You’ve Just Been Cheated On. What The Hell Do You Do Now?

cheatercover

Your significant other’s best friend has just called to inform you that you are being cheated on.

So what the hell do you do now?

A common first response is “No fucking way…” because who would think that the man/woman you’ve been committed to, shared a life with, might have kids with, showered with, played with, payed bills with, picked out curtains with, shared your most secret thoughts with would EVER cheat on you?

It happens people…more than we care to acknowledge. (my research has indicated that 15 out of 18 people I interviewed couldn’t be sure that they’d never been cheated on!)

Rumor has it that those who are capable of cheating are some of the most jealous/non-trusting partners. Those who cheaterwould never consider cheating, don’t even fathom that it could ever happen to them.

But it’s happened…and thanks to a very brave friend, you now know about it.  So what do you do?

In my opinion this question is, for lack of a better word, a very lonely one. For no matter what you decide to do, someone will most likely not agree with your choice, you will lose family, some friends, you will second guess yourself.  But most likely your first thought will be

What did I do wrong? 

If there is one thing you take away from the chicks today, let it be this. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

Every relationship has its difficulties. They all have their ups and downs. In a committed relationship you are committing to fidelity as well as hard work, communication and loyalty.

You got a problem with the relationship? FIX IT OR GET OUT! Don’t cheat!

This is going to be a 2 part series where next month, our savvy Vonnie Davis will discuss what makes a person cheat. She will delve into research so we can better understand the psychology behind a cheater.

cheatergenesAnthropologically speaking, is monogamy an indigenous state of affairs for human beings?  Or are we struggling to put a square peg in a round hole? (no pun intended.)

But in the meantime, let’s talk about the fallout of infidelity.

What  is it about infidelity that cuts right to the heart of every person it touches? The victim, the cheater, the family, the friends, the children and even the cheater’s subject. No one is left unscathed, and it changes a person’s perspective about life forever.

We’ve all been there, in one of these roles, and it’s never a nice place to be.

in·fi·del·i·ty [in-fi-del-i-tee]

noun, plural in·fi·del·i·ties.

1. marital disloyalty; adultery.
2. unfaithfulness; disloyalty.
3. lack of religious faith, especially Christian faith.
4. a breach of trust or a disloyal act; transgression.

cheaterfacts

So where does that leave you? The one with your heart ripped out, your confidence shredded, and your trust in people dismembered. (Not to mention that nauseous feeling when you picture your man/woman tangled in the sheets, sharing something so intimate with someone else.)

And hence starts the change in the victim. Your trusting, free-flowing, honest ability to love has been impaired. A new learned response to loving someone has just been forged, and it ain’t pretty. You now don’t trust your instincts, you are confused about your boundaries, mistrusting, paranoid, and insecure. Your whole outlook on life has just changed as well as the way we react to all relationships in the future. You have been irrevocably changed, and not by choice.

So what do you do?

You cry, you curse, you hate, you grieve, you scream, you throw darts at photos and you will ABSOLUTELY sing and dance to the brilliant Gloria Gaynor: I WILL SURVIVE, at least 5 times a day.  That’s an order!

…then you ask Rachel Slate to come spray you with ‘You ARE Special!’  glitter, and you gather your loved ones around you and focus on yourself (pedicure, massage, new haircut, awesome workout routine…). Because cheating  is NOT because of you. It’s all on them…

You don’t trash on social media, you don’t rehash what you think you did wrong, you don’t regret. You deal with the pain and move on. You get help from your family, friends or a professional. You focus on the positive things in your life. You make no important decisions about anything at this time, because grief does strange things to your decision making abilities. You sit back, nurture yourself and just be. In time you will see things more clearly and be able to make the tough decisions.

 Can we forgive and forget?
cheatercarI’ve been cheated on, and I could never be in a relationship with that man ever again. It’s just not in my makeup. I couldn’t live with the constant wondering of  ‘will it happen again?’ Most likely it would. (Vonnie? Research?) The trust is gone. I could NEVER forget.
But I did forgive. Mostly because that person is no longer important to me. I forgave for my own peace of mind. I don’t believe in holding grudges. It does me no good to be angry at a person who is flawed when it comes to loyalty. It’s THEIR problem. Not mine.
In hindsight….waaaaaay back hindsight…I actually felt sorry for my ex.  That’s when the forgiveness came. And I NEVER held it against the girl(s). They owed me nothing. HE owed me everything.
So yes…I can forgive and hope that gaping hole a cheater has in his/her character, a hole they think can be filled with a counterfeit rush, counterfeit self-esteem, and counterfeit affirmation, will someday be filled with the stuff that is real: The pride that comes from selfless love, loyalty, and commitment. ‘Cause in a relationship…it’s not about ME anymore. It’s about US. So grow the fuck up! (My therapist actually said this to me once when I was being reeeeaaally whiney and self centered…It worked!)
Again… IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT! You, after knowing you’ve been cheated on, have a few decisions to make:
Should I stay?
Could we make this relationship work again?
Will he/she cheat again? (This could actually be considered a moot point. You’ll never know for sure. The real question is Will I ever trust again?)
Or should I go?
Can I recover and be that open-hearted, benevolent lover I’d once been toward someone else? (This is a tough one that will take a lot of swagger and work. And the right person in your life to show you how worthy of loyalty and respect you truly are.)
If you decide to stay, what about the kids?The INNOCENT BYSTANDERS.You reeeeaally need to be able to Forgive AND Forget…kids sense EVERYTHING.
I grew up in a house filled with the fallout from infidelity. It tainted every thing I’d learned about love and relationships. And I never even knew about the infidelity at the time.
Dad cheated. Mom couldn’t forgive or forget.
Dad disrespected women. Mom trusted no one.
Dad became bitter. Mom became bitter.
But they stayed together, for the sake of the kids.
The effect on those kids? Two daughters with little or no self-esteem who grew up not knowing what a normal loving relationship looked like. Dad saw us as ‘insignificant girls.’ Mom saw everyone, including us, as untrustworthy. He didn’t respect, she didn’t trust. So we suffered.
Missing her, yearning for a happy, carefree mom who loved us unconditionally.
Missing him, yearning for a confident, compassionate father who loved us unconditionally.
But with infidelity, there are no unconditionals anymore.
And we still suffer, struggling to believe we ARE good enough. Struggling to believe we ARE lovable, just the way we are…(Thank God we have AWESOME hubbys…)
cheater2And not to throw another monkey in the works, but what about infidelity without sex? What about those close friends of the opposite sex that your significant other shares special things with? Is there such a crime as infidelity of the heart? I think so. I want to be my man’s soul mate…the only woman he wants to share everything in his life with. If he gets something from another woman that he can’t get from me, that’s a BIG warning sign. But hey…that’s just me. Life and love are full of challenges, some good, some bad. It’s what makes us who we are and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We hurt, we mend, we assess, and we move on. It makes us stronger. So what’s your take people? The girls at Chick Swagger wanna know.
1. Anthropologically speaking, is monogamy an indigenous state of affairs for human beings?
2. What makes someone cheat?(Vonnie will be reporting on this for us at the end of next month!)
3. Have you ever daydreamed about cheating? In a flash moment of needy temporary insanity? 
4. Can a cheater change and become monogamous? Or will they always yearn? 
5. Can we forgive and forget? Will the relationship ever work again?
6.  Can we recover and be that open-hearted, benevolent lover we’d once been toward someone else
 7. Does infidelity have to include sex?   

Comments

  1. The chart you added is fascinating to read. It really shows the difference between men and women. If I’m reading it right, men cheat more because of sex and women cheat because they need some emotional validation.

    You wrote…Could we make this relationship work again? Will he/she cheat again? (This could actually be considered a mute point. You’ll never know for sure. The real question is Will I ever trust again?

    I think for me that would be the hardest thing to overcome. Trust is so important and when lost…Well, I just don’t know. Great thought provoking post!

    • Josie Matthews says:

      There are so many statistics out there, Renee…It really is an amazing topic. Im so excited to see what V researches. Infidelity is an age old issue back from the beginning of time and you as a historical writer are aware of how views are constantly changing in history as to whether cheating is socially acceptable. I guess in cultures and time periods where it is socially acceptable, its not considered cheating!

      • Your right about changing views. The Victorians are always thought of as prim and proper, but the estimate of prostitutes in London during this period was staggering in comparison to the male population. Without much choice, many women turned a blind eye because of financial constraints. Not to say that this was solely a male thing during this time period but many men believed that their gender had a greater need for sex.

        • Josie Matthews says:

          Has it ever been acceptable for women to have multiple partners? hmmmmm
          Greater need ??? That is funny…it gives me a whole new outlook on reading historicals!!! Love it!

  2. What a great post, Josie, tackling such a serious and important issue!

    For #4 & 5: My husband’s first fiancee cheated on him, but he stayed (because he is literally the nicest person in the world, even when he shouldn’t be). Turned out, the cheating was just a symptom of a diseased relationship (plus, she was a horrible person), and he eventually ended things. And then found me, lucky man ;)

    I think it’s the fact that sleeping with someone else is premeditated that bothers me the most. You don’t just fall into another woman’s vagina! (Or you know, the reverse for cheating women). It’s the lack of respect, and genuine *care* for the other person’s feelings. I’m not sure that can be repaired. So, I absolutely agree with your point here: “FIX IT OR GET OUT! Don’t cheat!”

    I’m going to tackle Lucky Number 7 with: I think part of the problem is that couples never discuss cheating. If they have good communication, they might talk the good and bad stuff, but in how many relationships does one person actually ask “How would you feel if I ever cheated on you?”

    If you never ask, you’ll never know where the one you’re with draws the lines. Is it flirting with the waitress? Ogling pics of hot men? Or actually sleeping with someone else? Communication is key, about EVERYTHING :)

    • Josie Matthews says:

      Such great points, Rach…and YES…this is a serious issue for us swagger girls, but a topic to get our awesome readers thinking and experiencing thoughts and feelings they might not other wise…a true chick swagger move!
      Thank GOD hubby found you! I definitely think most infidelity is because of problems in the relationship. Maybe the men don’t realize it as quickly as we emotional, inquisitive women do so the vagina falling is more prevalent… I think women ‘think’ more about things and infidelity is a last ditch effort of finding solace…but who really knows unless you’ re in it! Some cheaters have great relationships but the love and attention they get from one person just isnt enough to fill that gaping insecurity hole…
      I think oogling and flirting is harmless…healthy even ( a little teasing jealousy can keep a relationship in line!) But I draw the line at sharing confidence with another person. Especially if it involves talking about OUR relationship. Then Im kickin’ some serious ass…

  3. I want to know — which of our “chickswaggers” are in that picture?

  4. Josie, I would never stay with someone who cheated on me. Ever. The “not knowing” of what your partner may or may not being doing at any given moment would be an enormous burden and energy suck that would just not be worth it for me. Does that make me a less noble person. Probably, but I know my limits. In general, I think cheating spouses is often just a symptom of bigger issues in the relationship. I would hazard a guess that in most relationships that are solid, one of the partners doesn’t just wake up and say, “hmm, I want to go fuck someone else.” Doesn’t work that way. There is something else wrong in the relationship that opens that door to infidelity. Listen to me get all Dr. Phil. LOL.

    Anyway, this topic hits me hard right now as you know. Glad you found Mr. M. He’s da bomb. :) I’ll be sharing that I Will Survive video with someone — I think it may garner a shit ass grin to go along with the eye roll. xoxo

    • Josie Matthews says:

      This one was for a special person, Mist! And I’m right there with ya…Noble or not. Im amazed at the people that try to make it work and Im sure there are some success stories out there (I’d love to hear them!) But like you…Im just too emotional to be able to trust uncoditionally after that. Energy Suck is a great term…cause that’s exactly what I think i might feel everyday with worry. Hugs and love!!!!

  5. Amen sistahs! I think the main question for me is do you still want to be with that person and vice versa. If you do, can trust be rebuilt over time? So individual and so many variables, how much time, repeat offender, kids? Really great post and timely!

  6. Josie Matthews says:

    Thanks Susannah…Something to think about…hopefully it will bring some solidarity to those who might need it at this time…Sending out the love!!!

  7. I’ve always wondered how a cheatee can stay with a cheater, or vice versa for that matter. The ego blow alone for someone who’s been cheated on, without all of the emotional pain and betrayal on top of it, is huge. Someone who can forgive has supernatural strength, or in the cases that I’ve seen, have the complete opposite–no strength whatsoever. Those are the victims. Victims of verbal and physical abuse. Victims accused of infidelity when in actuality it’s their accuser who’s been unfaithful. So my experience deals mostly with victims, struggling to find self worth in a world that has told them they are nothing. It’s a horrible place to be and a hard place for people to escape. Gloria Gaynor’s song is an awesome anthem!

    • Josie Matthews says:

      Kym, working with the public as you and I do we see the worst of the worst…I felt myself consistantly calling the person who’s been cheated on the VICTIM in this post becuse I couldn’t think of a better word! So much psychology comes into play here which Im sure V is going to unsheath for us. A dark subject for sure, as would be domestic violence…not typical for chickswagger but one worth discussing for our loved ones who are in that ‘hard place for people to escape’. Great way to put it Kym! Thanks for being on the front lines for us…<3

  8. Cheating is a terrific topic, Josie, as it obviously affects so many people!

    1. We are only humans. And humans make mistakes. Unfortunately.

    2. I think what makes a person cheat is a totally individual thing. Everyone has their own temptations. Maybe yours is something as simple as a few drinks at a bachelor/bachelorette party. Or maybe something more complicated as a past lover who shows up around a time when you and your significant other are having relationship problems. Whatever the case may be, I do believe that if given the proper motivation, tailored to the specifics of the individual, most people would be tempted to cheat. But tempted is one thing…cheating is another.

    3. Yes. I’ve also dreamed that I killed someone, but that doesn’t make me a murderer, does it? ;)

    4. I don’t believe that “once a cheater, always a cheater.” Every relationship is unique to the two people who make up the couple. That alone stands to reason that just because a person cheated in one relationship doesn’t mean they will cheat in a different relationship with an entirely different partner. Sure, some people may form patterns of cheating, causing them to become a serial cheater, but that doesn’t mean everyone who cheats once will do so again.

    5. I do think it’s possible to forgive, but nearly impossible to forget such a betrayal. Even if you manage to stuff it down into the deepest parts of your memory banks, it will still always be there to remind you of the trust you lost in that person. This is probably why so many relationships fail to work after someone cheats. Because even though someone claims to forgive the cheater, chances are that the incident will become a hurtful weapon used in their next argument. And that’s not true forgiveness.

    6. Definitely. You might be more cautious this go-round, but you can absolutely recover from the cheating and open your heart to someone else.

    7. There is definitely such a thing as emotional cheating, which includes no physical contact. If you’re making a connection on a intimate level with a person other than your partner, then yes, it’s cheating.

    Great post, Josie! Had fun answering such thought-provoking questions! :)

    • Josie Matthews says:

      You get a glitter splattered A+++++ Ms. Bliss!!! Cause there are no wrong answers here! Thank for all the thought you put into this! Love your honesty with #2 because you hit it right on the head I think. That’s where loyalty and commitment come in to save the day.:) Such an emotional topic for many of us. Dark…but part of many lives…

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