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  • Ashley Hudson LMFT

How to Move On After Being Cheated On

Updated: Dec 11, 2021


Heart breaking after being cheated on

It’s more common than you think… being cheated on. If you were to ask some of your friends or family members, there is a high chance that one, if not more, experienced being cheated on. Someone cheating on you feels earth shattering and incredibly painful. To find out someone you care about breaks your trust and disrespects the commitment both of you created is heartbreaking. In this article, I go over how to reduce the spiraling thoughts of being cheated on. Then, I dive deeper into how the action of cheating affects you psychologically and what are some things to think about when deciding to stay or go in the relationship. Lastly, I unpack 10 ways you can move forward from being cheated on and feel being happy again. Moving on is possible whether that means repairing the relationship or being alone finding new meaning.


How To Stop Thinking About Being Cheated On


One of the top reasons why individuals seek therapy after being cheated on is that they can’t stop thinking about why their partner cheated. Understanding the possible motives behind the cheating can help ease some of the overthinking you might be experiencing. According to this recent study, there are eight key reasons why people are cheated on.


Why People Cheat?


Anger

People who are angry with their partner for unresolved challenges, unmet needs, unreciprocated efforts, or their partner is physically or emotionally not present in their relationship. In addition, a partner could be seeking retribution in response to flirting behavior, emotional infidelity, or they were cheated on as well.

Low Self Esteem

People who show emotional immaturity and looking to boost their self-esteem or confidence by popularity or ranking.

Lack of Love

People who feel they have no emotional intimacy in their relationship, and they are looking elsewhere to be satisfied emotionally and intellectually.

Low Commitment Level

People who have a fear of commitment, demonstrate a low commitment level in the beginning of the relationship, or someone having a difficult time ending the relationship and looking for a way out.

A Need for Variety

People who may be seeking exhilaration, passion, or excitement that was initially there in the beginning of the relationship.

Neglect

People feeling neglected by their partner such as not getting their emotional nor sexual needs met, feeling unattended to, experiencing rejection, or feeling unappreciated.

Sexual Desire

People who are feeling sexually unsatisfied and desiring to try something new.

Situational or Based on Circumstances

People who were intoxicated or not thinking clearly during time of the cheating.


Cheating is complex and difficult to understand. There could be multiple factors as to why someone decides to cheat on their partner. Examining these eight motivations could ease some of the overthinking as to WHY your partner decided to cheat. In addition, examining the why can help decrease the tendency to blame yourself thus beginning the journey of healing.


How Being Cheated On Affects You


The shock, the denial, the sick feeling in your stomach, and the intense feelings you can’t put to words is just the start of the impact of being cheated on. One of the feelings you may be experiencing after being cheated on is anger. You might be reviewing in your head everything you contributed to the relationship, how much emotional investment you put into it, and the sacrifices you made due to the relationship. Experiencing anger and unfairness are common feelings that individuals have after finding out. In addition, while going through the recovery process of being cheated on, the betrayal and broken trust changes you and affects future relationships. Here are some possible ways being cheated on can affect you and your outlook on relationships.

  • Being cheated on can make you question your personality characteristics, values, beliefs, and outlook on the world.

  • Being cheated on can cause you to feel scared about the idea of being single and alone.

  • Being cheated on can trigger anxiety or extreme caution when meeting new people.

  • Being cheated on can cause you to internalize the whole cheating situation as “it’s all my fault.”


Deciding To Stay Or Go


After having time to process the initial shock of being cheated on, the next step would be to figure out whether you would like to stay in the relationship or leave. It’s important when making this decision to try and focus on what motivated your partner to cheat instead of what they did exactly. Once you have a good assessment of what motivated them, then you can decide whether the relationship is worth fighting for. In addition, another important component to deciding to stay or leave is evaluating if your partner is genuinely sorry, demonstrating high motivation to restore, and commitment to work on repairing the relationship. No matter which road you take, it will be work. If you decide to stay, it will take work and effort to regain trust and rebuild the relationship. If you decide to go, it will take effort to process the impact of being cheated on and work to move forward from the pain.


Staying Together After Being Cheated On


Staying together after being cheated on is possible. Relationships can mature and become more intimate after the fact. If you decide to stay and work on repairing the relationship, the number one strategy is to have open and honest communication. Being specific and direct on what you need in the relationship to feel safe is crucial. In addition, it’s important to know that forgiveness is a journey that can take determination. Allowing trust to be earned is a big hurdle to get through once you agree to restore the broken trust.


How To Move On From Being Cheated On

Man is moving on from being cheated on

Whether you settled on repairing or ending the relationship, now you begin the real work of healing yourself. Here are 10 steps you can take to restore and sooth the pain after being cheated on.


1. Have Realistic Expectations

You can’t snap your fingers or wave your magic wand for the painful feelings to go away. The relationship meant something to you. You invested a significant amount of emotional energy and feelings into the relationship. The expectations are it’s going to suck going through this and it’s going to be painful. There is no simple fix. It will take effort and work from your end to get through this. Start by having realistic expectations and understand that this isn’t going to be quick and easy.


2. Allow Yourself To Feel

The day is full of responsibilities, distractions, chores, work, school, etc. Most people might not have time to actually feel the burden and the load of what being cheated on has produced. It would be helpful to schedule time during the day to really feel all your emotions. Allow yourself to open those flood gates and cry it out if that feels good to you. Having an allotted time to be authentic and real is fundamental in moving on.


3. Leave The Dramatics For The Actors

With anger comes thoughts of wanting the other person to feel the pain and hurt that you feel right now. Some people craft up ways to make the other person jealous or get back by cheating on them as well. Retribution in whatever form will only make the situation worse. The painful emotions and aftermath do not go away because you sought revenge. As tempting as it might be, leave the drama and spectacle for the movies and don’t partake.


4. Take A Break From Social Media

Social media provides endless opportunities to be triggered. Looking through photos, posts, or updates can remind you of the past and keep you stuck in the pain and self-doubt. It’s not helpful to be consistently checking your ex’s Facebook page or Instagram account. As hard as this sounds, taking a break from social media can have some significant benefits. You have the time to invest in yourself, physically communicate with others, and be more in tune with your surroundings.


5. Get Support and Ask For Help From Trusted People

When you are down in the dumps, it might seem like more effort to reach out to others and ask for support. However, being around people you trust and feel safe with can help the healing process. Often others feel alone in their pain and unmotivated to be around others. It’s important to balance the time you are seeking solitude with being around others who can emotionally support you.


6. No Updates About Your Ex’s Life

Be direct and tell your friends and family to not update you on what your ex is up too. Give yourself space to process the pain and betrayal. By doing that, it’s important for your family and friends to respect that space away by not telling you of your ex’s tweets, photo posts, or snapchats.


7. Avoid Generalizations

Being cheated on can bring about extreme thoughts that could entail generalizing. Do these thoughts sound familiar? “I am never going to find a good person.” “I will be alone for the rest of my life.” “I can’t trust anyone anymore.” The backlash of the betrayal can make you want to instinctively protect yourself. By doing that, we naturally want to generalize and be vigilant with everyone so we can never be disappointed again. Not every potential partner is a cheater. Having generalizations will only hinder you from being open minded and finding that future lifetime companion. Instead, replace those thoughts with ones that are more accurate such as, “There are plenty of good people out there and it might take a little time to find the person I am looking for.” “I am okay with being single and I am not alone.” “I am having a hard time trusting others at the moment.”


8. Learn The Red Flags

Seeking a professional can be incredibly beneficial in helping you reflect on the relationship. Talking to a therapist can be useful in bringing more awareness of relational patterns and behaviors. In addition, learning the red flags can help set you up for success in the future. Identifying qualities and traits that are congruent with your needs in a relationship will make it that much easier moving forward and having healthy future relationships.


9. Everyone’s Timeline Is Different

It is easy for us to compare our lives with other people. You might be wondering how someone else moved on so quickly or how come that couple appears to have it all together. Every person processes their emotions, grief, and betrayal differently. Putting expectations on yourself to move on quicker or “you should be over this already,” only sets you up for failure. It’s important to give yourself some grace and remind yourself that everyone’s timeline is different on healing after being cheated on.


10. Your Partner’s Actions Are Theirs

Assessing the relationship by figuring out the reasons why and pointing out possible red flags does not mean you are at fault. For whatever reason your partner decided to cheat on you, those actions are for them to take responsibility for and deal with. Internalizing your ex’s actions as your own does not help your partner learn nor does it help you move forward. It’s central to reflect on each relationship and improve on how you can be a better partner and have healthier relationships. However, taking on other’s actions as your own clouds the process to heal and move on.


You Can Be Happy Again After Being Cheated On


Getting cheated on by someone you care about can shake your emotional system, daily routine, and cause a huge alteration in relationships. After doing these 10 steps, take time for yourself by building new meaning in your life.


Ask yourself this, “who are you outside of the relationship?”


You can take time and space to find yourself again. You can be happy again by spending more time with your friends, get more involved with your community, reignite your passions, focus on activities that are enjoyable and fun, and perform tasks that you are strong at. In addition, building new meaning and working on yourself will only help you and your future relationships to come.


As a therapist in Orange County, CA I help young adults and teenagers examine, process, and move forward from being cheated on. Typically, young adults and teenagers who are struggling with feeling depressed, grief, and anxious with meeting new people and dating again. Therapy is a great avenue to take when feeling stuck and lost on what to do after being cheated on. Schedule a free phone consultation today.

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