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Avatar universal

I've cheated and can't deal with it

Hello,

I've been in a relationship for 3 and almost a half years now (it's been my longest). Almost half of this time I spent abroad for studies. Four months ago, while abroad again for the last time, a girl on the campus flirted with me out of the blue and I stupidly let myself lured into the game and shortly after we went to her flat where we fooled around without actually getting completely naked and without having intercourse.

I know there are a number of unaddressed problems that I have like the feeling of not having had enough fun in my early twenties, missing opportunities out of fear and shyness. My GF and I never had other sexual partners and I was over 25 when we got together and had sex for the first time. Aware of my old frustrations and not feeling secure enough, my GF told me repeatedly that I would cheat on her one day. I wish it never happened...

Of course the day after I realized what I had done and been consumed with guilt ever since. An experience that is said to make one feel "like a man" made me feel miserable. A lesser man. I didn't even find it "enriching" or particularly pleasurable. Just a foreign body and pure, desperate instinct and lust which now make me feel ashamed of myself. Had the girl been a beauty and had we actually had sex, I wouldn't feel differently, but much worse. Guilt consumes me to such extent that for days it paralyzes me from my work. I have less than half a year left to finish my research and I spend hours on end, sometimes days battering myself for what I have done.

I keep thinking I have become a despicable person and I imagine myself pilloried by everybody (shame and fear have recently added as well and make me build all kinds of scenarios). I've always perceived my stay abroad as a second life, but now I cannot even enjoy going to new places, discovering new things anymore. It gets really hard sometimes and it pains me physically. It feels like I’ve stupidly done something I’m not cut out for and this seemingly unconscious desperate attempt at « renewed » masculinity seems ridiculous now. I cannot stop thinking of what a weak jerk I've been. Where was my conscience then??? It's not like I am in love head over heels, nor is it that I've committed myself for marriage (the idea scares me still...) - but I remember all our good moments together and I know she doesn’t deserve this. Nobody does.

For the past months I've read countless posts on this subject.
I've started seeing a psychotherapist for the first time in my life because of my guilt. But for now everything points out to my issues, a general feeling of discontent and fear of accepting responsibilities. Problem is I am familiar with psychoanalysis so pretty much give myself all the answers. Ignorance would have been bliss, perhaps.

Despite hidden reasons and instinct, the moral issue remains. I sometimes feel the urge to confess it all to her. Problem is she is vengeful and easily upset, which has always added tension in our relationship. Sometimes I'm telling myself I should not have her bear a burden which would cause her alot of pain just for me to feel better. I remember she once told me that if this were to happen, she wouldn't want to know about it. I've heard many women say the same thing. There is no consolation in it, though. There is no excuse for what I have done. I am simply not the guy that can lie to himself.

I'm sorry for this long post, but I’m really lost and would appreciate some opinions. Thank you.
12 Responses
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Avatar universal
I appreciate your honesty. I suggest you contact Brice1967. He is also on this site. He would be able to help you. I also think you may want to see a professional counselor on how to deal with your feelings. Many people have different opinions on weather to tell or not to tell. As a woman who was cheated on part of me wishes I never found out. It was one of the worst pains I have every had to go through. It will have residual effects , but then again if i did not know we would have never addressed what lead him to it, the why of the matter, and we were able to work things out and have a better relationship now then we did before.
Helpful - 0
1605559 tn?1314793078
First of all, you didn't actually have intercourse, right?  You just "fooled around" - kissing, heavy petting, oral sex maybe??  Actually, I am not condoning what you did by any means but its not actually as worse as the act of sex itself.  Now, why do I say that?  There are all kinds of cheating - physical, emotional - and, after all, when asked "Have you placed your penis in another woman?" you can actually answer "no".  It feels like you've done something terribly, terribly wrong.  Does your GF know about it and how do you know she hasn't done the same thing?  You feel guilt because you are really attached to your GF and you just gave into the physical pleasures.  However, my other advice would be not to give into flirtation in the first place and, believe me, I know women make it really, really difficult.  After all, there's even songs that have lyrics "my girlfriend is out of town and your boyfriend doesn't have to know" so its easier than ever to give into temptation.  My advice would be to just move on.  If you feel like you should confess to her, go ahead.  Tell her you were lonely, tempted, whatever and say "I made a stupid mistake and kissed another girl but it didn't go any further than that."  The only problem is that women will never accept that as the truth.  Any kind of cheating is full out cheating to them even an innocent comment on Facebook saying "Wow!  That's a great picture of you!"  It all depends on how secure your woman is, I suppose.  Keep us posted guy . . .
Helpful - 0
973741 tn?1342342773
COMMUNITY LEADER
I am sorry you are suffering!  I think acknowledging our wrong doing within ourself is such a great thing.  Do you know how many people refuse to do that?  So, you are a strong individual to accept that you've made a mistake.  And that is what this is--------- a mistake.  Everyone----------- and I mean everyone----- makes them.  Some are more serious than others.  But mistakes are something that we can view in a positive way too.  We often learn our best lessons through the mistakes we make.  Think of the wisdom you now have from your error in judgement!  You know that you Don't Want to cheat!  You learned that you value your girlfriend and don't want to lose her.  You learned that we must be careful about not putting ourselves into tempting situations.  You learned that a few moments of lust is not worth a three year old relationship.  

What to do?  I would keep this until your grave.  Forgive yourself because you have been given an opportunity from this mistake that will BENEFIT your girlfriend.  You have the opportunity to be a wonderful boyfriend and partner that would never cheat on her again!  

We've all learned our lessons in life.  That is all you need to think of this as and throw your energy into your relationship and make it the best it can be!  good luck
Helpful - 0
973741 tn?1342342773
COMMUNITY LEADER
I wanted to add this.  I'm a married woman.  I love my husband and want to stay married.  If he loved me and wanted to stay married to me-----------  I would prefer if he kept his moment of lust to himself so that we could continue our relationship.  Once he told me, everything would change.  With your telling us how sorry you are, that you know that you didn't want to do what you did and won't do it again, I think that you should attempt to move on and keep your relationship in tact.  

Examining if you do indeed have desires outside of your relationship from here on out is worth your time so that you will understand if your relationship is one you want to be in.  
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Wow, our stories are almost identical!  I am the guy that lovemykids465 mentioned.  I totally know what you are going through.

I had an affair, it started off as an emotional affair and eventually led to a physical affair.  Like you, I cannot really put my finger on as to why it happened.  As you mentioned, lust... a lack of clarity.... I don't know what I was looking for!  I just don't.  (I am married to the greatest woman on the planet, and I apparently lost sight of that for a while.  Because of what I've done, I will never lose sight of that again!!!)

Confessing to the physical affair was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.  I knew it was going to possibly ruin my marriage, hurt my wife more than I ever thought possible, potentially cost me friendships, I had destroyed a lot of trust with a lot of people, and I had let a lot of people down.  Like you, and perhaps just as important as anything I just mentioned, I let ME down!  I knew I was a better person than that.... but now I questioned who I was.  Hurting my wife and letting myself down were the worst of it.... besides the hurt, I also let my wife down and that is something I thought I was incapable of.

I've got to move forward because I don't want to dwell on my case.  For me, telling my wife was "coming clean".  At the point where I actually confessed, I knew it was going to just screw everything up.... but there was a tiny bit of relief.  (I had been carrying this burden for about 4 months, and it was eating me alive.)  Parts of the old me began to show up right when I confessed.  All of a sudden, I was brutally honest again... telling the truth like I always had before this affair.  I was standing up for myself, which was something that I had always done before.... but most importantly for me, I was going to be there for my wife.  I knew she was who I wanted to be with all along... it apparently took this ridiculous, selfish act to come to that conclusion.  I mean, I knew my wife is who I wanted to be with all along, but maybe it took this to bring that back into focus. (Dumb, dumb way of bringing something into focus)

Since telling my wife, we've had a lot of highs and lows.  Sometimes the lows were lower than I could have ever imagined going.... fear, anxiety, helplessness, hopelessness, anger with myself.... all of this going on like a whirlwind, all at once!  But, with a lot of therapy and allowing her time to begin to trust me again, we are riding some of the highest highs!  Our relationship, like lovemykids465 is stronger now than ever.  Better now than ever.

I said all of that to say this.... there are 2 trains of thought regarding what you've done.  You can not say anything, try to take this to your grave, and hope to God your girl doesn't find out (something I knew I couldn't do because of my character make-up).  The other option is telling her, fully knowing what you've done and be willing to accept what ever happens afterwards.

Neither of these options are an easy road.  Although you didn't actually have sex, it was right there.  I'd imagine that your girl will be real keen to that.  But, you didn't actually have sex... at least you stopped yourself there.  

Trust has been betrayed, and you'll probably suffer from your own trust issues.  Your ego/psyche will want to tell you that she has probably done the same thing.  That is coming from a primal part of the brain that serves for protection, and it also tries to give us some justification.  (Just to remind you, there is no real justification)  There is a clinical term that has slipped my mind.... projection!  You are projecting what you've done on to someone/somewhere else.

In closing, I can't tell you what to do.  I did tell you what was right for me.  The bottom line is, you have to live with this.... if storing it forever is going to be okay with you, fine.  If your conscious is going to eat you alive, spill the beans.  It's going to sting, and sting alot.  But the bottom line is, you confessed and it is off your chest.  You've accepted responsibility for what you've done, and regardless of the outcome... you are now prepared to move forward.

I imagine I still have a lot of work to do, probably for the rest of my life with my wife, and that is okay by me.  She is worth the effort and our marriage is worth the effort.  I cannot take back what happened, but I can take responsibility for what I've done and will take responsibility of what I do now.  We can only control ourselves, and we can only control now.

Good luck, and get back to me if I can be of any help.
Helpful - 0
1306053 tn?1323954010
Hi there.  It's good to know there are still some good guys out there, who realize that infidelity is wrong, and feel remorse for giving in to temptation.  I am Brice's wife, and yes - "coming clean" was catharctic to him.  But really, he didn't have a choice, his other woman was dropping hints the size of HBombs and doing her best to **** me off enough to leave.  

She didn't realize the strength and power of the love between Brice and I.  His affair was the worst thing that ever happened to me, but it has BECOME the BEST thing that has ever happened to me, besides the birth of my children, and besides meeting Brice in the first place.  

We are now totally grounded, totally committed, and looking forward to the rest of our lives in a faithful, monogamous relationship.  

This question came up many years ago, when I was in college.  We were doing the "Book of Questions" in an extemp speaking class.  

I got the question "If you ever cheated on your spouse, and you knew there was no way they would ever find out, and you knew it would never happen again, would you tell them?"

My answer?  No.  Telling them would just be a way of relieving my guilt, but would hurt them imeasurably.  

The affair helped Brice and I recommit ourselves.  It brought out issues that might have otherwise hindered our relationship from here on out.  The discovery turned out to be good for BOTH of us.  But you need to ask yourself, would your relationship benefit from your confession?  Would it break her heart to the point you might lose her?  Would that be worth it?  

Maybe you could let her know that you were 'tempted', but that you didn't have sex with anyone, and the experience just left you more committed to her.  

I will tell you without hesitation that nothing has ever hurt me as much as hearing that Brice had had sex with another woman.  That he had told her he loved her, that he had planned a future with her.  It was hell.  (We've been together 20 years) It sounds like your situation was more of a 'close call' than an actual affair.  I would proceed very, very carefully.  

If you decide to tell her, be sure to open up the conversation with how much you love her, and the fact that you want to be with her in a committed relationship from this point forward.  Be ready to comfort her if she wants it.  

I am keeping my fingers crossed for you.  Best of luck.  

BTW, @ Brice, thanks for the kind words.  I love you!  
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
I was once told that we confess to our partners to help ourselves. to help deal with the guilt. For my self if my wife had cheated I would not want to know. I already have some self esteem issues and this would make it very  very tough to continue things because I would be making accusations left and right even if they were not deserved.

So think very long and hard before you tell your GF. Talk with your therapist about it. If she is someone you think you can spend your life with then my advice is keep it to yourself and deal with your guilt.

Everyone makes mistakes, to error is human, just make sure you don't make that mistake again.
Helpful - 0
145992 tn?1341345074
I totally agree with Vance here.  I think your consequence for doing what you did is your own guilt.  It has already taught you a valuable lesson and I'm sure you will never repeat this mistake again.  My fiance cheated on me and I agree with specialmom, I would've loved to not have known.  Even though it was pretty obvious at the time that he was up to no good.  I wished that he his guilt led him to end the affair and never do it again, rather than me finding out and us now trying to rebuild our relationship.  We have been able to pick up the pieces but the relationship will never be the same.  We have definitely gotten stronger than we were but the scars that remain are the hardest to live with.  Trust, even though rebuilt, will not be what it once was, that doubt will always be there.  So think long and hard, over time your guilt will ease and you can spend the rest of your life making it up to her without her even knowing what happened.  That's just MO of course.
Helpful - 0
1563685 tn?1310402354
Just don't repeat it again. What was done has been done and you can't reverse that. Just make sure you won't reveal that to your GF and you're safe. I know moral issues can be tough but you should move on from this and promise you won't do it again and behave as if you're a loyal partner.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Thank you all for taking the time to answer my post. I've recently found out about this site and the community is great. I'll make a summary of the conclusions drawn from your posts.

In what my situation is concerned, I think I've made up my decision, without however alleviating my guilt: I am not going to “spill the beans” (to quote from a reply). No, there is no affair to confess, no actual sex and not a shred of feeling. However, nothing should have happened in the first place and I certainly should have thought beforehand. I’ve learned how much harm I can cause myself just by harbouring guilt, fear and shame. I wouldn’t want to see how much harm I can cause my gf or our relationship. I’ve seen it all in my mind and it’s pretty gloomy.

The main reason for my choice has been given by all of the women who have replied to this post: they themselves would rather they had never known about such a thing. Coming from you as married women, your opinion hangs even more heavily in the balance. I would say this is the voice of reason, whereas all of us men responded to impulses: lust was an impulse, guilt created an impulse, too (to confess).

The problem is that the mind projects – as Brice put it in a different context – what’s past into the present, thus constantly making it seem a going concern. What’s past for the former cheater becomes future probability for the spouse. As long as the spouse is not ready to put it all behind, a balance is never reached, in spite of all revelations about the couple itself.

I, for instance, would very much like to get over it so that I can resume work and life in a balanced, more mature way. But for that, I have to acknowledge the past for what it is. Problem is that for the time being, my conscience acts like my… girlfriend would, by constantly bringing this up. I guess “we both” have to let go at some point. They say it takes two to tango for the cheating part. Well, it still takes two to put the issue behind in order to regain the former balance in the relationship and not live it like a game of chess. And I’m pretty sure that, for many couples, this is a residual effect of dealing with cheating after coming clean.

I think life has presented most of you with difficulties I have not yet known: a family, raising children, being there for them when in need, suffering alongside them when in pain or ill. Hardships reveal how good it is to be with your partner and that’s what strengthens the present. It’s a pity that a part of the past eats at it constantly. There’s not much I can cling on to for now, unfortunately. The problem with me is that I constantly develop my guilt: I let it go now, but fear of what happens if my gf finds out somehow kicks in. My mind functions like a roller coaster: if it’s not fear and guilt, it’s anger with myself for bringing this on me in the first place. It’s hard being me when having something to regret.
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Avatar universal
First of all the feelings of disgust and low self worth and guilt are all the reasons it is engrained into us not to cheat. Secondly, you will not feel any better if you confess all to her, nor will she so save yourself and your girlfriend the misery.

It sounds like you learned your lesson and will not let it happen again so consider it a lesson learned and move on.

Forgive yourself and move on, otherwise all your decisions and thinking processes from here on out will be as a result of the guilt, low self worth and disgust you feel in yourself.

You are human, you made a mistake, you learned from it, so put it aside and get back to living.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
You should find a good therapist and read some stuff from Deepak Chopra.  I have learned so much from all of this, and "living in the present" is essential.  

Good luck.  Please keep us posted!
Helpful - 0
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