Expert Cheating Advice

He cheated. Now what? If you’ve recently discovered your spouse was unfaithful, your head is probably spinning. To help you handle the initial shock and avoid an anxiety-induced meltdown, we’ve put together six survival strategies for dealing with a cheater.

Woman discovering man's infidelity

For expert input, we turned to argument and affairs expert Sharon Rivkin, author of Breaking the Argument Cycle: How to Stop Fighting Without Therapy. She outlines six steps to follow when you first find out your partner has cheated.

Take deep breaths

Finding out that your partner has cheated can be a serious shock, especially if you didn't suspect or see it coming. Ward off panic by taking some really deep breaths, Rivkin advises. This may seem like an overly simplistic first step, but it's an extremely effective way to help shift from panic mode to functionality. Unless you breathe deeply, you're going to continually feed your panic and it will be much harder to calm down. "When you're not breathing deeply, your brain is deprived of oxygen and your body tenses, feeding the cycle," she explains. "The probability of making bad decisions increases."

Confront the cheater

Depending on how you found out, you need to confront the cheater. Sitting on the information isn't going to make you feel any better, but how you choose to deal with the betrayal is an individual decision. Who you are, how you found out, what your relationship is like with your partner, how much shock you're in, etc., will all be factors that lead you to decide what you want to do right after you've found out that your partner is cheating, explains Rivkin. "Your whole world has fallen apart, similar to experiencing an earthquake or natural disaster, so do what your instincts dictate," she says. "Do not judge or be hard on yourself for whatever you choose to do."

Think about logistics

Even though you're in the midst of a relationship crisis, life still goes on. Things need to get done (going to work, getting the kids to school, chores), but it can all feel like a huge task. "Nothing comes easily right now," Rivkin says. Feeling overwhelmed is normal, but don't let that feeling overtake your day-to-day life, especially if you have kids.

  • If you have kids, and if they see you crying and/or fighting, let them know immediately that it has nothing to do with them.
  • If you feel immobilized and simply can't drive your kids to school and/or their activities, make arrangements for them until you feel you are okay to drive.

"Remember, you're in crisis mode, so be kind to yourself by getting some temporary help with basic functioning," says Rivkin.

Create a support team

Because of the deep damage to trust that this kind of betrayal brings, it's important that, if you can afford it, you find a good therapist and get help as soon as possible. "I've discovered that the couples who seek help the quickest after an affair have the best recovery results," Rivkin says. Good therapy can help a couple determine their direction (to stay or go) and whether trust can be rebuilt or not. In addition to seeking professional help, creating your support team will be a huge help. "Your team and connections will help you survive and recover from the affair quicker," she explains. "Carefully assess your relationships with others to figure out who you think will be the most understanding, nonjudgmental and supportive person."

Ask questions

After you've confronted your partner about the affair, tons of questions will flood your mind (Why didn't I know? Why didn't I trust my intuition? Why did this happen?). It's through asking questions and feeling all your feelings that the healing starts, Rivkin says. "The questions and their answers are the first step to piecing together what happened to your relationship." It's important to look at the history and the patterns of your relationship and begin to understand where the breach of trusting each other really started.

Create a plan of no action

Most people usually have the tendency to want to take some kind of action right after discovering a cheating partner. It may help for the moment, but because you're in crisis, your judgment can be impaired, so it's wise not to make any big decisions at this time, Rivkin explains. Instead, make the smaller decisions first: Get a therapist, read a book, talk to your support system, do some writing and do some talking with your partner. "You will ultimately have some major decisions to make as to what direction you want your relationship to go, but these decisions will be made with time and clarity," she says. So for now, don't make any major decisions.

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Comments on "6 Steps for dealing with a cheating spouse"

Manika March 25, 2014 | 10:07 AM

I have been married for almost 4 years and just found out that my husband was cheating me with some chic at work. He even leased an apartment in his name so she could live there because she could not get one on her own. We have a beautiful 8 month old son and he did this while I was pregnant. I do not know if I can get over the betrayal because I would never do that to him. It is not fair that because of his infidelities my life has to change. He begs me that he will change but I know he won't. I love him but I am praying to find the strength to love myself more. To put myself first instead and focus on healing my broken heart. I know I am not the last woman or the first woman to cheated on but you feel so humiliated by it all. Who was this person I was with all this time? Did he love me? Did I run across his mind when he was with her? Why her? So many things run through my head. I know it has nothing to do with me but I am so pissed at what he did. We had it all, family, love, fun and we was doing that. It is just not fair, its not. Either way somebody gets hurt now, somebody loses. If I leave him my son grows up without a father, If I stay I lose my dignity and self worth because he disrespected me and our marriage vows. All I can do is pray.

scared January 30, 2014 | 3:36 AM

I've been married 6 years. My husband cheated on me with a hooker. How am I suppose to go on feeling good about myself still. I wasn't good enough for him. He says he wants to stay with me but I don't know what to do. I have a baby and an older child. I feel so sad. I thought we had a perfect marriage.

Liana Sisowath December 27, 2013 | 12:33 AM

Married for 6.5 years and 3 kids we have. I just found out that he has an affair and the mistress has his baby. after confrontation, he promise not to contact that woman again as he want a future with me and my kids. he is only promise but he won't stop not just that, he keep chatting, flirting with other woman as well. we had a lots of fight since August and until now... he is still say the same thing that he don't want to divorce but I just see that no way that he will change. what can I do? I still love him and still want my kids growth up with their own father. what can I do to make him change? what can I do to give him a lesson learn? or please advice me what and which way that I can do better? my mind very confused, I want to live with him but I can't handle his habit... he wanted me to accept the way he is which is a hard part for me to accept. Please give me an advice and I am much appreciate your time. All the best. Laina

Diana Halwiindi.Musonda December 15, 2013 | 10:16 AM

i have been married for 23years. and i found out that my husband is cheating on me with a lady younger than our first child. this really hates i dont know what to do. please help me.

Angela December 05, 2013 | 8:12 PM

My husband and I have been married for 15 years and together a total of 22. He was my highschool sweatheart, love of my life , was and still is my best friend (at least up until about a month ago) During the first few years of our relationship things were rocky. We were both wild and crazy, and WILDLY in love. I ended up getting pregnant with our daughter when we were 19. I grew up overnight. Him...not so much. He cheated on me a few times which was devastating. We broke up for a year, I started dating, he became my prince charming. Go figure. Anyway, several years later we were married. We had a son and life was great. We were happy and secure. About 12 years into our marriage we started having financial problems. I kept some things from him about how bad off we really were. I thought I was protecting him. It backfired on me. We ended up losing our house, leaving us to move in with MY mother. He on the other hand moved in with another woman. A "friend" of ours. He lied and told me that he was living with a guy from work, yet he never told me where they were living. My intuition told me there was more going on. I ended up driving by the house they were renting PURELY by accident. Long story a little less long...I ended up in jail that night. I have NEVER in my life been so hurt and angry. It brought out a side of me that I didn't know existed. Well, he was SO sorry. He moved out, we stayed with my mother until we were able to save up enough to buy a house. Although we never really addressed the "cheating" issue, things seemed to be going ok again. Not great,just ok. I still harbor a LOT of resentment and Im sure I have been very cold. My husband began drinking heavily, and become very withdrawn. He ended up getting a facebook, which is something he swore he would NEVER do. About a month or two ago I found out that he had been SECRETLY meeting one of his female fb friends at the gym. I confronted her via private mssg on fb. She, at that time, swore that they were just friends and said she assumed I knew. My jealously and insecurity has come out with a vengence and Im afraid that I have chased him away. He now spends more time with her then me. He leaves on the weekends and doesn't come home. He tells me that if I just "shut up" and stop nagging him that things will go back to normal. How do I do that? I know that he is sleeping with her. She has blocked me on fb and now wont even talk to me. He goes back and forth. He wants to work on our marriage.....when Im not acting like a "jealous crazy person" I honestly dont know what to do. Please take the time to read this LONG comment. I could sure use some advice.

confused November 29, 2013 | 2:52 AM

I don't understand why man cheat. u do whatever he asks bt he still cheats. I ask myself if im nt good enough for him?should I ask for divorce?. I love him with all my heart I don't even look at other guy cause im dedicated to him. guys I need an advice im thinking of packing my stuff en move out give my marriage a break. ever since we got married he has been cheating. confronting and talking to him nicely to him doesn't help.

Eva November 12, 2013 | 2:57 AM

My husband cheated before and throughout our 1.5 year marriage. He never told the other woman he is married because he did not want to hurt her.He said he never thought about me while he was cheating. I ask him to leave but he would not leave. I feel so hurt and betrayed. I have forgiven him but I will never forget. I just want to end our marriage and rebuild my life. I don't think I would ever trust again.

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Komae October 28, 2013 | 9:03 PM

i want to thank DR KATE for the help and happiness he brought into my marriage, i was heart broken because my husband file for a divorce i do all i can to stop him but he will not listen to any of my wards accept the one that came from his mind. i was on the internet one day and i came across DR KATE testimony on how he help people to rebuild their marriage and i quickly email him and explain all my marriage problem to him and he promise to help me change my husband’s mind that he will cast a love and return spell that last forever, DR guarantee me that my husband will call back in the next 48 hours, after the casting of the spell i was so surprise that my Chris call me of fone , was saying that he still love and cherish me that i should forgive him.i have never see a thing like this before thank you DR KATE for buting smile into my marrige home you can also reach him on his email: katelovespell@hotmail

praveen September 02, 2013 | 4:05 AM

Just found out last week that my wife was having an emotional affair with her boss for the last 6-8months asnd was regularly having very intimate messenger/skype conversations . I felt shattered and devastated. Dont know what to do. Am married for 15 years and has a son of 13 years. Dont know whom to talk to.

dont know what to do August 30, 2013 | 2:36 PM

boyfriend of 5yrs cheated on me when i was pregnant with my second child. he didn't want another child and decides to cheat out of frustration. i don't have a problem with him sleeping with other females at longs he be truthful about it. by him lying it was his way of get back at me for having our daughter. which he adores now that she here and sorry that he even thought to have abortion. trust is a big thing to be and i cant trust him to tell me the truth all the time. we working to be back on better terms but its so hard. in need of help still loving him

hurt August 16, 2013 | 7:02 AM


Stong and dreams for all brave August 11, 2013 | 11:27 PM

I would say, work through your differences. If its not meant to be finish it. Don't do it for the children do it for yourself. :)

Trina July 04, 2013 | 2:39 PM

My husband of 21 years was the best. He was drug-free for six years I found out he was cheating on me and shortly I had developed breast cancer, he relapsed. I have separated from him now it's been 5 months and I still not with him. Trust is hard to get back and he has just carried this family through too much. I never wanted our family to pulled apart like this. I am learning to live with the kids and me.

Anuradha June 29, 2013 | 4:25 AM

Got married 18 yrs ago. Suspected many times about his extra marital affairs. Shocked to found that he is a womanizer. Never considered me as his life-partner. I'm not able to forgive or forget his cheating. I have a boy who is 10 years old. I have postponed taking nay crucial decision for the sake of kid.

Amanda June 26, 2013 | 12:35 AM

Married on my 4th child and decides to do this again... Not the 1st time either I miscarried and went into a depression and he brings me Chlamydia... Not the 1st time on tht either.

Not good June 25, 2013 | 7:56 AM

3 year old son and my wife decides to take him with her to meet the guy. Been happening for a few months. So disgusted that she would put my son in that position. Now she is trying to make me look like the bad guy and I was not a father. Had cancer and 6 other surgeries and she acts as though I had a choice in my life with this. I am beyond ------ at her.

torn apart June 23, 2013 | 4:01 PM

My parents have been married 35 yrs and my father had a history of cheating in the begining of their marriage....and we recently found out there is a 21 yr old girl claiming to be my sister...finding me on boyfriend of two yrs saw how it has torn me mom is strong and moved past it but I never did....then a month a go a girl calls me and says she has been sleeping with my boyfriend and claims he also has another girl pregnant the day after I found out I was...I lost the baby a week later....I hate him but love him more. ...

Broken June 21, 2013 | 5:48 PM

I am 27. Got married to my high school sweetheart after being in a relationship with him for 8 years. An additional 5years of marriage. We have 2 beautiful daughters. And recently had twin boys. I found out he's cheating while i was pregnant with the boys. Actually he could've been doing so for the past two years. I'm not sure. He wouldnt admit. I dont have proof, other than the recent one, which he admitted. I just dont know where i went wrong! He means everything to me and i gave him everything he ever needed. Now my twins are 2month old. I'm totally falling apart. Need help so bad.

FLower June 10, 2013 | 12:11 PM

I am a women and it surprised me how some women forget after even 30 year the let themselve go and get fat the refuse to give head or give to their man the refuse to do something fun and or spontaneous and refuse to spice thing up and you are surprise you husband cheating are you crazy never get too comfortable in any ,marriage or relationship AFter five year you stop sharing stuff the laugh and intimacy you too busy with you kids and your career and what do you except im sorry some of you all women need to get ya ---- together then maybe you mean wnt cheat on ya i have been married for 30 year and let me tell the is still hot and i never let myself go you all women need to be on point just because you landed the man dnt mean the job is over point blanks

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