We see it on TV and movies all the time, but how do affairs start…
We all make mistakes, but is it possible to learn how to forgive yourself for cheating and not telling, or do you always have to come clean?
Relationships are complicated and difficult things. You think you’re in love, that you’ll never do anything to hurt your partner and that everything is going great and then for some reason, you make a mistake. You cheat on your partner. It’s a one off and you have no intention of repeating it, but what do you do? Do you tell them at the risk of ending the relationship and hurting your partner forever? Do you hide it, and learn how to forgive yourself for cheating and not telling?
Whatever you choose to do, how do you live with the guilt and shame for the rest of your days?
Now, I should say here and now that I have never been in your shoes and I can only advise you on what I think you should do. I have however been on the other side of the situation and been the one cheated on. My partner didn’t tell me straight, I found out from another person and he then confirmed it. It was soul-crushing and heartbreaking.
Would it have been easier if he’d told me himself? To be honest, I wish I’d never found out.[Confession: Revenge sex and everything I learned after having sex with another person]
I know, many people right now will be shaking their heads at me, but that’s how I feel. It was a one off and I wish I had never had to deal with the upset and pain that it caused.
Everyone is different however; perhaps this has happened to you and you’re glad that you found out because it taught you a lesson. We live and learn and we deal with difficult situations in our own ways. No judgement here.
So, when the boot is on the other foot and you’re the one who has cheated, is it possible to learn how to forgive yourself for cheating and not telling? Or, will it always eat away at you? [Read: Is ignore bliss? The pros and cons on cheating and confessing]
Everyone is different, but if you’re sure it’s not going to happen again, if you’re 100% committed and you know that the news will do nothing but cause a world of pain and heartbreak for no reason, should you tell?
How to forgive yourself for cheating and not telling – is it even possible?
Most people would find the guilt of cheating hard to deal with. In some ways, it might even change how you behave and you might become defensive or overly critical of your partner and what they do, because you’re deflecting the guilt away from yourself.
At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself this question – can you learn how to forgive yourself for cheating and not telling completely or will the guilt always be there? That’s a question only you can answer for yourself.
The other thing you need to be sure of is that it was a one-off mistake that will never be repeated. If you hand on heart can’t 100% say that you’ll never cheat again, your partner deserves better. In that case, you need to be honest and tell them, or you need to figure out what you want and what is making you look towards someone else or something else. [Read: 9 powerful yet practical steps to rebuild trust after you’ve cheated]
However, if you’re sure that you made a grave mistake and that you have no intention of it ever happening again, is there any sense in causing your partner pain?
Let me tell you, the pain of finding out that your partner cheated on you, whether it was recently or far in the past, is debilitating on so many levels. Do you want to expose your partner to that?
I appreciate that my view is probably a little controversial and there are going to be people reading this, shaking their heads and saying “why should you help someone learn how to forgive yourself for cheating and not telling?” I totally get it, and I agree too, but I also think that sometimes it’s not worth causing someone pain that they don’t need to feel. [Read: Why your ego plays the biggest part in overcoming an affair in a relationship]
Ask yourself this – if it happened to you and it wasn’t anything that would ever happen again and if your partner was 100% truly sorry and hated themselves for their actions, would you want to go through the pain and heartache or would you rather carry on without the knowledge?
I know which one I wish I’d been able to choose, because I can remember the pain and constant self-doubt that knowing this news caused me.
The bottom line is that everyone makes mistakes sometime. And yes, sometimes those mistakes are hurtful to other people. In that case, it’s about learning how to forgive yourself for cheating full stop, and it’s not all about learning how to forgive yourself for cheating and not telling.
So, how can you forgive yourself?
With a lot of soul searching, and it’s going to be painful. To be fair, I’m sorry, but you deserve the pain in this case, and if helps you to grow, I’m all for it.
Unpick the event in your mind and ask yourself why you did it, whether you’re ever likely to repeat it, and genuinely find out from yourself whether you’re happy in your relationship – and I mean truly happy. Was it a one-off slip up? Were you drunk? [Read: So your partner drunk kissed someone? Here’s what you’ve got to do]
In order to learn how to forgive yourself for cheating and not telling, you first need to make peace with the mistake you’ve made and accept that you did indeed make a huge mistake, one which could have potentially lost you your relationship.
Understand the gravity of the situation
You also need to think about whether or not your partner is likely to find out from someone else. If there is any chance that they are, you need to be the one to tell them first. Do not allow them to find out this news from a person who thinks they’re doing a good thing, but is actually causing even more pain in the long-run. It’s undignified for your partner and it’s going to make them feel worse.
However, if you’re sure that you made a mistake that won’t be repeated and you’re sure they’re not going to find out from someone else, it’s time to move on.
Let it go, breathe through it, accept that you made a mistake and that you feel bad about it. Understand that you’re human and although you wish you could go back in time and change it, you can’t. Learning how to forgive yourself for cheating and not telling really comes down to learning your lesson and understanding how you came this close to losing your partner. [Read: How to fix a broken relationship and help it last]
When you’ve given yourself enough of a hard time and you’ve accepted the guilt and shame, commit to a happier future with your partner and let it go. It’s really that simple.
If you’re not going to tell, you just need to let it the hell go and make sure that you never fall foul of the same thing again. If you do, you cannot be forgiven – once is a mistake, twice is a choice.
Some people find it useful to write down what they’re trying to let go of and then burn it. As you’re watching it burn, allow yourself to feel the guilt leaving your body. Try it, it’s very useful and very cathartic.
If you feel you want to protect your partner from the pain because you know 100% that it was a mistake that won’t be repeated, you have to acknowledge the mistake and allow it to leave your life, focusing on making everything from this point better than before.[Read: How to confess to cheating on your partner – The step-by-step guide]
Learning how to forgive yourself for cheating and not telling means you need to feel the guilt and feel the shame before you can let it go. You deserve to give yourself a hard time.