So you messed up. You cheated. Now what?
Well there are a lot of directions you could go from here. For example, you could wallow in your own guilt and shame, or, the opposite, you could blame everyone else for your actions. You could give up on the relationship and run or you could attempt to restore what’s been broken.
There are many scenarios…some better than others, so here are some things to consider as you look to the future.
5 Ways to Approach the person you cheated on and your relationship:
- You don’t have to assume the relationship is over. If you decide to immediately run from the relationship, you are avoiding taking any responsibility. It’s really a cop out. Maybe the relationship won’t last, but it very well could. And it might even end up stronger on the other side, if you are BOTH willing to work at it.
- Acknowledge you messed up and seek forgiveness. You have created a problem in the relationship. You have broken trust and caused another person to perhaps feel unloved or not good enough. Sure, there may be deeper problems between you and your partner, but the fact remains your infidelity was a betrayal of your commitment.
- End all communication with the person you cheated with. This probably goes without saying, but if you want any chance of restoring your relationship, you need to cut ALL ties with the person you cheated with. This will demonstrate to your partner that you are serious about saving your relationship and committed to them alone.
- Give your partner time to heal. Realize that you have wounded them deeply and it will take time for them to forgive you and learn to trust you again. Don’t insinuate that they should “be over it” by now.
- Answer their questions honestly. As you work to gain their trust back it is important to be absolutely transparent and willing to talk about what happened. Try to view what happened through their eyes and what you might want to know and how you might feel if the tables were turned.
Whether the relationship survives or not, let’s consider how you, personally, can move forward. You don’t want to go through this again. You want to heal from the past and have meaningful relationships in the future.
5 Life-changing Steps for the Cheater:
- Figure out why you did it. There could be many reasons – it could be because of something missing in your relationship, or something missing within yourself. It could be the situation you allowed yourself to be in. Regardless, no one is to blame for the fact that you gave in to the temptation of cheating except for you. It is important to figure out what is at the root of your behavior so you can keep it from happening again.
- Don’t let this mistake define you. It’s commonly said, “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” However, this doesn’t have to be true. If you decide you want to change, you can, especially if you seek God’s help. He wants to help you conquer the temptations you face in life. There is a great song by 10th Avenue North that says “You are more than the sum of your past mistakes.” I love this line because you don’t need to continually label yourself as a “cheater,” you are so much more.
- Accept you can’t go back in time. To obsess over wanting a “do-over”, isn’t going to change anything. At some point you need to accept what’s done is done. Now it is time to learn from it and move forward. Wallowing in regret does not make you a pleasant person to be around and it keeps you from investing in the lives of others because you are too focused on yourself.
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- Forgive yourself. No one is better at beating yourself up than you. It is good to realize how much you hurt another person, and feel deeply sorry about it, but at some point you need to forgive yourself. It is not healthy to hate yourself or think you need to continually suffer for what you did. Forgiveness is giving up your desire to make someone pay for what they did. When you forgive yourself you are saying, I know what I did was wrong, but I will stop punishing myself for it, so that I can move forward and be a better person.
- Accept God’s forgiveness. Confess your sin to God and then accept his forgiveness. Did you sin? Sure. Was it bad and did it hurt others? Sure. Does that mean God can’t or won’t forgive you? Absolutely not. God is longing to forgive you. For you to keep dwelling on your sin and believing it’s too much for God to forgive is insulting to God. It’s like you are saying to God, “I know you sent your son, Jesus, to die on a cross so that he could pay for the burden of my sin and I can be forgiven, but that’s not enough for me. My sin is too big for that.” God says it is enough! Believe that! Rest assured that he has removed your sins from you as far as the east is from the west.