Whether you are the one who was cheated on, or you lied to your spouse about your whereabouts, secretly hooking up with someone else, the question that might be nagging at the back of your mind is still the same: do I deserve to be happy after cheating?
You need to remember that everyone deserves to be happy, regardless of whether they cheated on their partner in the past or not. Moving on is essential, no matter what mistakes we made – as long as we can forgive ourselves and learn from those mistakes. We are human beings, and as such, we seek happiness wherever we can find it (or wherever it can find us). It’s part of human nature.
This isn’t to say that cheating is okay – on the contrary. It is hurtful, disrespectful and should be avoided at all cost. But if it already happened, well… There certainly is life after cheating, or the proverbial death of a relationship, if both of you want it of course.
How to Forgive Yourself After You Cheated on Your Spouse
Seeking forgiveness should be the first step after cheating. However, that step should always begin from within. You can’t expect your spouse to forgive and forget, if you keep beating yourself up about what happened. Let yourself go through all the emotions that are overwhelming you right now. Whether this happened a week or a few years ago, if you haven’t forgiven yourself, it is likely that you are still unable to move on with your life.
Feeling guilty and wanting to punish yourself for what you did is okay. And so is the idea that you don’t deserve happiness. Think about it this way: your pain is similar to loss and grieving. You lost your way and your old self, and now the grieving process needs to begin.
You need to feel the negative before you can shift your focus (denial, regret, anger, acceptance). Yes, you did something you probably swore you would never do. You made a mistake, and there probably will be consequences. But the most important thing is to learn from it all and ask yourself the right questions.
Why did you do it in the first place? Was it out of boredom? Did you want to experience new things? Maybe you didn’t get what you needed at home sexually. Whatever your reasons, you need to be honest with yourself.
You can’t forgive yourself (and neither can your spouse) until you realise whether this is something you will likely do again. Because, we left the two most important questions last: do you still love your spouse, and do you want to save the relationship?
I have forgiven myself for cheating. Now what?
If you have forgiven yourself for cheating, that’s a great start, however, that should only be the first step. Unfortunately, your route to happiness doesn’t end there. There is no magic button you can press to erase what happened. You need to accept that.
Communication is key here. Talk to your spouse. Ask them how your cheating made them feel. Then talk about how it made you feel. Remember, you weren’t the only person involved in the affair (well, it was at least three of you).
Your spouse might not have been part of the affair as such, but they need to suffer the consequences. So, knowing how they really feel is as important as knowing how you feel. It can help you with the process of saving the relationship, too.
Can the Relationship Ever be the Same?
The relationship can be the same if both of you manage to give yourselves a clean slate. It won’t be easy and it will take time. Lots of it. The past will be brought up, and you will hear about your cheating quite a few times during arguments. And that’s why it’s important that before you try to fix your relationship, you look deep within and ask yourself what you are hoping to achieve.
Once you have the answers and know what you want to do with your life, that will give you strength to battle through these arguments. Remember, time will heal the wounds, but only if they don’t keep being ripped open (aka if you don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again).
Cheating once can be a mistake and many people can accept it, move on and forgive their partner. In time, the relationship can be the same, or almost the same as before the cheating happened. However, if someone gets cheated on multiple times, there is only that much that can and will be forgiven.
What if my partner left me after I cheated?
If your partner left you because you cheated on them, then you need to accept that. It might not be for ever, but you will need to work extremely hard to get them back. Yes, we aren’t sugar-coating things for you here. You made a mistake, and you are facing circumstances you didn’t think would occur.
You need time to process all of it and decide what you want, but so does your partner. Time is of essence here and patience. Be patient with your partner, because they have to go through the same grieving process as you do, just from the other side of it.
They lost their faith in you, and that’s not easy to get back. And it doesn’t happen overnight. And, let’s face it, you might need to find a way to accept that your partner might never come back. Sometimes in life we only get one chance, and if we let that pass us by, there won’t be another one. At least not with the same person.
Again, give yourself time and go through all the emotions. Yes, especially those ones you don’t want to feel: the guilt, the anger, the shame, the regret. Let it all in, so you can eventually let it all go and be happy once again. Remember that everything happens for a reason.
Maybe the relationship just wasn’t meant to be. There is someone out there for you, someone who will make you happy. It will be hard, but you need to realise that you have to give both yourself and your partner a chance to be happy – whether it is together or with someone else entirely. You can still be happy once you let go.
I ran off with the other woman/man, do I still deserve to be happy?
You ran off with your second (or now first choice) of a partner in pursuit of happiness, right? Then, as hard as it is, you need to fulfil that promise and let go of what happened. You might feel like you are on a slippery slope, and you probably are in a way.
You cheated on your partner with the other person, and now that person might think you will leave them for yet another. There is no easy way around this, but with time and effort, you can prove to your new partner and yourself that things will be different this time.
And if they aren’t? Then you both need to decide whether the new relationship is making you happy or not and act accordingly. Remember, your new partner deserves to be happy too, so honesty should be your policy from now on.
I never told anyone, cheating in secret. What can I do?
Just because someone doesn’t know that you are cheating, it doesn’t make it okay. But it also doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve to be happy. However, you need to admit to yourself that you can’t have it both ways, because you will end up damaging both relationships.
And we haven’t even talked about your relationship with yourself. What do you feel when you look into the mirror, or after a night with your affair? If it doesn’t feel right, or if it makes you feel like you are a horrible person, don’t panic.
It’s your subconscious telling you that you are on the wrong path, hurting others and yourself. Look deep within and be honest. At first with yourself, then with others. Yes, that might mean that you will lose everything you think is yours. But is it really if it’s based on a lie?
Again, the stack of lies didn’t just accumulate overnight, so give yourself time. But remember that the situation isn’t fair on anyone (you included). Just because your spouse doesn’t know that you are cheating on them, it doesn’t mean you aren’t doing it.
Everyone deserves to be happy, and that includes you and your partners. Whether it’s together or with other people, well… Time will tell. But it’s your responsibility to let everyone be happy – including yourself. Purely because you are the only person who knows what’s truly going on, right? Change that and your chances of happiness will change, too…