The ultimate betrayal in any couple’s relationship is cheating. This act alone is enough to shake the foundation of any relationship to the very core, but what happens next in yours is ultimately up to you. If your partner has cheated, this can be a very painful time for you.
There’s no one right or wrong answer for your particular set of circumstances. It is not one size fits all. So don’t rush into any decisions just yet. What you need to do right now is step back, take a deep breath, and -as calmly as possible- examine the situation to determine your next move.
First off, do not blame yourself for this act of betrayal. Whether it’s a man cheating on a woman or a woman cheating on a man, the partner who has been cheated on needs to get past the “what-did-I-do-to-deserve-this?” phase and accept that the fault lies with the partner perpetrating the act, not them.
You can spend weeks, months, or years trying to figure out what went wrong and beating yourself up, but the fact remains there’s something wrong with him and his inner self, and not something wrong with you. You’re understandably devastated. Now’s the time to do some serious soul searching to determine whether or not you’ll ever truly be able to forgive his betrayal.
Some people can and others can’t, but remember: You’re going to have to live with this for the rest of your lives. Assuming you can, this doesn’t mean you’ll likely ever forget he cheated on you. It could take years or decades to reestablish trust, and it may never happen. You need to be realistic about this.
If it’s going to eat you alive, you run the risk of becoming paranoid and neurotic, which is only going to damage your relationship even further and destroy your emotional health. Only you know yourself well enough to determine whether you’re capable of this kind of forgiveness. Counseling may be in order even if you decide not to try to work it out.
Your self-esteem, pride, and ego are all involved here, and the hurt and anger you’re experiencing can throw you into a tailspin that will surely lead to depression. Rather than let this destroy you, seek professional help. If you do decide you can forgive the fact he cheated on you, the two of you need to run, not walk, to the nearest family counseling facility. This will give you both the opportunity to explore what happened and whether your relationship can be salvaged.
You may also want to consider having him go to counseling by himself so he can sort through why he cheated. If you truly love each other, then with enough work, patience, and understanding you may be able to get through this. Remember that two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s doubtful that “payback” would make you feel better, anyway.
Also, if you’re going to try to work this out, be careful who you confide in. Friends and family aren’t likely to be nearly as forgiving of him. Next, if he cheated once…well, you know the rest. If you don’t stay, don’t allow this to carry over into your next relationship. Baggage like this can ruin your chances for future happiness.