I mean, this is a question that only you can answer. All relationships exist and function on their own terms.
However, that said, you have to listen to your gut – particularly if it's saying the same thing as your friends!
This is where it can get contentious. For some people, simply liking another persons' Instagram can constitute cheating. Depending on the nature of the picture, the relationship to the person, and whether you've actually discussed that it – however seemingly innocuous – was off-limits, this can make more sense than at first glance.
It's all about trust, and whether the 'cheating' constituted a breach of that trust
Maybe, if one's insta habits aren't particularly on your radar, then that's okay for you. But if you've made it clear that it's not, and they acknowledged that, then they have no excuse if you get angry when they do!
This means that it's time to whip out the age-old, eternally true idiom. In relationships you can either communicate effectively, or you can break up.
That's harsh, but that's the trajectory of it. Otherwise you will be arguing with each other every other week if you refuse to let each other's needs or boundaries be communicated. If you don't draw the line, you will both unknowingly stride over it every day. That will only result in hurting each other needlessly and wasting one another's time.
Trust yourself enough to walk away
We all have those moments of doubt and insecurity in relationships. That's inevitable. Humans aren't infallible, nor should they be. If everyone was just robotic and said exactly what we were meant to say, where would the fun and surprise of life be? That said, we also acclimatise to toxic environments that aren't good for us.
We need to be better at recognising that we deserve better than what we sometimes get. Often, we might be investing more of ourselves and putting our time on the line for a relationship that isn't being reciprocated in the same way. Also, we often feel guilt for thinking about stepping away from such relationships, as though we are withdrawing a service that we 'owe' another person. We don't owe people anything in this world, not inherently. Not if they're not giving us the same in return, it's just not emotionally sustainable.
You end up expending and exhausting yourself and having nothing left for yourself
Therefore, we need to recognise and relearn our power to say 'no' and mean it. Or to tell the people around us what we need when we need it. We don't need to become dictators or totalitarians to do this, or to control the relationship, we just need to have an active and equal part in it. If we want to know where the relationship is headed, that's perfectly within our rights. Should your partner not be on the same page as you, that's fine – but that's the signal to leave the relationship. If you explicitly do not have a future there, then you're both wasting each other's time and effort, and making things harder for yourself in the long term.
Never settle for a cheater
Okay, everyone please gather round and find a beanbag on my imaginative therapy room floor space. Roll with it, I'm about to spill some tea on the eternal wisdom of relationships. In particular, when to end them and what constitutes a red flag. You know, those relationship markers that signal something is deeply wrong but because we're comfortable and afraid of change we ignore them. Yep, those ones. Ready? I'm not – but let's go ahead and unearth our emotional triggers for the greater good anyway.
The long and short of it? Cheaters are the biggest 'no-no'. there's a lot I'm willing to forgive in a relationship. But not that breach of trust. Nope. Don't believe me?
You're minding your own business, stupidly in love with Harry from down the road. He bought you flowers last week and always cooks for you. Life is good and you consider yourself safe and sound – it never even crosses your mind that he might not have been faithful.
Or equally, it could be the one that we really should have known better than to fall for. It's always the people we shouldn't have fallen for that hurt the most when they leave because it means you were right. But we can't help it. Love is all about those moments when you're minding your own business and then you realize your heart has gone on a romp about in someone else's bag. And there it goes! Nothing you or I can do about that. No sir.
But back to the emotionally turbulent matter at hand. He's cheated. You hate the way it makes you feel and you break things off with him. But it's not as easy as that. The only reason it hurts so much is because you cared about him so much. Missing people against your will. Like it or not, your heart is still at their mercy. They may not even realise it, but that makes it even worse that people can keep such a casual, loose grip on all that tethers you to this mortal coil.
I'm being dramatic but also I'm not
The issue of control is a short-lived one, simply because you ceded it immediately the second you fell for them. That's just the nature of love – you have to be willing to fall flat on your face and get your heart broken for the price of love. Whether or not it's a fair trade, I couldn't tell you conclusively. Maybe it is; maybe it isn't. There's more to life than relationships but love itself as a mode of affection and connection is pretty much the total sum of life. Confused? Don't be.
If you do conclude that they have cheated, then there's a few more facts I have to lay out before you.
The thing with cheaters is that we have to teach them that what they do – while it may occasionally have reasons and excuses that track – can't be sustained. It's not right. End the relationship and pursue your new love if you must, but don't string along a relationship because it will end up hurting more parties than it should. Maybe it's because we're all taught that we're the worst person in the room and that because – finally – one person loves us despite all our flaws, we believe that we have to love them above and beyond their toxic behaviour.
That's not how it works. You don't owe anyone anything
Yes, at the moment we're spooning an ungodly amount of salty comfort food into our mouths while we gratuitously rewatch old episodes of Friends, but it won't always be like that.
Comforts like that exist for a reason – to make us feel better.
There's nothing to be ashamed of in engaging with them, but once they are no longer consoling us, we need to try and reflect and move on.
Love that journey for us!