August 12, 2022
Est. Reading: 9 minutes

So you found out he was cheating?

We've all read articles about how unbearable it is when a partner cheats on you, why you should never do it, and why you should even think about it. But, on a more realistic note, what should you do if you discover your partner is cheating? No one would do such a thing in an ideal world, and we would all be happy, healthy, and full of love, light, and miracles. However, people cheat all the time, and if this happens to you, you must make an immediate decision: What can you do in the present moment?

"Cheating and its repercussions are one of the most catastrophic moments in a relationship," Melinda Carver, a relationship coach, and psychic medium, tells Bustle. "When you discover your partner is cheating, your entire world is upside down, and you begin to see everything in your relationship as a lie, and your self-esteem plummets." But you don't have to stay there, feeling like a victim.

To investigate the possibilities, I spoke with 15 relationship experts. It's not a black-and-white situation: if someone cheats on you and you're committed to the relationship, you may not want to get up and leave. And the problem may be deeper and more complicated than that. If you're going to think about all of your choices and what to do next, here are 15 things you can do if you found your partner is unfaithful. And keep in the perception that you don't have to make any major decisions just yet — if you found out later, you can take your time and let things play out before making a definite decision on what to do next.

1. Stay Calm

"Stay calm and call a trusted friend for support," Dr. Jennifer Rhodes, a psychologist, image consultant, and dating expert, tells Bustle. "Don't make rash decisions. You may need to react thoughtfully given the circumstances of your relationship." The most beneficial thing you should do first is to contact a best friend. Then you will find what to do next.

"If you're married or have children, seeking professional help for yourself first will help you develop the support team you need to deal with a conflict and ask for what you want," Rhodes says. "Too many people act rashly and angrily, which also leads to unintended consequences. Do not make comments on social media in the manner of celebrities. You can use all of this against you in the event of a breakup or divorce."

2.Be Direct


"Don't set a truth trap in the hopes of getting him or her to confess," relationship coach and therapist Anita Chlipala tells Bustle. "Be forthright about the evidence you discovered of their cheating." Don't try to skirt the issue; just come and tell them what you know.

"You'll also need to know that You will end the affair, and your questions will be answered," she says. "I also advise not telling anyone — for the time being. When people first discover they have been cheated on, they want to inform everyone in their family and friend circle. If you choose to stay together and work on your relationship, this could backfire." At first, be direct with your partner and picky about who you talk to.

3.Have An Accurate Look At The Relationship


"Cheating in a relationship necessitates an honest appraisal of the relationship to figure out the next move," says April Masini, a relationship expert and author based in New York. "If the cheating occurs within the first few months of dating, it is not cheating — it is playing the field." That may be true, but if you're dating someone new and you've discussed being monogamous and then find out they're seeing other people, it's probably best to end the relationship.

"There's a lot at stake in a 10-year marriage with children," she says, or in any long-term, committed relationship, "and walking away should be a last resort — unless this isn't the first time the cheating has occurred." Cheating does not occur in a vacuum, and it is critical to be open and honest about your role in the relationship, "Masini explains. "It's easy to play the victim, but more often than not, the cheater cheated because he or she felt ignored, mistreated, or unvalued. That does not excuse that person's behavior, but it does explain it, and it demonstrates that the deception was a symptom, not the main issue." You can then decide what to do next.


4. Go Inward

"Although I believe cheating can be rectified and a marriage strengthened, I would insist, and I mean request, on six months of individual and couple therapy for both individuals," Michele Paiva, zen psychotherapist, and neuromarketing strategist, tells Bustle. "While the disrespect is real, it is possible to recover from it if genuine work is done within the relationship."

"Most betrayed couples are there due to a lack of communication, respect, or attention," Paiva says. "Both people contribute to it, and the affair is the result of that schism." Although it is never your fault if your partner cheats on you, cheating may be a symptom of a more significant problem. "You have to own your part just as much as they do," she says. Healing will then take place.

5. Understand That It's Not About You

"It can emotionally scar you for a long time and interfere with future relationships," says dating expert Noah Van Hochman to Bustle. "You must make a significant decision. Make no excuses for this person or think that it is your fault in any way. The person who is cheating makes a deliberate decision to do so. They could have told you that things aren't going well in the relationship and that continuing it might not be the best thing for you."

Because your partner did not do this first, it is up to you to decide what to do. Van Hochman believes that if your partner were genuinely committed to the relationship, in the long run, they would not cheat in the first place. "If you are a forgiving soul," he says, "you may consider determining what caused the aberration in behavior and whether there was a substantial reason for a serious lapse in judgment or if it is habitual." But that is entirely up to you. If you believe it is worthwhile to work it out, do so — but only if you want to and believe it is a temporary blip.

6.Find Out Why It Happened

"Leaving is a great, optional choice — but it is dependent on so many factors," says relationship expert Daniel Amis, author of Unbreakable Love: Proven Methods for Developing a Stronger, More Satisfying Relationship in Just 30 Days. "If the pair is married, what may have provoked the adultery, if they have children," and a slew of other questions.

Though it may not be easy, you may benefit from the conversation if you can talk it out. "There may be something you can grasp from this that will allow you to be wiser if you get into another relationship — or even stay in the one you're in," he says. "If the cheater acted on impulse, was caught up in the moment, acted on their attraction to someone else, etc., you should seriously consider leaving because you have a choice when it comes to cheating. Nobody gets into a bed with another guy. So, if they decided to cheat, they would accept the consequences."

If you decide to stay, Paiva recommends couples and personal counseling.

7.Identify What You Want From Your Partner

And what your partner requires of you. "If possible, try not to make out of cheating a moral problem, but one of the needs being met in the relationship," says Janet Zinn, a couples therapist in New York City, to Bustle. "Nothing is learned when lines are drawn between good and bad." Though it may be difficult — or appear to be impossible — to discuss needs during such a difficult time, it will help clarify how to proceed. It can also lead to healing.

"Healing can take place when the adultery is addressed in terms of how it hurts, why it may have happened, and what both partners need from each other," she says.

8. Don't Make A Split-Second Decision

"Because you feel betrayed, your first impulse is usually anger and wanting to leave — fight or flight," explains Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working it Out Together, to Bustle. However, if you want to stay in a relationship, you should give yourself some time. "Do not make an impulsive decision that you will regret later after the damage has been done." Though you may eventually decide to leave, it's best to do so after you've had some time to reflect.

"While I don't believe you should stay and suffer if nothing is working," she says, "In my practice, I see many couples who do the work and end up happier than before." "The affair may have occurred as a result of long-standing issues in the marriage [or LTR], which can be resolved to the satisfaction of both partners." Though cheating is never the solution, if it occurs, you can still move on.

"Often, disappointment stems from anger, and the underlying causes can be addressed through counseling," Tessina says. "A marriage [or relationship] can be strengthened if both partners are willing to change what isn't working." Though it is challenging to see cheating as an opportunity, it can be if you put in the effort.

9. Determine Whether It Is the end

"If cheating is a deal-breaker, you will most likely leave the relationship," psychologist Nicole Martinez tells Bustle. If you can't live with a partner who cheated on you, it'll be challenging to recover from this one. Regardless, it's best to talk it at least out.

"You do want to discuss why they cheated because cheating does not happen in a vacuum — it is usually a symbol of what is wrong with the relationship," Martinez says. "Get to work if you both decide that you love each other and that this relationship is worth saving. Get into therapy and begin to repair what has gotten you to this point." In other words, if you want it, your friendship can be saved.

10. Get Help


"Infidelity is one area that requires a third party to help you both navigate the rocky waters of emotional upheaval," clinical hypnotherapist, author, and educator Rachel Astarte, of Healing Arts New York, tells Bustle. "Of course, some people may regard cheating as a deal-breaker. My advice is to make that condition as clear as possible early in the relationship."

With that being said, cheating can be a strange and very backward blessing in disguise. "[Some] discover that their relationship strengthens after healing from infidelity," she says. "Regardless of which option you choose, a trained couple therapist... will be better able to help you in healing. Even if you split up, go to therapy, either individually or as a couple; it's a wonderful way to say goodbye in a respectful manner that leaves you both with as few psychological scars as possible." Gwyneth Paltrow, I think, refers to this as "conscious uncoupling."

11. Allow yourself to be Healed

"Begin the healing," says Shlomo Slatkin, co-founder of the Marriage Restoration Project with his wife, Rivka. "The healing process will begin once the affair is terminated." It may seem obvious, but make sure that your partner has completely ended things with the other person before attempting to move on.

"It's difficult to restore trust after an affair if it's still going on," he says. "If [they are] still involved with someone else, he or she will be less invested in the relationship." You will begin to move on once the affair is over and the bleeding has stopped. Then you'll be able to start vibing with each other. "You both need to talk about what happened after the affair is over, and that exit is sealed," he says.

12. Look At It Like Something You Have To Figure Out Together

"If you decide to try to repair things," Samantha Daniels, a professional matchmaker and founder of The Dating Lounge dating app, tells Bustle, "you need to approach the conversation as 'What did we do wrong? How did we get here?' rather than accusing your partner of doing everything wrong and not taking responsibility for any part of it." It's not your fault, but cheating is something you'll have to address as a group if you want to progress.

"If someone cheats, it's usually due to a deep-seated problem, and these kinds of problems manifest from both people in the relationship doing something wrong," Daniels explains. "You must be willing to admit your role in the problem and commit to helping to solve it." From there, real progress can be made.

13. Take A Deep Breath And Talk It Out

"It is important to take a deep breath and then discuss your options with a trusted family member or friend before making this decision," Carver says. Though it may be tempting to discuss it with your partner, it is best to start with a friend or family member.

"When you are emotionally devastated, reacting emotionally and making a final decision is not always the best option," she says. "You will be able to get yourself to make the best decision for you if you can calm yourself and make a list of the whys and why-not of staying." Don't let your partner sabotage the process.

"Your spouse or partner may increase the begging and promising, but you must tune that out while you figure out what you want, not what they want," she advises. "They had already decided what they wanted. So you're in the driver's seat now, deciding where you want to go, how you want to heal, and whether or not this spouse or partner will accompany you on your journey to healing and reconstruction." It is entirely up to you to make this choice. Don't rush it; instead, take your time determining what you need.

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