We get many questions submitted for our Dating & Relationship Expert Sarah Louise Ryan to answer and from time to time we'll publish some responses to help readers date and relate to one another on a deeper level.
We received this Question "Should I forgive my boyfriend and give him a second chance. I found out he had a lapdance and feel he has cheated. I don't know what to do?"
Here's what Sarah Louise Ryan had to say about this dating and relationship Dilemma and we hope it helps the person who asked and those who may be reading this in a similar position in their relationship
When a relationship hits difficulty I believe it’s the responsibility of both people that are ‘relating’ to work together to seek to resolve the relationship and build reconnect. I also believe that when the disconnect takes place in the first place that’s the responsibility of both people in that relationship.
Now, what I don’t mean by that is that your partners actions that lead to what feels like ‘cheating’ are your responsibility.
I also don’t mean that the things that took place are because of you or that you lead your partner to that place.
What I do mean by that is that two people in a relationship either haven’t clearly agreed the boundaries that define infidelity or one or both you miss the signs of disconnect that would have taken place before they landed themselves in that situation.
When two people are deeply connected on an emotional, sexual, spiritual and intellectual level and both agree to be in a monogamous relationship then needs, desires and connection are met and formed. If theres a disconnect somewhere or a lack of understanding about what is acceptable then is it is THIS that is the responsibility of the two individuals in that relationship. Grey areas and miscommunication often mean that there is a disconnect in what is acceptable or safe on an emotional level in the relationship.
So what defines infidelity aka cheating?
Well, some couples define watching porn without the other or solo masturbation as cheating. Whereas other couples allow for sexual intimacy with others but not an emotional connection, they would define the latter as cheating. There are even different levels of infidelity that people consider in Ethically non-monogamous relationships.
I am sharing this with you to ensure that you understand that what defines infidelity is unique and exclusive to each couple and only you two can define what infidelity and the parameters of infidelity look like for the two of you.
So, in this instance, if your partner has headed to a strip club and you personally define that as cheating, was he aware of that and did you both communicate your boundaries around infidelity? If not, then I wouldn’t call this a second chance at all. I would define this as an learning curve for you both and an opportunity for you both to get super clear on what a deeply connected relationship looks like for you both and how you should act within that relationship. From there you can ask questions such as the below about infidelity.
If, however, your partner did understand how this act would make you feel yet they have gone ahead and done something hurtful to you and your relationship then you have a few options. 1) Decide if you want to work on this relationship and commit to reconnecting and understanding each other better so you can have your wants and needs met. 2) Explore what disconnection took place between the two of you leading them to this act 3) Decide that it is not forgivable and you would like to exit this relationship.
Questions to define fidelity and commitment in each relationship:
What would feel uncomfortable for you outside of our relationship with each other?
Do you define close intimate relationships on an emotional level with others as cheating?
How do you feel about me watching porn? What about watching it without you?
What do you think about solo masturbation - is it an act of self love in your opinion or do you feel that its hurtful outside of the sexual intimacy we have with each other?
What do you feel about strip clubs and parties that allow nudity - do you feel its okay for us to go to those either alone separately or how do you feel about going together?
What do you think about commenting or liking photos of others on social media - what about DM’s.
These are just a few of the questions you could start having uncomfortable conversations around to define what works and what doesn’t for you both and your dating and relating journey together. Another way to answer these questions is to reframe them by both creating a relationship vision board together about what it is you do want in your ideal relationship. You can then make sure that anything outside of what you have decided and committed to do with each other isn’t acceptable.
To help each other see and hear one another without being defensive about what’s important and what you both do want you can deepen the conversation by addressing how it would make you both feel when you feel connected or what the acts of disconnected would make you feel like.
This conversation will end up being unique to each couple and the relationship vision will be too.
If you're feeling unsure then perhaps you would benefit from going on a journey to deep connection with yourself and others through love life coaching? I help singles go from stuck, unsure and overwhelmed in dating to clear, calm and excited about the process. Enquire about my dating and relationship coaching here.
Sarah Louise x