The great majority of humans in the world have a sense of what constitutes cheating, the pain it brings, and possibilities of what can be done to remedy or ameliorate the pain derived from this type of situations. In an article published in our Fashion Potluck’s FP – Blog, we shared the thoughts and recommendations of Dr. Debi Silber on “Stages of Grief After Being Cheated On”.
However, as more and more people try out different and alternative relationship forms, the importance of evaluating what constitutes cheating and how to deal with it becomes ever more important. We know that love can have various forms, colors, and shades in between. It can be experienced in different ways with different partners. This is why we embarked upon talking about polyamorous or ethically non-monogamous relationships. For this we reached out to Rachel Sommer, Ph.D. A clinical sexologist and co-founder of My Sex Toy Guide - a hub for sexual health and wellness content. She gave us some feedback as to what constitutes a polyamorous relationship and cheating. Here’s the gist of it:
While people in polyamorous relationships are allowed to have more than one romantic partner at a time, ignoring the agreed-upon boundaries qualifies as cheating. Whether it’s loving other people and not communicating with your partner or sleeping with a mutual friend, cheating in a polyamorous relationship is defined by what the couple agrees on beforehand.
Remember, human emotions can get in the way of a successful relationship, making constant and honest communication essential. Most importantly, respecting communication and boundaries is important to the well-being of the polyamorous relationship.
How to Deal With It:
• Have an Honest Conversation.
Unlike a monogamous relationship, cheating in polyamory doesn’t just mean sleeping with another person but breaking a set rule when doing it.
After all, the essence of this relationship type is to be romantically involved with multiple partners at a time. Right? So, before anything, schedule a meeting with the cheating partner. Set the place and time for the meeting, and especially if it’s their first time going against a said rule, her them out.
I’m an advocate of never going back after cheating, but in a relationship based on sleeping with multiple partners, I recommend that partners hear each other out. Most importantly, go through the rules you set before and let the guilty party say why they went against the set-upon rule. Of course, this doesn’t mean letting cheating slide.
Note: if a person keeps on breaking set upon rules time after time, you can decide to move on from the relationship. Other reasons include the cheating partner not showing remorse or concern after the action.
• Keep Your Cool and Avoid Rushed Decisions.
Once you’ve been cheated on, you must move away from the urge to get fired up and unruly. Chill out, and don’t send angry, threatening texts that might get you in trouble. Instead, hit the gym or go for a jog.
Leave the dramatic public displays of rage to the movies.
Most importantly, do what feels right for your heart when choosing whether to stay or leave. Accept that things will suck for a while, and don’t make decisions based on the fear of being lonely or hurt again.
Take your time before making the decision, and go with what feels right inside you.
• Surround Yourself With Your Support System.
Being around the people who have your best interest at heart is essential, especially when dealing with a broken heart. Surround yourself with people ready to listen to the whole story and stick by you in your next step.
Remember, you’re in a polyamorous relationship, and you may have to take time off, even from other people you might be seeing, to think things out and decide a way forward. Be honest and communicate with your partners. In rare cases, a partner can help you forget your cheating fiasco even more by occupying your mind and helping you get out of self-pity.
Btw, do let us know if you have any comments and questions.
Rachel Sommer, Ph.D.,
Clinical sexologist & Co-Founder of My Sex Toy Guide