What To Do When You’ve Cheated On Your Boyfriend
If you’ve just cheated on your partner, you could be feeling anything from extreme guilt to that numbness that comes from total overwhelm. Your thoughts are probably running a chaotic race, going back and forth about why you did it, if you should tell him and what you’re supposed to do next.
But, the one thing you can’t do, is take it back. So, stop right there before you rush into having that talk with your man.
The best thing to do is turn this situation into something you can learn and grow from. The only way to do that is to seriously look to yourself for answers, and that’s going to take more than an hour or two. Depending on your situation, aim to get some space to yourself for at least a few days to a week or two. There’s a lot to delve into, especially if you’re considering taking the hard path towards rebuilding trust with him and staying together.
Then, gear up to find out the answers to five important questions that are going to help determine the destiny of your relationship, whether it’s this one or the next.
1. What was my intent?
First up, you need to dig for the real reasons as to why you cheated. Consciously or subconsciously, cheating achieved something for you. Therefore, what was it? The answer is so important because you need to understand what led to it happening, in order to move forward through the process. People cheat for many reasons and your intentions could be complicated. The most important thing here is to be brutally honest with yourself.
Was it just a case of one too many drinks, leading to a lack of willpower with that super hot guy at the club? Do you feel insecure and the guy you cheated with pumped up your sense of confidence? Do you like instant gratification more than making decisions with the longer term in mind? Was your relationship in trouble and you’ve subconsciously moved on, without actually moving on?
Or, do you have serious feelings for the man you cheated with? Your intentions could be a blend of all these things and so much more. Regardless, strive to get really clear on why you cheated before you move onto the next question.
“People cheat for many reasons and your intentions could be complicated. The most important thing here is to be brutally honest with yourself.”
2. What was the unmet need?
If finding out your intent turns out to be a confusing experience, then this is the next best question in order to untangle all those thoughts. Though cheating can occur for a whole host of reasons, across many situations, they all have one thing in common – an unmet need. Something in your relationship was lacking, whether you’re aware of that right now or not.
Get a pen and paper out, then meditate for a bit on what you feel was or is missing in your relationship. Think back to the times where you’ve wished something was different, felt disappointed in him or yourself and had misgivings, leading up to cheating. Maybe your sex life needed more excitement. Perhaps you didn’t really trust him, so you cheated on him to find a backup as a way to help you feel more secure. Were you looking to feel more love and connection with someone?
Figuring out your unmet need or needs should also help you figure out your intent.
3. What fears drove my behaviours?
Like most things, you’ll notice that there’s an underlying theme to your unmet needs. Fear is what drives most of the decisions we make that cause negative repercussions, hurt to other people or to ourselves. So, what were you really scared of, that led to cheating in the first place? To help get the process going, get that pen out again and ask yourself questions like this:
What is the fear that led to me cheating, instead of ending the relationship first?
What is the fear that caused the lack of communication between me and my partner about this unmet need I have?
What fears do I have about him, or with him, that might make me sabotage us?
How do I feel about myself and did that contribute to my decision to cheat?
Once you’ve answered the questions, you’ll probably find that the process continues to a deeper level. Perhaps you’ve got some leftover hurt from previous relationships or insecurity issues from childhood. Maybe you jumped into a committed relationship before you were sure about how you felt. No matter what is revealed, it’s all good. It’s much better ‘out than in’, as they say, and this growth will lead to a happier future within relationships for you.
4. Is this the right man to start a new relationship with?
Notice that this question doesn’t mention anything about saving the relationship. You can’t, because your relationship is over. That’s scary to hear, but the relationship you had, providing it was mutually committed and exclusive, really did end the moment you cheated. You two made a deal to be exclusive and you broke that deal. So, the relationship, as you knew it, is gone. That’s actually a good thing though, because you obviously weren’t 100% happy in it.
Now that you’ve worked through your intentions, your unmet needs and your fears, ask yourself if this man is the right guy to rebuild monogamy with. Or, has this whole situation unearthed incompatibilities that really can’t be overcome? Is it all really just highlighting the fact that you might be better off with someone else?
Be prepared for your instincts to jump in with fear-based excuses for why you don’t want to leave the relationship. If you’ve gotten to that comfy place or you’re scared of dating or finding a relationship that’s better suited to you, this is exactly what will happen. The thing is, you’re about to take on many more problems in this relationship if you both decide to continue it. Is this man really the right one to fix this with, by correcting the unmet needs on both sides and moving forward into monogamy – again?
5. Am I accepting of the problems to achieve this?
Let’s say you feel like you want to stay with him and make it work, over and beyond anything else. So, you set a goal to make everything right and start with a new slate towards happily ever after. The problem with goals is, we tend to get very excited about them at the start and this motivates us to keep moving forward.
That’s until we run into problems. For example, climbing Mount Everest sounds like the best goal ever. Until you realise you don’t even like walking up hills, let alone preparing for three years to hike in the freezing cold, in order to get to the summit and take that selfie.
This points out how important it is to be aware of the problems that will definitely show up. You need awareness and acceptance of them, before jumping into a new relationship and trying to rebuild trust. It might take one or two years for him to trust you again, your sex life will take a huge hit at first and he’ll probably need access to your passwords – and you – more than you can comfortably deal with. To get through the hardest times, you might need the external influence of a professional to help you out with therapy.
If you’re really sure you can tolerate months or maybe years of trust building and you accept all the roadblocks you’re likely to hit along the way, then you’re in a good headspace to give a new relationship with him a chance. If not, it might be best to end things instead to save yourself, and him, the trouble and the heartache.
Now, you’ve got the understanding, the awareness and the answers you need to sit down and have this very difficult talk with your man. Take a deep breath and know that no matter what your choice is, you’ve learnt, grown and, as a result, have valuable lessons to take into your new relationship, now and into the future.