A Strong Boundary Can Prevent Cheating
Most couples in a committed relationship want and expect loyalty and exclusivity from their partner. This creates a feeling of security. However many partners are terrified that their loved one will end up cheating. Is cheating inevitable? How can you establish a strong boundary to reduce the likelihood of cheating?
The dual benefit of a strong boundary
You can experience security if you establish a strong boundary in your relationship. A boundary is a barrier that works two ways. A strong boundary helps you and your partner remain focused on each other, rather than seeking attention from others. A strong boundary also prevents someone who might be a flirt from intruding into your relationship.
At one point or another, every couple in a committed relationship experiences difficulty. A strong boundary helps to ensure that you do not seek out the attention and affection of someone other than your partner during difficult times. Just because you are with the love of your life doesn’t mean that you won’t find other people attractive. This is normal. Difficult times in your relationship can tempt you to look elsewhere for comfort. When you recognize the elements that weaken the bond between you and your partner you will be more aware of what is essential to restore and strengthen that much needed feeling of security.
Problems that can lead to cheating
You may have heard couples saying that they have fallen out of love with each other. Typically this means that they are emotionally distant. They have lost that feeling of bliss they used to have when spending time together. They may not feel comfortable or safe sharing inner hopes, dreams, hurts or goals. If this is your story, perhaps the hectic demands of life have made it difficult for you to enjoy each other’s company as you did when you were dating. It is possible to make changes to reconnect and build emotional intimacy. Speak with your partner about your concerns. As you express your thoughts and feelings, make an effort to be open to hearing your partner’s perspective. Be careful to avoid criticizing or blaming. Your objective is to have a constructive conversation so that you can take intentional steps to improve your relationship and overcome any challenges.
Dissatisfaction with physical or sexual intimacy in your relationship can leave you or your partner open to being tempted to seek gratification elsewhere. You and your partner may be struggling to balance the demands of career, raising a family and coping with all of life’s pressures. You may feel exhausted, annoyed and stressed; you may find that the opportunities for physical intimacy are few and far between. Partners frequently have different perspectives about how important sex is when life is stressful. One person may view sex as very important to help relieve stress and bring closeness to the relationship. The other person may wonder how their mate can even consider being intimate when life is so stressful.
Solving this issue requires compromise from both partners; each will need to give in order to receive. The partner who is more motivated for sex would do well to find out how to help their mate to experience less stress. Perhaps it would help to take on a greater share of their mate’s responsibilities in the home and family. This is a gesture of kindness and consideration that will be well received. The partner who is feeling overwhelmed would do well to practice strategies for managing stress including exercising regularly, eating healthily and getting adequate sleep. Communicating with each other, planning your schedules together and setting aside time for fun and relaxation are all essential for creating an atmosphere for intimacy.
Protect your relationship from outside advances
In today’s society being married or in a serious relationship does not carry the same weight as it used to. Some potential suitors no longer view a wedding ring or commitment as an indication that the individual is off limits.
If you are in a committed relationship it is wise to be aware that a potential suitor will appeal to your area of weakness. This may come in the form of flattery; the person will stroke your ego. We all enjoy being noticed, appreciated and complemented, no problem here. However if you entertain that individual and you begin to look forward to seeing or hearing from them, there could be a problem brewing. To determine whether or not this is an appropriate friendship, ask yourself, “Would my partner feel comfortable with this friendship?” If the answer is “No”, it’s time to set limits.
Practice healthy boundaries with social media
A discussion about strong boundaries would not be complete without focusing on the intrusions that can come through social media. The norm seems to be for people to share a lot about personal thoughts and feelings with everyone. If you do, you may be inadvertently sending a signal making it easy for an external, interested party to maneuver into your life. Following these simple guidelines can make help prevent these kinds of intrusions:
- Avoid sharing your thoughts and feelings at the moment when you are most upset. This is especially important when you are upset with your partner. When you share your relationship hurts on social media you are asking for sympathy and opening a potential door for someone to step in.
- Limit what you share about your relationship. The original benefit of social media platforms was to share brief updates with family and friends. Keep it brief and simple. Wait until you are face to face with your friends or relatives to give more details about your life.
- Think before you hit the “Post” or “Send” button. Reflect on the fact that you cannot undo what you have said once you post your comment or image. Even if you can delete your post later, chances are someone will view it first.
Use will power to prevent cheating
One of the best ways to create a strong boundary to protect your relationship is using old-fashioned will power. Just say “No!” You might respond, “But it’s not so easy to just say no.” There are ways to improve your will power. The key to strengthening will power lies in the area behind your forehead. That part of your brain is called the prefrontal cortex. When you strengthen this area of your brain, you also improve your will power. To strengthen your prefrontal cortex:
- Get regular physical exercise. Aerobic exercise is beneficial for strengthening your body and your mind.
- Practice mindfulness meditation. You may choose to concentrate on your breathing, paying attention to each breath as you inhale and exhale. The idea is to stay focused in the moment. When you find your mind wandering, release the thoughts and return the focus to your breathing. Practicing regularly for a few minutes at a time improves concentration and will power.
- Praying regularly encourages you to rely on your faith for strength. It also helps to boost your self-control.
Your plan for a strong boundary
Now it’s time to create your strong boundary to protect your love relationship. The best place to start is with a conversation with your partner. Schedule a time to talk with each other when you are not likely to be interrupted. Your aim is to have a collaborative conversation; consequently you want to avoid criticizing or blaming each other. What steps will you take to keep your focus on each other? What steps will you take to keep unwanted advances away from your relationship?
Friese, M. & Wänke, M. (2014). Personal Prayer buffers self-control depletion. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 51, 56–59.
McGonigal, K. (2012) The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It. New York, NY: Penguin Group.