How do you clean it up without getting yourself in hot water? And can you actually use the clean-up process to leave your relationship stronger than ever?

Join Cathy Vartuli from and sex and relationship expert Reid Mihalko from for the answers to this and more!

Cathy: Hi everyone, this is Cathy Vartuli from , and we’re here today with Reid Mihalko from , and we’re talking about what to do if you mess up when you’re in a relationship.

Reid: Run. RUN!

Cathy:  Or hide it.

Reid: Hide? No, don’t do that.

Cathy:  Buy flowers?

Reid:   No — well, yes, but that’s after.

Cathy:  Oh, okay!

Reid:  Well, the first thing that you do is you go through your own freak-out, that you screwed up.

Cathy:  Everybody does.

Reid:  And then basically you should come clean with the other person. I think we now live in a time where transparency will help you have a better, more fulfilling relationship and increase your odds of it lasting longer, than trying not to rock the boat and trying to hide things and sweep things under the rug.

Cathy:  What if you don’t have a history of coming clean and you don’t have a pattern to do that? How do you start that pattern?

Reid: Basically, what you’ve created, or what you’ve found yourself in, is a difficult conversation.

Cathy:  Yes.

Reid:  So people, go to my website, go to, and search for “difficult conversation” or the phrase “say what you’re not saying.” Those two searches will come up with a whole little idea on how to do this, like a script.

Cathy:  Yes.

Reid: But the basic idea is, you get really clear as to why you are afraid to tell so-and-so, what you would like to have happen by telling your loved one, and then what you want to tell them. And then what you do is, you write that stuff down so you have it.

And then you go to your partner and you say, “I have something I’m not telling you. I’m not telling you because I’m afraid of X, Y, and Z. What I want to have happen by telling you is A, B, C, and D. And what I’m not saying is “BLAH.” And then you put it out there.

The only thing that you could do — not to make it more complicated, but that’s the simplest thing to do, is to just get the cat out of the bag. If you want to be a little bit more savvy, you can sit your partner down and say, “Listen, I want to build into our relationship moving forward.”

Cathy:  Before anything bad happens.

Reid: Well, ideally, yes, but let’s say you’re in the middle of “Oh, I just screwed up royally.” Sit down with your partner and say, “Listen, I want to build into our relationship. We have a history of being transparent and having difficult conversations and sharing this stuff that’s scary, and I have something I need to tell you.” So then, what I just said with the formula.

Cathy:  Could you give us an example? Say, you were supposed to pick something up for a party and you forgot.

Reid: So this would be my example if I had kids. “Honey, there’s something I would like for you and I to have and build into our relationship, that we tell each other the scary stuff, and I have something to tell you.

What I’m afraid of is that you’re going to leave me, that you will report me to the authorities, and that you will ruin my reputation on Facebook and on other social media platforms.

What I’d like to have happen is for you to realize is that I am human, and that I will always tell you things as quickly as I can, even when they’re royal screw-ups. I’d like for you to feel like you can trust me, even when I’m not perfect, and that I’ll always clean up my messes to the best of my ability, and that hopefully this only deepen our relationship.

And what I’m not telling you is that I left our son at the store, and I don’t know where he is.”

Cathy:  [laughs]

Reid:  “I forgot that he was with me, and I left, and I can’t remember what store it was.” Is that a good example?

Cathy:  Great example! Although if you actually did leave your kid at the store, you may want to skip all the prequel and just call 9-1-1 or something.

Reid: Maybe.

Cathy:  Have that conversation after you found the kid.

Reid: But I mean, in a kind of romantic comedy movie thing.

Cathy: That’ll be historical.

Reid:  They, he would be trying or she would be trying to get the kid back without telling the other one, and it would just make it worst.

Cathy: There’ll be hole to buckle and the hole they can keep chasing around, “oh! He’s over here, let me go get him” and.

Reid: Yeah and so like, you want to not be that person might life would be nice if life was romantic comedy but it is not and it doesn’t have to be something as huge as you left your kid at the mall. It can be something as you know, I’ve screwed up on our taxes, I lost my job like, you know.

Cathy: I’ve turn to people not telling for months. Go and work every morning.

Reid: Stuff like that.

Cathy: Great.

Reid: Your mileage may vary but it’s an easy formula and it helps people get over the hump and the one should build that into your relationships it becomes normal to have the scary conversations then you start having them sooner than later and you really start trusting each other that yeah, like, you’re not walking around with this loning sense of, are they telling me everything? Which a lot of people have, especially when you’re been together for 10, 15, 20 years.

Cathy: On the other side that they going to find out what I’ve been lying about through it holding on.

Reid: Exactly. That eats of so much bandwidth and energy and it’s not, it’s not useful, it’s not a good use of your resources.

Cathy: It blocks intimacy. Well, this process maybe challenging at first if you practice on small things at first and build up some trust and some confidence, it can really open up a relationship.

Reid: Yeah, like you left your dog at the mall.

Cathy: And you don’t know which mall.

Reid: And you don’t know which mall. But you had the kid, the kid’s with you.

Cathy: Thank you very much, Reid.

Reid: You’re welcome. Bye!


More articles on improving your communication and relationship skills:

When To Work Through Issues With Your Partner, And When To Pull The Plug

What Do You Do If Your Partner Screws Up?