"I cheated on my boyfriend." This phrase may be something you'd never think would apply to you. Or, perhaps you suspected this mistake would happen for a while. Whatever the case, if it's happened, you may find yourself feeling a myriad of emotions.
You might be at a point where you have to decide what to do next. Do you admit it or keep it a secret? Do you stay and try to repair the relationship with methods like online therapy or move on to a new love? This guide explores some things to consider as you move forward.
Deciding What To Do After Cheating
In a closed relationship where you've agreed to exclusivity, cheating on your boyfriend can be significant and have consequences. Your next steps likely depend on the situation. Does your partner know about the incident? If they don't, have you considered whether you'll discuss it with them?
Honesty increases the chances of your relationship's survival. If you want to continue the relationship, being truthful about your actions is likely the best course. Yes, it may end the relationship, but if you're honest and remorseful, your partner might be willing to work with you to save it.
However, it's also possible that you don't want to save the relationship. Perhaps you cheated because you weren't sure how else to end things.
If you need help deciding what to do, whether you'd like to be honest, or if you'd like to save the relationship, speaking with a therapist might help. With online therapy, you can talk with a professional via video, phone, or messaging and work through this challenging time. It's as effective as in-person therapy, and an outside opinion can help you better explore the situation.
Finding The Reason
While the encounter might have meant nothing, once you've cheated, you can't take back that it happened. Why do guys cheat, to start with? And there's usually a reason that things like this happen. It could be anything, from a reaction to changing attraction levels in your relationship to seeking revenge for past emotional pain. Or it might be related to things like impulsivity or low self-esteem unrelated to your partner.
It can help to explore why you cheated before deciding how to handle the situation. Here are more potential causes:
- Running away from problems
- Long-distance relationship
- Social media/the internet
- Lack of respect or attention
- Growing apart/increased space
- Pornography addiction
- A reaction to prior infidelity
- Insecurity/feeling alone
- Feeling unappreciated
- Body image/aging issues
If you tell your boyfriend about the incident of cheating, they might ask why it happened, and being able to explain could help the discussion. Speaking about this with a therapist could help if you can't identify a reason. In addition, a therapist can help you explore subconscious thoughts and help rule out or identify mental health issues that might have contributed to the incident. Therapy can also help you process any guilt or shame you may feel after the incident.
In addition to telling your boyfriend the reason, knowing can help prevent something like this from happening again. This is another way working with a therapist can be helpful after cheating on your partner.
Do You Tell Your Partner Or Keep It Secret?
If you decide to tell your partner but cannot bring yourself to do it, revealing the truth in a therapy setting could help. You could ask your therapist if your partner can attend a session and request their help finding the truth. Or, you could engage in relationship counseling and use this as a safe place to explore what happened.
Repairing The Relationship
After revealing that you cheated, you and your boyfriend can begin to repair the relationship if they decide to continue it. However, infidelity can feel intensely upsetting to your partner, and a simple apology might not be enough to mend things. Working with a licensed relationship counselor might help you understand how to proceed, with insight into how to show your care and regain your partner's trust.
You can skip professional help, but you'll likely still need to navigate trust issues and complicated emotions. Your partner might also need time to decide if they want to continue the relationship, and giving them this space might be integral to saving it.
Research suggests that to move past a breach of trust, including cheating, partners may progress through stages including*:
- Knowing the details
- Releasing the anger
- Showing commitment
- Rebuilding trust
- Rebuilding the relationship
*Mental health research is constantly evolving, so older sources may contain information or theories that have been reevaluated since their original publication date.
Moving past cheating is usually a delicate process, whether working alone or with a relationship counselor, but these steps might help. For example, you could start by allowing your partner to ask as many questions as they'd like about the details of the incident to address "knowing the details."
Then, according to the steps above, you might allow your partner to express their emotions, which could include shock, anger, confusion, disappointment, and a loss of control. They might want to be alone during this time, and you may work on showing commitment by giving them what they need.
From there, it might be time to navigate rebuilding trust and the relationship. This entire process will likely look different from relationship to relationship. Suggesting a relationship counselor might be appropriate if you need help approaching the process.
Read below for reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
"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."
If your partner is willing, it's often possible to overcome an incident of cheating with caution and sensitivity. And you can work to address the reason behind the event personally to reduce the risk of it happening again.
A licensed therapist or relationship counselor can be helpful regardless of how you choose to proceed. And BetterHelp can match you with a professional based on your needs and preferences so that you have someone to talk to. In addition, sessions are easy to schedule, and you can use in-app messaging to reach out to your therapist whenever you need, and they will respond as soon as they can.
If you choose to pursue couples counseling, this online format of BetterHelp can make it easier to arrange sessions that work for both of your schedules. And you can enjoy the benefits of therapy from the comfort of your home.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I cheat on my boyfriend?
If you cheated on your boyfriend, you may be feeling distressed and confused about how to move forward. If you want to repair your relationship and stay with your boyfriend, the best step to take may be to tell him what you did. This can be done in a couple’s therapy session, which may make the process go more smoothly.
Why do I cheat when I love my boyfriend?
If you’re wondering why you cheated even though you love your boyfriend, it may be worth it to do some reflection on what caused you to cheat. Journalling about potential patterns or inner beliefs may bring some clarity, and speaking with a therapist may also allow you to better understand your feelings and behaviors around this issue.
Do you love a person if you cheat on them?
It is possible to love someone and still cheat on them. Cheating can happen for many reasons, and sometimes people have their own issues with impulsivity, sex addiction, self-esteem issues, unhealed trauma, or other personal problems that can lead to cheating.
Why did I just cheat on my boyfriend?
Studies show that the most common reasons for cheating include anger, self-esteem problems, lack of commitment, need for variety, lack of love, neglect, sexual desire, and circumstance. If you want to better understand your feelings and behaviors and why you cheated, speaking with a licensed therapist may be able to help you gain clarity.
Should I tell my boyfriend that I cheated on him?
Though you may feel tempted to spare your boyfriend’s feelings after cheating, it’s important to consider how that will affect the relationship in the long run. If you are interested in salvaging your relationship and staying with your partner, it may be better to tell your boyfriend that you cheated and work through the situation together.
How do I stop feeling guilty about cheating on my boyfriend?
It’s normal to feel guilt and shame after cheating on a partner. You may regret your actions and feel sad that you hurt someone that you love. If you need help working through the complicated emotions that come with infidelity, you may benefit from speaking with a mental health professional.
How to get past cheating?
Cheating can be a very difficult situation to accept and move on from in a relationship. However, if you and your partner want to rebuild after infidelity, it may be useful to focus on forgiveness, open communication, and time devoted to healing the issues that may have led to infidelity.
Why do happy couples cheat?
Why people cheat varies greatly and differs from individual to individual. However, some common reasons that people are unfaithful include unmet needs in their relationship, self-esteem problems, and a need for variety. Sometimes, couples who appear to be happy have underlying issues that contribute to cheating. Discussing these issues with a therapist may be a good way to resolve them.
What is the main cause of cheating?
There are several common causes of cheating, including anger or “revenge” cheating, self-esteem problems, lack of commitment, need for variety, lack of love, neglect, sexual desire, and circumstance.
How do you apologize for cheating?
If you want to apologize to your partner for cheating, it may be beneficial to do so in a space that feels safe and neutral. For example, if you cheated on your partner in your home, it may be better to apologize for cheating in a neutral, public place like a park. You may also want to write a letter so that you are able to tell your partner exactly what you want to say, as having the conversation without a letter may lead to emotions clouding your intended apology. Additionally, it’s important to take full responsibility and respect your partner’s needs following the apology. They may need space away from you, and you may have to accept that they will be angry with you for some time. Apologizing for cheating in a safe space, like therapy, may also make the process go more smoothly.
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