair to hope.
Maintain your self-esteem.
The one rabbit hole you don’t want to go down is wondering whether you’re worth it. Too often, we internalize the shame and pain that comes from being cheated on and think the fault must lie in ourselves.
What’s worse, far too many cheaters count on that insecurity and vulnerability, taking advantage of it to shift blame to the wronged party and gaslighting him or her to get away with infidelity.
Prepare yourself emotionally.
You need to be ready for the possibility that the relationship with Mr. or Ms. Nice Guy is anything but nice.
Realize that the person you love is possibly a manipulative snake.
It may be better to separate yourself from this toxic relationship than to allow this person to further poison your happiness.
Get your Gloria Gaynor on and remember that as ugly and unfortunate as this cheating situation is, you will survive.
Decide what this person means to you.
If this person is the love of your life, you’ve been happy together for years, and he or she shows genuine remorse, things may be worth salvaging.
On the other hand, if this is a new partner or someone with a history of dishonest behavior, really ask yourself if he or she is right for you or even deserves you.
Collect your proof.
Is he cheating? Maybe. Will she admit it or continue to lie? Who knows.
You don’t want to incorrectly and unfairly accuse someone.
What’s more, even if you do have reason to suspect that the allegations are true, facts are essential if you’re going to catch the cheater in a lie.
As the online saying goes, “Pics or it didn’t happen.” Gossip and innuendo alone may be troubling, but you shouldn’t accuse someone of cheating with nothing to back that up.
Seek out calls, texts, testimony and, yes, pictures and screenshots. Then make sure they are valid and haven’t been digitally doctored.
You can’t put the genie back in the bottle, so before you accuse someone of cheating, make sure that you have stone-cold facts and evidence on your side.
The threat of cornered cheaters turning violent is all too real.
Women especially face an elevated risk of being assaulted after confronting or outing former partners.
If you fear that confronting the other party may provoke them to violence, have the conversation in front of a couple's counselor or a trusted family member in a public location.
And have a plan for where you will go after the confrontation if you suspect being alone with your spouse or partner might get ugly.
Talk it over with people you trust.
When it comes to evaluating a cheating allegation, you are naturally biased. See what others who you trust think about the situation.
Do they think that the evidence you have gathered is valid?
If so, do they believe this cheating is a horrendous but isolated mistake, or do they think you’re better off without your beloved?
Should You Confront the Other Woman or Man?
In addition to confronting a suspected cheating husband or cheating wife, the question arises – what about the other man or woman involved?
It’s a question that is hotly debated among those going through the pain of adultery, with different people coming to different conclusions.
Points in favor of confronting the other party include:
- Getting the facts from him or her
- Hearing his or her side of the story
- Knowing this person's marital status and if kids are involved
- Knowing if the person is in love with your spouse
On the other hand, points against confronting them may be:
- Finding out more than you want (ie: being subjected to salacious details)
- The very real possibility that they may lie to save themselves and/or your partner
- The possibility that confronting them will simply perpetuate the issue
- The chance the person is unstable or will lash out at you
If you know the name of the other woman or man, you may be able to do some online research before a confrontation to get some of the information you need.
There is no clear-cut answer here. It is up to you to evaluate the details ahead of time and make an informed decision.
And you can only do so with confidence and clarity if you have proof.
How to Confront a Cheater
There are a couple of scenarios you'll want to consider as you have the talk with your philandering spouse.
Do you have proof ready and available, or do you just have a nagging suspicion that your lover is straying?
Let's look at both situations and how to handle them.
How to Confront a Cheater with Proof
Painful as the proof of a cheater’s actions may be, it is always better to have it than not. As we’ll see below, confronting a cheater without proof is far more difficult.
Whether or not you are able to get your partner to admit to an affair, at least with proof you (and any divorce lawyers or judges, if it gets that far) have an objective record of what happened.
Having the facts in hand can also help you determine what to do next based on your partner's response.
Don't present proof immediately.
Just tell your partner you suspect he or she is cheating and leave it at that. Allow your spouse or partner to admit or deny the affair before you reveal your proof.
If he or she admits the behavior, let your spouse keep talking and reveal as much as possible before offering your evidence. You might get more information than you possess.
Present proof after denial.
If your partner denies the affair, ask a few more questions to see if he or she continues to lie. If so, lay out all of your evidence which should elicit some amount of honesty and shame.
If they still lie even after being confronted with the facts, then leave them behind and never look back (at least not until the divorce proceedings).
Anyone who would still lie when faced with facts is too out of touch with reality, too narcissistic, too inconsiderate, or some unsavory combination thereof for you to waste your time on any further.
Decide next steps.
If he or she admits to the behavior, offers an explanation, and apologizes, the ball is in your court. It is up to you to decide whether or not to accept the apology and, if so, whether you’re willing to trust and try again.
Taking responsibility may be a positive step, especially if your husband or wife agrees to back it up with concrete measures such as counseling. That said, there is a big difference between accepting an apology once and being asked to do so over and over.
How to Confront a Cheater Without Proof
With proof, you know where you stand, and it becomes about what they say and do in response.
Without proof, there is nothing to rein in the lies, assuming that they are lies and you aren’t actually mistaken.
That’s the big risk of confronting a cheater without proof – the fact that you may appear unreasonable, insecure, or paranoid.
If you attempt this at all, you’d better have:
- Extremely strong suspicions
- Circumstantial evidence (such as testimony from a trustworthy friend or family member)
- The confidence you partner will fess up
That’s a near-impossible set of circumstances, so you may want to wait until you have facts in hand. You'll need to do some snooping or hire a private investigator — both unsavory but perhaps necessary options.
If you don’t have the facts, your partner can simply pile lie upon lie with impunity, knowing that you have no way to prove your case.
This is where the gaslighting comes in as he or she feigns outrage, asking how you could ever suspect such a thing and twisting it to make you feel like the guilty party.
With cold, hard facts such as calls, texts, pictures, and testimony, you can force your spouse to face the truth and own up to the betrayal.
More Related Articles:
Confronting a cheater is never easy.
Being forced to confront the fact of infidelity is as painful as it gets relationship-wise.
When a lover breaks his or her word and casts you aside for someone else, it's easy to believe there’s something wrong with you and that it’s your fault.
And it adds insult to injury if the cheating party attempts to capitalize on your pain and vulnerability by gaslighting you.
Once you have established the facts, questioning partners about cheating becomes less an inquiry and more a morality test to see if they’ll do the right thing or are utterly shameless.
In short, the confrontation is the beginning of deciding if he or she is worthy of you and your forgivingness.