- What do you do when your husband cheats on you? What do you do when your wife cheats on you? Your boyfriend, girlfriend, anyone you have a deep relationship who betrays you.
There is no “fix”. There is no fast solution. There is a path you can take out of that darkness, destruction, and brokenness, though.
The First Step Is Acknowledging The Relationship Is Broken
Once someone has done something that completely breaks your trust, whatever betrayal it is, from cheating to lying about important things to stealing to revealing private information, the relationship that you had is broken. That specific relationship, with that specific person, is over.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a relationship with that person… you just can’t have THAT relationship any more. You’re going to have to start over, and build a new relationship from the ground up.
The Second Step Is Placing Blame Where It Belongs
Once you understand that the relationship is broken, you can move to the next step, which is placing blame where it belongs. This probably doesn’t mean what you think, or maybe even want, it to mean. What I mean is that you need to understand, and acknowledge, that each of you is directly, and solely, responsible for your own actions. Whatever it is that they did, they chose to do. It doesn’t matter what you did, or didn’t do… what they chose to do is their responsibility.
This cuts both ways, too, though. Anything that you did, or didn’t do, is your own choice, and therefore your own responsibility. You may not want to admit this, either, but in any broken relationship, their is usually wrongdoing on both sides, though they may be in completely different ways… one person may have cheated, while the other simply didn’t share their inner thoughts and feelings, the things that matter to them, both good and bad (sometimes just because they don’t want to “burden” the other person). Over time, however, not sharing can lead to you growing apart, which can lead to the relationship being mostly empty, which can lead to the cheating. Each side is responsible for their own actions in this… not sharing doesn’t CAUSE them to cheat. They choose to do that.
The Third Step Is Giving Yourself Room (And Time)
If someone betrays you, they often (if they still have feelings for you) want you to forgive them, and try to work things out, immediately. It would be nice if it worked that way, but it doesn’t.
You need to take time for yourself. If it is your significant other, make sure that you have time away from them. That doesn’t mean you can’t see them, but make sure that you have time when you are not with them, as well.
This time is generally best taken in the evening, and it is usually best outside. You can just go for a walk, or you can go to the park and sit on a bench, or whatever and wherever you want, just as long as it’s some place that you won’t be interrupted. You need to just have time to get some mental and emotional distance from the pain. It helps most people to be outside, and especially somewhere that there is nature around them… you can let yourself get lost looking at the stars, or a tree, or flowers, or whatever… just let your eyes lose focus, and then let your mind do the same thing.
The Fourth Step Is Deciding
The fourth step is deciding whether you want to forge a new relationship with the person who betrayed you. You can’t really make this decision without a little mental distance.
If you decide you don’t want to forge a new relationship, then you are going to have to begin to separate yourself mentally and emotionally from the person. This usually is not quick or easy… even if you feel like it is, the pain is often just buried (if that’s not the case, there’s a pretty good chance that the relationship wasn’t that deep, at least on your side, to begin with). Continue to give yourself room and time, and the healing will come… you may sometimes take two steps forward and one step back, or simply fall down, but with a little room and time, you’ll recover.
If you decide that you do want a relationship with the person, you need to start over. You need to get to know each other all over again, do things together, talk to each other, and build a relationship from scratch. You are both going to have to give, and accept, a clean slate, or the damage from the broken relationship is going to interfere with the new one you are trying to build.
The Path Continues
The path doesn’t end after these four steps, no matter which decision you make. It continues forever, in whatever relationship you build next, whether that’s with the person who betrayed you or not. The path continues, with making sure that you have room for yourself being important for the rest of your life, and needing to share yourself in a relationship never goes away… the relationship can only be as deep as you let the other person inside you.
The pain from betrayal, from cheating especially, is intense… but it can be healed. Taking one step, and then another, will lead you upward and out of the pain you feel.