If you've been cheated on, you might be experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. You may feel devastated one moment and angry the next. A broken heart can lead to feelings of shame, doubt, confusion, and anxiety. Understanding and processing your emotions is a healthy way to heal from past hurt. There is not one direct path to follow when recovering from a breakup, as it may not some longer than others. Remember that it's okay to take your time to heal. You should trust your own process because your feelings are unique to you and your life. Feel the emotions, grow, and move on. It's a personal journey of your own. In other words, stop judging yourself. Take the time you need to heal while also allowing yourself to grow and learn from the pain.
Most importantly, always remember to maintain your inner peace by not falling to the cheater's low level. As Seth Meyers Psy.D explains, "You should never put yourself in a situation with a cheater where you look like the crazy person, because you’d be throwing yourself under the bus and distracting everyone from the fact that what the cheater did was wrong. Though it’s never easy to walk away, it’s better to leave with your integrity than to end a relationship adrift in a sea of self-doubt and paranoia." As hard as it may seem, be the bigger person and rise above the drama.
When dealing with the aftermath of infidelity, these six steps can help you cope with what transpired and deal with the emotional roller coaster of betrayal.
1. Work Through Your Feelings
You’ll likely experience different emotions as you processed what happened. For instance, it’s common to feel disappointed or betrayed after infidelity, so take a moment to recognize these feelings are normal. Rather than suppressing your emotions, work through them. Coming to terms with what happened is integral to the healing process. Maintaining a daily gratitude practice, like keeping a journal, allows one to self-heal over time. Rita Wilson MPH reaffirms, "Express gratitude always. By expressing gratitude you remind yourself of the good times you shared and how you have been freed to find a love who values you, a love whom you value. Consider a writing journal to help you put your thoughts in perspective."
2. Don’t Blame Yourself
It's all too easy to blame yourself for what happened, but you're not responsible for your partner's actions. Juliana Breines Ph.D. explains, "After a breakup, it's not uncommon to engage in harsh self-criticism, analyzing everything one said and did and asking where they went wrong. While some degree of self-reflection can be helpful—after all, we do sometimes make relationship-ending mistakes, and learning from those mistakes is important—we can take self-recrimination too far, blaming ourselves for things that are not at all our fault. This excessive self-blame can, in turn, delay the recovery process and make it harder to move on." Rather than finding fault with yourself or obsessing over what might have been, place the blame squarely on the cheater.
3. Don’t Live in the Past
Are you questioning everything about your relationship, replaying conversations in an attempt to discover what went wrong? Obsessing over the past isn’t healthy or productive. Instead of dwelling on hypotheticals, focus on the future rather than negativity. Psychologist John M. Grohol Psy.D explains five ways to learn to let go of past hurts: Make the decision to let go; express your pain and your responsibility; stop being the victim and blaming others; focus on the present (the here and now) and joy; and forgive them—and yourself.
4. Think About What You Want
Moving on after infidelity means taking the lead on how you want to live your life. Do you want to break up with your partner or do you want to work on your relationship? These are important questions without right or wrong answers, and regardless of what others say, your greatest concern should be yourself. For instance, if your partner’s actions are a deal-breaker for you, break up with your partner. On the flip side, you may feel hurt and betrayed by your partner but still want them in your life. Or, then again, you may also not be sure what you want. That's OK. The decision is yours alone to make. Mariana Bockarova Ph.D. says, "Reuniting with an ex should only be an option if you genuinely feel love for him or her and believe you will be able to provide each other with the mutual, positive support needed to build a satisfying, respectful, and lasting relationship together—not because you are dependent on them."
5. Take Care of Yourself
When you’re dealing with something as life-changing as infidelity, this type of news can take a toll on you emotionally as well as physically. For instance, you may want to shut out the outside world and not see or talk to anyone. You may notice that you have difficulty concentrating at work or even find it hard to get the energy or desire to take care of yourself. But it’s imperative when faced with hardship and disappointment that you practice self-love and self-care during these difficult moments in your life. Loren Soeiro, Ph.D., ABPP says, "It’s harder to feel terrible when your body feels great, so get better sleep, eat well, and exercise more. Do this even if you find it difficult to get motivated. If nothing else, exercise can serve as a welcome change to your routine and productively fill your schedule."
6. Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If you want to get over being cheated on, don't be afraid to lean on those around you for support. Being cheated on by your partner can make you feel isolated and alone. However, it would be best if you weren't afraid to reach out to friends and family after this has happened and surround yourself with people who care about you and your well-being. Psychologist Guy Winch, Ph.D., says, "The instinct to withdraw can be powerful after a breakup, but it should only be indulged for a limited amount of time. By avoiding the people who love and value you, you are depriving yourself of their caring, love, and concern, which are important for your self-esteem and recovery. Even if you don’t feel fully up to it, connect with people who care about you. Feel free to ask them to avoid discussing the breakup if you prefer not to talk about it." Plus, it would help if you also didn't hesitate to meet with a trained professional who can help give you personalized strategies to deal with your new reality. You don't have to face this alone, and having more people in your corner who have your back is only going to make it easier for you to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Psychcentral.com "Learning to Let Go of Past Hurts: 5 Ways to Move On" July 30, 2018