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Guilt, Shame, Sadness and Anger That I Cheated On My Boyfriend

Published: March 03, 2013
Dear Guilt, Shame, Sadness and Anger That I Cheated On My Boyfriend,
I really need to tell someone: I was in a long distance relationship with a friend of mine. I was nervous and scared about going into it but I was confident that it would work because I thought I was in love with him. until he went away (500 miles away). I ended up cheating on him with three people. I ended up breaking up with him about six months into it because the guilt was making me sick. But I never told him that I cheated. I just wanted it to end because I figured he probably already knew. But it didn't make the guilt go away. I've fallen into a horrible depression. I have not spoken to this about anyone. I feel like I'm being eaten alive by guilt and shame and sadness and ANGER and I can barely function in the real world. I don't recognize myself anymore. All I can think about is my ex, and how I betrayed him, and how I wish I could make things different. The only thing that cheers me up is doing drugs, and its weakening my immune system and taking a heavy toll on my health. I want to stop I want to be normal again but I feel so paralyzed and I feel like I'm getting what I deserve even if it feels like hell. I feel like I'm in hell. HELP!!!!!!!!!

Dear Guilt, Shame, Sadness and Anger That I Cheated On My Boyfriend,

TeenHealthFX is glad that you wrote into us about what you are going through right now. When we keep these kinds of thoughts and feelings to ourselves, it can be really difficult to find any kind of resolution – and it can also be really easy for these kinds of feelings to become more intense and more difficult to deal with over time. So, again, you made a great decision in opening up to us about what is going on with you.

Many people in this world could come up with things they have done in the past that they would do differently if they could go back in time – things that they might be feeling guilty about. However, some people will have a healthier guilt, meaning that they will use their experience to learn and grow so that they can make healthier decisions in the future. Others end up with more unhealthy type of guilt – a guilt that keeps them stuck in the past and feeling like they should be punished for what they did.

You could take your experience of cheating on your boyfriend to learn about yourself and grow from the understanding you gain about why you did what you did. And because this experience has been so upsetting to you, you could use your thoughts and feelings about it to influence how you will deal with issues around faithfulness in future relationships. However, it sounds like rather than being able to move forward, you are stuck in the past and feeling like you should be punished for what you did.

Given how strongly this is affecting you, FX would recommend that you meet with a private therapist about it. A reputable clinical social worker or clinical psychologist could help you better understand why you cheated on your boyfriend so you could come to a place where you have more compassion for yourself and less anger, as well as to help you forgive yourself and focus on how to move forward and what decisions you want to make regarding future relationships rather than being so stuck in the past. A therapist could also work with you on finding healthier ways to cope with this situation so you are not resorting to drug use, which is only going to have negative physical and emotional consequences for you.

FX can appreciate that you are feeling badly about cheating on your boyfriend. But no good can come out of staying stuck in the past and stuck in a place where you feel like you deserve bad things. Better to use this experience to learn about yourself and grow from what you have learned, and to help you in the future deal with any relationships issues in a way where you or your significant other will not be hurt or put in any kind of difficult situation.  

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.