Being cheated on is one of the worst feelings.
But the mixture of betrayal and sadness can also be clouded with confusion. Because even though he cheated, you still love him.
You can’t magically turn off all those feelings. So what should you do?
This article will offer you plenty of practical advice and point out all the things you need to consider when your partner cheats.
What to do when your partner cheats on you but you still love him
1) Take some time and space to think
Since you found out, I’m sure it’s pretty much all you’ve been able to think about. That’s understandable.
But know that you don’t have to be in any rush to make a decision right now. In fact, it’s better not to.
Being cheated on is a shock to the system, it’s traumatic. Allowing yourself some time and space to take a breath can help.
Take a few days away from your partner (or as long as you need). Let him know that you don’t want any contact to allow some time for you to think about what you truly want.
If you live together, perhaps ask him to leave the home to give you some space. Or you might prefer to go and stay with family or friends for a few days.
Give yourself the time and space to think. That way you’re less likely to make a rash decision that you may come to regret.
2) Practice plenty of self-care
Whilst you’re doing this, be sure to take good care of yourself.
Don’t neglect the basics. That means getting enough sleep, eating properly, and getting some exercise.
Try not to focus solely on your relationship. Instead, focus on yourself.
The more you build yourself up right now, the more you’ll be in a better headspace to make the right decision for you.
Other types of self-care after being cheated on that can help include:
- Journalling to process emotions and gain more clarity
- Positive affirmations
- Releasing anger in healthy ways. For example, through exercise, punishing a pillow, and allowing yourself to cry.
3) What does your partner want?
What happens next isn’t solely dependent upon you. It obviously matters what your partner wants.
If your cheating partner is unsure what he wants or he decides to walk away, then even if you love him you need to focus on healing and moving on.
If you decide to move on together from cheating, it needs to be something you are both totally committed to. You need to work on your relationship problems and rebuild trust.
You should never have to convince someone to be in a relationship with you, and doubly so when there has been infidelity.
Unless your partner truly wants to stay in the relationship and work on the relationship, then it’s time to walk away.
But it’s not just what he says right now, it’s also what he does that is important too. You know what they say, actions speak louder than words.
4) Does he show genuine remorse?
Mumbling sorry and then expecting you to forgive and forget isn’t going to cut it.
True remorse means not only offering an apology but showing through his words and actions that he sees the damage he has caused and feels sincerely sorry.
If he is really remorseful he will:
- Look you in the eye when he says sorry
- Listen to how his cheating has made you feel
- Want to correct his behavior and make changes to work on the relationship
Be careful not to confuse guilt with remorse. Feeling guilty can still be more about him than you. Whereas remorse is more about him feeling empathy for your pain.
5) Has the relationship been a happy and healthy one?
All relationships have their ups and downs. It’s never going to be a bed of roses all the time. There are challenges to overcome.
But now is the time to get really honest with yourself about the overall quality of your relationship.
As highlighted by NY Government:
“Healthy relationships involve honesty, trust, respect and open communication between partners and they take effort and compromise from both people. There is no imbalance of power. Partners respect each other’s independence, can make their own decisions without fear of retribution or retaliation, and share decisions.”
Think back to before he cheated. Generally in your relationship:
- Do you feel safe and secure?
- Do you feel respected?
- Is there trust?
- Do you feel appreciated?
- Is there balance and reciprocity?
- How well do you communicate?
- Are you able to resolve conflict?
Think about what you most need and want from a relationship. Does he truly, hand on heart, give you that?
6) Has he cheated before?
Realistically, his past behavior is going to play a part in what you decide to do next.
Is this a first-time offense or is it just the latest in a string of episodes?
Whilst it’s not the case of “once a cheater, always a cheater” someone with a pattern of cheating (across relationships) is far more likely to do it again. On the other hand, someone who has only cheated once is much less likely to do it again.
The so-called level of betrayal may also play a part, as psychologist Ari Tuckman explains:
“There is also a big difference between one impulsive or drunken hookup and an ongoing emotional affair that involved conscious deception across a long span of time.”
7) Consider if it’s really love or co-dependence
There is a big difference between wanting someone and feeling as if you need them.
So-called unconditional love should never be an excuse to put up with unacceptable behavior.
The truth is that even if love has no conditions, relationships do and should have conditions to them.
When you feel like you need your partner in order to be happy, it may be less about love and more about co-dependence.
This can be caused by low-self esteem or an unhealthy attachment style. Which is why it’s important to address these things.
Often we don’t know what healthy love really looks like. So we chase love in toxic ways that end up stabbing us in the back.
The world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê lifts the lid on all the unhealthy traps we tend to fall into when it comes to love, in this free video.
And importantly, he also shares how to empower yourself to create the relationships you truly deserve and long for.
I’d really suggest you check out his advice, as it could be just what you need to hear right now.
8) Know that love means nothing without boundaries
As I’ve just touched upon, the idea that love has no boundaries is a myth.
Real-life love needs boundaries in order to survive. Life coach Sahar Andrade highlights why boundaries are so vital:
“Your boundaries are the rules for how others learn to behave around you, how you want to be treated, what you will accept and what you will not — they are based on your own needs and wants. It is not selfish, rude, pushy or self-centered to make these requests. It is understanding your value, knowing your priorities and making sure that others do as well.“
Regardless of whether you decide to give your partner another chance or move on without him, take some time to consider your relationship boundaries.
Getting clear in your own mind will help you to make sure you show yourself the respect you deserve.
9) Talk to someone you trust
As well as journaling to help you process your emotion, talking to someone can also be really helpful.
If nothing else, a sympathetic ear is always a constructive outlet to help us move through our feelings rather than getting stuck in them.
Talk to a trusted friend or family member for support.
But here’s a tip:
Be clear with them from the start about what you are looking for. If you just want someone to listen, make sure they know you aren’t looking for advice. But if you value their opinion and want someone else’s perspective, then ask for it.
Ultimately though, remember that the decision is yours to make.
It’s really easy for an outsider to give their (often valid) opinion. But you are the one who is in the relationship.
10) Let your head and your heart have a say
We’ve all heard that we should follow our hearts.
But here’s the thing:
Emotions can overtake us, but they aren’t always our best guide. Sometimes our head needs to step in to protect us.
That’s not to say when it comes to love you should always let your head rule over your heart, but it certainly needs to be part of the conversation.
You can still love someone, but decide to love yourself more. Sometimes we need to make decisions for the sake of our own well-being, despite our feelings for someone.
Relationships can certainly recover from cheating, but only in the right context.
Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for heartache again.
It might feel like a quick fix to end the grief you feel right now by trying to forgive and forget. But that shortcut could end you right back where you started in the future.
So allow both your head and your heart to play a role in your decision-making process.