We preserve relationships with balms of love and open conversations, merging of value systems, and acts of care and faith. So, a relationship cracks wide open when infidelity drops on its head. When you get caught cheating, the sealants that keep personal insecurities and traumas at bay are cut open. Every dreaded question and fear you have – not just about the relationship, but related to your self-worth – creeps in.
Before you start wondering, “What should one do when you are caught cheating?”, here’s what you can do. You can side-step the hurt that this act of betrayal will cause by choosing not to cheat. If you’re reading this article though, then this advice is possibly only good in retrospect, and does you no good in the messy situation you’re in.
We do need to add that if you’re trapped in an abusive relationship, up is down in that scenario. No rules of morality apply. To understand this topic with more nuance, we spoke to life coach and counselor Joie Bose, who specializes in counseling people dealing with abusive marriages, breakups, and extramarital affairs.
How Likely Are You To Get Caught Cheating?
Fig (name changed), who had once cheated on their partner, shared their breakup story with us. We asked them, “How did you react after getting caught cheating?” They said, “I panicked. Foolishly, I never thought I’d get caught cheating. My ex was standing outside the hotel that I was coming out of with my now-partner. He somehow knew that I’ve been cheating on him, and he had followed me. My immediate response was to deny what he saw, which made matters worse. I gave excuses and lied through my teeth, right there on the street.”
We may sing songs about the sacred nature of relationships, but according to this study, infidelity is common. And because we’ve all heard of stories where cheating resulted in tragic separations, people tend to take a lot of time to fully trust their partners. They know the tell-tale signs of when their partner is lying to them, or when they are trying to hide something, or when their routine seems slightly off. This is your partner, after all.
If you both share or have shared an intimate relationship, then it’s likely they know you so well that you may get caught cheating sooner or later. Even if you take every precaution in the world, err on the side of caution, and resort to means like Snapchat cheating to cover your tracks, the risk of getting caught always looms large. How long you keep getting away with your transgressions depends on your luck and how well you can lie to your partner.
9 Immediate Things To Do When You Get Caught Cheating
Panic seems to be the most natural response when you are caught cheating. You may want to run from the scene, lie, hide, cry, be numb, or even scream back at your partner as you get defensive. You may even be relieved that the truth is out in the open, or in some cases, delighted that your partner found out if revenge is what you were looking for.
People respond to the question, “How did you react after getting caught cheating?” in a lot of different ways. So we ask Joie the right way to deal with such a situation, and she says, “Firstly, remain silent. Do not say a word. You will be nervous. You will be scared. Hence, you will not be in a position to say what you feel. So, remain silent and collect your thoughts. As you wait, hear all that your partner has to say. Do not react. They will be distraught and may say things that they don’t mean. You were always aware that you were doing something wrong and hurtful, so let that person react.
“After your partner has reacted, think about why you did what you did, and before explaining yourself, apologize. Apologize for hurting them. Confess. And then, give it time for the dust to settle. After a day or two, offer them an explanation and give them details if they ask for it.”
No matter how you react when you are caught cheating, things will never be the same again. You’ll be turning a new leaf and so will your partner. Here are 9 immediate things to do when you get caught cheating:
1. Fess up
There’s no point in all the hiding and the lies anymore. They need and deserve to know that what they are seeing is real, as hurtful as it might be. Telling them that they are misinterpreting the situation or that they are mistaken is hurtful and insensitive. Joie says, “Under no circumstances can you lie now. You have lied and the lies brought you here. If you get caught cheating, confess to cheating on your partner. It’s not healthy to cheat on someone though, and it’s best you decide to: stop betraying your partner; separate, or be in an open relationship. Together, decide on a way forward.”
This is where Matt went wrong. He says, “If you are wondering what to say when you get caught cheating, I’ll say this – Don’t do what I did. Every fiber in my being told me I should confess. But I didn’t. She knew I was cheating, and I knew she needed me to confirm it. I kept dragging that moment to save us both the pain. It didn’t work.”
2. Apologize when you get caught cheating
You have made a huge blunder. You may feel defensive about it, but you know what you did goes beyond the ethical lines of the arrangement of your relationship. The first thing you can do to fix the relationship you ruined is tell them how sincerely sorry you are. No explanations, unless they ask for them. No justifications. Just a heartfelt apology and remorse.
Your remorse is the only way this person can truly start to heal. Ruth says, “She didn’t even say sorry. I know my healing doesn’t depend on the one who hurt me, but seeing her show genuine remorse could have saved me a lot of self-hate in the beginning.”
Related Reading: How To Apologize For Cheating – 11 Expert Tips
3. Acknowledge the hurt and the impact
A person who is cheated upon often thinks that the partner doesn’t understand or care what they are going through. They will be going through a dizzying amount of pain now. Make sure you tell them that you know how you’ve made them feel. That you understand the devastation in their head and heart, and that you are the only one to blame for it. Take accountability.
All of this will help them find closure when you get caught cheating on someone. Having said that, do not overcompensate for your blunder or shower them with love when they’ve asked for space.
4. Give details if they ask for them
Some people in this scenario will never ask you for a single detail of your affair. They derive comfort out of the fact that you are remorseful and that you wish to make amends. Or if you decide to separate, they think to themselves, “What’s the point in knowing anything now? It’ll just hurt me.” Some people will ask you the basics: since when have you been with this person, do you love them or is it sexual, are you planning to end the relationship with them or me, etc.
And then there are others who need to know everything. Unless they are being vicious toward you, toward the other person, or themselves, the best thing to do is to answer their questions patiently. It helps them connect the dots of your behavior and helps them deal with the disbelief, and is a valid way for them to react when you are caught cheating.
5. Remove your lover from the scene
This almost sounds like the making of a comedy, but make sure that your lover is nowhere near the scene when you get caught cheating on someone. It’s a high-pressure, volatile, and extremely vulnerable moment for your partner. Tell the lover to step back so you can manage your partner’s emotional whirlwind with at least a little thought and kindness.
Carl says, “My ex-girlfriend caught us cheating while we were in bed. It was horrifying for all of us, more so for my ex. Moreover, the person I cheated with didn’t leave the room right away. The next ten minutes of her leaving were the stormiest of my life.”
Related Reading: 6 Cheaters Tell Us How They Feel About Themselves
6. Let them vent when you get caught cheating
Speaking of emotional whirlwinds, you have to allow your partner the space to vent and be angry. You need to take a step back and listen to their hurt. Unless they are being physically or verbally abusive, do not interrupt and let them vent their anger. The only time you get to intervene is if they are hurting you or themselves in the process.
Daisy says, “I caught my ex cheating because a friend told me about her whereabouts. I don’t remember the next few minutes. I just remember meeting her eyes; her face filled with shock, panic, and guilt; and me exploding in a barrage of words that I no longer remember.”
7. Be gentle, do not lash back
Some people, when they get caught cheating, lash back at their partner out of sheer defensiveness. They get angry and start screaming at their partner for catching them red-handed. Ken says, “She was frazzled and had no idea what she was saying. She kept yelling at me that I had intruded upon her privacy. I was shocked and disappointed and I simply left the scene.” So if you’re wondering what to say when you get caught cheating, this is a big no. This is the time to show affection to your partner.
Another big no is this: Do not minimize the issue at hand or imply that they should just “get over it”. Be sensitive, and if you can’t be at the moment, take a step back until you can find the right words of care and sincerity.
8. Do not indulge in blame-shifting or gaslighting
It’s tempting to pass the buck and blame your partner or even your lover for your mistakes. But blame-shifting in a relationship only adds to the pain you’ve caused. Like we said earlier, take accountability. You know there are good chances of getting caught cheating on someone, so why behave this way? Some people even gaslight their partners, and tell them they are out of their mind for believing something like this. They deny their partner’s reality. This is downright abusive.
9. Tell them what you need in the future
If you wish to make amends, then this is going to be a long journey. They have every right to wonder if you’ll cheat again and will probably be watchful and wary of your every step. They might need space in the beginning, reassurances, understanding of why you did this, and regular display of remorse from your side.
If you wish to separate, then this news needs to be broken gently and calmly. Be honest. The time for lies and deceit is over. Also, take into consideration if it’s both of you that wish to separate or it’s just one of you. They may want to stay with you regardless of this event, or it may be you who wishes to leave despite them making room for forgiveness.
There’s a study on “Why Do People in Relationships Cheat?” that states only one in five (20.4%) relationships end because of an affair. This tells you that there’s still hope, in case, that’s what you’re looking for. We hope you both get through this, and are able to re-forge a strong bond despite this crisis. Or that you go down your separate paths in as dignified a manner as possible.
Yes, people who cheat on their partners do get caught. Some partners even tell their partners of their betrayal themselves. Also, if you don’t get caught, partners can tell when you’re distancing yourself from them. This creates a rift in the relationship.
Many people, after they get over the initial shock and denial, can fall into depression and a pit of remorse. Humans make the worst mistakes, and this person deserves to seek professional help if they require it.