Hard oops. Perhaps “oops” doesn’t begin to cover it. Whether it was a one-time thing, something a bit more premeditated, or just a trick of fate leading you in the right direction via the wrong way to go about it, you’ve hurt someone deeply. You’ve dismantled their trust. Perhaps you’ve scarred the way they view love and relationships, for a little while.
We’re sure you’ve thought of every possible angle and every way to beat yourself up about it. We aren’t here to rub salt in the wound. We’re here to remind you that you’re human.
It should go without saying that not all humans are programmed to or required to cheat. We’re just saying that we aren’t perfect, ever. Michelle Afont, relationship expert, divorce lawyer, and multi-published author whose most recent work is The Dang Factor, says it best when she tells us, “We are not robots. Our decisions and actions are not manifested in a robotic state of mind. We simply do not cruise through life on autopilot, making perfect choices and stellar decisions. Instead, we are all humans, and frankly, humans make mistakes.”
The next step, according to Afont, is how we find redemption not just in life, but within. “Forgiving yourself after you have cheated is paramount to self-growth. It is important to note, however, that not only must you forgive yourself, but if the relationship is to continue moving forward, your partner must forgive you as well. It is crucial that your partner give you the opportunity to prove your devotion and regain trust. Being berated and belittled by your partner is not conducive to self-forgiveness.
Forgiving yourself starts with acknowledging you made an error in judgment. It means taking the cheat and learning from it. It means making the conscious choice to not make the same mistake twice. In order to move forward, you need to ask yourself: what are you going to do with this cheat? In reality, cheating has presented you with an enormous opportunity to assess your relationship and decide if you are ready for the monogamous commitment that a true relationship requires.
Moving forward from a cheat means doubling down on making your current or next relationship better. You should use the cheat to look for signs that made you cheat in the first place. Do you find other people to be more attractive than your current partner? Do you find yourself fantasizing about sex with other people? Are you not fulfilled in your current relationship? Do you find cheating to be a thrill?
The answer to these questions is a perfect starting point for not only self-forgiveness but also self-acceptance. As a general rule, people don’t cheat in a fabulous relationship. The truth is, something was broken or missing in the relationship for you to cross the boundary of trust.” This is not to say that we may transfer the blame to our partners, who clearly feel very victimized.
“Self-growth also means self-analysis. It’s very important to get to the source of the reason for the cheat. ‘I don’t know’ is never an acceptable answer when it comes to a reason for cheating. If your current relationship is not fulfilling your needs, it is important to realize and understand maybe, just maybe, you are not ready for a committed relationship. And that’s OK.”
And finally, Afont tells us what we already know, but really, really need to hear, which is that cheating on someone definitely hurts them a lot, but it might hurt ourselves the most.
“Forgiving yourself after a cheat is a score you need to settle within yourself. It is recognizing you made an error in judgment. To forgive yourself means understanding you cannot turn back time. But, why would you want to? The cheat is speaking to you and you need to listen. Something made you cheat. The question then becomes, are you going to cheat again? Because if you are, you may very well be a serial cheater, meaning you may be better off without a monogamous committed relationship for the time being. A singular cheat is salvageable. A serial cheat is not.”
Take that into your future with more than a grain of salt. Because your personal well-being depends on it, and because no one wants to become a vortex.
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