Break-ups are never easy, especially when you find out your partner has been cheating. The betrayal you feel, the surprise, and the overall anger that seeps in as soon as you realize it’s over is hard to overcome.
Being cheated on throws you on a hurtling emotional roller coaster. For some it’s a scary ride, but getting over it is never impossible, and relationship counselor Kimberly Moffit says there are healthy, productive ways you can mend your broken heart, step-by-step.
Step one: look for help
Firstly, our relationship expert says to “put yourself in an environment where you’re surrounded by the people that you love.” A common problem when faced with cheating is self-blame. People who go through this often ask themselves what did they do wrong and how could they have prevented their partner from cheating on them, and it can hurt your confidence.
The best way to not feel so depressed is to be around people you like. Let them help you through your time of need.
“To have those people around you can help boost your self-esteem and help you not sink so low [and] feel bad about yourself,” says Moffit.
And you don’t have to tell them everything. How much your loved ones know is up to you. You might tell them that you’ve been cheated on; you might tell some closer friends or family members the finer details.
“It’s good to have someone to talk to about all the things that you went through, but at the end of the day you don’t need to share everything with everyone,” says Moffit.
If talking it out with them is not enough, don’t be afraid to go into therapy. You wouldn’t be the only one.
Step two: facing your nightmare
When you’re ready, and you feel that you can be strong and mature, reconnect with who is now hopefully your ex-partner.
The purpose of talking to them is not to find reasons to go back, or to give them a chance to make it up to you. It is meant to help you figure things out and bring you a step closer to having closure. When you talk to them it is important to ask the right questions.
“It’s a bad idea to ask what happened, where did it happen, when did it happen [. . .] these are not good questions,” says Moffit. “They’re not helpful, they’re not productive, and they don’t make us feel any better. We think they will but then they end up making us feel worse.”
Moffit suggests talking about the reasons behind the cheating.
“Cheating is often a symptom of something deeper,” she says.
There are a wide variety of reasons someone might cheat, whether that issue was in the dynamics of the relationship, one of their parents being unfaithful in the past, or whether it might come down to self-confidence issues. It is helpful to talk about why the cheating happened and what might have prevented it.
This may be one of the most difficult conversations you will ever have to have. Remember to be calm and composed. Communicate openly, but protect yourself. Also remember, if you have nothing to say, silence is perfectly justified.
Step three: moving on
Dealing with what happened is never easy, but at some point you have to move on, and begin to let it go. After being cheated on you may lack confidence, and you may think that you do not have anything to offer in another relationship, but that is not the case.
“If someone’s cheated on you it speaks more about them than it speaks about you,” Moffit says.
You may feel terrible and have trouble finding a reason to get up in the morning. Letting go is the hardest part, but there comes a time when you must move on.
After all this happens, life goes on. As much as you don’t want it to, the world cannot stop for you.
Re-discover who you were before them, and who you will move forward to be. The past will always follow you, and it will always be a painful time, but you will not live happily until you liberate yourself from those traumas. Be the bigger person, let time heal your wounds and wash them away.
“It’s important to remember that you are still a good person, and that you can be in successful relationships,” says Moffit.