Infidelity is hard to deal with. If you discovered a betrayal of your girlfriend, how can you trust her again and move on? To face the situation, it is necessary to assess whether this relationship is worth saving, in addition to maintaining open communication with her about her expectations and seeking emotional support from friends and therapists.
Part 1 of 3: Assessing the Situation
Step 1. Ask the right questions
Once you've been cheated on, the first step is to assess the relationship and find out if it's worth continuing. You must ask yourself certain questions to make this decision. Be as honest with yourself as possible.
- Has your girlfriend ever cheated on you before? For some people, cheating is a compulsive behavior that repeats itself again and again. If the root of the problem is not your relationship, but your problematic behavior, it's easier to forgive.
- Why did she cheat on him? Some people say that cheating is cheating and that's the end of it, but the fact is, the reasons behind infidelity are pretty important. A one-night stand out of physical attraction can be a lot easier to forgive than a long-term affair in which your girlfriend has become emotionally involved with someone else. Try putting yourself in her shoes and imagine how you would feel in that position.
- How was the relationship when the betrayal happened? If the relationship was at a bad stage and you already knew your girlfriend was unhappy, it may be easier to understand the attitude. Were you very accommodated? Did she seek to fulfill emotional needs outside of the relationship? If the answer is yes, can such problems be fixed or should you finish and move on?
Step 2. Learn about sexual compulsion
Knowing more about factors that encourage cheating can help you understand and forgive your girlfriend. If she has cheated on other partners, learn more about sexual compulsion and its causes.
- Compulsive sexual behavior is the term used to refer to a wide range of sexual activities outside of social standards, including some forms of infidelity. Infidelity is usually only considered a compulsive behavior if it is a behavioral pattern that the person adopts without thinking about the consequences and risks involved.
- If your girlfriend has cheated on partners in the past, it may be a matter of compulsion. Once you've calmed down, ask her if she has control over these sexual urges and enjoys these experiences. If the answer is no, she may have a disorder that needs psychiatric treatment.
- Not all betrayal is by compulsion. It is important not to automatically diagnose any infidelity as a disorder. If the cheating happened because of problems between you or because she isn't interested in a monogamous relationship, to say that your girlfriend has a disorder may sound cruel. She may feel that you judge her and ignore the other more relevant problems in the relationship that led to her behavior.
Step 3. Seek help from others
It can be difficult to overcome the emotional impact of a betrayal alone. Ask friends and family for help so you can vent and better understand your feelings.
- Talk to friends and relatives that you trust and that don't judge you. Tell them what happened and ask for emotional support. People can give advice, but politely say that you're just trying to understand what you're feeling and that you don't need guidance on how to act.
- Don't be vindictive. It's okay to unburden yourself to others, but don't tell her mom, her best friends, or her coworkers about your dating problems. Prefer your old friends and people you knew before.
Step 4. Think about the idea of opening up the relationship
Some people are adept at polyamory, that is, they cannot have a monogamous relationship and look for others to have sexual and loving relationships. If your girlfriend falls into that category, you have to see if that's what you want too.
- Polyloving and open relationships can take many forms. Some people just look for sex outside of dating, while others may want to have multiple sexual and romantic partners at the same time. If you want to follow this path, decide how the scheme would be for you to feel comfortable before adopting one.
- Communication is the key to having a successful open relationship. Adherents of this form of love place a lot of emphasis on the discussion of limits, respect and expectations. First of all, talk a lot with your girlfriend about what would be an open relationship for the two of you.
- Remember that there is nothing wrong with not wanting to have an open relationship. There is no wrong way to feel. If you are not comfortable with the idea of an open relationship, pushing the envelope can be harmful. If you and your girlfriend have different ideas about monogamy, you might not be compatible.
Part 2 of 3: Interacting With Your Girlfriend
Step 1. Give each other space
Right after discovering the betrayal, it's hard not to be pretty shaken up. Step back after this revelation so that you both have time to think.
- The impulse may be to want to keep her around to ensure that no further betrayals happen. However, it is difficult to be clear about emotions seeing the person every day.
- Use this time to reflect on what you want. What do you not give up at all in dating? How far are you willing to change? Discover their own wants and needs so they can talk properly when they meet.
Step 2. Have an open and honest conversation
There's no way to pretend that nothing happened. Open and honest conversation is fundamental to reaching a conclusion, whether to end it permanently or to try to overcome the issue together.
- Listen to what she has to say, even if it's difficult. Give signals that you're paying attention: maintain eye contact, move closer, nod your head, and occasionally make a few comments when she takes a break. Avoid noisy places, like a diner in a mall, to have this conversation. Too much interference can make it difficult for you to communicate well.
- Ask important questions. What issues cause conflict between the couple? What causes disappointment and suffering? When were you happy and felt closer? How could communication between the two of you change and improve?
- Be respectful. This can be a painful discussion for both of you, but it needs to be a civilized and productive conversation. Speak politely and use first-person phrases rather than accusing her and holding her accountable for every action. Try to take turns speaking and not dwell on a subject for too long. If you've been discussing an issue for more than 15 minutes, it's time to change the subject and come back to the topic later.
Step 3. Get ready to change if you have to
Depending on the reason for the betrayal, there may be points in the relationship that need to be resolved. Of course, the infidelity was not your fault, but if you are interested in saving your relationship, you may have to make some adjustments to your way of being.
- You have to understand why she betrayed him. Even though the confrontation is painful, maybe something went wrong in the relationship. The couple needs to identify common goals for dating and be willing to change the way they are and how they look at things.
- Change takes time. Be aware that, even if you are willing to change in some areas, things will get a little awkward at first, as the wound of a broken relationship takes time to heal.
Step 4. Make a decision about the future of the relationship
The main thing is to decide whether you can forgive the betrayal and move on or not.
- Sometimes needs and wants are not compatible, which can lead to betrayal in most cases. If your girlfriend has different sexual needs, you may not be the ideal couple. If you are a firm believer in monogamy and she prefers open relationships, this is a hint that it's time to move on.
- Boredom is another determining factor in ending a relationship. It's critical to discover new things about your partner to have a lasting relationship, but if you both stop growing during the course of the romance, it's a sign that things aren't working out. Loss of interest and personal growth are signs that the relationship has no future.
- On the other hand, if you and your girlfriend can come to an agreement that you both feel happy and comfortable with without compromising anyone's vital needs, the relationship can still work. However, understand that tension and lack of trust are unavoidable after an episode of infidelity. It takes a long time for things to get back to normal.
Part 3 of 3: Moving Forward
Step 1. Take STD exams
It is important that you and your girlfriend get tested for sexually transmitted infections after cheating.
- People who are always involved in cheating are careless about safety during sex. It is important to go to the doctor for a battery of STD tests.
- Ask your girlfriend to take the exams too. It is important to ensure that your sexual health is up to date before resuming activities, especially if you are not using condoms or other forms of protection.
Step 2. Get in therapy
See a couples therapist together with your girlfriend if you want to continue dating after the betrayal.
- The therapist can help the couple deal with thorny issues together. Having difficult discussions in the therapist's presence can help them realize that it is possible to handle the matter calmly and respectfully. You can also ask questions about the betrayal that you felt uncomfortable discussing alone with your girlfriend.
- If your girlfriend is hesitant, go alone. Even without her presence, it is possible to resolve some personal issues.
Step 3. Cultivate a new relationship
After infidelity, the relationship is no longer the same. The two of you are going to have to work hard to create something new together.
- Infidelity will resurface in all discussions for a while, and you need to make a real effort to overcome the resentment. Obsessing with it can undermine a healthy relationship. The therapist can help you get out of this trap of thinking over and over about your girlfriend's cheating.
- Try to see things on the bright side. Of course the innocence and trust that existed in the beginning is gone, but you and your girlfriend have survived a major setback and are still solid as a couple. This shows that your bonds are strong and now you have the opportunity to further improve the relationship and renew it.