You Cheated. Now What?

I have a confession to make. You can judge me all you want, but I’m coming clean:

I cheated on my last boyfriend.

No, it wasn’t a long, torrid love affair. It wasn’t kinky sex with a Jeremy Piven lookalike. In fact, there was no sex involved. All I did was make out with a co-worker. But still, cheating is cheating, so tonsil hockey still counts in my book. It also counted in my boyfriend’s book. And it counted in his sister’s book…and she was the one who witnessed the fiasco.

It was innocent enough; I didn’t intend to cheat. I wasn’t emotionally attached to my co-worker. We just got blackout drunk at a bar and swapped saliva for about half an hour.

The next morning, I woke up feeling like I’d done something wrong. Yup, I had. My boyfriend’s sister asked me if I remembered making out with “Frank.” Immediately, my heart sank. I got dizzy. I wanted to throw up. My mind started racing a mile a minute, as is standard anxiety-attack protocol. Why would I do something like that with Frank, a guy I had absolutely no interest in, when I was happy and in love with her brother?

A lot of people will disagree with me for saying this, but cheating can be hard on the cheater. I was ashamed of myself, I cried, and I regretted doing so many shots the night before. What’s a cheater to do when they’ve crossed the line with someone else?

1. Ask yourself if it meant anything. Did you cheat because you like the other guy? Do you want a relationship with him? Did you cheat because you aren’t happy with your current boyfriend? I think in my case, deep down, I was scared, because I was in the most serious relationship I’d ever been in. Things were moving fast, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to be shackled down and on the fast track to Housewifesville. I think that’s why I dabbled with a guy who meant nothing to me. But that’s my own conclusion. If you’ve cheated on any level (and there are some people out there who believe in emotional cheating as well), you need to get to the root of your own behavior before you can move on and deal with it with your man.

2. Weigh the options: To tell, or not to tell. I pretty much had to tell my boyfriend, because I am the dumbass who decided to cuckold her man in front of his sister. She probably would have told him if I hadn’t done it myself. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t have told, because my conscience gets to me if I snap at a telemarketer, and I probably would have been guilt-ridden for the remaining duration of my relationship if I’d kept it quiet. On the other hand, to what degree does “What he doesn’t know can’t hurt him” apply? Like I said, I wasn’t into my cheating-partner AT ALL. It never happened again, and Frank and I never talked about our random makeout sesh. So even though it meant nothing to Frank and me, it meant a lot of pain for my boyfriend. That said, you have to seriously consider all of the consequences and do what you think is most fair to your man. I’m not saying “Don’t tell him, and avoid being dumped,” because sorry, cheater, you brought this on yourself. But I do believe that there may be some instances where your man might be better off not knowing. That part’s up to you.

3. Talk to him. If you do decide to come clean, the “Hey, sweetie, I collected a DNA sample from another dude” talk isn’t going to be pretty. Telling the truth might be the moral way to go, but you have to realize that when you tell him you cheated, you are putting the ball completely in his court. From here, it’s really his decision as to whether you two work things out, or whether he kicks your ass to the curb. He might need some time to think about things, or you may have to have several discussions to work it out. You have to be patient with your guy– after all, you made the decision to cheat in the first place, so you’ll have to reap what you sew.

4. Prepare for the future. If you have the talk and decide to work things out, you have to commit to NOT cheating again, ever. If your guy can forgive you once, that’s great, but don’t test him a second time. Also, even if he does forgive you, it might be difficult (or even impossible) to get back to the way things were before. He might have difficulty trusting you, and, if he knows the guy you cheated with, he probably won’t want you hanging out with that guy again.

While it’s normal to have a few bumps in the road as you try to work things out, don’t let your guy guilt-trip you forever. Remember, you were honest enough to come clean and work things out, but you don’t deserve to have your mistake hanging over your head for the rest of your life. If you can work things out as mature adults, good for you. If you can’t, and he leaves you, it might suck for a while, but in the end, it was probably meant to be. Another guy will come along… and hopefully you will have learned your lesson and be more faithful the next time around.

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