What To Do If You've Been Cheated On
Do you forgive, forget or get rid...?
If you’re reading this, it probably means that you’ve been cheated on. That really sucks. It’s also likely that your head is all over the place as you try and decide what you should do.
Well, it essentially boils down to two options. You can forgive, or you can tell this cheater where to go. Which you go for is obviously completely up to you, and depends on your situation - but it coule help to ask yourself these 7 questions, to get a solid idea of what route you should go down. You ready?
Have they done it before?
This is crucial. If cheating has happened more than once, or become a consistent pattern, then this person probably has very little respect for you and your feelings. For whatever reason they choose to continue to abuse your trust and your love, it’s not healthy, it’s not OK, and it’s damaging your emotional wellbeing. Tell them it's over and begin the process of healing yourself, on your own. However, if this is the first time this is happened, continue reading.
Are they remorseful?
People make mistakes, sure, but remorse is the key. Does your partner seem genuinely and wholeheartedly sorry for what they have done? Not just in terms of words - anyone can say ‘I’m so sorry’, but in terms of emotions and actions. If they’re clearly very upset about what they’ve done - but not just because they got caught! - and are trying in every way to show you that they want to rebuild your trust, then it could be time to have a long, hard think about whether or not you can forgive them and move forward together.
Was it a unique situation?
There are scenarios that add an element of ‘extenuating circumstances’ to cheating. Being unfaithful is not black and white - it’s worth looking at your specific situation from all angles, particularly when it comes to this. For example, grief, huge amounts of stress and trauma can all cause people to act in a way that they wouldn’t usually, outside of their moral boundaries. NB: being drunk does not count as a ‘unique situation’. “I was just really drunk” is not a valid excuse.
Did they tell you about it?
There’s a distinct difference between owning up to a mistake, and trying to hide one. That said, there’s shades of grey here too. Hiding more of an ongoing ‘affair’ is in turn very different from hiding a one-off mistake to avoid hurting someone. Ugh, tricky. Maybe it comes down to this: did they own it once you discovered it, or were they still trying to deny, muddy the water, and make excuses? If it’s the latter, that’s a serious red flag.
Are they trying to shift blame, or are they owning it?
Similar to the point above, but with a focus on their behaviour towards you. Anyone who starts trying to shift the blame on to you, is edging into ‘get rid’ territory. Oh they felt neglected because you were working too much? You started an argument so they went out feeling angry? No. In those situations you talk to your partner and use communication to try and resolve whatever the issue is - you don’t get naked with someone else. Never, ever, ever let someone make YOU feel bad for something THEY did.
Do you see a future with this person?
This is important. Can you legit see yourself being in a relationship with this person for a long time? Overall, do they make you happy? Do they make your heart full? Do you support each other in a mutual and loving way? Because the thing is, is sometimes it’s not worth throwing away something truly great over one lapse in judgement. On the other hand, if you’re not sure this person is ‘the one’, or even ‘one of the ones’, then perhaps it’s not worth the pain or the work to get back what you had. Hmmm.
Do you think you can learn to trust them again?
In reality, it all comes down to this. It’s a cliche, but if you don’t trust your partner, that’s a serious problem. Nobody wants to be the person checking up on their other half - reading their messages when they’re in the shower / checking out their instagram search history / calling friends to find out where they are. Nobody is suggesting that you’re going to able to rebuild trust overnight, but you need to think about whether you can try, and your partner needs to be willing to put in the work.
Now that you’ve read all the above, you have two options:
Forgive & Forget
Let’s face it, you’re not going to be able to forget this entirely, and nor should you - but if you choose to forgive, you need to commit to forgiving. Get everything out now - talk until the early hours, shout, scream, cry - communicate - but once you’ve decided to move forward, that’s what you need to do - move forward. Weeks, months and years down the line, you can’t throw this back at them in an argument, or make constant little comments and jabs when you’re annoyed. That’s not healthy, and it’ll stop your relationship from getting back on track. So think about it: can you really forgive them?
Break ups are hard. They suck. They feel like a punch to the gut and to the heart simultaneously. They can quite literally break you down, chew you up, leave you reeling - which is hardly surprising. You shared your life with this person, you gave them your heart, and they stamped all over it. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to take time.
But as hopeless as you may feel now, you WILL move on, you WILL meet someone else, and you WILL be happy again. Just keep on keeping on, one day at a time.
- Words by Lizzie Cox.