When one partner cheats on another, it can be very difficult to move forward with either the old relationship or the affair. In many cases, ending the affair is a delicate process that requires a great deal of emotional strength and care. Whether you committed the affair and want to move on, or your partner cheated, learning how to end the affair and start the process of moving on is possible with the right guidance.
1. Assess both relationships privately. If you've been seeing someone on the side, you might be experiencing a great deal of confusion and grief over the process that awaits. It's likely that a degree of trust has been broken with your committed partner, while you also need to take the other party's feelings into account. Every relationship will be different, and it's important to evaluate both separately before planning a course of action.
Consider whether or not you should talk to your committed partner, or the new partner first. Does your affair know that you're in a committed relationship? If you made promises that you'd end your marriage for your new partner, or that you were committed to both people, you need to take special care to let the affair partner down easy.
Under no circumstances should you bring all parties together and try to hash it out as a group. Even if one or the other partner wants to make this happen, it's a situation that's best avoided
2. Decide whether or not you want to stay with your committed partner. If you're settled on ending a relationship with the person you had an affair with, you also need to decide whether or not you want to stay with your committed partner, and how you choose to address the affair together.
If you want to stay together, you need to decide how much of the affair you want to reveal to your partner. If you're feeling extremely guilty and think coming clean would assuage that guilt, then do so as soon as possible. If you feel confident that it will never happen again, consider working on your relationship without revealing the affair.
Why did you feel the need to start a new relationship? Was this a momentary lapse of commitment, or are you dissatisfied in your relationship? Would you be happier to break it off permanently? It's not just up to your partner to decide whether or not to "take you back."
3. End your affair the same way you end traditional relationships. Just because affairs might be somewhat outside the purview of traditional relationships doesn't mean you don't owe your affair partner the same courtesy and respect as a more formal relationship. If you choose to end it, do so respectfully, honestly, and in person.
If your affair partner knows that you're in a committed relationship, it can be heartbreaking to have not "been chosen," even if that's not the way you're looking at the relationship. If you want to end a relationship with a person you committed an affair with, discuss it in terms of what doesn't work about that relationship, not in terms of your other marriage or committed relationship.
4. Don't leave the door open. Don't look for an easy way out of a relationship by leaving the door open with the possibility of getting back together. Don't try and suggest that you "might get together" if your marriage doesn't work out or that you'll "see what happens." If a relationship is over and it's worth ending, end it for good.
If you're only ending an affair because you got caught, give serious thought to the health of your committed relationship. If you're sneaking around cheating guilt-free because you're dissatisfied, it might be better to end both relationships.
5. Get screened for sexually transmitted diseases. If you were sexually active with two different partners at the same time, it's very important that you get screened for sexually transmitted infections as soon as possible. For the safety of yourself and both partners, get tested.
If you didn't practice safe sex during an affair, it's important that you tell your committed partner. Even if you're not experiencing symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases, it's still possible to pass STDs on to your partner. You owe it to your partner to come clean for the sake of their health.
6. Eliminate online photos and correspondence. Even if you're going to come clean, make sure that your partner doesn't accidentally come across racy photos, emails, or other social networking correspondence between you and the person involved in the affair. If you're going to work on reforging your relationship, these can be unnecessary little road-bumps that will keep that from happening.