It's not ALL bad, actually.
When a relationship ends because one person in it has been unfaithful, it can be absolutely earth-shattering.
Actually, eff "can be".
It IS earth-shattering.
I know of what I speak.
I've never been cheated on, but I've been the other woman, as sorry as I am to admit that.
Some couples survive infidelity, but so many others do not.
No matter how hard they may try, the betrayal and its aftermath just puts too much strain on them both.
But then some couples, like me and my now ex, start a new relationship by cheating.
They're also going to learn a shit ton about themselves in the process.
Even if it's a bit more than they'd like to.
We tend to focus on just the bad when it comes to talking about how infidelity affects future relationships.
How can we not? The bad looms large.
When my ex finally left his girlfriend and we were together the relationship was a total disaster.
That wasn't exclusively because of how we started, but let's be real:
Starting a relationship with infidelity is definitely going to have an effect.
What I didn't expect as I healed from the gut-wrenching agony of that relationship ending was how much I would learn.
Do I carry baggage from this relationship?
Um yes hello, meet the storage locker I keep in my heart for it. It's full to bursting.
But what really surprised me was how I emerged from the saga (and it was a saga) feeling like a leaner, stronger, woman.
Here were my biggest takeaways about the future of your relationships after dealing with infidelity.
I hope they change the way you've been thinking about your own broken heart.
1. You will guard your heart ferociously.
That sounds scary, right?
It kind of is.
But it's also kind of awesome.
I have this insane tendency to lead with my heart.
My heart is always saying "YES!" and leaping with wild abandon into the arms of a relative stranger.
But dealing with infidelity means that now my heart is kept in check.
I'm not closed off or frigid, but I'm thoughtful about the people I give my heart AND my trust to for safekeeping.
Loving someone isn't all sex and rainbows, it's scary and dangerous and you make yourself so so so vulnerable.
What you can learn from your experiences with infidelity is how to give your heart without hurting yourself in the process.
2. Honesty will become a powerful core value in EVERY relationship you have.
If you've been cheated on, honesty becomes more important to you than ever.
If anything, you might be a little crazy about it.
And that's fine! There is zero shame in developing a zero tolerance policy for bullshit.
I'm not just talking about no longer dating liars (although bonus, you'll also stop doing that), I'm talking about being honest WITH YOURSELF.
I'm roughly 78% less of a doormat now than I was before I dated a cheater, because I'm honest with myself and I expect that honesty from my partners.
Being open and honest in a relationship is going to be how you start dating from here on out.
Making honesty a cornerstone of your new relationship will help build a foundation stronger than anything else.
3. You will become uniquely great at communication.
Very often when we are in relationships with cheaters, communication totally breaks down.
How can it not? What's the point of even trying when you know you're just going to be fed another lie.
With my ex, conversations stopped being fun or easy and started to feel like tricky and dangerous traps.
If I bought him a candy bar he needed to know exactly how much it was.
He wasn't obsessed with candy prices, he didn't know how to express to me his own insecurities.
And I didn't know how to tell him that I was terrified of losing him.
When you've been hurt by a cheater in a previous relationship, communication becomes crucial going forward.
Instead of keeping your fears and insecurities deep inside where they can fester, you TALK to your partner.
It's this kind of communication from you both that will keep your new relationship from becoming a repeat of your old one.
I don't regret breaking up with my ex at all, ultimately it was a relationship that made both of us miserable.
But I do like to think that if I ever crossed paths with him now, my ability to speak cogently about my thoughts and feelings would save us both a lot of heartbreak.
4. You will know exactly what you want — and never compromise again.
Being in a relationship with someone who cheats on you can make you feel a wide array emotions.
Being the woman he's cheating WITH will do the same same thing.
I never knew where I stood with my ex.
Was I his escape? Was I a distraction? Was I his soulmate? Was I cool enough? Smart enough? Perfect enough?
It's normal to feel confused about who you are, what you want, and what you're looking for in a relationship like that.
But once you get OUT of that relationship, the clouds part and you are given this utterly amazing gift:
The ability to finally get to know yourself.
You're a person of value who deserves to be loved well by a partner.
That's revelation that's waiting for you.
It doesn't mean you're perfect, it doesn't mean you never make mistakes, but it does mean you deserve more than you've settled for in the past.
I know what I want now and what I deserve.
I don't settle for less, and neither should you.