Confusion, fear, anger, denial, sadness, and frustration are some of the many emotions one may feel after being cheated on. When we enter into a new relationship there are many fears that could come to mind: we could be worried about if we have chosen the “right” partner, about how long the relationship will last, or we could have fears about what our parents or friends may think about our partner. We could also have concerns about infidelity in the relationship and the possibility of our partner cheating on us. Fear is our brain’s way of protecting ourselves- even when we aren’t actually in danger. It’s an emotional response that our brain does when we really care about something or maybe we’re trying something new, or we feel like we are in a high stakes situation with a lot to lose. But what happens when that fear becomes a reality? Read on for suggestions on how to heal after being cheated on.
Should I Stay or Should I go?
The first decision we have to make is whether or not we want to stay in the relationship. Cheating doesn’t automatically equal separation, breaking up, or divorce. Every relationship is different and sometimes the circumstances leading up to the infidelity can be worked through with your partner. This is a decision that is very personal to the person being placed in a situation to make it. It’s important when making a decision like this, to make sure that the feedback, support, or advice that we’re getting is from credible sources. For you this may be a few close friends, or maybe even family members- but having an impartial, safe third party with no biases is the best option. This is where a relationship coach comes in. A relationship coach can help you as an individual organize your thoughts or feelings about staying or leaving the relationship- or provide space for safe processing WITH your partner.
There is no “RIGHT” way to Grieve
Next, we need to work through our own thoughts and feelings about being cheated on. In doing this, it’s important to know that there is no ‘normal’ response. In fact, the only ‘normal’ response is in realizing that any feeling is OK to feel at any time. Infidelity or being cheated on, can bring up an array of mixed emotions. At one moment you may feel sad- crying due to the pain and hurt of betrayal. The next moment you may feel angry- wanting to scream and yell and tell your partner all the “horrible“ things you think of them. There is also grief- whether you choose to work through this with your partner or separate, there is going to be grief.
Grief of the way you thought the relationship was, grief of your past experiences together and grief of what your thoughts, hopes, dreams were for the future. Even if you decide to work through this issue with your partner, your future is still going to look much different than you had initially thought. Allowing yourself to feel all the feels, and all the emotions that come up- without judgment or criticism- is essential. There is no ’right way’ to grieve and there is no ‘getting over it’ in learning how to heal after being cheated on. If we put an expectation of ‘getting over it’ on the healing process, then any time we have thoughts, feelings, reminders, or triggers of the person who cheated on us- we will associate that with failure or ‘not being healed’. There is no ‘over it’- there is healing.
The “Right” Healing Process
The best way to answer the question “how to heal after being cheated on” is to realize that no matter what your process might look like it’s the ‘right’ healing process for you. Many people will try to tell you what to do and what their experiences were like- you have the choice to make your own. And remember- don’t have to go through it alone, you can have the help of a relationship coach, therapist, or counselor that join you in your healing journey.