My Boyfriend Cheated On Me, And I Can’t Get Over It: How To Move Forward
If your boyfriend or partner has cheated on you and you feel as if you can’t get over it, please 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.
Why Do I Keep Thinking About My Boyfriend’s Infidelity?
If you have been cheated on, regardless of the situation, you may feel mixed emotions, such as fear, jealousy, resentment, anger, or shame. You might also percieve that it was your fault or that a situation in your relationship caused your partner to seek a connection outside you.
Although cheating may happen for various reasons, it is not your fault. In a relationship 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, sneakiness, 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.
The Gottman Institute explains that grief can be a real experience for many after discovering their partner in an affair or secret relationship. As you grieve, you might experience the following stages of grief:
It can be normal not to arrive at acceptance quickly. Giving yourself time and practicing self-care can help you cope with conflicting emotions.
What Should I Do After My Boyfriend Cheats On Me?
If your boyfriend or partner has cheated on you, you might consider the following healthy coping mechanisms.
Have An Open Conversation, If Safe To Do So
If you want to stay in the relationship or gain insight into your boyfriend's thought patterns, 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 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 were not married, leaning on those you love and asking for advice could benefit you.
Try to be open with those you trust about what happened. They may express a third-party 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.
Try to 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
Try to 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 show that taking time before you decide can be essential in the decision-making process and may 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.
Self-care can improve your mental health at any phase of life. It may be incredibly supportive when experiencing grief or unease after experiencing infidelity in your most significant 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, such as yoga
- Eating healthy meals
- Practicing healthy sleep hygiene
- Taking a hot bath
- Journaling or writing poetry
- 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
- Playing with your pets
Research shows that the body and mind are often connected, and caring for both simultaneously can be rewarding.
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 and friends 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 friends and family to distract 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, practices like mindfulness have been proven to increase self-compassion over time. Mindfulness may also allow you to process your thoughts while maintaining a calm nervous system.
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.
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 valuable.
Online therapy allows you to meet with a professional from home. If you struggle to get out of bed, you might try a live chat or phone call session where you don't have to show your face. You can also opt-in to video chatting sessions if you feel comfortable. Studies indicate that online counseling can be highly effective for those experiencing abuse or depression, among the other emotions you may be feeling during this difficult time.
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.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Below are some commonly asked questions related to this topic:
What do I say to my cheating boyfriend?
If you would like to remain in a relationship with your boyfriend or significant other after they have cheated on you, it can be important to express the hurt caused by their infidelity and discuss boundaries that you can put in place to ensure a healthy relationship moving forward. If you would no longer like to be in a relationship with a partner after they’ve cheated, you may only need to explain to them that the relationship is over.
How do guys act when cheating?
A few signs your significant other may be cheating on you can include:
- A lack of interest in physical intimacy with you
- Being overly protective of their phone or computer
- Spending more time away from you than usual
- Putting more effort into their appearance
Please note that these signs do not always mean your significant other is being unfaithful.
Can someone who loves you cheat on you?
There can be many reasons people cheat by having sex with someone else when in a relationship that don’t necessarily have to do with love. These can include feeling neglected by their partner, craving the attention and affirmation they feel they aren’t receiving, having a sex addiction, and struggling with deep insecurity and jealousy.
What is considered cheating in a relationship?
How common is infidelity in the United States?
What are the common signs of infidelity?
How can I cope with the pain and emotions of being cheated on?
Can a relationship survive after infidelity?
What are the legal implications of infidelity in a divorce?
Are there any support groups or counseling services available for individuals affected by infidelity?
How can I rebuild trust after infidelity?
Is seeking revenge a healthy response to infidelity?
How can infidelity impact children in a relationship?
What are some strategies for preventing infidelity in a relationship?
Should I disclose the infidelity to friends and family?
How long does it take to heal from the effects of infidelity?
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