What To Do When You Cheat On Someone You Love – 12 Helpful Tips By An Expert

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When soaking in the rush of a budding romance, you’d have never expected your relationship will have to deal with the blow of infidelity. But it happened. What’s worse, it’s you who cheated. The guilt has driven you to look for answers, figuring out what to do when you cheat on someone you love. Confusion about whether or not to come clean to your partner and how to fix a relationship after cheating occupies your mind all the time 

Infidelity in marriage or a relationship is always a messy, ugly affair. It’s not easy to live with the fact that your actions have potentially wrecked a bond that is so valuable to you. But once you’ve managed to weather the storm of your own emotions, there’s a lot you can do to salvage your relationship. Your actions in the aftermath of infidelity can make or break your relationship. That’s why making all the right moves hereon is extremely important.

When you’re guilty of infidelity in marriage or a committed relationship, your mind can become your worst enemy. “I cheated but I want to save my relationship” – that’s what you are thinking, right? To help you navigate this overwhelming storm of emotions, 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? 

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 or couldn’t ascertain how to fix a relationship after cheating. The emotional turmoil 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 cheating guilt can lead to low self-esteem and impaired decision-making. You may begin believing notions like ‘once a cheater, always a cheater’, and resign to hopelessness about the future of your relationship. 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.

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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 with 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 that they had a young child and fear of what people might say. Over time, I realized her relationship’s core bond was extremely 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.”

If their relationship managed to survive infidelity, can yours too? Perhaps. That journey begins with figuring out how to get over cheating on someone and then making amends for the pain you’ve caused your partner. To help you ascertain how to do that, let’s take a look at what to do when you cheat on someone you love. 

Related Reading: How To Trust Someone Again After They Hurt You – Expert Advice

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? Will he ever forgive me”, “Why do I keep cheating? I don’t deserve forgiveness”, “I love my wife and still betrayed her trust. Can a man cheat and still love his wife?” can wreak havoc on your emotional and mental health. You may find yourself at a complete loss about what to say when you cheat on someone you love or begin making up such a gross betrayal.

These feelings of shame and guilt are augmented by the fact that society is quick to presume that you’re not trustworthy and never will be — what with notions like ‘once a cheater, always a cheater’ propagated like a gospel truth. However, the situation isn’t as grim as it may seem in your mind. If you can’t see past the dark clouds of guilt, hopelessness, and dismay, we’re here to help you figure out what to do when you cheat on someone you love: 

1. Cut all ties with the person you cheated with

What to do after cheating? Well, if you’re serious about salvaging your relationship, the first order of business is to end the affair posthaste. 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 your affair partner. When you cheat on someone you love and wish to reconcile, there is no room for contemplation about whether or not the person you cheated with can be a part of your life.

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 your affair partner.

how to get over cheating on someone
For there to be any scope of reconciliation, the affair must end

2. Work through the emotional turmoil and forgive yourself 

When you cheat on your partner, you struggle with a lot of uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and emotions. And may have a hard time coming to terms with your actions. Notions like ‘once a cheater, always a cheater‘ can make you lose confidence in your ability to move past the incident of infidelity in marriage or a relationship, and focus on rebuilding your bond with your partner.  

However, to be able to save your relationship, you need to figure out how to get over cheating on someone you love. 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.”

Related Reading: How To Forgive Yourself For Cheating And Not Telling – 8 Helpful Tips

3. Take some time to introspect

While you’re trying to forgive yourself, looking inward is always a good practice. You need to sit with yourself and find answers to some seemingly confounding questions. Can you love someone and still cheat? Why do people cheat on people they love? Is it possible to move past infidelity in marriage or a relationship?

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.” So, instead of fixating on thoughts like, “I cheated on my boyfriend/girlfriend/partner, how do I fix it?”, focus on dealing with your emotions. 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 or make up outlandish scenarios in your head. Your goal is to understand why it happened. After all, there is a wide spectrum of reasons why people cheat. You need to figure out what yours was. Only then can you begin the process of repairing your relationship and moving past the blow of infidelity.

4. Decide whether or not you want to come clean to your partner

Can you cheat on someone you love and not tell them about it? Yes, not telling your partner after cheating is a perfectly valid choice. While some people think that confessing infidelity to your partner is an act of accountability and it’s not possible to move past this setback without it, others believe that through these confessions, you end up putting the burden of your actions on your partner.

Nandita says both are acceptable choices. “It’s a personal call. When you cheat on someone you love, you may want to spare them heartbreak at all costs and so not telling them about the infidelity can seem like the right choice. However, on the other hand, if you do not tell your partner but continue to live in guilt, that might end up doing more harm than good. If your relationship is strong, confessing to your partner may be better. Even so, sometimes it may work, and 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 greatly depends on the kind of relationship you have with your partner.

Related Reading: Rebuild Your Marriage During A Separation With These 13 Tips

5. If you come clean about cheating, sincerely ask for forgiveness

The keyword is ‘sincerely’. If you do decide to tell your partner about your transgressions, 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 listing out reasons why people cheat and making it seem like the act of cheating was beyond your control, make sure you take responsibility for what 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 fixate on questions like,

  • “Why would someone cheat on someone they love?”
  • “Why wasn’t I enough for my partner?”
  • “Am I not good enough?”
  • “Why do people cheat on people they love?”
  • “Can a man cheat and still love his wife/partner?”
  • “Can a woman betray her husband/partner if she truly loves him?”

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.

how to fix a relationship after cheating
Apologize sincerely but don’t force your partner to forgive you

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 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. It’s okay for a person to doubt their partner’s feelings toward 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 

Many people believe the notion of “You can’t cheat on somebody if you’re in love with them”, or question, “Why would someone cheat on someone they love?” However, the reasons why people cheat are rarely that black and white. You can be in love with someone and still slip up and do the unthinkable. What matters most is what you do after you’ve cheated on someone you love.

There, rebuilding trust in your relationship must be your top priority since your partner might predictably doubt your love and commitment. 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 will help you on your journey.” 

Related Reading: 10 Common Marriage Reconciliation Mistakes To Avoid After Infidelity

8. Sacrifice, accommodate, and then some 

“What to do when you cheat on someone you love? 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. Let your partner see that you’re changing. After all, the answer to how to get over cheating on someone is not falling back into old patterns.

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, it won’t be easy for your partner to let go of the mental images of you being close to another person. Every so often, they might curse you under their breath or push you away while you’re trying to hug them. Give your partner space in the relationship. Try not to suffocate them by demanding forgiveness. 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, you’re responsible for landing your relationship in this mess, but to get out of this sinkhole you and your partner need to work as a team. 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. But he 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.” 

Related Reading: How To Get Over Cheating – 15 Sensible Ways To Close The Chapter

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. But change is inevitable,” says Nandita, talking about the effects of cheating in a relationship

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 determined about “I cheated but I want to save my relationship”, your partner will, in all probability, come around sooner or later.

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 can 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. If you’re looking for professional help, Bonobology’s counseling services are always here for you.

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Key Pointers

  • Cheating on someone you love can leave you riddled with feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing
  • There is no singular answer to why do people cheat on people they love. The reasons can range from unmet needs to low self-esteem, unresolved feelings for a former partner, and even a midlife crisis
  • If your heart is in the right place and you make a sincere effort, it’s possible to salvage a relationship in the aftermath of infidelity
  • Here is what to do when you cheat on someone you love: process your own emotions and forgive yourself, seek your partner’s forgiveness, work toward rebuilding trust, improve communication, be willing to sacrifice and accommodate, work as a team to rebuild your relationship

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 act of infidelity doesn’t define you as a person or a partner, there’s hope for reconciliation and a future together. 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.


1. I cheated on my boyfriend, how do I fix it? 

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.

2. Can a relationship go back to normal after cheating?

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.

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