What are the effects of denying your affair?

Tammy Nelson, PhD explains how denying an affair is far more harmful than admitting to it
Relationship Advice | What are the effects of denying your affair?
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What are the effects of denying your affair?

So what happens in a relationship, what's the damage that's done when someone denies an affair right to your face? So when you ask your partner, are you having an affair, and you suspect something's going on, and they deny it, even though your intuition is telling you, I know something's going on. The damage that happens later on when you find that they have been lying to you is what I call gaslighting. So it's when somebody makes you feel crazy even though you know in your heart that the truth is they are cheating. And later on it comes out that they have been cheating. And that kind of denial, that kind of looking you in the face and lying to you when you're pleading and begging for them to tell you the truth is really painful. But if we look at it from two perspectives - one the person that's been cheating. People usually deny that they've been cheating because they think it's sparing you hurt. They really don't want to hurt you. Most people don't wake up in the morning and say, I really want to hurt my partner today, so I'm going to tell them all the details about my affair and how I've been waking up today thinking how I'm going to hurt them. In their mind, they may be thinking they're sparing you the pain. Now they may also be cowardly because they don't want to confront the truth. And we call that conflict avoidance. And sometimes being conflict avoidant is the worst thing that you can do in a relationship, because the longer you put off the truth, the worse and the crazier it makes you feel. So one rule of thumb is if you really feel like I don't know if I want to tell my partner the truth. Maybe I'm the one that had the affair. Maybe I had it a year ago. Should I tell my partner? The rule of thumb is, it's one thing to avoid telling them the truth if they don't ask. But if someone is looking you in the eye and saying, are you cheating or have you cheated, and then you lie, that's a totally different story. So it's one thing to think that you're protecting your partner from the truth because they don't know. It's another thing to lie to their face when they confront you and ask you for the truth.

Tammy Nelson, PhD explains how denying an affair is far more harmful than admitting to it


Expert Bio

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Tammy Nelson, PhD

Psychotherapist & Relationship Expert

Tammy Nelson PhD is the author of several books including, “Getting the Sex You Want; Shed Your Inhibitions and Reach New Heights of Passion Together”  (2008) and  “What’s Eating You? A Workbook for Anorexia and Bulimia (2004)” and her latest  book “The New Monogamy; Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity” (January 2013) is receiving critical acclaim.  She has been a featured expert in New York Times, Washington Post, Self,  Glamour Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, MSNBC,  Shape, Men’s Health, Women’s Health Woman’s Day, Women’s Health, and a source in Time Magazine. She writes for the Huffington Post, YourTango and can be followed on her blog www.drtammynelson.com/blog/.

Tammy Nelson is a Board Certified Sexologist, a Certified Sex Therapist and an Imago Relationship Therapist.  She is an international speaker and a licensed psychotherapist in private practice with over 25 years of experience working with individuals and couples.  She travels and lectures internationally on her quest for global relational change.

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