Confronting Your Partner about Infidelity

Posted by Ian Kerner, Ph.D., LMFT

Whether by chance or because you suspected something was wrong and snooped, finding evidence that your partner has cheated is a heart-breaking discovery. The initial shock is likely to trigger feelings of anger, sadness and everything in between.

And as difficult as it may seem, it's best for you (and your relationship) to wait until you feel calm to approach your partner with the evidence. Once you are ready, here are some tips to make the conversation go as smoothly as possible:

  • Write down your thoughts and goals for the conversation.
  • Choose a time to talk when you are alone and free of distractions.
  • Admit what you discovered to your partner--do not try to trap him by asking if there's anything he wants to tell you.

  • Express how the discovery made you feel. Focus on your feelings, rather than accusations or blaming.
  • Consider the possibility that there is a reasonable explanation.

  • If your partner admits to inappropriate behavior or infidelity, thank him for his honesty and agree to continue the conversation later if emotions escalate (which they likely will). Don't try to get every detail then and there.

  • If your partner denies or tries to rationalize your discovery, continue to observe and speak to him again if you discover another red flag. If you believe your health is at risk, because of STDs and unsafe sexual practices, take precautions to protect yourself or tell your partner directly that you are worried about your sexual health.