So you cheated.
I’ll level with you here: You screwed up. You did something both incredibly selfish and unbelievably stupid.
Unpopular opinion? This doesn’t necessarily make you an asshole.
It might. If this is something you did for fun, repeated, and took pride in hiding from her? Yeah, you’re an asshole.
But sometimes things happen for really unexpected reasons. In my relationship, it was misunderstanding the terms of our open relationship.
For some people, it could be getting caught up in something you didn’t know how to back out of or being too scared to make a decision.
Don’t get me wrong, those are still stupid and selfish.
They still led to something that should have been avoided and you still caused unnecessary pain because you didn’t bother to think about your SO for five minutes.
You damn well be ready to acknowledge that.
But I’ve always been of the opinion that feeling genuine remorse and working to repair the damage you’ve done redeems you from “asshole” status.
So how do you do that? How do you fix things?
DECIDING IF YOU’RE STAYING
This is the same decision your SO will make after being cheated on and they’ll have a hard time of it too.
Respect how open they want to be about the situation.
Don’t make public confessions to clear your conscience; your SO will be facing a lot of scrutiny and likely feeling judged, don’t add to that.
Don’t insist on keeping things under wraps to protect your own feelings if your SO needs someone to talk to for support.
Respect your SO’s feelings, obviously; help them in any soul searching they need to do about how you’ve treated them, what they need from you, and how your relationship is going.
Look for answers in yourself.
Maybe you cheated to avoid admitting you’re not in love anymore or because sex was more important to you than your SO. You’ll have to be ready to face that head-on.
Take time together to come to that decision, but recognize that since you’re the one that messed up, your SO may come to a conclusion other than the one you want.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THEM
They’re going to hurt.
You hurt them.
Keep in mind you were their safe space and think about the degree of betrayal involved in losing that. You need to understand their perspective and help them.
It’s not just “You hurt me a lot, and I’m having trouble with that.”
You destroyed something that felt like a solid foundation.
You took away the thing they held to when nothing else seemed to be going right. You took something that felt real and safe and made them question the entire history of it.
You screwed up and they are going to hurt a lot.
They’re going to ask you the same questions over and over– how you felt, why you did it, what you were thinking, what happened, when, where, how many times, how much you enjoyed it.
They’re going to look for holes in your stories while they ask all these questions because you broke their trust.
Will it feel like they’re trying to trap you? Yeah, sometimes. Can you really blame them? Anything you say is suspect at this point because you already lied in a big way.
Own up to what you did.