We all learn to look out for signs that our man is cheating, or subtle hints that he might be seeing someone else on the side, but what if you are the one that cheated? Assuming that you still want to work on your current relationship, we have 7 ways to move on successfully after you’ve been unfaithful. This is not a “loop-hole” and is not praised, but the reality is 14 percent of married women have had affairs at least once during their married lives and 17 percent of divorces in the United States are caused by infidelity. If you fall into this category, and don’t want to be part of the divorce statistic, take a look at these helpful steps.
1. Own it
Own the problems that you created by having an affair. You cannot change what you don’t acknowledge and being defensive or combative about the subject will only prove that your apology was insincere. This is the time to be regretful, remorseful, empathetic, compassionate, honest, and emotionally available. Do not say anything that will give the impression that your man drove you to cheat, or in any way contributed to your behavior. There will be plenty of time to pass the blame around later on during counseling sessions, or during times of productive conversation with your mate. Don’t waste time blaming the affair on anyone or anything else and don’t point the finger at temptation, being drunk, or falling prey of a bad influence. Telling your boyfriend or husband that you did not realize what was happening is not only ridiculous and pathetic, it devalues him.
2. Cut off the “other man”
In order to resolve your relationship, contact with “the other person” must be cut off 100 percent. You can’t work on dealing with the consequences of the affair while you’re still having it. Keeping a person in your life with whom you have had an affair is like trying to put toothpaste back into the tube. Not only is this a confusing message to the other person, it is also extremely disrespectful to your boyfriend or spouse. It does not matter if you have known the other man since kindergarten, or have to see him at work. It is time to break those ties. Do what you must to avoid any contact. It’s a baby step in the right direction by showing your man that you are committed to making things right and want to forget about your terrible mistake.
3. Be smart
Don’t rely on your heart to tell you what to do, rely on your intellect. Do what logic tells you is the right thing to do. Make the hard decisions. Either leave the marriage to free your partner, or commit to stay. Remember, checking out of one relationship before you finish it appropriately doesn’t work. You cannot set a timeline for your man and when you think he should be “over it.” The truth of the matter is, he will never fully be “over it”, but might learn how to mentally move past the affair. When a person is hurting, they typically share their pain with the closest person to them. As their girlfriend or spouse, you are the one they will vent to, even though it is you that caused the pain. Additionally, you may feel as though since you’ve confessed, apologized and vowed to remain faithful, things should now return to normal. Nope. It’s not up to you.
4. No excuses
In your head you might be comparing your current “boring” relationship with this new wild fling. Don’t get caught in this trap. It is unfair to compare a new, exciting, taboo fantasy relationship to one you’ve been in for years where there are kids, bills to pay, a house to run and noses to wipe. Of course this new thing seems fun; it’s not real! Also, keep in mind that now is not necessarily the time to pick fights over certain topics, particularly those related to privacy and possessiveness. Your man is feeling betrayed and frightened and it is only natural for them to project those fears onto situations that have any resemblance to your affair. Be extra sensitive to his feelings and heightened sense of paranoia and possessiveness. If you look at the cashier at the supermarket for too long, take note that your mate might be watching this and extrapolate it into something it’s not. Listen to his fears and emotions and calmly reiterate that you are sorry, you know the damage has been done, and you are willing to do anything to keep him in your life.
5. It’s not about you
Ask yourself, what are you doing to help your partner get past the affair? Be mature enough to recognize that life is not always all about you and what feels good for you in the moment. If you are married and have children, you have an obligation and a commitment that exceeds what feels good. You must do whatever it takes until your partner finds emotional closure. Additionally, acknowledge how much you hurt your man, how difficult it must be for them to get over the pain, and vow to do whatever necessary to make things better…forever. Acknowledging the degree of pain you put your spouse or boyfriend through, and expressing appreciation for another chance, gives him the impression that you not only are mindful of their pain, but you will be less likely to make such awful choices again in the future.
6. Define cheating/ stop lying
Want to know if something is cheating? If you wouldn’t do it with your spouse standing there, it’s cheating. If your man presents evidence of the affair, own up to it. You need to understand that the worst thing that could possibly happen already has; you were dishonest and unfaithful. Therefore, continuing to lie, twist, or deny is simply adding insult to injury. Your only hope of regaining his trust is to give him the whole truth and therefore demonstrate your commitment to being honest with him, even about the tough stuff. You are kidding yourself if you think you are protecting your man by “omitting” certain truths. If you wanted to protect him, you never would have allowed him to get hurt in the first place.
7. Children first
If your marriage is over and you have children, understand that your relationship with your ex will never end. You will always at least be co-parents of your children. Build a new relationship as their allies and do everything to keep them out of your problems. You can’t hide the fact that you are going through a trauma so be honest with your children, but don’t weigh them down with too many details. Be very conscious of what you say in front of them and focus solely on their well-being. You’ve already messed up one relationship, now its time to strengthen others, especially with your children.