When you’re lavishing your partner with the most extravagant gifts and surprise parties, you’d never expect your relationship to ever have to deal with infidelity. But it happens. What’s worse, it’s you who cheated. The immediate guilt drives you to look for answers, figuring out what to do when you cheat on someone you love. These thoughts occupy all your time.
It’s a messy, ugly affair when you end up being the villain in your relationship. But if you’ve managed to weather the storm of your own emotions, there’s a lot you can do going forward. Keep in mind, understanding what to do after cheating on someone can literally make or break your relationship. That’s why making all the right moves hereon is extremely important.
Once you cheat on someone, your own mind can often be your worst enemy. “I cheated but I want to save my relationship” – that’s what you are thinking, right? To help you navigate this jarring storm of emotions you’re experiencing, we’ve listed a few helpful tips, backed by psychologist Nandita Rambhia (MSc, Psychology), who specializes in CBT, REBT, and couple’s relationship counseling.
Can You Cheat On Someone You Love And Salvage The Relationship?
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First and foremost, to ease your anxiety a bit, you need to know that infidelity doesn’t always spell doom for your relationship. When you cheat on someone you love, the repercussions are going to be severe. But it’s not the end of the world. In a survey of 441 people who admitted to cheating on their spouse, 15.6% claimed to have been able to work past it.
While that number may look grim at first glance, it could also be because the cheaters didn’t know how to handle such a situation appropriately and how to go about making amends. Depression after cheating on someone you love can influence your decision-making, which might lead to more damaging outcomes.
How does it feel to cheat on someone you love? If you truly care for and value the relationship, a debilitating sense of guilt can lead to low self-esteem and impaired decision-making. Damaging notions may make you believe that there’s no hope for your dynamic and that you’ll never recover from this tag you’ve now garnered. But if you put a considerable amount of time and effort into deciphering how to fix a relationship after cheating, you might be able to turn the situation around.
Take a moment to put your mind to rest, and think about things from a rational point of view. Speaking on the subject, Nandita says, “If one person cheats sexually, it does not mean that the relationship is over. Relationships that have a strong fundamental base can work and evolve in different ways, even after infidelity. There’s always a chance to make the relationship work, provided there’s a strong base.”
In her decade-plus-long experience in relationship counseling, Nandita has come across many cases where the relationship survived infidelity. Recalling one such incident, Nandita tells us, “There was a woman who cheated on her husband and felt incredibly guilty about it. Her initial reasons for making the relationship work were the fact that they have a young child and fear of what people might say. Over time, I realized her relationship’s core bond was very strong, they had a very healthy relationship.
“Once the wife confessed to the husband, he was predictably devastated and depressed. Till the anger was subdued, they actually lived separately for some time, which helped them both realize their wish for the relationship to continue. When they both committed to working on the relationship together, that’s when their journey began,” she adds.
If their relationship managed to work through infidelity, can yours too? How can you tackle painful questions and taunts like these: How can you cheat on someone you love? You can’t cheat on someone if you’re in love with them! Let’s take a look at what to do when you cheat on someone you love.
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What To Do When You Cheat On Someone You Love – 12 Expert Backed Tips
Thoughts and questions like “I cheated on my boyfriend. How do I fix it? I’m sure there isn’t a way to fix it at all” and “I don’t deserve forgiveness. What to say when you cheat on someone you love?” can lead you down a path of depression after cheating on someone. Especially since society is quick to presume that you’re not trustworthy and never will be. This is what leads us to our very first point while figuring out what to do when you cheat on someone you love:
1. Cut any and all ties with the person you cheated with
It doesn’t matter if they’re your colleague or your best friend of a decade – cut all contact with them immediately. Any attempts at trying to move past this event will be stunted if you’re still in contact with this person. It’s a drastic downfall when you cheat on someone you love. So, the measures for such a desperate time are supposed to be desperate as well.
Think about it like this: If you were the one who got cheated on and your partner continued to remain in constant contact with the person they cheated on you with, what would it feel like? Just the very thought is infuriating, isn’t it? Now that you know how it feels to cheat on someone you love, don’t make it worse for your partner (and for yourself) by continuing communication with the lover.
It seems like common sense, but if you cheat and then decide you’re still going to be friends with this person, you’re just damaging your chances of fixing your relationship. Show your partner you’re serious by cutting off all contact, even if it means blocking your ‘bestie’.
2. Work on the depression after cheating on someone and forgive yourself
If you cheated, you might have a hard time even telling friends about it, for fear of being judged. The label of ‘cheater’ sticks with you despite how much you try to prove to have changed. When everyone around you is so quick to claim “once a cheater, always a cheater”, it’s easy to see how your confidence can struggle as a result.
Nandita says that one of the most important things you can do for yourself after cheating is to forgive yourself. “Try not to be very harsh on yourself, mentally and physically. Yes, you might feel guilty and you may come to a point where you need to pause everything as a result. But remember to be kind to yourself, take time to think it over, and try to find some answers within you.”
It’s natural to say things to yourself like “You can’t cheat on someone if you’re in love with them. I probably never loved my partner in the first place.” It’s natural for self-hate to control your emotions, but you mustn’t let it take over your life. Forgiving oneself is something that someone who cheated may never think of, or even allow themselves to think of. Even though you made a mistake, if you’re committed to change, you deserve forgiveness. At the very least, you must forgive yourself if you want to continue living well. As Bill Belichick puts it, “To live in the past is to die in the present.”
3. It’s time for some self-reflection
While you’re trying to forgive yourself, looking inward is always a good practice. Can you love someone and still cheat? You won’t find your answers at the bottom of a bottle, so lay off the alcohol. Can you accidentally cheat on someone? Maybe, if alcohol was involved. Remember, a drunk, perfunctory apology is just annoying, not effective. A sincere apology to someone you’ve hurt, on the other hand, can make all the difference.
Nandita says, “Introspection is one of the most important things you can do. In a calm state of mind, you need to figure out why you did what you did. Figure out what’s fundamentally wrong with your relationship, what was it that led you to cheat.” If immediately after your bout with infidelity, you catch yourself thinking, “I cheated on my boyfriend/girlfriend. How do I fix it?”, you need to fix yourself first. And while you’re introspecting, make sure you don’t let your overthinking mind spiral out of control.
Don’t blame yourself for things out of your control, and don’t make up outlandish scenarios in your head. Your goal with introspection is to understand why it happened, and not excessively blame yourself for things you no longer have control over. You mustn’t aim to evade responsibility by cooking up a fantastical story in your head.
4. Can you cheat on someone you love and tell them you cheated?
Some of you might not even have known that the possibility of not telling your partner after cheating isn’t an inherently evil thing to do. When you cheat on someone you love, you would try to spare them the heartbreak at all costs. While all common sense may push you to tell your partner, Nandita says the decision to do so solely lies with you.
“It’s definitely a personal call. If you do not tell your partner but continue to live in guilt, that might end up doing more harm than good. Confessing to your partner if your relationship is strong is always better for your partner and yourself. Even so, sometimes it may work, sometimes it may not. There is no single answer to this question because it depends on your relationship,” she says.
How does it feel to cheat on someone you love? It feels like accidentally killing Cupid, and confessing feels like telling Aphrodite (his mother) about what you just did. It’s a hard decision to make, spend some time on this one. What to do after cheating on someone also greatly depends on the kind of relationship you have with your partner.
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5. Own up to it and sincerely ask for forgiveness
The keyword is ‘sincerely’. If you do decide to tell your partner about it, own up to it completely and sincerely apologize to your partner. No half-truths, no beating around the bush, no gaslighting phrases, no downplaying what you did. Instead of trying to find a way out by googling “Can you accidentally cheat on someone?”, make sure you take responsibility for everything you did.
Be vulnerable in front of your partner, ask for forgiveness, and then give your partner the space to do what they need to do. Expect your partner to be enraged and don’t get angry at them if they say some insensitive things. Remember, you cheated, so it’s okay if your partner says something they shouldn’t in the heat of the moment. They’re feeling angry, hurt, and betrayed.
They will question your integrity and run the same thought in their mind over and over, “Why would someone cheat on someone they love?” Once you cheat on someone, you must be prepared to face the music. Don’t expect all your troubles to melt away when you take responsibility and tell them what you did. Be empathetic in your approach, and understand where they’re coming from too.
6. The age-old rule: improve communication
Speaking of the couple Nandita told us about, she claims that working on establishing open, honest communication was the game-changer in their relationship. She says, “The biggest thing they did to move past infidelity was to work on their own feelings and to communicate their feelings about each other honestly. They accepted that things would not always be hunky-dory and that it was okay to have good days and bad days. What was most important was to communicate about it, so they could navigate the problems together.”
Improving communication in your relationship will undoubtedly help every aspect of it. Knowing what to say when you cheat on someone you love can make all the difference since it’s often the “I don’t know why I did it!” that causes more problems even after infidelity.
Give your partner the benefit of the doubt, and let them say things like “Can a woman cheat and still be in love?” It’s okay for a person to doubt their partner’s feelings toward them and claim that you can’t cheat on someone if you’re in love with them. Eventually, as your commitment makes itself apparent, things will start to fall into place.
7. Rebuild the trust like your life depends on it
The notion of “You can’t cheat on somebody if you’re in love with them” is one that many people believe. Often, it is not true. You can be in love with someone and still make a mistake. Read that word again, ‘mistake’ – it’s something we all do. We’re all human. Hence, rebuilding trust in your relationship now becomes vital, since your partner might predictably doubt your love.
A relationship without trust is destined to fail, there are no two ways about it. Nandita says, “Trust is built on a lot of factors, so when the trust is broken, winning it back – while not impossible – will need a lot of effort. Be honest and be kind to yourself and your partner; that’s what will help you on your journey.”
8. Sacrifice, accommodate, and then some
“What to do when you cheat on someone you love? Definitely work on the relationship. You’ll probably need to sacrifice a lot for your current relationship to work; put in the effort and seek advice from confidants and people close to you,” says Nandita. Up until now, it’s been all talk, no action.
Now is the time to let your partner see how committed you are to making sacrifices for them and accommodating them in your life. They might ask more from you, and since there’s virtually no trust for you right now, you might not have too much freedom in the beginning. Let it slide, at least for a while. You can’t cheat on your partner and expect to go out with your friends every other night. Let your partner see that you’re changing and you’re not the same person anymore.
9. Give your partner all the space they need
So, your apologies are accepted and you’ve decided to work on the relationship. But when you cheat on someone you love, they might still hold a grudge against you, for obvious reasons. After all, the picture of you being close to another person won’t be very pleasant in your partner’s imagination. Every so often, they might curse you under their breath or push you away while you’re trying to hug them.
Give your partner personal space in the relationship. Try not to suffocate them by demanding forgiveness. When they act angrily, their spiraling emotions and thoughts keep beating out the words “How can you cheat on someone you love?” in their minds. A betrayal of such proportions isn’t easy to forgive, so give them all the time they need.
10. But continue to work as a team
Granted, one half of the relationship got you both in this mess, but only the both of you can get yourselves out of this sinkhole. Recalling the example of the couple who managed to reconcile post-infidelity, Nandita says, “The husband could have walked away if he wanted to, and he even lived apart for a while.
“How can you cheat on someone you truly love? – he asked this on multiple occasions, but he always managed to come back around to work as a team. What made it work was his willingness to forgive and try to make the relationship work. Of course, the wife did all she could, but without the husband forgiving her, it would’ve all counted for naught.”
11. What to do when you cheat on someone you love: commit to growth, together
“No matter what kind of a dynamic you have, one thing is for certain – your relationship with your partner will change. It may change for the worse in some cases, while in others it may evolve into a much more meaningful relationship. Change is inevitable,” says Nandita, about the side effects of a couple recovering from infidelity.
As a couple, you must both commit to finding the new normal and growing together. Through healthy practices like trust, improving communication, and mutual respect, you now need to find out how strong your relationship can be. If you are adamant about “I cheated but I want to save my relationship”, your partner will, in all probability, understand your plight and cooperate in attaching the broken pieces together.
Related Reading: How To Get Over Cheating – 15 Sensible Ways To Close The Chapter
12. Individual and/or couple’s therapy can help you
If at the end of the day, you’re struggling to figure out what to do when you cheat on someone you love, therapy will be able to help you cope. The cheater’s guilt may end up weighing you down, making it seem difficult to accomplish even the simplest of tasks throughout the day.
Talking to a professional will help you navigate the difficult emotions you may be going through. If you and your partner have decided to work together toward a stronger relationship, relationship counseling will help you know exactly what you need to work on and provide the tools for dealing with all the intense emotions as well. Skilled and experienced counselors on Bonobology’s panel of experts are always here for you.
If the pain of being cheated on is too much for your partner to bear, you’ve got no option but to accept their answer and move on. But if they believe that the night(s) of infidelity don’t define you as a person or a partner, there’s nothing that can stop your relationship from healing, except yourselves.
How to Repair a Relationship after you cheated on someone you love
Can you cheat on someone you truly love? Well, I can’t help but quote Shakespeare just on this one occasion, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” The human mind works in its own mysterious ways. If you sit and think, “Why would someone cheat on someone they love?”, you might come up with a myriad of reasons based on every individual’s respective relationship dynamic.
The question that’s a bigger concern for us here is how to fix a relationship after cheating? Let’s quickly sum up the whole article and give you some actionable steps to win back the lost trust when you cheat on someone you love. You may not come out unscathed as a couple, but with genuine efforts, you might be able to leave the whole thing behind after a few years.
- Reason for cheating: Get to the bottom of your infidelity and find out what drove you to cheat on your partner for another person
- Identify your emotions: Is there any sense of regret and guilt? If not, going on with the damage-control process won’t be a big success
- Apologize: If you are filled with remorse, apologize to your partner straight away and take full responsibility for your actions
- Gauge the relationship: At the same time, discuss what is lacking in your relationship that led to this affair
- Let your partner vent or take space: Your partner will need some time and space to vent their anger and sorrow. Respect their decision and privacy and pay attention while listening to their side of the story
- Make realistic promises: Be loyal and reliable to regain trust after cheating and this time, make a valid set of promises. Don’t offer them any dream that you won’t be able to deliver
- Love your partner: Finally, keep patience and shower your partner with the love and affection that they deserve after going through such a traumatic incident
Can you love someone and still cheat? Yes, it’s a possibility. Humans aren’t perfect, and neither is love. “What to do when you cheat on someone you love” is probably a question you thought you’d never have to answer, but if you do now and that’s why you’re here, we hope you have a good idea of what to do.
First and foremost, come clean to your partner about everything that happened and take accountability for your actions. You should be earnestly trying to convince them that you are ready to leave the past in the past and start afresh. Put genuine efforts to win back their trust and love even though it might take a long time. Don’t give up if you truly love them.
It will be difficult for your partner to make peace with the unfortunate incident, depending on the depth of your infidelity. In many cases, partners drift apart after one person breaks the other’s trust. But there is always a possibility that two people might come out stronger if the cheating partner tries their best to mend the relationship, rebuild trust, and most importantly, owns up to their actions.