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How to get over being cheated on: 13 no bullsh*t steps

You know you need to move on with your life.

That much is clear.

But how are you supposed to move on when you feel like sh*t?

How are you supposed to move on when the one person you love decided to cheat on you with someone else?

It seems unthinkable at the moment.

I should know. Two years ago I went through the exact same thing.

My partner cheated on me with another man. It was absolutely soul-destroying.

The good news?

I eventually managed to move my way out of it to become a better, stronger human being.

And in today’s article, I’m going to describe exactly what worked for me.

Let’s go…

How to get over being cheated on: 11 steps

1) Accept how you’re feeling

It’s difficult to accept what you’re feeling right now.

Trust me, I know from experience. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably feeling upset, betrayed, and let down and you can’t help but question your own self-worth.

But you need to understand these feelings are perfectly normal.

And the more you try to deny these feelings, the longer they’re going to stick around.

I tried to put on a brave face and ignore my feelings, but it didn’t work.

I tried to live life normally and while people may have assumed I was okay, inside I was hurting.

It wasn’t until I accepted that I was hurt, upset, and betrayed that I began the process of moving on.

Of course, learning to accept your feelings isn’t an easy process.

I’ve never been comfortable expressing my feelings, but a technique that helped me was writing down what I was feeling.

For me, writing has a way of slowing down the mind and structuring the information in my head. It allows you to understand your emotions.

Journaling helps you express your painful feelings in a safe environment as no one is going to read what you write.

You might be angry, sad, or betrayed. Whatever it is you’re feeling, let it out. Process those feelings.

In the Harvard Health Blog, Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH says that when people write about what’s in their hearts and minds, they better make sense of the world and themselves:

“Writing provides a rewarding means of exploring and expressing feelings. It allows you to make sense of yourself and the world you are experiencing. Having a deeper understanding of how you think and feel — that self-knowledge — provides you with a stronger connection to yourself.”

If you’re wondering how you can begin journaling, try asking these three questions:

How am I feeling?
What am I doing?
What am I trying to change about my life?

These questions will give you insight into your emotions and prompt you to think about the future.

2) Don’t blame yourself

There were a lot of hard parts when I found out my partner was cheating, but the feeling of betrayal was undoubtedly the worse.

It destroyed my self-esteem. I felt I wasn’t good enough.

And look, my relationship wasn’t perfect, but having the person that I thought was committed turn to someone else hurt more than I can express.

It’s impossible not to take cheating personally.

It’s incredibly common for people to blame themselves when they’ve been cheated on. “Wasn’t I enough?” “Did I provide enough fun? Excitement? Emotional support?”

But you don’t need to ask yourself these questions. Questions like this made me feel like sh*t because I was never able to give myself an accurate answer.

What your partner chose to do has nothing to do with you. You shouldn’t feel responsible for your partner’s actions.

Obsessing over what could have been or what would have been is useless. There really is no point.

Very Well Mind offers some great advice:

“Blaming yourself, your partner, or the third party won’t change anything and it’s just wasted energy. Try not to play the victim, either, if you can help it, or wallow in self-pity. It will only make you feel more helpless and bad about yourself.”

Examining what went wrong isn’t healthy and it certainly isn’t productive.

As tough as it is right now, instead of living in the past, try to look forward to the future and what lies ahead of you.

As deeply hurt as I was, I can see now that it was oddly empowering. It taught me new skills in coping with a difficult situation.

I’ve become wiser and a better person. The next relationship I have will undoubtedly be stronger for it.

In the end, the best possible way you can deal with this is to see it as a clear exit out of something that wasn’t right for you.

Or if you’re staying in the relationship, then it’s a clear sign that things need to change in your relationship. As a result, your relationship will be better off in the long run.

3) Understand what love is really about

Being cheated on is like a kick in the guts.

But what it does do is give you the opportunity to evaluate what love is really about. And whether your expectations around love are realistic.

After watching a 60 minute free masterclass on love and intimacy by world renowned shaman Rudá Iandê, I realized that for a long time I was trapped by the ideal of having the perfect romance.

Westerners grow up obsessed with the idea of “romantic love”. We watch TV shows and Hollywood movies about perfect couples living happily ever after.

And naturally we want it for ourselves.

While the idea of romantic love is beautiful, it’s also an unrealistic standard.

Experts estimate that the concept has only been around for 250 years. Before this, people got together for more practical reasons — usually for the sake of survival or to have kids.

After watching this masterclass, I started to see that romantic love shouldn’t be the standard by which we judge the success of relationships.

Understanding that the perfect romance doesn’t necessarily exist made me free to live life on my own terms. It also opened me up to meaningful relationships without needing them to be perfect.

I also learned another incredibly important lesson from the shaman Rudá Iandê.

I’m not the typical person that would seek out the advice of a shaman. But Rudá Iandê isn’t your typical shaman.

He has spent a lot of time with indigenous tribes in the Amazon. He even sings shamanic songs and bangs his drums on occasion.

But he’s different in an important way. Rudá Iandê has made shamanism relevant for modern-day society. He has interpreted and communicated it for people like me and you.

People living regular lives.

What I learned from Rudá Iandê is that the relationship I have with myself is mirrored in my relationship with others. Therefore, it was very important for me to develop a better relationship with myself.

If what I’m saying resonates with you, please go and check it out the free love and intimacy masterclass here.

It’s a wonderful resource if you’re struggling with life after being cheated on.

4) Get over the jealously and don’t take negative actions

When you find out you’ve been cheated on, it’s absolutely heart-wrenching. I know that as well as you.

It can be easy to react at the moment. But don’t do the first thing your head or emotions tells you to.

Don’t destroy property, hurt anyone, or take negative actions towards your object of anger.

It’s not worth it. It won’t bring you peace and you’ll ruin any chance you had of salvaging the relationship (if that’s what you want).

When the dust settles and you calm down, you’ll be glad you didn’t take action on your feelings of anger.

Take some time to sit down, breathe slowly, and collect yourself.

When you calm down and think clearly, you’ll be better able to think about your next steps

Yes, the feeling of jealously is probably running rampant right now. It does for everyone that has been cheated on.

After all, the partner that was supposed to be loyal to you was with someone else, even if it was just briefly.

That’s what I couldn’t get out of my head.

Who was this person? Were they more attractive than me? Better in bed?

But just like blaming yourself, or acting rashly, these are questions that you don’t need to ask yourself.

If you’re going to get over being cheated on, you need to get over that jealousy.

Jealousy can lead to resentment, and as the old adage claims: “Resentment is like a poison you drink yourself, and then wait for the other person to die”.

Bustle explains why jealousy really is a useless emotion:

“Jealousy may be a powerful emotion but it’s not one that allows for logic. When you’re in a jealous fog, you don’t think clearly, you don’t express yourself well, and, to get real hippy-dippy with this noise, you aren’t in the moment relating with other people, and that sucks.”

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s important to speak to your partner and not put words in your partner’s mouth.

Ask questions about what happened and listen carefully.

There’s no need to throw your hands in the air and quit the relationship right away.

Yes, a break might be needed to work through your feelings, but this could be the wake-up call you and your partner needed.

5) You can save your marriage (or relationship) but it will take effort

Infidelity is usually a symptom of longstanding, deeper problems in the relationship and its discovery can be a great opportunity for a couple to understand what’s not working in a relationship that led to acting out and betraying each other.

If both members of the couple are motivated to salvage their relationship, then I highly recommended seeking professional help.

Another strategy is to check out a course I highly recommend called Mend the Marriage.

It’s by popular relationship expert Brad Browning.

If you’re reading this article on how to get over being cheated on then chances are your marriage isn’t what it used to be… and maybe it’s so bad, that you feel like your world is falling apart.

You feel like all the passion, love, and romance has completely faded.

You feel like you and your partner can’t stop yelling at each other.

And maybe you feel that there’s almost nothing you can do to save your marriage, no matter how hard you try.

But you’re wrong.

You CAN save your marriage — even if your spouse has recently cheated on you or if you’re the only one trying.

While I decided to end my relationship, I believe that I could have made things work if I decided to continue with it.

After all, I’ve seen it time and time again – relationships becoming stronger and better thanks to the learning’s that come from something as drastic as infidelity.

You CAN rebuild that passion you felt for one another when you first kissed. And you can bring back that love and devotion you felt for one another when both of you said, “I love you” for the first time.

If you feel like your marriage is worth fighting for, then do yourself a favor and watch this quick video from Brad Browning that will teach you everything you need to know about salvaging the most important thing in the world.

In this video, you’ll learn the 3 critical mistakes that most couples commit that rip marriages apart. Most couples will never learn how to fix these three simple mistakes.

You’ll also learn a simple, proven “Marriage Saving” method that makes marriage counsellors look like kindergarten teachers.

So if you feel like your marriage is about to take its last few breaths, then I urge you to watch this quick video.

6) What do you really want?

Is it possible for a relationship to recover after cheating? Absolutely.

It’s about understanding why this breach of trust happened, how to repair that breach, and what people in the relationship need to feel safe and loved.

Look, it’s a tough decision to decide whether to break up with your partner.

The fact is, it’s going to be different for everyone.

Do you have a young family? Kids? Or are you in a relationship that doesn’t really have any fixed ties together?

For me, I didn’t have any concrete ties with my partner, and this made it a lot easier to move on from the relationship.

But if you have a house and kids, it might make it more difficult.

Keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong answer for you.

Some couples successfully move on from infidelity and create a better, stronger relationship. Other couples don’t.

Relationship expert Amy Anderson offers some great advice if you’ve been cheated on:

“Always follow what your heart tells you…Do a weekend alone of soul-searching away from distractions and everyone’s opinions…Remember your core value system and try to get centered with a very clear head so you can derive the right answer you need for you…If you are happy staying with your partner who cheated, then that is what works for you… If you know you will always be suspicious or can’t move on from what really happened, you have your answer.”

Tell your partner to leave you alone for a while so you can gather your thoughts, and most importantly, figure out if you’ll ever be able to forgive your partner for cheating on you.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself if your partner has cheated on you:

1) Do they care that they’ve hurt you? Do they even understand they’ve hurt you? And do they truly regret what they did?
2) Do you know the full extent of their cheating? Have they actually been honest with you about it?
3) Will you be able to move on? Or will the fact they’ve cheated always be in the back of our mind? Will you be able to trust them again?
4) Is it worth saving the relationship? Or is it better to move on?

7) Don’t try to get even

When your partner cheats, it can be very tempting to react with anger, trash talk them and have an affair of your own.

I’ll be honest my first thought was to break it off with my partner and go on an absolute bender and try to pick up the hottest chick I could find.

But looking back, I’m glad I didn’t do that. It’s desperate, petty, full of toxic energy, and most importantly, it won’t do you any good.

Jane Greer, PhD, a New York-based relationship expert, explains why:

“Trying to get even keeps your anger alive, and keeps you in a state of negativity, which will prevent you from moving on and going forward in your life.”

“Getting even will give the vengeful partner a momentary sense of satisfaction,” says Irina Firstein, LCSW, a couples therapist.

“But ultimately it’s not going to move you toward any resolution and will only make things more complicated.”

8) Get angry

Here’s a counter-intuitive piece of advice if you’re wondering what to do next after being cheated on: get angry about it.

I think getting angry can be an excellent catalyst for making real change in your life. Including moving on from a failed relationship.

Before I explain why, I have a question for you:

How do you deal with your anger?

If you’re like most people, then you suppress it. You focus on having good feelings and thinking positive thoughts.

That’s understandable. We’ve been taught our whole lives to look on the bright side. That the key to happiness is simply to hide your anger and visualize a better future.

Even today, positive thinking is what most mainstream personal development “gurus” preach.

But what if I told you that everything you’ve been taught about anger is wrong? That anger — properly harnessed — could be your secret weapon in a productive and meaningful life?

World-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê has totally changed how I view my own anger. He taught me a new framework for turning my anger into my greatest personal power.

If you too would like to harness your own natural anger, check out Ruda’s excellent masterclass on turning anger into your ally here.

I recently took this masterclass myself where I discovered:

  • The importance of feeling anger
  • How to claim ownership of my anger
  • A radical framework for turning anger into personal power.

Taking charge of my anger and making it a productive force has been a game changer in my own life.

Ruda taught me that being angry isn’t about blaming others or becoming a victim. It’s about using the energy of anger to build constructive solutions to your problems and making positive changes to your own life.

Here’s a link to the masterclass again. It’s 100% free and there are no strings attached.

9) Take care of yourself

We talked about the emotions that you’re undoubtedly feeling. Something as drastic as infidelity can take a toll on you emotionally and physically.

You might be feeling more stressed than usual. Perhaps you’re finding it difficult to concentrate without thinking about what happened.

As I said above, I was struggling more than usual: Not sleeping as well, and more stressed, even though I was telling myself and everyone I knew that I was fine.

This is normal, but you need to make sure you take care of yourself during this turbulent time.

So think of the people in your life that you love and respect.

How do you treat them? You are kind to them, respectful and forgive them if they make a mistake.

Now think of how you treat yourself. Do you give yourself the love and respect you deserve?

Now it’s more important than ever to treat yourself well.

You need to take care of your body, your mind, and your needs.

Here are all the ways that you could be showering your mind and body with self-love:

– Sleeping properly
– Eating healthy
– Giving yourself time and space to understand your spirituality
– Exercising regularly
– Thanking yourself and those around you
– Playing when you need it
– Avoiding vices and toxic influences
– Reflecting and meditating

How many of these activities do you allow yourself?

Remember, the best way to take care of yourself is through action.

RELATED: My life was going nowhere, until I had this one revelation

10) Reflect on what a great relationship needs

To get over being cheated on, you need to reflect on the relationship and work out what went right, and what went wrong.

Because you need to make sure that your next relationship is a much more successful one.

And for women, I think the best way to ensure future success is to learn about what really drives men in relationships.

Men see the world differently to you and are motivated by different things when it comes to love.

Science is showing that men have a built in desire for something “greater” that goes beyond love or sex. It’s why men who seemingly have the “perfect girlfriend” are still unhappy and find themselves constantly searching for something else —  or worst of all, someone else.

Simply put, men have a biological drive to feel needed, to feel important, and to provide for the woman he cares about.

Relationship psychologist James Bauer calls it the hero instinct. He created an excellent free video about the concept.

You can watch the video here.

As James argues, male desires are not complicated, just misunderstood. Instincts are powerful drivers of human behavior and this is especially true for how men approach their relationships.

So, when the hero instinct isn’t triggered, men are unlikely to be satisfied in a relationship. He holds back because being in a relationship is a serious investment for him. And he won’t fully “invest” in you unless you give him a sense of meaning and purpose and make him feel essential.

How do you trigger this instinct in him? How do you give him a sense of meaning and purpose?

In an authentic way, you simply have to show your man what you need and allow him to step up to fulfill it.

In his video, James Bauer outlines several things you can do. He reveals phrases, texts and little requests that you can use right now to make him feel more essential to you.

Here’s a link to the video again.

By triggering this very natural male instinct, you’ll not only supercharge his confidence but it will also help to rocket your (future) relationship to the next level.

11) Talk it out with someone who sees it from your perspective

It’s important to talk about your feelings and what happened, but you need to do it with the right person.

When your heart is broken and you’re already feeling crappy, the last thing you need is someone standing in front of you telling you all the reasons that the infidelity is your fault.

You need to speak with someone who won’t try to get you to make meaning of the experience or how you can learn from it.

I had a friend who reminded me of all the things that I did wrong in the relationship.

That wasn’t what I needed to hear. All it did was make me feel worse.

So make sure they’re emotionally intelligent, positive and on your side.

And if you have mutual friends with your partner, you might not want to speak to them about it, either. You can’t be sure which side they’ll take.

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12) Talk with your partner

Now it isn’t always clear on how you should approach this. I’ll be honest, this is something I didn’t even bother doing. I had a brief chat with my ex-partner but because I already decided to end it, I was just wanted to move on.

However, if you don’t know want you to want to do, or you want to stick with them, then it’s a good idea to have a chat about it.

First, you’ll want to gather all the available information. Do you have proof that your partner cheated?

According to relationship therapist Sheri Meyers, “Without proof, you will look (or be treated) like a distrusting fool”.

Before you initiate confrontation, try to figure out what outcome you’d like.

Do you really want to stay together? Do you want to learn how truly remorseful they are?

Sometimes you may not know, according to family therapist Robert C. Jameson.

“You might say, “I have to talk to him/her in order to get clarity. I don’t know what I want…If this is the case then you what you want is to gather information so you can decide what to do”.

Next thing you need to is to plan an appropriate place and time to talk.

A safe space where you both feel at ease.

Then as hard as it is, you need to try and listen to what your partner has to say about why they cheated.

“Cheating doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and it’s crucial to be honest about your part in the relationship,” relationship expert April Masini told Bustle.

“It’s easy to play victim, but more often than not, the cheating happened because the cheater felt neglected or mistreated or not valued. That doesn’t excuse that person’s behavior, but it explains it, and it shows that cheating was a symptom, not the main problem.”

No matter what outcome you’re looking for, talking about your partner’s infidelity is necessary if you are to fix the relationship or if you want to end it with some closure.

“People cheat for different reasons. They may love their partners at the time. Sex addiction, personal insecurity, and payback are just some of the reasons both men and women have extramarital affairs. None of them are good, but understanding why can help,” psychotherapist Barton Goldsmith told Psychology Today.

It’s going to be tough to confront your partner but it’s something you need to talk about if you are to move on with your relationship.

13) Build new meaning in your life

What’s the main piece of advice you’re getting from your friends?

If it’s anything like my friends, they’re telling you to “go out with your friends” and “have a good time”.

Solid advice, but the problem is, it doesn’t help create new meaning in life that doesn’t involve your partner.

Even if you’ve decided to stay in your marriage or relationship, it’s really important to build new connections in your life.

One of the reasons you’re feeling terrible right now is because your relationship produces most of your meaning in life.

After all, being in love provides us with a sense of meaning.

People who have recently got into a serious relationship, or who have recently married, often talk about the renewed sense of purpose and meaning they feel as a result.

I know I felt the same when I started my relationship.

But here’s what’s you need to realize:

Being in a relationship is not the only way to feel meaning.

If you can have other sources of meaning in your life, you’ll feel better about yourself and you’ll be able to get over being cheated on.

This is crucial for yourself, whether or not you’ve decided to continue the relationship or marriage.

Before we get into ways you can find new sources of meaning, it’s important to realize that you have a lot of control over finding new meaning just with your attitude.

The former Second World War concentration camp inmate Viktor Frankl wrote a book called Man’s Search for Meaning.

In it, he talked about how even those reduced to the most desperate circumstances would seek out connection and belonging.

People who were almost starving would give away their last piece of bread and offer others comfort. Meaning motivates everything.

One of Frankl’s best-known quotes is “Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude.”

That’s a vital thing to remember after being cheated on. What you’re experiencing now feesl chaotic and impossible to control.

We feel like our emotions are getting ahead of us and that we can’t do anything to stop them.

What we fear our lives not being the lives we thought we would have. Frankl would say that we should find meaning in another way, by choosing to change our attitude.

Here are some ideas to build on your meaning in life:

1. Work on your friendships:

Much of the feeling of belonging that you crave from your main partnership can be had from friendships.

That includes both one-on-one friendships, and friendship groups. If you don’t have as many friends as you’d like, work towards gaining them.

Find things you love doing and meet people through them. Call up old friends you haven’t seen for ages.

Take a good friend out for a coffee and spend some time together, just the two of you.

2. Be part of your community:

This doesn’t have to mean charity work (though it could). It could just mean being conscious of the people around you.

Offer to take your neighbor’s parcels in, or to drop in and check on someone’s pet cat while they’re away.

3. Become a better listener.

There’s a lot to learn from other people. Listen with the intent to understand rather than trying to jump in with a response.

Most of your friends have probably been through a breakup before. They may have something valuable to teach you.

4. Stop comparing yourself to others.

You might be unnecessarily comparing yourself to other people, particularly those people in a happy relationship.

But there’s really no point in comparing yourself to others. Everyone has different circumstances. And you don’t really know what’s truly going on with someone else’s life and their relationships.

It’s better to practice compassion and assume we are all equal. Look inside yourself and forget the need to compare.

5. Connect to your own inner wisdom.

It’s tiring to always look to others for advice and what you should think. Sit quietly with yourself and understand what you really think and feel.

6. Let go of guilt.

Stop finding ways to prove that you’re not enough. Yes, you’re going through being cheated on, but it doesn’t mean that you’re not good enough. Relationships end all the time for a variety of reasons.

It’s more likely that the being cheated on had nothing to do with you. Don’t let your mind sink into a cognitive bias that everything is your fault. Choose self-compassion instead.

The best way to save your marriage

Being cheated on in a marriage is awful, but it doesn’t always mean your relationship should be scrapped.

Because if you still love your spouse, what you really need is a plan of attack to mend your marriage.

Many things can slowly infect a marriage—distance, lack of communication and sexual issues. If not dealt with correctly, these problems can metamorphosize into infidelity and disconnectedness.

When someone asks me for advice to help save failing marriages, I always recommend relationship expert and divorce coach Brad Browning.

Brad is the real deal when it comes to saving marriages. He is a best-selling author and dispenses valuable advice on his extremely popular YouTube channel.

And he’s recently created a new program to help couples with a struggling marriage. You can read our review of it here.

His program is as much about working on one’s self as working on the relationship—they’re one and the same according to Browning.

This online program is a powerful tool that could save you from a bitter divorce.

It covers sex, intimacy, anger, jealousy and more. The program teaches couples how to recover from these symptoms that are often the result of a stagnant relationship.

Although it may not be the same as having one-on-one sessions with a therapist, it’s still a worthy addition for any marriage that is slowly tearing itself apart.

Obviously no book or session with a therapist can guarantee your marriage will be saved. Sometimes relationships really are irreparable and it’s intelligent to move on.

But if you do feel that there is still hope for your marriage, then I recommend you checking out Brad Browning’s program. You can watch his free online video about it here.

The strategies Brad reveals in it are extremely powerful and might be the difference between a “happy marriage” and an “unhappy divorce”.

Here’s a link to the video again.

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New video: He reveals the truth about chasing emotionally unavailable men (hint: don’t do it!)

Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.
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