How do you forgive yourself for cheating?

How can a woman forgive herself for her adultery

Infidelity is one of the most common causes of the collapse of the relationship in a couple. The stereotypical image of a woman in this situation – the role of the victim. And what if we can not get over treason … Own? We are used to discussing men’s infidelity, blaming or justifying men’s polygamy. It’s good for them, by the way: “Sweetheart, I’m sorry. I’m not like that – we are all like that, it’s our nature …”. However, according to statistics, the percentage of women cheating is not so small: only 20% less than that of men. But let’s not talk about gender differences in society’s attitude towards women’s and men’s cheating, or about situations where cheating becomes the “last straw” before the relationship breaks down. Let’s try to figure out how to get over an infidelity that is perceived exactly as a mistake and carries a deep sense of guilt, tortures and prevents a woman from getting over it, letting go and being happy again.

Why do we cheat?

Women’s and men’s infidelity have not only different consequences, but also different causes. We look specifically at physical cheating (sex), although many tend to divide cheating into “physical” and “mental” and even compare their degree of guilt and painfulness. However, the “mental”, psychological infidelity has too blurred boundaries, it is quite difficult to analyze, so we will focus on the physical.

According to psychological research, the main hidden motive that affects the propensity to adultery in women is dissatisfaction in the relationship. The second most popular answer is the desire to diversify family life that has become boring, habitual and boring. The next of the reasons is the long absence of a partner. This implies not only a literal, physical absence, but also the psychological withdrawal of the man from the family or relationship, his “escape into work”, going head over heels in a hobby, excessive alcohol abuse, etc. And only at the end of this sad “hit parade” is the physiological satisfaction of needs, sexual pleasure (which, on the contrary, tops the list for men). This is why it is believed that women are more likely to seek deep affection, rather than fleeting passion, in affairs “on the side. All of these reasons have one thing in common: treason – a crisis in the relationship, a signal that something has broken in them, that they do not suit you, and if you really value them and want to keep them, despite what happened – it will require daily work on you.

Cheating: not “why?” but “for what?”

Like any unpleasant and painful for the psyche event, infidelity can be perceived in different ways and, accordingly, the ways out of this situation depend on how we initially feel about it. Treason – is it a betrayal or a mistake? A person does not always clearly articulate his or her attitude to infidelity until he or she is confronted with it nose to nose. And even then his opinion may change radically: we have different attitudes to our own and others’ infidelity, there is a great temptation to take advantage of double morality, to justify oneself and condemn others. Or vice versa.

Being in a relationship, we taboo pleasure with other men: it is believed that only our partner has the exclusive right to it, confirmed by default by status. Cheating is, first of all, a violation of a taboo, an agreement with oneself, and then with one’s partner. Infidelity is not only about your relationship as such, but also about your personality. It is worth starting with the recognition of the fact that infidelity is not only irreversible as a phenomenon, as an event in our lives, it has also launched irreversible processes within us.

Converting these processes into a productive rather than destructive direction is a lot of inner work and not an easy task that requires a lot of time and effort. The questions are: “What happens next? What conclusions can I draw for myself?” – is a powerful stimulus to reassess values, to understand yourself and the motives of your actions, and thus to gain the skill to manage your behavior. Infidelity, like any mistake, shows us where we were wrong and gives us an opportunity the next time we find ourselves in a similar situation to come out of it with a different outcome. Treason, paradoxically, gives us a chance to change for the better.

To change and to change.

The word “cheating” itself carries the meaning not only of “to change” but also of “to change.” Change, the unknown, is what causes fear, pushes us out of our comfort zone. We are afraid of other people’s cheating: both changes in the relationship and in the personality of the cheater. And in the same way, we are afraid and unprepared for our own changes. But when we find ourselves in such a situation, we have no other choice: a mature person must take responsibility for what is happening and deal with the consequences. More often than not our conscience, if we do not know how to use its signals, does not help us, but hinders us: it is too easy to cross the line from sincere repentance to self-hatred and self-disgust.

Treason has long been firmly anchored in our consciousness alongside the concept of sin. What does sin, if one has committed it, require? Redemption. If you have cheated on your partner, sooner or later you will be faced with a choice (even if you don’t phrase it that way): How do I atone for this sin? What will be sufficient reason to consider my sin “atoned for”? When will I get my long-awaited relief? How will I “earn” the right to be happy again?

Guilt: Friend or foe?

The first thing that usually arises inside a person who has cheated on his partner is an excruciating feeling of guilt. This is one of the basic human feelings, which are then reflected in his perception of the world, behavior, thinking. For some people guilt is a productive state, an incentive to introspection, identifying the cause-and-effect relationship of their actions, motivation to “work on their mistakes”, for others it is a destructive, destructive feeling that literally “eats” the person from the inside. The first thing to decide for yourself when faced with your own infidelity is to realize that guilt must be “repurposed” into a productive one, otherwise it can seriously destroy not only your current relationship, but also you as a person. Subconsciously launching a “self-destruct” program is not the best thing you can do for your body and psyche.

This doesn’t mean that you can quickly and permanently forgive yourself for cheating, and it certainly doesn’t mean that it will be easy. But to begin with it is enough to decide and talk it out with yourself: “I take responsibility for this deed, I will deal with it inside myself to get over it. I won’t destroy myself, I still love and respect myself as a human being despite what I did.” Some are strong enough to go this path alone, some will need the help of a specialist psychologist: everyone chooses the option that is acceptable for themselves.

To keep silent or not to keep silent?

This is where the question arises: does “redemption” equal confession? By confessing what I have done, can I at least reduce my guilt if not atone for it? Remorse – our first and natural reaction to their mistakes, but whether or not to tell his adultery partner – always a personal choice for everyone. On one side of the scale is your honesty to yourself and your loved one, on the other side is the pain caused and possible separation.

There is no right answer – you can only weigh the consequences of your decision based on the specific situation. Is there life after infidelity? Yes, and what’s more, many couples survive the aftermath, and their relationship even becomes more intimate. Is it possible that, after experiencing the shock, pain and disappointment, your partner will permanently refuse to stay in a relationship with you? Yes, of course, and he is understandable. Your desire to shield your loved one from pain is natural. Statistically, women are more likely to admit that they cheated, unable to withstand the intense internal pressure and stress. However, they would also prefer not to find out about their husband’s infidelity (we are talking about casual infidelity, not an affair), if they could choose.

How do you get over your infidelity?

Infidelity is always an intrapersonal conflict between two roles: the model wife or girlfriend and the frivolous, infatuated man. This pattern overlaps with the popular “adult-parent-child” model of facets of our personality. The conflict is between the adult (“I don’t have to break my contract with myself, I have obligations”) and the child (“I love life, I want to try new things and enjoy it!”). Guilt is most often the parent’s position (“I shouldn’t have done that, I’m bad, it’s my fault!”). Dealing productively with this conflict means not running away from it (“I’ll think about it tomorrow!”) or rolling into a trivial excuse (“I had no choice”). A mature person is not one who doesn’t make mistakes, but one who acknowledges them and takes responsibility for the act.

Cheating, when it occurred, was your way out of the situation you were in. It was your choice, and it was a voluntary choice. There were some conditions that increased the likelihood of you cheating, but nothing more.

No one is saying that this path, this choice, was the right one (we don’t even bother to say anything about “right” and “wrong” at all). But it was your choice at the time. Start by accepting that fact, don’t avoid responsibility.

The next thing to do is ask for forgiveness. If you have decided to confess to your partner – from him, if not, it can be done symbolically (mentally, internally, perhaps even accompany it with some kind of ritual – it is not a bad way to alleviate suffering). Having received “forgiveness” from the other (or not – you have to be prepared for that), it is necessary to ask forgiveness from yourself.

Have pity on your inner child, as a wise parent does – “I don’t like what you did, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you anymore. Agree with your inner parent: “I won’t eat myself up for it, I’ll find a way not to do it next time, I’ll get over it,” agree with the inner adult: “I accept, I recognize my guilt, I’m ready to learn the right lesson from this.

The best way to redeem yourself for cheating is to admit your mistake, analyze its causes, forgive yourself for this deed (even if the partner could not or did not want to do it) and get a push, an incentive to change. This can be done, as already mentioned, by yourself or with the help of a specialist. A person is measured not by the ability not to make mistakes (absolutely everyone makes them), but by the ability to get out of an unpleasant and painful situation with fewer losses for yourself and your loved ones. Make yourself and your partner happy, despite everything that happened in your “renewed” relationship or already new, incipient – the main “redemption” that you can give.

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“I cheated on my husband” – should I tell him and how to forgive myself?

Physician sexologist of the highest category, psychiatrist, psychotherapist. I have been working as a sexologist for over 10 years. I help couples to solve problems in sexual life.

Infidelity is painful for both sides. It’s excruciating to know that you’re hurting the person you love (or once loved), and the realization that you may not be capable of true commitment can be a difficult thing to accept.

What to do in such a situation – honestly confess or remain silent? Hate yourself for showing weakness or forgive yourself even if you feel you don’t deserve it?

10 steps to forgive yourself after an affair

If guilt is eating you up, here are 10 ways you can forgive yourself for cheating.

Admit your guilt.

Do not blame everything on your partner’s shortcomings, his bad temper, provocations. Yes, it’s quite possible that it wasn’t easy with him, or maybe you just fell out of love with him. But whatever it was, what’s done is done.

Don’t blame your childhood, your genes, your cheating ex, or the alcohol. No one put a gun to your head and made you cheat. It was all you. You could have changed your mind, run away at any moment, but you didn’t run away…

You shouldn’t be afraid to face the truth. Accepting the fact that you really did stumble is the first step to healing. It’s always better to be honest with yourself, even if some things are hard to accept.

Take time to think things through.

You can hardly think clearly if you’re still living with your partner under the same roof. Distance yourself to be completely alone with your thoughts. Give yourself space to reflect. It’s important that you’re alone with your thoughts so you can think through a plan to make things right.

Beyond the distance, give yourself all the time you need to heal. Some people only need an hour to immerse themselves, others need a week or a few months. Take your time.

Try not to go back until you’re really ready. Don’t feel even more guilty about it. And don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s your right to be alone while you deal with your feelings.

Find out the real reasons for your infidelity.

It’s time to ask yourself some hard questions to understand why you did what you did. If you are in a loveless relationship that has been dead for years, the reason is more than obvious.

However, if your relationship is fine, or you have always been a faithful partner so far, and there are no new feelings for the other person, it can be quite difficult to know the exact reason for the cheating.

Try asking yourself the following questions:

  • Was I unhappy with my relationship?
  • Did I cheat on him to have a good reason to break up?
  • Am I really in love with my new acquaintance?
  • Do I truly love my partner, even if we’re not perfect?
  • Am I going through a life crisis?
  • Am I under pressure?
  • Am I not mirroring my parents’ pattern of behavior?
  • Have I felt devastated in the relationship?

Of course, there may be more than one answer, and even then it would be hard to see a clear picture. But keep digging until you figure out the reasons that really resonate with you.

Finding out the “why” is very important, not only for you to forgive yourself, but also to prevent you from doing the same thing again in the future.

Talk to someone you trust.

Feeling guilty is one of the hardest things to go through alone. It’s not just one of those emotional states, it comes with a number of equally distressing feelings – shame, anger, regret and insecurity.

You just need to share your feelings with someone, otherwise you may “burn out. However, try not to make the mistake of trusting someone to judge you and point out your mistakes. You’re hard on yourself as it is, that’s enough.

Alternatively, if you can’t find someone:

  • journal entry;
  • talking things through out loud;
  • reading self-help books;
  • discussing on anonymous forums, chat rooms.
  • Make a confession plan.

Important note: This step is only necessary if you intend to stay in a relationship with your current partner. If you intend to break up with him, you do not have to admit that you cheated on him. It will only cause unnecessary pain.

Of course, keeping your infidelity a secret will keep the peace with your other half, but your conscience will torment you daily, if not minute by minute. You won’t be able to live a normal life if you fear that everything is about to be revealed. You are addicted to your sins as long as you keep them a secret.

Besides, living with a man day in and day out and seeing him happy with you when you know you did mean things to him just hurts. You don’t want to play a double game forever. Set yourself free, even if you have to pay a high price for it.

But the most important thing to prepare for is his reaction. Make sure you’re ready to face his anger at its worst.

Fully accept who you are … or change dramatically.

If you suddenly realize that you really can’t be in a monogamous relationship or that you’re completely unprepared for a long-term relationship, then stop forcing yourself to change. It’s your right and desire (at least for now), so you have to respect it. However, you also have to respect your partner’s feelings.

Remind yourself that you are just an ordinary person.

Of course, this is something that many people abuse. People often use the phrase “I’m only human” as an excuse when they do terrible things, but it’s true! We are all just human beings with our own set of proclivities and flaws, and yet we are expected to act like saints. It doesn’t matter if you’re good at everything else, if you’ve made one mistake, we are seen as evil, irresponsible, immoral.

Grow and evolve.

Even though the voice in your head is screaming that you are bad and will never be happy in any relationship again, that is a lie. You can get your life back on track, rebuild your relationship after the cheating and be happy again.

You’re capable of becoming the best version of yourself, even if right now things couldn’t be worse. Maybe this is the stage in your life where you need to go through these trials to learn a thing or two.

Don’t criticize yourself.

There is nothing worse than feeling like an irresponsible, unreliable, and just plain selfish person who is incapable of love. These feelings will get in your way because, in the end, you have failed as a person.

Don’t do this to yourself! Silence that voice in your head that keeps telling you that you are a horrible person, unworthy of love. Look, you cheated (and now you’re dying of guilt for it), but you didn’t kill anyone. Just think now about the many good things you’ve done in your life.

Focus on the future.

Whatever you did, it’s all in the past, and there’s nothing you can do to change it. Don’t get hung up on “what ifs” and don’t beat yourself up too much. What’s done is done, the past can’t be changed! Think of it as your blank slate. Reload your life.

Forget the phrase, “He who betrays once will betray twice.”

Don’t dwell on the idea that you will now be branded for life. This is a phrase people say when they are cheated on, to numb their pain a little. Repeating over and over to yourself that from now on you “will always cheat on everyone” because you only stumbled once is just a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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