5 Ways To Stop Feeling Guilty For Cheating In Your Relationship

Photo: Olena Yakobchuk / Shutterstock
brunette couple, woman kissing man's cheek in the city

Have you recently had an affair? Or, perhaps, you're in the middle of having an affair right now? 

Maybe you're struggling with surviving and figuring out how to deal with your guilt and the rumination that comes with it. 

I have had many clients who have had affairs.

From the outside, infidelity might seem sexy and exciting. But on the inside, affairs are scary, overwhelming, and fraught with guilt. And sometimes, being unfaithful leaves you wondering how to forgive yourself. 

RELATED: Why Cheating Is Bad For Your Health

That’s not to say the sex isn’t good but the guilt that comes with being a cheating spouse can sometimes be more than you can bear.

Fortunately, you can learn how to let go of the guilt you're struggling with so you can stop ruminating and give yourself a mental break. 

Here are 5 ways to learn how to forgive yourself for cheating, having an affair, or being unfaithful to your partner. 

1. Accept that you're human.

One thing that you might forget is that you're only human.

You're raised to think that you're special and different, that you can handle things that other people can’t. And while, to some extent, this might be true — because everybody is different — the truth of the matter is that we are all only human and we make mistakes.

If they only end up becoming remorseful about it later on, why do people cheat?

People who have affairs are often unhappy with their lives. More likely than not, they're struggling both in their personal lives and in their relationships. They don’t feel good about themselves or are struggling to find happiness with their partner.

It’s a horrible, horrible place to be in. If you're in that place, cut yourself some slack. You're only human. You're going to make mistakes. Forgiving yourself is key.

You are a person in the world, one trying to manage the insecurity and unhappiness in your life in a way that allows you to survive. Some people drink too much, some people eat too much, and some people drive their cars too fast — and some people have affairs.

You're not alone in the world. Other people are having affairs right now and feeling the same sort of guilt you are. So, let yourself off the hook. Know that you are a good person but that you have made a bad choice.

Everyone makes bad choices sometimes, and no one should be forever condemned for it.

2. Recognize that it’s not all your fault.

I know you think that cheating is all your fault. You're the one who met someone else, developed a connection with that person, and perhaps embarked down the road to a sexual relationship. Yes, you did that.

But you didn’t do it in a void. People who have affairs are often deeply unhappy in their relationship. And they aren’t the only person in that kind of relationship.

Relationships are made up of more than one person, and everyone involved is responsible when the relationship begins to fray.

Perhaps your husband works all the time and you're lonely. Or, perhaps, your wife has become detached and refuses to talk to you. You feel like you’ve tried to fix things, but you haven’t had much success.

Most people don’t intend to have affairs. They just happen. And they happen when people are vulnerable.

All of my clients who have had affairs are people who were in relationships that weren't working, and they weren't working because the people in the relationship were not willing — or able — to repair it. It's then that infidelity is more likely to happen.

Recently, I was talking to a client who carries a tremendous amount of guilt about an affair he had. I asked him to think about why he strayed from his partner. What was going on in his relationship that gave him the space to have an affair?

He responded by saying, "Nothing. My wife is perfect and the affair was all my fault." I pushed back and we dug a little deeper and we realized that she repeatedly did things that made him feel insecure about himself, which led him to move toward someone who thought he was amazing.

So, please try to understand that your affair is not all your fault. Understanding that will help you manage the guilt that you are struggling with and learn how to forgive yourself. 

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RELATED: 3 Reasons You Can't Stop A Cheater From Cheating

3. Get some help.

For many people who have cheated, the prospect of reaching out to get some professional help is unthinkable.

People who have had affairs are wracked with guilt and self-loathing. To admit what they have done just seems like more than they can bear.

I can promise you that therapists, psychologists, and life coaches have seen it all and will absolutely not judge you if you disclose that you’re having an affair.

They will look at you with understanding and will be able to help you do the work that needs to be done to help you manage your guilt.

Another source of excellent help is others who have also survived infidelity. Only people who have experienced infidelity can really understand what it’s all about. Having someone who has been through it can help you understand and manage your emotions in a way that will help you let go.

Find a support group for people who have survived infidelity that involves their own. Sharing could change your life. Please, reach out today. Don’t go through this alone.

4. Stop fooling around.

The key piece of learning how to forgive yourself for cheating is to stop being unfaithful.

You can use all the techniques that I have described above and they will help you manage your guilt but they won’t help you let it go completely.

The only way to stop truly feeling guilty about having an affair is to stop having one.

I know, I know, that’s way easier said than done. But, it's possible, and doing so is the best way to stop that guilt cold in its tracks.

5. Rebuild your relationship.

Rebuilding your relationship after cheating might seem impossible, and it just might be. But, if you can do it successfully, you have the best chance of surviving the guilt of infidelity.

Think about when you're doing a project and you make a big mistake and everything goes wrong but in the end, the project is successful. It’s the same thing with a marriage that has been rocked by infidelity.

The rocking doesn’t have to cause the ship to sink. If you can manage the rock and keep the relationship afloat and moving forward then all’s well that ends well.

Imagine how good it would feel to be back in your relationship, safe, solid, and happy.

Right now, surviving the guilt of infidelity might seem impossible but it doesn’t have to be.

For days, weeks, months, or perhaps longer, you have been ruminating over the guilt of what you are doing but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Recognize that you're only human, know that it’s not all your fault, get yourself some help, end your affair, and work to rebuild your relationship.

If you can do these things then you will survive the guilt of your transgression and might even end up in a better relationship as a result. How great would that be?

Get started now. You can do it!

RELATED: The Weird Ways Cheating Can Actually *Help* Your Marriage

Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live. Contact her for help or send her an email.

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This article was originally published at Let Your Dreams Begin. Reprinted with permission from the author.