Love Hurts: The Science Behind Why It’s So Hard To Break Up With A Cheater

["movies/tv", "relationships", "Friends"]
Warner Bros. Television

You want to stay but know that you shouldn't . . .

When your significant other cheats on you, it seems like the obvious choice would be to leave them. But sometimes this decision is a lot harder than it sounds. Despite such a betrayal of trust, there are actually many nuanced reasons why someone might find it hard to break up with a cheater. Here’s why:

NOSTALGIA CLOUDS YOUR JUDGEMENT

It can be easy to replay a highlight reel of your relationship, only focusing on all the good times and reasons why you should stay together. It’s a lot harder to remember and relive all of the bad times. This puts your S.O. on a pedestal, making it that much harder to leave.

YOU DON’T WANT YOUR TIME TO HAVE BEEN WASTED

Whether you were in a longterm relationship for years or only dated for a few months, giving up on your man can seem like your entire time together was a total waste. Rather than thinking this way, try to look at it as a learning experience. Everyone you meet — even the bad apples and cheaters — can teach us lessons about who we are and what we want out of life.

YOU’RE AFRAID TO BE ALONE

The thought of being single and having to date again can be daunting. Your man clearly has his faults, but you could be overlooking them for fear of never meeting someone “better." Remember that there are plenty of fish in the sea and plenty of men who would never betray your trust.

YOU NEED CLOSURE FIRST

Sometimes all you want is answers about why your S.O. cheated, whom he cheated with, how long it’s been going on, etc. Until you hear his reasons, you might find it extremely difficult to let go.

YOU BLAME YOURSELF

Maybe you blame yourself for not being a “good enough” girlfriend or for not seeing the warning signs so you could try and stop it from happening in the first place. Maybe your cheating S.O. is gaslighting you and projecting all of his guilt onto you so you seem like the one who made him cheat. Know that no matter what went wrong in the relationship, you didn’t deserve to be cheated on. If your man was unhappy, he should have communicated with you to work things out or gotten out with a clean break.

YOU STILL LOVE YOUR S.O.

Chances are your deep feelings of affection aren’t going to disappear overnight, no matter how badly he betrayed you. You not only have to mourn the loss of the jerk who cheated on you, but also mourn the loss of the partner you thought they were. All the trust and love you gave to to them can make it extremely hard to say goodbye. But you have to remember that you only loved the idea of him, not the real him who was capable of breaking your trust and heart. Only after you realize this will you be able to move on.


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