Betrayal is a traumatic experience.
The first reaction is that of storming out (for ever), attacking our partner or self-harming.
Resist all of them.
Much better is to get to the bottom of what happened, so that you can make the best possible decisions.
- Questions to Ask A Cheater
- #1. How did you give yourself permission?
- #2. Did you feel guilty after sex?
- #3. What about previous opportunities? Have you had any, did you think of any?
- #4. Why did it last if you knew it was wrong?
- #5. Did you think about me at all?
- #6. What did you say about us?
- #7. Did you talk about a future together?
- #8. What did you see in the affair partner?
- #9. How were you different in the affair?
- #10. Did you have unprotected sex?
- What If Your Spouse Lies?
- And What To Do Now?
Questions to Ask A Cheater
The following 10 questions are not random.
They are basead on the work of relationship and infidelity researcher Shirley Glass, author of “Not Just Friends“, the best book on infidelity.
These questions will help you get to the bottom of the infidelity and help you decide whether or not you should stay in the relationship.
#1. How did you give yourself permission?
Ask them what did they tell themselves.
With this question, you want to gain deeper insights into his morals and values.
If they didn’t think much, or if they never thought it was wrong, they value monogamy and fidelity very little.
It’s also possible that they value you very little, or that they simply value people in general very little (also check: are you dating a sociopath?).
#2. Did you feel guilty after sex?
Similar as the above, but focused on sex.
If they deny or they seem insencere, you might have very different approaches towards sex and extramarital affairs.
Or you might have very different moral standards.
It doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad.
Some people simply grew up in families were cheating is normal, and that influenced their approach to monogamy.
Still, it’s something to keep in mind if full monogamy is very important for you.
#3. What about previous opportunities? Have you had any, did you think of any?
Ask them if they had previous opportunities for infidelity and, if so, how was this different.
You want to understand if your partner is constantly scanning for opportunities or if it was a one off. It might be the case your partner has had more than one affair, or that he might do it again if it’s simply a matter of opportunity.
Or it might be that this affair just grew out of weaknesses from your marriage.
Your Opportunity of Developing a Better Relationship
Pay attention here: if your partner says that there is a better connection with the new partner, it might be the case that the new partner listens and supports them better.
I know it’s hard to admit it right now.
But this is an opportunity for you: if you learn to support and listen, then this is a chance to make your relationship better.
See an example of this type of emotional infidelity from Jack Nicholson:
Typical example of falling hard for the first woman who happens to truly listen to a man.
#4. Why did it last if you knew it was wrong?
Most partner will not answer they didn’t think much of, and will admit to at least a little bit of guilt.
This question explores whether or not the guilt recedes.
It’s important to know because people react in different ways to ongoing sense of guilt.
- Suffer continuously and eventually end the affair
- Get used to it and the guilt recedes (or the involvement increases)
- Build mental models that allow them to suppress guilt
You want to know about this because among those mental models is painting the relationship and the betrayed partner as undeserving.
This is something you need to fix if you want to heal your relationship after a betrayal.
#5. Did you think about me at all?
This is likely to be painful.
The betrayed partners often see themselves as central elements in the affair. But often the unfaithful partner didn’t think much of the betrayed partner.
If the unfaithful partner got emotionally involved, it will be even more painful to know that they think of their affair partner when at home but think little of their spouse when with the affair partner.
Part of the reason is because of the secrecy.
Secrecy and thought suppression increases the attraction of the affair partner and (The Link Between Thought Suppression and Level of Arousal, Debbie Layton-Tholl).
This is one of the reasons why honest communication is crucial to move on and heal.
#6. What did you say about us?
An affair is devastating because it drives a human wedge between the couple.
With this question you want to understand how close the two were and how far off you had drifted.
This question also helps demolish the wall between you two and start getting close again.
That’s key to heal. If you want to heal you need to rebuild the togetherness and to make the affair partner the one “on the outside”.
Opening up with the spouse and cutting the affair partner out is the best way to do so.
#7. Did you talk about a future together?
This one will tell you a lot about how deep their passion and romance ran.
If their affair was deeply emotional, it’s possible the two of them were planning to escape, elope and build a new life.
It will be extremely painful to hear, but don’t overplay the significance of their plans: often it’s just the kid insight of the adult that dreams of a different life.
It doesn’t mean they wanted to escape from you, it’s just a psychological infant within them who longs of going back in time. Back to teenager-dating and restarting life.
It’s still maddening, I know, but few people are 100% adults, 100% mature.
Since it can be painful to hear the answer to this one, you can consider leaving it for later on, when the traumatic shock has started to taper off.
#8. What did you see in the affair partner?
This goes at the core of the personality traits.
Often affair partners are very different from the spouse or from the unfaithful partner.
For the cheater, the difference is exhilarating in the short run, but in the long run it would get annoying (divorce rate of unfaithful partner with affair partner are the highest).
But few have the foresight to understand that.
#9. How were you different in the affair?
The answer to this question is very important to understand the weaknesses of your marriage.
It’s possible the unfaithful partner was attracted to new roles, or newly found feelings.
For example, a strict and rational man at home, he might enjoy being a free spirit with the affair partner.
When you know what it was, you can expand your personal roles and try on new personas within the relationship.
#10. Did you have unprotected sex?
And get ready to get tested.
What If Your Spouse Lies?
It’s certainly possible.
But the way they behave will tell you a lot about the truth.
Lingering silences, pauses and half-sentences will let you know that there is much more that they don’t have the courage to say.
Big shows of denying and minizing might suggest your spouse is the kind of person who does not respect truth and honesty.
And on the other hand, strong, unexpected and “hard to swallow” revelations can be seen in a positive light: your spouse might have cheated. but at least is honest and forthcoming.
Cheating is cheating.
But an honest confession after cheating, in my opinion, gives a lot of points back to your unfaithful spouse.
And What To Do Now?
If you are interested in at least exploring the possibility of remaining together, I highly recommend this article:
Second, it’s also good to explore the overall health of your relationship, as that will tell you a lot about whether it’s worth the work or not.
Check out this article:
- Should I break up or not? Diagnostic questions to help you overcome ambivalence