My Boyfriend Cheated On Me, And I Can’t Get Over It: How To Move Forward

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated May 6, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

If your boyfriend or partner has cheated on you and you feel as if you can’t get over it, know that it can be possible to move forward with time. Although being betrayed can lead to grief, choosing to lean on your support system, practice self-care, and give yourself time to decide whether you’d like to remain in the relationship or break up can be helpful. You may also wish to seek the guidance of a licensed mental health professional during this time by joining an online therapy platform or finding a therapist in your area.

Therapy can help you move past betrayal

Why do I keep thinking about my boyfriend’s infidelity?

If you have been cheated on, regardless of the situation, you may feel mixed and perhaps confusing emotions—fear, jealousy, resentment, anger, shame, or even feeling guilty yourself. You might perceive that the cheating was your fault or that a situation in your relationship caused your partner to seek a connection outside you, or you might simply be shocked that it happened because the relationship seemed to be going well.

Cheating may happen for various reasons in relationships of all kinds, whether short- or long-term, long distance or not, etc. In relationships where rules have been set about the types of physical and emotional actions that are acceptable for a partner to partake in with others, infidelity may be a sign of disrespect, dishonesty, and betrayal. 

You may ruminate over the infidelity after the fact as a way to grieve your idea of what the relationship was or could have been. You may feel conflicted about whether to stay with your partner and how to trust them after they disrespected your boundaries. You may wonder about your own gut feelings and how this experience may impact your trust in yourself.

The Gottman Institute explains that grief can be a real experience for many after discovering their partner in an affair or a secret new relationship. You might experience some or all of the following stages of grief, in any order: 

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Depression 
  • Bargaining 
  • Shock
  • Processing
  • Acceptance

It can be normal not to arrive at acceptance quickly, or to get there and then return to other stages. Giving yourself time and practicing self-care can help you cope with conflicting emotions.

What should I do after my boyfriend cheated on me?

You might consider the following healthy strategies for coping with the experience of your boyfriend or partner cheating in relationships if this is something you’ve been through.

Have an open conversation, if safe to do so

If you want to gain insight into your boyfriend's thought patterns—especially if you were hoping to stay in the relationship long-term—you may want to start an open dialogue about the situation. However, if your partner does not take responsibility for their actions, acts aggressively, blames you, yells, or refuses to converse, it may be a sign of an unhealthy or even abusive dynamic.

If you are facing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 for support. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. You can also use the online chat.

If your boyfriend or significant other is receptive to feedback, wants to repair the relationship, and expresses a desire to respect your boundaries, a conversation may be a healthy way for you to find closure or express your hurt. You might ask the following questions: 

  • Why did you decide to be unfaithful? 
  • Are you open to accepting changes in our relationship now that this has occurred? 
  • What will you do to help me gain trust in you again? 
  • How can I trust you to make healthier choices in the future? 

In the end, you may decide that breaking up with your boyfriend is healthiest due to their actions or responses. However, a conversation could help clarify that decision. If you decide to stay with your partner, couples counseling could be a valuable method of gaining professional guidance as you navigate changes in your relationship and any grief, anger, or distress you feel.  

Lean on your support system

Research indicates that positive social support systems can improve the well-being of individuals after divorce and separation. Even if you are/were not married, leaning on those you love and asking for advice throughout this experience could benefit you. 

You might try to be open with those you trust about what happened. They may express an opinion that could assist you in making a decision about the state of your relationship. If you decide to break up with your partner, your social support system could allow you time to heal and distract you with activities you enjoy. Note that it may be best to try and avoid reaching out for support from someone who is a mutual friend or close contact between you and your boyfriend or partner. 

Give yourself time to decide

It can be okay not to make a decision as soon as you hear that your boyfriend cheated on you. Although you may be hurt, there could've been love, connection, and positive memories in your relationship as well. These memories can be challenging to release, and it can be healthy to process every aspect of the relationship before deciding how to proceed.

It could help to try and take time to care for yourself. If you live with your partner, ask for space if you need it. You might choose to spend time with your family or stay with friends for a week or two until you feel ready to discuss the situation with your boyfriend. Studies suggest that taking time before you decide can be essential in the decision-making process and may help prevent regret. 

Consider not pressuring yourself. Even if you decide to leave your relationship, you don't necessarily have to do so immediately. Your significant other likely broke your trust in meaningful ways, and it can feel challenging to confront them after the fact. 

Take a break 

If you want to repair your relationship but aren't yet ready, consider taking a relationship break. During this break, you and your boyfriend may not communicate. You might decide to live separately or change the terms of your relationship. For example, you could ask your significant other to move out and let them know that your relationship may remain casual until you see healthy changes. 

If you are married, you might file for separation. If you have children or assets together, you could consider taking a trip alone for a few days or setting up a co-parenting plan that works for you both as you decide where you want to go next. 

Practice self-care

Self-care may help improve your mental health at any phase of life, especially when experiencing grief or unease after an infidelity in your relationship. 

A few ways you might practice self-compassion during this time include: 

  • Self-soothing by targeting each of your five senses with a relaxation activity 
  • Trying meditation or mindfulness
  • Spending time in nature to reflect
  • Partaking in physical activity
  • Eating healthy meals 
  • Practicing healthy sleep hygiene 
  • Taking a hot bath 
  • Journaling or writing poetry 
  • Taking a break from social media
  • Spending time with friends and family
  • Talking to a therapist 
  • Forgiving yourself for any shame you may feel 
  • Setting healthy boundaries with your partner and others in your life

Research shows that the body and mind are connected, and caring for both simultaneously throughout your life as best you can may be rewarding and effective. 

Is it healthy to stay with my partner after they cheat?

Whether you decide to stay in a relationship after cheating has occurred can be your choice. However, if you're unsure whether it is the healthiest option, you might consider reaching out for support from an individual or couples therapist. 

Additionally, consider making a pros and cons chart. You might structure it like this: 

  • Pros of breaking up with my partner
  • Cons of breaking up with my partner
  • Pros of staying with my partner
  • Cons of staying with my partner

After you've filled out each list to the best of your ability, leave it for a few days and then come back to it. Add any more points you've considered, and then read through your responses with as clear a mind as possible. If you still feel conflicted, consider bringing your list to a counselor or discussing it with someone you trust. 

How can I receive support?

There are a few ways you may receive support, including the following.

Family and friends

Talking to family, friends, and other people you're close to may be valuable to you during this time. Try to communicate your needs and be open about the situation if you feel safe doing so. If you need a safe place to stay while you decide the fate of your relationship, consider asking if you can stay with someone close to you. You might also go for a walk, get dinner, or watch movies with a best friend or family member to distract yourself.

Yourself

Although other people can be excellent support systems, you may also find support from yourself. Learning to feel comfortable alone can feel scary for many. However, you might learn more about your resilience and understanding of the situation from spending time with your thoughts. 

If you struggle with self-love, research suggests that practices like mindfulness may help increase self-compassion over time. Mindfulness may also allow you to process your thoughts while maintaining a calmer nervous system. 

Support groups 

Support groups for those who have been betrayed may exist online or in your area. Consider searching on popular social media sites or your preferred search engine.

Therapy can help you move past betrayal

Online therapy for moving past infidelity

You're not alone if you struggle to move forward after facing infidelity. Counseling can be a therapeutic and healthy choice. Many individuals experiencing infidelity, breakups, or tough decisions may feel uncomfortable leaving home or setting frequent in-person appointments. In these cases, online therapy could be the best or most convenient option. 

Online therapy allows you to meet with a professional from home via phone call, video call, or in-app messaging. Studies suggest that online counseling can be as effective as in-person therapy in many cases, so it may be worth looking into if you find this method more convenient.

If you are interested in trying internet-based treatment, consider reaching out to a counselor through an online therapy platform. Talking to a therapist could offer insight into areas you may not have previously considered when processing the infidelity. If you decide to stay in your relationship, couples therapy could help you and your partner communicate through any conflicts that arise.  

Takeaway

One reality of life and relationships is that sometimes, some people cheat. This experience can lead to a serious breach of trust, which can feel painful and may cause grief. You might choose to have an open conversation with your partner, lean on your support system, give yourself time to decide how you’d like to move forward, and practice self-care to cope with the challenging emotions you may feel. If you're interested in getting professional guidance to discuss these matters further, consider contacting a therapist to get started.

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