What I learned after my boyfriend cheated on me
When it comes to infidelity, there are people who believe in forgiving transgressions and there are people who believe in never again speaking to a partner who strayed. And there are about a million shades of grey in between these polar opposite positions. No matter your position, I think we can all probably agree that being cheated on will teach us some major relationship lessons. It happened to me, and though it was an awful experience, I learned a lot about love, relationships and my own inner-strength.
Gut instinct, gut instinct, gut instinct
I say it three times, because I KNEW something was wrong. And no one should make the same mistake that I did. My gut was telling me that something was not right and I allowed the person I was dating and others to convince me that I was paranoid for feeling that way. They admonished me that a feeling wasn’t proof of anything. But it IS. It’s proof that you feel something isn’t right, and no matter what it is that may not be right (whether it is actual cheating or another issue) you should listen to yourself. I firmly believe that we are all equipped with an intuition that we choose to embrace or ignore. And believe me when I say I understand how terrible it feels to recognize that sometimes trusting yourself means that your trust in another person has been broken. Or is about to be. There is no easy way to accept that, I know this. But solidarity, my friends, I have been there and felt every iota of all those emotions, and yet I’m still still grateful that I learned to never again doubt my gut feelings above all else.
Sometimes people we really love will really disappoint us
This is a hard truth. Letting your guard down to fall in love with someone can be life changing. And loving someone means you take their faults into account, but if someone is willing to actively do something that hurts you, that’s not a fault. That’s someone who doesn’t appreciate your love or you. And it’s the worst, but it’s life and sometimes it happens. Loving someone doesn’t mean they’re above reproach for wrongdoing.
This should have no effect on how you feel about yourself
I know that I suffered a huge blow to my confidence when my boyfriend cheated. I assumed the other girl was prettier, smarter, more successful. I imaged she made him laugh more or looked better in a bikini. I tortured myself imagining how she was better than me in every possible way. It made me miserable. Do not do this. Who that other person is should have no bearing whatsoever on your self-esteem. In the midst of the heartache, it’s easy to place the blame on ourselves. “If only I had sexy dark eyes and a body like her, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.” No. Stop that. I have done it and it is self-defeating and false! Who cares who this other person is? You don’t need to. You’re someone who is amazing. Remember that. You can come up with a list of shortcomings all day long to try to explain away why a person cheated, but instead, let me suggest that you list all the reasons you’re fabulous to remind yourself why you don’t need a cheater in your life.
Forgiveness is about you, not your partner
I wholeheartedly believe in forgiveness. Of yourself. For mistakenly placing your trust in someone who was careless with your heart and your feelings. There’s no need to continue to berate yourself for falling for someone who would hurt you in this way. If you want to think about forgiving a partner who cheated, that’s a serious decision and it’s your business. But forgiving yourself first is essential. One of my super sweet guy friends told me once that I needed to forgive myself for my “horribly awesome tendency to look for the good in someone” after I confessed to him that my boyfriend had repeatedly cheated on me. He was right. It is awesome to look for the good in people, but it’s horrible to keep doing it when you’re just adamantly convincing yourself there was good there once, and if you’re patient maybe it will reappear. I had to forgive myself for not walking away sooner, because like everyone else, I’m fallible and I make mistakes. Forgiving myself meant also admitting that he was wrong for me. And that was hard to face.
Not everyone is going to be like your ex.
Keep telling yourself that. And it can be so tough, because when someone cheats on you, it creates a whole lot of fear. I felt like I had really allowed someone to get to know me and it led to such heartbreak, so why would I want to chance that again? Maybe I wasn’t savvy enough to trust the right guy? The worry of falling prey again to someone who is unfaithful was at once conscious and unconscious. It took me a very long time to feel comfortable trusting someone again and believing that they were telling me the truth. There’s nothing wrong with being a little extra cautious, and overcoming the damage of betrayal does not happen overnight. But as hard as it seems at first, try to not hold someone new accountable for your past hurt. Give them a chance and give yourself a clean slate. What has happened in the past does not dictate what will happen in the future. Remember. You’ve got that gut instinct you’re much more aware of now, backing you up every step of the way.
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