Does the guilt of cheating ever go away or will you always have that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach?
This is a question most people who carry the burden of having cheated on their partners ask themselves at some point.
There are two parts to this;
One is that the guilt will lessen over time, and the other is that there are things you can do to speed up the process!
Does The Guilt Of Cheating Ever Go Away?
The first thing you need to understand is that the guilt does eventually go away, believe me, it does.
This is because, as humans, we are able to forgive and forget – as long as we’re willing to go through the necessary steps.
I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy; it could take weeks, months, or even years for the feelings to go away.
I know some people say that the guilt never really goes away, we just suppress it for long periods, and that might be true.
But either way, if you want those horrible feelings of guilt you’re dealing with to go away, you deserve to be free of them.
The path for everyone is going to be different, but here are 10 of the most reliable steps you’ll need to go through to free yourself of the guilt of cheating:
10 Ways to Help You Get Over the Guilt of Cheating
1. The First Step Is to Forgive Yourself
This is the most important step and, unfortunately, the most difficult for most people.
You need to learn to forgive yourself before you can even think about moving on.
The reason this is so hard is because most of us are our own worst critics – and this is true if you’re struggling with guilt.
If you’re constantly berating yourself for every little mistake you make and holding on to the fact that you cheated, it’s no wonder you’ll find forgiving yourself a challenge.
But you can do it. One step at a time, one day at a time.
Related – 15 signs your partner has cheated and feels guilty about it.
2. You Need to Talk About It with Someone
This is also a vital step, you should never have to go through something as painful as this alone.
You need to talk about what happened with someone you trust – whether that’s a therapist, counselor, or friend.
This is crucial because it allows you to get everything out in the open and start working through your feelings.
It can be really hard to do this, especially if you’re worried about what other people will think, but it’s so worth it.
3. Learn from Your Past Mistakes
This is an important life lesson, not just a step that’ll help you get past the guilt you’re holding on to.
You need to look at what led you to cheat in the first place and try to learn from it.
It’s not easy, but if you can do this, it’ll help stop you from making the same mistake again in the future.
Try not to beat yourself up about it, you need to take an objective look at what led to you cheating and identify what went wrong.
4. Practice Gratitude
One of the best ways to start feeling better is by practicing gratitude.
This means taking some time each day to think about all the good things in your life – no matter how small they may seem.
Focusing on the positive things will help shift your focus away from the guilt and make you feel better overall.
In positive psychology research, gratitude is associated with greater happiness and personal development, it can be very powerful.
5. Stop the Negative Thinking and Start Being Positive
It’s important you keep reinforcing to yourself that making a mistake doesn’t make you a bad person, just as cheating doesn’t mean you’ll always cheat.
Guilt can lead to us criticizing ourselves which then leads to negative thinking – and this can become a downward spiral.
You need to break that cycle by making a conscious effort to start thinking more positively.
It might sound cheesy, but it really does work.
6. Meditate or Practice Breathing
Meditation is what helped me turn my career and life around, so I’m a huge advocate for starting to meditate if you haven’t already.
But even if you’re not ready to start meditating, just practicing some deep breathing exercises can be very helpful.
When we’re feeling guilty, our breathing becomes shallow and our heart rate increases, which just makes us feel worse.
So, by focusing on your breath and taking some deep breaths, you can start to calm yourself down, ease the guilt, and realign your thought processes.
7. Start Making Changes Today
This seems to be the stumbling block for most people, and it’s frustrating for me to see as I know once you take that first step things get easier.
Momentum is everything, and it’s so important you start making changes today – even if they’re small ones.
You need to continually do things that’ll help you move forward, even if it’s just a tiny little thing.
8. Don’t Look at Yourself as A Cheater
Don’t brand yourself as a ‘cheater’, and don’t listen to other people who try to label you as one.
We all make mistakes, and this is a big part of being able to forgive yourself and not hold on to any negative connotations.
You’re not a cheater, you’re just someone who made a mistake.
We all make them, it’s part of being human.
9. Own the Mistakes You Made
This is a hard one for most people, but it’s so important if you want to move on from the guilt.
You need to own up to what you did and accept responsibility for your actions.
This doesn’t mean beating yourself up about it or wallowing in self-pity, it just means acknowledging what happened and accepting that you can’t change it.
If there are apologies owed to people, make those right, too.
10. Consider Talking with A Therapist
If you’re really struggling to let go of the guilt and move on by yourself or with friends and family, it might be a good idea to talk with a therapist.
They can help you work through your feelings and give you some more tools to deal with the guilt.
There’s no shame in getting some professional help when you need it, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you feel like it would be beneficial.
Related – A look at how most affairs are discovered and how you can get the truth from your partner.
How Long Will It Take to Get Over the Guilt of Cheating?
This is a common question people ask when they’re feeling guilt or a sense of remorse or sadness over past actions.
I wish I could give you an answer and some sort of timeline, but I can’t.
The answer is that it depends on the person and the situation.
For some people, it might take a few weeks or months to really let go of the guilt and move on.
For others, it might take years.
It all depends on how much you’re willing to work through your feelings and how much you’re willing to change.
The important thing is that you don’t give up on yourself and you’re not afraid to reach out and ask for the help you need.
You can get through this, and you will get through this.
Image credits – Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.