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Whether you’re gay, straight, bi, asexual or somewhere in the middle, cheating happens.

One thing I do as an LGBTQ counselor is talk to gay couples about their relationship agreement and what they would do to protect their health if it were broken. For example, some people may want to know if their partner(s) had sex with someone else, whereas others might only want to know if it was emotional, if they didn’t use a condom, if it was a mutual friend or if it was happening a lot. Not everyone wants to know all the same things, and not everyone wants to be told the same way.

The point of a good agreement is to make sure everyone is protected against STI and HIV transmission, which happens a lot within relationships if someone makes a mistake and doesn’t tell their partner(s). We plan for a lot of potential catastrophes, like losing a job, an apartment, a loved one or even a house fire. But, we don’t plan for if cheating occurs in our relationships. Ask yourself: If your partner(s) cheated, what would you want to be told, and how? Then tell your partner(s). Make a plan for how you’d respond and how you’d take care of yourself, then if it happens, you don’t have to think on your feet; you can be rational. The feeling of being cheated on hurts, but you can still protect your health by planning for if cheating happens before cheating happens. Whether you talk about it or not, it might happen. So, isn’t it better to have a plan ready to go, just in case?

The other morning my boyfriend went to shower, and I went through his phone. I got on his social media and saw he’d been sending pics back and forth with a few guys, but I don’t know if it was just dirty talk and pics or more. I’m afraid to say anything…

That sucks, and I’m sorry, but it doesn’t sound like you have all the information. You have to fess up to going through his phone and ask him about it. Spend some time thinking before about what you want and what this means to you.

Are flirty messages and photos a deal breaker? Or are you worried about more? In the future, have an honest conversation before—snooping never leads to anything good.

I cheated, and it’s killing me. I love my boyfriend (three years) very much, but it happened one night when I was drinking, and I don’t know what to do. I don’t blame the alcohol, it was my decision, but I know his heart will be broken if I tell him. I’ll never do it again, but I feel like I have to tell him.

I understand “it’s killing” you, and you want to tell him. But, it sounds like you want to tell him so you can feel better about it. I think you need to ask yourself honestly: Would he want to know if you fucked up one time? I’m not saying this is a free pass, but if it really was a one-time thing, and there was no potential risk (you used protection), then maybe you don’t have to. I’m not excusing cheating, but if your main reason for telling him is because you feel guilty, then you need to reexamine your motives. It isn’t fair to make him feel bad so you can feel better. If you didn’t use protection, you have to tell him—no excuses. You can’t put his health at risk because of your mistake.

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