Lies, betrayal, and deceit. I know all too well that nothing stings quite like the heartache from being cheated on.
But we always have a choice in life. And although we may not be able to choose what happens to us, we can choose how we react to it.
There’s no denying that being cheated on changes you, but despite the pain, there are plenty of positives to gain.
How does being cheated on change a person?
We all worked together in the same office.
It was bad enough that the man I was living with was cheating and then persistently lied about it. But it was an extra slap in the face that we were all colleagues.
They got together after I found out, and I had to see them both at work every day. I’m sure you can imagine how that felt.
When we experience betrayal, we’re bound to feel angry, sad, and confused. Cheating can even cause you to question yourself and your worth.
But these feelings don’t last forever. They fade over time, leaving behind new insights and lessons.
I understand why the internet is littered with woeful tales of the psychological effects of being cheated on.
Whilst I’d never be in favor of whitewashing over perfectly normal emotions, I can’t help but feel like all that negative talk plays into victimhood.
And right now, more than ever, in the aftermath of cheating you need to be the hero/heroine of your own story.
Yes, pain changes you. But it does not have to be for the worse. Within every single experience (even the most negative) lies hidden positives to be found.
Shake it off and step up
Have you ever heard the story of the donkey that fell into an abandoned well?
The donkey cried out in distress as the farmer looked on, unsure what to do.
Eventually, he decided that it would be impossible to get the donkey out. So with the help of his neighbors, he reluctantly decided to bury the donkey by filling the well with dirt.
When the soil began to fall the donkey wailed at the realization of what was happening. Then all of a sudden he went quiet.
Shovel loads later the farmer and neighbors peered into the well and were astonished to find that rather than the donkey being buried alive, something else was happening.
Every shovel load of earth that landed on the donkey — he shook it off and took a step up.
And as he did he became closer to the edge of the well, until eventually he simply stepped out, freeing himself.
We can’t always choose our circumstances but we can choose whether we let them bury us, or whether we shake it off and step up.
With that being said, I’d love to share with you 15 positive things that I learned from being cheated on.
What can I learn from being cheating on? 15 positive things it teaches you
1) You are stronger than you think
I’ll admit that nothing in my life has come close to the grief and pain I felt after being cheated on. But it taught me just how strong I was.
That’s the funny thing about pain, it hurts like hell but it proves to you just how much you are capable of enduring.
In the words of Bob Marley: “You’ll never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”
Recognizing how strong you are when the going gets tough fills you with confidence that you will be able to tackle challenges that come your way in the future.
You become more resilient and persistent during harder times in life.
Being cheated on and picking yourself up again shows you that you have strength you maybe didn’t realize you possessed.
2) Now is the perfect opportunity for reinvention
Whilst none of us welcome painful experiences into our life, the truth is that suffering is often one of the most powerful triggers for positive change and transformation.
There’s no better time to rebuild your life than when it’s already fallen apart.
You’ve probably heard of post-traumatic stress, but you may not have heard of post-traumatic growth.
Research has shown that major life crises can result in higher psychological functioning and other mental benefits.
As explained by psychologist Richard Tedeschi who first coined the phrase:
“People develop new understandings of themselves, the world they live in, how to relate to other people, the kind of future they might have and a better understanding of how to live life.”
The reality was that I had been wanting to make significant changes in my life for some time. But I felt too fearful (and perhaps too comfortable) to shake things up and take a risk.
The aftermath of being cheated on and my break-up eventually led to a whole new attitude and life.
I subsequently quit my job and opted for a life of adventures and travel.
It’s been over 9 years and counting and I haven’t looked back since. I shudder to think of all the things I would have missed out on without that initial catalyst of heartache to motivate me to make a change for good.
I’m not suggesting you need to or even want to completely makeover your entire life. But if there is something you’ve been meaning to go for but have been lacking the courage, now is the time.
3) Forgiveness is a choice
If you’re still reeling from betrayal, forgiveness might feel a long way off. But as cliche as it may sound, forgiveness really does set you free.
It’s not even about some gracious or pious act. It’s more humble than that. It’s about consciously deciding that carrying the bitterness of resentment around only ever hurts you.
By deciding to release those feelings towards anyone we feel wronged by, we lighten our own load. We also give ourselves permission to move forward with our lives.
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you condone what they did. It simply means you accept that it’s already happened. Rather than fight with what is, you chose to let it go.
A beautiful quote that really helped this to sink in for me is: “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.”
Forgiveness does not need to even involve the other person. It’s a state of mind where we make peace with the reality of whatever has already happened and stop wasting precious energy on wishing it were different.
4) There’s no such thing as “the one” (and that’s a good thing)
It’s easy to put a lot of expectations on our partners. Deep down, a lot of us are silently hoping they will somehow complete us.
But believing in fairytales or the idea of there being one person for you can be damaging.
Real-life relationships involve hard work. In this sense, love becomes a choice. It’s whether you decide to stick around and build a strong and healthy relationship or not.
Research has highlighted the downside of believing in romantic destiny. As explained in Psychology Today:
“When problems inevitably arise, believers in soul mates often don’t cope well and leave the relationship instead. In other words, a belief that soul mates should be ideally compatible motivates individuals to just give up when a relationship isn’t perfect. They simply look elsewhere for their “true” match. As a result, their relationships tend to be intense but short, often with a higher number of quick romances and one-night stands.”
We tell ourselves quite a lot of lies about love. But rather than searching for fulfillment by finding “the one”, the answer is in the relationship you have with yourself.
Shaman Rudá Iandê talks powerfully about how love is not what many of us think it is.
In fact, in this free video he explains how many of us are actually self-sabotaging our love lives without realizing it.
We chase an idealized image of someone and build up expectations that are guaranteed to be let down. Or we fall into codependent roles of savior and victim to try to “fix” our partner, only to end up in a miserable, bitter routine.
Rudá’s teachings offer a whole new perspective on relationships.
So if you’re done with frustrating relationships and having your hopes dashed over and over, then this is a message you need to hear.
5) Life is too short to sweat the small things
It’s so easy to end up thinking and stressing about a lot of ultimately pointless stuff in our daily life. But any traumatic event, helps you to gain a better perspective.
When my relationship broke down and I was feeling pretty crushed, I couldn’t stop thinking about a parking ticket I’d gotten a few days before.
At the time I was super annoyed. I’d even say that I wound myself up so much about this flipping ticket that the frustration put a damper on my entire afternoon.
Several days later and left dealing with something that genuinely did matter, I couldn’t help but think about how much I’d love to go back in time when my only concern was something so trivial.
Heartbreak can help us to have a clearer picture of what really matters and what doesn’t. You realize what’s actually important in life.
I’m not saying I don’t ever lose my cool over life’s little annoyances. But one thing is for sure, I’ve gotten way better at not sweating the small stuff in life.
6) We all make mistakes
Accepting that nobody is perfect frees yourself and others from burden.
After being cheated on, I looked at things in far less black and white terms and learned to accept the gray area of life far more.
I had such a strong sense of what I thought was “right” or “wrong”. But life is more complicated than that. Even when it comes to being cheated on. It’s not usually that simple.
The reality is that most of us are just doing the best we can (even when that doesn’t seem good enough).
In this way, being cheated on changed me for the better because it made me more of a tolerant person.
It’s freeing because when things happen, you are less likely to take it personally or catastrophe it.
And at the end of the day, trying to make other people wrong does little else than feed your own anger and bitterness. It doesn’t solve anything and it doesn’t change anything.
7) Life is what you make it
If I’m sounding at all a bit Pollyanna in this article, then you can blame me being cheated on.
Because one of the most powerful lessons I learned was how drastically your mindset shapes your entire reality and dictates how you feel.
Adopting a growth mindset and striving to look for and focus on the positives has been my rock in life.
After being cheated on I needed something that was going to carry me through it all.
I decided I wasn’t going to fall into the trap of feeling sorry for myself. Instead, I wanted to lean on every positive self-help tool out there to gain better self-reflection.
I used so many things I’d never even tried before. All of which are now part of my daily self-care. I journaled, I meditated, I wrote gratitude lists, and I used healing visualizations to let go of resentment and pain.
I told myself every single day that everything was going to be ok. And it was.
Some people choose to dwell on bad things in life, others choose to use it to empower themselves.
Life is what you decide to make it.
8) Bad times don’t take away the good
I’ve already said how being cheated on helped me to ditch my slightly black and white thinking.
Well in that vein, I came to understand that even when things turn sour, it doesn’t undo everything that’s gone before.
Happy memories can stay happy if you let them.
Despite how things ended in my relationship, there were many good times and many things to be grateful for.
Even though the relationship didn’t work out, it didn’t mean it was all for nothing.
The good and the bad both helped to teach me so much about myself and how to live a happier life.
9) Everything is impermanent
To think that everything is impermanent can bring some sadness. Loss and endings are always tinged with sorrow.
But on the other hand, recognizing the fragility and impermanence of all things also teaches you two very wonderful things:
- Enjoy everything whilst it lasts by focusing on the present and the now.
- Even in the darkest of times, better days are always yet to come.
The rule of impermanence means that “this too shall pass”.
Healing from being cheated on may take some time, but things do get easier.
10) Not to ignore red flags
How many of us have a bad feeling about something but ignore it? How many times does your gut tell you something, but you pray it isn’t true?
Relationship red flags are inconvenient. And so we sometimes choose to ignore them, preferring to hide in ignorance.
Every important conversation you fail to have, every issue you try to brush under the carpet, and every time you drift along hoping you’re on the same page — all have the potential to blow up in your face.
When we ignore the signs, we’re just storing up problems for another day.
Learning to acknowledge and talk about relationship problems before they become big issues is one of the most powerful ways to avoid future heartache.
11) Friends, family, and community are priceless
The first person I called when I found out I’d been cheated on was one of my closest friends who showered me with her wisdom and support.
My mom came to collect me and drove me back to my childhood home, where she took care of me for several days.
During difficult times, it makes us appreciate the people who show up for us all the more.
No matter who you are or where you’re at in life, friends, family, and community can have a huge impact.
They help us to see the bigger picture. They remind us of the good stuff. They lift us up and give us hope.
They are a constant source of strength and encouragement. They are the ones who love us when we need them most.
12) It’s okay to be sad
Sometimes we try to put a mask on how we really feel. Or we want to push away negative or painful emotions.
But you also have to feel the feels to move through emotions, rather than trying to go around them.
Anything you try to deny simply sits there unresolved and has a nasty habit of coming back to bite you in the ass later.
When you’ve been cheated on you’re allowed to grieve, cry, and mourn. Letting those feelings flow helps you process what happened.
And if you don’t let those feelings flow, they’ll just sit inside of you and fester until they explode.
So allow yourself to feel the pain. Know that it’s ok to feel angry, to blame, even to want revenge. It’s part of the process. It’s okay if you don’t know what to do next and it’s okay that you feel lost.
Being cheated on can help you to embrace the shadow side of life, and realize it’s all part of being human.
13) The power of non-judgment sets you free
Can I tell you something that might sound a bit strange?
Being cheated on was both the worst and the best thing that ever happened to me.
Emotionally, the suffering I experienced was incredibly painful. But the lessons and ultimate life path it sent me on were incredible.
Life is a very long and winding road and the truth is that we have no way of knowing in the moment how certain events will shape the rest of our lives.
Learning to resist labeling things that happen as “good” or “bad” lets you stay open to the fact that you don’t know what is for the best.
Sometimes we feel like we’ve lost something but really we’ve had a lucky escape. Sometimes we think an opportunity has been missed, but actually, it is leading you down a better road.
The key is to stop fighting against the inevitable. Instead, make peace with the idea that everything happens for a reason. And then trust that whatever comes next will bring you closer to who you truly are.
14) Not to hold on to the things that are not meant for you
All the spiritual gurus talk about the significance of non-attachment. But it always sounded kind of cold to me.
How can you simply not care?
But I’d got it all wrong. It wasn’t about not caring, it was about not clinging on.
Everything has a season in life, and when it is time for something to change and evolve, you have only two choices:
“Let go, or be dragged”.
Non-attachment actually encourages us to let go of the people, things, thoughts, and emotions that create suffering by holding on too tightly.
15) You will always be your best investment
A lot of people find that their self-esteem takes a knock after being cheated on. Within relationships, there’s always the risk that we build our lives around other people and not ourselves.
That’s not to say that relationships won’t ever require sacrifice, but you will always be your best investment of time and energy.
Invest in your own happiness. Invest in your own success. Invest in your own health. Take care of yourself. Support your well-being in whatever way works best for you. Learn new things. Follow your passions and desires. Because you deserve it.
You deserve to be happy.
You deserve to succeed.
You deserve to heal.
You deserve to be healthy.
You deserve to feel loved.
You deserve to forgive.
You deserve to move on.
You deserve to change.
You deserve to grow.
You deserve to live an amazing life.