My partner and I have been together 7 months. We met before her last relationship had "officially" ended, though she led me to believe that it was already over. I was already in love with her when I learned she had been untruthful about her ex not knowing, and so I didn't really address my worries about it then. I find myself a little obsessed lately with her ability to be faithful to me, and I'm writing because I want to learn how to make our relationship affair-proof.
~ Faithful Fran
Dear Faithful Fran,
If you have been together seven months, a few of which were possibly "complicated" by the not-yet-available-but-I'm-telling-you-I-am stage of your relationship, I'm guessing that the good-ole passion cocktail that we can all count on at the start of new relationships is probably starting to fade a little. What this means is that you are starting to awaken to the realities of your relationship. Most of us don't begin to REALLY see our new loves until six or so months into the relationship. (This, by the way, is why it's often a good idea to NOT make any major purchases, moves, decisions, or life-altering commitments during the first six months of any relationship!)
As for infidelity...
The only affair-proof formula I am aware of requires that you not be in a relationship. That's probably not the answer you are looking for though, so I'll put together an alternate plan that may assist in reducing the risk!
1. The first step toward affair-proofing your relationship involves your mate selection. Before you make a long-term commitment to this relationship (if you haven't already), be sure that you reflect well on her capacity for honesty.
A prerequisite for infidelity is the capacity, and willingness to lie. When you are in the process of selecting a life-partner, it is critical to assess whether or not your partner is prone to dishonesty. Does she have a history of not telling the truth, be that to friends, family, or others? The easier it is for a person to lie, the easier it will be for them to be unfaithful. Along with this, be sure to get an adequate understanding of her relationship history. Does she have a pattern of infidelity? Was she dishonest in other relationships prior to this last one? Has she been unfaithful to others in the past? Is she taking responsibility for this or blaming her ex's for her choices? Infidelity is a form of deception. If deception comes easily for her, this is something to be concerned about.
2. Make a commitment to honesty, not just monogamy. If you focus on monogamy you are overlooking the front-door to infidelity: dishonesty. Monogamy is what you have when two people are honest and communicate well. Honesty is what you get when two people are open, willing and safe to communicate whatever they feel with one another.
Is your partner willing to talk with you about your concerns regarding her dishonesty around the time you met? Is she defensive and critical with you about this topic, or is she humble and open - willing to take responsibility and show remorse for being misleading? Sometimes good people make poor choices and the best way to determine this is through their remorse. When a person shows regret and apology for their behavior, they are taking ownership which indicates they "get" that this is not good, and ideally they are able to learn from this. If the behavior is repeated, though, the regret and the apologies slowly lose any meaning.
Attractions to others are normal and will happen if both partners in the relationship are alive and engaged in the world. People are beautiful, interesting, unique and can at times be surprisingly distracting and alluring - catching the most committed partner off-guard. This is not the problem though, the problem is our inability to be comfortable with these feelings, to be honest about these feelings and remain accountable to our partners when we have these feelings. Note: I'm not suggesting that you point out and talk about every person you encounter that you find attractive (this, you may discover, is not very rewarding for your partner or your relationship). I'm suggesting that you know when an attraction puts your relationship at risk and either cut that risk off (terminate all roads that lead to that attraction) or talk about it with your partner as soon as you make the discovery.
3. Notice and address relationship disconnection. Relationships are most susceptible to infidelity when partners are feeling disconnected from one another. When couples become disconnected, it becomes easier to enjoy the efforts of another to connect to you. When you become disconnected at home and connected elsewhere (according to studies, the #1 place for affairs to begin is at work), elsewhere becomes more desirable. If you sense you are disconnected, talk about it - ask her, "how are we doing?" "Do we need to talk about anything?" "Are you happy with how our relationship is going?"
4. Express appreciation and authentic gratitude for your relationship. In relationships, we all long to feel valued, important, appreciated, and loved. The best way to insure that your partner does not seek these validations from another is to be sure she is aware that you love her for who she is (without wanting to change her), that you value who she is and what she is about, that you appreciate how she adds to your life, and that you love her (in both word and action).