Even though infidelity can happen to anyone, there’s nothing worse than finding out your boyfriend or girlfriend cheated on you.
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But despite the numerous “signs” you’ve probably seen and thought about over and over again, there’s really nothing that can truly prepare you for the ultimate pain you feel after finding out that the person you love most was unfaithful.
I know what it’s like, because it happened to me. I suspected there was someone else in the picture when my boyfriend of almost a year started to get weird. His messages slowed down considerably, and he always found a convenient excuse that prevented him from making plans with me.
I totally understood that he was busy. But at the same time, I was pretty over the relationship. I was giving him so much, while he gave me pretty much nothing in return. That wasn’t fair to me.
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I later found out from a friend that he’d hooked up with a girl he was training at work. That really hurt, and I cried about it for some time. I never personally met the girl he cheated with, but I knew her face.
Every time I saw someone who resembled her in some way, a rush of anger, sadness, and hurt would come over me. I’d compare myself to her, wondering what she had that I didn’t. I’d wonder why he chose her over me after everything I did for him.
I felt lied to and betrayed. I felt really stupid for holding onto someone who obviously didn’t care about me as much as I did him. I felt even stupider for hating myself and crying over a guy who did me wrong.
“When somebody has been cheated on for the first time, it can be especially heartbreaking and devastating,” Isabel James, relationship coach and founder of Elite Dating Managers, tells AwesomenessTV.
“By our late 20s and 30s, we know this is part of human nature and can happen to anybody without placing fault on the victim or relationship. But when this first happens, it’s important to seek support from not only your friends, but older people as well who can shed more light and share their experiences with cheating.”
If you’ve just been cheated on for the first time, it can be really confusing. Chances are, you probably won’t know what to do. So here are some questions you should be asking yourself:
1. Who’s really to blame here?
If you’re thinking it’s your fault in any way, don’t. It’s not. If you and your partner agreed that you were in an exclusive relationship, then how is it your fault that they went off and hooked up with someone else? Again, it’s not.
“It’s important not to place blame on yourself and let this impact your self-esteem,” James says. “It can even be a good exercise to read celebrity stories of cheating and how they got through it to understand this can happen to the best of us.”
2. Was he or she really good enough for me?
“Getting cheated on is like being robbed for the first time. Something is stolen from you and it happens to be your heart,” relationship expert Audrey Hope tells AwesomenessTV. “As harsh as it may sound, the only way to survive the crime is to get back on the horse and learn from it.”
Hope says it’s important to ask yourself if your partner was really good enough for you. Did they give as much as they take? Did they put in the effort to show you that they loved, supported, and cared for you? Or were you really cheating yourself by being in this relationship and basically just settling for less?
“Remember this: When someone wants to go, then escort them and show them the door!” Hope says. “Never settle for anyone who doesn’t cherish you.”
3. Is it over?
Should you stay or should you go?
“Cheating is not a ‘dealbreaker’ for everyone,” Kiaundra Jackson, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of The Art of Healthy Relationships: 7 Components Every Relationship Should Have to Thrive, tells AwesomenessTV. “Knowing if this is something worth repairing or letting go is imperative.”
Can you really overlook their infidelity? It’s important to remember that trust is crucial to any happy and successful relationship. Can you trust your partner ever again after what they did? If so, it might be worth it to give the relationship a shot if you really love them.
But if you’re going to lose your mind by thinking about and overanalyzing every little thing your partner does from here on out, it’s probably in your best interest to leave. It’s not healthy for you, nor will it be a pleasant relationship for them.
Overall, what you decide to do post-cheating is ultimately up to you. But if there’s absolutely one thing you need to know after being cheated on for the first time, it’s this: It’s not the end of the world.
As Jackson says, “It may feel like it at times, but you have the strength and positive resolve to bounce back from anything that life throws your way, even a difficult, hurtful relationship.”