Have you ever been cheated on? If the answer is yes, you know how devastating it can be to discover the betrayal. In an instant, your entire world is turned upside down when you suddenly realize that the person you love is not who you thought they were. But there is also a silver lining: Like all of the hardest things we face in life, they make us come out stronger, more resilient, and smarter on the other side. So, if you've been through the
brutally honest phases of realizing your partner is cheating, congratulations, you are a survivor and you know even heartbreak won't break you.
While there definitely is light at the end of the tunnel, as you're going through it, things can feel really dark. From the moment you suspect your partner, until you're finally over the whole thing, there are a handful of pretty predictable steps that anyone who has been in your shoes (or will be sometime in the future) will definitely relate to. This won't be easy to read because, yeah, the truth hurts, but these are the brutally honest phases you go through when you discover your partner has been stepping out on you.
1. You Get A Sick Feeling In Your Gut
Sometimes the discovery that your SO has been cheating comes out of nowhere, and if that's the case, skip to phase three. But almost always, it starts with a feeling in your gut. Something is off. Your intuition picks up on something subconsciously. Maybe their behavior has changed. Maybe they've gotten weird about you seeing their phone screen. Maybe they are less affectionate, or don't return calls and texts like they used to. It's subtle, but for some reason you just feel, well, suspicious.
That nagging sense of suspicion starts to make you more observant. You start paying attention in a way you didn't have to before. You try and reassure yourself that maybe it’s just all in your head, but more and more the evidence that something is off and you partner has become increasingly secretive is piling up. You may stay in this phase for a while, cycling between trusting your gut and fighting to stay in denial.
Try as you might to avoid facing the truth, eventually it all comes out. Maybe you catch them cheating, or maybe they confess, but however it happens, the truth is out there and there is no more use in denying it. It's time to face your new reality and come to terms with the fact that your partner has betrayed your trust. You will want revenge. Resist that urge.
Total Devastation And Rage
After the initial blow, you need some time away from them to get your head right. You cycle between bouts of absolute emotional devastation and
so much rage. You want to break all of the things, cry, scream, and maybe even lash out at your partner. Again, resist the urge. There will likely be a lot of listening to sad music, comfort eating, and subtweeting going on in this phase. Eventually, those subtweets will make their way through the modern miracle of the internet to your friends and family, kickstarting phase five.
Friends And Family Ride To The Rescue
When your loved ones get wind of your situation, they rally around you, trying to boost your spirits by reminding you how amazing you are and what a garbage person your (possibly, you haven't decided yet) ex is. This kind of feels good, but also bums you out because you're not really ready to hear other people talk badly about the person you loved. It's a pretty confusing phase, but hey, heartbreak is hard. Eventually, they are successful in lifting you up enough that you're almost ready to start making decisions about the future... almost.
You will eventually get there, helped along by constant texts from your SO about getting some resolution, or at least by the thought of not having to see the stuff they left a your place anymore. (Don't burn it.) It’s time to think about how you want to move forward. If cheating is a deal-breaker for you, this phase passes pretty quickly, but you never know how you feel about it until you are actually in the situation. What you may find is that while cheating is definitely a huge problem in the relationship, there is hope that you can move forward and forgive at some point the future. This is where you do what is right for you.
Whether you chose to break up or stick it out, what follows is that you begin to heal. Time is a miracle — it really does heal all wounds. While the experience may have left some scars, those emotional battle wounds are proof that you can bounce back and be stronger and smarter for having gone through it. When you're caught up in the previous phases, this one may feel like it will never come, but it will — it always does. You've got this.
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