The amount of relationships that end in infidelity is quite high and the rehabilitation is the worst part.
This is a post I struggled to write. It felt almost too personal, like I am airing my dirty laundry, however, I have done nothing wrong, so why should I feel ashamed to share what I went through…
The Way I See It
I realized that this is a post that will not only resonate with so many others but it will also be a helpful resource. Breakups are tough, but when you add infidelity, it adds another layer of trauma that you need to overcome.
I decided to post because I no longer feel I owe my ex-partner protection. I hold myself accountable for my actions and I try not to do things that I am ashamed of. When I do make a mistake, I take ownership of my actions.
If he is ashamed of his actions than maybe he should have thought them through. In my situation, there was no confession or apology, he assigned a lot of the blame on me and all the shortcomings of our relationship. This makes it even more challenging to gain acceptance, so I really wanted to share the process that I went through.
Grappling With Forgiveness
I will be honest, although I did put together a post on forgiveness, there are still days that I get a wave of anger or sadness even. I sometimes wonder what used to occupy the space in my mind before I experienced heartbreak. There are so many sweet moments to hold onto, the daily routines, the comradery, feeling protected; so it is only natural to have the constant reminder of inside jokes, or experiences together, or getting caught up in the highlights of the relationship rather focusing on all the low lights.
I have never been one to police my boyfriends, I have always thought that if I feel the need to question them than it is probably not a relationship that I should be in. When I first learned about the infidelity in my relationship, I was livid. I felt like I had done everything right, I had fully trusted him, I was an extremely supportive partner, I let him do whatever he wanted and I was never controlling. It was tough. He made a million excuses to dismiss his behaviour and try to rationalize it, which just made it that much harder for me. At the end of the day, I would never put myself in a situation where I would be tempted to be unfaithful, I would set boundaries right away, and that is what a caring mature partner would do.
It took hours of me justifying his actions in therapy to come to terms with the fact there is never an excuse for cheating and that there is nothing I could have done to single-handedly done to save our relationship.
You have an agreement when you are in a committed relationship, once you let someone else in, you have voided that agreement.
That being side, people make mistakes, and relationships can be saved post cheating but both parties have to want to make it work and want things to be different. Seeking guidance from a professional is imperative to repair the relationship.
It’s Not Your Fault
I think most people do this, but I replayed every decision that I had made. I thought about all the things I could have done differently to make sure my ex didn’t stray. I took extreme ownership of the fact that my ex was okay with cheating on me. I started to second guess myself. All I ever wanted was for him to be happy and throughout our relationship, I focused a lot of my energy on trying to succeed at this.
It really is not my fault and every person who has ever been a victim of cheating needs to hear this. I could be the most beautiful, charismatic, intelligent person in the world and my ex would have still cheated on me. If he felt there were issues in our relationship, we could have talked about them, we could have worked on them, we could have decided collectively to call it quits. There is never an excuse for cheating, this is a coward’s way out of a relationship. If your partner is blaming you or expecting you to be their main source of happiness, they have quite a bit of self-work to do.
The Other Women Hasn’t Won
My initial reaction was to contact the other women and let her know that not only was I the one who initiated our break up, but we had overlapped; however the other women knew I existed and was okay with it. This was not a boundary for her. I had a really hard time with this, since I consider myself to be a girl’s girl and I would never be ‘the other woman’. At the end of the day she owes me nothing, my partner is the one who made the commitment to me, not this random stranger.
At first, I felt like she won, she would be the stand-in for the life I had created with my ex-partner. She would benefit from all the energy I had put into helping my ex grow as a person.
My girlfriends/therapy really helped me see through this. She is not exempt from this happening to her. The day will come, maybe not this year or next year or the next four years but history is going to repeat itself. In the early days of my relationship, my ex had showered me with attention and had been just as infatuated with me as he probably is with her right now, but her time will come. No healthy relationship can be a product of infidelity and for a person to change it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes work and doing the work is not an easy task.
No matter what, you deserve better. Think of what you would say to your friends in the same situation? My parents really helped me to see this as a blessing, he is not the one for me, he showed me his true colours and I need to accept it. He was selfish, with no respect for me or our relationship, and that is not what a quality partner looks like or the type of partner I would like to have. This is a lesson that I needed to learn and now it is time to heal and move on.
Things Will Get Better
Finding out about infidelity is always heart-wrenching. Everything my ex had ever told me was a lie. I remember when I initially prompted the breakup, he told me he was going to take the time to work on himself so that he didn’t do the things he used to do to me anymore. That he wanted to be better. It was all bulls*t. It was so effortless for him to lie to me directly to my face.
I think it is an important reminder for women that we invest time in someone and patiently wait for them to fully give us what we need. Knowing when it is time to walk away is something all women need to learn, especially because you will never get that time back. Do you remember that movie, He’s Just Not That Into You? I thought I was dating Ben Affleck’s character when in reality I was dating Bradley Cooper’s character.
My ex never made me a priority, he had so many excuses and he was not willing to change. Sometimes when you walk away, you are closer to getting what you want than when you stay and hope things will change. If he values and appreciates you then he will treat you the way you deserve to be treated.
What has really helped me is how accepting people are, I may have gotten a little crazy but with breakups, you get a Crazytown Hall Pass. Finding a friend to confide in and to just listen to me vent and be supportive and understanding and gentle has been instrumental in pushing past my experience. The best reminder is that you can’t dwell on other people’s behavior. I can only focus on how they have affected me and how I can cope with them and learn and grow.
Take that Energy and Direct it Elsewhere
All the women that I know that have been cheated on, are smart, independent, beautiful powerful women who were wasting all their energy on their partners. Take that energy and redirect it back into yourself. The minute I started to put myself first I felt so much better.
Reading has also been a good outlet for me, almost like a form of self-care. I really wanted to understand my emotions and work through them, so I don’t continue to make the same mistakes and let the wrong people into my life again.
Acceptance was a hard one for me. It took a while to feel real. Every time I would go on a bad date, it made me angry at my ex. I would just think about the bond we had and how comfortable our relationship was, and how I was wasting another evening smiling and nodding with Mr.Not Right For Me. I think this is just a case of the grass is always being greener. A true connection will come and I would rather wait for someone that is willing to fully commit to me than someone who has their foot halfway out the door.
Building Real Relationships
Talking about my experience has brought me closer to so many people. It is nice knowing this too will pass. Everyone has obstacles that they need to overcome and sharing vulnerable moments is a way to form meaningful connections with people. When I share a major hurt in my life, there is always someone who can relate to it, or has been through a similar hardship; I now have this yearning for only authentic relationships and I shy away from surface conversations. The connections in my life are more meaningful and fulfilling now. There are so many new people I have invited into my life that have added way more value to my life than my relationship ever did. I have grown so much as a person and I have discovered a new level of comfort with who I am.
I had a hard time understanding someone that would be capable of cheating, it just seemed so foreign to me, and since I didn’t understand it I took a lot of ownership. It wasn’t until I read some articles on infidelity, that it really helped me have a clearer line of sight into cheating, and how it had more to do with what was going on with him not me. These are the articles that I thought were very helpful for me to have a greater understanding:
I really wanted this article to be more about me processing my feelings and what I did with them, rather than bashing my ex. We all struggle with self-worth and the self-talk that goes through our heads after a breakup. I know my imagination is my own worst enemy, so I found it helpful to hear time and time again that it is not my fault. Never take responsibility for other people’s actions and never feel you need to be responsible for someone else’s happiness.
At the end of the day, just don’t get stuck and give yourself time to heal. I know as time went on, it doesn’t sting as much and I have fully embraced that everything happens for a reason and he is not the one for me.