My girlfriend cheated on me.
It's something no one should ever have to say, and it's the worst thing you can imagine, . Your wife, your girlfriend, your partner has betrayed you in the most humiliating and trust-shattering way.
This is one of the most difficult moments of your life, and there’s one huge question staring at you: what do I do now?
You’re at your most vulnerable, but still, in this situation, it can be hard to go to family or friends for advice. And while there are thousands of articles out there for women when their partner cheats, it’s harder for men to readily find the same advice.
Now, you're probably asking yourself one of these:
- My girlfriend cheated on me but I still love her.
- My girlfriend cheated on me how do I get over it?
- My girlfriend cheated on me and wants me back... should I take her back?
And that's why below, I put together a step-by-step guide to helping you answer those questions and helping you determine what you should do when your partner cheats on you.
Signs You Girlfriend Cheated: Be Sure You Know
Maybe you already know she cheated on you... but if you're even slightly unsure, be sure you know the signs your girlfriend is cheating.
- She’s talking way too much to someone
- She’s become obsessed with her privacy
- She’s suddenly very jealous and suspicious
- She’s looking for reasons to complain/fight
- She’s developing a new personality
To see a full list of signs she's cheating, check out this post.
So She Cheated On You... Here's What To Do
My girlfriend cheated on me, and it sucks... but here's what to do:
1. Don’t Rush to a Decision
The biggest decision in front of you is whether this relationship is worth saving, but in the moment, you are likely too overwhelmed by the shock and hurt to make that choice immediately.
Some people respond to being cheated on by clinging to what they have and others want to kick the person out of the house and never see them again. Both are valid choices (along with several others, as we’ll discuss below), but right now, your first gut instinct isn’t necessarily the one to go with.
In order to make sure you’re thinking as clearly as possible, demand space from your partner and give yourself time to calm down and think. This decision is yours to make, so don’t let your girlfriend try to sway you.
Try to get away from the situation and do a few things that will allow you to clear your head as much as possible:
- Go to a few movies
- Go cheer on your family team
- Get to the gym
- Get out into nature for a bit with some fishing or hiking
- Spend some time away with family
Whatever you do to help remove yourself from the situation, insist upon no contact from your partner at the same time—for a day, a week, however long it takes. Turn your phone off if you have to. It’s important that you give yourself the time to breathe and think.
2. Get Advice, but Remember: The Decision Is Up to You
Do you know someone who’s been through this situation before? Go ask them for their advice.
Did they stick it out or kick the bum out? Do they wish they’d done the opposite? All the better if your friend is another man who can give you some insight into how they got through this mess. Whether your chosen confidante has experience in this or no, finding someone to talk things out with to make the choices and consequences feel more real is always a great help. If nothing else, a little sympathy goes a long way.
But one thing to keep in mind: just as you don’t want your cheating girlfriend to make this decision for you, don’t let family and friends make that choice either.
There may be prejudice against your girlfriend one way or the other (either “she’s always seemed so sweet” or “she was never good enough for you”). They may also be prejudiced by how their own experiences worked out.
Although you want to hear their stories and their regrets or happiness in their choices, you don’t necessarily want to take the same path. Get the comfort and advice and then get back to making your own choices.
3. Be Honest, and Demand Honesty Back
Whenever you do decide to talk to your partner again, make sure it is clear that any conversation you start has to be brutally honest. Perhaps not brutal—too much detail could kill what might have been salvageable—but complete.
Get answers to all the big questions so you know what you’re dealing with:
- Was it a one-time thing?
- Was it a one-person thing?
- Were there serious feelings involved?
- Why did they feel the need to do this?
- Most importantly, is it over and can they guarantee it won’t start up again?
Try to look past the certain excuses that will be coming at you, and look for the truth hidden underneath. Was this an act done by someone desperate and lonely or someone who just wasn’t putting the thought into who she was going to hurt?
Whether this conversation is your last or a step towards a new beginning with your partner, getting the whole story will help you move on. These deep conversation starters should help.
4. Don’t Blame Yourself (But Don’t Completely Let Yourself Off the Hook)
It’s easy—and completely understandable—to feel pretty down on yourself throughout this whole process. Men often feel emasculated when their partners cheat. The hurt to the ego can be far worse than the jealousy.
In that position, ugly questions constantly come to mind: is this all my fault? Was it because I didn’t help enough around the house? Or I didn’t get the right kind of gifts? Or I didn’t say “I love you” enough?
Don’t let those questions take hold. That’s one way to end up forgiving what you aren’t prepared to forgive, and leaving yourself in more protracted misery. Keep this mantra in mind: “I didn’t make my partner cheat.” Your behavior didn’t force your partner to cheat. Even if you were a slob who never paid attention, your partner should have been upfront and ended things properly.
However, if you were a slob who never gave any affection, you should also recognize your faults and the hurt they have probably caused.
Many relationships survive cheating, but that requires both partners growing and improving. That means more communication, more thoughtfulness, more effort on both sides. Even if you decide it’s time to move on, try to take positives away from this horrible situation. Look to see how you can improve yourself and keep your next relationship stronger.
5. Focus on Some Self Improvement
Don’t just stop at fixing your flaws, though. One way to avoid getting too down about yourself is to stop sitting around thinking of what’s wrong with you and start getting up and making you better.
Look for some extended, life changing activities to enrich your life and make you feel more like the man who want to be:
- Get back to the gym and focus on building the body you want.
- Get out and enjoy a bit of culture and feel a little more enlightened. Try going to the opera or art museums. Learn about a new type of world music and go to a few concerts.
- Take a class you’ve always wanted to take. Learn to cook or play guitar, for example.
- Go out and get the wardrobe you have been meaning to buy.
- Change your appearance around. Try that daring haircut you’ve been putting off. Grow a beard or shave yours off. Give yourself a new look for every time you look in the mirror.
Choose something you’ve always wanted to improve about yourself and make this the time you actually go out and do it.
Again, this isn’t a one-time thing—self-improvement is long-term—but starting right away after such a traumatic event can help restore a little ego when it is most needed.
It also gives you something to feel good about and look forward to while you try to move on. Finally, it gets you out of your home and away from moping.
6. Look at the Bigger Picture with Your Girlfriend and Consider Your Options
Now that you’ve taken some time and taken the right steps to start the initial healing, it’s time to look at the possibilities you’re left with in regards to your girlfriend. In brief, those are:
- Stick together
- Break up
- Take a break
- Consider alternatives
This is, in many ways, the hardest choice to make. Everyone who has been cheated on will have scars, but seeing the person who did the cheating every day, and rebuilding trust and intimacy on that footing, can rip open the wound afresh on a regular basis.
To heal those wounds properly, you may need to consider some outside help. Start by looking into couples counseling.
Many people are hesitant to bring a stranger into their personal troubles, but a trained professional can help guide you through the tricky period ahead and keep you both honest and thoughtful of one another.
Also, consider taking things slowly in the physical department.
Trying to reignite the sexual side of the relationship too quickly can lead to some very negative feelings. Inadequacy, jealousy, and a renewed sense of betrayal are all likely to come out of an effort to just get back to normal immediately in bed.
Those negative emotions are sure to surface anyway, and if you aren’t careful, they can overwhelm whatever love remains in the relationship. You’ll have to work hard (as will your partner) not to fall prey to such feelings. Don’t let this experience lead to you invading each other’s privacy and eroding that last bit of trust still left between you.
It’s a long, difficult road back to normal after infidelity is introduced to a relationship, and you need to keep an eye on the distant but ultimately possible healing ahead.
Try to remember how good the relationship used to be and remind yourself it will one day get back to that point if you both work hard enough.
This may seem the most obvious and easiest choice—and in some ways it is. The trust has been broken between you and your partner, and for many men, this is just too much damage to repair.
But, don’t let the ease of the choice sway you too much. Walking away comes with its own struggles. And just because you end it doesn’t mean you won’t have all those negative emotions and troubles going forward with someone new.
Because of this, just as with sticking together, it’s important to try and take things slowly for a while. We’ve all heard of being on the rebound, but it’s a rare story indeed in which a rebound led to anything positive. Instead, focus on steps 4 and 5 above and take some time to take care of yourself so you can properly recover from the shock. Spend time with friends and let them help you slowly reacquaint yourself with single life.
If possible, try to avoid any places or activities that might remind you of your cheating ex-, at least for a while. Then, slowly reintroduce yourself to these things.
Over time, the pain of the situation will ease. Just as with sticking together, it’s helpful to always keep that truth close at heart.
Take a break
Sometimes, all you need is a chance to breathe. The least your partner can do is give you a little more time to decide on a permanent solution.
It may be that you just need the chance to see how the world looks without her to decide whether she’s worth returning to or not. In which case, go out, try to have fun, try to meet people, and then make a decision.
Remember, this is your right at this point. If your partner starts acting jealous, remind them that this is what you need to figure things out. A word of caution, though: don’t use this option as an excuse to hurt someone. Though they were inconsiderate of you, that doesn’t mean doing the same right back will make anything better. If anything, it just further clouds an already ugly and murky situation.
Trying to hurt your partner will take away any high moral ground you once had, and it’s unlikely to actually make you feel better. In fact, it may leave you regretting that cheap shot.
If the relationship was worth saving—or if there was a friendship to be had out of the wrecked relationship—you’ll be just as much to blame for throwing it away.
7. Make Your Choice and Stick with It
Take the time to make your decision, but once you’ve made a choice, stick to it. Going back and forth between a break up and staying together—or something in-between—only increases the pain and lets it live on long past its normal timeframe.
If there’s something worth saving in the relationship, find a way to save it. If not, walk away. But let that be the end of the discussion. In these situations, uncertainty is often the biggest aggravator of already injured emotions.
While nothing makes the pain and humiliation of being cheated on go away, these seven steps will guide you through the roughest patch and give you a direction to head.
Making the right choice while getting through this first period is the single most important moment in the long healing process ahead. The choice of staying and forgiving or leaving and moving on is the most powerful piece of agency you have in the whole situation.
Once you finish step seven, you’re sure to still be hurting, but remember, this will pass. Now you’ve made your choice, focus on taking care of yourself and getting back to the person you were before this terrible news.
That person will be back—and sooner rather than later—especially after you’ve followed the above.