Your whole world just shattered when you found out your boyfriend committed the ultimate betrayal — he cheated. It’s a lot to take in, that’s for sure, but after the initial shock, now what?

Remove yourself from the situation. You need some time away from your partner. You’re feeling hurt and betrayed, and the last thing you need is to hear him piling on apologies. What you do need is time to think and to cope with what happened.

Demand an explanation. There was a reason he did what he did, so hear him out. You’ll always regret it if you don’t ask. No matter what he says, remember that it’s not your fault. It was a decision he made and he’s solely responsible for that mistake.

Ask about her. Who was it? You need to put a name to the culprit. Once you do, ask your boyfriend if he can remove her from his life. You don’t need her memory present and forever laying doom over your relationship.

Decide what to do. Can you forgive him? Can you forget what he did? Do you still want to be with him? These are important questions that you can’t let linger on or your relationship will be at a standstill.

Don’t tell everyone. The second he’s labeled as a cheater, that’s all your friends and family will see. You don’t have to go through this alone, but you don’t need to scream your pain from the rooftops, either (unless you want to, which you have every right to do).

Lean on your other loved ones. Since the trust is broken with your man, you need someone else to have your back. Confide in a friend or a close family member, someone you are comfortable enough with to discuss your inner pain. You don’t need them to tell you what to do. You just need someone who’ll be there while you think through it.

Forgive the other woman. Remember that in the end, she’s not the one that deserves the blame, your man does. Hating her might feel good for a little while, but it takes two to tango. She didn’t trick your man into bed. He’s responsible for his own actions, and in the end, he should have respected you enough to say no.

Move on. If you’re staying together, then you’ll never be able to move forward in the relationship if you can’t forgive him. If you choose to end the relationship, then forgiveness keeps you from brewing hatred and growing bitter. It’s time to move on from the incident, so you can move forward with your life. 

Cheating can be the biggest blunder in your relationship and a huge blow at your self-esteem — it can be even harder to experience than a breakup! — so don’t be afraid to feel hurt and betrayed. Remember that the ball is in your court, and whatever you decide, moving forward means moving on from the incident. Holding onto the hurt and anger will only keep you standing still.

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