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How To Forgive Yourself For Cheating And Not Telling

Sophie Simons
August 22, 2023

In most cases, people who cheat on their partners admit that the incident happened without provocation; it was a fleeting incident, a moment of senseless behavior that you have no excuse for.

How do you explain that to your partner, or should you? And if you decide not to tell, can you forgive yourself when you decide to keep it quiet?

In your heart, you know openly confessing will damage your relationship, possibly beyond repair. Understanding that solidifies the fact that revealing this secret would be a mistake. The thing to remember is to not beat yourself up over what was a poor decision. It doesn’t make you a bad person, only human.

When you can come to terms with this, it will be easier to forgive the behavior and work on improving things that might be lacking in your partnership. While you might believe everything is fine in your relationship, it’s not likely you would have considered stepping outside the partnership if everything was ideal.

If no other lesson comes from cheating and not revealing it, you could try to discern potential underlying issues with your current partner that could have an effect. That doesn’t mean placing blame because you need to take full accountability, but look to see where there might be cracks in what looks perfect on the outside.

Can You Forgive Yourself For Cheating And Not Telling?

Forgive Yourself For Cheating And Not Telling

A primary thing to remember when you cheat and decide not to tell is that you’re not a bad person. You made a poor decision in a fleeting moment, as a human will sometimes do. 

While you can search for and probably make what may seem like many logical excuses for the behavior, the priority is to understand that there are no excuses for betraying a person that you love. On the other hand, letting that person know what you did in that moment of senseless behavior can only do irreparable damage to what could be an otherwise decent pairing.

Do you have problems? All couples do. Could there be underlying issues that might have led to the incident? None that shouldn’t have been communicated before it got to that extent. In any way you try to analyze the situation, in order to forgive yourself for cheating and keeping it quiet, you have to take accountability first and foremost before you can try to move forward.

Here are several tips on ways to navigate through the after-effects of having cheated on a partner and then deciding to not tell the other person.

1. Be accountable

It’s easy to make excuses when horrible mistakes happen. It takes a bigger person to admit that you messed up, that it was a senseless act and there was no excuse other than foolishness. You made a conscious choice to cheat on your partner, albeit it was merely a fleeting incident. 

Now, you also have the choice to either live with this secret and deal with that burden or tell your mate. Letting them know will likely result in irreparable damage, so you prefer to keep it a secret. You’ll need to learn how to absorb that guilt so that you can eventually forgive yourself and move forward to continue with a healthy relationship. 

It will take time to reestablish trust in yourself and work to develop a deeper connection and a closer bond with your partner.

2. Establish a journal

Create a digital journal to express your feelings about the experience, and write down exactly how the incident happened and what transpired. Allow yourself to vent everything that you can’t tell anyone else, all the emotions you’re currently dealing with, and how you would change things if you had the opportunity to go back and do it again.

Another good exercise is to actually write letters confessing the incident to your partner regardless of the fact they won’t be delivered. You can explain the reason for the behavior if you have a reason and express how sorry you are for the betrayal and hurt that you caused. 

These allow an outlet for the guilt and shame that you’re feeling since you can’t actually communicate your indiscretion with your loved one. Reading what you write out loud can offer some solace and help relieve some pain. You can then burn the letters as a way to release those feelings, forgive yourself, and help you move forward healthfully with your partner.

3. Finding a confidante

Sometimes, the best release is reaching out to someone you trust to talk through the situation, but it needs to be someone incredibly trustworthy, supportive, and with whom you can have the utmost confidence. When speaking with this individual, you’ll feel as though a huge weight has been lifted from your shoulders.

If you’re worried about revealing something this intimate to anyone in your circle, there are other ways to talk to people who wouldn’t have ties to your personal life like support groups, forums, a variety of different sites where you can remain anonymous but pour your feelings out with no fear of judgment.

In any way you feel the most comfortable, talking about your feelings is healthy. There’s no wrong way to handle it, whether with a close confidant or anonymously in a group, as long as you can be open, honest, and vulnerable and can find complete and total support in the situation.

4. Stay active

It can be challenging to stay out of your own brain. You’ll need to find activities to keep yourself from constantly focusing on the cheating incident. Involve yourself in a new aggressive fitness regimen, join a hobby you’ve wanted to try and find something that helps you to relax or reduce your stress level.

You’ll find many benefits when engaging in physical activities, including better sleep, improved mood, reduced stress, and keeping your mind active. Even simply being in nature, stepping outside for half an hour, allowing the sun to wash over you can boost your spirits, anything to make you forget the things you’ve been constantly worrying about.

The goal is to gradually begin to move forward, learn to let go, and start to forgive so you can enjoy a healthy relationship with your mate.

5. Get away

When you’ve committed infidelity, and you’re not sharing it, you feel shame and guilt. People recognize there’s a problem and want to share their advice and opinions but none of them can help in this scenario. It’s something only you can work out. In this situation, it might be a good idea to take some time away, just for a few days to get some clarity on your circumstances.

It can help you come to terms with what happened, make yourself accountable, and decide the best way to move forward with forgiveness for yourself. When you come back you’ll be better prepared with how to respond to people’s questions and the best way to deal with your partner’s concerns if you’ve been acting differently.

Running away is not always the right answer, but in this particular situation, it can help you gain clarity in a confusing and awkward circumstance. When you’re surrounded by people, you don’t have the opportunity to think things through or figure out how to even begin to forgive such an incredible indiscretion.

That’s especially true when you have a partner concerned about your well-being, making you feel more guilty and ashamed than you already do.

6. Did you learn something

Every mistake happens for a reason, and with each one, we’re supposed to learn something. While you’re trying to relieve the guilt and shame in order to forgive the mistake, try to consider what the lesson was from the cheating

How will it make you become a better version of yourself? It will change your life for the better but in what ways will it improve your current relationship? Were there underlying issues happening in your partnership that might have inadvertently led to the desire to reach out to another person?

That’s not blaming your partner, but it’s a question that should be explored. Perhaps there are things that need to be worked on that the two of you might be subconsciously sweeping under the carpet. Communication is critical in a relationship. It might be beneficial to sit down and discuss what’s good and what’s not-so-good to see where each of you stands. You might be surprised.


Feeling guilt and shame when you cheat on a partner is entirely natural but these feelings shouldn’t consume you. Instead, try to find a way to manifest those feelings into a positive reaction. Take the experience as an opportunity to make changes for the better, whether it be with your current mate or in other areas of your life.

Mistakes don’t make you a failure. Mistakes are life lessons. You can either choose to hang your head and feel bad for far too long, or you can decide to grow and evolve into something better, happier, and forgiving.

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Sophie Simons

Sophie Simons

Sophie Simons is a leading psychologist with a passion for enriching relationships. Through empathetic counseling and insightful guidance, she empowers couples and individuals to foster deeper connections, resolve conflicts, and create lasting harmony. Sophie's expertise in relationship advice has touched countless lives, making her a trusted source for building fulfilling partnerships.

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