By Daniel Sher, MA– Clinical Psychologist and Sex Therapy ExpertJuly 31, 2020
Learn how to get over being cheated on and move on
Getting cheated on feels awful. Sometimes, it can sting so badly that it negatively affects future relationships.
The tidal wave of thoughts and emotions that wash over you are likely to be intense: fury, shame, guilt, regret, abandonment and hopelessness. Having your trust broken like this is one of the most gut-wrenching, heart-breaking and devastating events that a person can go through.
So, what can you do to get over a cheating ex?
This article provides some practical tips for how to get over someone who cheated. We also talk about how to make sure that being cheated on doesn’t ruin future relationships. Use these pointers to heal those wounds and ensure that baggage doesn’t get carried through to other relationships.
Below, we cover 10 straightforward pointers for getting over your ex. It can help to approach these with a “growth mindset”. What does this mean? Understand that even though you’re in pain, you can manage that hurt in a way that will help you grow. For example, one study has shown that people who get cheated on are actually most likely to benefit in the long run. Let’s explore how:
- Stop blaming yourself It’s easy to blame oneself, but this is not helpful. It’s important to take steps to avoid falling into this trap. After being cheated on, people often tend to think about all the things they did wrong. You might find yourself spending large amounts of time pondering what you did wrong, and what could have been done differently. You need to challenge these thoughts! How? Start by writing a list of all of the positive things that you did for the relationship. These things can be incredibly basic, like “being there for my partner” or “never even thinking about cheating”. They can also be more complex, such as “buying flowers during times of distress” or “always listening when they speak”. Focusing on the positive things that you did for the relationship can help to remind you that actually, self-blame is not appropriate.
- Take time to mourn We mourn when we lose a loved one to death, or any other tragic event. Being cheated on can also trigger a mourning process. it’s the loss, not the event, that we mourn. Give yourself time to feel the pain. It may be an “easier” short-term solution to suppress those terribly painful emotions. But it’s doing no good in the long run. To do this, it’s necessary to actively make time in which you will do nothing other than experience, acknowledge and accept the pain. Pencil a time into your diary. Start with an hour on the first day. During that time, do nothing other than sit and feel. Allow the experience to wash over you without trying to control it. The following day, sit for an hour and a half; thereafter, 2 hours. Keeping this up on a daily basis will provide the space in which to mourn and heal. Even if you only have the time and patience to do this once a week, however, it can still be incredibly helpful.
- Get closure Getting closure means working out why you were being cheated on. Once a person gets this sort of closure, they’re usually better able to move on and stop going over imagined scenarios in their mind. Closure may be one of the most painful parts of the healing process. You may find yourself wondering about the circumstances behind your partner cheating on you. If you feel the need to know more, so that you can process it, that’s fine. How do you go about getting closure? If you’re sure that you want to walk this path, the first step is to contact your partner. Be completely transparent about your intentions. You might say something along the lines of “I want to have a conversation to understand what happened so that I can move on. Are you willing to have that conversation with me?” On the other hand, if you feel like discussing it would only hurt you more – then don’t do it. Everybody is different and we all deal with situations differently, so figure out what you need and work from there. Just know that it’s okay to not know all the answers. It’s fine to just experience the emotions for a while. Be easy on yourself – you deserve it.
- Use guided imagery to address negative thinking patterns After being cheated on, the mind has a natural tendency to dwell and obsess, repeatedly going over unresolved emotions and unanswered questions. “How could they do this to me?” “Am I not good enough?”; “How will I ever love again?”. These are the sorts of unhealthy thinking patterns that the mind tends to get caught up with. Guided imagery is a simple yet effective technique for promoting growth and healing. Also known as ‘self hypnosis’ or ‘visualization’, guided imagery involves harnessing the power of the imagination. For example, a guided imagery session might involve conjuring images of you experiencing health and happiness and closure even without your partner; or feeling safe and confident enough to start exploring new relationships. Apart from being easy and enjoyable, guided imagery is a science-backed approach. Research has shown, for example, that it can reduce anxiety, manage stress, lower blood pressure, improve self-esteem and heal the wounds of childhood abuse. How does it work? Psychologists believe that imaging these scenes activates the parts of the mind that would be involved if you were actually having these experiences. With enough practice, guided imagery can help you rewire your mind and replace problematic thoughts with healthier ones. There are many ways in which a person can experience this potentially life-changing technique. For example, you could create your own script, buy a pre-recorded session or seek the assistance of a psychologist or instructor.
Advertisement: follow these links from our partners at hypnosisdownloads.com for some pre-recorded sessions to help you overcome betrayal, stop thinking about an ex, get over the end of a relationship and learn to love again.
- Set goals for getting back on track Many people neglect themselves after being cheated on. Goal setting can help get your life back on track. . What sort of goals should you set? This is up to you – but choose something that encourages personal growth and self-esteem building. Examples of good goals to set include: Working out more often, eating a healthier diet, actively dating, spending more time with friends or starting a new hobby. As with any long-term goal, setting smaller goals along the way is always helpful. This will allow you to feel accomplished when you reach those goals and it may empower and encourage you to keep going. Psychology researchers have shown that achieving goals will increase feelings of psychological success and improve self esteem (something very important at this point – when you may be feeling low). In this case, then, the long-term goal achievement will form a part of your healing process.
- Cut ties with your ex Sometimes, cutting ties is the only way to move forward. This means completely severing the connection with the cheater. If you want to get over the person who cheated on you, remaining friends with them is not a good idea. Following them on social media is equally complicated. Remember that they made the decision to cheat, knowing the consequences. They decided to hurt you. Keeping them in your life will serve as an ongoing and unneeded reminder about what happened. Cutting ties in this way may also send out the message that what they have done is unacceptable. If you want to tell your ex that you’re no longer going to communicate with them, that’s fine. On the other hand, if you would rather just “ghost”, that’s also acceptable.
- Read a self-help book about being cheated on Self-help can help! Love them or hate, self-help books have helped some through the toughest of times. If you’ve been cheated on and you are in the process of rebuilding yourself and moving on, reading some books about this process can guide you. There are so many books out there. One option is called “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life” by Tracy Shorn. Reading such books may help you realize that there are other people out there who have gone through similar experiences and made it out stronger. They may help you see the light easier if you’re muddling through a dark tunnel. For more reading recommendations, visit this website.
- Don’t look back So, it’s been a few months and you’re feeling much better. Is it time to check in with your ex and see how they’re doing? Is it time to stalk them on social media to compare your lives now? No. There is never the right time for this if someone has cheated on you. You may feel better now, but you do not know what can of worms you may open up by looking back when you have already gone through the very painful healing experience.
- Ask for emotional support Getting cheated on can be traumatic – it’s ok to ask for support! Going through emotional trauma is never easy; and it shouldn’t be done alone. Humans are social beings, we thrive on human connection. A few sessions with a certified therapist could guide you through the healing process and help you ease the pain. If you don’t feel comfortable meeting with a therapist face to face, online therapy is also a viable option. Some companies even offer you the option of text messaging with a therapist. Alternately you could seek support from someone close to you. This support could come from a close friend or family member. Another option is seeking a specific support group aimed at dealing with being cheated on. You need to actively seek this out, either through an online search or a conversation with someone that’s close to you. Just remember that adding fuel to the fire by engaging negatively may not be healthy – so find alternative ways to speak about what happened. Speak about your emotional health, and what you’re going to do now – rather than just venting in anger constantly. Don’t get us wrong, venting is healthy, but it needs to be constructive and doing so for continuous periods of time is not going to help you as much as actively constructing your well-being.
- Spend time doing activities you love Make time to nurture yourself, as this can help speed along the healing process. Whether it’s an art class, a hike, going to the mall, or watching a movie – spend more time doing things you love. It’s time to start working more on you, and the only way to do that is to take care of yourself. Don’t let this infidelity make you crawl up and withdraw from the world. Spending time doing things you love may help you build yourself up again, and help you realize that your emotional healing is important. The first step is to identify what you enjoy doing – an activity that you’d like to be doing more of. The second step is to pencil time for this activity into your diary so that you ensure you treat yourself.
- Remind yourself that breaking up was for the best Your partner hurt you, but the breakup is probably for the best. Why? A research paper showed that a person who cheats once is three times more likely to do it again. In other words, it’s likely to be in your best interests that this happened now, giving you a chance to move on before getting hurt again. Furthermore, cheating suggests a lack of self-control and an insensitivity to the needs of others. Whether it’s in the form of cheating or something else, chances are that you would have opened yourself to getting hurt again by staying in the relationship. So, what can you do? Remind yourself, daily if needed, that this is the best possible outcome. If necessary, write “it’s for the best” on a sticky note and read it to yourself when you wake each morning. By keeping this truth in mind, you’ll encourage yourself in the process of moving on.
When Should You Seek Professional Help?
If being cheated on has led you to develop the following symptoms, then you should consider speaking with a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist:
Suicidal thoughts or behaviors, on going sadness that never seems to lift, Changes in your eating and sleeping patterns, fatigue an inability to concentrate Finding it difficult to enjoy things that previously would have cheered you up.
All of these are symptoms of depression. In some cases – especially if you or a family member has had a psychiatric illness before – being cheated on can trigger an episode. If you’re depressed, then it’s vital to get professional help.
Even in the absence of depression, however, there is nothing wrong with seeking help from someone who has a theoretical background knowledge on cheating. Many people view therapy as a last resort – but it shouldn’t be. Therapists and counselors study for years to get to the point that allows them to help other people cope with these sorts of situations.
This means they are qualified to help you in dealing with what you’re currently going through, and what you may experience in the near future. There are specialists who deal with relationship counselling, and what to do after a breakup and infidelity specifically – you just need to find one.
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Difficult Experiences Help us to Grow
This article has described some ways to deal with getting over someone who cheated on you. It’s important to remember that this is about you, and in these moments, it’s okay to put yourself first.
Also know, however, that it’s by experiencing pain that we are able to grow into more resilient people. While it may not feel this way initially, you may eventually find yourself looking back at this trauma and seeing it as a turning point for your personal growth! Ultimately, what matters is how you respond. Don’t procrastinate – start implementing these 10 pointers today, in order to grow into a stronger version of yourself.
About Daniel Sher, MA
Clinical Psychologist and Sex Therapy Expert
Daniel Sher is a registered clinical psychologist and a sex therapy expert practicing in Cape Town, South Africa. Daniel gained his master’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2014. A component of his training and practice involves working in the context of sexual and sex-related issues.
Daniel is a professional consultant for the Between Us Clinic, where he writes, edits, and reviews, professional materials and articles. He also treats patients at his clinic for male sexual dysfunctions including, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction and sexual performance anxiety.