Lifestyle

So, your partner did something deeply embarrassing – here’s how to handle it


You know, like getting caught watching porn at work… (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

Did you hear the one about the MP and porn in the Commons?

No, this is not a setup for a rubbish joke, but an actual thing that happened this week.

MP (he’s now resigned) Neil Parish was accused of watching pornography while in the chamber (he initially said he opened explicit material by accident while trying to look at… tractors, then described the incident as a ‘moment of madness’), leading to, well, quite a lot of gossip.

It’s all highly embarrassing. There’s nothing wrong with watching porn, but doing it in the workplace is, obviously, extremely inappropriate, and what we watch to get off tends to be a private, personal thing – not something we’d be comfy with everyone witnessing.

While this must be a humiliating experience for Neil, what we’re interested in is how his wife is feeling after having her partner’s dirty laundry very publicly aired.

Few of us will find ourselves in this exact situation (and if we did, we probably wouldn’t respond by shaming sex workers), but what we’re likely to experience in common with Sue Parish is the burn of having our partners do something deeply embarrassing, whether that’s making a social faux pas, getting caught cheating, or messing up at work.

‘Couples are often viewed as a unit and our partners might not be our better half,’ therapist Sally Baker tells Metro.co.uk. ‘When they do something embarrassing, it impacts on the whole family.’

Face the shame head on (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

Even though our partner’s mistakes are not our own, we’re still inclined to feel that blush of shame.

Your other half choosing to do something stupid or inappropriate brings negative attention to you and your relationship, and can reflect badly on you, too.

Why are they with such an idiot, you imagine people thinking. She’s being taken for a fool.

So how do you deal with this and move forward?

First, you need to work out if your partner’s embarrassing act is just a slip-up, or something more serious.

Cheating, for example, isn’t just a bit embarrassing. It’s a total breach of trust. Don’t get so caught up in the shame of people knowing that you forget about the actual issue at hand: their infidelity.

Your partner saying something idiotic, on the other hand, might not be worth ending the relationship over – but it’ll still sting.

The key, Sally says, is to ‘fess up’. Don’t try to pretend something didn’t happen, dismiss it, or place the blame on someone else. Your partner should be the one apologising and smoothing over the mess, but if you’re asked about their mishap, do your bit to acknowledge any wrongdoing.

Work out when it’s time to cut ties (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

‘Own how embarrassing their behaviour is,’ Sally says. ‘Then don’t elaborate. Think stuck record – repeat a heartfelt response without further explanation or elaboration.’

That might look something like this: ‘Yes, that was a stupid thing my partner did, and I know they regret it. I’m obviously embarrassed, but at the end of the day, it’s their mistake, not mine.’

If you’re pushed to explain your partner’s actions, it’s okay to remind someone that despite being in a relationship, you are indeed two separate people with your own minds – and if they want to discuss your partner’s mistake, they should probably bring that up with them directly.

Make sure to talk with your partner privately about whatever they did, to ensure they acknowledge where they went wrong and understand that it caused you embarrassment and hurt, too.

The goal is to ensure that this is a one-time blip, and you don’t have to go through similar shame again.

If it’s a repeated pattern, though, and you’re regularly finding yourself cringing at your other half’s inappropriate behaviour, it might be time to cut them loose.

‘Rarely do partners do something completely left field,’ notes Sally. ‘Often we already know how disappointing their behaviour is and we have to constantly decide if this is something we can accept or their behaviour has finally escalated to the unacceptable.’

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.


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