Infidelity in a relationship can deliver one of the biggest blows possible to a person’s pride, their sense of self worth, and their faith in a relationship. When you find out that the person that you love has been having an affair with another person, it can feel like your world is crumbling down around you.
Once you climb out from underneath the feelings of shock and fury, you are faced with a plethora of complex emotions regarding your relationship and how to proceed.
Is it possible to bounce back from infidelity in a relationship? Will things ever be the same again? How can you rebuild the trust that once existed when it has been broken on such a profound level? Is there anything you can do to be sure that it won’t happen again?
I know that your head is swimming with questions that are probably keeping you up all night, and you might even feel paralyzed by them at the moment.
I won’t sugarcoat it for you, this is a very challenging situation but I will say this, if you are both willing to lay the proper foundation for healing and rebuilding your relationship, then you can bounce back. I received an email from Angela last night and the subject line was, “My boyfriend is cheating on me and I need your help.”
I work with people who are struggling with this exact situation multiple times each week, so I felt that this topic warranted an in-depth article.
That is why I wanted to write this for you today. My goal is to provide you with the tools you need to work through this ordeal and truly come out on top. There are plenty of do’s and don’ts to keep in mind, and by the time you reach the end of this article you will have a much better idea of how to proceed.
Cheating boyfriend: Why does this happen?
As unpleasant as it is to read, a person usually cheats because they are looking for a feeling that they aren’t getting in the relationship. We often assume that it’s always about the physical aspect and we tend to forget that sometimes man or a woman will cheat because they are not feeling emotionally satisfied in their relationship with their partner.
As time went on, maybe you both settled into the routine of the relationship and stopped making an active effort to make each other feel special and cherished. When someone does not feel valued, loved, or desired, he or she might look outside of the relationship. Similarly, if the passion and excitement has been allowed to dwindle and die out, a person might wind up looking outside of the relationship to get that adrenaline rush back.
It goes without saying that there is no good excuse for cheating spouses and partners, but zeroing in on the root of the problem your relationship has been facing is going to help you to define the exact solution that you need. Interestingly enough, some studies have shown that the reasons why men cheat are often different from the reasons why women cheat.
There are always exceptions, but one study suggests that in most cases, men are more often guilty of physical cheating and women are more often guilty of emotional cheating. The definition of physical cheating is pretty clearcut, but emotional cheating is what gets trickier.
A man or a woman who cheats emotionally usually does so because his or her relationship is experiencing a serious lack of emotional closeness. So if they are not getting emotional support from their boyfriend or girlfriend, they might seek out another person who can give them a sense of complicity.
This is usually the difference between a long term affair and a one night stand. For you, whatever the situation might be, the fact of the matter remains the same. You’ve been cheated on and betrayed by the man you love, and it hurts.
If you haven’t done so already, both of you have to make sure that you’re on the same page as one another in terms of what you feel counts as cheating. The definition of cheating will differ from person to person, so you need to make sure that you’re both very clear on what is acceptable in your relationship with one another and what isn’t! The every day dictionary definition of cheating is “being sexually unfaithful” to your significant other.
While most people generally agree on this definition, as I said, it is very important that you and your boyfriend clearly define what cheating means to you.
Some people feel that sexual intercourse is the only thing that “counts as cheating,” which would mean that a couple “harmless kisses” on the dance floor at the club with some random girl isn’t a big deal. Other people would find this wildly inappropriate.
Some people feel that flirtation, having a crush on someone else, having sexual conversations online with someone, lying about being in a relationship, and fantasizing about someone else constitutes cheating whereas their partner does not. This is why it’s important to make sure that you and your boyfriend are on the same page.
The onslaught of emotions when you realize “My boyfriend is cheating on me”
Perhaps he confessed and told you and he has been seeing another person, or maybe even multiple other people, behind your back. Perhaps he is not aware of the fact that you know that he’s been being unfaithful to you. Whatever the case maybe, the fact is that you know. You have come to learn that the man that you love and have been sharing your life with has been cheating on you. And it hurts. Oh, how it hurts.
You are probably experiencing the same thing that my clients who have been faced with infidelity are feeling. Sleepless night, surges of rage, waves of heartbreak, and a steady stream of images being played back in your imagination.
What’s more, I know that many people struggle with fighting the urge to compare themselves with the Other Person. “Why her?” “Is it because she has Z Y and Z and I don’t?” “Do they have more in common than we do?” “Is she better than me?” “Is she prettier than me?” These thoughts are enough to drive you nuts, and they most certainly aren’t helping with anything. There is a common theme that I have taken note of throughout all these years that I’ve been working with individuals and couples in their relationships. I often see that when it comes to cheating, it is less about how a person’s cheating impacts your perception of them, and more about how their cheating impacts your perception of you. So what happens is that when you realize “My boyfriend is cheating on me,” you start to develop a very destructive voice in your head that asks you what is wrong with YOU. Why weren’t YOU enough, and what does this other person have that you don’t? Aside from the pain that it causes us, cheating is so destructive because it can influence our ability to love ourselves and to feel lovable, and this is what really generates resentment in the long run.
One of our most basic and emotional needs is not actually to fall in love; but to be genuinely loved by another person, and to know that that love grows out of the reason and choice instead of instinct. We need to to be loved by someone who chooses to love us, and who sees something in us worth loving. This kind of love requires effort and discipline, and when that is so fundamentally threatened by an action such as cheating, our world is shaken.
Alina’s story: My boyfriend was cheating on me but we healed our relationship
Something that I want you to keep in mind is that your relationship will change after cheating, but don’t panic! It doesn’t have to be in a bad way. If both you and your partner want to make this work, you can do it. In fact, some of the strongest couples I know have gone through what you are experiencing right now. When your relationship with the person you love is suddenly threatened, things can suddenly become very clear. You both realize how much you love each other, how much you don’t want to lose one another, and what you’re willing to do to make things right. I want to share Alina’s story with you, because I know that it might feel hard to find hope at the current moment. Her relationship had been slowly deteriorating with her husband, Laurence. She then found out that he had fallen for someone he had history with when he was younger. Things weren’t going very well at home, so he let himself go with it and eventually started seeing the other woman on a regular basis. Alina had come to me for help with repairing the crumbling relationship, and at first we weren’t quite sure what was going on with her boyfriend. It seemed like he was avoiding Alina but was spending long periods of time glued to his phone, hiding it from her view. He had changed his passcode an was becoming less and less invested in their relationship.
The truth came to light one day when he confessed that he had been seeing another woman and had fallen in love with her. After the initial shock, Alina tried to reason with him and talk him out of it, but he said that he loved the other woman and could not help himself. They had two kids together already and Alina was determined to put the pieces back together and restore the love they once knew, but she was really struggling with this process. He did not want to budge and was preparing to leave the family for the other woman. So I suggested changing her method. I wanted her to focus only on the present moment, and the goal was to always have something more interesting to do than what her husband was doing. I also asked her to think about and focus on what wasn’t working in the relationship before she learned that he was cheating. She realized that she had lost herself in the relationship and was no longer doing anything to benefit herself or her personal life. So she started going to the gym again, started going out with her friends again, she started planning fun activities for herself and for their kids, and you know what Lawrence’s first reaction was? He was frustrated! He realized that Alina had finally become the woman that he wanted… so I asked her to keep her cool and to place a small amount of distance between them.
Now that his attention was sparked he would have to make an effort to move closer and communicate. We worked together and were able to save the relationship. Lawrence was terrified that he was going to lose Alina, but she was able to forgive him and start to restore the relationship. By focusing on seduction, they were able to start off fresh and rekindle the flame! So let’s take a look at what exactly needs to happen when you want to repair a relationship after cheating.
My boyfriend cheated on me, what should I do now?
The moment you realize, “He cheated on me,” you have a choice that presents itself to you. Either you turn the page and move on from this relationship, or you and your partner are going to have to work to repair the damage and reestablish a solid foundation in this relationship. The healing process takes time, patience and perseverance, and most importantly, teamwork. Though it feels like there is a great divide between you right now, soldering that bond back together can carry you to the other side of this ordeal. It is also going to require some personal development on your part because your ego and pride have taken such a hit. If your boyfriend cheated on you and you want to stay together, then finding the appropriate ways to nourish your self-esteem and your confidence will be crucial in this journey back to self-acceptance and accepting your boyfriend after this big mistake that he has made.
I understand you probably wish that you could change what happened more than anything, but it is important to understand and accept that we cannot change the past. The thing we can change is the future. So you are in control of your own actions, how you handle the situation and how you pave the way to a happier future for yourself. Though you have been deeply hurt, you must remember to never give other people the power to control your smile, your sense of worth, your attitude, and your day. Don’t ever give anyone that much power over your life. If you can successfully do this, than painful situations like this one will be easier to navigate through. So if you are thinking, “My boyfriend cheated on me but I still love him and wants to make this work,” then it will be important for you to be willing to reconnect with your boyfriend on a clean slate…
So let’s explore how to repair the damage and put your relationship back together.
What to do when your boyfriend cheats on you but you want to stay together
Like I said, the process of healing a relationship after infidelity will take some time. In cheating on you, your boyfriend has shattered your trust. There is an expression that always springs to mind when I think about the importance of trust. “Trust arrives on foot, and leaves on horseback.” In other words, trust will take time to develop and solidify between two people, but it can vanish in the blink of an eye. So when you have to repair the trust between you, you have to understand that it will not happen overnight.
This is where patience and perseverance come into play. Accepting that saving your relationship will not be easy is a way to help you stay motivated even when it seems tough. If you continue to drown in disappointment and resentment, you are only setting your relationship up to fail. Good change, just like bad change, does not happen at the snap on your fingers so this journey should be viewed as a marathon and not a sprint. Though it is hard, do not lose patience and it will help you to see results.
Why did my boyfriend cheat on me: The importance of answering this question
A lot of people who are in the middle of a relationship crisis are surprised to hear what I’m about to say, but you might already know this. Many times a crisis in a relationship can actually be a huge blessing in disguise. I’m saying that you might already know this because you are willing to fight for your relationship despite the fact that your boyfriend cheated on you. You have hope for the future with this person which means that you believe in restoring the bond between you. No matter how complicated the situation might seem right now, it can be a blessing in disguise because it can serve as a powerful catalyst to steer your relationship in a new direction, therefore granting it the opportunity to become better than ever before.
The situation can be a blessing in disguise
I have worked with people who have contacted me saying, “My boyfriend cheated on me with his ex,” “My boyfriend left me for his lover,” and even “My boyfriend cheated on me with my best friend,” and I have been able to help these people restore their relationships and make them better than ever before. Sometimes the best way to realize how much something really means to you is to come face to face with the threat of losing it. As human beings we have a terrible tendency to take things for granted, and unfortunately the same concept can be applied to relationships. So even if you have found yourself thinking, “My boyfriend cheated on me, now what,” I want you to know that if you can pinpoint the reasons behind why this happened and set out on a new path with your boyfriend, then you can actually become happier than ever before.
Cheating boyfriend: Understanding the “Why”
One of the hardest questions (and also most important!) to ask yourselves is, “How did this happen?” More often than not, cheating is a symptom of a problem in the relationship, and not the problem itself. In other words, cheating is what is on the surface level when there is a deep rooted problem at hand. Cheating is often caused by something else such as lack of affection, attention, acceptance, closeness, trust, intimacy, and even self-confidence, among others. If you can identify why your boyfriend cheated, then you can develop appropriate strategies to prevent it from happening again in the future.
Though you are feeling vulnerable right now, it is important to analyze the situation and ask yourself honest questions about what things were lacking in your relationship. An easy way to do this is to think about how your relationship was when you were the happiest together, versus how it is today. What did your relationship look like in the beginning? What did both of your personal live’s look like in the beginning? Did a disconnect or as sense of monotony and predictability begin to develop in the relationship? Did your partner feel desired by you on a regular basis, both mentally and physically? Pinpointing the root cause of why your significant other turned to intimacy outside of your relationship can point you in the right direction.
How to rebuild trust in a relationship after he cheated
In addition to identifying why he cheated on you, we need to pay attention to the dynamic between you from here on out. Because tensions are high right now we need to be careful with the approach. It is very easy, dangerously easy, to hold a grudge. What your partner did has caused a deep wound in you, but you are going to have to operate as a team if you are going to overcome this.
A relationship is a two-way road, and that means that you two need to be operating as a team to find a long-term solutions together. Like anything of value in life, a relationship requires maintenance and effort and you both need to work towards a common goal together. This is what reinforces the complicity between you and makes the bond stronger. If there is only one person working towards fixing a relationship and the other person just watches and waits, it can actually start to build a bit of resentment between you.
A person who’s struggling to save a relationship alone can begin to resent the other person, especially if it feels like the other person is not willing to put forth the effort to patch things up. In addition to this, you’ve got to be very careful with avoiding being on attack mode. Yes, you are hurt and upset, but being defensive and holding on to grudges will be counterproductive. This brings us to my first tip on how to recover from cheating in a relationship.
How to forgive a cheater: Choosing to forgive and sticking to it
Many of us forget that for forgiveness to really work, it has to be a habit. I am not insinuating that you should “let your boyfriend get away with it.” I am saying that if you choose to forgive him and heal your relationship together, then you must choose forgiveness every day for it stick. This is why I am stressing the importance of not holding on to grudges. If you hold this mistake over your boyfriend’s head forever, you aren’t going to be able to save your relationship. The only thing this does is keep you perpetually stuck in a situation that is not sustainable. In order to make this work, you have to allow it to work. You have to continuously choose your forgiveness, even when negative thoughts arise – which they will, because we are all human.
After being cheated on: Believe that people can change
Following in line with my point about choosing forgiveness and not holding on to grudges, it is important to believe that people can change after making a mistake. If the roles were reversed, wouldn’t you want your partner to believe that you are capable of turning your life and decision making process around? Wouldn’t you want him to believe in you and give you the opportunity to prove to him how much you were willing to fight for this relationship?
Sometimes I work with clients who had been cheated on, and have chosen to pull the plug on the relationship without giving their significant other a chance to redeem themselves. In many of these cases the person I end up working with has come to realize that they bitterly regret not fighting for the relationship. So if you want to no how to get over an affair and how to forgive a cheater, you have to believe in him. This will help your healing process and it will also reinforce the bond between you and help you to operate as a team. Always remember that it should be both of you vs the problem; not you vs him. When your boyfriend feels supported by you even after he cheated, it can help to restore the bond between you.
My husband cheated on me: Playing the blame game will not help
After being cheated on, it is normal that tensions would be running high between you and your boyfriend or husband, so your relationship is going to be at a higher risk. This means that you might be tempted to point fingers when things are not going the way that you would like them to. This goes hand-in-hand with the point I was making above about holding on to grudges. You see, playing the blame game will only reopen the wounds and keep you stuck in the past. At this point, it is going to be of utmost importance to focus on the future instead of dwelling on the past. The more you allude to what happened or blame your partner for the situation you are in right now, the less progress you are going to make.
Another thing that sometimes happens after infidelity in a relationship is that the person who cheated tries to deflect the blame. If your boyfriend is telling me that he cheated because of something that you did or because of the way the relationship between you is, you are going to have to make sure that you dissect what is going on here. Your partner needs to take responsibility for his actions but you also both need to work on finding solutions together. In my own life, the day I realized that I am in charge of how I approach the problems I encounter, was the day I knew I could be a happier and healthier person. That was the day than I knew I could truly build a life that matters and made me happy.
Finding the positives after he cheats on you
There is no question about the fact that your boyfriends cheating has left a bad taste in your mouth. Another one of the tools I use with my clients who are struggling with a barrage of negative thoughts on a daily basis is actually quite simple. Every time you think negatively about what your partner did, following up with something positive that they offer you or the relationship. You have to make sure you remind yourself on a daily basis what you are fighting for. You can even take a piece of paper and a pen and start to write down all of the things that you love about your partner.
Make sure that you carve out quality time to spend together when you are putting the pieces back together. Plan a weekend getaway where you can start to make new positive memories. If the problem was neglect or monotony in the relationship make sure that you can start carving out time to spend together. Give yourself at least one date night each month where you can be alone and have fun together. This is going to be a period of rediscovery.
Isabella’s story: Repairing a relationship after cheating
I was working with Isabella last week. She had reached out to me because she had been cheated on by her boyfriend of six years, Mark. In her case, she found out by chance, but it was because she had a hunch. She was suspicious of his behavior and after going through the iMessages on his computer, she came across the messages between Mark and the other woman. When she approached Mark about it, he immediately confessed and came clean about his actions. In this confession, he also expressed that he had been unhappy in their relationship but wanted to find a way to work things out with Isabella.
He did not want to pull the plug on their relationship and was willing to do the work it was going to take. At first, Isabella wanted out. Her heart was broken and her trust was betrayed, and she wanted nothing to do with Mark anymore. She told me, “ He cheated on me and it was all I could see for a while. I couldn’t see past what he had done and I kept replaying images of him and the other woman in my mind. I couldn’t imagine the day that this wouldn’t haunt me and for a while, I wanted to get as far away from him as possible.” However, after a couple of months of reflection, she began to agree that the relationship had gone down hill before the cheating happened, and when he had tried to talk to her about it, she would get frustrated and brush it off.
This motivated her to give the relationship a second chance. She decided to change the tune of her relationship and started by outlining what was causing the romance and bond to dissolve. Isabella was so motivated that she found a solution to every single issue that they have been facing us a couple, including the broken trust. Today, Isabella and Mark are engaged and are both very happy to be moving the relationship forward!
How to get over being cheated on and restoring your relationship
When your relationship is faced with cheating and you have to take action in order to save it, you’ve got to zero in on what went wrong, communicate about what wasn’t working, come up with solutions together, and rekindle the flame between you.
There is no point in playing the blame game or holding on to grudges, because these will only make matters worse. It’s true that the shock and pain that a person feels when they’ve been cheated on is accompanied by a huge blow to the ego. Not only do you feel betrayed, you feel like you weren’t good enough. So if you feel like your confidence could use a boost, start with some mind clearing and energy boosting exercise like running or yoga, update your wardrobe if you want, and spend time with people that bring you joy.
This is a challenging period indeed, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or a member of my team for one on one guidance. Join The Happily Committed Project and transform your relationship before it’s too late and move forward in a dignified and meaningful way.
Together we can work on reaching your goal by providing you with a clear-cut action plan that has been tailor-made to fit your relationship, your situation, and your specific needs. As a team of dedicated love and relationship experts, we are here to guide you from every step of the way and answer all of your questions.
I wish you all the best in life and love,
Your coach when you realize “My boyfriend cheated on me”