Heartbreak

5 Ways To Survive — And Even Thrive — After Your Boyfriend Cheated

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Woman smiles slightly and looks off in the distance

Are you reeling from the discovery that your boyfriend cheated and wondering how you will ever survive the pain that you are feeling? Do you just want to curl up in a little ball and disappear?

I am so sorry if you are feeling this way. I totally get it — I have been there, as have many, many women before you. Having your boyfriend cheat on you, and the ensuing heartbreak, is one of the worst things you can go through and it feels like it will never end.

Well, I can promise you that not only can you survive the fact that your boyfriend cheated but you can even thrive! I know it seems impossible right now but I promise you, you can!

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Here are 5 ways to survive, and thrive, after your boyfriend cheated.

1. Know that it’s not your fault.

First and foremost, if your boyfriend cheated, it is NOT YOUR FAULT.

So many women blame themselves when their boyfriends cheat. They believe that if only they had been hotter, smarter, kinder, more outgoing, around more etc. that their boyfriend would never have cheated.

A client of mine found out that her boyfriend had cheated and the first place that she went was that it was her fault. She had been working too hard and spending lots of time with her friends and she knew that she wasn’t giving him as much attention as he might like.

She blamed herself for his infidelity.

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I reminded her that there are two people in every relationship and that infidelity doesn't usually happen in a void. I asked her if her boyfriend had spoken to her about the fact that he had been feeling neglected. She said he did not. She was guessing maybe he was but, because he didn’t speak up, she just continued on.

I do believe that if her boyfriend had spoken up, she might have been able to change her behaviors so that he was feeling more settled in the relationship. But he did not speak up – he cheated.

And, I would argue, that cheating is taking the coward’s way out. Instead of communicating with her, my client’s boyfriend looked outside of their relationship to get the connection he wanted.

And that was not her fault. And neither is your boyfriend’s cheating YOUR fault.

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2. Talk to him about it.

I am sure that you are torn right now. Part of you wants to yell and scream and walk out the door. Another part of you wants to pretend that none of this happened and just go on with your life. And I am guessing that the idea of talking to your boyfriend in any reasonable way about what happened feels unfathomable.

One of the most important ways to survive after your boyfriend cheated is by talking to him about it. Why? Because it’s important that you each get a chance to talk and be heard. Because, if you can do that, figuring out the next steps will be easier.

First, you want to listen to what he has to say. He might have nothing to say which might make your decision whether to go easy. But he might very well have something to say that he wants you to hear. Something that he hasn’t said before, like my client above.

Either way, it is important that he be given the chance to talk — and you must be willing to truly listen.

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Second, it is very important that you get the opportunity to say what you need to say. It is important that you get to ask questions, that you are able to express your anger and hurt, that you get to say everything that you need to say so that you can move forward, one way or the other, without words being left unsaid.

A key part of how to survive after your boyfriend cheated, whether you stay or not, is to make sure that you have said everything that you want to say so that you know that you can move forward having been honest with him and with yourself.

All of that being said, if you truly feel that you have nothing to say to your boyfriend, that nothing he could say would make any difference, you don’t have to talk to him. It is within your rights to walk away and never look back. He cheated. You didn’t. You can decide.

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3. Get some help.

If you want to survive after your boyfriend cheated, I would 100 percent encourage you to get some help – a professional who can help you process your feelings and figure out what are your next steps.

Of course, you have your friends and your sister and your mother and your co-workers and the internet and the guy who tends bar down the street. You can talk to all of these people about what happened and each of them will have an opinion to share with you. The thing is, people who aren’t professionals will give you advice based on their own experiences, not necessarily based on your story.

Furthermore, our friends and relatives will generally tell us what we want to hear. If you are feeling sentimental about your person one night, your friend will support you with reasons you can work things out. If you go out with another friend the next night and express your anger, that friend will give you all sorts of reasons to break up with him.

The more people you ask, the more confused you will get.

And, if you decide to get back together with him, all of those people who you shared your story with will not be so happy to welcome your boyfriend back into the fold.

So, if you want to survive after your boyfriend cheated, get some help. Find someone (like me!) who will listen to YOUR story and YOUR feelings and use their professional experience to help you move forward from where you are right now.

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Wouldn’t that feel great? To move forward?

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4. Hold your head high.

As I mentioned before, for many people, when they find out that their boyfriend was unfaithful, they just take to their bed. They are devasted, feeling guilty, scared of people’s judgment and full of self-loathing. Their agenda – TV, ice cream and Kleenex boxes.

While I definitely support anyone who needs to retreat when they find out that their boyfriend cheated, I 100% percent recommend that you limit your time doing so. Why? Because isolating will only make you feel worse about yourself and further devastate your self-esteem.

The amount of time that people need to isolate is different but I would definitely encourage you to get up off the couch within a week. If you wait any longer, you just might find yourself permanently attached to it!

So, what do you do when you get off the couch? Anything that would bring you some sort of joy – or if not joy, then happiness. And if not even happiness, something that doesn’t feed the misery.

If you like to go for walks, do it. And make yourself a break-up playlist to listen to as you do. Spend time with your girlfriends. Go home and let your mom take care of you for a while. Buy yourself something pretty. Plan a trip. Dig into a work project. Whatever it is that will make you feel stronger. Strong enough to move forward.

And, if you haven’t yet had the conversation with your boyfriend, now is the time to start thinking about having it. Having that conversation with him will help you decide what the next steps are in your relationship.

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5. Get on with your life.

Yes, your boyfriend cheated. And it sucks. But that doesn’t mean that this infidelity has to ruin your life and affect your future. And you are the only one who can prevent that from happening.

I know that right now you feel betrayed. You feel like this person who you gave your heart to broke it. And you believe that you will never be able to love or be loved again. The idea of trusting someone else is inconceivable.

And that is how you feel right now but it doesn’t have to define how you will feel in the future – if you don’t let it.

How many people do you know who go into relationships with chips on their shoulders because of past issues with an ex? They have been hurt and they will never let that happen again, so they put up walls. And what does that do? Damage, or end, the next relationship and the next and maybe even the next.

I always tell my clients that people are only human and humans are fallible. We all make stupid decisions that we regret. And sometimes that human being makes a mistake that affects you. And that can be very damaging.

If you can try to recognize that that one person, one human being, made a mistake, that it doesn’t mean that every other man in the universe is going to be unfaithful, you will have a much easier time moving on with your life, being happy and finding love again.

If you stay mired in the past, making decisions around one person’s infidelity, you might never move on and find the love that you want.

You don’t want that do you?

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So now you see, there are ways to survive after your boyfriend cheated.

I know it seems inconceivable but it’s true.

This moment is one moment in your life. It doesn’t have to define you. You can take what happened, learn from it and get on with your life.

When my ex found another girlfriend, I was forever framing it as the fact that he ‘left me.’ That was how I felt it was. And, while, technically, it was true, in reality, our relationship hadn’t been perfect. So, I started to frame it not that he left but that we ended it. Which, ultimately, is what we did! That reframing helped me move on so I could use my coping skills to survive and thrive!

You can do it too! Make sure that you accept that this is not your fault. Talk to him about it (if you want to). Get some help outside of your social circle. Hold your head high and move forward with confidence.

This one thing doesn’t have to define you. It is a small blip in your long life. Remember that.

The life, and love, that you want are out there waiting for you!

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Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based, certified life and love coach. She helps people find, and keep, love in this crazy world in which we live. Check out her website or reach out via email.

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