I Cheated On My Boyfriend And I Feel Awful. What Can I Do?

By: Mary Elizabeth Dean

Updated December 22, 2020

When one partner cheats in a relationship, both parties suffer. The cheater usually feels racked with guilt and struggles to come to terms with their actions, while the partner who has been cheated on feels betrayed by someone they trusted.

If you've cheated on your boyfriend and are currently suffering from severe guilt, this is, from one perspective, a good sign. It shows you still have an emotional connection to your partner, and you understand the implications of your actions. You may also be feeling lost and confused. You don't need to face this alone though. Acknowledging your actions and their effects are the first steps to addressing the issues at hand.

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Cheating is more common than we may think. Around 40 percent of women will cheat on their partner at some point in their lives. That includes long-term affairs and one-off incidents of cheating. No one is perfect, and mistakes happen--there are so many reasons why people cheat. For example, women may be more prone to cheating if they lack an emotional connection with their partner. Many affairs start when these women create an intimate emotional connection with another person.

Anger and frustration are other reasons for cheating. Sometimes, we don't think about the long term when we cheat, and we act impulsively; this is especially likely if drugs or alcohol are involved. Other people cheat because they feel a "high" or a rush of endorphins from feelings of lust and the thrill that accompanies a forbidden sexual encounter. If this describes your experience with cheating, therapy can help you to find healthy ways to deal with these feelings. You can learn to avoid these high-risk behaviors that can lead to cheating in the future.

Even Though I Cheated on My Boyfriend, Can Our Relationship Recover?

Cheating is sometimes a reaction to an underlying problem in the relationship. First, you need to be honest with yourself and ask yourself why you cheated. Was it boredom? Are you searching for something you don't have? Was it simply because the opportunity presented itself? Was it because you crave more than your partner can offer?


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If you feel like you still love your boyfriend and want to stay with him after you cheated, you have two options. First, you can be honest with him and tell him what happened, so he can decide on whether or not he wants to continue the relationship. Make sure you have this conversation with him in person about the fact that you cheated and make sure to respect his boundaries, asking him how much he would like to know. Having difficult conversations via text often makes matters worse. Tell him that you cheated on him, and give him the necessary details about when you cheated, making sure to respect his own boundaries. The benefit to this option is you won't be looking over your shoulder, worrying that your secret of the fact that you cheated will catch up to you at any minute. However, there's also a risk that if you tell your boyfriend that you cheated that your boyfriend may not want to be with you anymore. But if he chooses to stay with you after you cheated, your relationship could grow stronger.

Your other option, of course, is to keep your behavior a secret. There is always the risk that he could find out you cheated anyway, so you are taking a gamble that could end up hurting him more. If this happens, there's a much higher chance of the relationship coming to an end. However, sometimes telling a partner that you cheated can cause more harm than good. For example, let's say you were on a girl's night out. You drank too much and ended up cheating on him. If you feel terrible and know it was a horrible mistake, you might choose not to tell him because you feel it will hurt him unnecessarily. If you choose this option, you could likely benefit from talking to a professional and exploring why this happened, so you can prevent it from happening again.

While working with a professional, you can also get help deciding on the best course of action for your relationship and how to handle the fact that you cheated. A trained counselor can help you assess whether or not to tell him that you cheated, and if you choose to tell him that you cheated, they can help you prepare for the conversation. The thing with honesty is that, sometimes, people choose to be honest to relieve their guilt. This can be very unfair to the other person if the secret causes more hurt than healing. Again, a professional therapist can help you evaluate your motivation for coming clean about cheating.

Infidelity Could Be A Sign of a Bigger Relationship Issue - Don't Ignore It
Talk Through Relationship Struggles With A Licensed Therapist

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If you decide to tell him, your boyfriend will probably be upset, hurt, or outraged; these are all normal reactions to betrayal. Apologize to him, and let him know that you felt he deserved to know. Initially, he may be inconsolable, but soon he will likely realize that you had to be honest with him.

It is important to know that some people will find cheating emotionally crippling. Confessing to infidelity could well be the end of your relationship, but at least you will not have the burden of guilt. Additionally, your boyfriend can decide if he wants to risk being with you and getting hurt again, so your relationship will be based on honesty. Depending on the situation and your relationship, there's a chance your partner will forgive you for cheating. They may be very understanding of your predicament, especially if they've experienced similar feelings in the past.

If you and your partner are willing to work on your relationship after you cheated, relationship counseling can be very helpful as you try to rebuild your partnership. If you cheated on your boyfriend, you may find that individual counseling is extremely beneficial as well.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to such a non-black and white action like cheating. The action of cheating usually goes much deeper than the action itself and these reasons for cheating are unique to each individual, situation, and relationship. If your mind is constantly repeating “I cheated on my boyfriend, I cheated on my boyfriend, I cheated on my boyfriend…” it can be very difficult to bear alone, and that is when the help of a licensed relationship expert can help. While they will not tell you what to do, they can help you figure out and navigate a complex situation of cheating  and help you find the best course of action that suits your individual wants and needs.

It is important to explore why you cheated and how to prevent this behavior from happening again. Many women report that low self-esteem led them to cheat, and therapy can help with that. Sex can make a woman feel powerful, and the attention can be both gratifying and intoxicating. If you believe you're cheating for this reason, then individual counseling can help you find other ways to build your self-esteem. If, on the other hand, you feel you are unsatisfied in your relationship and that's why you cheated, counseling can help you process what is missing, so you can work on improving your relationship. You can either ask your boyfriend to help you meet those needs or find ways to meet them on your own.

Seeking Help

BetterHelp is a great platform for both couples and individual counseling. You'll be matched with a therapist who is trained in working with infidelity, trust, and relationships, and you can get started right away as long as you have an internet connection.

All you need is a smart phone, a tablet, or a computer, and you can communicate with your therapist in a variety of ways, including phone, video, live chat, and messaging. Regardless of what happens with your relationship, talking to a counselor will help you move forward. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors who have helped people in similar situations.

Counselor Reviews

"A year ago I was experiencing difficulties in my relationship, which highly affected my psychological state and interfered with my work. At one point, I decided to try BetterHelp.com. My counselor Dr. Brewer helped me to see some things I couldn't on my own and encouraged me to prioritize myself. It was a huge help for me at that point, which led to the decisions I am happy about."

"Stephanie is a gem! She's very thoughtful, thorough, honest, insightful but most of all helpful. This is coming from a person that never wanted to do counseling and just "knew" I didn't need it. She's been key in helping my wife and I find our better place. She made us grow as a couple and individually. Thanks Steph!"

Conclusion

If you cheated on your boyfriend, all hope is not lost. There are reasons why you cheated, and working with someone who understands these feelings can make things better. There are healthy ways to handle any relationship problem, including infidelity, whether your boyfriend cheated or you did. With the right help and encouragement from a counselor, you can find a way to make amends and move forward and have a more fulfilling love life. Take the first step.


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