When you have been cheated on before, you doubt the authenticity of every person you come across. You find excuses to bail on relationships before you officially enter them. When you see a red flag, you take that as a sign to run the other way. And when the complete opposite happens, when you find someone who seemingly has zero flaws, you still freak out. You wonder whether they are putting on a nice guy act in order to impress you and then will change their tune once you start trusting them.
When you have been cheated on before, you become cynical. You assume the worst about every relationship, not just your own. You warn your friends to be careful with the people they are dating. When you see a happy couple, you guess how long until the breakup. A dark side of you assumes that nothing lasts forever, that every marriage will end in divorce.
When you have been cheated on before, you guard your heart like a diamond. You never let anyone get too close to you. You never let yourself grow too attached. You never let yourself get your hopes up too high. You keep your expectations ‘realistic’ in order to protect yourself. You talk yourself out of going on first dates and find reasons to run away from every potential person that could love you.
When you have been cheated on before, you develop unfair doubts about yourself. You wonder whether you were partly responsible for the hurt you have endured. You wonder whether you could have prevented the betrayal if you had tried harder or given your ex more space. You wonder whether, in the end, you just weren’t good enough. You wonder whether you will ever be good enough.
When you have been cheated on before, you become an interrogator. You stop taking people at their word. You stop believing everything you hear. You look for loopholes in stories. You listen for whispers behind your back. You become paranoid that someone you care about is going to screw you over again so you overcompensate by asking questions and distrusting answers. The last thing you want is to come across as gullible. You promise yourself you will never have the wool pulled over your eyes again.
When you have been cheated on before, you have to actively put in effort to change your mindset. You have to keep reminding yourself that not every person is going to make the same mistakes your ex had made. You have to avoid falling into self-destructive patterns. You have to train yourself to stop assuming the worst. You have to let yourself have faith. You have to give yourself permission to love again.
When you have been cheated on before, you might want to swear off of relationship forever, but you can love again. You can trust again. You can end up in a committed relationship where you fully believe the other person would never do a thing to hurt you.