I Cheated On My Boyfriend: Now What?

By Robert Porter|Updated August 2, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Dr. Sonya Bruner, PsyD

'I cheated on my boyfriend.' Maybe this phrase is something you thought you'd never thought you'd hear yourself utter. Or, maybe you suspected this mistake would happen from the very beginning. Whatever the case, now that it's happened, you're probably feeling a myriad of emotions. Shame, guilt, sadness, anger, numb, fill in the blank. Now you're a point where you have to decide what to do next. Do you admit the outcome of you've done or keep it a secret? Do you stay and try to repair the relationship with online therapy or do you instead move on to a new love? Here are some things to consider as you make the difficult choices that follow infidelity of any kind.

It's Important To Be Honest With Yourself And Your Partner After Infidelity

Cheating on someone is significant and it certainly has consequences. If you're wondering what to do next, that depends on the situation. Does your boyfriend know about the infidelity? If he doesn't, you're going to have to think about owning up to your mistakes. You also may be wondering, is he cheating? Are we both doing it to each other?

If you want to continue the relationship, it's important to be truthful about your actions. The potential is there for your infidelity to ruin the relationship, but you cannot go back and change what has happened. If you're honest and remorseful, your boyfriend might be willing to work with you to save the relationship. You might not want to save the relationship, though. It's also possible you cheated on your boyfriend because you wanted out, but you were too scared to break-up with him.

You Cheated for a Reason

No matter how often you tell yourself it meant nothing, you're still left with the fact that you cheated. These things don't happen without a cause. There are many reasons why people choose to be unfaithful. The reason could be that you don't find your boyfriend very attractive anymore. Or maybe you retaliated as a form of revenge for some type of emotional pain your boyfriend caused.

It might not have anything to do with your partner at all. If you don't feel good about yourself, you might not feel like you deserve a happy relationship. Low self-esteem and feeling worthless are often a factor in cheating since the rush of doing so can help you feel better about yourself-but it only temporarily solves your feelings of being unloved or undeserving of a partnership.

Before you make any major decisions on how to move forward, you need to get to the root cause of why you were unfaithful in the first place. Did any of the following play a part?

  • Running away from problems
  • Long-distance relationship
  • Social media/the internet
  • Boredom
  • Lack of respect or attention
  • Growing apart/increased space
  • Pornography addiction
  • A reaction to prior infidelity
  • Abuse
  • Insecurity/feeling alone
  • Feeling unappreciated
  • Body image/aging issues

Once you address the underlying reason for cheating, within yourself and with your partner, you'll be ready to move toward a solution. It can be tough to confront your reasons for cheating on your boyfriend. Even just saying "I cheated on my boyfriend" might turn your stomach if you feel remorseful or pathetic for what you did. Just know that it's important to confront the truth so that you can address the issues that lead you down this path.

Do You Tell Your Boyfriend or Keep It Secret?

This is one of the most common questions someone asks after cheating. It's probably tempting to hide your affair if you want to stay with your boyfriend. It's understandable if you don't want to face his anger and hurt. Your friends might even tell you it's best not to say anything. The reality is that communication is the foundation of a relationship and folks who choose to hide their affairs face harsher consequences than those who are honest about them.

If you want to have an honest relationship, infidelity is too big to hide. Keeping such a significant secret is painful and will make you feel guilty. You would have to be careful about everything you said. The lies would eventually eat away and destroy your relationship. It's also not right to be untruthful with someone you love. You need to own up to what has happened, and telling your boyfriend is one of the first steps, even if it's scary.

Repairing the Relationship Won't Be Easy

Once you do reveal your infidelity, the real work can be done. Don't expect this to be easy. Infidelity can feel like a gunshot to him. As the shooter, you have a lot of damage to repair. If your boyfriend chooses to stay, saying the words 'I'm sorry' isn't likely enough to get back to the relationship you once had.

You'll have to show your boyfriend how much you care for him over and over until he feels comfortable trusting you again. You'll have to deal with the natural suspicions he might have after your affair. You'll also probably need to give him quite a bit of space directly after telling him so that he has the opportunity to process the information. It will take time, patience, and effort. However, if your relationship is extremely important to you, your hard work will be worth the effort.

Research suggests that to move past any form of breach of trust, including cheating, a couple must progress through each of the following stages:

  • Knowing the details
  • Releasing the anger
  • Showing commitment
  • Rebuilding trust
  • Rebuilding the relationship

The following tips can help you move past infidelity.

Explain it all. Your significant other might want to know all the details. That is normal and necessary. Being completely transparent will help your boyfriend feel more comfortable moving forward with the relationship should he choose. He may even want to go through your phone and text conversations between you and your affair partner, which can make you feel ashamed and embarrassed. However, letting your partner know all the details of what happened is the first step towards rebuilding trust in the relationship. 

Understand your boyfriend will have a wide range of feelings of his own. He may no longer feel unique, respected, or stable. He might be angry, disappointed, shocked, confused, or emotionally out of control due to feeling betrayed. Walking away or distancing himself might be part of his way of handling the betrayal. He will need healthy ways to release these negative feelings. As the offending party, it is your responsibility to make sure you are there in his world as a consistent supporter.

Commit to rebuilding trust and take it one day at a time. Ask your partner what it will take to earn his trust again. Have him make a list of things that will allow him to move past the betrayal and get back to a stronger place.

It's Important To Be Honest With Yourself And Your Partner After Infidelity

Deciding to forgive and be forgiven. This might not seem like a big deal, but the act of giving and accepting forgiveness is needed for the relationship to move on. A relationship cannot continue if one party is constantly resentful or frustrated towards the other party. There needs to be a decisive moment between both partners to move on and let it go.

Keep your promises moving forward. Be consistent. Do what you say you're going to do. Don't keep secrets. Don't do things that might hurt your boyfriend or cause further mistrust.

Don't rush-focus on consistency. Things may never be the same. But even if you do rebuild your relationship, the process can't be rushed. Instead of trying to 'jump back in,' focus on being consistent in terms of your actions and behavior instead.

Set long-term goals for yourself and your relationship. Fixing your eyes toward the future and a new beginning is one of the best ways to forgive yourself for cheating on your boyfriend and in turn be forgiven. Ask yourself if you could see eventually being this person's wife or long-term partner. As bad as the situation is, it could lead to a fresh start for you both.

Your Boyfriend Has to Be Willing

Staying together is a choice you both have to make. None of the above matters if your boyfriend isn't as committed as you are to making it work. If your boyfriend isn't willing to put your affair in the past, you might have no choice but to move on. Don't beg or try to force him. You have to understand that it is up to him to decide whether you can be forgiven and whether the relationship can move forward.

You Bring Your Problems with You

If you decide or are forced to leave your boyfriend, your problems won't be over. You still have to deal with the issues that caused you to cheat in the first place. Otherwise, you'll carry the same behaviors into your new relationship. It's going to be very important to work on becoming a better and more stable individual before entering into a new relationship. This should help you avoid the pitfalls of action that you fell into before.

Can Anyone Help Me?

No matter how bad you might feel about yourself after cheating, you can overcome those feelings of being hopeless, empty, invisible, and lonely. You are not helpless; you can change your thoughts and behavior. Eventually, you can have a happy relationship with your boyfriend or with a new love. A counselor can help you explore and resolve the issues that got you to this point in the first place. Reaching out to an online counselor at BetterHelp can put you on a path that will lead to happier relationships in the future.

If you want to try to work on things with your boyfriend, you can also receive couples counseling. This is possible without even leaving your home. You can enjoy professional counseling that will improve your relationship significantly. It's discreet and will give you the results you're looking for when you're able to commit to the process. Read below for reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"Frankie is a great therapist. She is very responsive, her advice is always simple and straight forward, yet well-thought out too. She is currently helping me with infidelity, marriage, separation, divorce, and much more and her kind sincerity always helps me to move forward with confidence in my life."

"Dr. Murphy has been very helpful in identifying issues and behaviors that led me to withdraw from my relationships and now she is helping me to repair them."

Conclusion

Cheating on your boyfriend doesn't necessarily have to be the end of your relationship. It's possible to overcome the personal problems that have been holding you back in life. Working together with a dedicated counselor will allow you to become the person you want to be so you can have a happier future. Take the first step today.

 

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