How Is Cheating Related To Emotional Regulation

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Written By:

Counselling Psychologist - M.Sc. Clinical Psychology

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Reviewed By:

Counselling Psychologist - Ph.D. Relationship Psychology

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What is Emotion Regulation? 

Emotional Regulation is the ability to manage and regulate one’s own emotions and also being able to manage and regulate other’s emotions. The first aspect that is involved in emotional regulation is emotional awareness. When we are aware of our emotions, we will absorb the ways to manage and regulate the emotions in a better way. It is an element of emotional intelligence that determines how skilled a person is towards managing negative emotions and increasing their chances of experiencing positive emotions. 

However, not every strategy that is used to manage emotions can be considered effective. There are healthy ways as well as unhealthy ways to regulate your emotions. Healthy emotional regulation consists of being non-judgemental towards your emotions. When you are practising healthy emotional regulation you are not labelling your emotions as good or bad. Every emotion has a role to play and when you label the emotions as bad or good you are negating the usefulness of these emotions. Healthy emotional regulation involves being aware of what one is experiencing, and then using healthy strategies to cope with them. These healthy strategies include mindfulness, seeking support from loved ones who actually help you grow, journalling, or seeking professional help. 

On the other hand, when we are regulating our emotions in an unhealthy way, we are most likely to judge our emotions at the onset of them. This means that if you experience an emotion like sadness and you automatically label it saying it’s bad then you are essentially telling yourself that sadness is a bad emotion and that you shouldn’t experience it. What this leads to is suppression. You end up suppressing the emotion which is not healthy because it will lead to resentment and emotional exhaustion. Other unhealthy ways in which people regulate their emotions unhealthily are avoiding feeling the emotion, not making oneself aware, resorting to substances to escape the feeling, or obsessively thinking about the emotion.  

How are Cheating and Emotional Regulation related? 

Cheating refers to the breaching or breaking of someone’s agreement of a committed relationship by involving oneself in activities that involve getting physically or emotionally intimate with other people (who are outside the relationship). 

You must be wondering how cheating and emotional regulation are related? Well, there is a connection between them that many are not aware of. Those who cheat essentially are looking outside of a relationship this could be for fulfilling their physical needs or emotional needs. 

What does that say about their emotional regulation abilities? 

Cheating can be attributed to poor or unhealthy emotional regulation skills. This means that when people have poor or unhealthy emotional regulation strategies then they are more likely to cheat. 

  1. Avoiding - 

One of the unhealthy ways of regulating emotions is by avoiding the emotions. Cheating is a behaviour that people resort to when they are avoiding their emotions. It is always hard to solve and figure out the problems that arise in your relationship. It takes effort and courage to go through difficult conversations. When people have unhealthy emotional regulation coping mechanisms then they are likely to look outside the relationship as a way to avoid the reality of the relationship. 

  1. Risky Behaviours as Coping Mechanisms - 

Another unhealthy way to deal with emotions is engaging in risky behaviours as a way to escape the emotions. Some people resort to substances to distract themselves unhealthily from the emotion they are feeling. Oftentimes in relationships this can also manifest as cheating behaviour. Perhaps people might indulge in risky behaviour that provides them with some temporary relief to distract from the deep seated underlying issue. 

  1. Poor Self-Awareness - 

When you are not aware of your emotions and feelings, then emotional regulation can be a difficult task for you. In such cases, when you are overwhelmed with a particular emotion you are going to have poorer self-esteem and self-confidence. Such feelings of insecurity can resort to looking outside the relationship to temporarily boost their self-esteem. However, these are only temporary and the long-term repercussions are often very detrimental to the health and well-being of the person and their relationship. 

How to start Regulating your Emotions better 

As we learnt above, poor or unhealthy emotional regulation can negatively impact your well-being and your relationship’s well-being. But just like any other skill, emotional regulation is also a skill you can pick up with the right amount of effort and dedication. Here are some of the ways in which you can regulate your emotions better, 

  1. Become Self-Aware through Journaling - 

Journaling is a very powerful technique that will help you in knowing yourself and your emotions, thoughts, feelings better. Whether it is through journaling prompts or through brain dumps, writing regularly will help us gain a lot of clarity on our emotions and will help us identify our triggers. When practised over a period of time it can also help in reducing the intensity that the emotions come with. This way you will build the self-awareness that is the first step towards emotional regulation. When you are aware of the problem then finding the solution will not be as overwhelming. 

  1. Be Mindful - 

Most of the time we are not in the present moment. Our minds are wandering either in the past that is gone, or in worry of the future that has not yet come. Unfortunately, we end up thinking about the two events that are not in our control. The only event that we are in control of is the present. When we are mindful and we pay attention to our emotions without passing any judgement we will be able to reduce the reactivity that emotions come with and will be able to make more appropriate choices in response to those emotions. 

  1. Switch to Healthy Coping Mechanisms - 

Poor emotional regulation is essentially choosing unhealthy emotional regulation strategies. One way to regulate your emotions better is to switch to healthier coping mechanisms. These could be not avoiding the emotions, not escaping with the help of substances or risky behaviours and surrounding yourself with people who can actually help you through the difficult emotions. Healthy coping mechanisms also involve being vulnerable with your partner and working through the conflicts instead of pushing them under the carpet. 

  1. Cognitive Restructuring - 

Cognitive restructuring refers to the reframing of negative thoughts into thoughts that are rational. It does not mean that every negative thought has to be turned into something positive, it means that you should extract the reality out of the thought. For example, if you and your partner get into a fight and haven’t spoken to each other for a couple of hours, instead of thinking 

“My partner hates me and is going to leave me.” 

one way you can reframe this is by saying 

“We just had a fight and things are heated right now but there is no clear indication of my partner leaving me or hating me.” 

This way you are bringing reality to challenge your negative thoughts. This helps you in reducing the intensity of the negative thoughts and can help you regulate the emotion behind the thought in a fruitful manner. 

If you find yourself requiring any further assistance on emotional regulation or coping with being cheated on, then feel free to reach out to us on our platform, CoupleBees!

Ms. Priyanka Walia
Ms. Priyanka Walia M.A. Counselling Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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Ms. Muskan Maheshwari
Ms. Muskan Maheshwari M.Sc. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 02 years of experience

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Mr. Nishant Sharma
Mr. Nishant Sharma M.Phil. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 07 years of experience

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Ms. Akshita Bakshi
Ms. Akshita Bakshi Ph.D. Relationship Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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