A Note to Those Who Have Cheated

It seems like everyone cheats.  Unfortunately thinking like that can cause people to minimize the pain someone feels when they are cheated on.  The reality is that  if you want to repair your relationship after you’ve been caught cheating, it won’t be easy.  You may want to hurry up and move past it, but it helps to see things from your partner’s point of view sometimes.  Here are some things to be aware of…

First, just because your girlfriend or boyfriend doesn’t break up with you after you cheat, doesn’t mean they forgive you immediately.  In time, this should be their goal, but it isn’t going to happen right away.  They are going to feel all sorts of things after they find out.  Underneath the anger, they will feel humiliated, disgusted, disappointed, scared, betrayed, confused, not good enough, jealous, depressed and hurt.  Those emotions are powerful.  Try to understand that it will take awhile for them to process those feelings.  I don’t agree that they should use those emotions to “get back” at you, but be aware that those emotions are there and will affect your relationship for awhile.

Two, don’t expect them to not want to talk about it.  Your instincts may tell you to push them away because what they have to say will be hard to hear.  It won’t be easy to talk about what happened again, but if you become too frustrated when they bring it up, it will start too look like you’re trying to hide something.  The hard part of trying to work things out after getting caught is that you just want to move on.  Your brain wants to forget about it and try to “start over”.  Trust me, your partner wants to forget about it, but it will be harder for them to push those thoughts away.  You may have to rehash the same story several times.  You may feel harassed or impatient during the whole process, but if you really want to stay in the relationship it will be worth it.

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that there are some details I don’t think are wise to share or rehash again and again.  Your partner may want to know specific sexual details that aren’t a good idea to share.  It will only make things worse.  However, you do need to let them talk about their feelings and allow them to bring it up if they need to.  It will drive them crazy for awhile and if they keep it all bottled up inside, it will only come out to haunt you in other ways.  If you can be open to listening it may help them move through their feelings faster.  I think it’s better to face something head on then try to hope that the problem will just disappear.  If you truly love this person and know you made a mistake, do your best to listen and be willing to answer the same questions over and over.

When should your boyfriend or girlfriend finally let it go?  That is a great question.  First of all, I don’t think people really let things go.  It is more like they get through things or learn to deal with it in time.  Don’t expect them to just forget it ever happened, however, their goal if they want to stay with you is to learn to forgive and trust you again.  How quickly that happens depends on them, but it also depends on you.  If you handle things the right way, you will help speed up the process.

The best way to handle getting caught or telling your partner that you cheated, is to be upfront about it.  Do your best to NOT MINIMIZE what happened.  This means, don’t down play it, say it was nothing, or pretend it only happened one time.  If it takes months to sort through all the lies because you aren’t completely honest right away, it is going to delay the process of your partner getting through it which will make life more frustrating for you as well.  Rip off the band-aid all at once and be honest from the start.  This means swallowing your pride and doing your best to be humble about what happened.  Also, DON’T BLAME the other person.  This will make it harder for your partner to trust and respect you again.  Think about it, if it wasn’t your fault, then you really can’t guarantee it won’t ever happen again right?  Taking responsibility and admitting what you need to do differently in the future will go a long way in repairing the relationship.

I’ve said this before in another post, but you also have to open up your life to your partner for awhile.  No hiding your phone, your email or Facebook from your boyfriend or girlfriend.  They are going to be suspicious for awhile and rightfully so.  Let them know you don’t have anything to hide and this will speed up the process to getting your relationship back on track.  It may become frustrating at times.  When you feel impatient, try to remember all those feelings your partner may now be going through and give them the time they need.  It will become obvious after a few months if your partner is unwilling to work through their pain or move forward.  At this point, you have the choice to leave the relationship.

Sometimes there isn’t anything you can do to make it right.  Your girlfriend or boyfriend may try at first to make it work with you, but in the end, they may not be able to deal with it.  If you’ve done everything you can to try to repair the damage, then don’t blame yourself if your partner isn’t able to move forward.  You could be the perfect person in the relationship at this point, but some people have a hard time with forgiveness and trust due to their own reasons.  Sometimes one mistake can ruin everything you’ve worked hard to achieve.  It sucks, but it does happen to some relationships.  If your partner is not able to work it out with you, know that you can make positive changes for the next relationship.  If you don’t want this mistake to define you, learn from it and do your best not to make it again.  We all  have to live and learn.  Sometimes we can mess up and have a chance to make it right.  Sometimes, another person doesn’t give us that chance.  Focus on what you can control and hopefully that will help you make future decisions.

8 comments on “A Note to Those Who Have Cheated

  1. I love your blogs. Theyre amazing, worded well, clear and so very true.
    The fact that you come up with these topics allows me to realize that so many people experience the same things, and feel the same emotions about those things. We all have hardships that we need advice dealing with, and you do a great job tackling some of those issues. THANK YOU!

    It would be great if you could find a way to give people this advice before they need it. Before they ask for it. Before they actually hit rock bottom. Before it’s too late. Before they cheated, or broke up, had unsafe sex, lied about something, or chose any action which led to some negative consequence.

    • Thanks so much for your comment. It means a lot. I also hope people read and take good advice before they actually need it. However, the way our brains and hearts work, we usually don’t seek out advice until we’ve been hurt or messed up in some way. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still hope for the best. That is why I keep writing! Thanks again for your kind words. Your blog is also well written and very helpful to so many others. I’m glad you are able to share your story and help others in that way!

  2. Why not write a blog on advice for the “cheated-on” and how they can “recover” more effectively. It’s so easy to see the world in black and white or victim-aggressor terms. And how we love to shame the “aggressors” from some kind of moral high-ground and validate the feelings of the “victims.” Unfortunately, it feels like that’s what you did in this blog. Rather than suggest that the “cheaters” need to understand that they caused their partner’s feelings/suffering or suggest that the “cheaters” now need to become transparent by opening up their e-mails and cell phones more (bad boundaries), why not challenge the “victims” to work on their interpretations, reactions and take responsible for their own recovery. For example, it is possible to not personalize cheating and become traumatized by the event; “Victims” can learn to change their thinking and see cheating from a different perspective (the bigger picture); They can learn to manage their feelings of jealousy or betrayal (which they are responsible for, not the “cheater”); and they can learn to validate their own feelings rather than rely on others (the “cheater” or therapist) to do this.

    When cheating happens in a relationship, it can be an opportunity for both people to grow-up and differentiate. A relationship is a dynamic that requires both people to do the work. It does not have to take months and months of the “cheater” making up for “bad” behavior.

    The model that we use to “treat” couples who are struggling with infidelity comes from working with married couples. Working with college students may require a totally different way of understanding things. Most college couples are not married but are “dating.” They have not made that marital commitment and, developmentally, may be no where near ready to commit at that level (not that marrieds are much better at this). But because monogamy now is a requirement for all relationships (unlike in the past where, during our teenage years, it was more acceptable to date more than one person at a time), we may have unrealistic expectations for ourselves and others when we expect a 20 year old girl or guy to not struggle with conflicting impulses.

    • I hear what you are saying and I appreciate your comment. I can see how it may look like I’m bashing cheaters if I only wrote about people who have cheated in all my posts. However, my goal is to write posts from all different perspectives, not just on cheating, but on other issues as well. Sometimes I write from one person’s point of view and then in another post I’ll focus on the opposite. In this post I focused on people who cheated, not to shame them, but to help them through the frustrating process of wanting to stay in a relationship with someone who may still be angry with them. Both people in the relationship do have choices and responsibilities. I have met with victims of cheating that I encourage to work through their anger and trust issues. One thing I always say is “your opportunity to get back at the person is to break up. If you choose to stay, you need to learn to resolve your negative emotions”. I’m not really on either side, I’m here to help people with what they are dealing with regardless of whether they are the perceived victim or not.

      This means I also meet with students who have cheated and don’t know how to handle their boyfriend or girlfriend’s feelings weeks afterward. They want to stay in the relationship but are frustrated by being asked the same questions over and over. I wrote the post to help those out there who don’t know what it is like to be cheated on so they may be able to understand what it is like a little better. Sometimes it is hard to put yourself in the other person’s position and you may not understand why they are acting the way they are. The suggestions I give are from previous experiences that have worked to help couples, married or not, get through a situation like cheating. It may not help everyone.

      Like I said in my post, you could be the perfect person after you’ve cheated, but your partner just can’t get past it. That isn’t their fault and the person who cheated then has a choice to leave that toxic relationship. If people want to work on a relationship, I want to help them do that. People who cheat and don’t want to stay in the relationship won’t need this post. If you aren’t in a committed relationship, having sex with other people isn’t considered cheating. This post was for those who have cheated in a committed relationship, want to work it out, but have a hard time understanding their partner’s anger afterward. It isn’t written to help everyone, but hopefully it will help some.

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  5. i have been cheated on and am having a hard time trying to deal with it and try to move on. part of me want to stay and the other part want to get out and i forward this email to my bf so he can see that my anger will not stop over night i have so much built inside that is why i keep bringing it up. this was very helpful

    • Sasha, thanks so much for the comment. Gaining trust back after being cheated on isn’t easy. Both people have to work really hard to get past it and no, it doesn’t happen overnight. I hope your bf isn’t offended, and tries to understand where you are coming from. Also, do your best not to take your anger out on him because if you choose to stay with him, anger will only tear your relationship apart further. Definitely communicate your frustration, your hurt feelings, your insecurity, but also work to forgive and try to move forward. If he is trying to win back your trust by being open and not defensive, this will definitely help. Good luck with everything! Thanks for reading.

I would love to hear what you think about this post or about my blog in general. Also, feel free to leave any suggestions or ideas for new posts in the future! Thanks!

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