Sometimes cheating has more to do with our partner than it does about us.

Sometimes it has to do with us.

Sometimes, it’s some combination of both.

I was listening to one of Esther Perel's audible sessions called 'Where Do We Begin' a few months back.

If you haven't listened to it, please do yourself a favor and download it today.

You won't regret it. 

She said these next few words that struck such a chord with me.

It just may have forever changed my perspective on cheating.

“If someone we love does something that goes so much against their own moral mode...

...maybe that is something we need to take a look at."


That hit something.


When someone we love who has such high standards and values in their lives cheats, how do we deal with that?


How do we even begin to look at that situation?

How do we cultivate a space inside of us to allow ourselves to feel deeply betrayed...

...and simultaneously try to grasp what has happened for our partner to cheat on us?

In a culture that doesn’t leave much space for or encourage that kind of human experience...

...what could be the first step?

My intention to write this was to help couples objectively understand what drives people to look elsewhere for connection.

To help couples better understand WHY people may cheat.

My intention is to help those that are wanting to work through that experience.

Cheating is just like any other coping mechanism that allows us to get our core human needs met. 

And if we ONLY look at the person who does the cheating...

...we will never get a fair and holistic perspective on the entire situation.

If the one who cheats has been communicating a fundamental need over and over again…

...we must be willing to ask ourselves...

...have we been willing to hear them?


In an isolated moment of human desperation, they allow themselves to feel loved and seen by another human being.


They feel terrible remorse and are willing to look at their part and also need their partner to hear them too.

There must be a deep examination of BOTH partners for healing to take place.


...the partner who cheats will carry the full burden of shame and guilt...

...and the other partner will not face or have the courage to look at their own contribution. 

The identified patient is often the one that is focused on.

The angrier, more visibly outspoken partner is often the one that is focused on.

But - we have to also look at the quiet one too.

The partner that may be in the relationship...

...but is keeping themselves shut down and disengaged in the relationship.

Rarely have we looked at the quiet one...

...the one who became indifferent...

...the one who stopped watering the love.

It’s much, much harder to see that side.


I know what you're probably thinking.

Being cheated on in itself affects one's self-esteem enough already.

Now you are asking me the one who got CHEATED on...

...to look at THEIR ROLE IN IT???


Let me tell you why.


I believe taking even some responsibility will help the partner who has been cheated on feel more empowered moving forward.


This doesn't mean they have to AGREE that what their partner did was right, or that it was their fault either.


Taking some responsibility means...

"I'm willing to meet you here."

"I'm willing to find whatever part (big or small) that is mine and fully claim that part."

"I'm willing to reach out and offer it to you as the most courageous expression of love that I possibly can."

Now, let's look at cheating itself for a moment.


Cheating is a symptom. 


Just like heavy drinking and emotional eating are ways to numb us out.

They give us a false sense of SAFETY. 

They are unhealthy ways to get our core needs met

Cheating can be that same need of admiration that we are craving from our actual partner...

...or appreciation ...

... or excitement ...

... or adventure ...

... or recognition ...

... or physical connection. 

It is meeting some fundamental need. 


When we cheat ... we need to be willing able to look at what that need was in a gut-wrenchingly honest way.


We need to be able to look at what we were reaching for in the experience.

We need to be able to commit to giving our partner (continuous) acknowledgment for their pain in order for true healing and repair to take place.

We need to be able to ask ourselves if we have been genuinely risking to reach for and communicate our needs to our partner.

Esther Perel calls this couple the EXPLORERS - I love that.

I would add that that they are WARRIORS too.

This is the couple who are both willing to do the dirty work to figure out what ACTUALLY happened. 


This is the couple who are both willing to see their contribution even if one side carried 80% of it.


This is the couple who is willing to get support or couples counseling or join a recovery program.

This is the couple that is willing to know and understand and honor both partner's needs ...

... and learn ways to communicate them more effectively.

This is the couple that is willing to discover empowering habits to replace unhealthy ones.

This is the couple that is willing to own all the tiny ways the pain has been inflicted onto the relationship.

This is the couple who has an ability to externalize the problem and find a way to work on it - as a team.

You don’t have to choose to stay.

Neither of you do.


You shouldn't feel any shame or pressure to if it genuinely doesn't feel right to stay ... or if your partner isn't meeting you in the exploration or in the depth of commitment.


Just like you don’t have to stay with a recovering alcoholic

… or with someone who has depression

…or with someone who is a recovering war veteran who has PTSD

…or with someone recovering from bulimia or anorexia either. 

I think you are getting my point here.

There are ways to choose to move through the chaos and create a new path, together, as a team.

And you are the only one who gets to choose if that path, is your path.

Silvy Khoucasian

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It makes absolute sense that they ATTRACT.

The roles of both partners can FEEL seductive and eerily familiar in the beginning.

But when things settle in, deeper needs may arise.

The talker may want more SHARING from their partner. 

The listener may want to EXPRESS more.

We are stuck in specific SELF-CREATED stories of ourselves...

...which keep us in our cozy roles. 


We express ourselves through our learned and (thoroughly practiced) way of relating to others.


Those roles feel very NORMAL and NATURAL to us.

How can the quieter partner ask to be more engaged in the conversation without criticizing their partner?

By finding a responsible role in it.


The LISTENER can be more willing to include themselves in conversations and make gentle requests instead of blaming the partner who is more outspoken.


How can the more expressive partner be more present for the quieter partner?

By finding a responsible role in it.


The TALKER can actively learn to slowly take the focus off of themselves occasionally and practice engaging their partner more.


These new attempts may trigger some anxiety as old stories are literally being replaced by newer and healthier patterns in the brain.

Here is some practical language you can use to express your needs...as well as ways to appreciate your partner when they are making a noticeable effort.


When your partner has shared for a while in a conversation and you'd like to JOIN and share, you can say:

"I love hearing about you and what you share. Is there anything you’d like to know about me?"

“I really enjoy it when you ask me questions and want to get to know me more deeply."

"It makes me feel very special and cared for."

When they do begin to respond positively to this...

...be sure to verbally thank them for their effort.

It sounds so simple and silly really ... but our partner's don't know what works for us  unless we directly tell them!


Engaging your partner and bringing them out of their shell may feel a bit uncomfortable. 

You may even feel like you are being INVASIVE when you begin to ask deeper questions as you are more comfortable sharing about yourself.


Often times, people that struggle with opening up need to be asked more specific questions rather then general ones... general ones that can make them feel more stuck.


For example...instead of asking them,  "How was your day"... ask them, "What was your favorite part about today?...

...and then, after they answer...

...follow up with more 'OPENING' questions...

"Tell me more..... I love learning more about you."


People that are comfortable with mostly listening, need a little more support opening up.


The more they feel your GENUINE interest...the more they will light up and share.

Complimenting them as they share...or afterwards cant hurt either!

"I find you very interesting."

"I like learning things about you."

You can bounce between the talker role and the listener role and find a flow that evolves and feels fulfilling for both of you.

When you discover new ways of being that feels really good - share that with your partner so they know!!

Setting aside 15-20 minutes a day to initiate these getting to know each other  conversations can create enormous intimacy and connection.

We ALL alternate between both of these ROLES at different times in our life.

Which way of engaging do you relate to more?

Are you more of a talker or a listener in your current relationships?

Which one would you like to practice more of?

I hope this blog offered some new language for you regarding a very common relationship experience. 

Silvy Khoucasian

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There is an undeniable HIGH that happens when we get our partner to agree with our point of view.



There is a magic that happens when our partner truly hears us with freshly primed ears.

When we are having the same exact argument for the 89th time - but this time our partner responds differently.

We feel empowered.

We’re on top of the world for those glimmering 2 minutes...our expression has FINALLY been validated.


But what if we are feeling empowered because WE have shown up differently to that argument?


What if it’s actually (us) that has brought a slightly different side of ourselves to the picture?

What if that is what’s actually allowing them to hear us differently?

Maybe we unknowingly grew a little softer in our edges

...softer in the parts of ourselves that have been rigid, stubborn, or maybe even slightly cruel.

Maybe we responded with a little more emotion this time.

Maybe we brought a little more presence with our eyes.

Maybe we didn’t use words at all this time.

Maybe we hugged them as they showed us their firework of pain.

Maybe we just stopped defending.

These are all things we wouldn’t NORMALLY do...

...these are things that don’t even feel intuitive. 

In fact, they feel COUNTER-intuitive.


And yet … when we do something different ... we get a different result.


It is always more empowering when we can bring our own change to a situation.

When we slowly pull our piece of the puzzle out and put it back in slightly differently this time, we watch our world shift before our very eyes.

There is a freedom that charges at us when we take some responsibility for what is happening.

Even if our partner isn’t quite there yet ... we can still feel the power of our own change.

And chances are ... if we have even a slightly self-aware partner … it can inspire them to find their puzzle piece of responsibility too.

Can you think of a time where you showing up even slightly different ... caused your partner to respond totally differently?

How can you pause in the middle of your next argument ... and breathe ... and say something counterintuitive to what you’d normally say?

What do you think would happen?

Silvy Khoucasian

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Your growth is not abandonment of others.

~Laure McKowen


I wish the first thing transformational work prepared me with was that I would feel disconnected from my partner for a while.

That while I was searching for my deep truths...

...I would feel more lonely before I would feel more connected.

That is the most important thing I wish I would have known.


What if I told you that it isn’t only our partner that is afraid of your new emerging self?

What if I told you that you may be deeply afraid of discovering your new self too?

What if I told you that the growing stage can cause numbness inside of us that we aren’t even aware of until WE slowly begin to adjust to ourselves.

What if I told you that that very fear of knowing and embracing your new self may be blocking you from your partner.




How much space do we have in our relationship to tolerate moments of disconnection?

How do we communicate those growing pains to one another in a way that doesn’t push each other off the edge?

When we begin a journey of growing while we are in a relationship, it very rarely happens in a fully balanced way for both partners.


Usually, one partner takes the first step and impatiently waits for their partner to come along.

It’s natural to want everyone else to grow in the same way that we do.

When we are expanding and seeing the world from a more (self-perceived) empowered place...

...of course, we want our partner to be right there with us.


But what if your version is not actually more empowered - what if it’s just a different form of empowered than your partner’s?

We each have a completely different path to our unique self-awareness.

Not being able to meet someone where they ARE can be very hurtful.


HOW we approach our partner to join us on that path...is a significant piece of the puzzle.

Are we criticizing them now and being arrogant now that we have a more (superior) mentality on life?

Are we able to be with the distance in a loving way?

Are we able to show them our softer feelings and real fears underneath our desperate attempts to get them to cooperate with us?


How can we create more space for discomfort and compassion towards our partner...

...and ourselves...

...while we are growing?


To anyone going through the beginning stages of their own transformational journey...

...know that your partner may be triggered by your changes and that that is COMPLETELY normal.


...they don't need to do the journey in the same exact way that you do in order to find their own truth or stay connected to you.


~Silvy Khoucasian

Silvy Khoucasian

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