So it happened - your partner(s) cheated. According to whatever you all deem as cheating, they are guilty. For anyone, having a partner cheat is hurtful, but it feels insulting and bewildering for a polyamorous person, especially if your relationship style is open. Processing the betrayal, overstepping boundaries, potential exposure, and risk is overwhelming. Getting to the point of considering if you want to continue the relationship is another equally as stressful step in the process. So, you may have decided or are leaning towards staying with your partner - so now what?
Is this what you want?
Everyone will ask, maybe even the cheating partner(s), but is this what you want? Do you want to continue a relationship with someone who has cheated on you? Staying does not make you a stronger person or mean you are stupid. If you want to stay and try to work things out, that's fine too. Was your decision influenced by your partner(s), friends, and family to stay? Did circumstances (shared property, children, fear of retaliation, shared goals, etc.) influence your decision to stay? If there is a fear of retaliation (domestic violence ), please stop and seek help first @ (US) 800-799-7233.
Not Everyone's Business
Beyond whom you feel needs to know about the infidelity of your partner(s), it is not everyone's business. If you were expressing frustration from the infidelity a few days ago and then today you are saying your partner(s), and you are going to work it out - people will have their input. They will judge, shame, and criticize. You may be swarmed with phone calls and messages. Understandably, you may have changed your mind after reconsidering and reconciling your partner(s) who cheated. You may have already told various parties at this point, so it may be challenging to let them know that your mind has changed. You do not have to explain to anyone your life decisions. If they want to offer unsolicited advice, you can tell them you do not want it. Does every person who cheats cheat again? No, but a lot do. Your loved ones do not want you to be hurt and may feel like you are being manipulated, which is valid. You are entitled to your own life decisions as long as you hold yourself accountable for the consequences.
Consequences vs. Punishment
Consequences are simply the result of an action - in this case, cheating. Punishment is meant to inflict harm (emotional, physical, financial) on a partner. When choosing to stay in a relationship with someone who has cheated on you, it is essential that you know the difference. Consequences may be long discussions surrounding boundaries and expectations, intimate disconnect, a breakup/divorce, intentional focus on rebuilding/repairing trust, etc. Punishments could be excusing your boundary-breaking by saying they cheated so it's okay, abusing them, or refusing intimacy (within reason of healing).
Therapy is an option.
Therapy is an option to explore as you all work through the relationship. Therapy can also be a condition to be met to continue the relationship. Seek a relationship therapist who is educated and supportive of non-monogamous relationships to help prevent offensive mono-compulsive advice. There may be some things that may not successfully be managed in-house without therapy. If the cheating was minor on the spectrum of cheating, then you may not need any therapy. However, if it was severe, therapy might be a means to alleviate complicated feelings on all sides. Try to be open-minded to your options when it comes to therapy. Therapy may not always be a relationship counselor or psychologist - it may be an activity, group therapy, or joining a community. Therapy also doesn't have to be done together, but there should be enthusiastic mutual support for seeking treatment.
Some people see cheating as a spectrum ranging from mild to severe. Often, some people see s-xual interaction as the most severe, while others consider it minor compared to cultivating an intimate relationship. Some may find texting people with the intentions of intimate connection mild while spending money on someone is severe. The severity of the cheating depends on you and your relationship. do not let other people or even the guilty person try to minimize the seriousness of the affair. The severity may also affect the time and way you heal.