How To Find Peace After Being Cheated On — 9 Tips From A Therapist

Suffering and Healing | | , Writer & Editor
how to find peace after being cheated on

Picture this: you’ve just found out that your husband cheated on you with his coworker while you were pregnant last year. And you’re down in the dumps, trying to salvage what remains of your relationship. You’re hurt and devastated. One moment you feel like forgiving your husband and making peace with the situation, while the next, you feel like cutting ties with him and teaching him a lesson for having an affair behind your back. It’s totally normal to feel clueless about what to do and how to find peace after being cheated on! 

And you’ve come to the right place if you’re going through such turmoil. In this article, we will look at the effects of being cheated on and will find out how you can deal with this situation. Relationship counselor Dhriti Bhavsar (Master’s degree in Psychology, with specialization in Clinical Psychology), who is an expert in relationship, breakup, and LGBTQ counseling, will help us explore ways to make peace with being cheated on. So, should you forgive a cheater? Well, let’s delve deeper to understand…

Related Reading: We Were Engaged To Be Married But My Fiancée Cheated On Me

The Effects Of Being Cheated On

So, what does being cheated on feel like? And how hard can it get for people who still love their cheating spouse or partner? Does it make a man feel emasculated? How does a woman feel after being cheated on? Here’s what a Reddit user has to say about his experience: “I’ve been cast as the husband that his wife cheated on him and left for another man. I didn’t want to play this part, but here I am, cast as the lead. Everything is washed out and grey, if I could sleep all day I would. I dread getting up, it always starts with the reality of the situation, the intrusive thoughts and images. Infidelity takes a great toll on the betrayed, I marvel at those that can rebuild and move on.”

Before we explore how to find peace after being cheated on, let’s find out how cheating affects those at the receiving end. Our expert Dhriti has enumerated a few effects of being cheated on, based on her interactions with her clients. Here they go:

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1. It lowers self-esteem

Being cheated on lowers the self-esteem of a person to a great extent. Dhriti says, “You may find yourself questioning what you lacked or did wrong in the relationship, eventually leading to questioning your self-worth.” So, in such cases, you may start doubting:

  • Your commitment to the relationship
  • Your looks 
  • Your intelligence
  • Your sexual prowess
  • Your financial status

This is how infidelity affects a woman as well as a man.

2. It alters your ability to trust

So, how does a woman feel after being cheated on? What does a man go through when he is cheated on? Dhriti says, “Being cheated on makes you question not just your partner but your own judgment too (and even of other people around you). You begin wondering, “If the one person I trusted so much could do this to me, how can I trust others to not do the same thing?” It also breaks you completely to know that your trust was taken advantage of. And you may deal with the fear of being cheated on again.” 

So, you may end up becoming a bitter person, with no ability to trust someone. Besides, mental health issues such as anxiety and cheating go hand in hand. So, you may go through extreme triggers after being cheated on whenever you face a situation where you need to trust someone. 

Related Reading: 22 Sure Signs Of A Cheating Girlfriend

3. You may develop anger and bitterness

Dhriti believes, “When someone cheats on you, there is a sense of unfairness over something so painful happening to you. And that naturally leads to resentment toward the person causing that pain (and also toward yourself, for giving them the power to cause you pain). Eventually, it turns to bitterness and is manifested as a mix of anger and deep sadness, the two most common effects of being cheated on. 

And we agree that this is how infidelity affects a woman or a man. A Reddit user had a similar experience: “I want to get past the bitterness/anger that sits in me from finding out some of his infidelities. But I think it is the unknown of how many infidelities he has and whatnot that fuels the anger/bitterness that sits inside me like burning embers waiting to take flame again. I hate being angry. It is so tiring.”

4. You’re thrown into uncertainty

One of the worst effects of the pain of infidelity is that the partner who’s been cheated on is pushed into uncertainty. Dhriti explains, “You lose the security and safety that you once felt with your partner. You go from knowing what tomorrow will look like and planning for it, to suddenly having no idea, not knowing what to do or expect.”  This can deal a massive blow to your future plans. So, you may have been:

  • Saving up to celebrate a relationship milestone, and now have to drop the idea
  • Gearing up to buy a new house together and now have to take a step back
  • Preparing to leave your job to take care of the kids, and now may have to rethink your plan

Related Reading: Top 11 Hollywood Movies About Cheating In A Relationship

5. You feel immense mental pain

Studies have shown time and again how breakups are hard and almost always lead to negative thoughts and a feeling of going through real physical pain. And in case you’ve separated from your spouse after being cheated on, the feeling is exactly the same.

Dhriti says, “We’re hardwired for attachment, and losing this attachment is often extremely painful because our brain reacts to this pain in a similar way to how it reacts to physical pain. It’s a loss of connection, attachment, validation, and security. These triggers after being cheated on cause a lot of psychological pain.” 

9 Therapist-Recommended Tips On How To Find Peace After Being Cheated On

So, now that you know how being cheated on feels like and what repercussions it can have, are you wondering how to find peace after being cheated on? And should you forgive a cheater? And what happens after the initial shock wears off? 

Here’s how a Reddit user explains she got over being cheated on: “…there were heartbreaks in my past from cheating, leaving me for others, and even violence, that I never thought in a million years I would ever get over. But I did. And it faded over time. What helps me is researching WHY people cheat, and realizing the issue is within THEM. It’s not about the other person being better or more suited, or about you not being enough. Heck, a lot of times the person who is cheated on is better objectively in so many ways compared to the one their partner cheats with. I know it’s not great to compare, but sometimes it does help to see that.” 

Related Reading: He Cheated On Me But Wants Me To Take Him Back

Everyone’s way of coping with a blow as severe as infidelity can be different. There’s no one-size-fits-all mantra that works for all when it comes to figuring out how to deal with being cheated on. There isn’t any magic potion either. What works for one person may not work for another. However, adopting certain healthy practices to work through the pain can help. Dhriti offers us nine such tips that help you make headway in your quest to figure out how to find peace after being cheated on:

1. Allow yourself to experience all your negative emotions

Dhriti feels, “It’s crucial to express freely whatever negative thoughts or emotions are coming up for you, in a safe space and in a healthy manner. Many people suffer unnecessarily because they believe they “should” be feeling a certain way and not how they’re actually feeling. Well, every emotion carries meaning, so lean into your emotions rather than running away from them.”

healing after being cheated on
Healing after being cheated on is never easy

While you may be encouraged by friends or relatives to shove your emotions under the carpet, do give yourself the time and space to feel all that you’re feeling. Give yourself permission to feel angry, feel sad, feel embarrassed. This will help you take the first step toward figuring out how to find peace after being cheated on.

2. Set boundaries

If you’re still clueless about how to deal with being cheated on, this can be a great solution. Before you decide on the ‘should you forgive a cheater’ question, work on setting firm boundaries. Dhriti says, “It’s important to recognize your needs and boundaries and then firmly establish them with your partner.” Forgiving a cheater also requires you to let them know what you’re not okay with. This is how to deal with being cheated on if you wish to continue the relationship:

  • You can set a boundary for personal space, asking to stay in separate rooms or away from each other till you come to a resolution
  • You can ask for complete clarity or closure, asking them to explain why they did what they did before you take a step forward
  • You can ask for great transparency in the relationship, letting your partner know you won’t accept any more lies and secrets 

Related Reading: 7 Things That Help You Heal Post A Breakup

3. Avoid self-blame

It’s very natural in these troubled times to blame yourself for:

  • Not being good in bed
  • Not decking up to look good
  • Not listening to their rants 

You can end up blaming yourself and indulging in negative self-talk for your partner’s cheating ways. Dhriti says, “Avoid falling into the spiral of blaming yourself. It is likely that there were already trust issues in the relationship before the cheating partner inflicted the pain of infidelity on their partner. It’s important to differentiate between taking accountability for some issue and taking blame for the cheating.” Remember, cheating is a choice.

Would you ever consider staying back with a partner who has cheated on you?

4. Don’t rush into making a decision

Forgiving a cheating boyfriend or girlfriend is not easy and it certainly won’t happen overnight. So, remember, there’s no need for you to make a decision right away. If you’re still wondering, “Should I stay with a cheater or leave?”, Dhriti advises, “Avoid making a decision in haste, or out of anger or fear. Give yourself some time to process your emotions before you take your next step.” This way, you’ll also be able to find the root cause of this infidelity, which, in turn, makes it easier to decipher how to find peace after being cheated on.

Related Reading: 8 Ways To Reconnect After A Big Fight

5.  Rely on your support system

Healing after being cheated on may not be easy but spending time with your inner circle helps you a lot in this phase. Dhriti says, “It’s absolutely necessary to have a social support system around you. This should include people who make you feel safe and cared for. It could also be your internal support system: things and activities that bring you joy, fulfillment, and connection. So, go ahead and:

  • Talk to your best friend or your family
  • Go for a rejuvenating solo trip or take a trip with your besties
  • Hit the gym or take up a hobby, such as painting, sports, or gardening
  • Read the latest book by your favorite author

6. Reach out for professional help

If all else fails, reach out to a professional therapist or relationship counselor. Dhriti says, “A licensed therapist can help you target the specific areas that prevent moving on and make healing after a breakup due to infidelity easy for you. They can work through the pain in a healthy and effective manner.” 

Related Reading: Personal Space In A Relationship Holds It Together

Be aware that mental health ailments like anxiety and cheating go hand in hand. Sometimes, people even slip into depression after being cheated on. That’s why it’s vital to prioritize looking after your mental health. You can consider going into couples therapy or opt for individual therapy. If you are considering getting help, don’t hesitate to reach out to Bonobology’s counseling services.

7. Be mindful of what gnaws at your self-worth

Dhriti says, “Your partner’s infidelity says more about them than about you. It is important to preserve your sense of self-worth and not fret about what people will think of you.” There are chances that you may suffer from post-infidelity stress disorder, so it’s crucial that you don’t internalize the cheating. Instead of giving in to that little voice in your head that says you’re responsible for this, shut it down by being strong. This is one of the main steps if you’re wondering how to find peace after being cheated on.

forgiving a cheater
forgiving a cheater

8. Let go

It’s important to be able to let go of certain things, whether you’re forgiving a cheater or moving away from the relationship. If your partner cheated on you remorselessly, try letting it go and focus on yourself instead. Dhriti suggests, “Work toward acceptance and letting go. Be patient with yourself in this process and remember that letting go is a choice you make for the sake of your own peace. It is not something you owe to someone. If you don’t feel ready for it, you don’t need to force it. However, acceptance of the event is crucial in order for you to move on from it.”

Related Reading: 10 Signs Of A Healthy Relationship

9. Indulge in acts of self-care and self-love

Before going ahead with forgiving someone who cheated, a lot of inner work is required. Remember to take care of your own self. Healing after being cheated on takes a lot of self-care. Dhriti says, “Personal development and self-care activities are absolutely necessary at this stage, especially when you don’t want to indulge in them. Ironically, it is when we don’t feel like taking care of ourselves when we need self-care the most.” She suggests a few ways of coping with the triggers after being cheated on, and they include taking care of:

  • Basic physiological needs: Get enough sleep and follow a healthy and balanced diet. Avoid junk food or emotional eating
  • Safety and security needs: Make sure you’re staying at a safe place. Move out of your home if you feel you aren’t comfortable staying with a cheater or you feel you’re being engulfed by depression after being cheated on
  • Belongingness needs: Make sure you establish connections with others around you

What To Do When You Get Cheated On — Stay Or Leave?

So, now that you know how to find peace after being cheated on, we’ll come to your next question, “Should you forgive a cheater?” More importantly, do relationships work after cheating? Dhriti believes, “The decision of staying with a cheater or leaving after a relationship is a deeply personal one. That is because every relationship is unique, as are the people that make up that relationship. Hence, there is no prescribed right or wrong answer to this question.” 

Related Reading: When My Wife Cheated On Me, I Decided To Show More Love

However, she thinks you need to consider a few things before you make the decision regarding what to do when you get cheated on. So, ask yourself these questions if you’re wondering, “Should I stay with a cheater?”

  • Is your partner remorseful for their actions and genuine in their apologies?
  • Is your partner able to take accountability for their actions?
  • Do you feel that you have it in you to trust them again? Or will the fear of being cheated on always loom large?
  • What will it take in order for you to recover? 
  • Can your partner provide what you need to get back in the relationship or will your bond turn into a more toxic relationship?

To help you with making a mature and well-informed decision, we’ve collated some points to highlight the pros and cons of both staying with a cheater and leaving.

on cheating

The pros and cons of staying

Forgiving someone who cheated on you mercilessly is not going to be easy. But you should weigh both the pros and cons in this case:

The pros of stayingThe cons of staying
You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you tried.It will take a lot of work, time, and patience to overcome this. Rebuilding trust is not easy.
Your relationship can come out stronger on the other end of this, with both of you understanding yourselves and each other better.You might continue to have doubts for a very long time to come.
It can be a wake-up call for addressing the problems in your relationship.The fear of being cheated on again lingers.
In some cases, couples can emerge stronger from the blow of infidelityIt can lead to a dip in self-esteem if not handled carefully.

The pros and cons of leaving

If you think the answer to, “Do relationships work after cheating?”, is a resounding ‘no’ and are thinking of leaving your cheating spouse, well, here are some pros and cons of such a decision:

The pros of leaving The cons of leaving 
You regain self-respect. Leaving such a toxic relationship sends a very clear message about what you will not tolerateYou may go through emotional turmoil. There can be a lot of grief, pain, and doubt that comes with ending a relationship, despite how good or bad it was.
You have the freedom to explore other options and invest time and energy in yourself.There’s uncertainty about your future, and where to go from here can cause you more pain.
You get to focus on personal growth, as you learn to heal by yourself.You end up second-guessing and are engulfed by a sense of loneliness.
You can walk away from the relationship feeling better about yourself.You may have practical concerns, such as financial issues, co-parenting concerns, societal or religious pressures, and the problem of having similar social circles.

Key Pointers

  • Some of the effects of being cheated on are low self-esteem, uncertainty, and mental pain
  • A few therapist-recommended tips to deal with this situation are avoiding self-blame, setting boundaries, consulting licensed therapists and going for couples counseling, and relying on your support system
  • One needs to weigh the pros and cons of both the options of staying or leaving the relationship

Now that you’ve read our article, we hope you’ve gained valuable insights into the effects of being cheated on, the ways to deal with being cheated on, and the pros and cons of staying or leaving a relationship after being cheated on. Remember, it’s easy to blame a situation and quit, but it takes guts to stay back and rebuild trust. 

With that being said, it is also crucial to take note of any sense of disrespect or toxicity within the relationship. Once you feel your relationship is beyond repair, feel free to disengage. Get into a new relationship, if need be. But do it out of your own free will. Moving forward is necessary for your growth and peace.

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