Being cheated on is one of the worst things that could happen in a relationship, but it’s not the end for every couple. Sometimes cheating can remain in the past and the trust between two people can grow again. If you’re looking to move on from the incident, here’s what you need to do to save your relationship and stay together.
- Set up boundaries. Every relationship needs boundaries, but after being cheated on, it’s more important than ever to sit down with your partner and talk about where you stand. It’s also important to let them know what constitutes “cheating” in your eyes. Did he look at porn and you feel betrayed? Did he talk to a cam girl? Did he go a little too far at a bachelorette party? It’s okay for you to speak your mind about what you’re not comfortable with from here on out. This is one thing you and your partner need to be on the same page with if you want to move forward with the relationship.
- Let your partner know if something bothers you. The only way to rebuild trust is for your partner to be open and honest. While this doesn’t permit you to snoop through their phone, it does mean that questions like “you seem to be guarding your phone a lot, is everything okay?” reasonable. You deserve honest answers, but you can’t constantly be paranoid. That alone will kill the relationship for good.
- Consider counseling. There’s nothing wrong with couple’s counseling. Some couples opt to get it when there aren’t even any issues present. It can be helpful having the two of you talk to someone who’s not emotionally invested in your relationship the way you are. They may be able to help you and your partner communicate together, or find an underlying reason as to why the cheating happened in the first place.
- Figure out what was broken in the relationship. There are two kinds of people who cheat — people who put themselves first and don’t think about the feelings of others, and people who feel so down or sad that in the moment, it seems like a good option. The former group is hard to change and hard to trust. With the latter, the love is still there — but, they were just feeling vulnerable. Did your partner cheat because they felt neglected in the relationship? Were you giving off the impression that the relationship had run its course? Your partner’s actions are not your fault, but if you want to move forward, you have to address what really happened.
- Understand that two wrongs don’t make a right. This doesn’t give you a pass to cheat on your partner. But if you think it does, to be “fair,” then understand that this relationship likely isn’t worth saving. If you love your partner, you don’t want them to experience the same level of hurt you went through.
- Be honest with your feelings. Sometimes, only time will mend the wound. Don’t shove your feelings aside, since getting over something this big just isn’t that easy. Address how you feel. Then them how you feel. See a therapist solo, just to work out your feelings. Talk to your friends and vent about it. Pretending the incident didn’t happen might make the two of you look better to outsiders, but it’ll be a ticking time bomb in your relationship that could explode at any time.
- Put yourself in their shoes. If you’ve been with your partner for a long time, you might be able to channel what they were going through and what tempted them. Maybe they went out with their friends, had one too many, and made a bad choice that they weren’t fully in control of. Perhaps it was peer pressure. Ask yourself whether or not they were direct with you after it happened, or if it was an ongoing thing they tried to hide. Cheating has many different layers. While they all hurt, sometimes certain incidents are more forgivable than others. If they told you about it right away, that’s a good sign that the relationship can be saved.
- Understand that it’ll take time. This isn’t a situation where you’ll wake up tomorrow morning and immediately forgive your partner. Understanding the how’s and why’s of cheating will take some time. And, you might need to think about a trial separation to really figure out your feelings. Go on a weekend vacation by yourself or with friends. Sometimes, the change of environment will help you process what happened even better.