So, you’re a cheater. Or you’ve got a cheater on your hands. Either way, you’re looking for a way to survive the infidelity and deal with the blow-back.
Though it might not seem this way at the moment, essentially, the cheater and the hurt partner are both looking to regain self-worth, dignity, and self-respect.
There’s a big difference between surviving and thriving; and with infidelity, it’s no different. You can easily survive the pain, the loss of self-esteem, the regret. You can easily walk away from a marriage, throw in the towel, and punish yourself, giving into every demand out of guilt.
Or, on the flip side, you can spend your days enacting revenge until you’re tired of punishing another human being. But creating and owning a life—your future—is a totally different kettle of fish.
If you were the cheater, or if you are still cheating on your spouse or lover or the person you’ve promised to be monogamous with (and you’re reading this), than I’m assuming you’ve got a conscience and you’re feeling a bit guilty about your behavior.
I also have to assume that if you’re involved with a cheater who’s told you about his or her affair, and you’ve chosen to end the marriage (or are thinking about ending it), then you are also looking for a way out of the anger, resentment and deep hurt.
Lastly, I’m assuming that you’re not a serial cheater or involved with a serial cheater. Serial cheaters don’t apologize. The words, I’m sorry are never spoken because they don't think they’re doing anything wrong. You can’t accept an empty request for forgiveness; because, to do so, you must first swallow your self-worth.
Here are a few tips to begin thriving and not simply surviving your infidelities:
All of it. The innocent (or not-so-innocent) flirting, the affair of the mind, your inability to communicate with your partner; to know what you want, to be able to ask for what you wanted in your relationship. All of it. 100% ownership is the only way out of your lack of respect or self-righteousness. Your partner did not, and does not, deserve to be lied to.
Are you going to punish yourself for going against your word? Are you going to push it aside and ignore the facts and simply deal with it, or power through the rest of your life? That attitude and mindset may be a short-term solution for a lot of things; but when it comes to your lifetime, that’s a long time to ignore something.
What are you going to do to thrive for the remaining days of your life?
Figure it out.
Now that you’ve decided to work on yourself, take responsibility and succeed, it’s time to figure out what you did to let yourself not be loved in your relationship. If you had low self-esteem before entering into your partnership, look at the conditions that brought you there. Ask what kept you from setting up boundaries to protect yourself. Why did others become more important than your own well-being? What personal stories do you constantly repeat in your mind? What made you think you would be comfortable lying to someone you love?
Take back your self-respect.
Hearts cause us pain, not our minds; and our thoughts—sure, it all might start there, but it’s your heart that hurts. No amount of thinking your way out of what you did is going to heal your heart. Your heart is where you feel, and feelings are the things that hurt—not logic. Logic is simply your mind looking for a way out of the mess. There is no way out. You must earn back your self-respect by living up to your word.
Learn to trust yourself.
Big declarations of love and faith are hard to stomach right now, because you know in your heart of hearts that you blew it. So avoid those huge declarations and resolutions as you start to survive infidelity. Start small, with something you can actually succeed at. Look at it this way: when your boss asks you to do something, you do it because you don’t want to get fired. Well, in relationships, if you don’t do what you say you’re going to, you forget that it’s you who suffers; the other person just gets pissed off and makes life miserable, but you live with not believing in yourself.
Give it time.
We’re all doing the best we can. Up until this moment, you’ve been doing the best you can, given what you know and how you’ve acted over the years. Though giving it time looks like being patient, it also means it’s time to up your game. There are thousands of writers, speakers, blogs, memes, preachers, rabbis, teachers, and coaches all around you. Find someone to help lead you out of the thinking that allowed you to mess up and cheat.
Each and every one of us deserves love. We deserve to thrive in our lifetimes, to be treated with kindness, to be seen and heard. Infidelity is an adult sport, not child’s play. When people cheat, everyone gets hurt. And as adults, we must deal with the blow-back.
Dealing with the blow-back looks like owning, deciding, figuring it out, living up to your word, taking back your self-respect, trusting yourself, and giving yourself the time to learn how to grow and thrive through infidelity so you’re no longer known as the cheater you once were.