My partner and I have been in a serious, committed relationship for almost a year, and in a cute little Valentine’s Day surprise, they told me over breakfast in bed that they cheated on me. I’m obviously upset, and my friends are telling me to break it off, but to be honest, I still love them (I mean breakfast in bed? Come on). Is my relationship doomed?
— Once A Cheater…?
There’s no worse feeling than finding out you’ve been cheated on. It’s kind of like finding out that a stranger took a bite of your food when you weren’t looking. Super gross and unnerving and also very sad. Do you have to throw the rest away? Well, I guess that’s up to you.
Some people are able to brush cheating under the rug, and I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing. The context of the cheating and the type of relationship you’re in plays a really important part of whether or not you’re able to do this.
If it was a drunken hookup at a bachelor party, I mean yes, your partner is a sleazebag, but they probably still love you. If it was a call-them-while-you’re-in-the-shower, save-their-number-under-a-fake-name, secret-affair type of cheating? That’s a lot harder to forgive.
Other people are also able to move on, but after a sort of trial period where they have to win back your affections. Whether this means just taking some space apart, a heartfelt apology and a weeks worth of home-cooked meals, having them give up *those friends* who always buy drinks for the hottest person in the bar, or some type of public humiliation (think spray paint, or signage) — that’s up to you.
Not going to lie, this is a fine line here between getting even and being super toxic. Don’t get me wrong, they started it, but if you’re going to go through with the relationship, asking them to give up too much is going to cause resentment down the line. Maybe just make them march down Rideau Street carrying a cardboard sign that says “cheater” and let them keep drinking with Brad and Becky. Pick your battles.
And when it really comes down to it, it’s just about you and them. What kind of trust can you put back together after this? What was your relationship like before? Can you get that back? Can you live with less? These are questions whose answers are very different depending on the types of people you guys are and the type of relationship you guys have.
The once a cheater, always a cheater thing, I think that’s a bit of a generalization. Context is key, and people make mistakes. However, most people’s mistakes are a bad tattoo or a few too many tequila shots. And even if this doesn’t spell serial infidelity or losing feelings, it might spell a type of inherent irresponsibility you want to think twice about committing yourself to.
So no, your relationship isn’t doomed. But it’s just become a little more complicated. Happy Valentine’s Day!