Being cheated on sucks. Okay, more than sucks—it’s devastating. While it’s tempting to think you’d simply turn on Beyoncé’s album, grab a bat, and damage some property before moving on with someone better, your real-life reaction might be more complicated (and hopefully more legal). No matter what you’re feeling or thinking, remember that you deserve to be happy in life and love.
Here’s our advice for coping when you find out your partner has been messing around.
1. Express yourself.
Tears, blind rage, overwhelming sadness, or complete numbness? All of these reactions are totally normal. In fact, any emotion that you’re feeling is valid. The trick is to figure out what to do with these emotions. Instead of channeling Beyoncé with the bat, channel Beyoncé the poet. Write out everything in your mind until your hand goes numb. Dance it out until you’re exhausted, or use your phone to record a rant (that you delete when you’re ready). None of these things will take the pain away, but they can help you make some sense of everything you’re feeling.
2. Get some space (if you need it).
When emotions are running high, it’s almost impossible to make a clear decision. Should you stay? Is the relationship worth saving? If these are questions in your mind, take some time to sort through them. You don’t have to rush. When you’re calmer, the two of you can meet to discuss how you’ll move forward. If you live together and can’t put miles between you, consider sleeping in separate spaces while you figure things out.
3. Lean on your support system.
We’re not saying you need to Snapchat your arguments with Boo, but don’t go through this alone. Whether it’s your best friend, a family member, someone at church, or a therapist or counselor, find a supportive shoulder to lean on. Studies show that talking about your heartbreak with someone you trust actually helps you cope.
4. Get your health checked.
We don’t wanna get all big sister on you, but trust isn’t the only thing that’s been violated—your partner’s actions may have put you at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It’s a good idea to contact a health care provider and schedule a checkup and STI screening. It might be uncomfortable to bring up, but you’re also allowed to talk openly about the details of the cheating. You can ask whether condoms were used, and you can even suggest using condoms together for a while going forward if you weren’t using them already. Whether you decide to stay together or not, this is also a great time to make sure your birth control is covered.
5. Do what will make you happiest.
The most difficult thing to accept is that the only person responsible for your happiness is you. The right answer is whatever feels right for you. Tons of couples are able to move beyond cheating. Others decide it’s best to break up. All you can do is figure out what will make you happiest overall. While you’re sorting it out, be kind to yourself. Do things that make you happy and fill you with confidence and joy.
We know it can feel like everyone cheats and you just have to accept it, but we want you to know that you don’t have to “just accept” anything that doesn’t feel right. On the other hand, it’s totally okay to work through rough patches to build a stronger relationship if that’s what you want. Above all, remember that you deserve to be happy and fulfilled.
You’re gonna heal,
P.S. Think birth control access is a BFD? From scripts to videos, we’ve got tools to help you protect affordable birth control for all.