It’s universally known that cheating is the ultimate act of betrayal in relationships. If you feel like your world is crumbling apart, it’s totally understandable. Although it’s a truly heartbreaking experience, know that you can heal from this in time.
I get asked a lot of times: “My boyfriend cheated on me; what should I do?” First, don’t blame yourself for the incident. Give yourself time to process everything, grieve what was lost, and decide whether the relationship is worth saving. Get professional help if you can.
This article discusses everything you need to know about what to do when your partner cheated on you, including whether or not you want to rebuild your relationship or walk away from it. Read further for more!
Never! No matter what reasons your partner gave you, it’s never your fault why he cheated. Cheating is a choice—he chose to betray your trust, go behind your back, and fulfill his romantic and/or sexual needs elsewhere instead of communicating them to you.
Every decent human is aware of the consequences of cheating (which is why it’s done in secret in the first place!). This is why his cheating is his responsibility to bear and his failure, never yours. If your partner cheated on you, the blame should fall on him.
Additionally, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. There may be things in the past or traits you used to exhibit that you think are problematic, but remember, cheating is never the answer.
What Can I Do When My Boyfriend Cheated on Me?
It’s natural to feel lost when you think your partner may have cheated on you. Surely, there are several confusing emotions you’re feeling. Here are some steps you should consider doing to gain clarity on the situation:
1. Get Your Facts Straight
First things first: separate facts from fiction, especially if you found out about the cheating yourself (by snooping or whatever detective work you did) or from another source and not straight from your partner.
You have to authenticate your evidence by any means possible, such as asking his friends and family for suspicious behavior. If you find out from an incriminating text, call, or photo, try to ensure that these proofs actually have romantic undertones.
I know it comes as second nature for us women to jump to conclusions, but it’s better to reassess the information you have—and do even more digging, if you can—before acting.
2. Take Some Time To Reflect
After confirming the truth, as much as possible, try to keep your cool for a little while. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you, but it is completely valid if you feel all sorts of negative feelings or heaviness within you.
If you can, gradually process everything that happened. It’s normal to want to confront your partner right ahead, but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t get anything substantial out of that anger-fueled conversation. Give yourself some time and space.
You can also try talking to a close friend or family member about your feelings. It can be helpful if you can rely on someone just for a short amount of time for emotional support since you need it now more than ever.
3. Confront Your Boyfriend
The moment of truth—it’s time to face the music. While it is tempting to avoid confrontation entirely, living your life with the knowledge that you haven’t talked it out with your partner can be burdensome. I’m sorry to be the one breaking the news, but you can’t simply ignore it.
You can choose to hear him out so that you can hear what he has to say for himself. Although it might not change things, at least you can gain insights into his perspective of the situation, why he did what he did, and what he truly feels about it all.
It’s understandable if this confrontation involves a lot of screaming or crying; these are normal reactions. It’s up to you how to deal with it, but make sure you get what you want to say off your chest.
4. Make A Decision
Once you have learned his side of the story, you should decide if you want to forgive him and move forward with your relationship or break up with him and walk away from it.
Personally, when I found out my boyfriend cheated on me, I didn’t even hesitate to walk away. Cheating is the ultimate relationship dealbreaker for me because no one deserves to be cheated on. It’s selfish and can have long-term, negative effects on one’s self-confidence and may foster trust or commitment issues.
However, not every relationship and not every person handles this kind of issue the same. Again, it’s up to you how you want to approach this. If you think you can forgive and forget, then go ahead. It’s not entirely impossible for them to change, but you know what they say: once a cheater, always a cheater.
5. Take Care of Yourself
Often, in experiencing heartbreaks, we tend to self-abandon ourselves by neglecting our needs, even the essential ones such as sleeping and eating. It feels like getting out of bed and carrying on with life are such difficult hurdles to overcome.
If you can, allot some time to engage in activities that can make you feel good about yourself. Hang out with friends more, write a journal, or even do something minuscule, such as listening to soothing music while taking a bubble bath.
Here are some other therapeutic self-care activities you can try:
- Clean your house or spend some time picking up clutter
- Yoga, pilates, or any exercise you’re comfortable doing
- Take a midday stroll or go on a hike
- Pamper and treat yourself to a spa day
- Plant a small fruit or vegetable garden
Remember: you don’t need to do something extravagant or totally out of your comfort zone. As long as you feel good about it and it keeps you from thinking too much about the incident, then I say go for it!
6. Seek Professional Help When Necessary
Cheating can be quite a traumatic experience. Therapists even describe the emotional responses to infidelity as post-infidelity stress disorder since it has similar responses to other traumatic events.
Talking with a mental health professional can help you deal with the emotional pain of being cheated on and let you focus on adopting positive coping strategies for moving on.
Don’t be ashamed to do this step. Licensed therapists or other equivalent professionals allow a safe space for you to talk about what you feel without any judgment.
What to Do if My Boyfriend Cheated on Me But I Still Love Him?
Sometimes, cheating is a nuanced issue. There can be several reasons why it happens to some couples (even those who are seemingly happy), which is why it comes as no shock that you still want to stay despite the incident. Here’s what you can do if you feel this way:
1. Find Out If The Relationship is Worth It
This is usually determined by how long you guys have been together. It’s hard to let go of relationships that have lasted for more than five years due to the time and effort you’ve already poured into your partner.
If you are experiencing the following, then your relationship with your boyfriend who cheated on you isn’t worth saving:
- You both have become less involved in each other’s lives
- Your communication is not healthy (unable to convey personal needs, etc.)
- There has been pressure on the both of you to be together
- His reason for cheating was that he had found a meaningful connection with someone
- You both have stopped initiating physical touch or sex with each other
- He cheated on you on your first year together
- Your partner isn’t willing to work it out with you again
2. Communicate With Your Partner
If you think your relationship is worth the time and effort to save, be open to communication with your boyfriend. Ask him first and foremost if he’s willing to save it too because it shouldn’t be a burden only on your side.
Make sure you have already given yourself some time to process it all prior so that any negative emotions can be properly regulated. Start a dialogue on how you can improve your relationship and nurture honesty, integrity, and love.
Express how the cheating incident made you feel and what the consequences of their actions were, but don’t be too spiteful. Again, anger is understandable, but you should also listen to what your partner says.
3. Make Sure He Genuinely Regrets It
You need to see that he’s committed to becoming a better person for you and being the man that you truly deserve. He has to apologize wholeheartedly and let it sincerely reflect in his actions. You have to see for yourself that he’s trying to win your trust and heart back.
If your boyfriend does two or more of the following, then you’re on the right track to fixing your relationship:
- He ends the affair with the other woman immediately
- He spends more quality time with you
- He isn’t afraid to admit how remorseful he felt cheating on you
- He follows through with his promises
- He also apologizes to your friends and family for hurting you
- He tries to please you more than before
- He puts your needs first before his
4. Seek Couples Therapy
It’s important to realize that couples counseling can be quite challenging for both parties because there’s a lot of work to do both in and out of the therapy sessions, and it requires a certain level of commitment.
Moreover, it also doesn’t guarantee that the relationship will be saved, but not all hope is lost. Therapy will provide a safe place for both you and your partner to share what you have felt, plus the licensed mental health professional will help you work through a strategy that can let you both heal.
Additionally, the positive outcome from the couples therapy that happens outside of these sessions is that there would be more empathy and accountability fostered by your boyfriend.
5. Establish Boundaries
This is when you truly know he wants to fix your relationship with you. If he’s truly remorseful and guilty of what he did, he should be more than willing to end all contact with the person they had an affair with.
Set this as a non-negotiable, especially if he’s the one who initiates you take him back. Any form of communication should be completely cut off, be it in social media or texts and calls.
6. Watch Out For Red Flags
Don’t be too complacent by his consistently good behavior. As I have mentioned earlier, once a cheater, always a cheater. It also doesn’t mean that if it’s his first time cheating on you, he won’t do it again. You may have a serial cheater on your hands for all you know.
Here are some red flags to be on the lookout for:
- He keeps in touch with the other woman and might even say they’re just friends
- He blames you for cheating and won’t take responsibility, or it
- He’s not genuinely sorry for doing it
- He doesn’t want to listen to your needs or communicate his
- He doesn’t respect the boundaries you want to set, or he’s inconsiderate of what you feel
- He gaslights you, making you think that he didn’t cheat
How to Move On After My Boyfriend Cheated on Me?
Once you’ve decided to walk away from your relationship, you should gear towards moving forward with your life. But, baby steps! You can learn to slowly but surely move on from your (ex) boyfriend by using these tips:
1. Allow Yourself to Grieve
It’s important to realize that you have lost a relationship through infidelity, and it’s perfectly normal to feel a lot of contradicting emotions as you come to terms with the situation.
Be angry, sad, hurt, confused, or lost—it’s all part of the healing process. Moreover, it doesn’t mean that if your partner has done you wrong, you can’t griever over what you’ve had. Reminiscing memories and thinking about the what-ifs are perfectly normal as well.
Don’t pressure yourself into moving on quickly because this takes time. Shower yourself with love and care, surround yourself with the right support system, and focus on what makes you feel good and productive.
2. Take A Break From Everything
Not only from social media but from real life too. However, if you can’t afford to take a break from your responsibilities (such as work), at least stop using your social media apps for a certain period of time.
You might find yourself constantly checking for updates on your now ex-boyfriend’s social media accounts, which can trigger unwanted memories and pain and hinder your healing process. Physically meet up with your friends if you have to.
Additionally, tell your friends and family not to give you any unwarranted updates (tweets, posts, stories, etc.) on what your ex is up to in his life. It’s high time you focus on yourself and move forward without looking back.
3. Surround Yourself With Love
It doesn’t always have to be the romantic kind. Get support from friends and family that you know will always have your back. Although it seems like a pain to reach out to them, you definitely need it now more than ever. Remember: you don’t have to face this hardship alone.
Moreover, you don’t have to talk about your feelings if you don’t want to. If you simply seek their companionship, then ask them to go on a walk or a trip with you, or simply curl up on your couch eating ice cream with them.
4. Avoid Seeking Revenge
I know it’s tempting, but I’ve been there, too, when my boyfriend cheated on me. But this would do you more harm than good. Generally speaking, don’t make any actions or decisions you will most likely regret.
In this case, if you want to get back at your ex for cheating on you either by spreading nasty comments about them or flirting or sleeping with one of his friends—don’t do it. This will have terrible repercussions that will bite you in the butt later on.
Instead of trying to be the bad guy, work on yourself instead. What’s done is done; it’s time to allot your energy towards moving forward and trying to achieve your goals in life.
5. Don’t Make Generalizations
Adopt a positive mindset when moving on from your cheating partner. This means not making any generalizations, such as “All men are cheaters!” “I’m never going to find a good man in my life!” “I can’t trust anyone anymore!” and then swearing off all men.
Although this is a normal reaction as you’re reeling from the betrayal of your ex, these thoughts will just hinder you from creating meaningful relationships and even friendships in the future because you become close-minded.
Let this serve as a reminder that it was a bad relationship, but not every potential partner will be the same. Focus on the good relationships you have right now in your life and replace your thoughts with something like “There are a lot of good people out there!” and “It may take time for me to find the right one!”
6. If You’re Ready, Go On Dates
It can be difficult to pick yourself up where you left off in the dating scene, especially after being cheated on by your partner like that. However, don’t let that experience discourage you—you owe it to yourself to try again.
Remember: you shouldn’t view every guy you meet as a cheater. There are actually great guys out there who don’t cheat and would love you unconditionally. As such, lower your expectations and just focus on getting to know other men.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Should I break up with my boyfriend if he cheated on me?
It entirely depends on you. As I have mentioned in this article, relationships are nuanced. However, if he doesn’t treat you the way you deserve after the incident, shows no signs of changing, or blames you for getting cheated on, then it’s best for you to save yourself the trouble and walk away.
2. Can a man cheat and still want to be with you?
Yes, it’s possible. Cheating happens, even in happy relationships. However, this might be seen as a sign that he sees you as a convenience, a safety net if you will. This is particularly true if you both have been together for quite some time already.
3. How do you know if a cheater is truly sorry?
If they hold themselves accountable for their actions, show remorse and guilt both through words and actions, apologize often and make it up to you, willingly commit to doing whatever is needed for your relationship to move forward, and respect the boundaries you’ve set, then they’re truly sorry.
Cheating is a conscious choice, and it happens even to the best of us. It often feels like a sudden blow to the stomach, but remember that this isn’t the end of everything. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel when you can finally heal and move forward with your life.
Whether or not you decide to stay or go, remember to forgive yourself and to be kind towards yourself as well. Don’t blame yourself for what happened, and instead, focus on the good relationships you do have in your life right now.
Josephine Fuller is a contributing writer for dailytimesblog.com.
She is a Licensed Relationship Therapist, and She has been researching love and relationships for over 20 years. She specializes in relationship therapy, intimacy building, and existential exploration. She’s also an astrologer who uses the stars to explore and explain her unique perspective on life. With a special blend of wit, wisdom, and insight, Josephine brings the heavens down to Earth in her writing about astrology.