How to cope with being cheated on

Two woman sitting together

Being cheated on sucks. It’s as simple as that – but the feelings that come with it are hardly ever simple. You feel betrayed, angry, embarrassed and completely heartbroken. It can make you question everything about yourself, your relationship and your life. But we’re here to tell you that it’s going to be okay – not immediately, but soon. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, our handy tips will help you to cope.

Don’t jump to conclusions

Maybe you glimpsed a text message on your partner’s phone, or heard from a friend that they were up to something on Saturday night. If you’re getting your information secondhand, it’s probably not the whole truth – no matter how much you trust the source. 

Gossip has never made any situation better. If you’re concerned about something, ask your partner directly before you jump to any conclusions. Having all the right information will set you up to handle the situation productively.

You're not to blame

If you do find that your partner cheated on you, no matter what’s happened, it’s never your fault. People do hurtful things for a whole bunch of reasons – and maybe your partner (or ex-partner) can explain theirs – but those reasons have nothing to do with you. And you’re not responsible for another person’s decisions and actions.

If you’ve been cheated on, it can be easy to look back at the relationship and start to doubt your past actions or get down on yourself. But staying in this negative mindset can only delay your healing process. Try to challenge negative thoughts about yourself by writing them down or talking about them with someone you trust, and questioning how true they are or if there’s another perspective you’re missing,

Accept the situation and that it’s going to be tough

You’ve had an awful thing happen to you – it’s going to take time to heal. Breathe, and accept that things are going to suck for a while. This doesn’t mean you have to like it, or that you agree with it. It just means that you’re not going to waste time fighting something you can’t change. Instead, focus on mending your heart.

An important part of this process is allowing yourself to feel whatever emotions come up for you. Feelings like anger and sadness can be pretty uncomfortable. But, instead of pushing them down, find a way to express those emotions in a safe space. This might be your bedroom, a friend's house, your favourite park or with a counsellor. Accepting these emotions and letting them out can give you a sense of relief. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that the healing process isn’t linear. One day you might be feeling a lot better, but then the next day those difficult feelings might come up again. This is okay and it’s a totally normal part of dealing with the type of grief that comes with being cheated on.

Put yourself first

The most important person in this situation is YOU, so try to look after yourself. Things like getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet and getting active are all key parts of looking after your wellbeing.

If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, mindfulness activities such as meditating, journalling or just paying more attention to your daily tasks and routines can help you to feel a little more relaxed. Sometimes, it’s as simple as chucking on your favourite movie and taking a break.

It’s a good idea not to add to the hurt you’re already experiencing. So, if you can, don’t rely on bad habits to help you cope. They might feel good in the moment, but they won’t be helpful in the long term. And steer clear of people who make you feel worse about yourself – this is a time to be supported by the people who care about you.

Friends sitting around laughing

Surround yourself with your loved ones

You need your best friends around you when you’re trying to deal with a broken heart. Focus on spending time with people who’ve always had your back, who’ll listen to the full story and support you in whatever you decide to do next. Good friends are really important in helping you to get through hard times and feel positive again.

Try to avoid the drama

It’s tempting to act impulsively and start sending off angry texts, but take a moment to think and calm yourself before you do anything. It’s definitely not worth getting yourself in trouble by messing with anyone. Leave the dramatic public displays of rage for the movies; instead, channel your anger into a healthy coping mechanism such as releasing your frustrations at the gym, or by going for a jog or dancing to a killer playlist.

Don’t make decisions out of fear

There’s no right choice when it comes to staying with or leaving someone who’s cheated on you – you’ve got to do what feels right for your heart. But try not to let fear make the decision for you. 

For example, it’s not a good idea to stay with someone just because you’re scared to be single, or to leave someone you love because you’re afraid they’ll hurt you again. Take as much time out as you need to make the choice that feels right for you.

If you decide to end your relationship with the person that cheated on you, starting a new relationship with something else straight away might not be the best thing either, especially if you’re doing this because you’re feeling lonely. Being alone when you’re newly single can be tough, but jumping into a new relationship for the wrong reasons isn’t the healthiest thing to do in the long term.

The bottom line is, give yourself enough time to figure out what’s right for you. You might want to spend some time focusing on something else, like school, work or hobbies. And when the time feels right, work out what you would value in your next relationship.

Take a mini-break from socials

It can be tempting to put your investigative skills to the test and trawl through social media to lurk on people’s profiles. But, just don’t do it. Not only that, why not give socials a break for a little while? If you’re not feeling great at the moment, you then don’t have to fake it online. And, seeing everyone else’s highlights on social media might end up doing you more harm than good right now.

Taking a break from social media can happen in small steps. For example, you can turn off your phone notifications for an hour while you focus on a screen-free hobby. After spending some time away from your phone, you might find that your mind is clearer and you’re more focused.

Ask for (professional) help if you need it

Whether you do it together with your partner, or on your own, talking to someone from outside the situation, such as a psychologist or relationships counsellor, can help set you in the right direction for healing.

Don’t feel ready for this just yet? You might find it easier to open up to a peer worker. Peer workers have their own experiences with life’s challenges as young people, so they can understand what you’re going through. You can connect with a peer worker through PeerChat, a free text-based chat.

It might take a while to feel okay and like you’re back to normal after being cheated on. But just know that there are things that can help you to manage the situation and start your healing journey.

What can I do now?

  • If you’ve decided to split up with the person who’s cheated on you, get some tips on coping with a break-up.

  • Head to the ReachOut Online Community to chat to other young people about their experiences with cheating.

  • Self-care can be anything that feels right for you. Check out our collection to get some ideas.

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