What to do if you've cheated on your girlfriend

So, you cheated on your girlfriend. Now what? This can be a tough question to answer, but don't worry - we're here to help. In this post, we'll outline some steps you can take to make things right with your girlfriend and hopefully salvage your current relationship.

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If you’ve cheated on your girlfriend, you’re likely feeling guilty and worried about what to do next. You may be wondering if you should confess and hope for her forgiveness or try to cover it up and hope she never finds out.

Whatever you decide, if you want to fix it, make sure to check out our relationship advice guide. Keep reading for our 11 tips on how to handle this difficult situation!

1. Own up to it

1. Own up to it

If you’ve cheated on your girlfriend, the first thing you need to do is own up to it. Don’t try to deny it or cover it up. The longer you wait, the worse things will be when she finds out anyway. It’s better for her to hear the truth from you sooner rather than later.

Your girlfriend deserves to know the truth. She deserves to hear it from your lips, not through hearsay or gossip. By telling the truth yourself, you’re demonstrating that you have respect for her and are willing to take responsibility for your actions.

2. Don’t make excuses

Don’t try to make excuses or blame your partner for why you cheated. If you cheat, that is a choice you made. There are never any excuses for actual cheating - there’s no excuse that will make it right or acceptable. Even if your girlfriend did something terrible to hurt you, don’t ever cheat on her as a way of “getting revenge.” It doesn’t work like that - and even if it did, it would be cheating either way.

Your girlfriend doesn’t deserve to have her trust betrayed because of something she did or didn’t do. Don’t try to pin your actual infidelity on her - that won’t help you or make things better for anyone. All it will do is hurt your relationship even more in the long run.

3. Apologize

Acknowledge that what you did was wrong and apologize unreservedly. Explain that you know you made a huge mistake and won’t repeat the behavior again. Let her know that if she can find it in her heart to forgive you, you will work on earning back her trust by being more considerate, thoughtful, and understanding of her needs.

You should also let your girlfriend know that if she doesn’t feel she can trust you enough to reconcile, you understand and will do whatever it takes to earn her forgiveness.

When you apologize, keep in mind that your goal isn’t just to get your girlfriend back - although that may very well happen. Your primary goal should be to let her know how much you regret what happened. Take responsibility for what you’ve done.

4. Listen to what your girlfriend has to say

4. Listen to what your girlfriend has to say

Talk to your girlfriend about what happened and be prepared to listen to her feelings without interrupting or defending yourself. Let her know that you’re there to listen and support her, no matter what she decides to do next.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your infidelity, your girlfriend may be tempted to break up with you altogether. If this is the case, let her know that you understand, but ask for another chance to rebuild your solid relationship.

Remember that having a physical and an emotional affair is a betrayal on both counts, and your girlfriend could be dealing with a powerful mix of pain and betrayal. And because of this, she may find herself struggling with intense feelings of hurt and anger, conflicting emotions that may make her lash out or withdraw from you.

5. Give your girlfriend space

If she needs time to think things over, be willing to step back and give her the space she needs. Let her know that you’re always there for her if she decides to take you back - but don’t try to pressure her into doing something she’s not ready for.

Remember that what you did was wrong, and your girlfriend is likely feeling a lot of pain and anger right now. There’s no rush to decide what you’re going to do next, so don’t try to pressure your girlfriend into making up her mind. She needs time and space to figure this out for herself.

6. Seek out counseling or therapy

Seek out counseling or therapy if you’re struggling with guilt or the aftermath of infidelity. A trained, impartial third party can offer you a more objective view of the situation and help you figure out how to move on from here.

Remember - it’s important to be honest with yourself when evaluating your behavior so that you can learn from your mistakes and move forward. If you fail to take an honest look at what happened, don’t be surprised if you find yourself making the same huge mistake with another woman down the line.

When you’re ready, start looking for a therapist or counselor that can help you and keep an open mind about what they have to say. Remember that it’s okay if their advice runs counter to your preconceptions - many times we need support and guidance to help us see things clearly and find our own answers.

7. Take steps to ensure that you won’t cheat again in the future

7. Take steps to ensure that you won't cheat again in the future

Look for the warning signs that led to your cheating in the first place and do what you can to make sure they don’t happen again. Was there an underlying reason why you cheated?

Be honest with yourself about any problem areas - like intimacy, communication, trust issues, or self-esteem - and take measures to address them before they become bigger problems. If you tend to be distant when it comes to emotional intimacy, make a conscious effort to build trust by being more open and emotionally available.

8. Cut off all contact with your affair

If your girlfriend decides to stay with you, cut off all contact with your affair - even if they’re still in love with you. Also, tell the person that you’ve told your girlfriend all about it and that you won’t engage in any sexual or non-sexual activity with them again.

Remember that any contact could jeopardize the relationship. If you’re unsure whether or not to contact your affair partner, don’t do it. They are probably feeling guilty too and will appreciate the space you give them.

9. If she decides she wants to stay with you, work on rebuilding trust

If your girlfriend decides that she wants to try and save the relationship, work on rebuilding the broken trust between you by being honest with her about your feelings. Don’t hold back because you’re scared or nervous - just be yourself and let her know how much you regret what happened.

Sometimes this can be difficult if your version of events are very different from hers, but try to be patient and understanding when she expresses her feelings. It may take time for everything to go back to normal, so don’t push or pressure her into anything.

Be consistent in how you treat your girlfriend - if you’re still acting the way you did before you cheated on her, there’s little reason why she should believe that you’ve really changed.

10. Assess your relationship

10. Assess your relationship

If you cheated on your girlfriend, then there’s a chance that other problems might be festering beneath the surface. Did you only cheat because you wanted more excitement? Did she not give you enough attention? Or was it simply due to an opportunity that presented itself at the wrong time? Perhaps if one or both of these were fixed or addressed, you wouldn’t have needed to cheat on her.

Take some time to consider what factors led up to this situation and whether or not you want them in your life anymore. If there are legitimate problems within the relationship that need fixing - like a lack of communication and intimacy - then try and work on them together. However, if it becomes clear that the relationship is fundamentally broken, then you might need to end it.

11. Forgive yourself

Once you’ve taken responsibility for what you did and worked on rebuilding the trust in your relationship - it’s time to forgive yourself. You made a mistake that caused your girlfriend a lot of pain, but that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.

You have to learn from your mistakes and move on - but don’t let shame keep you down for the count. Accept that it happened, take responsibility for what you did, and find a way to move forward with your life.

If cheating does happen in your relationship, be open and honest with each other about it. See if you and your girlfriend can figure out how you can make your relationship work.

If not, then at least you know that you tried and were upfront about the entire situation. Honesty is always the best policy regarding relationships – especially ones that have been rocked by cheating.

Author picture of David Hall
Dating Expert

David Hall

David Hall is a self-taught dating expert who works as a freelance writer to help people improve their love lives. He has always been interested in dating, physical attraction, and …

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