Psychology of Cheating

Guilt From Cheating


Believe it or not, when a partner commits infidelity, it’s not only the partner being cheated on that’s hurt but also the one who committed the act.
Yes, you read that right; the unfaithful spouse can feel what’s called the cheating guilt before or after the cheating is discovered.

No matter where you stand, this article is for you. If you suspect that your partner is cheating on you, we’ll show you the cheating guilt signs that may confirm your suspicion. If you’re the one who had an affair, we’ll explore the ways through which you can deal with the dreadful guilt of cheating.

So, how to deal with the guilt of cheating?

First, What Is Cheating Guilt?

Simply put, cheating guilt is when the cheater feels ashamed after committing the act and struggles with what to do. After all, they’ve just let down the person they care about the most, making them feel terrible and in pain.

Stages of Guilt after Cheating

The girl regrets the affair

Here are the stages of grief cheating spouses and their partners go through after the fact:

Denial

When the cheating partner is busted, they usually respond with denial. When in denial, the unfaithful spouse will try to use deception and gaslighting to dismiss any action in that manner.

The hurt partner may also go through this stage, refusing to believe that the person they trust the most has indeed betrayed them.

Anger

After the denial stage comes the anger stage, in which you may feel angry at yourself, at your partner, and at the world. Basically, at everything and everyone. After being caught, the cheating partner can get snappy whenever the fact is brought up, which can lead to violence.

What causes anger, you ask?

Well, a lot of things go into that, notably:

  • knowing that the affair cannot carry on.
  • The fact that the affair partner may be kept on the fence.
  • Feeling pushed into a corner since the primary partner may want to know more details about the affair.
  • Etc.

Again, the hurt partner may also feel angry once they pass the denial stage.

Bargaining

When someone is cheated on, they usually try to feel a sense of control by exploring different paths in the past that could’ve led to a different outcome. They may find themselves wondering things like, “would it have been better if I did this or that?”, “Should I have stopped my partner when I saw them messaging a stranger that day?” etc.

Depression

After the shock stage comes the depression phase (or even paranoia from cheating), in which one feels the full impact of losing a trusted partner as well as the relationship, whether it’s long term or short term.

In this stage, there’s no more reasoning and solution-seeking. Instead, there’s only the emotional toll of the affair.

Acceptance

Acceptance is a transformative stage that follows a big change. It basically revolves around what happened and what it means for the future. At this stage, the focus is switched from the past to the present moment and the future. Hope is renewed, either about restoring the relationship or about moving forward and seeking a more trustworthy partner.

Other Symptoms and Signs of Guilt after Cheating

Other Symptoms of Guilt after Cheating

Here are the five cheating guilt signs that your partner may show after cheating on you:

Self-Loathing and Anger Toward Oneself

This is one of the main symptoms of guilt after cheating. If your partner starts feeling down all the time and they’re hesitant to embrace the joys of things they used to enjoy, they may be having an affair behind your back.

Keep in mind that they may be going through something or suffering from a mental health issue, so don’t start pointing fingers before understanding the situation.

Change in Intimate Life

If you feel like intimacy is suddenly becoming a thing of the past in your relationship, you might be dealing with a partner who’s feeling guilty about cheating on you.

To see if there’s a lack of intimacy in your relationship, ask yourself, “is my partner pulling back every time I try to connect with them?

If the answer is yes, then that’s a possible cheating guilt sign right there.

Gaslighting

Do you feel like you can’t get a straight answer from your partner? Do they try to make you quiet whenever you bring up any subject remotely close to cheating? Are they suddenly blaming you for every fight or confrontation?

If so, your partner may be getting the intimacy they desire from someone else.

They’re Emotionally Detached

Is your partner always moody even when there’s no reason to be that way? Do you feel like they’ve suddenly become detached from you?

Well, if the change is sudden, your partner may be cheating on you.

They Always Need to Justify Every Action

Try asking your partner why they came late from work one day. If they go into a spiral detailing every step they took in an anxious or angry manner, they may not be as faithful as you thought.

How to Deal with the Guilt of Cheating

If you cheated on your partner and you’re currently thinking, “the guilt of cheating is killing me,” keep reading, as we’re going to explore the basics of dealing with cheating guilt.

An elderly couple talks about cheating

Without further ado, here’s how to get over the guilt of cheating:

Forgive Yourself

The first step towards moving on after committing infidelity is forgiving yourself. Start by accepting what you did, understanding that it’s wrong, owning up to it, and when you’re ready, you can put it behind you.

Why, you ask?

Simply because even if your partner forgives you, you cannot move on if you don’t forgive yourself, nor will you ever be able to bring proper happiness to anyone around you. If you’re too consumed with blaming yourself and beating yourself up, you won’t have any room to give back to others.

Accept What’s Going On

If, after having an affair, you don’t accept what you did or its consequences, you’ll never be able to learn the lessons that need to be learned and move on.

After cheating on your partner, you have to accept that what you did was wrong and that you’ve caused a lot of suffering. It’s only through acceptance that you can face up to what you’ve done and how many people have been hurt because of it.

Not only will acceptance help you move on, but it can also stop your internal struggle – the one where you keep wishing you haven’t done what you did.

Remember That Nobody’s Perfect

The world isn’t as simple as black and white. Sometimes, there are grey areas and grey situations, and doing one bad thing doesn’t make an inherently bad person.

Think of it this way; do you expect perfection from all your friends and family members all the time?

Of course you don’t. Well, the same goes for you. Nobody expects you to be perfect because no one is. You made a mistake, a big one, to be exact, but it’s not the end of the world.

The fact that you feel guilty means that you’re not evil, and deciding that you’re a bad person won’t help you or anyone else.

Let Go of Guilt and Remorse and Focus on Moving Forward.

Instead of focusing on the guilt and remorse, concentrate on the lessons you’ve learned and move forward. For example, think about what led to you cheating on your partner? Was it poor communication or something else? Is it a pattern or behavior that can be changed?

Learn everything there is to learn, then carry everything into your future relationships. That’s how you can grow as a person.

Seek Professional Counsel

If you’re struggling to move on on your own, there’s no shame in seeking professional help.

If you’re still with your partner, consider going to therapy together. After all, discussing this kind of problem can be a lot easier if a professional is there to guide the conversation and keep the peace.

Even if you’re not with your partner anymore, you can still go to therapy so that you can understand what happened and move on with your life.

Communication

Communication can go a long way in rebuilding the relationship if your cheating girlfriend or boyfriend is still willing to be with you. Speak about your feelings, but mainly focus on theirs to understand how the whole thing is affecting them and what you can do about it.

Allow Yourself Time to Think and Learn

Finally, give yourself some time to take the positive learnings from the affair and move on. Understand your patterns as well as the beliefs and parts of yourself you need to work on, and you’ll be able to let go of the anger at yourself and use what you’ve learned to make the next relationship you get into different.

How to Show Remorse After Cheating

There’s a big difference between guilt and remorse after cheating.

Guilt mainly revolves around the person feeling the emotion. For example, the unfaithful spouse may be feeling guilty for cheating because everyone is judging them for what they did. They’ve done something bad, so they feel bad about it. Yes, that is indeed a valid emotion, but it’s far from being enough to rebuild a relationship.

Couple shows remorse after cheating

Remorse, on the other hand, is a deeper emotion. It translates the empathy you feel for your partner’s pain – the one that’s caused by what you did. Feeling remorse means that you understand and regret what you did because of the pain you may have caused someone else. That can help stop you from doing what you did again.

So, how to show remorse after cheating on your partner, you ask?

Here’s how to show that you’re truly remorseful:

  • Apologize often and do it with self-awareness. Express what you’re apologizing for and avoid making vague statements or empty apologies.
  • Do everything that can help reduce your partner’s pain. After all, remorse is about both words and actions. Communication is key here.
  • Hold yourself accountable and show that you’re concerned about your partner’s feelings rather than your own.
  • Be open to anything that can help the both of you move forward. That can go from honestly answering your partner’s questions to seeking couple’s therapy.
  • Take full responsibility. Even if there have been problems in your relationship, admit that you’re the one who chose to cheat. Don’t blame what you did on your partner. Instead, accept that the cheating wasn’t about something your partner did but rather about a bad choice you made.

Cheating Guilt FAQ

Why Don’t I Feel Bad for Cheating on My Husband?

If you had an affair and you’re not feeling guilty after cheating, there’s definitely something wrong going on. Cheating and not feeling guilty about it can be caused by a couple of things; either you’ve been in an emotionally exhausting relationship that doesn’t mean anything to you anymore, or you’re suffering from sociopathy. Either way, the best course of action would be to seek professional help.

Does the Guilt of Cheating Ever Go Away?

To be honest, the guilt you feel after cheating on your partner cannot fully go away, and you won’t be able to forget what you did completely.
That’s not a bad thing, though. After all, if you completely forget about what you did, you’re more likely to relapse and commit infidelity again.
Of course, the guilt you feel will slowly fade into the background, and you will hopefully be able to carry on with your life. That said, remembering what you did will probably trigger the feelings you’ve gone through many times in the future. If such feelings get overwhelming and you struggle to cope, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

Can Guilt of Cheating Cause Depression?

No matter who cheated on who in a relationship, infidelity can lead to depression and other mental issues. That goes even for the partner who had an affair. That’s because people often forget to consider the cheater’s feelings when passing unsolicited judgements. That can push the unfaithful spouse further into the abyss of shame and regret.
If you feel depressed because of the guilt from cheating, talk to a therapist, as only a professional can help in this situation.