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How To Forgive Yourself For Cheating And Not Telling (15 Tips To Forgive Yourself For Cheating)

Last updated on October 6, 2022 by Brooke Aldrich

We see dozens of pictures of couples celebrating their wedding, engagements, and new babies every day on social media. These are magical moments in any relationship, but it’s not always the entire story. Images of what a “perfect relationship” looks like are constantly depicted online. Our views of relationships may get skewed in the process.

The truth is that relationships are hard sometimes. This is especially true if you have cheated on your partner without telling. It’s painful knowing that you would hurt someone you love. You may also recognize that you have some insecurities and fears around commitment. 

Be gentle with yourself right now, even if you feel rotten. Kristen Neff says, “Compassion is not only relevant to those who are blameless victims, but also to those whose suffering stems from failures, personal weakness, or bad decisions. You know, the kind you and I make every day.” 

This article is for you if you want to learn how to forgive yourself for cheating and not telling

Is It Okay to Cheat and Not Tell?

You cheated! Now what? Should you tell your partner or not? It’s a tough place to be. You may believe you’re saving your partner unnecessary pain by not telling, but can you live with an inauthentic relationship? 

If you confess to your partner, they will feel betrayed and hurt. There is no way around that. However, telling the truth is vital if you truly love your partner. You and your partner can then rebuild your relationship on a foundation of honesty and trust1.

If you realize that you are no longer in love with your partner, you may choose not to say anything. However, if you are caught cheating, don’t lie. Seek professional advice if you still feel conflicted about what to do.

Drunk Cheating Psychology

The likelihood of cheating is much higher when you’re drunk. There’s a high connection between drinking and cheating. 

According to Dr. Margaret Paul, PhD.: “Infidelity generally comes from the same inner emptiness as alcohol and drug abuse, food addiction, gambling, spending, shopping and so on. In the case of infidelity, when the underlying reason is emptiness due to self-abandonment, the addiction is to attention, approval or sex using another person to fill the inner emptiness and take away the inner aloneness.”

What to do after cheating when you were drunk? Be honest with yourself and consider getting help.

How to Forgive Yourself for Cheating: 15 Tips

If you’re reading this article it's probably because you feel terrible for cheating on your partner. It shows that you are aware of your own actions and want to make them right. Here are a few tips to both remember and to try in order to move forward. 

1. You’re not a bad person.

Thinking you are a horrible human being is a strong indicator that you are feeling shame. According to Brene Brown, “shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love, belonging, and connection.”

Making a mistake like cheating on your current partner can make you feel awful. It destroys all trust and could end your entire relationship. A healthy way to combat shame is to remember that you are a living, breathing, and evolving human. You can forgive yourself for cheating. To do that, you need empathy and compassion.

2. Feel your feelings (feel guilty).

feel your feelings (feel guilty)

Brene Brown defines guilt as, “an emotion we experience when we fall short of our own expectations or standards.” It’s the opposite of shame because you know you did something wrong, but you believe you can still change. 

So, how to deal with guilt of cheating? You must sit with the uncomfortable and intense feelings of cheating guilt. Feeling your pain can be a positive force for change because you know you did something wrong, but you plan to make it right.

You feel deeply saddened that you could hurt your partner by cheating. You also feel disappointed that you hurt yourself in the process as well. Owning your guilt means that you want to change and be a better person

3. Talk to someone you trust.

Shame and guilt are heavy emotions to deal with alone. In fact, guilt and shame cannot survive when shared with someone who can meet you with kindness, not judgment. 

Make sure to confide in someone who will be supportive and show you empathy. You already know you’ve messed up and you’re probably already wallowing in:

  • Self-doubt
  • Self-hate 
  • Self-loathing
  • Self-pity

You don’t deserve any more ridicule! It’s time to stop punishing yourself.

With platforms like Relationship Hero, you can get matched with a professional who specializes in the specific issue that’s bothering you and get help. Take their short 2-minute quiz to get started.A therapist can help guide you to self-forgiveness for cheating.

4. Practice Yoga.

Studies on yoga show that it reduces stress and depression2. Physical exercise helps you to move emotions like guilt through the body to release them. Many yoga studios also include an emphasis on self-love. Empathy combined with physical movement can lead you to compassion.

Yoga increases body awareness, relieves stress, and improves mood and behavior. It also calms your nervous system. A calm nervous system will allow you to own guilt. This will make forgiving yourself for cheating easier.

5. Read the book, ‘Self Compassion’ by Kristen Neff.

Kristen Neff is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. In her book Self Compassion, she shares how she turned to self-love when she left her husband for another man. She also took personal responsibility for her actions.

Neff writes, “our culture teaches us to use self-criticism for motivation and to build self-esteem by constantly measuring ourselves against everyone else.”

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I highly recommend checking out Kristen Neff’s video on YouTube about the three components of self-compassion.

6. Own your mistake.

The most important thing in your journey to forgive yourself is to own your mistake. You cheated! Don’t blame anyone else for cheating on your partner. It doesn’t matter if your relationship was rocky. It doesn’t matter if it was drunk cheating or an ongoing affair. You are the one who chose to cheat either physically or emotionally.

Taking responsibility for yourself will lead you in the right direction to forgive yourself. T. Whitmore says, “admitting to a mistake means refusing to use other people as scapegoats to avoid responsibility but rather courageously owning up to every single one of them.” 

7. Spend time in solitude.

spend time in solitude

You may feel guilty and sad after cheating and not telling. Solitude is a great opportunity for soul searching. It gives you space to connect with yourself and figure out what you need. Let go of your guilty emotions and relax. It’s important to be calm before confessing to your partner. 

During your time in solitude, you can:

  • Journal
  • Mediate
  • Walk in nature

If you don’t have a meditation practice, you can begin by installing the free Insight Timer app. You can search through hundreds of meditations. Many meditations focus on letting go of mistakes in your relationships. 

8. Learn from your mistake.

Curious how to forgive yourself for cheating and not telling? Learn from your mistakes. You can do this by evaluating what went wrong in the situation. Ask yourself what you felt before you chose to cheat. By doing the work, you will be able to make better choices in the future.

Billy Graham has a good reminder: “Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent.”

9. You are growing and evolving.

Feeling guilty can be an opportunity to grow and evolve and to learn to be better. There are so many ways to evolve. For example, you can learn new ways to communicate your needs in your relationship with your partner. 

Here are a few ways you can do this: 

  • Read or listen to self-help books
  • Meet with a therapist
  • Listen to uplifting podcasts 

Remember, we often learn more from our mistakes than our successes. 

10. Cut ties with your one-night stand.

It’s essential that you cut all contact with the person you had an affair with. Whether it was with a close friend or a person you just met, stop talking to them! Eliminating this relationship from your life will give you the space and distance you need to heal from cheating and not telling.

11. Confess to your partner.

The first step to confessing to your partner for cheating and not telling is to make sure that you still want to be with this person. If you do want to be with this person, it’s crucial to be fully transparent. Don’t give any excuses because it will make your partner feel like you don’t care. 

Here are several other things to be ready for before you talk to your partner:

  • Where and when you will meet (pick a neutral location)
  • Own that you cheated
  • Do not blame your partner
  • Apologize sincerely
  • Have a plan ready to repair your relationship
  • Be prepared for your partner to walk away from the relationship

12. Do the work.

Feeling guilty is only part of the healing process. If you and your partner decide you want to stay together, it will take work. Lots of work! 

To repair your relationship after cheating, here are a few suggestions:

  • Be accountable
  • Couples counseling
  • Communicate
  • Stop cheating
  • Set clear boundaries for yourself
  • Be patient
  • Be open and honest with each other

Relationships may never go back to "normal" after cheating, but you can begin to rebuild. It will take a lot of patience. How long does it take to forgive someone for cheating? This article will help you find out.

13. Learn about being in a committed relationship.

learn about being in a committed relationship

Cheating on your partner and not telling is a sign that you may be afraid of commitment. Don't feel bad if you're anxious about committed relationships. You’re in very good company.

The good news is that you can learn to become more secure by exploring your fears and limiting beliefs. You can start by reading books about relationships. Books also help you to learn more about yourself. 

Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started:

  • Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find and Keep Love by Rachel Heller and Amir Levine
  • The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work by John Gottman, Ph.D.
  • The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity by Esther Perel

14. Be honest with yourself.

What made you cheat in your relationship in the first place? Part of taking responsibility is being fully honest with yourself. There are many reasons why people cheat. Some include:

  • Lack of love for your partner
  • Sexual desire
  • Feeling neglected
  • Unmet needs
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anger in your relationship

Knowing the reasons you cheated will help you explore if you want to stay in your current relationship or get out. Honesty, in the long run, will be better for you and your partner. 

15. Find people you look up to.

Find role models of people who have taken ownership and accountability for cheating in their relationships. You can find someone famous, a friend, or a mentor who has gone through similar difficulties.

These people can be life savers because they can remind you that you can also overcome cheating! If it’s someone that you know, ask to talk to them about their experiences, and what you are going through as well. You will feel supported knowing that you are not the only one who has cheated.

FAQs

Will I ever forgive myself for cheating?

Yes, you can forgive yourself for cheating. Ultimately, it is up to you. You will need to take time for self-reflection, and you may need to seek professional help. It's hard to fathom right now because you feel guilty and you don't see a way out, but you can keep moving forward.

How common is cheating?

People cheat somewhat often. It’s common in the United States. A 2021 survey by Health Testing Centers polled 441 people and found that a little over 46% of respondents in a monogamous relationship said they had affairs.

Should I admit I cheated?

This is a question that only you can answer for yourself, but if you want to stay with your partner and have an authentic relationship you need to be fully transparent with them. If you feel uncertain about whether or not to confess, seek professional help or talk to a friend.

Can a relationship go back to normal after cheating?

It's tough to go back to normal after cheating because trust is broken. There is hope for a new normal, though. The first step is to rebuild trust with your partner by being fully honest. It will take time, communication, and not making the same mistake twice. It's not easy, but it's possible if both people want to have a future.

What does cheating say about a person?

When someone cheats, it's often a sign of emotional immaturity, a lack of self-awareness, poor self-esteem, and maybe even selfishness. People who cheat need support in order to grow beyond cheating and to understand emotions.

Conclusion

I hope this article helps you to forgive yourself for cheating, be accountable, and take action. Remember, everyone makes mistakes, and you’re still a good person. Refer back to these 15 tips on how to forgive yourself for cheating and not telling if you can’t let go of your past mistakes.

In the comments below, I’d love to hear more about how you moved on after cheating. If you liked this post, please remember to share.

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Sources:

  1. Taylor Irvine, M.Ed., Ed.S., LMHC: Rebuilding After Infidelity: https://www.gottman.com/blog/rebuilding-after-infidelity/
  2. Lila Louie (2014): https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24702211/
Brooke Aldrich
I’m Brooke Aldrich, a writer and relationship enthusiast. I love writing, reading, and researching simple ways to help people become better communicators. I’m currently studying creative writing at Arapahoe Community College in Denver, Colorado. I’ve been happily married to my husband for one year, and we just adopted an adorable cat named Luna.

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