Do you suspect that your partner is texting someone else? Whether you’ve seen some suggestive texts pop up on their phone, or they suddenly seem more secretive about who they’re messaging, your concerns around their faithfulness are valid.
Finding a clue about your partner’s potential infidelity is a horrible situation to be in. Not only do the years of built up trust suddenly start to crack, but you’re also suddenly faced with a choice of what you should do next.
You’re probably here because you’re in this horrible situation yourself (our hearts truly go out to you), and maybe you’re struggling to decide what your next move should be. Should you not say anything and hope that they realise their mistake on their own? Do you angrily confront them with screenshots and witnesses to back you up? Or will that just risk making the whole situation even worse?
Above all, your aim should be to find out the whole truth of the situation and ensure that both you and your partner are both on the same page about what constitutes cheating in your relationship. After you’ve got all the facts, you can work on rebuilding trust within your relationship – unless the texts were hiding a full-blown affair, in which case it might be time to rethink the relationship altogether.
We caught up with marriage therapist Andrew G Marshall to get some top tips on what to do if you think your partner is texting someone else…
What to do if you think your partner is texting someone else
1. Choose your time wisely when confronting them
‘You’ve just found an incriminating text and someone might be more than a friend or colleague. You’re frightened, angry and devastated. This is the worst time to confront your partner because you’ll find it hard to listen and process what they are saying,’ Andrew explains.
‘Worse still, you could start crying and they will try and appease (rather than be honest) or you could lose your temper and they’ll walk away or shut down. So, take a while to process everything, calm down and then pick a time when you can both talk,’ Andrew adds.
2. Let your partner realise their own mistakes
It may be tempting to immediately tell your partner how wrong and inappropriate their behaviour is, but as Andrew explains, it’s often better to let them realise this for themself. ‘Your goal is for your partner to realise that they’ve overstepped a boundary and decide to end it for themselves.’
But why? Surely you have the right to lay down the law? Yes, but as Andrew adds, ‘banning them or shaming them into stopping all communication just risks driving the behaviour underground, where it is continued in secret.’ Because of this, it’s better to simply communicate your own feelings, and encourage them to draw their own conclusions about their behaviour.
3. Ask them questions about their texting
Questions are always a great tool to open up your communication wit a partner. Andrew suggests: ‘Rather than describing the problems or your upset, ask open-ended questions. For example: “Why have you texted him/her so many times in the last week?”, “How many of your other friends have you texted that often?” or “What effect is this having on our relationship?”.’
Be sure to stick to open questions, where your partner is able to respond freely. As Andrew adds: ‘In contrast to open questions, closed questions (like ‘don’t you agree that it’s wrong?’) which are leading and can only be answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’, will have them justifying their behaviour to you rather than thinking about the implications of it.’
4. Listen to your partner
While you may feel the urge to talk over your partner and continuously correct them if they draw the wrong conclusions about their own behaviour, it’s best to bite your tongue and encourage them to speak continuously.
‘It is going to be really hard but instead of debating with your partner or telling them they’re wrong, don’t interrupt, but nod and encourage them to say more,’ Andrew explains. ‘You need to assess the damage – otherwise you can’t find a way forward.’
5. Talk about the underlying problems in your relationship
While the fact that your partner is texting someone else has led to this present conflict, it’s worth analysing your relationship as a whole to see where other issues may lie. As Andrew explains: ‘In most cases, if your partner is texting someone else, it is a cry for help. They are unhappy and don’t know how to solve it or they think they won’t get a fair hearing if they tell you about it. So find out what’s been going on – in the rest of their life – and what about your life together isn’t working.’
‘My guess is that you’ll have another take on things and after listening patiently and understanding, it’s your turn,’ Andrew adds. ‘With both of your opinions on the table, you can start to negotiate a way forward. Furthermore, by following these five steps, you will not only have improved your communication but laid the foundation for turning your whole relationship around.’
Andrew G Marshall is a marital therapist and author of My Husband Doesn’t Love Me And He’s Texting Someone Else (Marshall Method Publishing, £12.99)