If your boyfriend cheated on you: first of all, I’m sorry. Someone cheated on me 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.
If you’re wondering how to build your self esteem after being cheated on…keep reading.
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”. This became the first step for me in gaining confidence after being cheated on.
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.
I also went to a lot of therapy a couple years later… For three whole years! I found it absolutely transformational and recommend therapy to EVERYONE. Whether you’re grieving, going through a big change, or just want to learn more about why you do some of the things you do… I highly recommend trying therapy at some point in your life.
I recommend BetterHelp online counseling if you’re looking for an affordable option. Read my BetterHelp review here, or click below for more information.
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.
The first step in how to gain confidence after being cheated on is to 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. If you have a low self esteem after someone cheated, know that their actions had nothing to do with you.
My first boyfriend cheated on me because I wouldn’t kiss him anymore. He gave me my first *real* kiss. 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 so intensely feared abandonment.
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.
Allow yourself to grieve, feel anger and sadness: but avoid feeling sorry for yourself. Cherish yourself, honor yourself, stand up for yourself.
You’re going to have to learn how to gain self confidence after being cheated on.
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.I recently read a book called The Habits of a Happy Brain. It outlined both the science behind being happy, and simple steps to create more contentment.
The action plan I outlined there is relevant here as well and related to the habits of a happy brain.
Here are a few of those tiny actions that will lead to giant results:
- Mini goals: give yourself small things to do every day that you can set as goals, and check them off as you do them.
- Take care of yourself: Do the things you know are good for you. Get some exercise, brush your teeth, eat food that makes you feel good.
- Connect with someone: Make sure that you experience some kind of human interaction or connection.
- Try something you’ve never done: Do something you’ve never done before and create a new experience.
- Glass half full: You’re not going to be happy all the time, period, and that’s ok. Try to think of things you can be grateful for, even if its small things.
You might have a low self esteem after being cheated on, but by taking small actions every day, you’ll be able to rebuild your confidence.
#3: Find Closure: Continue to be Proactive and Take Action
If you’re wondering “How do I get closure?” then the first step is to…
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’ve been through a variety of breakups in the past—some were excruciating and some weren’t too bad.
I remember a couple in particular that took many months to heal. My longest relationship before the man i married was the worst. I remember walking the halls in school between classes in college one evening and thinking to myself…
I don’t know how much longer I can take feeling this way.
And I realized that I HAD to get out of that slump, or I wasn’t sure what I would do.
Some breakups require a few hugs, a new hairdo and some extra naps. And some breakups require much more. If you’ve been grieving a particularly long time or feel like you need more support than just a friend, you can find affordable and free support in your area.
Rebuild Self-Esteem After Breakup: Closing Thoughts
I hope this helps. Remember to be gentle with yourself, and keep moving forward.
Many hugs to anyone going through this situation.
And if you need extra support during a time where you’re probably grieving and feeling pretty low, I’d definitely recommend BetterHelp as a counseling option.
If you need free mental health resources instead, check these free counseling options out.