Should Partners Disclose Their Infidelity?

Infidelity presents one of the greatest challenges towards maintaining a successful relationship. For many, it is the ultimate betrayal of trust, and it’s not uncommon to find that some relationships simply cannot be healed after the affair.

Not every relationship can survive infidelity. But this brings up its own problem – if you were unfaithful to your partner, what incentive is there to disclose it, knowing that it can end your relationship? Should you tell your partner that you had an affair?

The Catch-22 of Infidelity

As a couples counselor, I want to be able to tell you that you should always or never disclose your affairs. But there is no exact answer. Each one has to be looked at on a case by case basis. Consider the following:

  • Guilt – For some, the guilt of infidelity is too much to handle. That guilt can be a serious problem. It can cause you to lash out. It can cause you to feel depression. It can make it harder to appreciate love. There are so many different issues that can be caused by severe guilt that there may be no choice but to share.
  • Current Relationship – The other successes of your current relationship matter. If you are/were going strong before the infidelity, it may make sense for you to hold it in and let the relationship grow further. But if you already had struggles, that may be more challenging.
  • Ability to Move Forward – You have to ask yourself what can help make your relationship better and stronger. For some, telling your partner is important, because your partner will need to know for you both to move forward in the relationship. That may not be true of all couples.

It would be ethically and personally irresponsible of me to tell you that you should hide infidelity. It would also be difficult, and possibly just as irresponsible to tell you that you have to share it. Each couple and each individual needs to look at this on a case by case basis.

But it is a question that you are likely to struggle with, even after you make your decision. Try to decide on a choice that is right for you, and know that you’re always going to wonder if the other option was better, because infidelity has a great deal of gravity, and it does affect the relationship. Yet often you’ll find that you can’t fight what happened. Your ultimate choice is what will create the best future.