Heartbreak

What To Do When You're Wrongly Accused Of Cheating

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Falsely Accused of Cheating

Anyone can feel a little jealous or insecure at times. However, most can keep their feelings in check and not react when they feel secure within themselves.

But how do you help an anxiously attached partner let go of insecurities that are ruining your relationship?

Why you're being accused of cheating when you're innocent

According to psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, John Bowlby, who pioneered the theory of attachment, your perception of your relationship is formed through the experience of your attachment figures, which shapes your attachment style.

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You develop a secure attachment bond with your partner if you developed trust and your emotional needs are met for safety and attachment. When your emotional needs for attachment are not met, you can feel anxious and insecure in your relationships.

If a person has fears of abandonment or rejection, they can push their partner away. This is how they protect themselves from getting hurt.

A person can "test" a partner’s love by checking up on them or accusing them of cheating, to alleviate their fears.

This can justifiably cause a partner to feel controlled.

Sometimes, a cheating partner can accuse you of cheating. They can project onto you the aspects of themselves they wish to deny.

Because of the complicated nature of false accusations of cheating, this issue is often most effectively solved in couples therapy.

If your partner has a paranoid fantasy about you, it might be necessary to get help so you don’t lose sight of yourself.

After all, you don't want to be walking on eggshells around someone's anxious mood, feeling monitored and trying to appease them.

If your partner has some insecurities but can still see you for who you are, then you have a far better chance of working on their emotional triggers and resolving this together.

The key is not to tell your partner that they're wrong for thinking this way and act as if it's simple to get over their fears of being cheated on. Theirs is a pervasive fear that will likely get worse if you don’t respond to it.

RELATED: How To Tell The Difference Between A Protective Boyfriend & Toxic Jealousy

Sometimes, false accusations are a sign of abuse

There are some circumstances where it's toxic to stay in a relationship in which manipulation tactics are used to avoid feeling insecure about a partner leaving for someone new.

If your partner cannot see you from the perspective you're coming from, you might suffer psychological harm if you stay in this relationship — especially if they punish you for something you have not done.

So, what do you do if you have an anxious partner who wrongly accuses you of cheating?

How do you help your partner feel secure but let them know you don’t accept their behavior, without them taking offense?

How do you resist falling into blame, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling, which are what Dr. John Gottman describes as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

RELATED: What Really Counts As Cheating, According To Experts

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Here are 10 response tactics to try when your partner falsely accuses you of cheating

1. Wait to speak until they're calm.

First, don't speak while they're triggered. Offer to talk when it does not feel so overwhelming, so you can respond more effectively.

2. Ask questions.

Ask clarifying questions to understand how they could possibly think this, without showing any anger you might feel in the moment.

3. Understand why.

Don’t get caught up in who’s wrong or right, but seek to understand — because you feel bewildered by this.

4. Listen to the feelings but don't react to the behavior.

Try not to take it personally but understand it from the perspective of their own fears. Sometimes, allowing them to express themselves allows them to notice their insecurities, so they take ownership of them.

Otherwise, you can help them by being attuned to how they feel.

5. Invite them to be vulnerable and share their feelings.

This can help them feel safe and secure by acknowledging how they feel. Help them identify their feeling: "I can see how you feel you’re not good enough."

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6. Accept their feelings.

To establish a secure relationship, you want to accept how they feel, so they feel understood but don't shoulder the blame.  

7. Point out the reality.

Let them know you’re not cheating but you understand they’re scared you will.  

8. Let them know it’s not OK to accuse you.

However, you will accept it if they discuss their concerns and check it out with you.

9. Close with sharing your feelings.

"You know, I can’t imagine being apart from you, so I am struck when you feel this way. Next time, just let me know how you feel instead of accusing me, okay? This way I can help reassure you so you don’t feel so anxious.”

Those who need love the most will often seek love in all the "wrong" ways that elicit the opposite response from their partner.

If you look at what's underneath the behavior to understand the feelings, you can build a secure relationship and deactivate the fears that push love away.

10. Accept your partner's feelings — but not the behavior.

In order to overcome the fears of an anxious partner accusing you of cheating when you’re innocent, you can counteract their fears and anxieties by being emotionally available to respond to how they feel.

When an insecure person feels acknowledged for how they feel, it alleviates the fears so they feel safe opening up. You can unlearn the patterns that shaped you and relearn new ways of responding in the context of a secure relationship.

You have to keep yourself in check to manage your response in order for them to do the same for you. 

If your partner can trust you when they're most vulnerable, you can help assuage their insecurities and create a secure bond that they can trust.

RELATED: The Real Reason Why Cheaters Come Back (And Why You Can’t Let Them!)

Nancy Carbone is a relationship therapist and psychodynamic psychotherapist. To find out more about her services, visit her website.

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