Remember all the times you swore, “If a guy cheated on me, I would kick him to the curb. To me that would be a big betrayal, which I don’t think I could look past.”
He cheated on you. You are upset, hurt and feel betrayed, but you still love him despite yourself. What happened to you and how come you haven’t kicked him to the curb yet?
Okay, may be you did, but how come you are going back and forth about “forgiving” him and moving past his infidelity?
How come you still love him just as much as before he cheated?
The first questions most women ask after discovering that their men have cheated with someone else are:
- Why did you do this?
- Who is she?
- How many times?
- Where was I?
- Did you talk about me?
On the surface it seems that the most hurtful thing is the lying, deception and secrecy. But on a deeper down level, the questions a person who has been cheated on wants an answer to are:
- Wasn’t I good enough?
- Am I really that disposable?
- Did I mean anything to you at all?
- Is she prettier, sexier or better than me in any way?
When somebody cheats on you, they not only hurt your feelings and emotions, they actually “take away” something from you. It’s not just a betrayal of your trust/relationship, but a betrayal of how you see yourself as a woman and as a person. That is probably why it hurts so deeply — and for a long time.
The more details he gives (even if it’s truthfully and the full story) the more inadequate, unworthy and confused you feel. You think may be if I was this or that he’d not have gone outside of the relationship. That may be true in some cases and to the extent that there can be unmet needs and unhappiness in a relationship which make a man look for his needs to be met outside the relationship, BUT men do not cheat because of women, MEN (AND WOMEN) CHEAT BECAUSE OF THEM.
Cheating is a personal choice he makes knowing full well what the risks and consequences are. And no, it did not “just happen”, the choice to cheat came from somewhere inside of him.
Okay, he is flawed and has some serious issues, but you still love him. Where does that leave you?
You’re the one who has the big decision to make. Do you stay with him or do you kick him to the curb? Do you forgive him or do you make him pay? What does what you decide to do say about you?
What you decide to do should be your choice. Just as he made a conscious choice to cheat (don’t blame his friends, family or even the other woman, no one put a gun to his head), it’s your choice to stay or leave. Others may give their advice but the choice ought to come from you.
Personally, I believe the choice to stay or leave is secondary. Whether you leave or stay isn’t as nearly important as WHICH YOU is staying or leaving.
The basic issue with cheating is NOT that someone has lied or betrayed our trust. This is the common view (and serious misconception) in our society about cheating and infidelity. We love to simplify more complex issues to a point where they are meaningless like whether it was an emotional affair or a sexual affair, or whether it happen once or several times etc.
Cheating is cheating. Period. Cheating affects the person cheated on and cheating has (and should have) consequences for the person who cheated.
But if you love someone, and they cheated, your genuine feelings of love don’t just disappear. If it’s true love, you can’t switch it on and off because a man (or woman) lied, kept is a secret or betrayed your trust. This is because when you open yourself to truly love someone, it’s not just them you are in love with; you are also in love with the aspects of yourself that they mirror back to you. When that mirror is shattered or broken (as in cheating) you can not see yourself clearly anymore and you even question whatever it is that you see. Repairing and putting together this broken mirror image of yourself to its original condition (or better) should be your first and primary concern.
If you decide to forgive him and stay in the relationship without taking time to repair and put together that broken mirror image to its original condition (or better), you stay looking at a broken mirror image of yourself. You may even “forgive” him but you eternally feel the gaps in your sense of self. You find that you mistrust (and even disrespect) your own internal signals or intuition. You continue to doubt your own self-worth and competence and desperately seek validation from him or turn elsewhere for validation.
More than that, you become excessively sensitive to signals that might suggest that he feels unappreciated, unneeded, or unsuccessful — it’s like being re-traumatized over and over. Even in the best of situations, you experience a lack of understanding, genuine appreciation, and a fundamental gap in receptiveness or responsiveness.
And if you decide to leave and find yourself someone else — again without taking time to repair and put together that broken mirror image to its original condition (or better), what you take to your new relationship are blurred and broken pieces of a reflection of yourself which are further distorted when mirrored in your new man. Often times you will not trust what you see in your new man and this can get you really jealous and paranoid even when he has done nothing to trigger those feelings in you. The reverse can be that you become completely numb to how you feel (and his affections for you) causing him to become jealous and even paranoid. (Does she love me? Is she still in love with her ex? Is there someone else? Did I make the right decision with this person?) etc.
Once you’ve done the repair work and put together that broken mirror image of yourself, you may decide that you want to make the relationship work. You will be making this conscious choice from a place of empowerment (clear and whole sense of yourself). Or you may decide you can’t live with him but you don’t ever have to stop loving him (the mirror of yourself that you saw in him and loved).
This is what standing in love with yourself truly means, and this is true for women as well as for men.
It’s my hope that you’ll find your way home – to true love!