The unspeakable has happened: you've just realized, "I cheated on my boyfriend."
Now your mind is probably running wild full of questions and worst-case scenarios. Should you tell him or not? What made you do it? Will he be able to forgive you? Have you lost him forever?
I know it's hard, but the first thing you need to do is take a deep breath and calm down.
Yes, you made a horrible mistake, but the world hasn't ended and panicking won't get you anywhere. You can still fix things and learn from this situation.
I'm going to walk you through the whole process, help you answer all those burning questions, and hopefully repair the damage and put this mistake behind you.
You love him and want to make things work.
Monogamy is an interesting concept. We've been taught this was the only right way to do relationships.
You're supposed to find this one right person, have eyes only for him and stay with him forever.
But reality works in a different way. Even if we are involved with somebody, even if we're crazy about him, we can still be attracted to other people. There's nothing bad and unnatural about that.
So if we take that concept literally, when you really love your boyfriend, you couldn't possibly like somebody else, let alone act on it.
And if you do cheat on your boyfriend, that automatically means you don't love him. Right?
Well, I'm here to tell you that you can love somebody and still make a stupid mistake. But even when there is love, cheating is usually a sign of trouble in a relationship.
Although it would be easy to just push this whole thing under the rug and refuse to think about it, you need to face the fact that it happened and evaluate the situation.
This is your first step towards fixing the mistake. Be honest with yourself and think about why you did what you did.
...You've been in a relationship for a while and it's not as fun as it used to be.
...Your partner can't satisfy you in bed.
...You're going through a rough patch, experiencing a change or emotional strain that pushed you over the edge.
Or maybe your boyfriend doesn't respect you as much as he should, or worse, you're suffering through physical or emotional abuse.
All of these things are legit reasons why women cheat. But once you determine why you did it, you will also be able to decide whether you want to stay in the relationship or not.
Because sometimes cheating is just your instincts telling you to get away from a bad or unsatisfying relationship.
Take time to reflect
Only after self-reflection, will you alone be able to make that decision. And if you decide that the relationship has run its course, be honest with yourself and your partner and find the courage to end things.
I will get to whether or not you should admit to him a bit later, but in this scenario, it's best not to tell him, especially if you still care about him.
You may want to take that burden off your chest and clear your conscience, but you will only hurt him, badly bruise his ego and then leave him to cope with the bare, harsh truth, all by himself.
Meanwhile, the real reasons why your relationship stopped working will probably stay untold forever.
But if you realize that you want to stay with your boyfriend and save your relationship, you will still need to work on fixing the problems that led you to cheat in the first place, and why you're in this situation, repeating to yourself, "I cheated on my boyfriend."
This is why figuring out the reason why you cheated is the absolute first step you need to take. Because even if you love your boyfriend, this didn't happen out of the blue.
There are some things you need to work out, by yourself or with your partner.
You were drunk so it doesn't count.
I've got bad news for you if you believe this. You see, cheating while drunk may have been just a bad judgment call, but it was still a judgment call.
It still happened and you can't erase it by pretending that it didn't.
A lot of people say that being drunk gives you an excuse to cheat. After all, you were under the influence. You couldn't think straight and you didn't really know what you were doing.
Well, I beg to differ. Even if you cheated on your boyfriend while you were drunk out of your mind, you still need to go back to step one and take a hard look at yourself and your relationship.
You just can't say, "I cheated on my boyfriend but I was drunk so it doesn't count."
And I'm not saying you're a bad person for doing it, but no matter how drunk you were, alcohol only took your inhibitions down, it didn't force your hand.
You still had a choice and you decided to cheat.
You may think this is harsh, but here's why cheating while drunk still counts. If you give yourself this excuse once, you're going down a dangerous path.
The lines of what counts as cheating and what doesn't become blurred and you may find more and more excuses to do it in the future in different circumstances.
You did it with your ex. What does it mean?
Before we get to whether or not you should tell him, I want to address one more issue that tends to happen a little too often.
What does it mean to cheat on your partner with an ex?
We fall back to our ex-boyfriends and it happens for various reasons. Sometimes there are still feelings or it's just easy and familiar and you already know what to expect. So now you need to figure out what your reason was.
Was he just there? Was he the one who initiated it? Did you feel weak and vulnerable? Did it happen after you had a fight with your current boyfriend?
If it's something along these lines, it's time to break things off with your ex for good.
You also need to get ready in case your boyfriend finds out, as this will be an even bigger hit on his ego because he probably knows the whole story about your ex and it will hurt him all the more.
But if you cheated with your ex because you still have feelings for him, you need to carefully evaluate the situation.
Do you love your ex? Do you want to get back together? Does he feel the same? Does it even make sense to get back together? Do you want him more than your current partner?
After you answer these questions, you need to go with your gut. You can't have both, so make a choice and stick to it.
Should you tell him?
Let's get to the biggest question weighing on your mind: should you tell him or forever hold your peace?
That decision is going to depend on a million different factors: you as a person, your boyfriend, the situation and the reason you cheated, other circumstances, etc.
The decision is ultimately only yours and nobody can tell you what to do because nobody knows your situation better than you.
But here's the thing. Of all the things that comprise a relationship between two people, trust must be one of the most important things, if not the most important one.
Once the trust is broken, the relationship is in jeopardy, and cheating is a major breach of trust whether you decide to admit it or keep it a secret.
Some say that admitting an affair can ruin the trust forever, but can you imagine what happens to his trust if he finds out from someone else?
If you decide to come clean, at least he gets to hear it from you and you get to do it on your own terms.
When you tell him, make sure to show him how truly sorry you are. Tell him it was a mistake and it won't happen again. No matter how well you know your boyfriend, you can't predict how he will act when you drop this bomb on him.
Just keep calm and let him adjust to the situation. But remember that even though you've done a bad thing, you shouldn't let him abuse you in any way for it.
After you tell him, give him some time and space to process the news. Hopefully, he will forgive you, but until he does, try not to get into the details and reasons why you did it.
He already feels hurt and betrayed, you don't need to pour salt on his wounds by saying you felt neglected, jealous or bored.
Once the dust settles, do it gradually and tactfully. Slowly show him you need more attention, organize something fun for you to do or suggest you try something new in the bedroom to reignite the spark.
Be patient and let things go at their own pace. The communication and sex may be awkward at first, but give it some time and make an effort to ease him back into it.
Accept the consequences.
Your boyfriend may or may not forgive you and you need to accept that.
If he doesn't forgive you at first, there is still a chance he will come around. In fact, there are several moves you can try to win him back.
But you need to realize when the fight is over and when you're just hurting him and not letting him get on with his life. You owe him that much to let him go when you accept that you've lost your chance.
In the worst-case scenario, allow yourself to heal and learn how to be single for a while. You may even realize that being alone isn't all that bad.
It gives you a chance to learn about yourself, grow as a person and focus on your passions.
But if he does decide to forgive you, you will need to prepare for the fact that your relationship might never be the same again.
When the trust is broken once, the person who was betrayed can never look at you with the same eyes. He will move on and forgive you over time, but he will never forget it.
So you need to learn how to heal him and heal the relationship, how to show him you are still the same girl who loves him and you need to work on rebuilding that trust.
You need to learn how to make him happy again. It will take time, patience and work, but it's not impossible.
But this is important: never let yourself become a punching bag. Healing the relationship should never turn into you giving up your privacy, having to explain every move you make, every new person you meet and justifying yourself every time you want to go out.
Letting this happen can become very dangerous, and not at all healthy.
Acknowledge his broken trust and do whatever you can to convince him he can trust you again, but don't let him abuse you.
If you need more help to get your relationship back on track, don't be ashamed to consult a professional. Couple's therapy can be a great way to help you both open up and get to the heart of the problem.
Forgive yourself and move on.
You made a mistake and you need to think about why you did it and how you can make up for it, but you can't let yourself dwell on this forever.
Eventually, you will need to forgive yourself and move on whether your boyfriend forgives you or not.
You are human and you made one bad call but that doesn't make you a bad person.
As long as you learn from your mistake, you can come out of this smarter and turn this experience into something positive in the end.
And if you need to reignite things with him, or stop the relationship from further sliding, learn about what Obsession Phrases can do for his attraction to you.