If your boyfriend cheated on you: first of all, I’m sorry. I’ve been cheated on before and it sucks. And that’s why I want to write this post… and hopefully help others rebuild self-esteem after breakup.
When I was 14, my dad cheated on my mom, and then my first boyfriend ever cheated on me. Between those two experiences I had a pretty sorry impression of myself AND men.
I grew up assuming all men cheated, and I lived my life in fear of being abandoned in every relationship I was in for a long time.
As you can imagine…this thinking didn’t result in a ton of awesome relationships. Many of my relationships ended with my being overly jealous, fearful and obsessive. And then something happened and my thinking slowly began to change.
I went to a women’s retreat and I learned a powerful lesson through some self discovery. The quote I came away with was “Even if a man leaves me, I will never leave myself again”.
The thing is, I had let these negative experiences make me desperate for a man’s attention and affection. I thought the only way I could be happy was if I found myself someone who I knew would never leave. And so many of my early relationships were me chasing after someone who didn’t want to spend time with me.
After this first spark of realization that I would *survive* if someone left me, I continued to work through my fears and confidence. I realized that most people I meet will exit my life at some point (boyfriends, friends, mentors, coworkers)—and I didn’t have to let it devastate me. I could appreciate the role they played, and realize that their decisions were never about me.
Working with a mentor helped as well.and self-esteem because I’ve had to do a lot of work around it.
So, if you’ve been cheated on and you’re struggling with it (understandably) here is your action plan:
#1: Realize someone else’s actions have nothing to do with you.
Realize that if someone cheats, it has nothing to do with anyone but the cheater. They made a crappy decision that hurt you and others. It has nothing to do with you.
My first boyfriend cheated on me because I wouldn’t kiss him anymore. He was my first real kiss, and the first person I really made out with—but after the high of experiencing someone who was infatuated with me, my attraction for him quickly wore off. I kept telling him I had a cold, didn’t feel well, etc.
In hindsight, I should have broken up with him. I don’t know why I didn’t—probably because his affection for me was so overwhelming and I’d never experienced it before.
When he cheated on me, it sent my adolescent brain a powerful, damaging lesson…
If I’m prude or don’t “put out” when a man is pursuing me, he will leave me. And for the next two years I dated a lot of men who I let push my boundaries because I was so afraid of being abandoned.
But here is the thing I realize now: it wasn’t my fault.
I’m allowed to have boundaries, feel my feelings, AND…be different than everyone around me. I’m allowed to stand up for myself, and I should do so regardless of whether or not it upsets someone else.
And that’s why the idea of “never abandoning myself” is so powerful. And its also terribly difficult, because the idea of comforting myself still doesn’t appeal to me that much. But, the idea of cherishing myself and reaching out for what I need DOES appeal to me.
#2: Cherish yourself. Rebuild Self Esteem After Breakup.
You are allowed to grieve, to be angry, to be sad: but not to feel sorry for yourself. Cherish yourself, honor yourself, stand up for yourself.
I recently read a book called “The Habits of a Happy Brain” – and if you know me in real life, you’ve already heard me talk about it 1,000,000 times (sorry!) The main idea of the book is this—even in a very unhappy state, it only takes small actions on a regular basis to improve your feelings over time.
Small, repeated actions make a big difference over time. On the right, you’ll see a link to a self-care checklist I created that might be helpful during this time.
#3: Be proactive and take action.
Act: What can you do to take care of yourself while you grieve or feel anger? Write, find someone to cry with, do your makeup, join a new club, start a new hobby. You need distraction and NEW positive experiences.
I hope this helps. Many hugs to anyone going through this situation.Follow me around: