Thanks for reading this post! If you're brand new around here, please note that getting over heartbreak is no longer the central theme of my work. More recently, I write books, (here and here) host a podcast and you can look around the site to check out the retreats I host for women, as well as the private work and group classes I host.
If you’ve read my post about my divorce, you might remember that I was cheated on in my first marriage (I'll call him “Cheater A”). Soon after, we divorced and I did what any girl who’s been in a relationship for 13 years since she was 17 years old thinks is smart: I started dating right away. I was heartbroken, vulnerable, and yes, a little desperate.
At first I met some nice, normal guys. But, I didn’t want anything to do with them. I managed to find the guy that mirrored what I was: heartbroken, vulnerable and desperate (I'll call him “Cheater B”). We were quite a pair. And a few months into the relationship, he cheated on me. I remember crumbling in a heap in my bedroom the moment I found out. I felt like my head was spinning and I kept repeating, “I can’t believe this is happening again. I can’t believe this is happening again……”
After the second time in a row being cheated on (not to mention a very, very tumultuous relationship), I knew something was wrong with what I was doing. I thought I had met “Mr. Right”, and it turned out to be just a big, ugly mess. Being cheated on is the ultimate betrayal. But, when it happened to me twice in a row, I was forced to take a long, hard look at myself, what I was choosing, what I was putting up with and what I learned.
If you've ever been there, yes, it sucks ass. However, if you're out, or even still in the relationship, sitting down and reflecting on what you learned can be immensely helpful to you and your self-growth. Here are some of the goodies I learned:
- Being cheated on wasn’t about me. It wasn't my fault the guys I was with went and screwed around. It’s about them, their issues and reasons. The first words are always, “How could you do this to me?”….but, it's really not about us. When it first happens, if someone tells you this, you'll want to punch them in the face, but trust me: Later on you'll get it.
- Being cheated on didn’t mean I wasn’t pretty enough, skinny enough, or good enough in bed. I spent countless nights awake obsessing about what I could have done differently. What if I'd had bigger boobs? Is she prettier, funnier, etc, etc. and on and on until my head would explode. There is no definite answer here. You'll go bananas trying to find it. You are amazing just as you are.
- Being cheated on didn’t mean I was “bad” at relationships. After Cheater B and I broke up, I was convinced I was the suckiest partner on earth. I vowed to be alone, even considered joining the convent (although I don't think they would like my foul mouth). But, again, realizing I had work to do on myself made me realize I was actually good at relationships, just not so good at picking the right partners.
- Being cheated on twice in a row in 2 different relationships meant I needed to think about why I was picking those men who chose to cheat on me. I had chosen to stay in a relationship and marry Cheater A even though I knew he wasn't right for me. I chose to jump into a new relationship with Cheater B when I knew deep down I needed to work on myself first. I had picked them both, chosen to stay, and had to take responsibility for that. I was such a mess after Cheater A, that I 100% believe that Cheater B knew I was perfect for him. Someone easy to manipulate, quick to “fall in love” and willing to stick through anything. “Like attracts like” and I attracted a shit-pile of a mess.
- Being cheated on was something I needed to grieve and get over itself, as an event, which was separate from the relationship as well as the person I was in the relationship with. What I found was that being cheated on was fucking traumatic. Drama. The suspicions, the lies, the fights, the moment of finding out. It was an EVENT. I really had to come to terms with it and grieve it separately than the break up of the relationship. In some small way, it still stings sometimes to think about it. Whatever. It doesn't mean anything. Just because it still hurts doesn't mean I miss the relationship or the Cheater. Just that it hurt, and sucked.
- Being cheated on made me realize I didn’t know what it was like to be in a normal, functional, healthy relationship. This one was shocking. When I met my current husband, I had to run back to my therapist. I told her I knew the relationship was great, but I was soooooo bored. She told me that my past relationships were so full of drama and intensity, now that I was in a normal, healthy relationship I didn't know how to act. Yowza. I had to learn healthy communication (you mean we don't scream at each other and slam doors?), as well as the fact that healthy relationships are sometimes quiet and uneventful. Hmph. Who knew?
- Being cheated on made me trust my intuition. And this, my friends, was the “big shit” of lessons. I ignored my intuition BIG TIME in both my relationships with Cheater A and B. There were times with Cheater B that my intuition was flashing red lights and sirens at me and I walked right by. I was in a place where I would rather be in a bad relationship than no relationship. I was so ashamed of where I was, I stayed with him so no one would know how bad it was. My intuition NEVER LEFT ME. It tried and tried to help me and never gave up. Finally, I could not take one more day, so I left.
If you've been cheated on, join the club. There are MILLIONS of us. It happens. But, it's possible to move on, move forward, learn a ton and be a much better, badass person and partner for your next relationship.
Want more? “52 Ways to Live a Kick-Ass Life: BS-Free wisdom to ignite your inner badass and live the life you deserve” has advice like this plus so much more.