Usually cheating rings the death knell for a relationship. But are there times when cheating can actually bring something positive to a relationship? Here we examine both sides of the cheating equation.

For many, cheating results in an immediate, uncompromising death sentence for a relationship, with no appeals allowed and no get-out-of-jail-free card either. If the relationship isn’t automatically over, we are often left asking the question of whether the relationship can survive the cheating. It’s a fair question, but here we look at it from another perspective: can cheating actually be a good thing for a relationship?

Cheating is a symptom

There’s a lot of truth in the old adage that cheating is a symptom, not the problem. If your girl cheats on you, it could mean that she’s unhappy in the relationship she has with you.

She could be unhappy with the living situation you have, how much time you spend together, the amount of attention you give her, the way she feels when you’re together, or maybe she’s just plain bored. In terms of sex, she might not be satisfied with the type of sex or the amount of sex you’re having.

If she can’t get what she wants and needs with you, sexually or otherwise, then she might turn to someone else to find that missing piece of the puzzle. So she cheats, but what good could possibly come of that?

It could be exactly the kick in the pants that you’ve needed to start a conversation about what has been lacking, and the two of you can then come up with some ideas about how to improve the relationship.

What if you’re the one who has cheated? It’s time to examine your motives for cheating. Are you unhappy in the relationship? Is there something that you want or need but aren’t getting? Do you actually want to end the relationship and are using cheating as a strategy to get out the ‘easy way’? Or is cheating a symptom of something outside of your relationship, a pattern of behaviour related to your own personal happiness? Are you just stressed and need an escape? Do you only cheat when you’re drunk?

Even if your cheating means that your relationship is over, if it shows you what you’ve been missing or what you need to change in your own life, then it can only be step in the right direction.

Parting ways

If your relationship really is rubbish, perhaps cheating is the final sign and catalyst to both of you that it’s time to end things. Of course it would be more mature to have an adult conversation about the way things are going between the two of you and then come to a calm and sensible decision to part ways, but since when do relationships end cleanly and neatly?

If the cheating has already happened, you can’t take it back. Perhaps the best thing is to just call it quits and both of you can move on to a relationship that works better for both of you.

An open discussion

Cheating is cheating only within an exclusive relationship. In some kinds of open relationships, naughty times with others are okay and aren’t considered cheating. If you and your girl have agreed not to see anyone else, then that’s a promise that you need to keep.

But what if an exclusive relationship isn’t actually right for you? There are all sorts of open relationships, and perhaps one of those models is better suited to you. By realising that an open relationship is better for you, you won’t have to lie and cheat to get what you want, and you won’t leave in your wake a string of former girlfriends who think you’re a cheating asshole.

Cheating involves lying, deception, and a betrayal of trust. None of those is a good thing, but if the cheating leads to the end of an unhappy and unmendable relationship or to the improvement of a salvageable one, then perhaps there’s a silver lining in it after all.