Your girlfriend seemed to be everything you ever wanted in a girl: Beautiful. Smiling. Caring. Smart. Faithful . . .
At least that’s what you thought before you discovered that she was cheating on you.
After she confessed to you in-person or, even worse, you discovered the truth on your own, you probably felt devastated. You experienced a wide range of confusing emotions and the overwhelming sensation that you cannot trust anyone anymore.
You asked yourself: How could this happen? And, what should you do now?
You are not alone. Kristen Mark, Ph.D., a love and relationship researcher from Indiana University, took a survey that found out that 20 percent of both men and women had cheated on their current partners.
Recently, there’s been a big shift in gender proportions when it comes to betrayal. Male cheaters used to outnumber women, but nowadays it’s not entirely sure whether more women or men are cheating.
Does her betrayal mean that she doesn’t love you or that you suck in bed?
People are simply wired to cheat. Biological evidence, including research on biology and reproduction, indicates that long-term monogamy is difficult for humans to achieve. Complete faithfulness is NOT impossible, but very difficult. And it applies to both sexes.
Cheating is a threat that can happen in every relationship. People get bored and curious. No matter how much you love her or how great you are in bed, sex for the 673rd time with the same partner probably won’t be as exciting as forbidden first-time sex with a stranger you met while traveling. We are all human, after all.
Why do women cheat on men?
Women cheat because they are sexual beings, just like you are.
Conventional (and let’s face it: outdated) wisdom says that women are hard-wired for monogamy and that guys are the ones who can’t keep it in their pants.
As women become financially and socially more independent, they are beginning to cheat more like men. In 2016, you can no longer claim that any behavior is strictly masculine or feminine, but, in this case, you can attribute certain behavior to humanity as a whole. When it comes down to it, females have the exact same tendencies to cheat, just like men.
The reasons for their betrayal may differ, though. Many women tend to look for an emotional connection to accompany sex, even if it’s supposed to be just a quick fling. They crave the boost of oxytocin, the hormone which makes humans feel connected to another person and improves our moods.
While men tend to categorize their affairs as “just sex”—women often become more involved in them.
When should you forgive your girlfriend?
Whenever you hear you inner voice telling you to do so.
Trust your guts. If you feel that letting her go will be the biggest mistake of your life, maybe it will.
If you feel that she is sincerely sorry and you believe that this was a one-time thing, maybe it’s worth trying to stay together and work out a solution.
Breaking up with someone you still love is not necessarily the best option, especially if she still claims to love you back.
Figure out WHY she did it.
It’s definitely worth talking about. Figure out WHY she did what she did. Maybe you didn’t realize that, over the years, you went from a caring boyfriend to a self-absorbed workaholic?
Or the opposite: From a passionate, impressive, and challenging man, you became a guy who gave up on his passions and his own life, focusing on her and becoming too clingy?
Don’t get me wrong. The last thing I want is for you to take the blame. It’s still her fault. My point is that it’s worth trying to understand her motives and to observe your own role in the relationship using a cold, objective approach. These types of things are rarely black-and-white.
Try to understand her point of view.
When it comes to a mature relationship, honest conversations, before making any serious steps, are indispensable. Don’t let your damaged ego blur your vision.
I know that right now you feel offended and talking about it makes you sick. Even if you want her out of your sight, if you truly love her, you should give her a chance. Listen to her arguments. Be willing to actually understand what happened and why.
Consider a non-monogamous relationship.
Maybe her betrayal could be treated, not like the end of your relationship, but the first step toward something new? Admit it. You love her, you really do, but sometimes you also like some . . . variety.
Life is short and everyone should live it to the fullest. Not every relationship needs to be monogamous. Enjoying the opportunity of a company of different people (also naked) can be the way to go. After all, being with the same person for 60 years can get boring.
David Barash, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Washington, says “There are a wide variety of open-relationship models out there, and they can vary drastically from one couple to another.” Adding that, “having an open relationship can work really well for some people”. Maybe instead of cutting it off altogether, changing the terms of the relationship is the way to go.
Make the final decision
Being betrayed feels like shit. There is nothing to discuss there. You have every right to feel devastated and disappointed.
There is no golden rule about how you should act in that situation. If you feel that being with her will make you a happier person than being without her, maybe you should consider staying together.
Making an important decision immediately after she tells you is not the way to go. Give yourself some time to think about it. Also, don’t listen to your “bro’s,” or whoever can confuse you. It’s your life and your choice.
If you can, take some time for yourself (maybe a day or two off work so you can spend some time on your own and think). That might be the best thing to do.
After processing your fear and sadness, you can honestly ask (and answer) these questions:
Can I trust her in the future?
Should I break up with her?
Was this relationship really nourishing for me or did it cost me a lot of effort that wasn’t reciprocated?
Could I forgive her?
Do I really love her?
Whatever you decide, make sure that the decision you make is yours and yours alone. Trust your guts, because that’s the best decision-making compass you have. The only direction you should take is what makes you happy.