Once a cheater, always a cheater?

When it comes to cheating it’s hard to get a straight answer. Not only is that answer going to be shady and riddled with excuses when it comes from your cheater partner, but you can’t even get a straight statistic on just on common the behavior is.

While some sources will tell you that 50% of men cheat, while only a third of women do, if you search around long enough, you’ll find that percentages are not only low, and that women are just as likely to cheat as men. But again, it’s a hard number to gauge. When it comes to sex, lots of things are difficult from which to get a straight answer.

If you live your entire life and you’ve never been cheated on, then you’ve found yourself a saint – or many saints – with whom to have relationships. Or you’ve just been lucky enough to find someone who’s a pro at deceit so you’ll never know the truth. Sometimes people would rather pass on knowing the truth.

But if that moment comes that you have been cheated on, your life has crumbled and your world has just fallen apart, there are steps to take that will help. You won’t bounce back immediately from such a level of deceitfulness, but you can at least try to make peace with it.

Grieve. You have to do this. No matter how long you’ve been with a person, you need to grieve not just the loss but also the lies that came with it.

Get angry. This doesn’t mean go out and slice up your now-ex’s car’s tires with a kitchen knife or standing outside the other woman’s apartment screaming “whore” as if you’re Lorraine Bracco in Goodfellas. It does mean releasing that inner anger in a positive way. Get it the fuck out of your system at the gym, or by taking target practicing lessons, or just screaming into your pillow until you throat bleeds.

Realize it wasn’t something you did. Humans are tempted and most of us truly suck at resisting temptation. While some will say that cheating is proof of an underlying problem in the relationship, any adult who values that relationship will try to save it, work it out and fix it before running off to fuck someone else.

Don’t compare yourself to the “other” person. Whether it was a one-night stand or an ongoing relationship that lasted for years before you were finally told the truth, don’t torture yourself with comparing all the things that person has that you may not. It’s not about that. It’s not about who’s prettier or younger or is better at giving blowjobs (the blowjob concern tends to be a running theme for my friends who have been cheated on). Doing that will just make you even battier. Scorned is one thing, bat-shit crazy is something else.

Make a choice. Sometimes the cheater wants to make amends. If you want to take that person back, that’s your business. Some, who have been cheated on, have done so for thousands of reasons that perhaps, we, as outsiders will never understand. If there are kids involved, if it was a one-time slip, if the cheater swears it was just sex and not love – yadda yadda yadda. Believe what you want, if that’s what you need to do; but also know that cheaters, even when caught, are likely to do it again. Especially if they’ve been forgiven for it in the past.

Seek professional help. Even if you’ve never seen a therapist in your life, now is the time. Your friends can only do so much, and there’s also so many times they can hear about it. A therapist, especially one who is trained in dealing with cheating, can do more than most of your friends.

Never blame yourself. Don’t think for one second that you did anything to deserve this. No one deserves to be cheated on. While I know some couples will cheat out of revenge for the first partner’s cheating, it still doesn’t justify the behavior. As we all learned in pre-school, two wrongs never make a right.

Don’t be vengeful. Similar to dealing with your anger, don’t seek revenge. You can fantasy all you want about it – we all have in these situations – but remember that revenge is a sign of pain. And yes, you’re in a lot of fucking pain, you’re probably literally dying inside, you probably want to go out, raise hell and “destroy something beautiful,” but don’t do it. Be better than the cheater. You are already are, because you were the one who was cheated on, and not the one who cheated. So let’s keep it that way.

Stay classy. In the end, it will mean you have won.