Figuring out how to heal after being cheated on is so hard. It’s a massive betrayal of trust, and it can leave you feeling confused, angry, and alone. You question so much about the relationship, and even question your self-worth.
No one deserves that betrayal, and we’re so sorry that you’re going through it. Whether you decide to work it out with your partner, or decide to move on, we’ve made a list of ways to help you heal and take care of yourself after being cheated on.
1. Figure Out What You Want
Infidelity really hurts. It can feel like your whole image of your relationship is shattered. So, what do you do?
Whether or not you choose to end the relationship is up to you. We’re not gonna sit here and tell you that you should stay with or leave your partner. It’ll be totally dependent on your individual situation, and whether or not you feel like your relationship could be repaired after this.
Your partner’s reaction to being found out will also be important. Did they try to gaslight or manipulate you after? Did they own up to their actions? Do they seem genuinely remorseful?
Take as much time as you need to figure out your next step. Communicate with your partner about your needs and feelings, as long as it’s safe for you to do so. Try not to make any rash decisions in the moment. Take the time to think about and do what’s best for you.
2. Lean on Your Support System
Your loved ones are going to be huuuge for you right now. Call them, spend time with them, and let it all out. Whether you want to turn to your “righteous-fury” friend, or your “cry-it-all-out” friend, might depend on your mood. Whatever you need from them, let them know. Especially when there’s stuff to figure out, like a shared living space or a divorce, having people with you through the process will be super comforting.
3. Be Selective About Who You Tell
Your loving, caring support system will definitely have your back! As they freaking should. What are friends and/or family for, right? But be cautious about who you tell, and how much.
If you’re reeeally upset, posting the infidelity on social media might seem like a great idea. Or showing up to their work, posting a video of you confronting them, all those things that tend to go viral. But just don’t. We know, we get it, we understand that you have every right to be upset. But publicly shaming them won’t undo the hurt and won’t make you feel better.
This can apply to your support system, too. We’re definitely not saying you should keep the infidelity a secret—just that you should choose your confidantes carefully. Maybe you have one friend that you trust with all your secrets, but another who tends to spread gossip. Or maybe you plan to stay together and work toward forgiveness, but you know your sibling would never forgive them. Just like you can’t put toothpaste back in the tube, you can never un-tell someone something.
4. Go to Therapy (or Couples Counselling)
Having someone break your trust can bring up a whole bunch of insecurities and self-doubt. While your support system will definitely help you see your amazing self again, booking a session with a mental health professional can really help the healing process.
Therapists are there for you and your concerns. Your friends or family will have all their own perspectives, even if they’re well-meaning! So if you’re feeling lost, hurt, and confused, a therapist can help you navigate those emotions to bring you back to a more secure place.
If you decide to work on your relationship, going to couples counseling is a great idea. Working out the infidelity in a safe and open environment, with a professional to guide the conversation, can help you avoid the not-so-great conflict resolution styles that will make things worse. Did you know you can also do individual therapy in addition to couples therapy? It can be really helpful to process what you’re going through in a safe space that’s all your own!
5. Get Back to Your Passions
What excites you? What makes you happy?? When you are cheated on, you can feel very unsure of yourself and your identity. By focusing on your joy, you can help build up your self-worth in a way that’s all about you and what you do, rather than your relationship to someone else. This can be super helpful when you want to get over someone cheating on you, but it’s also great to focus on your passions if you decide to stay in the relationship.
So bust out those hiking boots, oil paints, or acoustic guitar, and get back to you! Super impressive bonus points if you can do all those hobbies at once.
6. Take Your Time
If you want to get over infidelity, there can be two knee-jerk reactions: Fully ditching your partner, swearing to never speak to them again, or forgiving too fast in order to mend the relationship. Both are not great for you.
These things take time. Deciding to ghost your partner might lead you to regret it down the road, if you think the issues could have been worked through together. Or, if you forgive too fast, you could have a future of resentment, hidden feelings, and passive-aggressive remarks.
Whatever you decide to do, take your time with it. Process all the emotions. Communicate with your partner. We’re not saying you need to forgive your partner, but we’re not saying you need to give up on them, either. Just do it all at a pace that gives enough space for you to feel all the things.
7. Don’t Overthink the Past
When a person is cheated on, they might go through every interaction in the past, every hint of infidelity, every sign they ignored, and wonder what went wrong. The person who was cheated on might wonder if they could have prevented the affair by being more attentive, more sexually-satisfying, or communicative.
Someone cheating on you is not your fault!! Remember that, repeat it, and write it down in your journal. Even if there are or were issues in the relationship, a partner choosing to cheat is 100% their decision. People can have affairs in happy relationships, too.
Don’t overthink the past or what you could have done differently. Now that the affair is out in the open, your best bet is to acknowledge that it happened, work on your relationship (if you’re staying together), and move towards the future. We’re deeeefinitely not recommending that the infidelity be forgotten… just try not to ruminate on the past too much.
8. Work on Building Trust
Trust is gonna be super important from here on out, whether the relationship is over or not.
If you decide to stay together, open and honest communication will be sooo vital for building trust. Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Margaret Rutherfod stresses that trust runs in both directions after the affair. That means that the person who was cheated on needs to, with time, work, heal, and learn to trust their partner again. Any hidden resentment or suspicion will affect the relationship over time. And the person who stepped out of the relationship needs to work on showing their partner that they can be trusted and won’t cheat again.
If you choose to end the relationship, you’ll need to learn to trust future partners or romantic prospects. This will also take time, work, and healing. You may find yourself suspicious of partners who have never cheated on you and say they never would. Being honest about your past and telling your future partners your triggers will help them understand how and why you react the way you do. But getting to the bottom of those triggers and healing the trauma of infidelity will be the best way to learn to trust again.
Being cheated on is a lot of pain to deal with. Take all the time you need. Turn to your loved ones for support. And no matter what you choose to do, make sure it’s the best decision for you. You’ve got all our love and support through the screen!!