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So you’ve been caught cheating and now you want to know what to do about it.
Maybe your partner or spouse found texts or photos on your phone or computer. Or perhaps they came home to find you in bed with the neighbor. Either way, you’ve been caught betraying the person you promised to be faithful to.
This is going to get ugly, if it hasn’t already.
Unsurprisingly, cheating is a death sentence for most serious relationships, and even those that can work through an affair or two are never the same again.
If you just got caught doing the deed behind your lover’s back, you’re probably wondering what will happen next, and what you should do about it.
How To Deal With The Immediate Aftermath
Every person reacts differently to betrayal.
Depending on what kind of personality your partner or spouse has, they might get really cold and quiet, or break down in tears.
Maybe they’ll scream, throw things, and set all your possessions on fire. Or pack their bags and go stay with their parents.
Let them do whatever they need to without trying to get them to calm down. You screwed up big time here, and they are completely within their right to freak out about it.
Their reaction may also depend on how they found out, and just how intense the cheating was.
If you’re in a fairly new relationship and your girlfriend or boyfriend saw you kissing someone else at a club, that’s going to sting quite a bit. You might be able to salvage things by negotiating the parameters of your relationship, since you haven’t fully immersed and invested yourselves in it yet.
If, however, you’ve been in a partnership or marriage for several years, and your partner or spouse found out that you’ve been having sex with someone else behind their back, that’s going to be devastating – both to them, and to your marriage.
If you share a home and your partner is unable to leave for whatever reason (or just doesn’t want to), could you? Can you go and stay with a friend until the air clears a bit?
It might not help the final outcome, but allowing emotions to calm enough for you and your spouse to talk things over is a good idea.
How Not To Make The Situation Worse
The worst thing you can do right now is to deflect, get defensive, or gaslight your partner about what happened.
Don’t tell them that it’s no big deal or that they’re overreacting. And don’t try to justify your behavior with a bunch of lame excuses.
Many people fall into a trap of playing the victim card so they can get out of being held responsible for their own actions. They’ll say that they couldn’t help themselves because they were depressed, or stressed out, or they were drunk…
This won’t put you in anyone’s good graces. If anything, your partner will just view you with even more contempt and disgust: first, for cheating on them, and secondly for being a petulant crybaby who can’t take responsibility for their behavior.
And for God’s sake, don’t just blame the person you cheated with.
Plenty of cheaters try to lay blame on the other person for initiating or escalating things. They might say that this person took advantage of them when they were vulnerable, or didn’t respect their boundaries…
Clothes don’t just fall off, and people don’t just “accidentally” fall into each other’s bodies. Any time somebody cheats on their partner, a conscious decision is made.
Don’t add insult to the injury of infidelity by trying to shift blame for your actions.
You are responsible for your own actions. If someone else has acted badly, it doesn’t justify you acting poorly as well. You control your own behaviour, and your own choices.
Ask Yourself: Why Did You Cheat?
If you haven’t already figured this part out, you should probably do so.
Were you unhappy or restless in your current relationship?
Was the relationship revealing aspects of yourself that you were uncomfortable or unhappy with?
Had your partner changed into a version of themselves that you no longer found sexually attractive? Or did you just get bored?
Did this new person make you feel good about yourself, so you pursued things with them to spice things up in your life without thinking of the repercussions that would ensue if you got caught?
Or did you merely assume that nobody would ever find out, and you could keep this a secret forever?
Do you lack discipline when it comes to your impulses? Or did your partner upset you horribly and you decided to cheat on them as a form of punishment?
People rarely just “happen” to cheat on one another: there’s usually an underlying reason.
Even if you’re not able to explain to your partner or spouse why you cheated – possibly because they’re not talking to you right now – it’s important for you to be honest with yourself about why it happened.
Understanding why it happened will go a long way when it comes to trying to explain to your partner why you betrayed them.
What Actions Can You Take To Show True Remorse?
Well, think about this for a minute. If you caught your partner cheating on you, what could they possibly say to you in order to show true remorse?
“I’m sorry” just won’t cut it, and buying your partner gifts or a puppy won’t make up for your betrayal.
You messed up, so you might as well own it.
There’s really nothing you can say or do to make this right. If you’re very lucky and you have a really understanding, forgiving partner, you might be able to avoid a breakup or divorce.
You’ll need to be prepared to end your affair permanently, and even go so far as to get a new job or move to a different location, depending on whether the other person is a colleague or neighbor.
You can do your best to prove to your partner (or spouse) that you’re ending things with the other person, such as deleting all their texts and messages. You can even show your spouse a “this is over” email or text that you’re sending.
How Can You Limit The Damage To Your Relationship?
You might be looking for reassurance here that everything’s going to be okay, and that you and your partner can work through this.
Sorry, you’re not going to find that here.
Once trust is damaged, it’s damaged forever. You and your partner might be able to work through this particular betrayal and decide to stay together, but they’ll never be able to fully trust you again.
When you call to say that you have to work late, because you actually do, their gut reaction will be to assume that you’re cheating on them again.
The damage has already been done and, as such, there isn’t really a whole lot you can do to limit it.
As with all pain, it will eventually begin to heal to some degree (though never completely), so giving things time is about all you can do.
On the subject of time, it is possible to break up, and then possibly restart the relationship on fresher grounds several years later.
Both of you will have grown and evolved as individuals, and if you still have love and passion for each other, you can try to rekindle the relationship again.
You need to be aware, however, that even in a situation like this, the sliver of doubt will remain with regard to your fidelity, or lack thereof.
What If You Want to Be With The Other Person?
If that’s an option, go for it. People who are happy in their relationships generally don’t cheat, so why stay?
Does the other person want to be with you? Have you two cultivated a real emotional connection, or was it just sexual?
You might want to have a serious discussion with your cheating partner to see if they want to be with you too.
If this is a sincere connection and not just a side amusement for the two of you, then now is the time to formulate a new understanding and boundaries so you won’t repeat the same cycle.
Instead of lather, rinse, repeat, you stop at “rinse” and evolve into the person you want to be, rather than the person you find yourself being.
To reiterate, we are responsible for our actions and choices. Consequences don’t “just happen.” We reap what we sow.
What seeds for the future do you want to plant now?
Who do you want to be? What kind of life (and partnership) do you want?
There’s another possibility, of course, and that’s if a pregnancy has ensued as a result of your affair. You might want to try to start anew with this partner and raise the child together as a committed couple. Wipe the slate clean and try again from scratch, so to speak.
These scenarios can unfold well, but they’re rare, and take a lot of work. You never know: you could very well be a lot happier with this person than you were with your previous partner.
One problem you might face in this kind of pairing is a lack of long-term trust. There’s a common saying that if a person cheats with you, then they’ll cheat on you too.
Since this is the foundation on which you’ll be building this new relationship, do you think you’ll ever be able to trust each other fully as a committed couple?
Bottom Line: Don’t Cheat (Again)
There are plenty of alternatives to cheating on your spouse or partner. Like open communication to let them know that you’re unhappy with your relationship, and negotiating its current parameters.
If you and your spouse (or long-term partner) aren’t sexually attracted to one another anymore, or you’re bored with that aspect of your partnership but still want to stay together as a couple, you can always discuss the possibility of an open relationship.
These take a lot of work, communication, honesty, and courage, but can be an effective way to fulfill your individual needs while maintaining your marriage.
Of course, honesty is a huge part of this. A lot of people are very childish: they might agree to it initially, but then get hit with insecurity a few months down the road. If that does happen, remain calm. Don’t react or feel guilt: these parameters were openly established for a reason.
If you’re already sleeping with someone else behind your partner’s back instead of talking to them about it, however, then the damage has already been done.
Hopefully you can learn from this experience and be a lot more open and honest in your next relationship.
Cheating isn’t attractive. It’s hurtful and harmful, paints you in a truly terrible light, and makes you wholly untrustworthy.
Would you want to be with someone who cheated on their partner? Few people do.
So don’t be that person.
Still not sure what to do after getting caught cheating? Want to try couples’ counseling with your partner? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
More articles about cheating in relationships:
- 14 Effective Ways To Deal With The Guilt Of Cheating
- 11 Things That May Be Considered Cheating In A Relationship
- How To Confront A Cheating Partner/Spouse: 11 No Bullsh*t Tips!
- 17 Steps To Forgive A Cheating Partner And Get Over Infidelity
- Yes, You Should Tell Him/Her That You Cheated. Here’s How To Do It.
- How To Tell If He/She Will Cheat Again: 10 Clues To Look For
- 14 Reasons Why Men And Women Cheat On Those They Love
- How To Get Someone To Forgive You: 6 Steps To Ask For Forgiveness
- Married But In Love With Someone Else: Why And What To Do