If you’ve ever uncovered the painful truth that the person you love is not being faithful, you’ve probably asked yourself: “What am I supposed to do now? How do I deal with this betrayal?”
There is no doubt a wide range of confusing emotions flooding through you. All these feelings make it very difficult to make any kind of wise decision on what to do next. So don’t react too quickly.
Let’s begin with looking at what cheating is, and what it isn’t.
WHAT IS CHEATING?
It’s important to understand that there are different kinds of behavior people call cheating, some of which are not cheating at all. For example, if someone asks you out just once, and then soon after asks someone else out, that’s not cheating. That’s simply dating. Believe me, there’s nothing wrong with dating around.
On the other hand, if you have been dating that person for a while and you both commit to dating each other exclusively, and that person dates someone else behind your back, that’s cheating. Obviously, if someone says, “Will you be my fiance?” and you accept, and then they date behind your back, that’s cheating. If the person you are dating exclusively has sex or inappropriate sexual behavior with another person, that’s cheating.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO AFTER YOU’VE FOUND OUT?
Here are three steps to protect yourself:
- The first thing you need to do is wait. Don’t do anything. Let your feelings calm down. Regardless of what you have discovered, there’s no need to go around trashing the person who’s cheated on you, or even the one he or she did it with. Stay above the betrayal. Don’t let the lies and deceit of your boyfriend or girlfriend drag you down into the gutter. Keep your deep sense of personal dignity and healthy self-worth. You only make matters worse by acting out of anger and confusion. Don’t tell the world you’ve been violated.
- Surround yourself with good friends and wise counselors who can help you sort through your emotions and discover what has actually taken place. Get those you trust to quietly uncover what has been happening behind your back. Usually your friends are the first to know. These people are priceless to you because you can talk through your emotions with them. Left to yourself, you will only get caught in a circle of confusion, hurt, and resentment.
- Confront your boyfriend or girlfriend in private. Confrontation is never easy, but you will never get to the bottom of what has happened or begin healing until you have talked with your cheating partner. You may feel like causing a big scene to bring shame to the other person, but if you give in to that desire, you’ll end up looking foolish.
TIPS FOR CONFRONTING THE CHEATER
- It’s very important to have a confrontation face-to-face. Body language will tell you a lot.
- Make sure you have the facts before the confrontation. If you try to confront without evidence, you will most likely be lied to or stir up deep resentment in the person you are accusing. The person being confronted often blames you for the very thing he or she has done.
- While confronting, deal with the source of the problem — your boyfriend or girlfriend — and don’t focus on the person they’ve cheated with.
- Try to discover if your cheating partner is truly repentant for what he or she has done. Some people are just sorry because they got caught. It will take time for you to know whether or not your boyfriend or girlfriend is truly sorry for their betrayal.
- When confronted, some people become defensive, belligerent, and angry. That is a good sign they have no intention of ever getting back with you again. See their reaction for what it is. Sometimes it’s better to walk away — and stay away.
SHOULD YOU SAVE THE RELATIONSHIP?
Deciding whether or not you are going to try and salvage the relationship could be one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make.
Consider a time-out from your relationship. A time-out will give you a chance to get wise counsel from other people and decide whether or not the relationship is worth saving.
It will take time for the relationship to heal, if it ever does. Trust has been shattered, and recovering it takes a long time. If you decide the relationship is salvageable, your cheating boyfriend or girlfriend will have to be patient and wait for you to trust them again. Eventually, if the relationship has any hope for survival, you will need to forgive them and learn to trust.
IF THE RELATIONSHIP CAN’T BE SAVED
If you decide the relationship cannot be healed or mended, take some time off from dating to find yourself and allow yourself to become stronger. Some relationships cannot be saved, no matter what you do. So don’t bring unnecessary drama and needless hurt into your life by not letting go.
Know your own self-worth and cry out for the help you need. Because you are worth it!