I was cheated on

So you found out they’ve cheated on you. Other than feeling utterly sick, you’re probably torturing yourself with questions. Getting over cheating is hard, but The Mix is here to help you put yourself back together.

Sad girl looking out window.

Give yourself time. You will learn to trust again.

Devastated. Betrayed. Alone. Stupid. Paranoid.

Sound familiar?

All these feelings – and more – are normal if you’ve just discovered you’ve been cheated on.

We know that right now it feels like it’ll never be OK again, and we also know that clichés and virtual hugs won’t help. Instead, we have practical advice to help you get back on track, with a mended heart and mind.

I just found out they cheated, what do I do?

Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend going through this. What you’re going through is a trauma, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. And as with any sort of trauma, you need to rebuild and nurture yourself.

“Lean in to your proper friendship group, and by that I mean old friends, not new ones, and let them comfort you,” says life coach Lynda Field. “Spend time with people who’ll support you, who know you really well, and make yourself do whatever normally gives you pleasure – even if you feel like you can’t be bothered.”

That can be anything from boxset marathons, running, yoga, or singing VERY loudly to bad pop music – anything that makes you feel good and distracts you.

Do I forgive them for cheating and take them back?

Base decisions on what YOU can bear. Take advice from friends, by all means, but everyone’s minds are in different places. Some people might see cheating as forgivable, but if you know that you couldn’t get past the thought of your partner being with someone else, then you have different boundaries.

“And that’s fine,” says Lynda. “It all depends on how much you can bear what the person did. If you feel like the relationship has no legs, and you can’t trust them, and have an underlying sense that it might happen again then you’ll know to end it,” she says.

“If you can let go and have good grounds for that and the person is remorseful and won’t do it again, then you may well be able to move on.”

Just remember that the only person who knows how your mind works is you.

Take time over that decision – and that can be as long as you need… whether it’s an hour, or a week, or even months. The one thing that you definitely do have is time, and if you feel under any pressure to decide quickly whether you can forgive ‘or they’ll have moved on to someone else and won’t want to get back with me anyway, then you have your answer right there.

“There’s no rush,” says Lynda. “If you want to give it six months and wait and see, then that’s completely fine.”

Ask yourself ‘Do I feel like a victim?’ If the cheating feels like it fits with a pattern of your relationship – you don’t feel good enough; they don’t make you feel good enough – then this may have done you a favour. No stick with us, because you should NEVER feel this way in a relationship. And ask yourself the same thing about getting back together.

Would that make you feel in control, and like you were taking on a new phase and moving on together? Or does the idea of being with them again make you feel like a victim? “That’s an important question to ask yourself before you even think about forgiving,” says Lynda.

Was it my fault they cheated?

At some point, almost inevitably, you will start questioning whether it’s your fault they cheated. But, says Lynda, you’re focusing on the wrong question.

“It’s not about fault,” she says. “But it might have been about where the relationship was when it happened. If you’re thinking it was your ‘fault’, what you probably mean is you’d started to move away from each other. Remember this, because it will help you realise that everything wasn’t perfect, and that maybe this relationship wasn’t right for you anyway.”

I don’t trust anyone now, doesn’t everyone cheat?

Never, ever allow yourself to become one of those ‘everyone will cheat on me’ people. “This is a totally destructive thought process,” says Lynda. “If you think you’ll meet people like that, then that’s who you’ll meet, because we get what we expect for ourselves.”

Instead you must focus – when you’re ready for a new relationship, which may not be for a while, because you need to build your own confidence in yourself first – on qualities that you really value. Kindness and niceness aren’t boring, they lead to respect. “You need a partnership that is equal,” says Lynda.

Next Steps

  • Do you want to understand your relationship better? Love Smart helps you work it all out.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Caroline Corcoran

Updated on 29-Sep-2015