I dated someone that was convinced that every single guy was trying to get into my knickers. Each time we went out, he’d have a hissy fit if I spent too long talking to someone, even if they were a friend. If they were flirtatious or just happened to look in my direction, an interrogation would follow. It felt so oppressive, and we had terrible arguments as a result. The fact that I wasn’t doing anything untoward was irrelevant. He didn’t seem to understand that he was questioning my integrity. Thankfully I broke it off. I know that if he’d been accusing me of cheating, things would have been far worse.
It’s one thing if you are cheating. Obviously, you need to fess up. But often, when people are accused of cheating, it exists only in the insecure, possessive, jealous person’s mind.
No matter what answers and reassurance you give to someone who wants to believe that you’re cheating, they’re not right and they’re never enough.
They don’t want to believe it.
When you’re not cheating but are accused of it, there are three typical sources of your partner’s accusations:
- Fear and insecurity based on your respective pasts or present-day issues that mean that they don’t feel safe and secure.
- Mistaking certain behaviours from you as indicators of cheating, so hypersensitivity.
- They are cheating
Fear and Insecurity
Relationships need to be based on mutual love, care, trust and respect. This creates space for honesty and intimacy. In a new relationship, it’s likely that you will each share aspects of your pasts, even if they’re not pretty. If you’ve admitted that you cheated, especially if it was several times or in several relationships, it’s understandable that a partner can feel a little nervous about whether you’ve genuinely changed or if this is a serial habit. Check out my podcast episode about the four qualities of a loving partner. It explains why self-awareness about how past behaviours affected relationship outcomes is vital.
If they’ve been cheated on previously, it significantly impacts their ability to trust and be intimate if they haven’t worked through it.
When emotional baggage is so present that it impacts on someone’s ability to treat you with love, care, trust and respect on the merit of who you are, a healthy, mutual relationship isn’t going to happen.
If someone’s emotional baggage blocks them from trusting, they have to do the work to address it. This is vital to understand because otherwise, you may make you responsible for their ‘fixing’ and healing. You will people-please to try to ‘prove’ that you are ‘better’. That’s not your j.o.b. and you’re ignoring your needs in the process. This is only going to lead to pain and resentment.
When someone doesn’t trust you and is insecure about the relationship, they try to gain reassurance and proof from you. Unfortunately, this is temporary reassurance against their doubts. Next time they’re feeling insecure or distrusting, the cycle will start all over again.
No matter how empathetic and compassionate you are, your patience will wear thin if you have to keep defending yourself and being punished for their past experiences. You want to move the relationship forward — and they’re stuck in the past.
They are not ready to let go.
While they might make noises to the contrary, your partner is revealing their trust issues. They don’t trust relationships, they don’t trust themselves, and they are having difficulty trusting what you say and do. They may not see it that way, but this is how it is.
Is there anything you can do about their fear and insecurity?
It’s critical to ensure that you’re boundaried, so you’re clear on where you end and they begin. This allows you to own your side of the street so that you can get clear about whether you are, whether it’s consciously or not, triggering your partner’s behaviour?
- Are you a flirt?
- Do you blow hot and cold?
- Do you have a wandering eye?
- Are you secretive or withdrawn, maybe even emotionally unavailable?
- Are you engaging with an ex who you know still wants to get back with you? Or do you have an ambiguous friendship where you behave as if you’re their partner?
If you’re doing any of the above, as uncomfortable as it might be to hear, you are gaslighting your partner if you’re downplaying or even dismissing their concerns.
Flirting with others, for example, might seem OK to you because, in your mind, it’s not as if you action it. You might not call it ‘flirting’; you might say that you’re ‘just chatting’ or ‘having a laugh’. But if you’re doing this and then telling your partner that it’s all in their imagination, you’re messing with their head. Same for if you’re calling them insecure, needy or dramatic.
Humans have a basic need for safety and security, and the above examples are destabilising.
If you have something to take responsibility for in this, it’s time for an honest conversation with yourself (and them) about what you’re doing together.
If you’re not doing any of the above, but maybe your partner accuses you of cheating because, for example, you hang out with your friends instead of being with him/her all the time, again, try to get a sense of whether this relationship is workable. They may have very unrealistic expectations.
While we can be sensitive to someone’s triggers, if we fall into the trap of walking on eggshells, we become less of who we really are.
Misconstruing a communication gap
Been super busy at work lately? Maybe a bit too self-absorbed? Privately worried about something and finding yourself being closed off? Got a surprise in the pipeline and being secretive?
Sometimes people jump to the wrong conclusions.
If your partner isn’t used to the you that you are when you are anxious or overwhelmed, the distance from the lack of communication can be misconstrued as something else.
Again, you don’t want to put yourself in the position of walking on eggshells, but being part of a relationship means that you need to be sensitive to each other’s needs and natural insecurities.
Be self-aware enough to recognise your patterns.
Yes, they could do with not jumping to the worst conclusion, but intimacy is vital to the health and wealth of your relationship. Shutting down cuts that off.
You might be very aware that you withdraw into yourself when you’re super-stressed or that you need time to download, or that you’re rubbish at asking for help, but your partner isn’t a mind reader.
They are cheating (or thought about it)
Do you know what projection is? It’s taking your hidden feelings, thoughts and actions and then calling them someone else’s.
For example, if your partner felt sexually attracted to someone at a party but then shoved down their feelings including their guilt, it might seep out in them questioning whether you are having an affair or drawn to others.
And shady folk, so people who at best, take advantage and at worst, abuse you, base their accusations of what they think you’re doing on their actions. It’s just plain ole guilty conscience and gaslighting.
If your partner is someone who is very fearful about cheating because they were cheated on or they watched their parents’ relationship(s) crumble under it, that’s about their emotional baggage including their beliefs about relationships.
Unless you have strong reason to believe that they are cheating (and there will be evidence in their character and actions), don’t assume that their accusations are projections.
The dark side of being made guilty without a cause
Some people when they find themselves on the receiving end of someone who habitually accuses them of cheating, eventually decide that if the person isn’t going to believe them, they might as well do it anyway. While I understand the frustration, this isn’t the way to handle the situation.
If you feel as if you want to cheat and ‘prove them right’, you’ve reached breaking point. That’s your anger at being repeatedly distrusted without merit. It hurts, especially when your partner might expect you to trust them implicitly.
It’s either time to walk away or tell your partner that in order for the relationship to continue, they need to double down on resolving their issues and commit to the relationship.
Don’t give them any further chances to take their issues out on you. They’ll step up and address their issues with your support, or the relationship will end.
Sometimes, someone who is terrified of trusting would rather walk away and feel right than run the risk of the vulnerability of trusting you.
As a general guideline, if your partner persistently accuses you of cheating, or is consistently jealous and possessive, this is a code red alert. The relationship isn’t healthy. Control is not love.
You either have to walk away and cut your losses or have such clear and healthy boundaries that this person has to deal with themselves.
Ultimately, though, without trust, there is no relationship.Add to favorites