If You've Been Cheated On, Read This
What you must know to move through.
Posted February 17, 2020 | Reviewed by Lybi Ma
Most people see infidelity as the greatest betrayal. I get it. The promise that holds everything together was snapped. He or she broke ground rule number one. There is no more foundation to build on. Where do you even start?
And even if you decided to forgive and move on, it can be a virus that may go dormant for a while, but then surface when conflict occurs. You're good until he forgets your birthday. It's loaded right behind everything he does wrong. Couples rarely recover from infidelity. It's one of the hardest things to heal from.
Here's why: It's not the act.
Yes, the thought of your partner having sex with someone else is an imprinted visual that's nearly impossible to erase. Your mind will play it back over and over again, especially when things aren't going well. And you'll blow it up. But chances are, what you imagine isn't how it really went down. You're playing a trailer of an overhyped movie.
Over time, this trailer will slowly fade as you reconnect to your partner and create a stronger intimacy.
That's the goal, but most couples don't get there.
The reason isn't because of what happened; it's a lack of understanding "the Why."
Because if you don't understand why, you will tie it to your self-worth. On a deeper level, you believe he or she cheated because you weren't enough.
There's something wrong with you, not them. You're not attractive enough. Skinny enough. Sexual enough. Whatever your insecurity is. You fill in the blank. It cuts deep because you personalize the behavior of his or her cheating. And this is why it's so hard to heal from being cheated on.
You must try to understand why.
Or you'll just be white-knuckling. And white-knuckling anything in life doesn't work. You know this. It creates pebbles in your shoe. You can't digest and process, dissolve and move past. Understanding is the beginning of healing. Without it, you'll just be pushing down feelings. Even if you truly want to forgive.
Let's explore some of the common whys.
Not happy in the relationship. This is the most common why. She cheated because she's not happy in the relationship. If she were happy, she wouldn't have cheated. Right?
It's just a physical thing. Fulfilling a fantasy. He's good with the relationship. He just wanted to have other sexual experiences without ruining what he already has. He decides to fly solo on this one. And when the opportunity presents itself, maybe not the first time, but over time, he finds himself doing something he will regret.
Not getting sex at home. Simply put, he's not getting enough sex or not satisfied sexually at home. And so he finds it somewhere else. Cut and dry?
To get back at a partner. It's revenge. For him not being around. Not being present. Not making an effort to change. He deserves it. Or maybe for her cheating on you years ago.
These are common reasons why we cheat. Right?
Cheating is complicated. There are layers. It's not just because someone's unhappy in their relationship, not satisfied with their sex life, just wants to sleep with other people, or wants to get back at their partner. Yes, of course, those can all be contributing factors. But it's deeper than that.
Is it really about the sex or lack of connection and intimacy? Yes, we all have sexual needs. That is a real thing. But it's usually not just because of sex itself. It's usually lack of intimacy and connection that causes someone to keep peering over the fence.
And that lack of intimacy can be caused by many things. For example, one's own poor self-image and relationship with self can create a change in intimacy. Going through a challenging time in life or transition can create a change in intimacy. One's own addictions can be a crowbar in intimacy. People outgrowing each other can create a change in intimacy. And on and on.
But if you follow the string down, way down, usually cheating stems from some form of disconnection with self. It may be the relationship that caused that disconnection. Or not. It may be from one's own inner journey. Yes, him cheating on you may have had nothing to do with you.
Maybe it's a reaction to always needing to feel desire and approval, and no matter how good your relationship is or how attracted he is to you, maybe you can't give them that because it's his own lacking.
Maybe her life has been good on paper for too long, and she needed to do something that didn't make sense so she can feel alive again. Maybe she needed to be selfish and to do something for her, for the first time. Maybe it's a reaction to his fear of intimacy. Maybe it's a reaction to her not feeling beautiful anymore. Maybe it's a reaction to him not liking himself.
Our actions stem from something deeper than what's on the surface. Infidelity then can be a form of running. Or hiding. Or coping.
It doesn't mean it's excusable. That's not where I'm going with this. It means there's more to cheating that it being about you and the relationship. And once you understand this, you can take it less personally. You can cut the cord that ties the incident to your worth. With this distance, there is now room for empathy. And a 360 view instead of a two-dimensional one.
No, he's not a monster. He is human. Struggling. Coping. Finding himself. And you must see him this way. Not for him. For you. Because it will be what allows you to move past it.
If not, the monster did something to you. You were betrayed and a victim. He took something from you. Yes, that may be true. But if that is your mindset, it will always have power over you.
To take the power back, you must deploy empathy, and you can't deploy empathy unless you understand. And to understand, you must humanize—him or her, but also you.
What if you saw cheating as a reaction to something that's happening within them? Not a reaction to you or the relationship?
Would this shift in perspective change anything? Would it help you move through and past instead of holding on?
The anchors that will keep you trapped and afraid to love again.
Facebook image: Alejandro J. de Parga/Shutterstock
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