1. Forgive the past
“I already spoke to you about this in a previous article you interviewed me for, so I won’t explain how we got here.
At the time before we broke up, I felt like she was choking me to the point I couldn’t breathe. I had no freedom or autonomy to do anything unless I discussed it with her first. It seemed like she was tremendously scared I would stray or hurt her.
That’s why it came as such a shock that she ended up being the one to cheat, and I ended up being the one cheated on. All those years I tried to be the man she expected me to be, even though it felt at times I wasn’t allowed to be myself. But I wasn’t enough, and she, in the end, became the exact thing she was afraid of me becoming. Ironic, right?
I used to be bitter about it. Frankly, sometimes, when I think about it, it still makes me bitter! But forgiveness is a continuous process that I have to actively pursue.
I didn’t just wake up one day and decide, ‘Okay, I will forgive her, and – boom – it’s done.’ It took a few years for me to comprehend what she did, and now I empathize with her. She must’ve been lost and confused about her ideas of love since we were so young. And I admit that in the end, I wasn’t a great boyfriend either, and there were moments where I was tempted to emotionally cheat just to get back at her.
We pushed each other until one of us finally broke, and maybe it just happened to be her who snapped first. For all we know, it could’ve been me had she not crossed the line first. It doesn’t matter anymore, does it? We’re both in a better place and in happier, healthier relationships.
We still see each other sometimes, and we’re really okay now. I forgave her and I think she forgave me, even though we never really talked about it.”
— Malachi, 24, Philippines
2. Appreciate people who appreciate you
“The ‘discovery’ occurred accidentally.
Evira* and I knew each other’s social media passwords, but I never really thought of snooping before, or even using it for a prank. Until our relationship hit a rough patch.
We were constantly fighting, but I thought we were beginning to get on track again. We discussed the possibility of marriage, and I even told my friends and family I was ready to settle down with her. She was the girl I was picturing to have children with, you know?
Then, something just felt off. I can’t explain it. I wouldn’t say she was all of a sudden going out a lot, or not texting me, or stopped being interested in sex. Things were normal, but I just got this weird sense of paranoia which, in hindsight, might’ve been a gut feeling.
So one day when she was still at school, I logged in to her social media account, and the very first message I read in her inbox was a conversation she was having with a guy I didn’t know. They were sexting.
I blew up and confronted her when she got home, and she almost immediately confessed this wasn’t even the first time she had cheated on me. It was apparently the third. I demanded that she move out of our apartment, and she did so without hesitation. It felt like she wasn’t even bothered about getting caught. That stung the most.
Here’s this girl who I fully believed I would eventually build a family with, and it turns out she’s fucked different people behind my back, and when I find out, she’s not even sorry about it. 7 years of loving someone and investing in someone, and she doesn’t even care. She just packs her bag and leaves the apartment MY parents paid for me and her to live in.
I spent a week at my parents’ house after that. Seriously, I couldn’t go to school. Just spent my days crying to my parents and friends. I’m pretty sure I came off as whiny and annoying, but I was just numb as hell. My emotions shut down. It was the only way I knew how to get through.
I spent more than a year heavily partying and sleeping around with various women. It got to the point that my best friend got pissed at me, because he thought I was leading girls on and dissing them before and after I’d slept with them. Dating had somehow become this weird game for which I both despised yet desired.
My friend made me realize I was probably giving these girls the same pain and trust issues my Evira had given me. I guess after getting cheated on, you expect that every other person you meet will do the same to you, and you don’t even realize you’ve begun thinking that. Once you internalize that kind of trauma, it’s difficult not to lash out from it.
I’ve been seeing the same girl for 4 months. It’s casual, but she is still helping me grow in some ways. When you date people who are genuinely interested in being with you, then it changes your perspective and makes you reevaluate your actions and assumptions.”
— Ben, 25, Denmark
3. Don’t suppress the pain
“I was very angry. This was the only emotion I could feel 24/7 for a really long period. What I didn’t know at the time was that there were other things buried beneath all the anger – shame, sadness, embarrassment, regret. Anger was just a cover-up.
If you’re a guy, you don’t really have a safe space to heal and move on, or at least I didn’t have that. My friends did try to make me feel better, yeah, but they also made it seem like it wasn’t a big deal. They’d joke about it.
I know it’s their way of comforting me and that they mean well, but what I needed was someone who could help talk me through it, and, more importantly, let me talk myself through it. I didn’t need someone hollering, ‘The player got played!’ or ‘It’s because you allowed yourself to get pussy whipped’ even if it’s just a joke to try to make me laugh.
There was a sort of assumption that since I’m the male that I should be able to just suck it up, find another girl, and move on. I wanted to be open about it and talk to someone about it, but I didn’t know how to express that to friends and family without looking like a loser who can’t handle things on his own. I ended up repressing it.
Only a few months ago did I finally gather the nerve to message a friend. Not one of my close friends, but this person who sometimes post about relationship crap on Facebook. We got to writing about our respective heartbreak stories, and it was the first time I felt some sort of relief since the break-up. To know another person, another guy, also felt the pain you’ve been lugging around.
If I could do it all over again, I would’ve reached out to someone sooner. I should’ve been less afraid of what other people would think of me had I revealed what I was struggling with. Being vulnerable and honest about the vulnerability was the key to my healing, and had I known that earlier, I wouldn’t have carried so much resentment in me for such a long time.”
— Eddie, 25, USA
4. Work for your peace of mind
“Being cheated on hurts like no other, especially if it’s your worst fear. When my partner did that to me, it was my personal nightmare coming true. It’s literally the most painful thing that’s ever been done to me.
The effects were lasting. My confidence was crushed, I became self-destructive, and at times I was purposely sabotaging my new relationships.
My partner’s unfaithfulness drove me to believe that I was unworthy of love, to the point I felt confused about who I was as an individual and a partner. Toxic thoughts began to whisper in my ear –
‘There must be something wrong with me. Why else would he cheat on me?’
‘You weren’t a good enough boyfriend. You were boring in bed.’
‘You’re not attractive enough.’
‘You will never attract and keep someone else.’
I almost let these misconceptions consume me, and affect my chances at experiencing a REAL connection with another. I had to find out what was making me so afraid of somebody cheating on me, even before he did. When I came to terms with that, I became strong enough to not let my insecurities flare up, and get in the way of my current relationships.
Moving on takes a lot of time and hard work, but once you get there and you’re done, it’s worth it.”
— Arnold, 30, USA
5. Focus on improving yourself
“Can someone even cheat on you when you’re not officially and publicly together?
I dated Cecil* thinking she and her boyfriend, Randy*, had already broken up. We’re in a group of friends, and we’ve known each other since college. When Cecil and I began hooking up, we both decided to keep it to ourselves because we didn’t want to stir up drama with Randy. We had been hiding our relationship for circa three months, when Cecil told me she and Randy had gotten back together.
Apparently they had been trying to work things out the entire time we were together. While I naively assumed that we had begun a relationship, she was just using me as a means to figure out what she really wanted. When she was done, so were we.
I couldn’t even afford to grieve about it, because talking to our friends might lead to Randy finding out and having it affect their relationship and our friendship. It was a betrayal and a lie that I didn’t expect from someone I had cared about for so long.
Personally, I don’t hold a grudge or anything. That would just make me feel worse. I’m just sad and feel really stupid getting myself into the situation. Right now, I’m still in the process of figuring out how to recover.
Focusing my energy and attention on my job seems to help. I enrolled myself in a class at the gym, and that’s been distracting me from dwelling too much on the pain. I don’t think it’s up to me to decide consequences for her, even if we weren’t 100% official.
Karma will happen, and the future will show me why she chose him and why she lied to me.”
— Adam, 29, Philippines