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Got caught emotionally cheating? Here’s how to fix it in 6 steps

By Winnie Mabel February 5th, 2024 3 min read

As absurd as it may sound, there are levels to cheating on your partner. We are all used to the final level- getting physically intimate- and the drama that ensues once a cheating partner gets caught.

This time, however, we are going to focus on one of the levels: emotional cheating.

Emotional cheating is the instance where someone in a monogamous relationship turns to a third party and develops an emotional connection with them. These emotional connections- which are supposed to be a preserve of their partner and protected in the relationship- start developing where two people are friends at first, but over time, they cross boundaries.

The partner and third party begin sharing personal thoughts and feelings, sharing emotional support, and having intimate conversations. This becomes damaging to the relationship because what a partner signed up for with a romantic partner is now being dished out to third parties.

Also read: Cheating in marriage is a choice, stop blaming the devil, Kenyans told

Once they are discovered, regardless of whether or not they are physically intimate with the third party, the relationship hits the rocks. It does not remain the same. The trust is gone, the friendship bonds are broken, and the intimacy is gone. What you should have kept for your partner, you were giving to someone else. That is still cheating. No two ways about it.

But then, you find yourself wanting to backtrack and fix your relationship and bring your partner back closer to you. How do you go about rebuilding what you emotionally destroyed? Rebuilding your partner’s self-esteem because what you showed them was that they were not good enough to handle your emotional needs and they needed a ‘helper’…

Also read: Wema Sepetu on why men will always cheat

Here’s how you can fix what you broke and hope against all odds that you at least get back 90% of what you lost:

  1. Don’t ever deny you did not cheat on your partner. The first words out of your mouth should be apologies and taking responsibility for your actions. Don’t assign blame. Accept you hurt your partner and don’t minimise that you did not cheat because no sex was involved. You cheated, apologise.
  2. Apologise as long as it takes until your partner is able to make peace with your actions. Be specific in your apologies, do not issue blanket apologies and empty words. In all this, be empathetic towards them. Do not show them that you are getting tired of apologising.
  3. Obviously, the trust is gone, but you still want your partner to stay with you. To attempt rebuilding this trust, be open and transparent with your partner. Tell them why you ended up cheating, what you need from the relationship, and how you could both accommodate each other so that such kind of cheating does not happen again. It won’t take one day to rebuild this trust, but your consistent efforts will speak for you in the long run.
  4. Set boundaries for yourself and let your heartbroken partner know about them. Don’t wait for them to set the boundaries. Tell them how you are going to limit and prevent yourself from emotionally cheating again and how you are going to change your communication behaviors with other people to avoid temptations again.
  5. Try to steer the relationship forward to avoid stagnating in one place where you will both wallow in the aftermath of the emotional cheating. This will only create a swamp for bitterness to manifest. Work to ensure that both of you focus on the future of the relationship and how to keep it stronger and healthier.
  6. At the end of the day, when you’ve done all this and feel there is no more you can do as an individual, you can choose to go to couples’ therapy. Do not involve your families, relatives, and friends as mediators. Professionally trained therapists are key because they will help both of you navigate rebuilding the relationship without being biased.