It happens everyday: An unsuspecting, loyal partner finds out his/her SO has been unfaithful. Naturally, after the initial shock associated with the discovery comes the question, "Now What? What Do I Do?" As a woman who once married and then divorced a cheater and then happily married my loyal spouse of 10 years, I feel fairly qualified to give my take on this question.
First and foremost, there is a difference between infidelity in a dating relationship and a marriage. Marriage complicates the issue significantly, so I will address the former in this post.
I frequently encounter questions on G@G asking what to do after discovering he/she cheated. I have a simple answer. If you are dating, it is time to move on. I know, I know... I give this advice all the time and then receive the specifics about how a situation is "special," and am told that I don't understand. I promise, it is not as "special" as you think and I do understand.
Many years ago, I married my on-again/off-again high school sweetheart. He cheated on me numerous times throughout our dating relationship, but he promised he was done being unfaithful. Clearly, I believed him. A year and a half later, he came home with an STI. Thankfully, since he was not often interested in sleeping with me (probably due to his infidelity), I did not contract it. We eventually divorced and the entire situation made me wonder how I ever could have allowed such a thing to happen. I am not a dumb or overly-emotional girl so how was I completely conned by this guy? The realization was undeniable: I made excuses for him when we were dating. I built him up to be something he was not in my mind and even when he proved he did not measure up to the fantasy I had concocted, I did not let it go. Quite frankly, I loved someone who did not exist; a fantasy man I created in my mind and then I assigned his face to that fantasy. He was always the same person, but I chose not to see it. Hence, when he promised to be different or gave me some lame excuse for why he cheated, I readily accepted it and continued on in a doomed relationship.
If you have been cheated on, accept the fact that he/she is NOT the person you believed them to be and move on. If your SO was the person you believed them to be, they never would have been unfaithful to you in the first place. Choose to step outside of fantasyland no matter how much pain your heart may temporarily experience. It is a much better option than going through what I went through.
Thankfully, armed with the information from my experience in my first marriage, I married again. I married a completely different kind of guy. We have been happily married now for 10 years. There is life after a breakup due to infidelity and it can be a better one than you ever imagined, but you must choose to move on before you can experience it.