When three people are involved as is usually the case, the two people in the main relationship and the external affair, they could all profit from reflecting on their own relationship skills and values, also specific to this situation and to question these values. Often, the two people in the affair lead a difficult relationship with themselves and their self-esteem, their self-acceptance and self-love could use some work.
Having an affair may simply be „easier“ over a long period of time than having to work on yourself and your relationship, because often times it takes courage, respect, vulnerability and a willingness to work on one’s own self-esteem and the ability to anticipate the needs of the other person, as well as having to put the happiness of the relationship above one’s own short-term needs or momentary gratification.
After a one-time act of infidelity has happened or an affair has ended, many people ask themselves whether they should confess to their partner what has happened.
It is certainly important to distinguish between a one-time „slip-up“ or a long-term affair, a kind of side relationship in which there can also be an emotional bond between the two having the affair. If emotions and feelings are involved, it is important that the unfaithful person becomes clear about what they really want, and that they communicate as clearly and openly as possible with everyone involved, and to disclose any decision they have come to. No one should continue to be hurt or disillusioned.
If the partner who had been unfaithful considers confessing everything to their partner, they could be doing so potentially more out of concern for their own well-being and ridding themselves of any feeling of guilt, rather than making it about the actual continuation or preservation of the honest relationship with their partner. One’s own conscience could thereby be freed from guilt and the bitter aftertaste. Their partner was hurt, the other partner’s own conscience is relieved, but the relationship could also be completely and irreparably destroyed. This article isn’t about recommending that people necessarily have to confess and come clean or whether they should keep it to themselves and potentially further jeopardize their relationship. It is merely intended to illustrate why a person may confess to having had an affair and to point out that this can also happen for selfish reasons.
In the case of people with a personality disorder or, above all, with pronounced narcissistic traits, it is usually not even a matter of conscience. Narcissists in particular have little to no empathy for other people, they don’t care much about their partner’s feelings. That is why narcissists will often have affairs or are unfaithful and are therefore not necessarily suitable partners for a monogamous relationship.
However, if the partner finds out about an infidelity or an affair, this can further damage the trust in the relationship. At the same time, however, it is also questionable and morally imbalancing if the betrayed partner knows nothing about it and continues to remain in the dark without being able to contemplate about the continuation of the relationship.
What can further speak for a confession is the fact that trust can only be rebuilt if both partners are fully aware of the actual situation and the status of their relationship. If both are clear about the situation and what happened, then the couple can work together to change and build the relationship back up.