How to Cope when You’ve Been Cheated on


Infidelity in a close relationship can be devastating because it’s a betrayal. Your partner doesn’t make your feelings a priority. His secret behavior appears to be more important than you. Everything you thought about your love story seems to fall apart.

Your feelings can be similar whether he cheated on you physically or if he carries on an emotional affair with another woman where there is no physical relationship. In fact, some researchers have found that women are more distressed by their partner’s emotional infidelity than men, and men are more distressed by sexual infidelity than women.  If he’s cheating on you emotionally by flirting in a romantic way with another woman, it might be hard to tell if it’s an innocent relationship. But it can still feel like a betrayal and a loss of the special bond you had.

How Do We Cope with Being Cheated On?

Human beings feel great discomfort when the things they relied on suddenly change. We instinctively want to simplify the reasons for the things we don’t understand. As one who has been cheated on, you are probably familiar with the cascade of questions and doubts that follow. “He must not have been happy with me. He wasn’t getting sex. He was getting back at me. He wanted a fling. He’s a jerk, right?” Cheating is one area where simple reasons don’t work very well because the reasons for infidelity are very complicated.

Although all of the above reasons can contribute to problems in a relationship that might lead to cheating, the most important factors are deeper. Unfortunately, often we don’t realize the problems our relationship has been having until it’s too late.

Why Do People Cheat in Relationships?

Couples can work through most issues in their relationship by discussing them, rather than cheating. Communication is crucial but remains a struggle for many couples, which is why many consult couples therapists to help their communication,

Why be unfaithful and add even more stress to your current problems? The truth is, many partners who cheat feel intense feelings of shame and guilt afterward, and feel like they weren’t acting like themselves. Others do it consciously and feel entitled to find escape in another person’s arms.

Ultimately, infidelity is, at its core, a problem with intimacy. When it’s hard to get close to your partner, you might be too afraid to complain about your sex life or something your partner does that bugs you. Many men who end up cheating don’t have the know-how to address the issues early on. And they might be victims of their dysfunctional emotional coping mechanisms.

“Will she reject me? Can she accept how I feel?”. Often, the person who cheats may not be fully aware of these fears and can unknowingly cope with them by running and hiding, often by cheating in a relationship. The other woman can seem like the answer to the problem he’s facing in his primary relationship, but often it just creates even bigger problems. Obviously, trying to identify these complex emotional issues in order to prevent cheating can be very difficult.

How to Cope with Being Cheated on:

1. Grieve

The grieving process is inevitable when you have experienced a big loss.  Expect emotions to surface. How you feel may change from day to day, and your feelings can seem confusing because they may contradict each other. It’s just part of the grieving process, which includes the following stages, although not necessarily in the following order:

  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Blame
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

2. Talk to someone.

Don’t cope with infidelity alone. It’s important to talk to a trusted friend or family member. Better yet, consider consulting a therapist. You can benefit greatly from having an objective, trained person to help you understand your experience and what happened to your relationship. You may want to keep the gory details as private as possible until you decide how you want to handle the situation. Too many reactions and opinions from friends and family might be confusing. People go to a therapist alone or as a couple to get more clarity.

3. Be kind to yourself.

If your partner has cheated on you, you may be blaming yourself for not being enough for him in some way. Any insecurities you have about yourself can be worsened by a cheating partner. Blaming yourself is self-destructive and unfair. Your partner’s cheating says more about his behavior than you. 

Take care of yourself during this difficult healing period. Make a special effort to do some things for yourself that might make you feel a little better.  Try to get enough sleep, get exercise, and eat healthy. Don’t compound your problems by adding a lot of alcohol or drugs. Try to have some fun.

4. Try to see the big picture.

You might want to end your relationship then and there because infidelity just doesn’t work for you. Or maybe you decide to hang on, hoping that you can change him. Whatever your reaction, don’t forget that healing takes time. Before making big decisions, take a step back to see it from a bigger perspective.

Don’t seek revenge. Punishing your partner by having an affair or telling the details to your friends and family might work against you by creating some kind of destructive backlash. Also, you could stay focused on your anger rather than trying to work on healing and moving on, whether you stay with your partner or not.

It often helps to understand the cheating behavior a little better so that you can see it more clearly, and maybe take it less personally. You want as much clarity as possible so that you don’t end up in another relationship with a cheater or continue with someone who keeps cheating.

5. Take life one day at a time.

Although infidelity is one of the most challenging problems a relationship can face, it doesn’t always mean the end of your relationship. It can take time to decide what to do about your relationship and how to best cope with the difficulties you face. If you have children, consider how this difficult period is also affecting them and how you might make it easier for them.

The saying, “Once a cheater, always a cheater” stuck because people tend to repeat this pattern of behavior. However, when people are very motivated and get treatment, people can change this kind of behavior.

Are you getting over a cheater? Do you have any advice for others or need help figuring out how to get over the experience?

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