*I recently received a heartbreaking email from a divorced mother who was having trouble getting past the fact that her ex husband left her for one of the women he cheated on her with. I’ve seen this type of situation many a time, unfortunately. In response, I wanted to share something I think all the women (and men!) in these situations ought to know.*
Whether you’ve gone through a divorce or a break up, anytime a relationship ends it can feel beyond painful. And if it happens after someone cheats, it can feel even more so. You’re hurt, heartbroken, and probably confused.
How could this happen?
How could he/she do this to you?
Well as a person who has been on either side of the spectrum (as cheater and cheated on), I feel for you. I’ve been there. It’s painful to feel so hurt and confused. There’s probably nothing you’d like more than to use that wicked right hook right about now. But I’m here to tell you a few things you really ought to know…
#1. I’m happy for you.
I’m happy that you are no longer tied to someone who does not love you in the way you deserve to be loved.
You are worthy of so much more. You are worthy of a partner who loves and respects you so much that he would never put your relationship at risk by cheating, no matter how much he may be tempted.
We are all human here, and temptation is a normal feeling to experience, even after you’re married. Our biological makeup has designed us to be physically attracted to a lot more than just one person in our lifetime. We have to learn as an evolved member of society that physical attraction does not equal love, it does not always mean compatibility, and it certainly does not mean “the grass is greener” with this other person.
And even if your ex learns this lesson and comes crawling back – remember that you deserve better. And I am so happy that you have a chance to find “better” now that he is gone (eventually, of course).
#2. This was not your fault.
I’m sure you know this in your head, but I want you to understand it in your heart, too. No matter what he has said or how he has tried to push blame – it is not your fault when someone cheats on you. It’s his.
Yes, it takes two to tango in any relationship – in building it and in breaking it down. But when someone makes the decision to cheat on his significant other, that’s on him. That is a decision he made to betray you, your relationship, your kids… your family as a whole. And he could have made that decision for all kinds of reasons.
Maybe he wanted out of the relationship but was too much of a coward to throw in the towel.
Maybe he wanted to force you to make the decision on your own – to leave him.
Perhaps he simply “made a mistake.”
Or perhaps you cheated first and he wanted to pay you back in turn.
Whatever the excuse – put it out of your mind!
No matter what happened – whether an emotional affair, a late night make-out session, a one night only sexual mistake, or a full blown affair – it’s up to you to decide how much you’re willing to put up with before you throw in the towel. But if you make the decision to leave, or kick them out, or whatever – I want you to consider something:
#3. One day you’ll thank the other woman.
I know this sounds completely counter-intuitive and against everything society tries to teach you. But eventually, when the dust settles, you’re going to need to start thinking of things in a more positive light.
That “other woman” showed you his true colors.
Your ex was toxic, he cheated on you, he disrespected you, betrayed you, broke your trust… And now you are free to let him go. You do not have to put up with it anymore. Let someone else deal with his lies and the pain. Don’t take your pain out on the other woman. It kills me when women do this – as if your significant other had no control over his actions after that “harlot” walked in the office. B*llsh*t!
She’s not the one who broke your trust – your partner did. I don’t care if you were married or in a relationship – either way, you two were committed to each other. Your significant other is the one who betrayed you.
Now if she was a friend, by all means cut that woman off. But don’t blame her. Hoping for the worst for this other woman, while it may feel necessary, will not help you heal. Just think… if he cheated on you with her, what’s stopping him from cheating on her with someone else?
#4. Focus on yourself.
As far as any breakup goes (not just the cheating kind) – you deserve so much better than your ex. And that’s not just “girlfriend talk” – I’m being real with you. You deserve someone who is never going to cheat on you, who loves and respects you, who is worthy of your time and affection.
And now that you’re free of the dead weight, now is the perfect time to focus on YOU. Take your time, ignore romantic advances, and work on being the best person you can be.
Here are a few suggestions to help you grow:
- Workout that body. There’s no sense in putting on weight from depression (trust me, I’ve been there). Channel that heartbreak into anger (How dare he?!) and concentrate all your aggression on fitness. Start working out at home, at your apartment fitness center, or get a membership at a local gym.
- Enhance that mind. Pick up a new hobby or skill you’ve been wanting to learn. Learn to cook, speak a different language, whatever you can cross off your bucket list!
- Rediscover your favorites. Do you have a hobby or favorite pastime that you had to put on the back burner while you were in a relationship? Use some of your extra time to do those things! Read, hike, bike!
- Experience the world. Travel, travel, travel! Take a trip alone, or with a best friend – whatever speaks to you. I found myself changing my life on the mountains of Colorado at one point. My ex-husband traveled to Thailand after our divorce. Wherever you go, make sure you have time to focus on your own thoughts.
- Figure out what you really want and need. When you start rediscovering yourself as a single woman, you’re going to have a lot of time to figure out who you really are and what you really want in a partner. Once you make that list or iron it out in your mind, don’t focus on it. Write it down and hide it away. You will find each other when you’re both ready, when you’re meant to, and not a moment sooner.
#5. It gets better.
After a bad breakup – whether because of betrayal or another reason – it can be difficult to keep a positive outlook. But believe me when I say it gets better. Pain fades away, you’ll discover more about yourself, and life will get better.
Don’t be surprised if you have trust issues; they’re pretty standard. It’s a natural response when you don’t want to be hurt again. Over time, new people and new relationships will wear those walls down. You’ll find yourself able to trust the right people again. One day, you may even find yourself tearing down your metaphorical walls for just the right person – someone who will challenge your assumptions and prove to you that soulmates must be real.
But that’s not the goal. The goal is to work on yourself, work on a positive outlook, and free yourself from the hate and the pain.
Good luck, Mama! I believe in you!
PS: There’s so much more than the stages of grieving. Here’s how to heal from divorce.