Objective advice for people who cheated, and don’t know what to do next
As you’ve ended up here, chances are you (or someone you know) has cheated. If you’re looking for some non-judgemental advice, you’re in the right place.
It’s probably a bit of a mixed up place in your head right now, so regardless of the situation, well done for properly considering your next move. Seriously.
Why did I cheat?
Have a think for a second. Why did this happen? Cheating is often an indicator of how someone is feeling. Do you have feelings for another person? Were you bored? Are you unhappy, uncertain, curious about trying polyamory, but are unsure of how to bring it up?
All of these are reasons for straying. There are also many more. As long as you are honest with yourself and acknowledge your emotions, you’re on the right track. Yes, people are generally responsible for their own actions, but your past doesn’t make you a fundamentally bad person, and the way you choose to behave from now is a much more honest indicator of your personality.
How can I tell my partner?
When it comes to this stuff, honesty is the best policy. It’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason: because it’s usually true. Having considered your actions and what might have driven you to them, you now have the choice about whether to come clean to your partner or not. Unless you feel that doing so could put you in danger, I would encourage you to do so.
Owning up to something is difficult, there’s no getting around that, and the reaction you get might not be the one that you would wish for. Chances are, your partner could be tearful or angry or have questions.
Talking to someone impartial – a close friend, a member of staff at school or college, a parent – about your approach and the outcome you want might be a helpful starting point. Ultimately, though, this is a way to organise your thoughts and in the end it’s between you and the person who has been cheated on.
When you decide to talk about what’s happened, don’t expect things to be a quick and easy return to normal. Cheating affects trust, and that trust will need building back up. Each relationship is different, and each person involved needs different things to feel comfortable. Communicating openly about your needs and wants is a strong starting point though, and with practise can (re)build a really strong foundation.
What happens next?
What if, in the end, you break up? It’s never nice, but it will be OK. It can be a fresh start and a time to reassess what your respective wants are. Take some time to look after yourself and reacquaint yourself with who you are when you’re single. If you’re new to self-care, there are some effective (and easy!) tips here.
So, a quick take-away: be brave. Be honest. Stay safe, don’t give yourself a hard time and – however you choose to proceed – don’t drag things out. Good luck!