Whether your partner makes out with someone else or has a months-long affair, being cheated on hurts. But that doesn’t mean the relationship isn’t worth repairing, a choice that is yours alone to make.
There will always be those friends and family who insist that you leave, but only you can decide what’s right for you. And while infidelity is painful, a relationship does usually get better when people are committed and they are working hard to establish a trust and are truly remorseful.
Below are five things you shouldn’t do when your partner cheats.
Don’t ignore the infidelity
You might be tempted to act as if nothing happened because it feels less painful, but if you do, any resentment you have will likely fester, and what’s more, you won’t address the underlying problems in the relationship. The most important thing is to understand the meaning of the infidelity, because many, many times it’s a reflection on the satisfaction in the relationship. There are, of course, situations where people are sexually compulsive, but most of the time, cheating really happens in a kind of attempt by the cheater to bring some attention to the problems in the relationship.
Maybe the infidelity really was a one-time moment of weakness, or maybe it was an attempt by the cheater to find something they felt was missing in the relationship. Either way, figuring it out will bring you closer together and make infidelity less likely to happen again in future. You should focus not on making things go back to how they were — things are already different, but on building a new, stronger, more fulfilling relationship. It is possible.
Don’t blame yourself
You have to know that someone cheating on you is not your fault. You are not responsible for it, you didn’t deserve it, and if your partner crossed lines instead of communicating their needs to you lovingly, or breaking off the relationship, that’s on them, not you. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to understand those needs and meet them if you want to salvage the relationship and of course, they have to do the same for you. It’s empowering to come to terms with what happened, why it happened and your role in it too, but don’t beat yourself up over someone else’s bad decision.
Don’t try to get even
It might make you feel better momentarily to trash your no-good cheating partner on social media, or to trash their car. Okay, that one might make you feel better for more than a moment. You might even get a rush from cheating on them, too. But evening the score will not solve the underlying problem. It won’t even bring you both to love each other again even if you both later decide to dedicate yourselves to recovering from the violation of one another’s trust. When your partner cheats, it’s important for you both to do what you can to feel like you are on the same side again.
Don’t bring up the infidelity to win unrelated arguments
The fact that he cheated doesn’t give you the right to beat him up endlessly or bring his infidelity out as your trump card every time you get into another argument. You have to be willing to let it go if you want to move on. This means that when you are arguing about how you didn’t tell them you would be out with friends all weekend, you don’t insert a “Well, at least I didn’t cheat on you” into the conversation. That’s not to say that if you are hurting about the infidelity, you shouldn’t bring it up, but acting petty when you know better doesn’t help anyone.
Don’t rush the healing process
Your partner’s betrayal could hurt in the same ways for the same reasons for a long time. Be patient with yourself as you process, and let your partner know that they need to be patient with you, too. It’s very important for the person who had an affair to understand that their partner is devastated and that it’s difficult to put things back together.
There are going to be a lot of questions asked, and sometimes it’s going to be the same questions over and over again. Yes, you could eventually realize that you are not able to let go of what happened and that you need to move on from the relationship, but in the meantime, don’t rush yourself.
If your partner is getting frustrated with answering the same questions and having the same conversations, question whether they are really as committed to regaining your trust as they say they are. It might be time to put their things in a box to the left.