The topic of how to handle questions about infidelity has come up a few times in conversations with tarot students and friends recently. “Is my partner cheating on me?” is, unfortunately, a classic question at the tarot table.
Before I address how I handle that question, let me discuss some things a professional tarot reader should consider regarding the uncomfortable subject of infidelity.
First, I believe a good tarot reader needs to approach every reading absent of bias and judgement. As humans, we tend to have a great deal of bias and judgement when it comes to this particular topic. To be a truly fair, impartial, ethical and helpful reader, I find it helpful to embrace the following three practices.
First, release gender bias. Everyone is capable of infidelity, not only heterosexual men. Heterosexual women cheat, lesbians cheat, gay men cheat. Yes, in some cultures there is a prevalent norm that gives heterosexual men a pass and an expectation for cheating. That, however, doesn’t mean that every man cheats, or that women don’t cheat, or that cheating doesn’t happen in same sex relationships.
Second, release judgment. The person at my table who needs my guidance may be the person who has been cheated on. The person at my table may also be the cheater, or the person with whom someone has cheated. Everyone at my table deserves compassion, understanding, and grace without judgment.
Third, not all cheating situations are the same. There is a lot of common wisdom that says things like, “Once a cheater, always a cheater,” and “If he cheated with you, he will cheat on you”. While these things may be true some of the time, they won’t be true all the time. This is another sort of judgment I try to avoid at the tarot table. Rather, I do the reading for the individuals and their relationships and interpret it free of those biases.
How should we handle it when the question on the table is, “Is my partner cheating on me?”
It’s easy to see what a quandary this might be. The potential to do damage is immense.
Right away, we need to know what our client feels cheating is. We don’t all define cheating the same way. For some, wandering into an adult nightclub would be considered cheating. For others, a flirtation or conversation might cross the line. Some spouses equate porn use with cheating. For others, the line isn’t crossed unless there is full-on sexual contact with another human.
Then, we need to remember that there can be all kinds of dishonesty and disrespect in a relationship. The cards might reflect other kinds of insult in a way that would be difficult to distinguish from sexual infidelity. We may see there is disrespect, but can we be sure that disrespect includes infidelity?
We also need to remember that some people are just plain paranoid and suspicious.
When asked this difficult question, I will pull some cards to try to get a read on the relationship and the nature of the partner. Is it in the partner’s nature to cheat? How does the partner regard my client? What is the energy around the relationship? What is the client’s tendency toward dark imaginings and unwarranted mistrust?
I usually ask the client if they have particular reason to suspect infidelity. I see how their answer to this question reflects my read on the relationship.
Never do I want to say for sure that the deed has been done. It’s not my job to bust someone, and it is not my job to break up marriages.
However, if the offense shows up strongly in the cards, and the client can relay to me stories that are corroborated by the cards, I might say something like, “It does seem like a possibility” or “This is definitely something you need to speak with your spouse about” or “It may be time for marriage counseling”.
If I don’t see signs of the alleged behavior in the cards, I will say something like, “There is no evidence here to suggest that this is happening”.
It’s important to remember that to flat-out deny something is happening when it is could be just as devastating as suggesting something is happening when it isn’t.
Very often when a person is concerned about infidelity there are other obvious signs of relationship problems in the cards. Often the cards will reveal specific kinds of abuse and disrespect which the client will confirm. Often the client wants to hear that their spouse is cheating to justify ending the relationship. In a situation like that, it is easy to point to the laundry list of known offenses and suggest the client act on those.
The truth is, cheating doesn’t usually happen in an otherwise happy relationship. We, as tarot readers, can be helpful by focusing on the obvious dysfunction in the relationship.
If the dysfunction is that the client is suspicious and accusatory for no reason, we may be able to identify the source of that problem and offer opportunities for healing. If the dysfunction is lack of communication, lack of sexual connection, lack of time together, we can identify the problem and suggest remedies.
Another thing that can happen is that infidelity will make itself known in a reading, even if the question hasn’t been asked and the client isn’t suspicious. Sometimes the cards just scream it in a way that can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.
When that happens, I don’t usually come out and make the accusation. Instead, I might suggest that there are issues of trust or communication, or that there may be another person meddling in the relationship. If the cards are particularly pointed, I might ask if infidelity has ever been an issue, or a concern. Of course, I suggest communication and counseling.
Very often, tarot readers are the first line of defense for people suffering with relationship issues. It’s important that we each have a protocol for handling difficult situations which allows us to help our clients, while doing no further harm.
While we often offer that first line of defense, we should always suggest marriage counseling, and individual counseling, when we see issues of distress within a relationship. Understanding the limitations of our practice is just as important as understanding the significant benefits a tarot reading can provide.