You know exactly why you’re reading this.
You’re doing the unthinkable - you’re cheating on your girlfriend.
So now what?
Things to know
- Acknowledge the problem and accept responsibility for your actions.
- Consider your intentions and whether they are genuine and considerate towards your girlfriend.
- Decide whether to come clean or not, taking into consideration the circumstances of the betrayal and the potential consequences. Then, make amends and learn from your mistakes.
If you're ready to take the necessary next steps, let's break the problem down into tiny little pieces:
- Acknowledge The Problem
- Accept Responsibility
- Figure Out Your Intentions
- Come Clean
- When To Come Clean
- How To Come Clean
- Deal With The Consequences
- Make Amends For Cheating On Your Girlfriend
- Learn From Your Mistakes, Don’t Repeat Them
Acknowledge The Problem
There’s a reason every rehab session starts with acknowledging the problem. When you acknowledge a problem, you make it real. It’s no longer necessary to hide in the dark or play cloak and dagger with it. It’s there, and you must do something about it.
By acknowledging that you’re cheating on your girlfriend, you’re accepting the reality of the situation, and you can finally work on repairing your relationship.
Accept that if you are in a monogamous relationship, cheating is a duplicitous and hurtful thing to do. Please don’t blame your infidelity on your girlfriend, her male friend, or a cheating dream. The bottom line is no one else is to blame for your decision to cheat on your girlfriend. It’s time for you to accept some hard truths.
Your cheating has nothing to do with your girlfriend
It’s easy to justify your behavior by claiming your girlfriend isn’t meeting your needs. Stop blaming your girlfriend for your actions. We both know she isn’t holding a gun to your head and forcing you to cheat on her.
Healthy relationships take work from both partners. Did you ever try to talk to your girlfriend about these unmet needs? Did you ever have a candid conversation about the relationship and if it was still making either of you happy?
Okay, so maybe you tried to talk to her, and she just wouldn’t budge. The thing is, when a romantic partner refuses to address your concerns, you have several options - seek help from a relationship expert, go to couples therapy or end the relationship. Having an affair isn’t one of them.
Your cheating has nothing to do with your parents
Perhaps you grew up in a dysfunctional home and never got to experience what a loving, committed relationship looks like.
While research has shown that your parents’ relationship is a model for future relationships, there’s a little thing called personal autonomy. With the right help and enough effort, making your own decisions and breaking the cycle of dysfunction is possible.
Figure Out Your Intentions
You’ve got to be honest about what your current relationship means to you. If you’d like to fix your relationship, think about what’s motivating you.
Do you still love your girlfriend? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to deal with the consequences of your cheating? Make sure that your intentions are genuine and that you aren’t set on salvaging the relationship out of guilt.
Experts are pretty divided on this one.
One argument is that coming clean is the best thing to do — experts who agree with coming clean claim that a relationship can only move forward after a sincere confession.
They say that once you come clean, you and your girlfriend can work together to repair the relationship. They believe you are also less likely to cheat again if you’ve dealt with the consequences.
The other argument is that coming clean is potentially a self-serving act that only ever shifts the burden of the betrayal to someone else. Sure, confessing would be a liberating experience for you, but would it be fair to her?
Experts against confessing argue that it’s not a good idea to come clean simply because you’re feeling guilty. They would advise you to confide in a friend or mental health professional instead of inflicting pain on your girlfriend for selfish reasons.
Use your discretion
Ultimately, there are no simple answers, and you’ll have to use your discretion. You might find it beneficial to consider the circumstances of your betrayal.
If you cheated once and you don’t plan on doing it again, it might be best to spare your girlfriend the trauma.
If you’ve been cheating for a while with the same person, it could point to emotional cheating. Emotional affairs are more complicated, and dealing with them is much more challenging. Here, it’s wise to come clean, as salvaging your relationship will require a significant effort from you and your girlfriend.
If you’re compulsively cheating with random people, there’s a more serious issue that you need help with. Coming clean would probably be the best option, as you and your girlfriend might have to seek medical advice.
When To Come Clean
It’s best to come clean in the following situations:
If your girlfriend confronts you
You’ve been behaving suspiciously, and the quality of your relationship has taken a nosedive. You think you’re being slick, but you’re not. Your girlfriend is on to you, and she’s just waiting for the right time to ambush you with her findings.
If your girlfriend confronts you about her suspicions which, in this case, are true, don’t insult her intelligence or outstanding detective skills. It’s probably best to come clean.
If you’ve been caught red-handed
This should be an easy one, but you’ll be surprised how many guys have tried to deny something they’ve been caught doing. Confessing, apologizing, and trying to diffuse the situation should be your main priority.
If you’ve ever watched an episode of Cheaters, you know how easy it is for situations like this to turn violent, so tread carefully.
If you think it will improve the quality of your relationship
Perhaps you’ve weighed all your options and feel a clean slate is the only way to have a healthier relationship going forward. Infidelity certainly doesn’t always spell doom for a relationship, and some experts even believe that the vulnerability associated with a sincere confession can bring a couple closer.
How To Come Clean
If you’ve decided to come clean, it will probably feel like the worst thing you’ve ever done. Write everything down in an apology letter first, which can help you organize your thoughts.
Pick the right place
As for the actual deed, find a place where you won’t be disturbed - it’s going to be a very emotional affair. Please don’t take her to her favorite restaurant and then drop the bomb. That’s just cruel, and she might not be able to stand the sight of that restaurant for months.
Don’t attempt something cowardly like mailing her the apology letter or confessing through a text message.
Be prepared to admit all your wrongs and accept full responsibility for them. Make eye contact and be as sincere as you can when apologizing. Try not to justify your behavior or shift the blame to your girlfriend as a defense mechanism. Nobody likes the ‘everyone cheats’ person. In reality, all everybody wants to do is knock their lights out. Don’t be that person.
Deal With The Consequences
You’ll have to deal with the consequences of cheating on your girlfriend. In a nutshell, discovering you are cheating on her is likely to cause her:
- Emotional distress
- Self-esteem issues
- Trust issues
Be prepared for any of the following to happen:
She might break up with you
Your girlfriend may hate your guts and want to end the relationship. You might have to endure a lonely grieving process when she cuts you out of her life.
Dealing with a failed relationship comes with its own challenges, and you’re going to have to find healthy ways of coping with the loss. Perhaps use the time alone to do some reflection and find new hobbies.
Resist the urge to continue having an intimate relationship with the other person. Research has shown that relationships that develop out of infidelity have the lowest success rates.
She might not break up with you
Your girlfriend might not break up with you. But understand that the road to forgiveness will be long and that the relationship may never go back to the way it was before you cheated.
Be open to couples therapy, especially if you had difficulty communicating even before the affair. Reconciliation after infidelity can be a complex process, and in the long run, it helps to have a professional guide you through it.
Her friends and family might give you a hard time
It’s entirely possible that your girlfriend’s friends and family will demand your head on a stick. Their interference could make the entire ordeal even more complicated. They could persuade your girlfriend to kick you to the curb or make it difficult for you to rectify things.
Even if you and your girlfriend work things out, they may still resent you, causing tension in your relationship. They may still view you as a no-good cheating partner, even after reinventing yourself.
She might retaliate
There’s a possibility that your girlfriend might decide to give you a taste of your own medicine. While this certainly isn’t an ideal response, it’s a pretty common one. Many people view revenge cheating as a great way to deal with their emotional scars.
Make Amends For Cheating On Your Girlfriend
Accepting responsibility and admitting you cheated on your girlfriend is not the same as taking full responsibility for your actions. This is how you take full responsibility:
Ditch the other relationship. No excuses, no compromises. Let it go. Get rid of that person’s phone number, block them on social media and commit to never seeing them again. Your girlfriend might want you to do this in her presence. Indulge her. Show her you are sincere in your actions and that you’re committed to fixing the relationship.
Have an honest conversation
Your girlfriend might want to know all the details of your affair. Expect questions about how you met this other person and how long you’ve been seeing them. Be prepared to answer your girlfriend’s questions as honestly as possible.
Let your girlfriend lead the recovery process
Your girlfriend might want to spend some time away from you to process all the negative emotions. Please respect her wishes and any other boundaries she puts in place.
Your girlfriend might also want to keep tabs on you to check that you aren’t falling into old habits. Try to be honest and transparent. Understand that you’ve broken her trust and that restoring it will take a lot of patience and cooperation on your part.
Do some serious introspection
Promising to never cheat on your girlfriend without fixing the underlying issue is insincere, not to mention a recipe for disaster. You’ve got to get to the root cause of your cheating to figure out what behaviors led you down the path of infidelity in the first place.
If you cheated in a past relationship, it could point to a greater pattern of destructive behaviors that need to be addressed. Similarly, if you have trust issues from past relationships that are causing you to cheat as a coping mechanism, you might benefit from seeing a professional.
It might be helpful to consider when you cheated for the first time. Destructive behaviors have triggers, and figuring out what they are can be beneficial next time. Did you cheat because of an emotional connection that progressed into something more? If so, you might want to work on creating boundaries that respect your relationship.
Think about how you justified cheating. These are key areas for self-improvement. Perhaps you need to work on your communication skills or how to deal with conflict in a healthy way.
Be intentional about changing
Once you’re committed to making a change, be intentional about it. If you’re serious about maintaining a healthy, long-term relationship:
- Consider seeing a professional who can help you address any personal issues that might have caused you to cheat.
- Commit to communicating openly and honestly with your girlfriend.
- Rekindle the romance and try to do everything you enjoyed doing when you first met.
- Work with a relationship coach to help you and your girlfriend reconnect and grow as a couple.
- Work with your girlfriend to establish boundaries that protect your relationship.
- Be open to learning about healthy ways to cope with conflict.
Learn From Your Mistakes, Don’t Repeat Them
It’s tempting to wallow in guilt and self-loathing.
Cheating is something you do, not something you are. You’re not a bad person; you’ve just done a bad thing. Change is on the other side of intentional effort.
Now go out there and be a better partner.