Honesty is always the best policy – apart from when it isn’t, a leading relationship expert says.
Infidelity isn’t worth telling your partner about in certain cases, says New York based coach Susan Winter.
This is because it’s more “cruel” to tell your partner about an affair in some cases rather than to keep it to yourself, she claims.
One in five British adults admit to having had an affair, according to a YouGov survey. And while for some keeping an infidelity secret might be morally reprehensible, Winter advises keeping it secret might be a better policy in cases of a brief, regretful fling.
Far from being a further slight against your partner, she claims it is out of consideration for the other party – saving them from the “burden” of knowing you’ve cheated.
“The truth is that relieving one’s guilt comes at the direct expense of their mate,” Winter explains in an interview with The Independent.
“While honesty is indeed the hallmark of true intimacy, there are times when unburdening yourself results in cruel and unnecessary information that then burdens your mate.”
The litmus test for Winter? If you can’t remember what you did – think a drunken mistake – it might not be worth telling your partner about your unfaithful behaviour.
“If so, think twice before revealing an interlude you can barely remember the next day,” she said.
“This confession can only create harm, not good. Commit to moderation and learn your limits of indulgence.”
So when should you confess to infidelity? If it’s a full-blown affair – rather than just a regretful one-night stand – that’s when you should think about confessing, she said.
“This was a choice made repeatedly that diverted your love and sexual expression away from your partner.
Such behaviour points to “a problem [that] exists within the relationship, or within yourself.”
However, she suggests you first consult a therapist to help you “express your personal needs within the relationship, and address the issues that are out of balance.”
The issue of monogamy and fidelity in a relationship is a complex one, with some debate over what actually constitutes cheating: does “sexting” (sending sexually explicit messages) or bonding with someone emotionally count, or must an affair involve sexual intercourse in order to qualify?
Other couples choose to forgo monogamy altogether – opting for what’s known as a “polyamorous relationship”.