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Pamela Levin Headshot

Betrayed, Bamboozled and Broken: Surviving Love Gone Wrong

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There were no outward signs he was seeing other women. He was discrete, secretive and good at the game.

You know what I am speaking of here: when a girl and guy are in a mutually exclusive, committed relationship and then one day she discovers that they both have been living a lie -- he has been cheating on her since Day One of their relationship! (No male-bashing here -- this scenario also works in reverse, i.e. gals cheat on guys too!)

Well, situations just like this do, in fact, happen. A while back, it happened to a dear friend of mine who was in a long-term relationship. Let me briefly share her story with you:

She is smart, confident, attractive and oh-so-kind. Certainly not a pushover, but a believer in trust in a relationship. "Why did you trust him?" I asked her. She definitively responded, "I had no reason not to trust him."

There were no outward signs he was seeing many different women when he wasn't spending time with her. She told me he was in love with her as he expressed to her again and again through intimate words, love letters, gifts, fun activities together and more. She showered him with her love and kindness in more ways than you could imagine. She confides that she was patient with their relationship as he experienced stresses with his job, family and finances.

The day she learned of his many lies and betrayals of their intimacy and relationship was crushing. Tears. Disbelief. Anger. Broken heart. It was obvious there was a disconnect between his words, "I love you" and his level of integrity and respect for both her and their relationship.

That's the scenario snippet. Now what? Do you retaliate if you are the "cheatee" (cheated upon)? Do you seek revenge? How can you prevent feeling like a victim of betrayed, bamboozled and broken ("victim words," no doubt)? How do you handle the pain and anger when love plays tricks on you? How do you heal through this devastation?

Well, some people would advise you to cut off all ties with the cheater and move forward. Some would suggest you seek revenge and justify your actions because you must make the cheater pay for his sins and his hurtful actions ("eye for an eye" mentality).

The real truth here is that anyone who experiences being cheated upon has to find their own positive and healthy road to healing. What works for you may not have worked for my friend. As she cried to me desperately seeking solace, here is my wisdom I shared to help her move past this life event and to heal:

First, know you will survive; God only gives you that which you can handle.

Next, mourn the death of the relationship (you believed you had). It is so important to feel the pain and anger as extreme as it can be. Cry, scream, pout, reflect. Your mind needs to process these emotions. It will take time, and eventually, your heart will catch up. Most importantly, love yourself.

Seek help and support from your friends and family; those who love you will give you their shoulder to cry upon, their empathy, and their candid, heartfelt advice.

Speak to a professional counselor or trusted religious/spiritual adviser to try to understand yourself better. Going forward, decide how/what you will learn from this experience.

Understand that God or the universe always has a much bigger picture in mind. When you are "in the emotion" of the situation, you are often wearing blinders to the beautiful possibilities ahead of you.

Have compassion and love for the cheater. (Seriously?) Yep, this sounds nearly impossible to do, but it actually will help you heal faster. The cheater must be feeling some deep inner pain to cause you so much pain. Everyone has a dark side or "shadow." Understanding his/her reasons for cheating can be helpful but what is more important, is that you find ways to heal yourself and move through this situation. Eventually, it will be your forgiveness which will truly set you free to heal.

Let go of the "Ggrrr!" (aka guilt, guilt, regret, regret regret). Don't get caught in the mental loop of "why me?" It won't serve you here; both guilt and regret keep you locked in the past. You need to move forward. Admittedly, you were dealt a poor hand. It's time to reshuffle the deck and play another round in life's card game.

As you move through the pain and anger with positive intentions, you will begin to develop emotional resilience. This quality is key to living a happy, long life. The more resilient you become to life's storms hurricanes, and tsunamis, the better your chances to sustain strong immunity and protect yourself from disease. Your body is listening to every emotional message you send it. Move forward to positivity.

Openly thank God or the universe for this experience, as heart-wrenching as it may be. Consider the cheater one of your greatest teachers! You really do learn the most significant lessons from some of your greatest challenges. One day you will look back and marvel at how the universe so purposefully and perfectly brought the two of you together in the first place. It's karma at work. Smile with a new strength you could not have gained otherwise; the world is waiting for beautiful you!