Cheating is one of the most hurtful things you can do in a committed relationship. There really is no excuse for it, either – if you’re not happy in a monogamous relationship, it really shouldn’t be that difficult to be honest with your partner, end things, and seek out something a little more open. In some cases, your current partner might even be willing to have an open relationship – which is not the same as cheating – but not everyone is comfortable in that type of situation, and that’s something you have to know before you even bring it up.
For the person who’s been cheated on, there are often recurring problems that crop up well into the future. While we inherently know that our ex’s mistakes are not our new girlfriend’s problem, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to give all your trust after it’s already been destroyed. Thankfully, there are ways to help remove the doubts and insecurities that are sure to crop up after you’ve been cheated on.
Allow yourself to feel the pain before you try to enter another relationship.
It’s completely normal to be a bit emotional after you’ve been cheated on. It’s completely healthy to hurt, to be mad, and maybe even break some things. (Please only break your own things, and only things that can easily be replaced – thrift store dishes are great for this!)
What’s important here is that you don’t subject someone else to these emotional outbursts. You shouldn’t be holding them in – which means you need to give yourself time to grieve, on your own. Lean on your friends and family members – but don’t put a new partner through the mess of cleaning up your ex’s mistakes. It’s not fair to her, because it’s not her fault. It’s also not fair to you, because showing emotion so strong in front of a brand-new partner is hard.
Do not blame yourself.
No matter what your ex might have said when she cheated, it is never your fault. Cheating is a personal decision, and there is always the opportunity to do things the right way (i.e. break up when you’re not happy, instead of destroying a person’s trust). Cheating is never the fault of the person who was cheated on.
That being said, if you think that something you did contributed to that person’s temptation to cheat, this is a good time to evaluate these things. In most cases, the thing that you think pushed her to cheat was actually just a reason you two were incompatible. When you have fully moved on from the pain of being cheated on, you can seek out someone who is more in line with your own values, needs, and situation.
In the rare case when you find something that is actually a fixable flaw of yours, you can feel free to work on it in the future – but this doesn’t mean that you’re responsible for your ex’s infidelity. Everyone has the option of talking things through before doing the unforgiveable.
Pay attention to healthy relationships.
If you have friends and family members in long-term relationships, take a look at those relationships. Do your best to avoid jealousy, since it’s hard to see a loving couple when your heart is broken, but these couples are the ones you should model your future relationships after. Not all methods of happy relationships will work for everyone, so make sure you aren’t trying to fit yourself into something that doesn’t work for you.
Remember, also, that just idolizing a healthy relationship won’t do anything to fix your own relationships. You will need to be ready for the relationship in order for it to work out. Additionally, you’ll need to actively work towards fixing the cracks in your trust.
Maybe I’m a little biased, as I am a writer in every sense of the word. But sometimes, keeping a journal of your feelings can make a huge difference. I even write letters to my exes in mine – even still. (OK, the last time was well over a year ago, but still.) Writing letters you’ll never send is one of the most therapeutic writing techniques I have ever participated in. Write a letter to yourself, too – whether it’s present-you writing to past-you to “warn” yourself of the signs you should have seen or it’s future-you writing to present-you telling you everything will be OK, all that’s important is that you write.
If you’re worried about someone else coming across this journal, consider writing letters on individual pieces of paper, and then burning them afterwards. (Assuming that you have a safe place to do this without a risk of the fire spreading, of course.) In my own experience, this has been helpful, as it keeps me from re-reading the letters and dwelling on the past – and fire is calming to watch. I think there’s something psychological about the feeling you get when you “set the past on fire”, too – it helps to metaphorically cleanse your soul. Just remember – be safe about it.
Talk to someone.
It’s important to talk about your feelings – even if that’s hard for you. Especially if it’s hard for you. If you find that journaling and letter-writing don’t help you as much as you need, talking to a trusted friend or family member can be greatly helpful. Make sure you choose someone whose opinions you trust, because they are sure to give you some advice during this time – and it’ll probably be good stuff, too.
If you don’t have anyone to talk to, you might be able to find comfort from random strangers on the internet. The Whisper app is good for letting your feelings out, as is the Vent app. If you don’t like that idea, you can always comment here, and I’ll respond as soon as I can.
Be careful not to get jaded.
It can be tempting to fall into the mindset that every woman will cheat on you. But, it’s important to realize that really isn’t true. No two women are exactly the same, and most women aren’t cheaters – even if you have a history of being with many unfaithful women. This is where it’s not your fault comes into play. Dating a string of unfaithful women doesn’t mean that you attract cheaters, and unless you’re actively seeking out women who have trouble with monogamy (i.e. dating women who are already in “committed” relationships), there is nothing you personally can do to deserve being cheated on.
Not everyone is going to hurt you. Not everyone has trouble with commitment. And not everyone is going to cheat on you. One day you’ll meet the woman who deserves your loyalty – make sure you don’t push her away with senseless and unfair accusations.
Curb your insecurities as soon as they pop up.
Insecurities are common in women who have recently been cheated on, but you’ll need to work those things out sooner, rather than later. The longer you let your insecurities build, the harder they’re going to be to break. Remember, it’s not your fault that your ex cheated, and it’s not your new partner’s fault, either.
Leave the blame where it belongs. By all means, you are allowed to question if something seems off – but make sure you’re questioning an actual problem, and not an imaginary one.
Give yourself time.
You’re not going to get over this right away – so you shouldn’t expect to. Not only are you mourning the loss of a relationship, you’re also mourning the loss of your trust, so it could take longer than other breakups. You shouldn’t give yourself a time limit – everyone heals differently.
Think about therapy, if necessary.
If your breakup was particularly bad, consider going to a therapy session or a counselor. Sometimes, this is easier than speaking to the people you know – after all, this is a stranger who’s paid to give you unbiased opinions about your relationship. It isn’t right for everyone, but it is an option.
If you do decide to go through counseling, it’s very important that you are completely honest with your therapist. After all, if you leave out important information, you’re setting them up to give you the wrong advice.
For some people, a support group might be a better option than a professional mental health professional. There are support groups both online and in person, although you may have to travel to find an appropriate support group.
If you’re still talking to your no-good cheating ex, knock it off. She broke your heart and intentionally violated your trust – this isn’t something you should look for in a friend! Aside from destroying your trust, she may even try to wiggle her way back into your life in a more romantic way again. Don’t let her. Make it clear that she lost her chance – by saying nothing at all.
You don’t have to justify yourself to her, and you don’t owe her anything. Move on, leave her in the past, and work on loving yourself. She knows what she did.