If you just caught your girlfriend cheating…
First, I’m sorry 💔
Few things hurt more (at least emotionally) than betrayal by a partner you’ve loved and trusted.
No one deserves to be cheated on, but it unfortunately happens, and I feel for you.
Since you caught your girlfriend cheating, however, you’re left with an important decision…
💭 Now what?
Today, I’ll walk you through the four essential steps to take if your girlfriend was caught cheating.
The goal is for you to move forward with as much serenity and grace (and as little pain 🤕) as possible.
Stay strong, and read on!
1. Keep Your Cool
You probably feel a lot of awful emotions right now 😦😡😵💫
This is natural. And you’re entitled to feel angry.
But realize that losing your cool, particularly with your girlfriend, will make what’s already a bad situation worse.
Right now your #1 priority is to stay calm, so you can chart the right path forward with a clear head.
Here are a few strategies that can help:
- Meditate. Meditating is a useful way to cool off because you can do it on your own, anytime, almost anywhere. If you don’t know how to meditate, it’s as simple as sitting and not thinking, and instead feeling. What sensations run through your body? If your thoughts drift to your girlfriend, or her cheating… Forgive yourself, let the thoughts go, and resume your meditation 🧘🏻♂️
- Phone a friend. Chatting with someone you trust, whether it’s an actual friend or a therapist, can take off the edge and provide essential emotional support. Don’t feel embarrassed to talk with them — you have these people in your life precisely because they can help you in tough situations 💪
Two things that won’t help are:
- Acting impulsively. Impulsive actions, like calling, or yelling, or retaliating against your cheating girlfriend may seem attractive in the moment, but they always cause trouble and consequences down the road. Resist the urge if she’s caught cheating 😶🌫️
- Fixating on the situation. It’s awful your girlfriend cheated, but I want you to also resist the urge to gather every detail, and script a lengthy and precise response... Why? None of this matters right now. It won’t actually make you feel better, it won’t help you move on, and it won’t improve relations with your girlfriend 😮💨
2. Have an Honest Look at the Relationship
Once you’ve gotten passed the initial shock of having caught your girlfriend cheating, it’s time to have an honest look at your relationship.
It’s likely that a fundamental aspect of the relationship was broken, prior to the occurrence of cheating.
Framed another way, cheating is a proximate problem, and symptomatic of a deeper root cause that led to it.
- What was your emotional connection like leading up to her cheating?
- Were you making enough time for each other?
- How was your sex life?
It’s easy to feel like a victim when you catch your partner cheating, but the reality is that cheating doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
For example it’s possible she’s reckless and untrustworthy, and 100% to blame for what happened, but also consider that:
- Maybe your actions caused her to feel unwanted, or ignored 😔
- Maybe your resistance to discussing certain relationship problems pushed her to find someone else who was more available to her 😒
This isn’t to imply you’ve done anything wrong in a situation where your girlfriend is caught cheating.
It’s just to encourage you to question the deeper root causes, so that you can avoid a painful recurrence.
On that note…
You also must honestly assess what you want from the relationship going forward.
Cheating is obviously incredibly damaging to trust and intimacy, but it isn’t inherently a death sentence for your relationship 💀
Many relationships bounce back after an incidence of cheating. Many relationships don’t…
Whether you should give things another chance depends on many factors, including:
- What caused the cheating (as discussed above)
- The extent of the cheating and betrayal (was it a one-time thing, or ongoing?)
- The dimensions of your relationship when it happened (e.g. how long had you been together?)
- Your values and beliefs, and ability to forgive
- Your desires for the future
- Your partner’s desires for the future
🤷 The right decision may be to walk away. Or it may be to give things another chance…
Ultimately this is a personal choice that requires honest reflection. It’s almost always beneficial to take the time and space to gain clarity around what you want before discussing it with your partner.
3. Be Direct With Her
When it’s eventually time to talk to your significant other and tell them you caught them cheating, be direct.
Don’t dance around what happened. Tell them what you know, and how it makes you feel.
When you confront your significant other, you may catch them off-guard.
A couple of tips to make this conversation as clean and productive as possible:
- Avoid the weeds 🌱 Calling attention to every detail can derail the conversation because it can lead to painful arguments around specifics that don’t ultimately matter to your path forward together (or apart).
- Keep your emotions steady ⚖️ This will portray you in the best possible light, and can help to stabilize your significant other’s emotions, which is important for having a constructive conversation.
- Describe, don’t re-enact, your feelings 😮💨 It’s actually OK to communicate that you feel anger, pain, and betrayal. A key purpose of this conversation is so that your partner knows how their actions made you feel. But it’s not OK (and never beneficial) to lash out, and exhibit these emotions when you chat.
- Don’t lose sight of your goals ⭐ What do you want from the conversation? Do you want to break up? Do you want to identify underlying problems that lead to the cheating? Do you want to simply communicate what you know, and that you need time to think things over? Keeping your goals in mind will help you steer (and end) the conversation appropriately.
- Remember to listen 👂 Particularly when you’re hurt, it’s human nature to default to expressing yourself. Self expression is absolutely important here, but so is remembering to listen, particularly if you have interest in rekindling the relationship (or just staying on civil terms going forward).
Another benefit of listening, even though it’s hard, is that you’ll better understand what actually went wrong.
This understanding is important, so you can avoid a recurrence of being cheated on going forward (whether you stay with this partner, or find another).
4. Remember It’s Not About You
Catching a significant other cheating can affect us for a long time.
Lingering feelings of betrayal, anger, jealousy, and sadness are normal after you’ve caught her cheating.
While healing may be a long road ahead, one of the best ways to begin is to understand that it’s not about you.
Cheating isn’t a reflection of who you are, or your worth.
It’s possible that your behavior may have contributed to your partner’s decision to cheat. But remember that:
- There’s a world of difference between cause and responsibility. For example many historians identify the proximate “cause” of World War I as the assassination of the Austrian Archduke, but that doesn’t make the assassin directly responsible for all of the bloodshed that subsequently occurred 🗡️
- The same way your actions are your responsibility, your partner’s actions are their responsibility. You only control your own actions (including who you choose to trust going forward!) 💪
- You deserve to be with a partner who respects you, and is faithful. This doesn’t change according to what caused the cheating in this specific situation ❤️
To summarize, no matter how you decide to move on, you must take responsibility for your role in what happened without blaming yourself. This will enable you to heal, learn, and move forward with your life.
Catching a partner cheating feels terrible, and there is no one way to cope and heal.
But you will get the best results, and enjoy the brightest future, if you can:
- Keep your cool
- Have an honest look at the relationship
- Be direct with her
- Remember it’s not about you
Good luck, and check out the ideas below if you're ready to move on ❤️🩹