How To Navigate Your Feelings About Being Cheated On

For most people, being cheated on is one of the worst things that can possibly happen to them. Cheating isn't just about your partner sleeping with someone who isn't you; it's a level of betrayal that many relationships don't bounce back from. Once that trust and faith in your partner remaining faithful to you are gone, it's not likely to ever fully return.

Because cheating can be so traumatic, it can cause waves of emotions that you may not have felt before like vengeance, self-blame, and being afraid your partner will do it again (via PsychCentral). All of which are very normal under the circumstances. "One of the most important things is to validate your emotions of sadness and fear," licensed marriage and family therapist Shane Birkel tells MindBodyGreen. "When you are cheated on, it is a serious betrayal and trauma. There is nothing wrong with you if you feel really sad and overwhelmed."

There's no easy way to get over these feelings. In fact, some people never do. Instead, they move forward with the wounds that, while they may never fully heal, will become less painful with time. Since this can be the case for some people, it's important to focus on the steps you need to take immediately after finding out the truth.

Don't blame yourself

When someone cheats, it doesn't just flood us with emotions but also makes us ask questions about the cheating, yourself, and how you may have contributed to it. You might find yourself going down a rabbit hole wondering why you're not good enough, what you've done to push them into the arms of another, what things you could have done differently, or why they didn't tell you they were unsatisfied with the relationship. But you can't do this to yourself because it's actually not about you.

"The truth is, we can always be better at relationships," licensed social worker and therapist Shavonda Johnson tells PopSugar. "Having consistent areas of improvement does not mean that someone has the right to cheat. I once heard a quote that says, 'The way people choose to mishandle you often has more to do with them and less to do with you.' And often that is true. People's behaviors can have a negative impact on us, but that doesn't mean that we provoked them to do so, which means that we are not to blame."

Why people cheat is a complicated question to answer. Although being unhappy in a relationship or wanting to have sex with someone else are contributing factors, why someone steps outside their relationship and commits the ultimate betrayal is far more complex. It can come from someone having low self-esteem or acting out because of personal or professional issues — or even the inherent need to be selfish (via Psychology Today). None of these things are about you, nor will they ever be. This is something you need to not only take to heart but also remind yourself of over and over again.

Allow yourself to feel all the feelings

You can't properly heal from a traumatic event like being cheated on without giving yourself the opportunity to feel all the feelings that come with it. Lean into every emotion that arises. Experience them; get down and dirty in them; and even wallow in them. Such a betrayal is, in many ways, a loss — the loss of trust, the loss of respect, and sometimes the loss of the relationship. With loss comes grief, which involves the grieving process (via YourTango). "You don't want to make an impulsive decision out of anger and hurt that you may regret later on," licensed marriage and family counselor Melissa Divaris Thompson tells Well + Good. "Take the time that you need to move through the shock and initial gathering of information. Time does not heal all wounds; however, it will give you some perspective."

With each passing day, you'll be a little stronger and will navigate your feelings in a healthier way. While you may not initially realize it, even a month or two down the road, you'll see how far you've come because you allowed yourself to sit with your feelings instead of running from them. Whether you chose to talk to friends and family about it or a therapist, it's essential to know that every time you spoke about the infidelity and faced reality, you were learning to, albeit begrudgingly, accept it. You may never fully heal from the heartbreak and humiliation of being cheated on, but if you can at least, in time, reach acceptance, then you've made huge strides. Be proud of yourself for each baby step you make toward getting on the other side of the betrayal.