Coping With The Reality You're The Cheater
Here's what it's like to discover you've crossed the infidelity relationship line, and now you have to live with it.
Today, yesterday, perhaps a week ago, you woke up and realised you went from being an ordinary person to a cheating jerk.
You dipped your toe into the well of opportunity. You couldn't keep it in your pants and cheated on your partner with someone else. And now, you're wondering, what is to come of the rest of my life?
Most people aren't going to be sympathetic to your plight. Perhaps that's why you're reading this.
The internet should hopefully be more sympathetic.
But most of the time, the coping advice seems targeted at helping your broken-hearted mate - the cheat-ee.
Whilst I don't deny your partner deserves support, love and warmth, it's not like this newfound status is a walk in the park for you either.
As a reformed cheater, as someone who crossed the line way too often, knowing you're a cheater comes with problems. How do you move on? What do you do next? How do you stop yourself from becoming an addicted cheater?
Here is your 101 of becoming a cheater and what to do next.
You have to make a decision; secret or honesty
Here is the first thing to know; there is no right or wrong about what you do next. You have to make a decision, and no matter what option you take, it doesn't wipe away the fact you cheated.
You will have to decide on one of the following options:
- Tell your partner you cheated
- Keep your cheating a secret and never tell them what happened
Most people are going to have a clear path for you, should you ask them what to do if they were in your shoes. The decision will be 50/50, much like your choices.
People will think it's best that you tell your partner what happened. And others will swear secrecy is best.
Both options come with significant downsides. If you tell your partner you cheated, you:
- Invite heartbreak into your relationship
- Invite the reality you will break up with your partner
- Invite distrust into your relationship
- Cause flow on effects from cheating such as problems with family, friends, divorce and parenting
If you don't tell your partner, you:
- Have to live with a vicious secret
- Have to cover this secret for the rest of your life
- Hope and wish every day you don't get caught, which takes a toll on you
Either way, you're screwed. But it doesn't mean you can't make a decision. There is no limbo land here. You have to take a path and stick to it. Which path?
Well, I can't decide that for you.
You have a secret with the person you've cheated with
When venturing down the secret-keeping path, there is more than just the reality you have to keep a secret. It's that someone else already knows your secret. It's the person you did the dirty with.
This person might be someone you know well, whose name you don't remember, and have no clue if you're ever going to see again. Despite that, it doesn't change the fact that this person:
- Knows your secret - And if you're not careful, they might have evidence of the indiscretion. You can't control 100% how they document their relationship with you. They might take photos, videos, and save mementos without your knowledge.
- Knows it's a sensitive secret you probably don't want spreading around - But will happily hold it against you. The other person in this scenario isn't the one who feels worried about this secret getting out unless they too are in a relationship (loophole by the way). They aren't obligated to hide your infidelity.
- Might go back on a secret - You can do pinky promises all you want but people will break secrets they've sworn to keep.
- Is tied to you for life - Your indiscretion and their participation are now linked forever. You can't address any part of your cheating without their involvement. It's kind of like having a child with someone. They have you forever.
Is this person someone you want to keep a secret with? Really?!
Normally we hold secrets with people we trust and love. Our partner is the person we try to have this level of trust and intimacy with.
Yet, if it's someone you don't know that well, or haven't been in a trusting relationship with, you're gambling with their secret-keeping abilities.
If you want to tell someone about the affair, you unlock the vault
I get that keeping this information to yourself is almost impossible. You so desperately want to tell someone in your life what happened.
Though I'm sure you want them to be sympathetic to you and keep your secret, they aren't guaranteed to behave the way you need or want them to.
They're human and wonderfully unpredictable. And we love to gossip.
Unlocking the vault, however, comes with more than just a risk of secrets spreading around. It's about how someone who cares about you knows what happened.
You're spreading the fallout with other people. And you're inviting judgement and the need to resolve this situation with them.
If you tell a friend, for example, it means:
- They're going to want to help you, make you talk about it, help you resolve the issues surrounding the incident
- They're going to want to help your partner and your relationship, with possible interference
- They're going to watch you, to make sure you don't slip up again
- They're going to remember this the next time you need a shoulder to cry on, and for when you possibly don't deserve the sympathy
- They might use it against you to get what they want, as they now have something over you. This doesn't make them a 'good friend', by the way. But alas, humans.
Everyone thinks you're a "cheating a**hole"
Every time you tell someone you cheated, it's all your fault. Case closed. End of discussion. Most of the time, that is.
The moment you confess, to anyone in your life, you're inviting the court of public opinion to weigh in. And you will most likely walk away with the guilty moniker tattooed across your forehead.
Even if the other person forced you to cheat at gunpoint, if sleeping with someone else was going to save the world from an alien attack, you're still in the wrong.
Society (Hollywood, experience, romance novels etc.) has trained us to condemn cheating.
And whilst it's completely right to condemn cheating as an action, it doesn't mean the person doing it is bad. It doesn't mean you suddenly transgressed over to the dark side, never to return.
You know that. I know that. But other people, the general public, aren't always going to see that point of view when they found out what you did.
I mean, look at how society treats the other woman, and she is often the victim of cheating deflection. She gets the blame for what the cheater did, despite having her heart broken and without willing participation in an affair.
Yet, that's what people do. They lay judgement with labels. And now you have the cheater label, you have a problem.
The fact you're a "cheater" is the least of your problems
It's tempting to become stuck on the cheating label, by the way. It's easy to fall into that self-indulgent reflection where you become fixated on how to shake the label.
How do you become a non-cheater? How do you wipe your dating resume clean?
In the grand scheme of things, the label doesn't mean anything compared to all the reasons you cheated. You didn't just cheat because of 'whatever'. That's a cop-out.
Even boredom is a better reason than 'whatever'.
If you stand any chance of moving on with your relationships and your life, you need to understand why you ventured down the infidelity path in the first place.
This isn't about some spiritual journey or any new-age self-reflection. But you can't maintain a relationship with someone if you're cheating because you're unhappy, or if you want to be single, for example.
We take action for a reason. And considering your decisions affect someone else, you can't rightly continue with your life making flippant decisions without knowing why.
Decide whether (or not) to cheat again
I've been in your spot. I've been the cheater, woke up and realised who I was in my relationship. I had a decision to make. I had to decide whether being a cheater was something I wanted to keep doing or quit.
It seems like a simple decision.
Stop being the bad guy, right? Do what's morally right and go back to being a good person.
The problem is that it feels like going on a diet. Once you tell yourself you're not allowed to do something, eat something, indulge in something you want, you want it even more.
That's how I couldn't quit cheating on my ex. My desire for someone else, for something else, out weighted by my want to be faithful to him.
When you want it enough, you will stop. But you have to want it. And do you?
Once again, only you can answer that.
About the author
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters
Expert insights and opinions
Arguments were carefully researched and presented
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
Zero grammar & spelling mistakes
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme