We all make mistakes. That is our human nature. We are not perfect. We are humans. And yes, infidelity is a big mistake. But at the end of the day, it is a mistake. As they say in The Lion King, you can either run from it or learn from it. Today, we will talk about how to forgive yourself for cheating.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “once a cheater, always a cheater”. But that is not true. Not all people go around and get in bed with anything that moves. Some people cheat because they are not happy in their relationship.
Just like stealing can range from a candy bar to a jewelry store or a bank, cheating can range as well. Life doesn’t end there. Your relationship might end, but your life doesn’t have to.
The very first step you need to make is to acknowledge what you did. And that will hurt. You didn’t just do a bad thing. You put your wants, not needs, above someone else’s feelings. You disrespected your partner. You manipulated him, and you did something awful. But you can now move on. Here are some things you need to do for how to forgive yourself for cheating.
Accept what you did
We said this is Step Number 1. Okay, you cheated. That is not the best thing you can do on a Wednesday night or Tuesday evening. But you did it. Now, accept it. Say to yourself, I cheated.
Come clean with your partner
Do not deny the fact till you die. If your partner suspects it, do not pull the “deny till you die” card. You can do better. In fact, it is even better if you come clean even before he shows signs of suspicion.
You cannot forgive yourself while you don’t get the forgiveness of your partner. If you play stupid with him/her, you won’t get forgiveness. Just admit it.
Stop the affair
This might sound obvious, but cheating and an affair is a completely different thing. There is a difference between a one-time thing and a long cheating relationship turning into an affair. Do not let it continue. You will not feel good if you continue the lying relationship.
As long as you stay in the affair, you will continue to feel guilty about it. You either stop the affair or end the relationship and turn the affair into a new relationship.
Take the blame
This one is obvious as well. You cannot blame others for your wrongdoings. Yes, you might have felt unhappy in your relationship. But if that is the case, you could have ended it.
You have to take the blame for destroying your partner’s trust in you and the relationship. Remember, there are limits to how much blame you can take on.
Focus on the why
After you take the blame and admit it, you need to take a look at the cheating incident. Why did it happen? How did it happen? Do you want to stay in the relationship with your partner? Or do you want to start a new one with your cheating partner?
Keep in mind, cheating has nothing to do with others or their feelings. It is all about you.
Do not demonize yourself
We said it before, you cheated, and it is a bad thing. But you are not a bad person. One mistake doesn’t make you the devil. Mistakes happen, and you need to learn from them. Most importantly, you need to learn to live with yourself.
Understand how to forgive yourself for cheating. Let go of the idea that you are a horrible person.
What do you want?
This is an important question to ask yourself during the forgiveness part. What do you want to do with yourself and your life? Do you want to continue the relationship with your partner? If that is the case, try to work things out with him/her. But you cannot continue if you deny the truth about cheating.
Do you want to end that relationship? If that is the case, take the steps to move on.
Do not expect instant forgiveness from your partner
Yes, your partner will probably forgive you in the long run. But that won’t happen the moment you tell them. Do not expect anything out of that conversation.
You are not entitled to forgiveness just because you came clean. Your partner might not want to forgive you for a long time. He/she doesn’t have to comfort you.
Acknowledge the pointlessness of your excuses
No excuse will help you. Yes, you can make tons of excuses why you cheated. But none of them will help you. They are pointless. You probably had a reason for cheating. And it might prove to be a good one. Or a shitty reason.
The fact of the matter is, your excuse does not cover up your mess.
Focus on learning from the mistake
After everything above, it is time to move on. What did you learn from the mistake? If you do not learn anything, then you might repeat it. We repeat things we do not learn.
You might need to sit down with yourself and focus on what you will do next. People repeat history. History doesn’t repeat itself.
Do not expect things to go easy. But it is what you need to do in order to forgive yourself. Do not fall into the trap of wondering “if I am a bad person”. Self-abuse will destroy you. And it is counter-productive.
The ultimate goal is to move forward and get better tomorrow than you were today. You screwed up once. You are not condemned as a “screwup” for your entire life. Things will get better. Believe in yourself.