With the recent Ashley Madison email leak, individuals are flocking to websites to check and see if their partner has signed up with the site. If you have been having a sneaking suspicious that your partner has been cheating and have checked the website then this tip is for you. In the worst-case scenario, your partner’s e-mail address and name show up on one of the list searches. The initial and understandable reaction is most likely, fear, sadness, anger, betrayal, and confusion, amongst a variety of others. So how does one go about confirming that their partner indeed cheated or if they merely signed up out of curiosity?

Before reading further about this Ashley Madison situation that you’re finding yourself in, we encourage you to take a moment and assess your relationship. Are you happy? Is your partner meeting your needs? Are you meeting theirs? Are you both encouraging each other to grow or stifling the potential for growth? How are you both growing together as a “We”? Lastly, how does knowing that they may have sought an extramarital relationship change your feelings? Take some time to reflect and write down your answers before continuing on.

As you read further into this tip prepare yourself to do some investigative work. Just because your partner has an Ashley Madison account doesn’t necessarily mean that they cheated. They merely could have been curious. This tip will help you figure out the true answer.

The Center for Growth/Sex Therapy in Philadelphia and its employees acknowledge the risks involved with this investigative approach as well as the detriment that arming yourself with this information could be to your relationship. The choice to go forward with the Ashley Madison tip and any consequences of such solely falls upon the reader. The Center for Growth/Sex Therapy in Philadelphia and its employees are not at fault for any consequences that may come from this endeavor. To truly be able to identify what’s best for yourself as an individual and for your relationship we strongly encourage you to schedule an appointment so we can learn about your story, more information on the current situation, and how your sessions can be tailored to meet your particular needs. No two situations are the same. Thus, before reading any further, note that we encourage all individuals and couples to seek treatment with a professional before conducting any extreme action.

One of the first steps is to ask your partner directly about their Ashley Madison account and their involvement. Approaching the Ashley Madison Website conversation with hostility and anger may make your partner shutdown whether they are guilty or not. The best way to approach the Ashley Madison conversation is with open honesty. Be honest with your partner about your fears, how you have been feeling about the relationship, and any other feeling that may come up (e.g. hurt, anger, betrayal, jealousy, distrust, doubt, ect.). You may want to refer back to the list you made to help guide the conversation.

The second step is to ask your partner to be honest with you and open. Allow your partner the opportunity to explain their involvement with the Ashley Madison Website. They may have gone on and created an account out of curiosity. They made have made it because they considered an affair, but never went through with it.  Regardless of their reasoning for making an Ashley Madison account, a conversation should begin with why they were motivated to open an account and what it means for your relationship. If their explanation has done nothing for your fears (and your gut still is telling you there is more) then follow along to step two.

Acknowledge the fact that your fears may be unfounded, but to calm yourself and begin to repair the broken trust you need your partner to give his/her e-mail address and password. More often than not when a person has nothing to hide, they will openly give this information. It may be best to go through the Ashley Madison website with your partner. If your partner refuses, you may automatically assume the worst, but your partner may be the type of person who values privacy. Use your gut instinct and your knowledge about your partner to discern if they are hiding something or if they are being honest. If you are still uneasy then you may have to do some searching to confirm or deny that your partner has indeed cheated.

There are a couple ways you can go about double-checking to see if your partner has cheated. The first is to start examining your partner’s habits. Is there money and time that has gone unaccounted for? Here are some steps that may help:

  • Try to match up your partner’s word to their actions. If they said they were with their friends a certain day, call up the friends. Confirm if your partner’s word is true.
  • If your partner spent a large amount of money without you around, ask what it was for. If they don’t give a clear answer then ask for a receipt.
  • Perhaps your partner is staying late for work too often, when you know they don’t have any large project they’re working on.

Points like these are things you’ll have to start considering. If there are gaps, then it could be that they have cheated. The second step to confirm that your partner may have cheated is to look through your partner’s e-mail and their Ashley Madison account. See when they first signed up, if they’ve had correspondence with others. To get onto their account you may need to request for the password from Ashley Madison. This may involve going on to your partner’s email, as most websites will send a password reset to the e-mail associated with the account.

If it does happen that your partner cheated, the first most important step to do is to confront your partner again, in a calm manner, but showing them the evidence you have that they obviously lied. Say that you have strong reason to believe that they have indeed had an affair. At this point you must ask yourself: has your partner crossed a line that there’s no chance of coming back from? Do you want to forgive them? Or not? If they have indeed crossed a line, then can you afford (i.e. money, time, children, ect.) a divorce at this time? However, if you feel that you aren’t ready to walk away from the relationship, we encourage coming in for counseling. Unless your partner has a sex addiction, extramarital affairs signify that something is wrong within in the relationship that both people are in some way contributing to – which is separate from the poor judgment your partner used in choosing to cheat as opposed to confronting the issue within the relationship. Coming into therapy gives the opportunity to explain why they chose to use Ashley Madison and cheat. It also gives you both the chance to find a middle ground and tools with which to resolve the underlying situation in the relationship. There is hope that the relationship can be mended, and at the very best get an understanding of the role you played and what you can to so that you can grow as an individual.

Figuring out how to manage this Ashley Madison situation and why people cheat within a therapeutic setting helps to prevent the situation from escalating out of hang.