11 Women Who Stayed With A Cheater Reveal Why They Wish They Hadn’t

Cheating is one of the worst betrayals you can experience in a relationship. You commit to another person and trust that they’ll remain faithful to you, and when they break that promise, it can tear your relationship — and your world — apart. While infidelity doesn’t always mean the end of a relationship, many times, it should. Below, 11 women who stayed with a cheater discuss their regrets.

  1. “I felt like an idiot when he did it again.” Tilly, 29, wanted to believe her ex when he promised that sleeping with a female colleague was a one-time thing and it would never happen again. “He seemed genuinely sorry and worked so hard to try and reassure me that I was the one he wanted to be with, so I believed him,” she recalled. “Of course, that only made me feel even more like a f–king idiot when he inevitably did it again with the same woman a few months later.”
  2. “I wanted to cheat to get back at him.” Even if you think you can get over a partner’s infidelity, it can still affect you in ways you might not expect. “When I stayed with a cheater, I had no idea I’d end up wanting to become one myself,” says 24-year-old Jessie. “I thought I was over it, but I kept wanting to sleep with other people just to get back at him. I felt like if I could just have sex with my hot co-worker or my old high school boyfriend, we’d be ‘even’ again and could just move on. Obviously, that didn’t work.”
  3. “I kept comparing myself to the woman he cheated with.” Alexis, 22, suffered a serious crisis when finding out her boyfriend of two years had an affair with someone else. “Even though I knew he was a cheater, I stayed with him because I really did love him, but I couldn’t stop comparing myself to the girl he cheated with. I would stalk her on social media and compare myself to her and wonder what it was about her that he liked so much that I didn’t have. Was she thinner than me? Prettier? Funnier? It drove me literally insane.”
  4. “I could never trust him again.” Most people who have stayed with a cheater admit that restoring trust was the biggest hurdle to get over. For many, it never happens. That was definitely the case for 26-year-old Madison, who tried to rebuild what she once had with her ex before he cheated but failed miserably. “He did everything ‘right’ after I found out about what he did, but I just couldn’t get my head around it and I always assumed he was going to do it again.”
  5. “I was paranoid every time he left my sight.” For 31-year-old Maisie, the struggle to see her boyfriend as anything but a cheater became an obsession that pulled them apart despite the fact that she stayed to make it work. “Whenever he would go out with his friends, I would go out of my mind worrying that he was going to hook up with another girl. He had to go to a work function one night and didn’t get back until about 11:30 p.m. and I was sure it was because he was screwing some other woman in the bathroom. I was so paranoid but I really couldn’t do anything to stop it.”
  6. “I struggled to respect his privacy.” Kat, 21, stayed with a cheater her senior year of high school but had one caveat: he had to give her his social media passwords. “I know everyone has a right to privacy, but because he was talking to other girls on Instagram, I wanted to be able to look in his accounts whenever so I could make sure he wasn’t doing again,” she recalled. “If he didn’t have anything to hide, it shouldn’t have been a problem, right? I obviously know now how bad that sounds, but at the time I was convinced it was the right thing to do.”
  1. “I lost all my confidence and it made me hate myself.” Many women who stayed with a cheater often reveal that the experience completely destroyed their self-worth. That was definitely true for 24-year-old Callie, who couldn’t help but take it personally when her boyfriend of four years had sex with someone else. “I just felt completely worthless and that I wasn’t good enough. I felt like there must have been something wrong with me that made him want to even do that and I really took it personally. It took so long to rebuild my confidence. I actually had to go to therapy for help because it was just that bad.”
  2. “I got really depressed and withdrew from my life.” Maria, 27, wishes she hadn’t stayed with a cheater because of the toll it took on her mental health. After discovering her boyfriend’s affair with an old friend from college, she took a downturn and went to a very dark place. “I just stopped doing pretty much anything besides going to work. I wasn’t eating, I stopped hanging out with my friends, and I never wanted to go anywhere or talk to anybody because I was just so depressed. I was in a really, really bad place and it was all his fault.”
  3. “I never truly forgave him and held a grudge.” If a relationship is going to continue after infidelity, it’s vital that you’re able to forgive the cheater. That’s easier said than done, of course, as 33-year-old Angelica found out first-hand. “I thought I could forgive him and move on. I’m a really laid-back person and while I was obviously hurt, I really thought I was ‘bigger’ than holding a grudge. But as time went on, I realized I really hadn’t forgiven him at all. I was pissed off and kind of hated him for what he did and it definitely ended our relationship for good, even though I realize now that he ended it the minute he slept with someone else.”
  4. “I wasted so much valuable time and energy.” Rebecca, 23, wishes she hadn’t stayed with a cheater because of the valuable resources it caused her. Trying to continue her relationship after her boyfriend slept with someone else wasn’t just painful, it was pointless. “There was no way we were ever going to last but I was in denial. I was just so sure if I tried hard enough, we could keep going. I think I was just embarrassed to admit what had happened because part of me felt like it was my fault. Obviously it wasn’t, but I still wasted way too much time and energy thinking it was.”
  5. “I sold myself short.” Remembering your worth can be difficult in situations like this, but 24-year-old Amanda still regrets not giving herself more credit. She stayed with a cheater for six months after he came clean about what he’d done, and it wasn’t until she finally found the strength to say goodbye that she realized what a waste it was. “I deserved so much more credit than I gave myself at the time. I’m really strong and smart and by not leaving right away, I really let myself down. I’ll never do that again.”
Bolde has been a source of dating and relationship advice for single women around the world since 2014. We combine scientific data, experiential wisdom, and personal anecdotes to provide help and encouragement to those frustrated by the journey to find love. Follow us on Instagram @bolde_media or on Facebook @BoldeMedia