You’ve just discovered your boyfriend is cheating on you.
Maybe it feels like your world has come tumbling down. You can’t think straight and you don’t know what to do next.
Ultimately it all boils down to just two choices:
Stay or leave?
Can you try to rebuild your relationship and make things work? Or is it better to walk away?
This article will share with you what to do if your boyfriend is cheating on you.
“My boyfriend is cheating on me: What should I do?”
1) Separate fact from fiction
First things first. You need to separate what you know from what you suspect.
Admittedly, that’s not always easy to do. Cheating by its very nature often involves lies and secrecy which can make it difficult to get to the truth.
But before you go any further, consider whether you have got your facts straight.
What is the source of your information? And is it reliable?
Do you know for sure that your boyfriend is cheating? Has he owned up to it? Has someone else told you that he’s cheating? Or do you just have strong suspicions?
Maybe you found some incriminating texts on his phone, or he was spotted talking to another woman at a bar.
It’s tempting to jump to conclusions. But before you act, ask yourself what are the facts and what could be fiction.
2) Confront it
Everybody handles things differently.
Whilst some people might deal with a cheating boyfriend by screaming and shouting at him, others want to pretend as if nothing has happened.
When we’re dealing with extreme emotions, wanting to avoid those feelings is perfectly natural. And so avoidance becomes a self-defense mechanism.
It can seem like a tempting strategy to sidestep the pain from the fallout of infidelity by burying it.
That might be by trying to forgive and forget too quickly, without properly discussing and dissecting what happened.
Or it might be by ignoring the situation altogether and turning a blind eye to what is going on.
But you can’t ignore it. It’s ultimately a symptom of deeper problems in the relationship.
And they aren’t going away.
Try to accept what has happened, no matter how much you wish it had not.
3) Let it sink in
Getting to the stage where you can accept what has happened rather than fight it will require some time.
That heady mix of emotions you are feeling right now, as much as they suck, is normal.
And it’s partly down to the science of heartbreak. You see, we feel heartache —whether it’s being cheated on or dumped— as a form of social rejection.
Your brain feels that emotional pain, in the same way, it feels physical pain.
One study from the University of Michigan found that the same parts of the brain that react when you are physically hurt also light up when you’re in emotional pain.
Ethan Kross from the University of Michigan’s Emotion & Self Control Lab explains:
“A social rejection hijacks the part of our brain that signals pain to say, ‘Hey, this is a really serious situation,’ because just like physical pain, the consequences could be there,”
Knowing this might not make you feel better right now. But it can help you to understand your own emotions, even if you can’t change them.
Take the pressure off yourself. You don’t have to have all the answers right now. And you’re probably not in the right state of mind to decide anything yet.
Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions are coming up in order to process them.
Show yourself love, care, and support right now. That way you can cultivate the best mindset possible to handle the fallout.
Right now I realize it probably all feels very urgent. But the reality is that whatever you decide to do, it’s going to take time.
No matter what happens next you must go through a grieving period. Whether that’s a grieving of the relationship you once had or the loss of the relationship entirely.
4) Hear him out
Of course, you don’t have to hear him out. If you feel certain to your core that the relationship is over, then you can simply walk away.
But if you feel conflicted then you need to hear what he has to say for himself. Because his response is most likely going to play a big part in whether you give him a second chance or not.
The truth is that when a relationship hits rock bottom, it relies on communication more than ever.
It’s understandable if you don’t want to talk right away. Taking some time and space for yourself can be for the best right now.
But at some stage, hearing him out and letting him explain what happened is going to give you more information about what has been going on.
It’s also going to let you see how he responds.
Is he filled with regret? Does he show genuine remorse? Do you sense that he is trying to be honest with you, or holding some things back?
Listen to what he has to say.
5) Talk through your options with an expert
Here’s the truth about cheating:
It’s never that simple.
It’s easy for friends and other people to give advice, but it’s not their heart or relationship on the line.
Some people may be quick to tell you to ditch him. Others might preach about forgiveness.
But you have to make the decision that is best for you.
Of course the tricky part is that deciding what’s for the best when your head is all over the place can be incredibly confusing.
Talking to an impartial relationship expert may offer you the clarity and guidance you need.
Relationship Hero is a site where specially trained relationship coaches can give you tailor-made advice, based on your own unique situation.
After discussing all the facts and working through all your best options, they can be the guiding light to help you figure out exactly what you want to do next — whether that’s to save your relationship or break up with your boyfriend.
You can connect with a relationship expert in minutes.
6) Watch out for his excuses
I spoke earlier about remorse.
That’s because it’s going to be a key consideration in whether you and your boyfriend can heal and move on from infidelity.
He needs to be truly sorry and regret his actions. Otherwise, it’s likely to happen again. In fact, research has found that men who cheat can start to justify it to themselves.
Rather than have to deal with the shame and guilt from their behavior, they try to make themselves feel better about it.
They may act like it’s not really such a big deal or say that they cannot help themselves.
Not only is that pretty disrespectful to hear, but the problem is the research noted that this sort of justification makes him more likely to cheat again.
As highlighted by Scientific America:
“People know that infidelity is wrong, but some still do it. And when they do, they usually feel pretty bad about it. But through various forms of cognitive gymnastics, cheaters are able to discount their past indiscretions to feel better about themselves. Since the negative consequences, at least in terms of how they feel about themselves, are diminished, maybe they do not learn from their mistakes – and might be susceptible to cheating again in the future.”
So watch out for excuses. Be on the lookout for him minimizing his actions, dodging responsibility or gaslighting.
It highlights he isn’t willing to take responsibility for the impact of his actions on you and your relationship. And it is a huge redflag that he will do the same again.
7) Look for bad patterns
Whilst we’re on the subject of red flags, now is the time to be extra vigilant for them. Because wishful thinking is not going to do you any favors in the longrun.
When emotions are involved it can be incredibly challenging to think logically. But you need to try and let your head as well as your heart guide you right now.
With the power of hindsight, go back over your relationship history and search for redflags.
Has he done it before? Are there other trust issues in the relationship? Has he shown signs that he isn’t ready for an adult relationship?
For example, non-committal patterns, immaturity, or disrespect towards you and the relationship.
Does his behaviour support a committed relationship?
Are you his priority or is he still out every weekend with his friends in bars? Because generally speaking, cheating doesn’t “just happen”.
He has let it happen.
At the very least, he has put himself into a tempting situation.
And if he is putting himself in these sorts of situations, it might suggest that he just isn’t ready for a real relationship.
8) Consider the overall quality of the relationship
As I mentioned earlier, some people will take a hardline approach to any cheating whatsoever.
But real life and real relationships can get messy.
It isn’t right or wrong to stay with your boyfriend after he has cheated. Neither is it right or wrong to break up with him. It’s whether the choice is right or wrong for you. And only you can decide that.
The overall quality of the relationship up until now is going to be a big factor.
Has this been a blip in an otherwise happy and healthy connection? Or is this the latest upset in a rocky relationship?
- Open and honest communication
- Healthy independence and autonomy
You should generally feel comfortable in expressing your thoughts and feelings with one another. You should be able to resolve conflict and negotiate differences with compromise and understanding.
Before making any decisions on what you should do next, try to think about how well this relationship has been generally fulfilling your needs and wants.
9) Forget the other woman
I get that it’s easier said than done. But the other woman involved in this really does have very little to do with it.
This is between you and your boyfriend. You are the ones in a relationship. You have enough going on right now, so don’t place your attention or anger on her.
The harsh truth is that she doesn’t owe you anything.
Sometimes women who find it too difficult to hold the man they love accountable, so they project all of their pain, anger and betrayal on to the other woman.
But this misguided approach takes your focus away from the place that needs it most. Your relationship has problems that need working through.
Don’t get caught up thinking about her. She is a red herring. Your boyfriend was the one who cheated.
10) Don’t seek revenge
Maybe you’ve already started thinking to yourself, how can I hurt my cheating boyfriend?
As someone who has been cheated on in the past, I totally get the desire to get back at him. You want him to feel some of the jealousy and hurt you’re experiencing.
But the reality is that it’s probably not going to make you feel better. In fact it could make things way worse.
Trying to seek revenge in any way is only going to escalate things. In the heat of the moment it can feel good to take your frustrations out on him.
You might be tempted to give him a taste of his own medicine.
But afterwards, you’ll likely be left feeling regretful and perhaps even a bit guilty too. Even when it’s difficult, taking the moral highground is always your best bet.
Don’t do something now that you may later regret.
If you are going to walk away from the relationship, at least you can do it with your head held high.
11) If you decide to stay together, be willing to work on the relationship
He is the one who has cheated. But if you want to get back on track, he cannot be the only one in the relationship who tries to fix things.
Moving past cheating in a relationship requires introspection. You’ll have to get to the bottom of why it happened. That can be pretty uncomfortable.
It might reveal some harsh truths about your relationship, on both sides.
Whilst your boyfriend deciding to cheat is 100% on him, any problems you two have in your relationship is a joint responsibility.
As Clinical Psychologist Josh Klapow, Ph.D., explains in Bustle magazine, if you decide to stay together, this attitude is vital:
“Healthy couples have a mutual understanding that they both contribute to the problems and the solutions in the relationship”.
You will both have to commit to working through things together, which will take time, effort, communication, and a willingness to make changes on both sides.
12) Don’t drive yourself crazy by overthinking
Of course you’re going to be doing a lot of soul-searching about what has happened.
And it’s right that you take the time and consideration to really think about how you feel, what you want, and the best option for you moving forward.
But at some stage thinking can turn into overthinking. And that can be harmful. We call this type of obsessive overthinking ‘rumination’.
It’s when you become so fixated on the same negative thoughts, over and over again, that you end up getting stuck.
It becomes more like a habit than a choice. But rather than gain any new insights, it simply ends up causing you anxiety, stress and misery.
Things that can help prevent rumination include:
- Distracting yourself by doing other things
- Meditation and breathwork
- Talking to friends and family
- Putting your focus back on yourself and building your self-esteem
13) Only stay together for the right reasons
Don’t sell yourself short. Whilst some couples do get over cheating, others do not.
If your boyfriend doesn’t want to wholeheartedly make amends for his misdemeanors, if he doesn’t want to put the energy it takes into repairing the relationship and trust, if he has repeatedly cheated on you — walk away.
You deserve better, and you can find it.
Sometimes we stay with people for the wrong reasons. We stay out of fear and not love.
We worry that we won’t feel that way about someone else. We worry about what lies ahead of us after the breakup. We’re scared to leave.
But that is the wrong reason to stay with a cheating boyfriend.
Only stay if you trult think the relationship is worth working on, that you believe it can be repaired and you can move past it — and he feels the same.
Otherwise, you are most likely going to find yourself back where you are now at a later stage, facing the same upset and heartache.
Which leads me nicely to our next point.
14) Stop chasing toxic love
They say that love is all you need. And maybe they are right. But there should also be a disclaimer that comes along with love.
Because as marvelous as love is, in some forms it’s not healthy.
Sadly the way to find love and intimacy is not what we have been culturally conditioned to believe.
This pitfalls of getting sucked into bad relationships is something that world renowned shaman Rudá Iandê teaches.
In this short free video, he explains how many of us chase love in a toxic way that ends up stabbing us in the back.
We get stuck in awful relationships, never really finding what we’re looking for.
Maybe this isn’t the first time you’ve been cheated on or let down badly by a guy, and you’re starting to wonder why?
We can end up falling for the ideal version of someone instead of the real person. We put unrealistic expectations on love and relationships and what it can offer us. But this ends up destroying them in the process.
Rudá’s teachings offer an eye opening new perspective.
In that free video, he will talk you through the three key ingredients to create a fulfilling and healthty relationship.
And spoiler alert, I think you’ll be surprised!
15) Refuse to become a victim
I know that being cheated on can make you feel like you’ve lost all control. You might even feel helpless. But don’t fall into a victim mentality.
Not because you haven’t been wronged— you have. But because it’s not going to serve you.
One study found that if you’re cheated on once, you’re more likely to be cheated on again in other relationships.
Now if that sounds depressing, rest assured you can turn it around. Because it could come down to self-esteem.
Clinical psychologist Kayla Knopp who carried out the research explains that people who have been cheated on can start to doubt themselves:
“They feel that something is wrong with them, that they’re not enough, and that they’re now sentenced to a life where suspicion, doubt, and fear will reign,”.
Build your self-love and self-esteem to empower yourself, rather than fall foul of victimhood.
Because the thing about bad experiences is that we can use them to grow. They can provide useful life lessons.
In fact, one study found that women who were cheated on were able to use the experience to choose a better partner in the future.
As Craig Morris, research associate at Binghamton University and lead author on the study, explains:
“Our thesis is that the woman who ‘loses’ her mate to another woman will go through a period of post-relationship grief and betrayal, but come out of the experience with higher mating intelligence that allows her to better detect cues in future mates that may indicate low mate value. Hence, in the long-term, she ‘wins’. The ‘other woman,’ conversely, is now in a relationship with a partner who has a demonstrated history of deception and, likely, infidelity. Thus, in the long-term, she ‘loses.”
So whilst it might hurt like hell, in the long run being cheated on can actually change you for the better.